Clint led her to the jet that was practically idling for their departure at the private airspace not twenty minutes from the tower. Tony texted Clint before they left, wishing them a safe flight, and not to leave any stains on the jet. Clint might have blushed at the implication, but he just laughed, shook his head, and boarded the jet.
The flight was relatively short, and by the time they landed, Clint had had adequate time to tease Tasha about not packing her itty bitty bikini, something he knew she didn’t even own. Actually, Clint had never known Tasha to swim for the fun of it. Once or twice, they’d swam for their lives, but otherwise, Natasha was all work and no play. He wondered how she managed from day-to-day.
Clint exited the jet with his things in tow, and told the pilot to remain, that they would be back in a few hours. The man seemed content to doze in his seat while Clint motioned for Natasha to follow him to the cab he called.
It took them along highways mostly abandoned at this time of night, and to the huge beach house Tony owned. He’d promised them that the privacy there was impeccable, that it had its own private beach area, and that the bar was always stocked, even when he wasn’t vacationing there.
The sound of the waves crashing met Clint before he reached the boardwalk that led to the sand. The smell of the surf, the warm breeze coming in off the water, it was all like heaven to him. He stood at the top of the boardwalk, overlooking the dark beach, and he grinned, holding his arms out to allow the window to pick up his hair, and deposit damp and salt there.
“It’s wonderful, isn’t it” he asked Natasha over his shoulder. “I love the ocean.”
Natasha’s eyes flickered from the dark beach back to her companion several times as he spoke. Her expression remained blank as she considered what was really happening in this moment. The whole situation was so corny it was practically unbelievable - a moonlit beach, two people discussing the loveliness of the surroundings - and surely something out of a bad romantic comedy. Tasha knew that, had anyone else brought her here, she probably would have rolled her eyes and hurried inside to find the nearest liquor cabinet. But with Clint.. Well, instead of annoyance or cool amusement, she felt the strangest fondness grow for her friend.
Clint had risked his job (although Fury would never fire him, really) just to take her to see the beach after one offhand comment. It was sweet, and so very Clint, that she scrambled to put some emotional distance between them.
“It’s just water.” But despite her harsh words, her gaze remained locked on the crashing waves and the ripple of the water where the moonlight touched it. He was right - it really was wonderful. Without warning, Nat brushed past Clint, her eyes locked on the place where the water met the shore as she picked her way across the sand.
She toed off her sneakers once her shoes sunk in one too many times, bending to pick them up from where they lay in the sand, before continuing her trek down to the shore. Her ears detected the sound of Clint following quietly behind her, but she didn’t turn to face him until she had reached the place where the waves lapped gently at the sand.
“It’s… Pretty, I guess,” Natasha eventually murmured, nose wrinkling slightly as the water brushed against her toes.
Clint had changed out of his usual clothing, pulling on jeans and tennis shoes, along with a t-shirt and a lightweight zip-up hoodie. He grabbed his quiver and bow, just in case, and brought them along. He had been very careful to talk to Tony about using a jet. The man had seemed all for breaking the rules, and he seemed even more anxious to get he and Natasha out of the tower for the time being. He seemed to think Tasha didn’t get out nearly enough.
So Clint had gone down to the gym where Natasha had said to meet him, and this late at night, Clint knew they would be safe to leave. It was rare he really broke the rules this way. Not that Clint was a by-the-book sort of person. But he was very loyal to Shield, and to its mission, and he usually tried not to toe the line with its higher-ups, just for the sake of his job.
But in the end, Shield had not been the one to save his life on multiple occasions. It hadn’t been the one to stand back-to-back with him and shoot their way out of a ring of men intent on killing them both. Shield hadn’t been the one he’d laid next to, once, a long time ago, as the sun rose over Budapest, and they pretended like nothing had ever happened between them
In the end, the only person Clint was really loyal to, was this Russian, red-headed bombshell, who would always use Clint up, and throw him away without ever knowing she’d broken his heart a million times. Clint would let her break it a million more, too, because love was just funny like that. And for all of the shit Clint needed to do, for all of the things he had done that he regretted, choosing to rescue a brainwashed little girl who didn’t know any better had been the best, and worst decision of his life.
“Kiddo,” he said as he rounded the corner with his satchel over his shoulder, and his bow slung around his chest. He saw Natasha waiting for him in the gym. “Tony lent us the jet. We got—” he checked his watch, “—about twelve hours of really good nighttime down there. Should be long enough to see the ocean. Gotta leave before daylight though, I don’t mind risking your job, but hell if I’m losing mine.”
He winked at her.
Natasha shifted her weight onto her left leg, casting a quick glance at the clock located on the gym’s wall. They had agreed to meet here nearly fifteen minutes ago - but she reminded herself that Clint was probably off speaking with Tony about their spontaneous trip to the beach and their means of transportation. Her green eyes drifted back to the page of the novel currently held between her fingers, but she found it hard to focus as her mind started to wander. Their little trip could put both of their jobs at risk, and possible send Director Fury into a rampage of fury, but she couldn’t stop the little jolt of excitement that shot through her at the idea.
The faint sound of footsteps broke into Natasha’s thoughts - steps that were, unmistakably, Clint’s. He walked with a quiet sort of gracefulness that had taken Tasha years to finally recognize, to learn to view as distinctly Clint. Tasha glanced up as her partner strolled in, informing her of the time that had to kill, as she carefully folded down the corner of her page in order to mark it for later. She slipped the paperback back into her purse, pushing off from the weight machine she had been leaning against.
“It’s nice to see how concerned you are about my job, old man.” Her eyes drifted down to the bow slung across his chest, but she simply nodded in silent understanding, knowing that her own concealed weapons were a great comfort to her. Natasha smiled then, pushing the straps of her bag further up her shoulder, before nodding towards the door Clint had just came through. “Well let’s go then.” The redhead started forward without checking to see if he was following, figuring he was.