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25 July 2012 @ 01:24 pm
Fic: Empty Words  
Title: Empty Words
Author: Nalana
Rating: PG side of PG-13
Fandom/Paring:Avengers. Clint/Natasha, implied Natasha/Others.
Summary: There are a thousand ways he should be able to praise her. He can't find a single word.
Word Count: 1300~
A/N: Written for the clntasha prompt-a-thon. Unbeta-ed. Thoughtless stream, but ended up being too long to post in comments.

There has always been someone there to tell her what she is. Gorgeous. Deadly. Remarkable. Stunning. Ever since she came into herself--or possibly before it, though that’s a thought Clint doesn’t want to think about it-- there have been those who have been consumed by want for her. For her abilities. For her allegiance. For her body. They’ve thrown words at her. Some is honest slathering of adoration. Some are thick with fear. Others are greasy lies that slip too easily off tongues.

Their words have created their own voice. She is, at her heart, a soldier. Her orders circulate through her mind as operational and each compliment fuels the preprogrammed ideal her past has installed upon her. There is no causality. It is all information for survival. She has become a master at letting these words slip off her skin as she answers with an appropriate smile or neutral monotone depending on the source.

She’s doing it now, in fact. She has a target cornered. He’s older than Clint, less rough and more padded around the edges. Luckily they’re not looking for the kill switch. They’re simply there to extract information about the tech he stole and wipe away his memory of the past few days. Poor guy. He had stolen the tech to make up for his family’s debts. To his credit his blatant praise of the Widow in disguise is sincere. Clint almost feels for him.

Almost. Because his hand is lingering a little too long on Tasha’s. He’s stepping a little too close. He finds himself drawing his bow up to point. Just a precautionary motion. Tasha’s beaming as if the target had been the first one to announce his adoration. She concentrates a blush and rolls her head to the side in mock embarrassment. The motion allows her to quickly glance up into the direction of Clint’s post. It isn’t a glare or reprimand, even if the archer is sure she knew what he had just done. It’s soft, thankful.

They’re in and out within a couple hours.

As they walk out of the briefing with a congrats from Fury, Tasha stands just a hair too close. Their knuckles brush as they walk down the corridors. They don’t speak but Clint offers her a glance. She has a hint of a smile when a pinky catches his own before she heads towards her quarters. He hadn’t had the chance to speak to her.

The next mission isn’t so easy. It goes further than hands, and while Clint knows it’s an act, it’s hard for him to watch Tasha play a victim. His hands are bruising her as he waxes on a list of her proficiencies. They boast in their ability to capture someone so infamous only to be taken down by the same skill that they desired. That, and a rather magnificent drop in from Hawkeye himself. She’s left standing above a pile of unconscious bodies. There had been one fatality.

Clint’s breath catches. Even amongst tragedy, with a fresh cut and disheveled appearances, a lack or remorse, and cold resolve, she is stunning. She doesn’t revel in the achievement. It’s one thing that has always caught him with her. She isn’t proud of what she does, but there is resolve in the meaning of the outcome. It’s a necessary evil. He knows she seeks atonement just as he does. Negotiations can’t solve every evil in the world. Yet with each accomplishment he can see the ghosts of her past, reminders of what she can’t undo, emerge for a breath of time.

Others would offer words of comfort. Others would praise her efficiency. He might even joke from time to time: one down five hundred and thirty nine to go. But not here. Not now. She looks to him as he calls in the clean up crew. He steps towards her, brushing off the dust from her arms, washing away the lingering shame. In a blink she surrenders. She feels the regret just as it flings to the ground with the dust. That fleeting breath she is breathtaking. His comment is dead on his tongue by the time the others arrive.

The things he hate the most are people like Stark. It’s not that he doesn’t like Tony. He’d even admit that the millionaire genius can be a lot of fun. But he throws out pick up lines left and right. He’s lost count of the times he’s tried to lure a reaction out of Tasha. It’s not the action itself. It’s that men like him make every compliment they issue cheap. After everything that’s been told to women, to Natasha specifically, over the years, does Tony really think that will work? That these empty attempts by many people to get her into their beds actually hold some mystical appeal?
Clint hates it. He hates that after all this time, all these stupid words, he can’t find a single one for her. He can’t describe her. He can’t address her. In any language. They’re inadequate. So he remains tongue tied. That’s not easy to do to a man who frequently can run chatter with the best of them. Sure he can throw out the same hollow words--and he has-- but they’re just that. Depleted.

No compliment can describe the fluidity of her motions and mind. There is nothing he can say that could ever show her what she can do with the curl of her lips and a few fingers. There isn’t a comparison for the sound of her voice--ragged, rushed, irritated, cautious. He can’t tell her how he aches to reach out to her when she’s just a fraction of a break away from coming undone. Or how he wants to be in the glow of her after a particularly impressive success.

There are hundreds of ways he should be able to illustrate how they’ve come together in frustration, comfort, elation and relief. He can’t find it. Or how proud, thankful, he is that she’s found a way to let her guard down even just a little bit around their new found superhero family. There’s no way to say what she has come to be to him. He’s not sure there’s even a term that could constitute as an overused comparison. She is more, means more, than anything he can say.

He’s frustrated with himself. And, unlike Tasha, Clint is very bad at hiding this side of him. It keeps growing until their next mission. Sleaze of the week has her in his room. He’s trying to work her into his bed, hands on her thighs and awfully close to pushing her back on the mattress when she finally knocks him out. It’s not abnormal. They’ve done this sort of thing dozens of times before. It’s never bothered him like it did that night. Clint ends up kicking the body before the others take him away for questioning. She snorts at the action but turns serious when she sees he’s still fuming.

“Clint.” She whispers his name when she comes into his quarters that evening, even though they’re alone. Rooms are constantly recorded but not actively monitored. “What is it?”

He opens his mouth again, but is caught on how her hand is brushing his cheek. It’s stuck on the leg that’s swung over his and the hair that obscures his view of her eyes as she leans forward towards him. Stupid, though wonderful, hair. He reaches up to push it away. Natasha never fails to surprise him and she doesn’t then. His thumb brushes her temple subtly. She’s beaming.

It’s been a long time since he’s seen her that happy.

“Tasha…” he breathes in relief of a knot he didn’t know had been there. Her smirk turns into a fully realized grin. Fingers dance over his own and he traces them, each knuckle, before locking their hands together. She leans forward to hug him without her arms, cheek to cheek.

“I know.” She breathes before pressing her lips to his neck. “Thank you.”

He should have known. Clint should have realized. This entire time he had been speaking volumes to her. His words just didn’t have sound.
Current Mood: contentcontent
Korencybermathwitch on July 25th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC)
Absolutely gorgeous!!
Elven Ranger: fanficnightswhisper on July 25th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
Wickedly Ethereal: London townashen_key on July 26th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
This entire time he had been speaking volumes to her. His words just didn’t have sound.

Oh, them *draws hearts around*
Elven Ranger: Clintashanightswhisper on July 26th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
hearts around, indeed! *grins*
A completely happy writerlar_laughs on July 26th, 2012 06:54 pm (UTC)
I love that he's tried words but knows they won't work, but he did it anyway. And how he aches to tell her what he sees but doesn't want it to be cheap. Love that he gets angry when others keep cheapening them. How the anger is over the words and not the actions because she can handle the actions but I love that he wants to protect her from the words!
Sproidflying_android on July 27th, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
I love this more than a little bit. Clint's so struggling to voice what he feels, so frustrated that he can't, and all the time Natasha knew exactly what he wanted to express. The way you weave together everything that bothers Clint and bring it together is very nicely done, and that ending is simply wonderful <3
realpestilencerealpestilence on August 28th, 2012 02:17 am (UTC)
Lovely, and very true to the interaction we saw between them in the movie.