Happily Ever After If You Feel Like It
(December 2014 - January 2015)
DUE JANUARY 31st 2015
A voice came to me. It called out comfortingly,
It said, "Come here,
Leave your deaf and sinful land,
Leave Russia forever.
I will wash the blood from your hands,
Root out the black shame from your heart,
With a new name I will conceal
The pain of defeats and injuries.”
- Anna Akhmatova
NOVEMBER, PRESENT TIME
Natasha looked up at the bleak grey-blue Russian sky and shivered, wrapping her cloak closer to her waist and fidgeting with her bright red locks. The oranges leaves hung motionlessly on the branches of tall oak trees, and somehow between the dead earth and the dead sky, there was an element of beauty. Clint had taught her that. She remembered November days when she wouldn't need any extra layers of clothing, nothing fancy or warm. All she needed was for him to enfold her in his arms, and the heat between them could warm a thousand nights of death or sorrow. But those days had run out like little grains of sand in an hour glass. It was time to make the decision.
It was time.
NOVEMBER, TWO YEARS AGO
Americans would always say that Russia was cold and barren, unable to grow anything thing other than "whatever borsch is made out of" and communist spies. She remembered how much she hated them (and how she was allergic to borsch). It was days like these when the tourists became rowdier, more demanding. Old American men with greasy hair and bulging waistlines would point at her and say "How much does she cost?"
Everything has a price. You just need to know what you're getting in return.
Sometimes she wanted to shoot them in the head. She would feel her jaw reflexively clench whenever she heard the words "mail order bride," "tzarina," "Princess Anastasia," or "Does she speak English?"
I guess the Americans were right about growing Soviet spies, she would think to herself with a smirk, although I'm really more of an assassin. Usually the inside joke that was enough to prevent her from actually taking out her revolver and making a bloody mess on the pavement. She was trained not to draw suspicions and to always conserve bullets. They called her Black Widow, not Bloody Mary. It was beneath her to kill for fun. She listened to orders, not impulses.
Until she met him. Him.
NOVEMBER, ONE YEAR AGO
The day was a blur. People went in buildings, walked around, swore under their breath, and smelled of cheap vodka. There usually isn't much to do when every day the sun hides it face in a cloudy veil. Despite the cold, some moron turista had thought it was a great idea to hold a drinking contest in a local bar. It was hard to tell who had won because so many people were vomiting, stumbling around, and laughing like banshees in the streets.
Natasha rolled her eyes as she walked around in her skin-tight black leather outfit. She had no clue why her superiors demanded that she wear this so much. It was warm, but it was foolish to think that anyone wouldn't notice a woman walking around in patent leather black jumpsuit. Men are such pigs, she thought to herself. There were enough apathetic people on the sidewalks to camouflage amongst the stark urban background.
But whoever the drunk foreigners were, even the strongest sense of Russian aloofness was not enough to prevent some stares. For some reason, they were all wearing the same uniform, and it looked like they came straight out of a costume party. The strangers may have walked around unnoticed if not for their drunken antics. The most pathetic part of it all was that some people were still drinking. Some guy with a full bottle of Smirnoff stumbled around while trying to force it down as quickly as he could. He failed and loss balance. The clear liquid alcohol fell all over Natasha's clothing, and she seethed with anger. Acting upon instinct, she took out her revolver and aimed it straight at his head. The man froze instantly and urinated all over himself. As her fingers unlocked the safety setting on her gun, she suddenly found that there was someone aiming at her, too.
"Put. It. Down." The voice was stern and deep, more cautious than angry. "NOW."
She swiveled around and held her gun by her side, looking straight into the eyes of her antagonist. He was a young man with sharp features. His eyes were brown, similar to her own mahogany hued irises, but much darker and purposeful. She could feel his glare digging into her without changing expression. Natasha might have felt more vulnerable in front of him if not for the fact that he was dressed in a sleeveless black leather shirt and held an arrow four centimeters away from her face. She fought back the urge to laugh, yet his expression remained as serious.
"Stop laughing," he demanded.
"Oh come on. You must be joking," she replied with only a slight chuckle.
"No. I can promise that your face won't be so pretty if you keep acting like this." His eyes squinted slightly with a sense of annoyance, and his arrow continued to stay in front of her.
"You really think you can hurt me with that?" She rose her gun and pointed it to his forehead. Without saying a word, the archer pointed to the ground and shot three ants right on target before putting an arrow in the exact position it was before. He motioned to her weapon.
She dropped it.
"Nick, I think I just found our girl."
NOVEMBER, PRESENT TIME
As she opened the front door and went back into the cozy setting of her home, she was careful not to tread any dirt inside. She reflected back on the days between the time she met Clint and now. Things had gotten so complicated. Natasha had hated him so much, had hated all that an American in spandex called Hawkeye could possibly represent. They had clashed, Russian assassin versus American sniper, woman versus man, renegade versus warrior. And then suddenly, everything changed. It was Hawkeye who had made her realize that she had been brainwashed. It was Hawkeye who had put his reputation on the line to save her. And it was this Hawkeye, this Clint Barton who had stolen her heart.
The romance hadn't been easy. Nothing ever was. But somehow he never let go. He never had doubts. He was the same stupid, stupid American who captured her stupid, stupid Russian heart. The political differences slowly melted, and she stopped seeing him as a representation of his homeland. So they were equal now.
And now her thoughts made their way back to her impending decision. Nick had reluctantly let her assist in S.H.I.E.L.D operations for quite some time. The conflict that arose between the United States and Russia had dissipated, and now it was time for the hawk-eyed hero to make his way home. He could have chosen to stay in Russia, and he probably would have if not for the recent emergency situation in America. So now he was back in his country, fighting the good fight. He had invited her to join, but he wanted her to move to the US permanently. He didn't understand.
Russia waits for no one.
Natasha was just about to turn on the news and brood more when a knock came at the door. She stood up, and suddenly the door swung open.
"Clint?" she said.