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isn't it lovely, all alone, heart made of glass, my mind of stone

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“you go home, nat. you go home, and you fix this and you find your sister…you tell laura and the kids i love them, okay? and look after kate for me, you hear?” 

 

tears aren’t meant to be shed. 

 

it’s a rule the red room beat into her for so many years, so many lifetimes of bruises and lashes and marks that stain her skin, forcing her into the belief that tears aren’t meant to be shed.

 

that love is for children.

 

but today…today she weeps.

 

today she weeps as the memories flash through her brain, the ache that beats in her heart steadily, the ache that chills her bones and settles deep into her stomach until she feels like she can’t breathe.

 

clint barton is dead.

 

the man who saved her life more times than she can count on all limbs. her best friend.

 

her best friend…

 

“clint!”

 

her arms shake and tremble with the strain, but she won’t let him go, she refuses. clint hangs, dangles even, not a finger gripping her wrist to pull himself up as he lets himself hang from her body lifelessly, but there’s no fear in his eyes.

 

only a smile on his lips, and love as he stares at the woman who looks at him with nothing but panic and fear. 

 

“pull yourself up, dammit!” she screams, gripping his wrist and trying desperately to haul him up with every iota of strength she has in her, but he digs his foot into the side of the cliff with a shake of his head and a breathless laugh from his lips.

 

“not happening…you don’t die today.” he grunts, trying to pull himself away from her, but she holds on with everything she has, the threat falling from her mouth through gritted teeth.

 

“you fall, i fall!” she growls, trying to reach with the other hand to grab him, but the wench around her waist shakes, forcing her to hold it steady with a cry of panic.

 

clint barton is still laughing. 

 

“not a chance, romanoff. you get back home safe and sound and with that stone in your hands, you hear me?” he breathes, again pushing away from her, causing her grip on him to falter slightly-

 

“clint, don’t do this to me! please!” the panic in her voice is unlike anything she’s even heard before from herself, her fingers beginning to ache, her whole body tensed up, she needs to pull him up, it’s not a question, it’s a fact, a statement, she needs to fucking pull him up-

 

clint’s eyes meet hers, and the look in them almost knocks the breath right out of her.

 

it’s not panic. it’s not fear. it’s not anything but acceptance.

 

“you go home, nat. you go home, and you fix this and you find your sister…you tell laura and the kids i love them, okay? and look after kate for me, you hear?” his voice doesn’t shake, doesn’t falter once, is steady, a single tear falling down the side of his face as she whines and tries to reach for him again, but he’s refusing to accept her strong grip.

 

he wants to fall.

 

he needs to.

 

she can’t let him.

 

“clint, please…” she hates how she begs, but she can’t afford not to. the thought of him no longer being there-

 

“promise me!” he barks, eyes focused now, determined, and natasha romanoff cries.

 

her tears fall, move past clint’s body, fall to the unknown, to the end, to the bottom of the cliff her best friend hangs so carelessly off the edge of, and the words leave her before she can stop them.

 

“i promise…” her voice shakes terribly, but clint barton’s smile is wide as he inhales deeply and feels her grip loosen even more.

 

“nat…” soft now, like he’s talking to someone in pain, because he is talking to someone in pain, and clint barton’s eyes meet natasha romanoff’s, blue reflected in green, happiness shining in one, tragedy in the other.

 

“i’ve made a lot of choices in my life, bad and good…but meeting you, making a different call…it’s the best one i ever made. i love you.” 

 

and then he’s gone.

 

the relief that floods her body from no longer holding the extra weight is outgunned by the scream that escapes her, the terror of watching her best friend fall and fall until-

 

she looks away, eyes squeezed shut, gasps of air marred by sobs of sorrow as a blinding white light floods her-

 

“natasha?”

 

she doesn’t move. 

 

she stays as still as possible, only breathes deeply to feign sleep at the sound of bruce banner at her door behind her lying body, checking in every hour as he has for the last two days since they all came back from their time travel mission.

 

his voice was the first one she’d heard when she’d come back.

 

she falls to her knees, the stone cradled in her hands, burning with energy, with light, but all she feels is pain.

 

she can’t breathe.

 

she can’t think.

 

“nat, where’s clint?” 

 

“natasha…are you awake?”

 

no…i’m not awake. not alive, not breathing…i died when he fell.

 

part of her did. the part of her that was saved by him, the part of her that loved him. the part of her that clung to the idea that she could do something good. 

 

what has good done for her? it’s cost her her sister, her friends, her family, and now the man who saved her life…everything she’s ever cared for. 

 

what’s the point?

 

“you go home, nat. you go home, and you fix this and you find your sister…”

 

her sister.

 

yelena…

 

“we’re both upside down!”

 

“yes. i’m awake.”

 

she turns, eyes red and puffy, but gazing at the huge, green creature before her as he ducks under the frame of her bedroom door and walks in, feet thundering slightly with each step he takes towards her.

 

he should be terrifying.

 

his eyes are filled with nothing but sadness. 

 

he doesn’t sit, perhaps because he knows he’ll break the bed, but as she sits up, he kneels in front of her, those kind eyes still boring into her own as one, giant green hand raises, palm flat up, a lopsided smile lifting his cheeks. 

 

she bites down on the inside of her cheek to stop herself from crying, but the tears fall anyway as she raises her hand and mimics him, and as he lowers his arm and twists it so his forearm is facing up, she taps his forearm before she trails her fingers down it, sniffing as she flicks upwards slightly at the tips of his fingers. 

 

he chuckles, a booming sound that almost rattles the glass of water beside her as his head bobs up and down with a firm nod.

 

“there’s a reason the lullaby always worked back then, nat.” he tells her, smiling as natasha purses her lips, unable to smile. 

 

“‘cause we liked each other?” she croaks out. bruce chuckles before he smiles fondly. 

 

“more than that. because you’re the heart of this team. without you, we don’t work. clint knew that.” natasha shakes her head, because how can he say that? 

 

how can he say that when he was her heart? 

 

“how does a heart function without the thing that keeps it beating, bruce?” she’s starting to lose it now, god, her heart hurts so damn much…

 

“i’m not gonna tell you not to mourn, natasha. the grief that’s in you, part of it is in all of us. but we have the stones, which means we can bring everyone back and we can end this. for him.” 

 

yelena…they can bring yelena back…she needs her sister. 

 

clint, god clint, what is she supposed to do without him?

 

the kid…natasha, the kid, she’s probably so lost right now…

 

“where’s the girl? kate, where’s kate?” natasha manages to get out, jumping up as bruce sighs. 

 

“hasn’t left her room. just like you.” 

 

natasha leaves before he can say another word. 

 

she doesn’t even know what she’s supposed to say. the look on kate’s face when they’d all returned from their time travel experiment, when natasha had returned but clint hadn’t, it still haunts her.

 

kate had just stared, had stared before she shook her head, refusing to believe it, and then she just ran. 

 

natasha hasn’t seen her since. 

 

“kate?” natasha knocks on the door to the room the young hawkeye has been staying in since they all banded together on this crazy mission, but there’s no response. 

 

she slowly opens the door, peeks inside and sees just the back of the young girl as she faces the window in a chair, staring outside, barely moving…

 

“kate?” natasha whispers, stepping into the room, the tears already building as the girl’s shoulders tense up, but she still doesn’t turn. 

 

natasha doesn’t know what to say or do here. when the blip first happened, when everyone disappeared, clint had disappeared, too. when rumors started spreading that the ronin had returned, natasha knew it was clint, but trying to find him and track him was as hard as it had been when he’d been an agent of shield. 

 

and then he had called her. then he had told her that he’d found a kid, a protege, one that got him off the path of murder and on the path of justice, a kid with insane archery and hand to hand combat skills, and when natasha had met her, she knew she was the perfect match for clint. she was vibrant, positive, and god, so damn determined to help people...

 

she was everything clint was when natasha first met him.

 

and now he’s gone…and kate’s all alone.

 

“and look after kate for me, you hear?”

 

“i don’t…i don’t know what i’m s-supposed to do, or say-.” natasha tries to get out, but kate suddenly shifts in her seat before she responds. 

 

“there’s nothing you can say. he’s gone.” kate croaks out, head bowing before she turns, and the look of heartbreak on her face…

 

natasha can’t even look at her. kate doesn’t move, and when natasha looks up, she’s facing the window again. 

 

“you know, when he saved me from those tracksuit mafia mobsters, and he was in that ronin suit, i didn’t think in a million years we’d become partners. he was so angry, all the time. it took a full year for him to tell me why he was doing what he was doing as ronin, why he was so mad. it’s been about them all along. always has been. always about getting them back.” 

 

she stands suddenly, and natasha refuses to look away this time, stares her right in her bloodshot eyes as kate bishop’s face screws up with pain-

 

and suddenly, kate’s rushing towards her, and before natasha can think to defend herself, kate’s barreling into her, arms wrapping around her in a hug that has natasha falling back slightly in shock before she’s crumbling. 

 

she holds kate close, the both of them squeezing as they cry into each other’s shoulders, and natasha tries her hardest to just breathe, but god, it’s hard, it’s so hard…

 

clint is gone. her best friend is gone. 

 

“i’m s-sorry, i’m so sorry, i tried to stop him-.” natasha chokes out, but kate’s rubbing her back, and the fact that this young kid is being so strong right now when it’s supposed to be natasha being strong for her…

 

“he was gonna do whatever it took to get his family back. it’s not your fault, natasha.” kate whispers. natasha shakes her head. 

 

“i should’ve fought harder.” more tears fall, but kate’s pulling back and brushing them away with the back of her hand. 

 

“he made his choice. he loved you, natasha. i trained with him for four years, and in those four years, the only thing that ever made him happy was talking to you. when you found us and told us you’d found a way to bring everyone back, we promised each other we’d do whatever it takes to make it happen. clint was just keeping his promise.” kate says hollowly, smiling as best as she can while natasha just stares at this girl before her.

 

god, this girl is brave. so goddamn brave…and natasha knows where she gets it from. 

 

“i’m sorry, kate.” she whispers. kate sighs, but squeezes natasha's hands tightly.

 

“so am i. but clint told me, that doing this job, helping people…it comes with sacrifices. it comes with loss, and heartbreak. it hurts now, but the best way i can honor him is by using everything he taught me. and…and at least you’re still here…at least i didn’t lose both my heroes in one day.” kate says with a sad smile, squeezing natasha’s hand once more.

 

they take a moment, the both of them glad to at least have each other in this moment, and natasha swallows thickly and makes the decision quickly.

 

that she’ll protect kate from any and everything. that she’ll fulfill her final promise to clint. 

 

“kate, i…if we do this, if we bring everyone back, there’s something you should know. i know clint told you about his family, but…i have someone, too.” natasha tells her. kate sniffs once and wipes her tears before she’s all business once more.

 

“who?” she asks softly. 

 

“a sister. her name’s yelena. she disappeared along with everyone else, but she was a black widow, like me. which means when she comes back, we probably won’t be able to find her. once we…once we get to clint’s family, once we tell them what happened…will you help me find her?” natasha pleads, and she should’ve known.

 

she should’ve known, with kate bishop being the protege of clint barton…

 

she’d say yes in a heartbeat.

 

“yeah. of course i will. whatever you need, natasha. you were his partner, and he was mine. so from now on, we help each other, okay?” kate tells her firmly.

 

you brave, brave kid.

 

some people, natasha concludes, are made for this hero business.

 

kate bishop is one of them.

 

“okay. it's a deal.” 

 

 

“i got married, we adopted three years ago-.”

 

everything else ana says comes through as if it’s filtered, yelena’s mind spinning a million miles an hour as she tries to piece together what the hell is going on. 

 

she felt it. she felt…something. she doesn’t know what, but she felt like her body was floating for the briefest moment, had seen it explode into a million pieces before it had reformed in less than a second, like she’d taken some kind of drug to make her hallucinate, but then she’d exited the bathroom and ana had told her…

 

it can’t be, it doesn’t make sense, it can’t be true-

 

“okay stop, ana…i was in there for five seconds, i come out and i’ve lost five years of my life, please…” yelena interrupts, trying to understand, but nothing is making sense.

 

some alien from some other planet had wiped out half of life across the universe using some ancient stones with unbelievable power?

 

she’s been dead for five years? 

 

this must be some sort of prank, it must be...

 

“i’m sorry, yelena, i was just trying to help you.” ana whispers sadly, and yelena licks her lips and nods. 

 

“i know, i…thank you…yeah…” she breathes, still not processing anything of what’s going on, but one thing clear in her mind. 

 

“i need to find natasha. can you help me find natasha? i need to tell her i’m okay.” she tells ana desperately, watching as the girl blinks in surprise before she nods. 

 

“yeah, sure, let’s…” ana’s eyes suddenly widen, and yelena notices she’s looking behind yelena at something, which has her spinning around and reaching for her gun just as some man with a cape and a goddamn goatee appears through…

 

well, yelena has no idea what it is, a gigantic yellow circle that looks like…is it a portal? she can see something behind him, but she can't make out what it is- 

 

“yelena belova?” the man says questioningly, looking at her with a raised eyebrow that has yelena blinking at him in confusion.

 

“who are you?” she exclaims, fingers closing on her gun tighter, but the man smiles and raises his hands in surrender. 

 

“the name’s stephen strange. i’m not here to hurt you, but your help is needed, can you come with me, please?” he asks firmly.

 

yelena blinks once and looks to ana, who shrugs before yelena looks back at this man in anger.

 

“what the hell are you talking about?!” she snaps, and the man sighs loudly before he purses his lips.

 

“i’m going to take you to your sister. natasha romanoff? there’s a big battle happening and your sister and her team need all the help we can get. this is a battle against thanos, a battle that will decide whether we succeed or lose forever. so…are you coming with me, or not?” he demands.

 

yelena glares at him, because she knows what her answer is going to be, he had her the second he mentioned natasha.

 

he doesn’t need to be a jerk about it. 

 

“y-yeah, just…ana, stay here, i’ll contact you after, i promise-.”

 

“it’s fine! go! go to natasha, and good luck!” ana breathes, gripping her shoulder and squeezing it with a smile. 

 

stephen smiles and suddenly begins moving his hand in a circle, another portal appearing right before yelena’s eyes as she looks at him with a raised eyebrow. 

 

“whoa…what is this, magic?” she asks in awe. 

 

“yes. now the people we’re going against aren’t exactly human, but i’m sure a talented woman like yourself knows how to keep herself safe-.” stephen starts, but yelena rolls her eyes. 

 

“i don’t care who they are, if they’re in the way of me and my sister, i’ll cut them down. so what, i just step through this thing and i find her?” she asks. 

 

“it’s a portal, and yes.” he says simply. 

 

“okay. see you out there, then.” yelena tells him firmly, and stephen scoffs at just how undisturbed she is by everything and how focused she is on getting to her sister as she steps through the portal-

 

and sees hell all around her.

 

“holy…” yelena breathes, staring around in awe at what she’s witnessing as stephen steps through the portal and it closes behind him. 

 

war. complete and utter chaos and war. 

 

the magic man flies off into battle, and there’s bodies slamming into each other, shouts and screams and gunfire and explosions and yelena’s heart is racing wildly as she looks around, and the only thing that comes to mind is-

 

“natasha!? natasha?!” she screams, looking around and ducking with a grunt just as something goes flying over her, and she looks up to see that gigantic green man, the hulk, he’s called, come crashing past her, slamming into some huge skeletal looking creature, and then that spider boy she's seen online zips past her, god, what is going on-

 

something slams into her, pummeling her into the floor as she raises her hands and wraps them around the neck of the creature attacking her, pushing them back with a cry of panic-

 

the creature suddenly shrieks, something slamming into its side and giving yelena the chance to reach down for her belt and retrieve a knife to slam it right into the creature’s head. it topples beside her, and yelena swallows the bile that rises in her throat as she hears pounding footsteps-

 

and a young girl appears before her with a bow in her hands.

 

“hey! you okay?” she asks, holding her hand out for yelena to take, which she does, the girl helping her up and looking at her with concern.

 

“y-yeah, i’m…some guy showed up, magic guy-.” yelena stutters out.

 

“doctor strange?” the girl interrupts, reaching behind her and nocking an arrow before she lets it fly behind yelena, who hears an explosion and sees fire reflected in the girl’s eyes as she ducks. 

 

“yes, h-he told me he’d bring me to my sister, i’m looking for my sister-.” yelena says hurriedly, pushing the girl to the side as some creature comes running towards them from behind her. she raises her hand and shoots a taser disk right at it with her widow’s bites, watching as it spasms with a shriek before it collapses. 

 

“what’s her name?” the girl asks breathlessly, grabbing yelena by the collar of her suit and pulling her down just as something goes flying over their heads. 

 

“natasha, her name’s natasha romanoff!” yelena yells, reaching behind her back for her batons and slamming them together to create a staff that immediately sparks with red electricity. she slams it into a creature that comes running straight for them, watches it collapse to the floor with a grunt before she reaches for the holster strapped to her thigh and grabs her gun, shooting it right in the head. 

 

“wait, you're yelena? you’re really natasha's sister?” the girl asks in surprise, again nocking an arrow and not even looking as she aims it behind her and sends it flying right into the head of one of the creatures, and as soon as it falls down, it sends an electric current across the floor that knocks out three other creatures as yelena watches on in awe. 

 

“yes! wait, how do you know that-.”

 

“listen, everyone’s kinda in battle right now, but we’ll find natasha after together, okay? man, she’s gonna be so happy to see you!” the girl says with a wide grin, gripping yelena’s arm and whipping her around until they’re back to back. 

 

“who are you?!” yelena exclaims. the girl grins as she nocks an arrow and looks at her. 

 

“i’m kate bishop! stick with me, we’ll get out of this alive if we do!” she grunts as she lets the arrow go flying, and yelena sighs, but fires up her widow’s bites and holds her staff closer as the girl nocks another arrow and nods at her. 

 

“alright, kate bishop, let’s do this!”  

 

 

natasha’s on her knees, her heart aching, her body aching even worse.

 

she’s pretty sure her right arm is broken, along with her right eye socket and her right wrist and basically the whole right side of her body from when thanos bitch slapped her across the field, but at least she’s relatively unharmed.

 

emotionally?

 

tony stark is dead.

 

clint barton is dead and tony stark is dead and natasha’s starting to wonder if any of this was worth it.

 

she’s just lost her two best friends. 

 

thanos is gone, they’ve won, but at what fucking cost?

 

she watches pepper cry over tony’s body, sees peter being consoled by rhodey, sees steve and bucky and everyone on their knees-

 

her eyes land on a woman in red, tears falling down her cheeks, and despite her pain, natasha finds herself jumping up and rushing over to her just as wanda maximoff looks up and makes eye contact with her.

 

“natasha? i-.”

 

natasha barrels into her and hugs her close before she can get another word in, choked out sobs escaping her as wanda hugs her back with a heavy sigh in her ear.

 

“natasha, you’re hurt-.”

 

“shut up, you’ve been gone five years, all i wanna do right now is hold you.” natasha breathes, ignoring the pain on the right side of her body as wanda chuckles in her ear and presses a kiss to her hair. they stay hugging each other for a long time before the earpiece in her ear crackles, and natasha finally pulls away and touches it with a frown.

 

“hello?”

 

“nat-kate bish-i found-ter-are you?!” 

 

natasha frowns as kate’s voice crackles through, and she looks out onto the field in a panic, trying to locate her.

 

“kate, you’re not coming through properly, where are you-.”

 

a whistle echoes out, changing pitch from high to low through the quiet field, and at the sound of it, natasha whimpers and almost falls to her knees before wanda’s catching her in surprise.

 

“natasha? what is it?” she asks urgently, but natasha pushes herself up with a whine and licks her lips before she echoes the whistle back shakily. 

 

pitch low, to high. 

 

she spins around, trying to locate the source-

 

kate bishop rounds the corner, and right behind her…

 

natasha really does fall to her knees now.

 

she’s sobbing, unable to stop herself, tears welling in her eyes and falling before she can stop them, and kate is pointing at her as the person beside her looks around anxiously, eyes finally landing on natasha-

 

“NATKA?!” yelena belova shouts, this big grin splitting her face almost in two before she’s running straight for natasha, who can’t even stand, her entire body just trembling with shock.

 

yelena, my baby sister, she’s here, she’s back-

 

yelena skids to a halt in front of her and wraps her arms around her, and natasha doesn’t care that her arm and her wrist is broken, that she probably also has broken ribs and god knows what else.

 

she hugs her back and squeezes her so tightly, yelena’s wheezing in her ear from the struggle to breathe, natasha burying her face into her sister’s neck and breathing her in because she’s here.

 

she’s here, she’s here, she’s here-

 

“natasha, you’re hurt-.”

 

“shut up, please, just stay right here.” natasha chokes out, refusing to let yelena go as she chuckles and rubs natasha’s back comfortingly. 

 

“you’re back…god, you’re back, i got you back, you’re here!” natasha whispers, more tears falling, her whole body still shaking as yelena sniffs and finally manages to pull away from her sister to cradle her face in her hands gently. yelena presses her forehead against natasha’s, the both of them still clutching each other as natasha keeps gripping her to confirm she’s really fucking here.

 

five years of torture, five years of being all alone, of tears and anger and so much fucking grief and sadness, and she's here, she's here...

 

“you look like shit, sestra. are you okay?” yelena asks with worry, brushing her thumb over natasha’s bleeding and slightly sunken in eye socket, and her sister whines and nods with a breathless laugh, taking in her little sister for the first time in five fucking years.

 

yelena has a couple of scrapes on her face, one gash above her brow that’s bleeding quite badly, but she seems relatively unharmed otherwise, and when natasha looks up, kate bishop is standing behind her with a wide grin, also with some cuts and bruises on her face, but at least they’re both standing.

 

natasha thanks every single god she knows.

 

“natasha, she was amazing! we worked together out there, and it was like we’d worked together our whole lives, it was so cool-.”

 

“she did this really good body throw, and her archery skills are fantastic, i don’t know where you found this one, natka-.”

 

“and that staff! man, that staff, she was swinging it around, she took out like five of those aliens-.”

 

natasha reaches up with her one good arm and yanks kate down by the hand until she’s landing on her knees with a grunt, and natasha’s wrapping her arms around them both as they huff in surprise, but hug her back just as tightly. 

 

“i’m still so confused on what’s going on, natasha, this magic man came through a portal and told me to come here, and ana said five years have passed, but i don’t understand how-.” yelena starts, but natasha pulls back and kisses her temple, looking at the two women before her with hope and happiness tearing through her heart for the first time in five years.

 

“i’ll explain everything, moya lyubov, i promise, but right now, we need to find survivors and…and find the dead.” natasha swallows thickly, looking around and the destruction before her as kate sighs and yelena nods sadly.

 

“okay, later then. you tell me everything.”

 

 

yelena handles the details of everything quite well for a person who’s been gone for five years in what felt like the blink of an eye.

 

natasha’s arm is in a cast and in a sling, and she’s wearing an eye patch like a goddamn pirate, but she’s otherwise okay, and yelena is nursing some fractured ribs while kate tackles a bruised spine, but the fact that they’re okay is all that natasha cares about. 

 

natasha’s heart still hurts, and she’s pretty sure it will never stop hurting, especially after she had delivered the news to laura and the kids that clint was gone.

 

laura had cried, but had held natasha close and said she was glad she didn’t lose them both. the kids were distraught, but shared the same sentiment, and natasha doesn’t know what she did to deserve the love she gets from the bartons, even if she worked with laura and clint when they were all shield agents. 

 

she doesn’t deserve it. any of it.

 

she tells laura everything, because laura asks her to, and they make a grave for clint in the farm where he was the happiest, because tony stark shouldn’t be the only one who gets a funeral. 

 

wanda, kate and yelena are there with her, yelena promising to look after the barton family with a heavy heart and nothing but gratitude for clint barton, because natasha is alive because of him. laura welcomes kate with open arms almost like an adopted daughter, and as the months go by and everyone tries to heal from the events of that final battle, laura continues to check in on kate and yelena and natasha, to the point they’re invited to the farm once a week for dinner. 

 

all three of them don’t miss it for anything. 

 

it’s all a mess, the aftermath of thanos, and of the snap, and of everything, but natasha tries not to focus on the insanity and focus on the fact that she has her sister back. 

 

she has her sister back after five years of pain and suffering and wondering if she would ever see her again. 

 

clint, if you can hear me…i can never thank you enough…

 

slowly, natasha heals, and yelena is with her every step of the way, and she eventually gets the strength to take them to russia to meet up with alexei and melina, who both natasha and yelena sob with the second all four of them reunite.

 

five years without her family…five years without them was even worse than twenty one years without them, and natasha feels like her heart can’t possibly take any more. 

 

happiness that her family is back.

 

grief over losing tony and clint.

 

anger over losing five years with everyone because of that purple asshole altogether. 

 

sadness for laura, and the kids, and kate. 

 

it’s too many mixtures of emotions, and natasha’s so damn used to pushing everything down, because that’s what the red room taught her, but this time, she’s feeling everything with all her heart, because it’s an injustice to clint and tony and everyone they lost if she doesn’t. 

 

so she forces herself to feel it all, cries herself to sleep some nights, but yelena’s there to brush her hair back from her face and hold her and tell her that everything’s okay because they’re together now. 

 

they’re together and nothing will tear them apart ever again. 

 

yelena suffers, too.

 

it’s disorienting, being in one year and then blinking and suddenly being five years in the future. there’s many times where she wakes up and looks at the clock with a clenched jaw, and natasha, or kate when she’s over, have to tell her that it’s just the next day, that she hasn’t missed any time, that there’s been no strange time jump and everything’s okay. 

 

sometimes she’ll check the date five times in a row, or ask natasha if the date is still the date in the same day, but natasha’s patient, because how can she not be?

 

yelena's her baby sister, and she spent so long without her, she can't dream of doing nothing to help her.

 

the most shocking thing to come out of all of this is how well yelena and kate seem to get along.

 

their teamwork against thanos has apparently bonded the two, with kate visiting yelena and natasha at natasha’s apartment pretty much every day, and when natasha finds kate and yelena sleeping in yelena’s bed one morning with their arms and legs practically intertwined, she doesn’t say a word about it, just smiles and walks away with the feeling that kate will be sticking around for awhile, and she has absolutely no problem with that. 

 

of course, there is also the morning she knocks on yelena’s door and finds her naked under the covers with kate dropping over the side and ducking under the bed in equally naked fashion, and natasha’s left rushing out the room with a red face and panic rushing through her, and when she tries to bring it up, yelena tells her to stay out of her business just like she stays out of hers and wanda’s business, and natasha’s left mortified at the thought that yelena’s likely noticed wanda’s late night visits and early departures from the apartment. 

 

they move on. it takes time but they do.

 

yelena and natasha spend almost every night watching at least one movie cuddled up on the couch, because natasha refuses to let her go now that she has her back after five years without her, and when melina eventually tells them she’s gotten back on track with the widows and knows the location of a few who are still under dreykov’s mind control, natasha and yelena decide to work together to help her.

 

and of course, kate decides to come along for the ride. 

 

working with kate is like working with clint again, and it brings tears to natasha’s eyes every time, because kate is so efficient with her archery abilities, and moves so very much like clint used to that it’s harrowing, but also so comforting.

 

he really did teach her everything…

 

the even crazier thing is watching kate and yelena work together.

 

because they work in harmony just like clint and natasha used to, and the way they move, the way they yell out to each other, the way they sometimes don’t even need to say a word to know what the other needs…

 

they’re partners.

 

they’re hawkeye and black widow.

 

and natasha’s pretty sure that if clint was here, he’d feel the same pride she does at the sight of them.