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April 25, 1959 – Russia – KGB Headquarters
"They can be used together. They would be lethal."
The board looked around at each other, contemplating.
"Mr. Pierce, what you suggest is…"
"A way to clear out our enemies," the man in question replied. "To protect our country and influence others. It's a step in the right direction, I assure you."
"And these…assets are cleared for work?"
Mr. Pierce smiled viciously. "Soldat and Sirena will be a dynamic duo."
May 24, 1959 – Washington, D.C.
Sirena met Soldat's eyes. "My sobirayemsya."
"Now," Soldat said, handing her the handle of a blade which she tucked against the flesh of her thigh, pulling down the dress to cover it.
It was a large building, almost too large. Five entrances on the main floor, three elevators, one stairwell. Security posted at each entry with academy issued pistols that weren't good for long range.
Heels clicked against the tile of the building, her shoulders back and her head held high to avoid suspicion. She stepped into the elevator and gave a small smile to the operator.
"Which floor, ma'am."
As soon as the doors shut, she hopped on the man's back, catching him in a chokehold as Soldat dropped down from the vent. His knife cleanly sliced through the operator's jugular and Soldat swept Sirena off her feet to avoid the blood.
She made herself comfortable with her butt rested on his flesh arm, her arm thrown around his neck to keep steady.
"Secretary of State?"
Soldat nodded sharply. "Use a knife. If you can't, shoot." His hand grazed the knife strapped to her and she shivered.
Sirena raised her gun and shot, missing the mark by more than a few inches. The sharp pain of the whip bit into her back and she muffled a scream. Her back was more of a bloody mess than skin any longer and she gritted her teeth when she missed again.
"The Soldat would be a better choice for the shooting range, no? Sirena…is more apt with knives."
Soldat cracked the whip and watched the other asset with interest. "She will learn."
"When is the extraction?"
Soldat looked up from cleaning his knives. "Dawn. Be prepared."
She sat and pulled out her own knives, which were promptly taken from her for cleaning. Huffing, she grabbed the pistols, popping the one in the chamber and systematically dissembling them for proper cleaning.
She glanced upwards, stealing a look at him.
"You know me."
Soldat smiled. "I've known you since the Red Room, Sirena. You and Natalia."
"No, before that."
"There is no before."
Her brows furrowed. She remembered something, but when she tried to grab onto it, it unraveled. Cursing in frustration, she set about cleaning the gun more vigorously than she would normally do.
"Sirena – "
She reassembled one of the guns and tossed it on the table between them with a sharp clank. Her eyes met his and she sneered. "You know me."
"No more than I know myself."
"Stop!" She huffed. "I know you do."
"You sure about that?"
"Ya sure 'bout this, baby?"
She jolted, her eyes flashing to him. She remembered his hands on her skin, his sweat soaked body. The way he made her scream.
Small hands smoothed their way up his ribs and around his back as her thighs cradled his hips, pulling him even deeper.
She wasn't sure what made her do it, but she lunged at him, knocking the knives to the side like they were nothing. Her mouth found his and she latched on like he was her air supply.
She pulled back, looking at him with wide eyes. "Please. Please."
It was easy to get themselves out of the clothes they were wearing. It was easy for him to slide her panties down her legs and clutch at her hips like it was a dance they'd done a million times before.
She swung her leg over his lap and felt him fill her to the hilt, causing her to let out a breathy sigh that had him flipping her onto her back and slamming his cock inside her with all his strength.
Her release crested against her and she whimpered out a small, "James."
February 17, 1961 – Unknown Location
Sirena jumped out of the cramped bed, her eyes taking in the threat as she felt Soldat move her behind him and growl at the men that were filling their small cell.
"Soldat. Stand down."
"Ve ne mozhete vzyat' yeye."
His handler approached him with caution, his hands held up in surrender. "We don't wish to take Sirena. She needs to go to medical. There is an…unforeseen issue."
Soldat's hand wound around her waist from behind, feeling the small nudging that he'd been protecting for the past few months. His blue eyes were feral as he backed the both of them into the corner. His eyes looked wildly for an escape.
Soldat jerked, cramming himself tighter into the corner, squishing Sirena in the process. "No! NO!"
"Rzhavvy. Semnadsat. Rassvet. Pech. Nin."
Sirena whimpered, her hand clutching his side. "James."
He roared, charging at the men as his handler rattled off his trigger words.
Soldat stood stock still, staring blankly ahead. His hands were at his sides, covered in blood from the men that had threatened his Sirena. His detka.
"Soldat. Return to the morozilka."
She watched in fear as he left her, her hand cradling her stomach protectively. The handler tilted his head as he looked at her.
"This might be useful."
April 23, 1961 – Unknown Location
Medical room. One entrance. Two civilians, one handler. Restraints around wrists and ankles, metal bracelets unmoved. Thirty-percent strength to snap restraints. Fifteen-second window to incapacitate threats in room.
"It's a miracle she carried the child this far, Mr. Pierce."
Her handler glanced at her, disgust on his face. "She cannot carry a child to term?"
The doctor reviewed the chart that was handed to him by his assistant. He clicked his tongue and sighed. "The strain of serum that she was injected with leaves her body in stasis. Her body doesn't change, therefore accommodating a child is out of the question."
"Is there a way to alter the serum that she received?"
"Not without possibly killing her. I – ah – believe she is most valuable as she is."
Sirena cringed. Her stomach had been flat when she awoke and that meant her child was gone. Her handler scowled at her and she ducked her head.
"It wouldn't have been a problem if the other asset wasn't as attached to her as he is," her handler grumbled. He ran his hand through his hair. "Is there a way to ensure she does not breed?"
"Sterilization is the only way, but – "
"No, no. Her original handler had forbidden the krasnyy komnata from doing it. I won't go against his wishes."
The doctor shuffled, sending his assistant out of the room and looking at her handler in concern. "The…asset. He's been secured, yes?"
"After his misadventure around the facility trying to find her," he jerked his chin towards her in revulsion, "He refused to cooperate. The only option we had was the wipe his memories. He…broke free of conditioning for a small while. I plan on putting them back together after we do the same to her. But…they deserve some separation first, no?"
December 6, 1963 – London, United Kingdom
Blood pooled around her feet and she daintily sidestepped it, taking off towards her next target.
Three entrances. Ten civilians. Target acquired.
She ripped the blade from her thigh and sent it soaring through the air, hitting its mark nearly forty yards away. Three civilians were sent flying with a sweep of her arm, glass breaking behind them as they made their way out the window.
The wounded man pitifully tried to drag himself away, leaving a smear of blood along the white marble of the floor. Grabbing his ankle, she hauled him back, removing her blade from his back and flipping him over with ease.
"Please! My-my family – "
"Net sem'i," she said, taking the blade and plunging it through his heart in one swift move.
She stood, her body moving effortlessly to her handler's side.
"You have done well. More than fifty targets have met their end by your hand."
She nodded curtly. "Da."
He looked her over, a smile on his mouth. "Go rest. You have a big day tomorrow."
March 5, 1969 – Russia – KGB Facility
Checking the perimeter was becoming a tedious job. It was a way to check her programming. Make sure she wasn't going to malfunction.
Five doors on the left, two on the right. All secured.
Twenty feet forward, turn left and three – door two is ajar.
Hand on her pistol, back rigid in fighting stance.
A shoulder to the door, her pistol raised as she took inventory.
Three civilians. Minimal threat. One chamber releasing.
Her head cocked to the side as she watched the glass shield come up, revealing a man that was sputtering and gasping for breath.
Blue eyes. Dark hair. Metal extremity.
The doctor released his restraints and he slumped forward.
Sirena lunged into action, throwing the doctor against the wall and leaving a man-sized dent as she rounded on the other two. A pistol was aimed at her head, but she grabbed it, a bullet finding itself in her thigh. Yowling in pain, she kicked the second in the stomach, watching him fly through the air as she rounded on the third. A blade found its way into his neck before she was tackled to the ground.
She squirmed, recognizing the bulk. The back of her head collided with his nose and he slammed her face into the ground.
"Get off of me!" She yelled back, banging her fist against the ground.
"Soldat! Idi syuda."
The weight was gone from her back and she looked at the doorway, seeing her handler. Her feet were under her before she knew that she had stood.
"What an excellent reunion, Sirena. Aren't you glad to have Soldat?" He barked a laugh. "Soldat. Restrain her."
May 14, 1974 – Canada
"Get back up, detka. We are not finished yet."
She huffed, getting back on her feet and shaking out her limbs. The floor had met her body too many times during the sparring match and she needed to get him on his back already.
"Tired?" Soldat gloated.
It had been five years of traveling the Canadian countryside, tracking down people that had fled from the KGB and making sure they were never heard from again.
Sirena was tired. Soldat was exhilarated.
"Detka – "
She swung her leg under his feet, watching with joy as he crumpled to the ground. Straddling his chest, she brought a dummy blade down against his neck and smirked. "Trouble, milaya? Do you need help?"
He flipped their positions. Suddenly, his bulk was nestled between her thighs and she looked up at him with doe eyes. "I think you're the one in need of help, detka."
"Soldat," she whispered, dropping the dummy weapon and tangling her fingers in his hair instead.
Their mouths met in a crash of violence and beauty.
It wasn't until he was buried inside her that she blinked away the fog that clouded her mind. Pieces of memory came to the forefront of her mind and she whimpered as every thrust brought her closer to remembering.
"You are not Soldat," she whined, grinding her hips up to meet his. "You are James."
He growled, forcing himself deeper. "Sirena…detka…baby."
She screamed. Coming apart beneath him with a shudder that left them both winded. He rolled onto his back, pulling her onto his chest and stroking her hair.
"Baby…" he kept whispering, lulling her to sleep on the sweat-soaked mat.
She sighed. "James."
Sunlight hit her cheek and she flinched, trying to find a blanket to cover her face, but coming up empty. Her blue eyes cracked open and she surveyed the room, seeing that James was nowhere in sight.
She had to move fast. She'd seen first hand the kind of destruction that the Soldat could do when he was angry. And if they decided to wipe him…
Jumping up, she gathered a bag and threw in the basics before shouldering it.
Her eyes did a sweep of the small, rundown room once more before she vanished out the door.
June 11, 1975 – Michigan
"Ms. Rogers, can you help get the new recruits settled?"
Darcy looked up from the corset of her costume, setting down her needle and thread. "Of course, sir."
It had been a stroke of luck when she ended up in a circus. She remembered something from her life before, but it was hazy. The more she worked as a stagehand and a performer, the more came back to her. Bits and pieces of Brooklyn and New York, her boys – who she thought were her boys – and the way she interacted with people. Sometimes, when she wasn't paying attention, her accent would slip out and she'd have to catch herself. When people asked where she was from, she skirted the question as much as possible.
Darcy was…not home, but she was one her way.
April 14, 1981 – Des Moines, Iowa
The cans near the garbage tinkled and Darcy poked her head out of her train car, a crease between her eyebrows. Pointe shoes in hand, she stepped out of her makeshift room and padded across the soft dirt. A head of dirty-blond hair caught her attention, nestled next to the garbage cans. He was small, dirty, and her heart ached in an unfamiliar way.
Coming to terms with her past had been hard. Writing things down had helped; she made a timeline of what she remembered, who she remembered. It was difficult, but she'd managed to piece together her past like pieces of broken glass. Some things were still missing, but the more she tried, the easier it got.
The orphanage was on her mind as she looked at the dirty child. Had she looked like that? She liked to think that she hadn't.
"Move it, soldier."
The small kid jumped violently, looking up at her with green eyes. "Please don't turn me in."
Hands on her hips, she smiled down at him. "C'mon, honey. I'm sure I have something warm for you to eat."
September 21, 1981 – Raleigh, North Carolina
"Clint! Come in here!"
The small kid popped into the makeshift mess hall, a bright smile on his face. "Yeah, Ms. Darcy?"
"Can you run some water to the elephants? Frankie needs some help and – "
He was out of the tent before she could even say any more.
"That's a good kid ya got there," the cook, Mary, said with an easy smile. "He yours? Mind ya, ya look too young to have a kid his age."
Darcy smiled. She'd taken Clint in without hesitation, accepting him with open arms. He'd become a bit of a hit around the circus. He was making a name for himself just as she had – she'd went back to fire eating – and she swelled up with pride.
He was going by 'The Amazing Hawkeye', a hell of a shot and he was making money for the circus just as she was. They were a hell of a pair.
Clint shared her train car and her life. She stopped asking about his home, about why he ran away. Darcy accepted that he'd come into her life for a reason and she welcomed him with open arms.
"Nah, he's not mine," she finally replied, smiling after the kid. "But he might as well be. Don't know how I got by without him."
Mary laughed, a full-bellied laugh that had Darcy chuckling right along with her. "That's what all new parents say. Got a kid of my own in California somewhere. I know she's safe and that's enough for me."
"He's safe," she said quietly, mostly to herself.
They belonged to each other. She remembered how Steve and Bucky would get into a scrape around the neighborhood and how they'd always be in trouble somehow. Clint helped fill that void a little. And a little in her mind was a lot. She'd taken to keeping a journal. It was helpful to try and get a timeline of what had happened, what her life was really about. Everything she remembered – even if she wasn't sure that it was a memory – was written down so she could organize it at a later date.
She'd figure this out. She had to.
October 13, 1989 – Tampa, Florida
"Your words are under there, aren't they?" Clint asked, sharpening the knife he was holding loosely in his left hand. He'd learned he was just as good with knives – after Darcy had shown him a few things – as he was with a bow.
Darcy liked to think that the past eight years had been full of love and comfort, but she knew she was kidding herself. The carnival – it wasn't even technically a circus – paid them only when they complained enough and had a seedy circuit that sometimes meant they slept outside. She hadn't hesitated in taking Clint under her wing, though. Extra food and warm clothes always found a way into the small pack he had. She made sure that the knees of his pants were always sewn instead of torn and it was nice having someone to take care of.
It was odd seeing the scrawny, blond ten-year-old grow up in front of her while she stayed the same. He looked older than her now; he was shaving and his skin was tanned from the sun. They looked like siblings with him as the older brother.
Clint was good at his trade and he'd managed to hone it even more with time. She could remember pieces of the Red Room, remember how they'd tried to get her to shoot a gun and she was piss poor at best, always inches from the mark. Knives were her forte and she'd taught Clint everything she knew.
She looked up from the sequins she was sewing onto the small pair of shorts in her hands. The next show wasn't for a few days, but she'd wanted to make her clothes a bit flashier. He'd always managed to give her a different name that Darcy for some reason, still using Darcy, of course, but he liked variation. Setting the needle down, she gave him a brief smile. "Yes?"
"Your words," he said, his brows furrowed, "They're under those bracelets, aren't they?"
"Yes," she repeated easily. She didn't feel the need to hide anything from him.
"What do they say?"
Darcy huffed. "You can't just go around asking people what their words say. It's not proper."
"But – "
"Don't 'but' me, Clinton Barton. I know I raised you better than that."
Clint rolled his eyes, sheathing his blade. "That's the problem, Darce. You raised me. I'm eighteen, now. And you…you haven't aged a single day." He ran his hand through his blond hair. "It doesn't make sense. You're crazy smart with weapons – you can strip a damned rifle in twenty seconds flat! – and you never tell me anything 'bout yourself. Except that you're not from here. Well, wherever here happens to be at the moment I ask."
"Some things are easier to keep buried," she said softly, rubbing one of the metal bracelets gently. Her memories came and went. Sometimes she could remember that she was Darcy Lewis from Brooklyn, New York. Sometimes she remembered losing her virginity to Steve Rogers in his cramped bed while his mother was at work. Other times she could scarcely remember her favorite color – green, by the way – and it was frustrating. Her journal helped, but there was still so much missing.
Here, at the carnival, she was Darcy Rogers from Boise, Idaho. She was quick with a match and had wit that wouldn't quit. She was adored by the carnies and crowd alike and Clint nearly worshipped the ground she walked on.
"Aren't you tired of burying things?"
"It's not that simple – "
"Tell me 'bout it!" He all but growled, getting to his feet and towering over her. "Imagine how frustrating it was to run away from home so my pa would stop beatin' me and end up at a fuckin' carnival where the first lady I see says my words."
Darcy jolted. His green eyes were pained and she inhaled sharply. She didn't have a comeback for this, didn't have a way to placate him. It surprised the daylights out of her.
"You said my words," he repeated, his voice fracturing. "And you never gave me a second look – "
"I took you in – "
" – like you wanted me."
Her heart broke. It was…a miscommunication. Not a match, not a slight. She remembered that something like that had happened. To someone she knew? To her? She couldn't remember clearly.
"I'm old enough to be your mother – "
"You sure as hell don't look it! When people see us together, they ask how I got such a pretty piece like you. Don't you understand how weird it is to say she's my mom?" He groaned and collapsed onto the ground in front of her, his head in his hands. "I want to fuck my mom. How fucking messed up is that?"
Darcy sighed. "There're things you don't understand, Clint. Things I don't even understand yet – "
"If you're talkin' 'bout your diary, you can save it. I've read it cover to cover at least a dozen times." At her look of anger, he held up his hands in surrender. "Look, I wanted to know what was goin' on! According to that thing, you're like…seventy-two. How is that possible?"
"I don't know."
A knock on their trailer door caused them both to jump.
"Rehearsal's in five. Don't be late!"
Clint stood and dusted his pants off. "This isn't over. We're havin' a conversation tonight."
Darcy clenched her teeth and gave a curt nod.
Her hands shook. Coffee sloshed out of the mug she was holding and she cursed under her breath at the heat against the back of her hand. She didn't really want to be talking to Clint about everything – she didn't want to be talking in general. It seemed like she didn't have a choice, however, when Clint swung into their trailer and closed the door behind him instead of leaving it open like they normally did.
His feet were propped up on the table and he snagged an apple off the counter of the kitchenette before he leveled his green eyes at her. "So."
The coffee mug clattered against the table when she set it down with more force than necessary. "You read everything?" She clarified, eying him.
Darcy shrugged. "Then you know as much as I do. I was born in Brooklyn in 1917. I was brought up in an orphanage and sold newspapers on a street corner. I had a – "
" – polyamorous relationship with two men. I attended the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet for…a year before my memory becomes fuzzy." Her brows creased and she looked down at her small hands, still shaking. "I…I remember a doctor. A small man with cruel eyes. He took an interest in me and I didn't…I didn't feel comfortable. One of their mothers died when I was home for the summer. Her funeral was small and…I bought flowers from a florist in New Jersey. Lilies. The apartment was so small that it smelt of them for days…
"When I returned to Russia, it was different. I don't remember what happened that clearly. I was…I was beaten. They used electric shock therapy on me. I could smell my skin burning when they…" she shuddered, her blue eyes filling with tears. "They wanted to take my memories. Make me forget. I didn't," Darcy shook her head. "I didn't forget."
"Darcy, I changed my mind. You don't have to tell me anythin'." Clint reached out and stilled her hands, holding them within his own. His heart ached at how he'd pushed her. He had no reason to, no reason to hurt her like this.
She nodded. "I have to tell you. You deserve to know."
"What's the krasnyy ko – "
"I-it's a place," she whispered, eyes haunted. There was a man in the Red Room, too, but she couldn't place him. Couldn't remember him. "A place for young girls to…to train to become…to become a weapon. Like me."
"You're not a weapon – "
"I can find ten different ways to kill you with a shoelace, Clint. A shoelace. I was taught how to shoot, how to throw knives with vicious accuracy, how to kill. I can strip guns and reassemble them without blinking. I scan perimeters, evaluate situations; I can fight my way out of almost anything." She sighed, squeezing his hands gently. "Being here, with you, has forced me to slow down, to try to remember everything that was taken from me."
Clint stood and practically collapsed onto his knees next to her chair. His hands were on her bare knees as he searched her eyes, looking for something, but she didn't know what. A few tears clung to his long lashes and she had to resist the urge to brush them away as she had done so often when he was just a child.
"My words aren't your words, are they?" His voice was small, unsure.
Her teeth bit into her bottom lip as she shook her head. "No. My words…my words are a little different. From a different time, a different Darcy entirely. As of now, I'm matchless, I'd think. One of the men…he made these bracelets for me. I can't get them off, I've tried. When your soul mate dies, the words…they turn white, transparent." She couldn't remember how she'd known that, but she knew it was true.
"And you can't see your words," he concluded, his look one of pity. His hand brushed her cheek and he cupped it delicately. "You don't know." He shook his head. "I can try. We can see if we can find 'em – "
"I'm a ghost, Clint. There's no one alive that would remember me." She angrily wiped at the tears cascading down her cheeks. It was so much harder to say out loud than she had expected. "I was a tool. A…weapon for HYDRA. For the KGB! Darcy Lewis doesn't exist anymore. Darcy Lewis was gone the moment she stepped on that plane to Russia." Loud sobs wracked her body as she realized the weight of her words.
"Awh, Darcy, no – "
"I'm never going to see them again," she whimpered, "I'm never going to come home to them. Our dreams, our plans, they're gone, Clint! My entire life is gone and now I'm just – just stuck! I'm not getting older, but I'm so tired.
"I'm tired of watching my back. I'm so tired of it all. I want to be Darcy Lewis. Just one more time. One more time before this is all over."
"Don't you dare talk like that," Clint scolded, a tick in his jaw. "You can be whoever you wanna be. Darcy Lewis, Rogers, Barton. It's up to you. Choose your life and live it."
"What's the point of living if I don't have them?"
November 2, 1989 – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Darcy was constantly looking over her shoulder, expecting something – someone to be chasing her – but she knew that she looked paranoid to Clint. And Clint, bless his heart, was doing his very best to look after her. He would walk around the camp at night, make sure that there was no one lurking. He'd wrap his arm around her waist and duck her head under his chin when she started shaking.
It seemed to be second nature the way he took care of her, watched her. It was endearing.
It was late and they'd just finished a show. Darcy had slipped during her performance and had fallen, landing hard on her hip, but continuing to perform after disguising her slip up as a tuck and roll. Pride prevented her from allowing Clint to carry her back to the trailer, but he followed close behind her.
He'd had enough when she was trying to slip her sequined shorts off and huffing in frustration. In two strides he was across the small trailer and kneeling in front of her, wiggling the skintight fabric over her hips and down her thighs. Small hands fluttered to his broad shoulders as she stepped out of them, leaving her in a small pair of pale blue panties and an oversized tank top.
Clint's mouth became dry as he peered up at her from his place on the floor. His rough hands trailed up her outer thighs and he had to swallow the lump in his throat. "You're so beautiful."
"Clint – "
"I'm not gonna act on it, Darcy. But that doesn't mean I don't want to." With a lingering look to her legs, he stood, his shoulders hunched slightly. "As much as I want to take you to bed and wake up next to you, I know it's not an option. We don't match. You're not mine." He sighed, his hand cupping her cheek sweetly. "You're not mine."
She laughed deprecatingly. "I'm not even mine, Clint. One day…one day I'm going to disappear from here, from you. I don't know when it'll be, but I know it'll happen." Her arms went around his waist, pulling them so that they were chest to chest, flush against each other. Her eyes closed when his lips pressed against her forehead and she sighed. "I've never spent so long doing one thing. They could find me."
"I won't let them take you," he vowed, his green eyes boring into hers.
She sniffled. "You won't have a choice. They…they have these words that can control me. I don't stand a chance if they find me."
His breath caught in his throat. She was so beautiful, so young. It wasn't fair that she could be taken from him at any time and there wouldn't be anything he could do about it. Tears clung to her long lashes and her nose was pink from crying. "Darcy – "
Her lips met his in a soft collision. It wasn't romantic, it wasn't passionate. It was more like a goodbye without the ache of absence.
"Spending time with you was one of the best times of my life," she whispered when she pulled away.
"Don't say it like you're sayin' goodbye," he panted harshly. Her face was cradled in his hands as she shook her head. "Don't leave me, Darcy. I can't lose you."
"I don't have a choice."
January 18, 1990 – Ypsilanti, Michigan
It happened fast and without warning. One second Darcy was hanging sheets to dry on the clothesline tied between their trailer and a tree and the next she was gone, the basket of laundry lying spilt on the frosty ground.
Clint looked for her, yelling her name until his voice is hoarse and his fingers were numb from the cold. He never found her.
She disappeared without a trace, just as she said she would so many months ago. All he had was her journal and some pictures that they'd taken throughout the years.
He'd lost the woman that raised him. He was alone again, but this time he was a somewhat established adult, not a scrawny kid that needed food.
But he'd never stop looking for her.
Not until she was safe at home with him.
Be sure to let me know what you think!