Characters: Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff
Word Count: 3723
Summary: Sometimes, Clint wondered how he managed to get into situations like these. A mission goes slightly off course but no one stands a chance against an annoyed Hawkeye and Black Widow.
Notes: This was also written for a prompt and his already posted at the respective meme. It is based on the picture: Bogota by Sairobi on deviantART. Go and check out her other work, it's amazing. :)
Beta was done be Audrey Whyte on ff.net. Thanks a lot for her fast and great work.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't own anything and neither am I making any money with this.
Sometimes, Clint wondered how he managed to get into situations like these. Sure, he was a SHIELD agent, used to the odd mission going wrong and ending up neck-deep in trouble. But nine times out of ten the intel, was solid and the mission went down without any major hitches. The missions that did go wrong, however failed spectacularly and generally ended in explosions and blood and with an impressive amount of arrows and bullets spent – Budapest was, and probably would always be, the perfect example of that.
He had had missions fall apart while he had been on his own, or when he had been with a team of different SHIELD agents, but this time Natasha was right beside him. Well, nearly right beside him. Their hands were touching, fingers intertwined as a chain tied them tightly to a tree. They were sitting back to back; the only thing between them was the tree, the only point of contact being their arms and hands. The chain itself – heavy steel links – wound around their stomachs, not tight enough to constrict their airway, but not loose enough to allow them to slip free. A heavy padlock was holding the ends together. It looked new and big and it wouldn’t be any hindrance for the two assassins.
The only real problems were their injuries and the men scattered around the camp site. It was nothing that would keep them down for long, but it would slow them down enough. And sometimes, a few short seconds were all that stood between life and death. There was nothing they could do about it now, though. They had no first aid kit and no free arms to use it. So all they could do right now was to bide their time and wait until it was dark to then make their move.
While the Black Widow did her best work in the lime light, Hawkeye did his best work in the shadows and the half dark. And there were definitely times when darkness and shadows were the only way to move around – like now.
To their west the setting sun was painting the jungle deep orange. It nearly looked like the trees were on fire, burning down around them. Soon this was going to be reality.
Hawkeye and Black Widow would strike when the sun had gone down completely. They had been partnered for so long now that they didn’t need words to communicate that, they didn’t even need eye contact. They knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses inside and out, knew how the other would move in a fight. Even with both of them injured it wouldn’t be much of a problem, they always managed to compensate for the other’s weakness. He just needed to know where exactly this weakness would be.
Natasha was better in hand-to-hand than he was – Clint doubted that there actually was anyone better than her - but he still felt protective over her, especially when she was injured. It probably was some macho-male instinct that she would try to beat out of him the next time they sparred, but Clint couldn’t really care. He would act on it, whether she wanted it or not. Besides, he was pretty sure that he had a short recovery period before she would let her aggressions out on him again. The analysts that had been responsible for their mission intel were already first in line.
Just a short week ago the analysts had presented Fury with intel that an American ambassador was supposed to have ties to a small terrorist cell. The cell hadn’t done anything big yet, but terrorists were terrorists and it stood to reason that they would try something big and the fact that an American ambassador was potentially involved was enough for SHIELD to investigate and to, maybe put a stop to it.
Fury had deployed Hawkeye and Black Widow on this supposedly routine mission. Just in and out to gather more intel before a more definite plan would be put into motion. Not that Clint already knew what the next steps where, but they just couldn’t take out an Ambassador without clear evidence. No matter how much he usually despised politicians.
Besides that, the actual kill – should it come – would need to look like an accident to not cause some kind of international incident. According to Fury one was enough per year and they had already overshot their quota.
It wasn’t Clint’s favorite kind of mission; he would rather just shoot the man with an arrow and be done with it, but that was why he and Natasha worked so well together. She was all subtlety and subterfuge; he was the brute force to back her up.
They had tailed the ambassador for the past few days, had managed to break into his office and had come up empty. If there had been a connection between him and the cell, it was probably hidden deep and in his house, but they hadn’t managed to break into that just yet. The security had been tight around the embassy, but it had been easier to infiltrate, because of the many people coming and going every day.
Raiding the house had taken a bit more preparation and they had planned to break in on the very same night the ambassador took an unplanned trip south. In a split second decision Clint and Natasha followed him, leaving behind most of their weapons and tracking equipment. But they had hoped that the man would meet with the other members of the cell. The way could later be back tracked, so they hadn’t cared much about the fact that they had been underequipped. Now it was coming back to bite them in the rear.
Because when the ambassador had finally stopped somewhere deep in the Sumpaz National Park just south of Bogotá, he hadn’t met with a few not-yet threatening terrorist. Instead he had conducted something akin to a plant inspection.
And it wasn’t just a harmless plant nursery. That would have been too nice and easy. Instead it was drugs. Lots and lots of cannabis plants that stood side by side, hidden underneath army netting.
Plants like this were notoriously well protected, with drip wires and other nasty surprises and not expecting them, Clint or Natasha – he really wasn’t sure who and he didn’t really care either as long as they came out alive – had dripped one of the wires, causing a hand grenade to explode.
The resulting concussive blast had thrown them off their feet and had made the planters and their minions aware of the spies’ existence.
With just one quiver full of arrows and one set of fully loaded handguns, Hawkeye and Black Widow had been hopelessly outgunned, and also outmanned.
The original explosion had injured them and no matter how good they were, sometimes it just wasn’t enough. Usually they did their best when faced with such odds, but even they had their limits and this time it looked as if they had been reached.
Outgunned, outmanned, surrounded and injured, they had given up, hoping that they would have a later chance to free themselves.
This had led them to their current situation and Clint trying to pick the lock with one of Natasha’s hairpins. God, he was glad that the woman always had one of these things on hand. Maybe Clint should think about carrying some himself – or paperclips since they were manlier. There certainly were enough situations when he needed to pick handcuff locks.
His fingers were slick with his own blood; it had run down his arm from a bullet wound in his shoulder. It made the lock picking more difficult, but Natasha’s fingers were broken and that made it impossible. He was taking longer than he was used to, but finally the lock clicked open and the chain around his stomach loosened a fraction before Natasha caught the ends and stopped it from slipping farther.
They couldn’t reveal that they were free just yet. Not while it was still light out, even though it was fading fast.
Clint’s eyesight automatically adjusted to the looming darkness and he was careful not to look toward the campfire the drug runners had lit. Any kind of light would destroy his night vision and he needed it now.
They were not going to run. Tactical retreat was all nice and well for some situations, but this was not one of these. Besides, it was their job to stop whatever the ambassador was planning – terrorist acts or drug smuggling. Strike Team Delta hadn’t become SHIELD’s most successful team by giving up when the odds were against them.
They were going to raise hell on those planters and Clint couldn’t wait for that to happen.
It was finally dark twenty minutes later.
Natasha squeezed his right hand and seconds later the chain fell away completely. Any guards were looking the other way and this was the perfect and, probably only, opportunity to vanish – at least for a little while.
The drug runners had been stupid enough to stash Clint’s and Natasha’s weapons while they had watched, so they knew which tent to infiltrate.
They moved silently and swiftly, even over the rough jungle ground. Natasha was in the lead, Clint following just a few paces behind. Bent low and eyes focused on the camp ground, they jogged toward the tree line to approach the tent containing their weapons from the back.
The whole camp was set up in a half circle – seven or eight big tents, gleaming white even in the dark, with several human shaped shadows moving around the middle of the campsite.
The tents were solid things, square with a pointed roof, at least six and a half feet high and built on a solid wooden pallet. Those were clear signs that this was a professional operation, long term and well thought out. Taking it down would be more than a pleasure.
Natasha stopped just a few feet behind the tent and they took a moment to breathe, to take in the other’s injuries for the first time since waking up tied to a tree. Blood and dirt marred Natasha’s face and, while her nose was luckily not visibly crooked, it was clearly broken. Clint knew he was equally scraped up, he could feel blood drying on his forehead and the slight stretch of swelling skin across his cheekbone. And then there was the gunshot wound in his shoulder. The bullet was still in the muscle, grating against bone when he moved and it hurt like a mother, but it sure as hell wouldn’t stop him from drawing his bow. Just like those few broken fingers wouldn’t stop Natasha from throwing a punch.
The whole silent exchange took less than a few seconds. It was far too common to see and evaluate their injuries for them to take any longer than that. They didn’t dare speak in case there were some guards in the tent in front of them. A simple nod was all that the other needed. They were injured and hurt, but nothing that would really slow them down.
Getting into the tent would be a problem if they were unarmed, but for all the professional way that the camp had been set up, the drug runners themselves had made some blundering, stupid mistakes.
Tying them to a tree with just a simple chain had been one, not properly searching them, had been another. This stupidity didn’t parse with the meticulous set up – Clint guessed that the real management was stationed somewhere else and he and Natasha were just dealing with the grunts. This was both good and bad; good because it made retreat much easier; bad because the mission would be far from over. There was no way he and Natasha wouldn’t go after the management.
Clint shook his head: he was getting ahead of himself and right now that was the last thing he needed. Natasha had already drawn a knife from somewhere and smiled at him in anticipation.
It was one of her more dangerous smiles, one that usually only came out when they were in a desperate situation and about to fight their way out of it. It was one of his favorites.
The fact that Natasha – and Clint too – still had their hidden knives was either a testament to their ability to hide the steal on their bodies or the runner’s incompetence. But Clint didn’t much care at that point, because it meant they had least had one weapon to defend themselves with. Even if it was only just a knife.
While he had no idea just where exactly Natasha had managed to hide the six inch blade, Clint’s own had been secured safely between his shoulder blades. Pulling it out of its hidden sheath, Clint returned the smile.
Time to avenge.
Not wasting any more time, Natasha thrust her knife into the fabric at head height. The ripping sound echoed loudly through the otherwise silent forest as she continued to pull the knife down to the ground. Clint didn’t wait for her to finish before he stepped through. If someone was inside they surely would be forewarned and they needed the moment of surprise on their side, considering all they had were knives and their opponents had guns. And in a cinch a bullet was always faster than a knife.
Unfortunately he was right, because as soon as he had stepped inside, he was in the sightlines of a gun.
A gun that was slightly trembling and being held by a clearly scared drug runner. This was going to be almost too easy. He’d really hoped to have more of a challenge, especially since they had managed to catch him and Natasha in the first place.
Clint stepped forward and a bit to the side; out of the direct line of fire, even as he lunged for the gun and pushed his thumb behind the trigger. The cold metal dug into his skin as the other man tried in vain to pull the trigger. Clint twisted on the balls of his feet and smashed his elbow in the man’s throat and a second later followed with a hard kick to the back of the knee. The man crumbled to the ground, his mouth open in a silent scream. Only then did he let go of the gun to step around the man and break his neck in one clean move.
The goon fell to the ground without a sound and Clint bent down to pick up the gun. He really didn’t want to use it, not when he had already spotted his bow on the other side of the tent. When he looked up again, Natasha was also inside and finishing off the second man.
She too held a newly acquired gun in her hand, but Clint knew that she wasn’t going to use it either. Not when her own, more trusted guns were close at hand, or, probably even more deadlier, her Widow’s Bite.
Another quick grin and they suited up.
With the familiar and comfortable weight of the quiver on his back and his bow held securely in his hand, Clint felt his heart beat slowing down as he regained his equilibrium.
His smile turned into a grimace as he carefully rotated his arm. The bullet wound stung and burned with the movement and he could feel fresh blood seep from the hole. They didn’t have enough time for a quick patch up job. The drug runners would all too soon realize that their hostages were missing.
Not that he looked forward to Natasha’s kind of bedside manner.
Outside voices started to rise. Obviously the drug runners just realized that they were missing.
With a few taps of his right index finger, the arrow tips in his quiver changed to the explosive ones.
“Let’s raise a little hell,” Clint said. His words were barely loud enough to be heard over the commotion outside, but Natasha heard him anyway. She acknowledged his words by stepping toward the real entrance and taking a hold of the flap and inclining her head.
In return Clint nocked the arrow and pulled the bowstring back, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.
Natasha flipped the tent door back and they stepped out, shoulder to shoulder and weapons raised, ready to win. Because this time they still might be outgunned and outmanned, but they had the element of surprise on their side and way more determination than some low-class thugs.
They wouldn’t stand a chance against an annoyed Hawkeye and Black Widow.
Three steps out the door and Clint loosened the arrow.
The tree they had been tied to was a convenient target. While Clint generally tried to keep the structural or environmental damage to a minimum, his hatred of being tied up outweighed his love of trees.
Besides, the tree was best located to cause enough destruction without endangering themselves.
The shockwave alone managed to knock out at least three or four opponents, further leveling the playing field. And, much to Clint’s delight, it did manage to start a nice little fire.
This place sure as hell deserved to burn down.
Even before the last echoes of the explosion had completely died down, Clint had shot off another arrow, this time a simple broadhead and another man went down.
Natasha, still right at his shoulder, had also started shooting, filling their opponents with frightening speed.
As much as Clint liked a good hand-to-hand fight – and he knew Natasha felt the same – this time they couldn’t afford to try close quarters combat. Not with their injuries.
Speed and distance were their advantages right now.
Another quick glance and they agreed on retreat. Fast, silent and leaving behind as much chaos as possible.
With nimble fingers Barton loaded an incendiary arrow and seconds later had it nocked and released at the Marijuana plantation. The dry plants lit up fast and soon the fire was spreading, causing thick, white smoke to rise heavenwards.
The remaining planters now would be more concerned with trying to save their produce than with trying to catch their fleeing prisoners. And they did need to flee unless they wanted to giggle their way through debrief.
Clint knew that Coulson would be less than impressed if they would be high as a kite once they reported back. That thought got him smiling, even as he loosened one last arrow over his shoulder and followed Natasha deeper into the forest.
The stars were out and, together with a waning moon, barely illuminating their path. But at least they were able to use the stars for navigation. Well, Clint used them for navigation and Natasha followed him.
Natasha had a lot of good qualities and impressive abilities, but her skill set was of more use in an urban environment; tracking through a half dark forest was not her forte. Not that Clint would ever point that out, because he did like his bones arranged the way they were.
It was a difficult track through the jungle and in the half dark. Clint had already stumbled over invisible roots and he was feeling light headed from blood loss. But they couldn't risk finding a road. The chances of being found by the drug runners or one of their accomplices were too big. Besides that, Clint highly doubted that any innocent passerby would stop for two bloody and armed people in the middle of nowhere. He sure as hell wouldn't.
Clint again tripped over a root and only Natasha's hand around his forearm kept him upright.
“We should take a short break,” Natasha suggested. Well, at least it sounded like one, but Clint knew better than to think of it as anything short of a statement. Besides that they had been walking for more than an hour and hadn't heard anybody following them. Taking a short break and assessing their injuries was a smart move. One that Clint was definitely not rejecting.
He sank to the ground with a sigh, resting his back against a tree as he half-heartedly pushed away some ferns to make enough space and a comfortable seating area.
Natasha sat down beside him, ignoring the dirt and mud. Just because she preferred the city over any kind of wilderness didn’t mean she didn’t know how to slum it and she wouldn’t complain about it either. Things like that had been trained out of her.
“On a scale of bland look to raised eyebrow, how pissed do you think Coulson is going to be?” Clint asked as Natasha tore the sleeve of his shirt to reveal the bullet wound.
“Probably disapproved glance,” Natasha replied while poking at the wound. “The bullet is lodged in your muscle and there are first signs of infection. It’s a good thing we’re close to an extraction point.”
Clint hissed as the pain in his shoulder started up again and this time worse than before. “That bad huh?” he replied in answer to both her statements. He got a raised eyebrow in return and, ignoring Natasha’s futile attempts at first aid without any materials, he took her hands in his, carefully examining both her broken and slightly broken fingers.
“The same goes for you; the sooner those fingers are re-aligned the better,” Clint said and then placed one of his hands against her cheek, mindful of the nose and the deep bruises that were already forming under her eyes. “At least your nose isn’t crooked, but you are going to look like a Panda pretty soon.”
“Small favors, although I am not looking toward the medics re-breaking my fingers,” Now, it was Natasha’s turn to cover his hand with hers. “C’mon Barton, the sooner we’re home, the better.”
Clint nodded and they helped each other up and off the ground. It was still at least an hour until they would reach Bogota and then they still would not have reached their safe house, much less called for an extraction.
Behind them the fire was still painting the horizon a deep orange while ahead of them the jungle was tinged in blackness and maybe, if he concentrated enough, he could see another orange glow, this time from street lights and civilization.