When Clint had returned from an almost year long mission, you felt your heart stop in your chest. It had been so long since you had last seen him but now that he was here, it felt too unreal. A part of you thought you were dreaming and the other part of you thought that you had gone crazy and snapped, and now this was what your mind had created.
But now here he was standing before you with a lopsided grin.
“Clint!” you gasped, running towards him.
His arms wrapped around you to pull you into a tight hug. He kissed the top of your hair and held you close to him while trying to get you to stop crying by running his hand up and down your back soothingly. He pulled back and gave you a comforting smile.
“I thought I had lost you…” you murmured in the crook of his neck.
Clint pushed back a lock of hair behind your ear and gave you a tender kiss. After so long, it felt purely amazing to feel his soft lips on your own. You couldn’t afford to lose him again. You ran your fingers through his hair, moved your hand over his chest where underneath his heart sped up because of your gentle touches. Clint had missed you just as much as you missed him. Now that you had him in your arms, it would be much harder to pry him away from you.
However as sweet as the kiss was, you needed to pull away.
“Clint...you haven’t said a single word to me since you got here,” you frowned. “Is something wrong?”
“It’s because he’s deaf now, (Name),” Natasha Romanov said from the doorway of the living room.
Natasha had explained to you that an accident had happened which caused Clint to lose his hearing. When he returned to SHIELD, he had been learning how to read lips and he had been learning sign language. When he finally stopped by to see you at the apartment you both shared, he had been very uneasy.
But he wasn’t the only one who was uneasy now.
Since Clint had to learn it before for missions in the past, he had managed to learn ASL (American Sign Language) faster than other agents thought he would. When it came to lip reading, he wasn’t that good at it. Natasha had learned ASL very well too and had even begun to teach you. You on the other hand…you had begun to struggle with the constant memorization of hand symbols. You began to feel helpless which made you feel guilty since Clint was going through a tough time and needed you to be there for him.
Your communication with him had been limited to facial expressions and text messages. It made you sick in your stomach that you, his girlfriend, couldn’t learn something like this for him.
“Natasha I just don’t know what to do,” you said to her one afternoon. “I feel terrible for not advancing in ASL at all. You and Clint are like pros at it now. I’m not even beginner worthy.”
The Russian spy sighed and moved to sit down next to you on the couch in the SHIELD coffee break room. Even though you avoided her gaze, she did her best to capture it.
“(Name), don’t beat yourself up over this. The important thing is that you’re trying and I’m sure Clint is grateful for that. You just need to practice everyday and before you know it, you’ll be an expert.”
She had said more, but you weren’t really paying attention. You began to worry if your relationship with Clint would stay strong now that you couldn’t communicate with him like you used to. You wanted to make this work however you feared that Clint would leave you because he’d think that the reason why you weren’t making any process in ASL, was because you didn’t/couldn’t love him anymore. But your love for him was stronger than ever now that you got him back in your life.
“Thanks Nat, I’ll keep that in mind…”
You got up and quickly left the room. While walking down the halls you started digging through your purse to look for your iPod. You needed music to drown out your mind. However because of being distracted, you bumped into someone.
“Oh excuse me,” you said, keeping your head low.
You moved past them but they grabbed your upper arm and pulled you back.
“What the—? Oh!” you gasped. “Clint it’s you. Sorry I didn’t know…”
You quickly put your iPod away and signed, “hello,” followed by a quick, “how are you?” It was the basic sign language you had managed to learn.
“Fine,” Clint signed quickly.
You smiled and nodded, trying to remember what else you knew. Your mind came up blank. With a sigh you fished out your cellphone from your bag.
Are you on your lunch break?
He jerked his thumb towards the cafeteria, meaning that he wanted to know if you wanted to go with him. You would have loved to but having lunch with him would just be another reminder that you still weren’t capable of communicating properly with him. Yes, using your phone was an option, but you weren’t really up to it after the depressing thoughts you had earlier.
You smiled awkwardly at him.
Actually I’m needed at work. I’ll see you later on tonight though.
“Okay,” he signed, his hands falling to his sides.
He nodded and walked of, shoving his hands in his pockets and his shoulders slumped down.
When you entered the elevator and saw that you were alone, you hit your forehead against the wall.
“I’m a terrible girlfriend….”
Every night for the past two months you had been staying up to keep on learning ASL. Natasha would help you from time to time when she could but you were mostly on your own. You wanted to ask Clint for help but you wanted to prove to him that you could do this. Even now on a Saturday night you were practicing sign language.
You were sitting in your small office on your spinning chair, legs crossed and eyes focused on the book you had borrowed from the library. You were pulled out of focus from a knock at the door.
Come to bed.
Clint had the message written on his phone. He was wearing grey sweatpants with a white tanktop and was rubbing his eyes sleepily. You were tired yourself but at the same time you didn’t want to go to bed yet. You wanted to study a bit more.
“Five more minutes,” you signed.
Clint shook his head and stuffed his phone in his pocket. He walked over to you and turned off the desk lamp.
“Hey!” you frowned.
He scooped you up in his arms and carried you back to the bedroom.
“Clint stop,” you signed.
He shook his head, and you looked up to see he had a playful smirk on his lips. He carried you all the way to the bedroom and set you down on the bed, soon snuggling into you. He had his arms wrapped around you and moved so that his head was on the crook of your neck. You gave in, smiling, and wrapped your arms around him too.
“You’re learning,” he signed lazily, his hand plopping down on the mattress. A minute later he signed, quickly, “That makes me really happy.”
“Good,” you signed back.
You felt a fuzzy feeling in your chest seeing him smile at you the way he was doing so now. When you looked back at it now, you had worried too much over this. You were doing great now and now you were able to communicate with Clint better than you had before.
“I miss hearing your voice…”
It had been said so quietly, so softly that you might have almost not heard it. However you did and it sent a chill down your spine. It had been so long since you heard Clint speak and hearing it now was surprising. Natasha had said that Clint probably wasn’t comfortable with speaking now but neither of you could come up with a reason why he suddenly went mute. What had surprised you the most was what he had said.
You shifted in bed so that you could look up into his eyes. Your thumb brushed over a tear that rolled down his cheek, leaning in to kiss the spot where it had been.
“I missed hearing your voice more,” you murmured.
Thankfully, Clint had advanced in lip reading so he understood what you had said. He buried his face in your t-shirt, holding onto you tighter than he had before. Your heart squeezed in your chest when you felt him shake slightly in your arms. You quickly moved so that you could look into his eyes again.
“Hey, hey,” you said softly, running a hand through his blonde locks. “It’s okay. I know this is hard for you…”
You pressed your lips against his in a tender kiss.
“But don’t give up,” you signed when you pulled away. “I didn’t now look at me. And no matter what happens, I’ll still love you.”
Clint gave you a passionate kiss, his forehead resting on yours when he pulled away.
“Thank you…(Name),” he whispered.
Your legs were shaking in your seat. Today you and Clint had went to Stark Tower to see if the hearing aid that Tony had designed would work. There was a small chance that with this, Clint would be able to hear again. After many medical exams and tests and who knows what else, this could be the thing that helped him.
Clint was nervous as well. He had gotten his hopes up a bit too high so now he really needed this thing to work.
“Alright, here we go,” Tony said.
He helped Clint put on the hearing aid and switched it on.
“Okay...do you hear me?” Tony asked in a clear and concise voice.
“I….I…” Clint stammered.
“Did it work?” you asked from where you were now standing.
Clint instantly hopped off the medical table and ran towards you, wrapping his arms around your waist and spinning you around.
“I can hear your voice!” he shouted happily. “I can finally hear!”
“Oh my goodness, I’m so happy for you!” you beamed, throwing your arms around him as well.
Clint kissed you passionately, whispering, “I love you”, over and over again against your lips. “I love you too,” you smiled.
“Thanks for doing this Tony, I really appreciate it,” Clint said to the billionaire.
“It’s no problem. I’m really glad this worked.”
“So what do you want to do now?” you asked Clint.
“Anything gorgeous,” he grinned. “Anything as long as I can still hear your beautiful voice.”