Can you do a 5+1, Budapest? (Either 5 ways it didn't happen + how it actually did, or anything else you feel like. Can be Natasha/Clint or not, it's your call.)
Clint is invited to give the “whoops we let a probie die” speech at the Operations Academy. The only reason this happens is that Fury is negotiating a hostage release and Coulson is recovering from a broken hip. The e-mail is sent to Coulson, CCing Fury, and Coulson’s temporary replacement immediately forwards it to Agent Barton and doesn’t think to mention it to anyone afterward. This sort of speech is the kind of duty that gets passed around until someone can’t think of a reason to get out of it. Usually, they’d wear a plain black suit, speechify, and then be gone within the hour. No big thing.
Only Clint’s got the auditorium rapt by the time Fury hears about it and sends Hill immediately to pull the plug on that shit.
“So Tasha—you can’t call her Tasha, bee tee dubs,” Clint is saying from his perch on the podium. “So Tasha has six guys on her and I’ve got, like, twenty more—”
Hill rolls her eyes.
“—or, like, fifty” Clint amends when there is a distinct lack of impressed from his hearers. “There’s like fifty guys on me and we’re under seriously heavy fire and Tasha says something probably French—”
"Isn’t the Black Widow Russian?” a cadet whispers to another right in front of Maria.
“—and then we set the explosives off.” Clint dropped a leg off the side of the podium and swung it happily. “And that’s why I can’t go back to Budapest.”
“Gosh,” breathes the cadet in front of Maria.
“Hey, Tasha,” Clint shouts from the dairy aisle. “Catch!”
Natasha swings up the side of the Krispy Kreme display and catches the coffee creamer.
“This reminds me of Budapest,” she grumbles.
“Ooh, donuts!” Clint says.
Natasha doesn’t slouch in the chair, doesn’t prop her feet on the hospital bed, doesn’t lean across to double-check that Clint’s still breathing. She sits perfectly still, perfectly straight, with her hands folded on her lap.
A nurse opens the door, not looking up from his chart and starts in surprise when he sees Natasha.
“I’m sorry, visiting hours are—” he starts to say, his eyes flicking nervously between her and the door.
“I know,” she said, not moving.
“But only family are allowed—”
She swears quickly and viciously in Russian. “Until he keeps his blood where I cannot see it, I do not move,” she said.
The nurse scampered but he’d be back with security shortly.
She stood slowly, stiff from too long in the hard-backed chair. She pulled her favorite knife from her boot and tucked it under Clint’s pillow.
“Watch this for me,” she said to Clint’s body, his breath coming and going with the machines’ whir. “Like in Budapest.”
Clint has his crossbow—the collapsible one he hides strapped to his thigh—in his hand and Natasha has two guns trained on the intruder before the elevator has closed behind him.
“Verify your identity,” Natasha said because she was the brave one.
“Agent Phil Coulson,” Coulson said, his hands casually up in surrender. Like the world’s deadliest assassins didn’t have him in their sights, like it didn’t matter if they did. All cool and casual.
“Something only he’d know,” Clint said through gritted teeth.
“The coffee in Budapest,” Coulson said. “We didn’t have creamer.”
Natasha lowered one of her guns.
“Pssh,” she said. “You didn’t.”
When Clint woke screaming in the middle of the night, Natasha climbed in his window. She could have used the elevator, but this was faster. Some things are more important than buildings and running under the radar.
"Tasha, Tasha,” Clint sobbed, scrambling haphazardly down the bed.
She didn’t care that his flailing arms hit her or that when his fists found their way to clench in her shirt the fabric ripped at the seam. She pulled his head to her heart so he could hear the beat, her blood red hair falling like a shield around his face. Tremors still passed through him like earthquakes and she could barely hold him for the shaking.
“I’m here,” she said.
“Tasha,” he chanted through his sobs. “Tasha, Tasha.”
“You caught me in Budapest,” she said. “I can catch you now.”