AN: I want to apologize to everyone. In the past, I've posted really long reads but due to a situation on the job, I'll need to make smaller posts. So large chapters will be divided into 2 or 3 parts instead. That being the case I'll be able to post more frequently.
So I hope you enjoy. Please review!
When Natasha Romanoff entered Mari Vanna, a tea room and bakery in the heart of the Russian community of New York, it was nearly eleven. She had arrived much later than expected due to resistance from the SHIELD agent piloting the quinjet she'd jacked. Agent Dale had practically presented his jaw to her fists. No doubt to impress his superiors with battle scars from fighting off the infamous Black Widow.
Natasha almost missed the days when you could just kill the people that got in your way.
She pulled off her coat and hat and placed them on the hat rack at the front of the restaurant. She walked to the back and entered the kitchen to see her four Babushkas. Her four Russian grandmothers were gathered there baking and prepping for the restaurant's lunch crowd.
As she came in, Natasha caught the aroma of all of the delicious baked goods: cookies and gingers, as well as the fresh baked bread. She had always heard that Russian food was like your mother. It smothered you with love. Or in her case like a Babushka. As always the older women greeted her warmly, kissed and hugged her, urging her to sit and eat. And "Natalia" as she let them call her was only too happy to let the old women dote on her.
"Why are you so thin, Natalia? " Babushka Elena asked her. Elena had a similar body type to Natasha, with a tall, sleek dancer's form and like Natasha must have been quite imposing in her younger days.
"How will you catch a man? Too thin, too busy…" Babushka Sofya remarked bluntly. "A man wants a woman he can hold onto…" She made lewd hand gestures to emphasize her point and laughed.
"My grandson could hold on to her. You should meet him, Natalia... " The other women shushed Babushka Faina considered the romantic and perpetual matchmaker.
"Let her eat, Faina! She starves, starves!" cried her Babushka Yeva the most difficult of the grandmothers.
Natalia Alianova Romanova, renamed Natasha Romanoff, the English equivalent by the Red Room, soaked up the attention. This was the closest she'd ever been to experiencing real family, so she endured and enjoyed the fighting and fussing of the old women. She came to Mari Vanna whenever she was back in New York to sit in the kitchen with them and listen while they gossiped. It had been very eye opening on several visits to learn how raunchy the Babushkas could be! Especially Babushka Sofya who could make the lewdest SHIELD agent blush!
Today she was sorry she couldn't indulge herself with their banter.
"I can't sit with you today. I hope you don't mind, I'm meeting someone in the restaurant this morning. It's really urgent." She told them.
The women of course agreed but wondered why their Natalia was meeting her clients there instead of her office. Babushka Elena had to ask. "Everything is alright, Natalia?"
Natasha kissed her cheek to reassure her. "Everything is fine." She said wishing it were true. She hated to involve them and had promised herself she would never compromise. However she had to assume that SHIELD was close on her heels. She only prayed they be safe. Aside from meeting Tony Stark at one of her safe houses, she was certain that no one except Clint knew about Mari Vanna.
Most ordinary Russians knew of the Black Widow, the female assassin, but the Babushkas had no idea the notorious femme fatale was their beloved Natalia. They only knew her as Natalia Tokarev, an importer/exporter originally from Smolensk who visited New York often on business. It wasn't altogether a lie. She'd often dealt in importing and exporting precious objects if only to stay informed of information being passed illegally or get knowledge of the procurers which often led to bigger fish.
"Хотели бы Вы часть моего специального чая?" Babushka Faina asked.
"Yes, tea would be lovely. For two, please." She said thanking her.
"Cleent come here?" Faina said brokenly in English. She seemed delighted that the archer might be coming to visit.
Natasha hid a smile. Faina was sweet on the charming archer.
Barton had promised her a date if she could have a conversation with him in English. The archer had been pretty confident he'd never have to honor his promise. Next time he saw her he was in for a surprise. The old woman had actually practiced her English to win that date.
"Not today. Clint is working." She told Faina. "I'm meeting someone else."
Faina was visibly disappointed and Natasha put her out of her misery. "I'll be seeing him soon. I can bring him something, maybe?"
The Babushka perked at the thought of packing something for the handsome young man. "I'll give you something sweet for him."
Natasha felt a pinch of guilt. She wasn't sure where Clint was….yet. But she knew Clint's mind. She knew he wasn't holed up somewhere. Clint would want to stay busy. He'd find some sort of work. So she just had to find where he was working. Then she remembered something.
"You were in the circus?" Natasha looked at the archer incredibly.
"What? You thought SHIELD taught me the bow and arrow?"
"I did wonder if SHIELD had such a meager budget as to use such medieval weapons." She snarked knowing it would get a rise out of him. Natasha often amused herself by poking fun at his weapon.
"Medieval?!" He proudly demonstrated his archer's stance for her. "I'll have you know I was known as the World's Greatest Marksman. Sold out every show! No one is faster or more accurate."
She could testify to that…well at least with a bow. She remembered many times they had argued at the range who was better.
"This isn't some ancient long bow, Romanoff!" He went on. "This is a compound bow. Fiber optic sight and an 80 pound pull that allows me to shoot 300 feet per second which is powerful enough to take down more than you could with your little Makarov pistols. This is top of the line bad assery!"
Natasha digested the memory for a moment.
'Could Clint have gone back to working for the circus?' She thought.
In 2 weeks: Mari Vanna pt2