Standard Disclaimers Apply

It was late. The residents of Avengers Tower were all well asleep. Except for one.

Natasha's eyes were wide open, flicking here and there from time to time in response to small sounds originating in various places. Her mind was filled with music, the same song playing repeatedly in her head. She closed her eyes for a moment, remembering...


...There was a brightly lit stage in front of her. Crowds were filling the audience seats, chatting gaily. She was wearing an ornate swan costume, and layers of makeup had been perfectly applied to her features. A few faces stood out in the mass of people, and she recognized these as Red Room officials, sent to make sure she didn't attempt to escape. As the babble died down, an announcer stepped out, declaring the beginning of the show. The familiar music commenced, and she danced onto the platform. She performed elegantly, every step perfect. She was nearing the end of her routine, when an arrow flew and hit the wall behind her. Instantly her dance was forgotten, and she looked up into the rafters. There, she locked eyes with a stunned-looking man. She jumped after him as he ran. She was the stone-cold killer the Red Room had trained her to be. She was the Black Widow, chasing after her prey...


She opened her eyes and looked at the clock beside her. Sighing, she sat up, resolving that sleep would not come tonight. As she glanced at her closet, she remembered what was hidden there, buried deep in a trunk. Suddenly she found herself walking towards it, as if it were calling her. She quietly opened the doors and pulled out the large chest. Yanking out the many articles of clothing, she came at last to the wood base, and smiled at the false bottom. She pushed a knot on the interior of the wood, and the bottom lifted just enough for her to slide her finger under it and lift it out. There was the perfectly white leotard, snowy tutu, and feathered hairpiece. She gingerly lifted each of them out, handling them as if they were fragile as snow.
She couldn't take it any longer. She stripped off her pajamas and pulled on some tights. Then, she carefully stepped into the costume, pulled her hair back in a bun, and set the tiara on her head. Walking again to her closet, she pulled a tiny lever that opened a small compartment on the wall. Out of this compartment, she took her ballet shoes. She studied them for a moment, then pulled them on her feet, tying them expertly around her ankles.
When she was finished she studied herself in the mirror. She looked almost identical to that night, all those years ago. She quickly applied a few cosmetics, just to give the finishing touch.

She stole out of her room, and escaped into the very large gym. Suddenly JARVIS spoke, quietly much to Natasha's relief.

"May I ask why you are awake at such an hour?" It asked.

"Not like I'm going to give you an answer. But I do need a couple of favors," she replied, hoping the AI would be compliant, which it was.

"What would you like, Miss Romanoff?" It asked again.

"I need you to dim the gym lights to make it look like a stage, and when I give the cue I need you to play 'The Swan' by Camille Saint-Saens," She directed.

"Yes, Miss Romanoff." Said the AI.

The lights went on as she had instructed, the gym looking exactly like a stage. The sight made her heart pound, and she ordered JARVIS to start the music.
She felt her feet and arms move to the familiar melody, and she was oblivious to the world, if only for a few moments. She was so lost in her music, in fact, that she didn't notice Clint walk in.
He'd been awakened when JARVIS asked her why she was up, and when he'd heard her voice, all desire for sleep had left him.
When he saw her dancing, he immediately remembered what was significant about that night. It was the night she'd decided to secede from Russia...and was also the night he'd tried to kill her...


...He was relatively new to S.H.I.E.L.D, so he was confused as to why they trusted him with this mission. According to intelligence, Natalia Romanova would be dancing at a theater in Paris. Even if you'd only worked with S.H.I.E.L.D for a day, you knew about Natalia. She was the best spy and assassin in Russia at least, possibly the world. She'd killed at least four hundred S.H.I.E.L.D agents, burned down a hospital, seduced and killed the mayor of São Paulo, and was daughter of the legendary murderer Veniamin Dreykov. So naturally you would think that this mission would go to someone who had been with them a while. But that wasn't what had happened, so he concentrated.
He was up in the rafters, just waiting. The music started, and she danced onto the stage. She was extremely graceful, and he had no doubt it aided in her killing. But he wasn't here to watch her perform, he was here to kill her.
He drew his bow and waited. He now had a perfect shot, so he took it... and missed. She had danced out-of-the-way, and it had cost him his secrecy. He was in shock. He had never missed. Ever. And the one time it really mattered, he had erred. Clint knew he'd done it on purpose, but he didn't know why. And as he looked down, they locked eyes. Springing up, he ran, and she began to chase...


He watched her dance, her motions still as perfect as they were, all that time ago. When the music ended, he expected her to stand up and return to her bedroom. But she ordered JARVIS to play it again. Twice she did this, and was about to dance again when he alerted her to his presence.

"You know it's perfect, so why do you keep at it?" He asked. She was startled, he could see, but she quickly composed herself.

"Because it reminds me of when I was young...and innocent." She tried. That wasn't it. Not really. And she knew he could see through it.

"Strike one. You were never innocent Tasha, you know that." It was the brutal truth. Since the Red Room had found her, as a starving orphan abandoned by her father, they had forced her to kill for them.

She sighed. She knew that no matter what she said, unless it was the truth, he would know she was lying. So she told him, so quietly that she didn't know if he could even hear her.

"Because when I dance, it's like nothing else matters. It doesn't matter if I'm Natalia or Natasha. It doesn't matter how many people I've killed or how much blood is on my hands. Nothing matters. It's like the world stops spinning..." She glanced up at him, and seeing his expressionless face, continued..."I don't expect you to understand, but it would mean the world to me if you didn't..." she didn't get to finish, because suddenly his lips were crashing on hers, and his arms were wrapping around her, holding her close. And he whispered in her ear:

"I understand perfectly, because that's what I feel when I see you. When I look into your eyes, it's like nothing else matters. When I see you smile or hear you laugh, the world stops spinning... I guess what I'm tryin' to say is I love you."

She studied his face. Many men had said that to her before, some targets, some not. But all had displayed a look of lust in their eyes. Clint's eyes held none, however. They held an expression that was foreign to Real love. Love that would gladly take a bullet for her, die for her.
As realization dawned on her that he truly meant it when he said he loved her, she felt her eyes fill with tears, and a smile spread across her face.
No, she thought, I do NOT cry. The Black Widow does not cry. But the tears fell anyways, dampening her cheeks. The words she spoke next were the words she never thought she'd actually mean when she said them, but she did.

"I love you too." She uttered them barely above a whisper, but he heard. And he knew that she was sincere. So he kissed her again, and this time she kissed back.
When they pulled apart, she ordered JARVIS to play Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven...


...It was their first mission together. She'd been on twenty-eight solo missions so far, and S.H.I.E.L.D trusted her enough to finally assign her a partner. Clint Barton. Yes, the one who had failed to kill her would be her new accomplice. If Clint was honest with himself (which he is often not,) he would admit that, when he was told who his new teammate would be, he was scared. S.H.I.E.L.D had forgiven him, but had she? Would she try to murder him when they were out in the field together? Yes, he was worried. But when he posed his concerns to Fury, he reminded Clint that, should she try to assassinate him, she would be immediately recalled and executed. This being said, Clint relaxed.
Their first assignment together was to take out a drug lord who worked out of Marseille, France. Naturally, the man was of high social class and no one suspected him. No one but S.H.I.E.L.D, that is.
He was throwing a New Years ball, as it was that time of the year, and only those of eminent status could enter. This they would have no trouble with; what would pose a problem was Clint being unable to keep his eyes off Natasha. She was stunning to say the least, in a strapless, low-backed, mermaid-style gown, her hair done perfectly and cosmetics applied flawlessly. This was, of course, the idea, to catch the mans' eye and lure him away. But it also was working on Clint. He heard Fury barking orders at him to focus on the objective, to ignore her, but he was finding it hard to do.
Then the dancing started. Hoping this would distract him from his alluring partner, he began to dance with a local woman. Soon, however, he found himself gravitating towards her, as if she were a magnet. Although when he saw her waltzing with the target, he restrained himself.
A few minutes later, he saw her leading him aside. Knowing that the op would soon be over, he relaxed and enjoyed himself as best he could.
After about fifteen minutes, she emerged from the hall doorway. Smiling dazzlingly, she glided over to where he was standing.
"Mission complete." She whispered to him.
"What was I here for then?" He quietly asked her.
"You were backup." She replied. He smirked as he took her hand. The objective was complete, but suspicion would arise should they leave so suddenly. Moonlight Sonata began to play, and they looked into each others eyes, each silently promising trust, as they danced to the entrancing music...


As the AI started the tune, he took her hand, and they danced once again to the haunting melody. Again, they looked deep into each others eyes, this time silently promising love to each other.

Four months later, Clint proposed, and Natasha happily accepted. The wedding was simple, with only their closest friends invited. She was dressed in the same gown she wore on their first mission together, the silver, strapless, low-backed mermaid. There, at a small church in New York City, they promised to love each other always.
Once in a while Natasha still has a sleepless night, but her swan costume remains buried deep in a chest, because now she has someone who doesn't care who she is, or how much red is in her ledger. She has someone who makes her world stop spinning. She has someone to love. A few months later, they would pick up a little five-year-old girl from the Red Room, and their lives would be truly complete. And that's all that matters.

Thanks for reading! The end hints at another one of my stories, so you might want to go check it out! And please leave a review! I like to hear your thoughts.