Written for the be-compromised LJ comm 2013 promptathon:

"You are everywhere
and no matter where I run,
I run into you."


She empties her clip in a flash, then another. Bullets spray overhead – she and Hawkeye crouch low to the ground behind the last of the crumbling brick shelters. Surrounded on all the sides that matter, the black garbed insurgents close in like a falling scythe.

A bullet grazes above her left eye, unleashing a torrent that momentarily blinds her. One hand lifts to divert the flow, and she gives a quick glance to her left. Breathing heavily, he clenches one hand over his bow, the other clutching at his side, rivulets of red seeping between his fingers.

"The evac?" she shouts over the rabble.

"Coulson puts the ETA at five minutes."

They don't have five minutes. His face hardens – grim – and she acknowledges with the slightest of nods. Briefly their discarded futures play out before her. Never families or children, but maybe old age and companionship. Peace, for once.

She pushes them aside. No rest for the wicked, she supposes. And she'll always have the past, that time when she existed without his bow trained on the enemy at her back, a fact that now confounds her. And then the time after, short as it was precious, when she finally backed away from the ledge, eased into the comfort of his friendship, his trust, and finally his arms, and for every time she had run away he had run harder and faster, and because of him there is no longer red in her ledger.

They rise as one. And they say nothing, because there's nothing to say that hasn't been said already.

The three closest targets immediately fall backwards, long shafts protruding out from their chests, dead before they hit the ground. She and Hawkeye pull a well-practiced maneuver – criss-crossed fire as they move from one cover to the next. At the third advance he falters, caught by a bullet to the leg, and crumples to the ground. She flies out from her cover, a flurry of bullets that ward off the attack only long enough to reach his side.

No opportunity to check for vitals, but she feels the wetness soaking against her leg as she kneels in his pooling blood.

Then a direct hit to her shoulder. The momentum pulls her down, down, till she is staring directly into his vacating eyes. She lays her gun down, watches the blue lights wane, then lays her ear over his chest, listening to the short, syncopated beats ebbing towards silence.

"Like New York all over again," she breathes. He squeezes her hand.

And then the long, dark tunnel of a barrel betwixt her eyes.

They are compromised.