Title: Journey to the Past
Disclaimer: I don't own, or have the rights to, the Avengers. Or the title to this story (derived from the song in the movie Anastasia). I really don't own much of anything so please don't sue.
Summary: In order to start over as in SHEILD, Natasha must first figure out who she is. Loosely based on the movie Anastasia.
Author's Note: Like the summary says, it's kind of a spin off the movie Anastasia. Very loosely based on it because well... I really didn't want to do the exact same story line. That would be... redundant. This is the first chapter, but I'm debating whether or not to post the rest of the chapters (and write them!) depending on the response. It can stand alone, which is why I'm posting it. So please review and let me know if I should continue posting the rest of the story or not. That said, happy reading!
Barton was assigned to watch over her as they go through finding out who she is instead of being the one who brought her in. When she said he made a different call, it was so that he had the order to kill her if he thought she was going rogue or not an asset. And he didn't aka he made a different call by letting her be with her family.
"Natalia - Natasha Romanoff," Natasha replied stoically as she sat uncomfortably on a black leather couch. She was sitting in the one room in the whole base that had personality. The walls were lined with shelves and books, paintings and knick-knacks. There was a no-joke life size Zen garden filled with sand on the side and a smaller one on the coffee table in front of her.
"You don't have to pretend with me. Be whoever you want. Who do you feel you are right now?"
"I don't know."
Part of the defection phase was therapy. Hours and hours of therapy to gauge her mental capacity and, in Natasha's case, figure out why the hell she wanted to defect in the first place. The deal was, she didn't know.
She didn't know a lot of things.
She didn't know why she took the archer's hand. Why she didn't kill him in the first place. Why she was picked to be the Black Widow, out of all the young Russian girls, she was specifically trained more than the rest of the girls in the Room. Why she was the only one of those girls who didn't remember her past, her family; why they took those memories away from her.
She didn't know why she was there.
"You must feel something, Agent Romanoff."
"I... I don't know. Confusion, maybe?"
Her therapist sighed. The middle aged woman who sat in front of her was far more friendly than any therapist they forced her to be evaluated by in the Red Room. She was wearing a yellow shirt, one that seemed to flow with the wind of the vent she sat under. A pencil skirt. Out of the SHIELD standard uniform. She was probably one of the only people in the whole base who was.
Her name was Betsy. Betty? Something along those lines, Natasha couldn't remember. Clint called her "Doctor BS." He wasn't particularly fond of the woman, though he wouldn't tell her why when she asked. She didn't press. He would tell her if she needed to know.
"Let's start with this," Betty started, tapping her orange pen against the notebook she kept in front of her. Natasha wondered what was written there, about her. Maybe it would help her figure herself out better. "What was your mom like, when you were little?"
"No, I understand," Natasha answered. "I never had a mother."
"You must have had a mother."
"I do not remember."
"The file from the Red Room states that you were taken from your home at age five. A human brain starts to process and record memories at age three, two at the earliest."
"I do not remember having a mother."
"And a father?"
Natasha sighed and shook her head. "I never had a father either."
Betty sighed, scribbling down on her paper. "We'll work on it."
Natasha glanced at the watch on her wrist. Jewelry was still allowed out of the field, and as a probationary agent, a watch was integral in making sure she was where she was supposed to be.
Right place, right time.
"I will see you next session, Agent."
Natasha nodded and walked out of the door. She walked towards the hallway leading up to Barton's room. He should be out of the PT session that he was heading.
Barton was assigned six months of training duty. He was working with the new recruits, his mission was to weed out those he didn't think would last or deserve a spot at SHIELD. Barton had told her once that it was a punishment for him. He had gone against procedure and killed a man who they had wanted him to bring in. It was a mistake on the Council's part because not only did Barton thrive at teaching the younger agent-candidates, but he was able to keep a watchful eye on Natasha and make sure that she was settling nicely.
"I know how it feels," he told her one day over lunch. "When people look at you like you don't belong. When you just feel alone and you're thrown into a completely different world than how you grew up in. I don't think anyone should ever feel that way. "
Barton stuck by his words.
When she was with him, she never felt that way. Not that she felt at all. But Barton was a nice change.
He was the only one who didn't look at her like she was the devil incarnate. He was the only one who didn't walk the other way when he saw her coming down for the hallway. He was nice, she reason.
He was stupid, she thought. She didn't know why the man trusted him.
"Nat!" Clint called out as he ran to her from eighty feet away. He had a great smile on his face, one that she did not mind being directed at her.
He called her Nat.
Nobody had ever called her anything other than Natalia, Romanova, or Widow, or Black Widow. She had asked him once why he called her that; why Americans were so fond of shortening people's names, if she had been destined to be called 'Nat,' then she would have been named so.
His response was simple.
She didn't know who she was. Natalia, Natalie, Natasha? Romanov? Romanova? Romanoff? She just didn't' know and he understood. He called her 'Nat' and would call her that until she figured out what she wanted 'Nat' to end with; whether she wanted with. Nat was the basis of her name, it was the basis of who she was. It was what she had while she worked out the rest.
"Lunch time? How was therapy?"
"Where do you want to go?"
Natasha wasn't fond of burgers. At least she didn't think so. The first time that Clint had taken her to eat the culinary confection (if it could be called that) was right after she was given privileges to leave the base. He dragged her to the nearest McDonalds, ordered her a Big Mac, fries, Coke and an Oreo McFlurry. She ate it like she did with everything.
The Red Room had taught her that food was just food. Tastes were nothing, she could be eating bland vanilla pudding or a dish served from the best restaurant in Italy. It all was the same to her. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.
Clint was teaching her otherwise.
They arrived at the burger joint in Clint's silver Porsche, the top down and the wind in their hairs. It was early fall. Being in California, it didn't matter what season it was. At least that was what Natasha had been taught.
"What's wrong?" Clint asked her as soon as they sat down with their burgers, fries and some milk shakes. Vanilla for her, strawberry for him.
"Are you not liking it here?"
Natasha shook her head. She liked it. The freedom, the people, Clint.
Clint took a large bite of his sandwich and savored the taste.
Natasha followed suit with a smaller, more reserved bite out of hers chewing softly.
"Why do you eat lunch with me?"
Clint looked at her confused. "Why not?"
"Have they told you to keep observations?" Natasha asked him. Clint was a well-liked and well respected man in SHEILD. He walked in the hallway with a smile on his face and people left and right would greet him. He was charismatic, charming, and very much a skilled agent. She's heard left and right how women went after him, but he shot them down. The rumor had started that they were sleeping together, which was the reason why she defected. The reason why he brought her in. She's heard them say that he was in her web, that she was fooling them all and would kill them all any second. But the rumors and the accusations were not true. In fact, Clint never laid a hand on her.
He placed his burger down and looked at her, she could see the anger that he was trying to suppress. "You shouldn't listen to what you hear on base."
"Why do you spend your lunch with me? Your dinner? Why me?"
"If you don't want me to, Nat. All you have to do is say so," he responded. "I'll leave you alone."
"No!" she exclaimed, a little loudly for the place they were at. The patrons all looked at her for a moment and went back into their own conversations. "I... I was just wondering."
"What happened in therapy today?"
"I... She asked me again," Natasha mumbled. "About a mother and a father. A family that I do not remember."
"Sometimes, it's better not to remember."
She shook her head in defiance. He didn't know what it was like, to not know. To live with as a constant blank slate. One minute she was nothing, the next she was чадо(child)-0987233. Assassin. Killer. Spy. There was no in between, and it constantly bothered her now that she was all but forced to think about it.
"I want to remember."
He nodded. "How do you want me to help you?"
She dragged him to the small, deserted hallway. The walls consistent to that near his barracks - all painted white. He remembered this area. He had spent a great amount of time there when Coulson had first brought him in.
Natasha's room was the furthest from the entrance, by design. SHEILD had placed her the furthest away from civilization so that she would not be able to escape should she go back to her old ways. All agents were ordered to kill any hostiles on base, whether the hostile is one of them or not.
They entered her room. A place that looked more like a cell in the movies. White walls. A camera perched on the right, constantly surveying the room and its occupant. A small twin bed, metal framing and a hard mattress. A bedside table that housed a lamp. A closet with nothing but three pairs of SHEILD issued uniform, a pair of issued pajamas, and a pair of issued "civilian" clothing.
He remembered those days very well.
Natasha walked to the bedside table pulling out the one drawer he knew housed a pen and a journal to write down thoughts that were to be read later on in the final evaluation.
What Natasha had pulled out was not a pen, nor the journal. It was a gold necklace with a round pendant. She handed it to him.
"This is the only thing I have from my old life."
Romanova, it read.
"I don't remember how... It was tucked in my pocket when I woke up in the room. My first memory, it was putting that in my pocket and making sure it was safe," Natasha told him. He turned the necklace over.
The Cathedral of St. Sophia was engraved on the other side.
"Kiev," she answered for him. "I wished to go there. It was my first wish."
"Did you go?"
"Yes," she replied. "My first kill, in that church."
"How can I help?" he repeated, asking her the same question he did in the diner. He motioned for her to turn around as he clasped the necklace around her neck.
"I wish to go to Kiev," she replied. "I wish to know who I am."
Clint nodded. "I'll see what I can do."
The next day, Natasha found herself sitting at the same black leather couch, waiting for Betty (Betsy? Her diplomas read B. Serran, no first name) to start the session. The door creaked open as Betty walked into the room, an orange shirt this time. She sat onto the chair almost next to Natasha.
Natasha looked at her. Nat- the words were on the tip of her tongue.
But something else entirely came out of it.
"I don't want to do this."
Betty's glasses slowly slipped to the tip of her nose. "You are taking back your defection? You know that means that they will kill you, on spot."
Natasha shook her head. "I do not want to go through another hour when you ask me questions I do not know the answers to. I do not know who I am. I do not know my mother, my father. If I liked the winter or the summers in Russia. I… I want to be here. I just… I do not think that I can answer your questions so that you will let me stay."
Betty nodded. "Barton told me."
Natasha looked at her confused, angry as well. He had no right to tell her about the necklace.
"He has requested that you two take a mission, at Kiev and stay there for as long as you seem fit in order to find yourself."
"I... I'm not allowed in the field."
"I talked to Fury," she smirked. "He's willing to make an exception on the basis that you two destroy a Red Room base that you had told them about in Kiev. He's hoping that after you find yourself there, you will come back and your loyalties will be settled."
She nodded her head.
"And if it is not settled?"
"Baton has orders to kill you. I suggest you choose your loyalties wisely."
So should I post the rest of the story?
Comments and criticisms, welcome!