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Part 28: Fatal Trespasses

Series Masterlist

Words: 6.7k

Pairing: Mobster Steve Rogers x Mobster daughter reader

Warnings: References to mob crime families, strong language, physical violence, character death. This is a dark fic. Please read responsibly.

Disclaimer: The author of this work claims no ownership of characters aside from the reader, and original secondary characters mentioned. This work is not intended for those under the age of 18 due to explicit sexual content and darker themes. By reading this work or any works on my blog (jtargaryen18), you agree that you are at least 18 years of age. I do not consent to have my work hosted on any third party app or site. If you are seeing this fanfiction anywhere but archiveofourown and tumblr, it has been reposted without my permission.

Summary: For @alexakeyloveloki. Your father is the head of one of the most powerful crime families in Boston but he’s protected you from that life. In your quiet home outside the city, you’ve been cared for and protected. When the desires of a more powerful man with the will to dominate bursts into your life, all your illusions are shattered as he comes to claim what is his.


Clint paused to see Belova’s number on his phone, especially since Steve tossed her out. He understood why his boss did it, he just didn’t entirely agree with it. Belova was young, but she had a lot of potential. She was strong and loyal. Clint had no reason not to trust her.

That, more than anything, had him answering the call.


“I’ve got a location on Banner,” she said.

That got his interest. “Where?”

Belova gave him the address, an apartment over a dive bar on Stark’s turf. He knew the place.

Neal’s words about Belova falling into enemy hands crossed his mind.

“How do I know you’re not walking me into a trap?” he had to ask.

“I may not be working for the Rogers family at the moment,” she said. “But I still serve Mrs. Rogers. She would want me to relay this information.”

“Yeah, she would,” Clint said. Mrs. Rogers trusted her and considering how she’d supported him and Nat, well, that meant something to him.

“There’s more on Banner,” she went on quickly. “It will be sent to you from an unknown number when this call ends. I hope you’ll find it helpful.”

Clint did too. “Take care of yourself.”

“You too,” she said, ending the call.

Sure enough, the text came through a few seconds later. The attachment didn’t have much to offer about Bruce Banner. But his Senator brother? Clint had to read over it again to make sure he read it correctly. If what he was reading got out, the scandal would ruin the entire Banner family.

How the hell did Belova pull it off?

He and Scott were supposed to carry out their part of the boss’s plan tonight, around midnight. Clint had almost six hours to kill before getting ready for that. Did he trust Belova? Would he find Banner if he went to that address?

Anger for every bruise, every cut on Nat’s body rushed to the surface as he considered the intel he’d just been given. His Nat would need weeks to physically heal from the beating she’d taken at the hands of her husband. The fear she’d experienced in the trap of her marriage would take a lot longer to recover from if she ever did.

Guilt clawed at him from the inside, like an old, wounded beast. He could have put a stop to it. He could have taken her and run. He would have betrayed his loyalty to her brother, his boss. But maybe they’d be somewhere safe right now. Maybe she wouldn’t have terrible nightmares and shadows behind her eyes.

Maybe Steve would have killed them.

No, Clint told her over and over that he loved her. That one day, maybe Steve would change his mind and they could be together as they were always meant to be. And that day finally came. Neither of them dared to ask for more. Steve allowing them to be together was more than they could have hoped for.

But Nat had taken a severe beating to get them to that point. And Steve still wouldn’t have gone to check on her if hadn’t been for his wife’s insistence. Not with everything going on all around them.

He would have given anything to take that beating for Nat.  He’d felt so helpless that day when they found her like that in her husband’s house, broken and small. Yet again, Clint had been forced to contain the rage he hadn’t been allowed to express or act on. It had been one of the hardest things he’d done in his whole damn life. And he’d been recovering from getting shot on top of it.

But now, just maybe Belova had given him something he desperately wanted – a chance at some payback.

Steve? Well, Steve warned Banner that he needed to disappear. That the man only made it as far as Stark territory was surely not what the boss had in mind.

Banner never paid any attention to the soldiers outside his house. He took them for granted. Setting up a diversion for the armed guards staying with Banner was just too easy. Within an hour, Clint had Banner delivered to the old warehouse on the outskirts of the city. They often used it for such special occasions.

Slumped in the wooden chair with his hands bound in front of him and a sack over his head, Banner just sat, waiting. Clint would have had him tied to that chair but his arms, shown off by the dirty white t-shirt he wore, showed layers of bruises. They looked as bad as those on the woman he loved.

Clint smiled. It was the least of what the fucker deserved.

When the sack was pulled from his head, Banner’s gaze wildly scanned the room. When he spotted Clint, outrage blended with fear to find himself at the mercy of his wife’s lover.

“What the fuck is this?” Banner asked. His lower lip was cut, a dark ugly scab at its center. One of his eyes was blackened. “Steve and I had a deal.”

“Sure you did,” Clint told him. “You either disappear or you would disappear. But holing up on Stark turf? That’s not really disappearing, is it?”

“And you’re doing this to prove what?” Banner asked, eyeing him warily.

“Got nothing to prove,” Clint told him, taking a step closer.

Banner’s dark eyes hardened in anger. “Don’t you?”

Clint watched the anger that Nat described so many times about darken his face. Banner always seemed so calm, collected whenever Clint observed him during business transactions for the family.

When the two men crossed paths, the anger Clint held in check was always close to the surface. Banner was married to the woman he loved, and the man’s entitlement and contempt made Clint sick inside, like poison. Banner had Steve fooled, painting Nat as pampered but unstable and dramatic. Banner had to know Nat was with him every opportunity they had – and there were precious few times. Bitterness that he could never make Nat love him drove Banner to abuse her, verbally and mentally.

That was bad enough. When Nat learned she was pregnant, Clint came so close to getting her to run away with him. She thought about it. One tearful night, she told him she would. That was the night of the horrible fight Banner had with Nat. The one where Nat was left broken at the foot of the stairs.

She lost the baby. His baby, not Banner’s. That loss haunted her, and she blamed herself. For him, that loss was a wound that never healed, a hole in his heart.

Clint waited, not willing to let the lawyer draw him into a debate. It wasn’t easy.

After a moment, Banner chuckled, shaking his head though Clint could tell the effort physically hurt him.

“Steve’s got his sister back home now,” Banner taunted him. “He’ll even let you take care of her like the good dog you are. But he’s never going to give her to you. Not even now. Not while he can marry her off to benefit the family. You are stupid if you believe that.”

Clint had to give the bastard credit. He always knew the worst thing to hit someone with, how to strike at their deepest fears. He was a fucking lawyer. He’d been doing it to Nat their entire marriage. On nights when Clint was out there in the night, waiting to do Steve’s bidding, he’d reflect on the stories she told him. On the cutting things her husband would say to her.

Clint shrugged. He wasn’t about to play the game.

“Sounds like he already has someone in mind,” Clint lied casually. “Yeah, she needs to heal up. She looks worse than you do. But once she’s on the mend, I imagine Steve will marry her off again.”

The smirk on the other man’s mouth faded. Banner hadn’t expected him to say that.

“What?” was all Banner could say.

Clint folded his arms across his chest, standing over the bastard. “Steve can’t have Nat in his house for long. Not with his own little wife. It’s not an ideal situation. I’m sure you understand.”

Banner’s snort was an ugly sound. “Steve can’t handle his wife. If he knew how to deal with her, we wouldn’t be here, now would we?”

“Sounds like you’re blaming all this on Mrs. Rogers,” Clint pointed out.

“It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?” Banner demanded. “Steve doesn’t usually make time to do welfare checks on his sister. He could handle women just like I handled his sister. Until he married her. I showed up at his house and that little bitch met me at the door. I knew it was her that sent him to my house. She wasn’t even trying to hide it.”

“Then you get why Steve can’t let Nat linger.” Clint tried to keep the emotion out of his voice, to sound like he didn’t care.

Banner’s mind looked to be going a mile a minute. Anger flashed in those dark eyes as he studied Clint hard.

“I hope she gets what she deserves,” Banner’s tone took on a hint of bitterness. “Honestly, Nat played you and me both. She didn’t love either one of us… Ungrateful bitch.”

Clint’s fist flew before his mind could override it, striking Banner’s unbruised eye. Banner somehow managed to stay in the chair, a grin on his face when he returned his gaze to his rival.

“I knew you were full of shit,” Banner called him out.

“I’m full of shit?” Clint demanded. “I’m not the one that’s cast out, am I?”

“I served Steve well,” Banner shot back. “He couldn’t have had a better consigliere and he made a mistake. A huge mistake.”

Clint didn’t like the way he said that with a sly grin playing along his split lip.

“Now he’s got another consigliere,” Clint pointed out. “He’ll be fine.”

Banner dropped his head, shaking it in frustration. What was he not saying? That Banner was still bitter about how his marriage ended? That was obvious. But somehow, he didn’t think that Nat was the sole issue here. Why had Banner still stayed close by?

“Something else you wanted to say?” Clint asked meaningfully.

It pissed him off that Banner was now trying to ignore him. It had always pissed him off that Banner considered himself better than Clint. But that was nothing compared to how he’d treated Nat, the woman he knew Clint would die for.

Anger rose as Clint grabbed a fistful of Banner’s hair and yanked his head back sharply, making the man look at him. And Banner did look him in the eye, pure defiance flashing in those cold depths. But he wasn’t saying anything.

With his left fist, he punched Banner in the nose. The second time he felt the cartilage give beneath his knuckles. Blood gushed from the man’s nose, but he stoically kept silent. Clint struck his chin, his injured eye. Banner muffled his cries of pain, fighting to be silent.

The glee Clint expected to feel at such a moment just wasn’t there. Banner wasn’t begging him for mercy. He wasn’t cowering as Clint imagined he would. That meant the fucker had some hope he was hanging onto. He thought about Banner’s senator brother.

“Counting on your brother to save you?” Clint asked, smirking. “I wouldn’t count on that.”

Clint released his hair. Banner held Clint’s gaze. “Yeah?”

The bastard didn’t look concerned. Yet.

“Yeah,” Clint said. “He’s going to go through some things.”

Banner looked only mildly concerned. “Is he?”

Pissed off, Clint leaned down to get in his face. “You’re not worried about that girl that died on your brother’s boat last summer?”

Banner rolled his eyes. “Why should I be?”

“Someone out there knows her death wasn’t an accident,” Clint informed him. “And they have proof.”

Of all the things he expected the fucker to do, laughing wasn’t one of them. It irked Clint so fucking much, he reared back and punched Banner again, the blow knocking him off the chair. Banner was still laughing.

Trying not to let frustration best him, Clint turned back to one of the two men he brought with him, silently watching from behind him. “Give me those pliers.”

Clint didn’t take his eyes off Banner, gripping the metal tool once it was placed in his hand. The man trying pull himself off the floor with his hands bound before him did look less amused. His dark eyes were on the pliers Clint held.

Wait. Banner wasn’t worried at all about his brother’s scandal, the only reason Steven didn’t make him dead for what he did to Nat. But he was worried about the pliers.

“Put his ass back in the chair,” Clint told his men. He watched as they rushed over to Banner and none-too-gently hauled him back into the chair. “Tape him to it.”

That had Banner’s attention. Wildly, he watched as one of his guys pulled a thick roll of duct tape from his pocket. Pulling up a strip, it made a loud familiar sound.

“Wait,” Banner was worried now. “What are we doing here?” They started taping him to the chair and Banner was shouting “hey!” and “stop!”

It occurred to Clint that Banner wasn’t worried about his brother’s potential scandal. That was in the future. He was worried about having his teeth pulled out of his mouth one by one in the next few minutes. The time frame…

“What did you do, Banner?” Clint moved closer once his guys finished taping him to the chair. “What’s coming?”

Banner was silent. Now he was scared. Holy fuck. What was going on?

“Hold his head,” Clint ordered.

Banner shouted “No-no-no-no-no-no-no!” Smart enough to know what was going to happen.

Grabbing Banner’s upper lip, he pulled it painfully back from the man’s teeth.

“You know something,” Clint told him. “For every minute you don’t tell me, I’m pulling out one of these pearly whites. Got it?”

Banner didn’t immediately speak. Clint took the pliers, using them to grip one of Banner’s upper front teeth. Thrashing in the chair, Banner grew more desperate by the second, drooling and yelling “no!” at turns while Clint’s men held him steady.

“What’s coming?” Clint asked.

“I d-don’t know,” Banner managed around the tool and with Clint holding his lip. “Don’t!”

Clint pulled the tooth out with a quick yank while Banner screamed, thrashing in the hold of his men. Blood flowed from the hole where his tooth had been, from his nose, and his eyes were wide when Clint tossed the tooth casually away.

“Let’s try this again,” Clint said calmly, fear of what he didn’t know battling with the satisfaction of torturing the miserable fuck.

Clint aimed for the other front tooth when Banner cried, “Wait!”

He paused, but he didn’t move the pliers. Banner appeared desperate.

“Barnes knows!” Banner yelled.

Those two words had Clint taking a step back, taking the pliers with him. “Barnes knows what?”

Clint was all too afraid he knew the answer to that.

“Everything!” Banner cried. “You pulled my fucking tooth out!”

At Clint’s nod, his men stepped back. He got in Banner’s face again.

“What do you mean everything?” Clint wanted to know. “You been a rat all along, Banner? Is that it?”

“Hey, I’m not the rat,” Banner told him, blood filling his mouth.

“Then how do you know anything about Barnes?” Clint didn’t like this. Was something going to happen tonight? Had someone told Barnes all about their plan. This is bad. “If you’re not the rat, who is?”

Banner was shaking his head, blood running down his face, staining his clothes. Forcefully, he spat out blood.

“They’ll kill me,” Banner told him, worry flooding the man’s expression.

Clint had to laugh at that.

“What do you think I’m going to do?” Clint demanded. “You were just handed the woman I love, and I had to watch that shit, all these years. I got to watch while you betrayed her, laid hands on her.”

“Betrayed her?” Banner yelled. “She betrayed me! She never gave me a chance. I was her husband. I would have done anything for her. And she didn’t care. She was off fucking you every chance she got. Faithless bitch!”

“I will pull every goddamn tooth out of your head if you say another fucking word about her,” Clint promised, waving the pliers in front of his face. “What does Barnes know and how does he know it?”

“I wasn’t involved with any of it… until Steve broke off from Katerina,” Banner said after a moment.

And that was before Steve got married.

“Paulina’s sister, right? The one you’ve been fucking?” Clint asked.

Banner spit at Clint in anger, the bloody lob barely grazing Clint’s shoe. “I wouldn’t have fucked anyone else if I have a loyal, loving wife.”

“What did I say?” Clint’s grip tightened on the tool in his hand. “And?”

“After Steve cut her off, Kat took up with Barnes,” Banner explained.

Clint was already shaking his head. “Kat wouldn’t have known anything,” Clint told him. “Steve wouldn’t do that.”

“But I did,” Banner admitted. “One night I got to Paulina’s place and Kat dropped by. Barnes was with her.”

Holy shit.

“Barnes wasn’t trying to get me to rat anyone out,” Banner explained slowly. “But he made me an offer.”

Clint was sure he did. “What offer?”

“Barnes told me he was looking for a new consigliere,” Banner said, defiance shining in his dark eyes. “Everybody knows Petruzello is going to retire soon. Hell, he’s been with them for decades… Barnes told me he could use a guy like me. He saw me for my talent. Saw how I was being treated over here.”

“How you were treated?” Clint’s voice rose. “Are you fucking kidding me? What were you fucking lacking? You had Nat and she’s all I want in this world. You had a beautiful fucking house, nice cars, nice whore. Lot of money. Explain it to me.”

“You know what else I had?” Banner grumbled. “I had competition. And no matter how many fucking times I begged Steve to get rid of your sorry ass, he refused.”

“But Barnes was willing to, right? Is that why I got shot?” Clint shook his head, barely holding his rage down. “You must have been so fucking disappointed that I lived.”

“I was.” Banner’s glare stayed on him.

“So then what? In your anger, you beat the shit out of Nat? Is that it? You took it out on her?” Oh, something Clint said had angry color flooding Banner’s face. “Am I wrong?”

“I wouldn’t have laid a hand on my wife,” Banner said indignantly. “Not without good reason.”

“There is no good reason to hit a woman,” Clint shot back. “Never… It also wasn’t the first time.”

“How would you have felt?” Banner yelled, struggling with the tape holding him in the chair. “It was bad enough that she cheated on me with you. She never got fucking over you. Then she turns up pregnant… I completely lost it.”

The back of Clint’s hand flew, sending Banner’s head spinning. But he wasn’t backing down. With an angry glare, Banner said, “You think you would have done better? If it had been my baby, you wouldn’t have done the same?”

It took everything in him not to just shoot the bastard. Banner knew Nat was pregnant and he knew it wasn’t his. Rage clouded his mind but as he blew out an exhale, Clint tried to focus. The pregnancy had been the reason he’d beaten his wife the first time.

Why did he do it the second time?

“Did you agree to beat Nat that night for a diversion?” Clint asked him calmly. “Because the very next day, Steve called a meeting of the families. The very next day, Hansen attacked Steve’s house. He tried to take Steve’s wife. And that was your job, wasn’t it? You beat Nat to try and draw Steve out. Barnes would have known Steve only leaves the house now for business talks. Am I right?”

The corners of Banner’s mouth tipped up as he glared at him. The answer to Clint’s question was in that self-righteous smirk.

Barnes wanted Steve’s position that badly. They’d underestimated him.

“What was in it for you?” Clint had to know. “Besides taking over as Barnes consigliere. What?”

“What the fuck do you think?” Banner shot back. “The plan was for him to take Steve off the board and you with him. I’d be his new consigliere and Nat would be mine. No more interference from her brother or you. She would finally, totally be just mine.”

Swallowing back the sting of bile in the back of his throat, Clint stared him down. “Is that the plan for tonight, Banner? Is tonight Barnes’ second shot at it?”

But then it occurred to him, Banner had been tossed out. He wasn’t there when they made the plan for tonight. He had no way of knowing what was coming down. Not while his only ties left to the Rogers’ family was Paulina.

The bullet came out of nowhere, piercing Banner’s forehead and sending his head sharply back.

Clint dropped the pliers and hit the floor as another shot from behind him hit one of his men in the head. Fuck! Finding cover behind a stack of shipping pallets, Clint pulled out his .45 and began trading fire with whoever the hell it was. The other soldier he brought with him stayed behind him.

Popping up, Clint fired shots at where he thought the shooter must be. One of his bullets found the target, the rough cry sounding familiar. The sound of retreating steps had Clint sprinting in that direction, trying like hell to see who exactly who the fucker was.

If it wasn’t the rat in their family, and Clint suspected it was, it was one of Barnes men. By the time Clint reached the old rusty warehouse door, whoever had been there was gone.

Clint’s mind spun. Barnes was coming after them tonight. His first responsibility was to get to Steve and let him know they were in a world of shit right now.

His heart had him making a different choice. With shaking, blood-covered hands, Clint pulled out his phone and called Nat.

“Clint?” She still answered the phone quietly, as she had the last several years when no one was supposed to know they were talking. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, baby,” he assured her. “But we have a very big problem right now and I need you to do something for me.”

“Okay,” she said.

“When I end this call, I’ve got to tell Steve that we’ve been ratted out,” Clint explained quickly. “Barnes knows what we planned and that puts all of us in danger.”

“Oh my, God,” she whispered.

His heart squeezed in his chest. His Nat had been through so much.

“I don’t want you to worry about that,” Clint told her. “I want you to go get your sister-in-law. Right now. Get her out and take her to your mother’s sewing room. I need you to promise me you’ll do this as soon as you get off the phone.”

“Clint, I’m n-not dressed,” she said in a shaking voice. “I’m in pajamas—”

“You’re not going to take the time to get dressed, baby,” Clint said firmly. “You’re going to do what I tell you. Get the two of you in there as fast as you can. Okay? Do this for me?”

A moment passed. Finally, she said, “Yes… I’ll go now.”

“I love you,” he told her. “Always remember I love you so much.”

“I love you,” she said through tears. “Please stay alive. I can’t l-lose you now.”

Clint didn’t know what they were facing. He really didn’t.

“You won’t lose me,” he told her. “Now go. Get to that room and stay there.”

“Clint!” His other man yelled to get his attention as he pocketed his phone. “Incoming. Look like Barnes’ men.”

Taking a deep breath, Clint got ready for whatever was coming. And he had every intention of getting back to Nat.




The sound of the key rattling in the doorknob of your room pulled your attention from the book you really weren’t reading. It was a little early for dinner but maybe Dyson had a reason for arriving early. You knew the family had plans tonight. Dangerous plans.

You didn’t expect Nat to scramble into your room like a scared mouse, swallowed by the dark green bathroom she wore over her pajamas. Her eyes were wide, and fear reflected from those depths.

Something was very wrong here.

“Nat?” You rose from the bed, and she dashed over to you, her hands twisting around the old-fashioned ring of keys like nervous birds.

“Clint called me,” she whispered. “H-he said something about us being ratted out and… he wants me to come get you and take you to my mother’s sewing room.”

“What?” You didn’t understand. “Nat, slow down. Is he talking about—”

“Please,” she begged you. “He wouldn’t have told me to do this if things weren’t really, really bad. We have to go.”

You were shaking your head.

Nat was trying to pull you by the arm. “Why are we going to your mother’s sewing room?”

“Please, just come with me,” Nat begged.

“Okay,” you told her. “Just a minute.”

You wore a sweater with jeans, quickly pulling on a pair of ankle boots. You sprinted for the closet, pulling out the cloth bundle that concealed the handgun Dyson left you. Slapping a loaded clip into the 9 mm, you shoved the other clips and boxes of ammo into a tote bag, carrying it out with you as you went back to Nat.

Her green eyes were wide on the gun in your hand. “How do you have that?”

“Dyson,” you told her. “Let’s go.”

Instead of leading you down the stairs to the rest of the house, Nat led you the other way. You passed her bedroom, the other guestrooms. She stopped in front of what you thought was a linen closet. She opened the door, and the neat shelves of bedding and towels confirmed your suspicions. When she pushed a button on the wall, the shelf and the wall behind it moved, sliding away to reveal a small chamber behind it.

A secret room?

Nat pushed another button and the shelf and wall slid back into place, closing the two of you in a darkened room that was about the size of a child’s bedroom. In her defense, there was a small table with a very old sewing machine on top of it sitting off to the side and a dressmaker’s dummy next to it. There were cobwebs everywhere, like no one had been in the room for years. There was a small oval window, filtering sunlight to brighten the room.

“Oh,” Nat said, kneeling by the sewing machine and pulling a box from under it. There was a small oil lamp and a cigarette lighter. Setting it next to the sewing machine, she lit the lamp to brighten up the room around you.

“So, a sewing room?” you asked, tucking the gun in the waistband of your jeans at your lower back.

Nat nodded. “It really was once. I think our grandmother or great-grandmother actually sewed in here.”

“With a secret door?” You smiled.

“That was put in later,” Nat explained. “By my father. I guess something happened when we were kids that got him thinking. He decided we needed a room that no one else knew about in the house to hide. You know, us and Mom. Sometimes whatever illegal thing he wasn’t supposed to have. He was very proud the feds never found it.”

You nodded. That made sense. But you really needed to know what was going on.

“Okay, now that we’re here,” you spoke quietly, “what did Clint say? What’s going on?”

Taking a seat on the padded bench seat by the sewing machine, Nat took a deep breath. You didn’t like the way her hands shook in her lap.

“He just called me and told me that we’d been ratted out,” she told you. “He said Barnes knew our plans and that put us all in danger.”

Shock and fear had you staring at her. Dyson told you that those plans were dangerous to begin with and now Barnes knew them? You’d all been ratted out?

“Wait, he told you to get to the sewing room?” you asked.

“No, he told me to come get you and for us both to come here.”

Things were serious then. Fuck.

“Did Clint tell you anything that was planned?” you asked. “Anything at all?”

Nat shook her head. “I wouldn’t understand if he did. I’m just so afraid… if something happens to him., I don’t know what I’ll do.”

“Try not to worry,” you told her. “Clint’s not going anywhere now that you’re together.”

Her lips quivered like she wanted to smile but was afraid to.

“I hate this,” she said quietly. “I always have. This business they are in. I know it’s how I’ve had a roof over my head and all the nice things I’ve had in life. But it’s so terrifying to know it can all be gone in the blink of an eye. I remember sitting in here with my mother and Steve a couple of times when we were kids. It wasn’t just knowing we were in danger. It was not knowing anything.”

Your parents had been part of that world too. You’d been spared that. Everyone thought you were disfigured, kept off to the side because of it. If you’d ever been in any danger before Steve came into your life, you weren’t aware of it.

Now? You understood it.

“We know some things,” you told her. “Apparently someone ratted us out. I have a pretty good idea of who that is.”

“Who?” she asked.

“It’s Neal,” you told her. “I’m sure of it. I don’t know how or why but it’s him.”

Nat snorted. “For all we know, it’s Bruce.”

“It’s possible,” you told her. “He probably has a hand in it. I mean, we know he has a link to Barnes. Kat and her sister.”

Her green-eyed gaze never left you.

“But, no offense, he’s a lawyer,” you told her. “He might have gone to Barnes when Steve got you out of that house. But what does he really know that would benefit Barnes? He’s not a soldier. Not part of their plans… But Neal?”

Just the thought of the damage the man could do flooded your mind. He would have been part of planning whatever was supposed to happen tonight.

And Neal was flagrantly ambitious and arrogant. The way he conducted himself in your household with everyone but Steve? Especially you. What would have happened with Banner that day if Scott and Yelena hadn’t been there?

Clint was right. Everyone was in danger. Jesus. You had to think.

“Where was Clint when he called you?” you asked.

Nat shook her head. “I don’t know. All I know is that he said he and Scott were ‘running into town’ tonight. And that was when he left this morning.”

You didn’t miss the fear in her tone.

“Did you bring your phone?”  you asked her.

Nat pulled her phone and a charger from the pocket of her robe. You smiled when she handed it to you.

You tried texting Dyson first but got no response. Steve? You weren’t going there. He needed to have his head in the game and think you were safely tucked away.

Luca answered when you texted him, thinking you were Nat. If you could get him up there, to trust you, he might have the information you needed.

Luca: What you need, hon?

“What’s something you’d normally ask for, Nat?”

“Tea,” she told you. “But not for a couple of hours yet.”

Can you bring my tea up early, please? My nerves are bad today, you typed.

Luca: Sure. Give me bout 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes exactly, Luca came up the stairs with the tray. He’d just reached her bedroom door when you approached him from the other direction. Luca’s dark eyes were wide on you.

“Shit,” he muttered.

You motioned for him to follow you. His expression was a study in reluctance, but he followed you back to the linen closet, waiting for you to open the door to the hidden chamber. Nat stood up when the two of you walked back in.

“What’s this?” Luca asked, handing the tray to Nat and focusing on her.

“Nat just did what Clint asked her to,” you told him. “He called Nat and told her to come get me and for us to come here. He said we’ve been ratted out.”

Luca scrubbed a hand over his lower face, concern bleeding into his expression. “Seriously?”

You nodded. “We don’t know where Clint is. Dyson wouldn’t answer me.”

Luca’s gaze on you was a wild mix of uncertainty and dread. You understood the position he was in.

“I’m not sure where Clint is,” Luca told you. “Dyson? Here in a while, he’s supposed to be meeting Neal. Something to do with Hansen.”

Your anxiety was consumed by fear then. “What? Oh, my God. Luca…” You took a deep breath, trying not to let fear get the better of you. “Luca, if Clint’s right and we’ve been betrayed, and I believe him, who do you think the rat is?”

“Just because you don’t like Neal doesn’t make him a rat,” Luca said calmly.

“I wasn’t there for tonight’s planning session,” you said. “But I’m guessing you were. If we’ve been ratted out, it had to be someone in that room. I know it’s not you or Dyson. I know it’s not Clint. Who else was there?”

“Scott and Neal,” he said.

“Do you really think Scott would do that?”

“Fuck,” Luca muttered, his answer telling you he didn’t believe any more than you did.

“Wait, where’s Steve?” you asked in a panic.

“Locked away in his study with the new consigliere.”

Nat set the tray with the tea on the floor at her feet, riveted to the conversation.

“He just got a new lawyer.” You shook your head. “Do you know him? Could he be a problem?”

“Nah, Murdock’s good people,” Luca told you. “Besides that, he’s blind so…”

If Luca didn’t suspect anything there, you’d trust his judgment.

“Where’s Scott?” you asked. Any of Steve’s trusted circle could be in danger right now or worse.

“Scott and Clint are supposed to be heading this way in the next couple of hours,” he said. “To meet with Steve about their part in this.”

“From the way he sounded, I don’t know if Clint will be there,” Nat whispered.

Steve and Luca were safe. You didn’t know where Clint and Scott were. And Dyson?

“We have to find Dyson and Clint,” you told him before turning your attention to Nat. “Clint called you first, to tell you there was trouble. If Steve’s down there meeting with his lawyer, Clint didn’t get in touch with him which means he’s in trouble.”

Nat’s face crumbled and you hugged her, eased her back down onto the padded bench.

You and Luca both tried Dyson and Clint, you on Nat’s phone. That he wasn’t answering Nat had your fear escalating.

When Luca’s phone rang, he answered immediately. “Scott? Hey, where are you?”

You couldn’t make out what Scott was saying. Luca nodded, mouthing “he’s fine.”

“Do you know where Dyson or Barton is?” Luca asked him, shaking his head.

“S’alright. I need you to get over here,” Luca told him. “Now.”

Luca ended the call, looking from Nat to you. “Scott don’t know where anyone is… Listen. You two need to stay right here, okay? I got to get to the boss and let him know we have a situation. We gotta find Dyson and Clint right fucking now.”

Nat buried her face in her hands, crying. You met his gaze squarely, nodding. Luca had trusted the two of you on what you knew. You were grateful.

“Stay in touch with me,” you told him.

“Will do,” Luca said, making his way out of the sewing room.

There was one more call you had to make. You knew Yelena’s number by heart. You didn’t know if she would recognize Nat’s number or if she’d answer, even if she did.

On the fifth tone, someone answered. “Natasha?” Yelena’s accented voice whispered.

“No, it’s me,” you said.

“You’re already out?” There was a pause then. “I’m so sorry about—”

“I am so sorry about what happened,” she said in a rush. “I’m so sorry—”

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” you cut her off. “But we’ll talk about that later. Are you safe? Dyson said you were safe and with friends.”

“I’m safe,” she told you. You could hear the smile in her voice. “I promise.”

“Do you have any idea where he is right now?” you asked.

“Dyson? No,” she said. “Why? Is something wrong?”

You heard the same fear you felt in her words. “Yes, and we don’t know where he is. Or Clint.”

“Clint?” Yelena asked. “I talked to him earlier. I gave him some intel on where he could find Banner.”

Oh, shit.

“Can you give me the location?” You needed it. “He might be in trouble.” You told her how he called Nat and what he’d said.

“Where is Neal?” Yelena asked.

“Not sure, but I’m told his part of the plan was to go with Dyson to see Hansen,” you explained.

“Neal is the traitor,” she said gravely.

“I know. And we can’t let him kill Dyson.”

“We won’t,” she assured you. “Does Steve know?”

You had to laugh at that. “He soon will. Luca’s going to talk to him.”

“Let me know the second you get any leads on Dyson,” she told you. “We will go find Clint.”

You didn’t know who we were. But you trusted her.

“Thank you.”

“Stay where you are,” she told you. “With Nat. For now.”

You couldn’t promise her that, but you also didn’t want to mess with her head.

“I will,” you said. “Please be careful.”




Yelena ended the call, walking back into the living room of the little cabin where Dyson had stashed her for safety. Dyson’s friends, who needed a place to lay low from some trouble they found themselves in, were scattered across the room.

Clay and Aisha were watching something on the History Channel, drinking beer and eating popcorn. Pooch and Cougar were still playing cards. Only Jensen looked up from his laptop to see her return.

“What’s up?” Jensen asked.

“Dyson maybe in trouble,” she told them.

And that was all she needed to say. Now that she had everyone’s attention, she filled them in on the details. Like her, there wasn’t a lot they wouldn’t do for their mutual friend.

Clay was a strategist and didn’t take him long to come up with a plan of action.

“Three of us are going to the location where we sent Barton,” he said. “Three of us are going to Hansen’s place.”

She didn’t miss the distaste in his voice when he said the name Hansen. She wasn’t the only one the bastard had fucked with over the years.

“Yelena, you take Pooch and Cougar and find Barton,” Clay said. “I’ll—”

“No,” Yelena cut him off. “I’m going to Hansen’s.”

Aisha and Clay exchanged a worried glance. “You sure about this?” Clay asked her.

Yelena nodded. After everything Dyson had done for her, for all of them, she wanted to be there to protect him if she could. If anything happened to him, it would devastate her.

It would devastate her boss. And Yelena had no intention of having to tell Mrs. Rogers that anything happened to Dyson on her watch.

Clay nodded. “Aisha, take Pooch and Cougar and go find Barton. Yelena, you and Jensen are with me.”