Fandom Category: The Avengers
Pairing: Natasha Romanoff/Clint Barton
Fic Title: Phase
Rating/Warning(s): T/PG-13. Warnings for discussions about mind-control/brainwashing
Genre: Aaaaaangst, Post-movie
WIP?: This story is complete in and of itself, but is part of a larger ongoing series that can be found here. It does work as a stand-alone read though.
Why This Must Be Read: I felt this story like a punch to the gut. Everything about this fic is heartbreaking--Natasha's backstory (which is written and presented with great skill), Clint's reactions, Steve and Tony being unfortunate observers of this particular trainwreck, and especially the last scene in the story. Just...utterly devastating to read, knowing how much Clint and Natasha have been through together, and then to see them having to take opposite sides, both for valid and understanding, if frustrating, reasons. The rest of the series is worth reading as well. There's fantastic Clint backstory, an intriguing treatment of how the team is learning to negotiate team dynamics and trust, and some truly wonderful characterizations.