Chapter 1

Kicking ass and taking names. That's what Natasha Romanov did for a living. She was the tops in her field and one of the most sought after espionage agents in the world. And she knew it. She played second fiddle to no one and could take down any man before he could even reach for his gun. She'd proven again and again why she was the best, probably from all the people they would send to take her out and who she all sent back in body bags.

And today was just another one of those days. She was the most capable and reliable agent in the world which was something that was desperately needed in the current time.

Natasha had spent the past decade training and spying for her country. Living and working with the agents of the Red Room had been exhausting, although she wasn't likely to admit that to anyone. Though with the sixteen hour training days and the endless supplements and serums she had had to take daily, she hadn't had much time to think.

All of it had paid off though. She was stronger faster and smarter than ever before. The Red Room had been obsessed with experimentation and she had been one of their guinea pigs. Thank God they didn't turn her into some kind of mutant. But the results were something even she didn't fully understand.

For one thing, it had expanded her brain power. Thoughts flowed through her mind with amazing fluidity and she could comprehend and assess each one within seconds. It took her mere days to learn languages which would have taken her months to do before. Her metabolism was faster than ever, and her brain was in a constant state of neurogenesis. Her cells were constantly replacing themselves and she tired much slower than the average person.

Natasha Romanov was in effect, a superhuman. She was ten times more agile than any of her peers and along with her years of training in mixed martial arts, she was the epitome of a living breathing weapon. To top it all off, she was an incredibly beautiful woman.

Yet for all of her wonderful assets, the one thing the Black Widow lacked was an ability to question authority. It was something she never did. Not for lack of wanting to, but because she didn't see how it would benefit her to do such a thing.

After all, she had been housed and cared for by them since she was ten years old. It hadn't been an ideal life, and it certainly hadn't been easy. But it had been fulfilling, she couldn't deny that.

Natasha had never allowed herself to question whether or not she was happy. In her mind, happiness and fulfillment meant the same thing. She was a professional killer, it was how she got paid, and in truth, she still didn't know how she felt about that. Most of the time, she just didn't think about it. Her career and her life belonged to her country and that was quite enough for her.

However, if there was one thing that irritated her, it was situations where the only weapon she was allowed to use was diplomacy.

Right now, that was what was happening. She was standing in one of the most beautiful ballrooms in Moscow. It had been booked for a prestigious diplomatic conference between members of the Soviet Union's government and those of the United States. Her superiors had insisted she be in attendance to watch and perhaps influence the proceedings as only she could.

So it was here on this Saturday night in early October that she found herself in the ballroom of this enormous hotel, wearing a backless black floor-length dress, holding a glass of wine in her hand and wearing heels that she was sure were outlawed by the Geneva Convention after World War II.

She was standing by the buffet table, listening to the endless stream of dignitaries go on and on about the foreign budgets and the arms race and nuclear weapons until she wanted to scream and pull her hair out.

Of course she would never voluntarily do something so undignified and beneath her, so instead, the red head took a deep breath and steeled herself for calm. Easy girl, only a few more hours, she chanted to herself.

Aside from tuning in and out of grating conversations, she was also trying to ignore some of the very obvious lustful looks that were being sent her way.

Natasha inwardly sighed and took a sip from her wine glass, savouring the taste. The only time she ever had alcohol was at a social gathering and those didn't happen that often.

Why didn't they send Demetrio instead? Natasha wondered to herself, still feeling irritated. The dark haired Russian was far better than her in diplomatic situations. But then as the beautiful red head looked around, she began to understand why she had been sent and it disgusted her.

Her gaze drifted around the room at all of the old dignitaries and the young women hanging off their arms, eyes sparkling. Natasha wanted to laugh. These men were so stupid. That thought that these woman draped from them and clinging to their every word would prove to be loving partners when all the women were waiting for was for their hearts to fail and then they would inherit their millions.

She took a sip from her glass again. Her gaze began to wander again, looking over the body guards and security officials of the diplomats, mentally playing a game of how long it would take her to take each one of them down.

The one by the pillar which was wrapped in gold garland might take a little longer. His height would be an advantage, while on the other hand it might work for her if she were facing more than one at once. She could use him as a springboard and land on the back of the guy next to him, wrap herself around him and take him down before going for the legs of the previous guy. His strength was another disadvantage she thought as she glanced casually at his bulging biceps. She would have to be faster than him in order to take him down. And then barring him, there was still the guy standing next to the fountain which would-

Wait a minute…

Natasha frowned as she narrowed her gaze in the direction of the large marble fountain that dominated the middle of the ballroom and was impossible to miss. It was about fifty feet away from her and was spewing water in what the guests must have thought was a relaxing manner, but she just found it irritating.

Standing there in front of it, where there had previously been nothing, a man had materialized. He was standing perfectly still, lightly gripping the stem of a wine glass in his right hand. He had the most golden hair the Black Widow had ever seen which was neatly tied back so it looked incredibly well groomed. He was dressed in a suit that was identical to the ones every other male in the room was wearing, but somehow everyone else's looked incredibly shabby in comparison. He had high well defined features and his eyes were flickering around the room so quickly she could barely follow them. The orbs were deep blue and crackled with electricity. His posture was calm like hers but she had a feeling that he would be ready to jump into action at a moment's notice of the situation demanded it.

That made her even more curious. It was obvious from her three second perusal that he had been well trained. But she had never seen him before. He couldn't be one of theirs, she would know about it.

She glanced down at her wine glass and took another sip. But after a millisecond, she glanced up again, having the sensation that someone was burning a hole in her head.

Natasha was confronted with a pair of stormy blue eyes the like of which she had never seen before. If she was anyone but a Red Room agent, and one of those pathetic woman hanging off the arms of the diplomats, she might have said his stare made her weak at the knees.

But she wasn't so it didn't.

She was a little curious though. He would bear watching to say the very least.

Since Stalingrad, nothing had intimidated her, but she would admit he might be someone that she could be wary of. As she turned her attention back to the tall blonde, she blinked, realizing he had disappeared. A slight frown coloured her features. What the hell? He had been right there where did he go? Even she didn't move that fast.

Natasha didn't believe in her imagination making up images, she believed in cold hard facts, it's what she had based her life on.

No matter, the potential threat had resolved itself. The room had quieted by this time as an older man wearing a dark grey suit with decorative medals pinned to it made his way slowly to the platform at the front of the room to make a speech.

Natasha knew upon first glance that it was the American foreign ambassador so she decided that this might be worth paying attention to. But no less than two minutes in, she was back to feeling irritated.

Would this night never end? She could already feel the speech grating on her nerves as she as she didn't even try to concentrate. Diplomats were known for their many gratifications and long winded speeches because they had to first address everyone in the room on the basis of politeness. She rolled her eyes.

"If more people focused on doing things rather than simply talking about them and following that idiotic protocol, the world would be a much different place," she muttered under her breathe.

"I couldn't agree more," a deep voice next to her said.

Thanks to her training, Natasha was able to keep from showing her surprise as being snuck up on anyway, but the thought worried her. Was she losing her edge?

Immediately, she turned to face the same blonde haired man from earlier. His sapphire blue eyes met her green ones calmly. Up close he was even more striking. When he moved it felt like the gravity of the room had shifted. The smell of ozone was intense and she could feel an odd energy radiating off of him in waves.

For a brief second she didn't say anything and then she remembered her training, because the cool smirk returned as she once again turned to face the proceedings.

"I suppose if one were forced to watch diplomatic procedures every day that one would want to rip one's hair from its roots."

Natasha frowned. His accent was deep and cultured, she wondered what country he was from because he certainly wasn't Russian. In some ways his tonal quality sounded almost British but she couldn't be sure.

But for the sake of diplomacy and her own boredom, she would play his game. She nodded and raised an eyebrow towards the wind bag gracing the platform.

"My kinsman are risking their lives worldwide and these gentlemen to use the term loosely are in need of lobotomies if they think that a few mere words are going to deter the west and the Soviets from nuclear war," she replied casually but she was sure some irritation colored her tone.

This statement caused an amused chuckle to sound deep in the throat of the man beside her and despite herself, Natasha felt her lips quirk upwards. It was a nice sound, any woman would think so.

"Perhaps not, but you cannot blame them for trying to keep the world from dissolving into mass panic. Nothing would be accomplished like that."

She nodded. He did bring up a valid point, it was in their best interests to keep civilians calm otherwise nothing would get done. However, Natasha didn't really approve of the methods of the government to stop up the ears of the people. They only did it to ensure their seats in office, another concept which disgusted her.

"You seem vexed," the tall blonde beside her noted. Natasha raised an eyebrow, the only physical reaction to her inward surprise. It wasn't very often that she met someone who could read her. She had to work with a person for years in order for them to be able to do that. And this stranger had been standing beside her for a matter of mere minutes.

But she couldn't let him know that so instead she picked at a non-existent piece of lint on her dress and flicked it away, taking a few seconds to compose her features into bored disinterestedness.

"Perhaps it's because I would much rather not spend my evenings listening to the half-baked words of politicians who would much rather amuse themselves with sticking their heads in the sand and striving for international cooperation then to listen to the screams of those dying in the damned proxy wars they themselves created," these last few words were said between sips from the wine glass though she did feel some irritation begin to rise because it was something she had thought about before.

There was a moment of silence between the two. After a moment, Natasha wondered what his reaction to what she said would be and so she risked a glance up at him. She was surprised to see that he was watching her curiously and that his expression was one of amused surprise.

"You speak as one who has frequented the battlefield," he surmised, his sapphire eyes surveying her calmly. Natasha nodded, figuring that conversation might help her to understand more who this stranger was and to discern what his intentions were.

She was far too well trained to simply stand there and enjoy the attention of a good looking man, although she could appreciate the fact that he seemed to be as intense as she was.

"I fight in the shadows, but yes, I have been there many times and these fools think that words are adequate weapons for ending wars when the actual armistice is something much more complicated than they would dare to think?"

"Really? And just what do you think that would be?"

Natasha turned to face her companion and found that in all this time he hadn't looked away from her. In fact he was looking at her as if she were the only person in the room, a face which surprised her, though she certainly didn't show it.

"If I could explain it to you, then it wouldn't be complicated now would it?" she said quietly.

His response surprised her.

He threw his head back and laughed, not a loud laugh but one that sounded both amused and surprised by her quick wits.

"You are very interesting," he said when his laughter had stopped.

She smirked. "You'd be surprised how often I'm told that."

"Really and just how often is that?" he asked.

Natasha, while finding the subtle innuendos of political etiquette grating and exasperating, she none the less knew enough to understand when someone was mildly teasing her.

Most times, she would be somewhat annoyed as she would feel that she was being patronized, but this time, it felt like a small relief to match wits with someone who was not altogether boring and obsessed with foreign policy.

"I suppose I pride myself on leaving people intrigued, but that can have people easily remember who I am which does not work in my favor," she returned easily.

For the next few minutes during which the American Ambassador was droning on and on about fighting the good fight and relying on deterrence and mutually assured destruction to prevent a nuclear war, Natasha and her companion casually verbally sparred.

It was by no means flirtatious, she was looking out for her own interests and looking to see whether he meant ill or good and he was thoroughly amused and impressed by the beautiful red head. She was obviously very intelligent and highly aware of the causes of the war something which was to be commended for most women would have found the concept mundane and tedious.

But she didn't, and that was cause to heighten his curiosity of her. After a few minutes of speaking with her, it was easy to see that she was born and bred using her fists and weapons as communicators. She might not have looked like it upon first glance, but the blonde could tell that she was uncommonly tough and used to be in situations where all she had to rely on were her instincts and rationale.

Plus the fact that she was beautiful didn't hurt anything either.

"So where do you come from if I may ask?" Natasha asked casually. She wasn't usually so forward, but he wouldn't know the difference and she was curious to his motives for coming over to talk to her. It wasn't every day that a striking man like him paid her attention and that had put her system on first level alert mode.

He paused as he looked away from her for the first time. This of her course served to narrow her vision as she considered the possibilities.

"I suppose you could say that I'm like you. I don't really call anywhere my home. I go where I am sent and take down those I must," he surmised neatly before turning back to meet her narrowed gaze.

Natasha frowned, that all sounded a little too….simple. Her life was nothing but messes carefully disguised by foreign passports and diplomatic immunity. He just described her life in a nutshell. It almost made her feel a little…..uncomfortable.

"Hmm I don't think you seem as displaced as all that," she replied calmly, hoping to take her thoughts off of herself. "You seem more like someone who does have someplace to be, yet avoid it for some unknown reason."

If she had been anyone else, she wouldn't have noticed the way the muscle in his right cheek jumped slightly. Other than that, he made no more expression then she did.

"You seem to be quite perceptive," he noted and Natasha smirked. "I have to be, it's my job."

A second later, she almost cursed aloud. Why the hell had she said that? He didn't need to know what her job was!

You idiot! She screamed mentally. Natasha turned her eyes back to the speech that was slowly but surely winding down. She also ignored the eyebrow he raised at her.

"I see."

Thankfully that was all he said and she felt herself relax soon after. There was a smattering of applause and she looked up to see that the American ambassador had concluded his speech and was slowly leaving the platform.

A sigh from her companion garnered her attention. His wine glass was empty and he looked somewhat pensive.

"I supposed now is as good a time as any to take my leave," he murmured almost to himself. Then he looked down at her. "But it is a shame to have to cut our conversation short."

This time, she raised both eyebrows. "Yes it is isn't it?"

"And I regret that I haven't even learned your name," he said softly. Natasha bit the edge of her lip as she looked back at him. She knew what he was subtly asking as she was debating within herself whether or not it was worth the risk.

"Natasha," she said calmly, reverting to the name she always used as a cover. "My name is Natasha."

He then did something she didn't expect. He reached down, gently took her hand, raised it to his lips and pressed a feather soft kiss to her knuckles, his eyes never leaving hers the whole while.

"It was a unique pleasure meeting you Natasha. I am known by the name of Thor."