Last warning. This is not meant for underage readers. Human trafficking, theft, sex, and drug use are themes in this oneshot. Adult!Shippou/Kagome, Natasha/Clint pairings. Each section is 500 words.

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St. Teresa


Natasha worried over the intelligence that had come to her unexpectedly. After so many years of wondering about and searching for the woman who sold her into Drakov's spy program, she didn't know exactly what she wanted to do with her now she'd been found again. She had the strangest feeling that she shouldn't do anything with the information, which was completely unlike her and made her wonder if she'd been programmed not to look for her.

The conundrum bothered her, and the change in her demeanor alerted Fury and her teammates that something was wrong, though she firmly told Fury it was personal when he asked. Unfortunately for her, the Director didn't believe in his people having a personal life separate from their work, and assigned Hawkeye to discover and solve the issue.

Clint sighed. He had too much respect for her to sneak around, so he asked her outright- including telling her about Fury's directive. Her response was exactly what he thought it would be, and he admired her facility with languages as she verbally trounced them all.

Creatively cursing out Fury in eight languages, she dumped her laundry on the bed and stared at her companion. "Fine. You can tell him and the other nosy old men I was nervous about meeting an old acquaintance, and there's nothing you can do to 'solve' it. Mission completed."

"Natasha," he started, mashing his fingers into his temples to quell the ache starting. "I have absolutely no intention of telling anyone about your personal business. But I'm worried about you. You have too many enemies to be as distracted as you have been."

Damn that he was right. She snapped a shirt and folded it, steaming over Fury's high-handedness the whole time. "A little bird told me that St. Teresa's been seen in a ghetto called the Hollows. I just haven't decided what I wanted to do with the information." She shrugged and went back to folding her laundry, ignoring the shocked, indrawn breath beside her.

"The woman who sold you to Dracov? And you've not chased her down?" Clint sat down in a chair and watched her, trying to figure out why she wasn't going after the woman.

"It's a little more complicated than that." She fiddled with the next shirt, fussing over the folds before looking back over to him. "Did you know she warned me about what she was going to do if I stayed with her? I knew that if I decided to keep following her, she would own me and do whatever she wished with me. But what I can't remember is why I was alright with that. In fact, I hardly remember any details of living with her, and I was with them for months."

"Them? There were more living with her?" Clint considered things a moment before beckoning her to sit beside him. "Tell me about her and what you remember of life there. Maybe that will help you decide what to do."

~oOo~

"I remember how beautiful she was; pale skin, hair as dark as the hash she smoked. She was definitely Japanese, but had odd bright blue eyes... now that I think about it, almost that vivid blue of the tesseract. She'd sit on a street corner, and kids would pass her things. Stolen stuff, occasionally a flower or trinket. If they'd scored cash, she'd send them for a dime. Always from the same dealer, too."

Her brow furrowed. "I didn't remember that till now. One kid got lazy and bought from someone else, and the next time I saw him he was in bad shape. He'd been beaten by the dealer, something about her blend being special. Of course this happened later on, after I had joined them. Street kids learn fast not to see things that are another's business.

"I hadn't been on her streets for very long, no more than a couple of weeks, when she had me brought to her. She didn't say anything, just stared at me through the smoke of her hash pipe until I was dizzy, then asked me what I saw. I know we talked for a long time, but the drug made me hazy and I don't remember any of it, just waking up in a trashy tenement later.

"She and the dealer were having sex, but no one paid any attention to them, so I didn't either. I soon found out it was a regular occurrence." She frowned. "Actually, everyone there seemed to be happier afterwards, as strange as that sounds. Not everyone called her St. Teresa, some called her Matron. Those that called her that were always the happiest; they'd say 'a happy matriarch is a happy clan'."

"That's... odd." Clint's stomach turned, acid eating at it. All he could think was sick fucks.

Natasha caught the sharpness of his voice. "It didn't seem so odd at the time, and we never actually saw anything," she said, shrugging. "...they were under blankets. Anyway, one day she called me to her, telling me every man would see me like she did. I didn't understand what she meant, but all she'd add was that if I stayed with them, she would own me.

"A few days later, I went outside with her and down a side street. She was smoking again, but it smelt different... I fell asleep and woke in Dracov's program."

She swallowed, suddenly uncomfortable. She'd never spoken of her time with St. Teresa before.

"Why do you call her St. Teresa? It's a strange name for a human trafficker." He sat still and quiet, sensing her unease and not wanting her to suddenly clam up.

She threw her hands up slightly, palm up in a gesture that plainly meant I don't know. "Everyone she took in called her that. But Teresa's the saint of headache-sufferers."

"That doesn't make sense if she sold street kids..."

"I know... I guess if I want to figure everything out, I'll have to see her."

~oOo~

The Hollows was a dreary, hopeless place where misery saturated the air. Hawkeye was on full alert as he and Natasha traveled further into the neighborhood. The human rats looking them over quickly sensed his killing intent, and slid back into the shadows.

Just ahead, a small woman wrapped in shawls was sitting on a street corner. As they watched, a kid came up and gave her something and she patted his head before he ran off.

"St. Teresa," Natasha whispered. She walked faster, long legs eating up the distance.

Hawkeye cursed and hurried after her, his sharp vision picking out three toughs inconspicuously guarding the woman. One of them looked directly at him and nodded a greeting, a sly curve to his mouth. Not in the least reassured, he moved to catch up with her.

"St. Teresa," she said right before she got a good look at the woman. "No, you can't be." The woman in front of her looked exactly the same as St. Teresa did in her memories... twenty-five year old memories.

"Ah, the little Russian girl with the rough fate. I see you met your match, good. The gods looked kindly on my interference." She considered the spy's livid face for a moment. "You're a strong woman to have thrown off the memory spell this much. Ma, ma, you truly hate me, don't you?"

"You sold me to an utter bastard." Natasha growled out.

The woman in front of her just nodded. "That I did. Not the kindest road, but the best one that prepared you for him." She pointed her pipe towards Hawkeye, laughing when he glared at her.

"What do you mean? Not the kindest road? You sold me to a sadistic ass. That was the best road? Bullshit." Natasha was furious.

"Child, use that extraordinary mind of yours. What do you see when you look at me?" Her eyes glowed supernaturally blue.

"You look exactly like you do in my memories. The drugs..." Something clicked in her head, "You knew things before they happened... there were kids who weren't kids..."

Laughter bubbled from the woman. "Of course I knew things. I'm a seer of sorts, though you'll reject that possibility. Your childish face was so very innocent and pure- many wanted to take you, control you, defile you... most of your roads lead to prostitution and early death. I usually send children home with an attitude adjustment or send them to someone who will appreciate them. But fate despised you immensely, so I ruined your childhood so you could have happiness as an adult. Was I wrong?"

Confusion reigned in Natasha's head. "What are you? Why am I suddenly remembering tails and feet that weren't feet? Blue fire that warmed without burning?"

A man suddenly appeared at the so-called saint's side. She patted his hand and pulled out a wallet. "The sweet stuff, Takeo. And tell Hanabi we've visitors. If you both wish to know?" Wise eyes captured the marksman, and he nodded.

~oOo~

They walked into an apartment much like the one Natasha remembered in Russia. A young pregnant woman came up to them, uncapping the jar she was holding. The blue-eyed woman looked back to her visitors. "Close your eyes and let Hanabi-chan put the ointment on them. 'Tis easier than playing with the spellwork."

Clint worried at how easily Natasha allowed it, as she was normally suspicious. But she moved differently and looked at empty places afterwards, so he unhappily submitted. When he opened his eyes again, the trashy tenement was gone and he was in a large clean room filled with priceless treasures.

He was taken aback when he saw the pregnant woman's fox ears. Teresa laughed delightedly. "Yes, hunter. You've walked into a den of foxes. That's my oldest daughter, we call her Hanabi- fire flower- because she's the best among us with fireworks.

Natasha's head hurt as memories spilled over. "I knew about this... but why did I forget?" she mumbled, and winced as her head began to pound.

A cup of tea was placed by her hand. Hanabi smiled kindly. "For your headache. Have you remembered me yet? I got us into the worst trouble..."

Natasha nodded, vague memories clearing a little. She thought for a moment, then said, "Your name is Kagome, not St. Teresa, and your husband is Shippou. He's the dealer and a Japanese fox spirit. You take in children..."

"No. I weed through unwanted children. Don't ascribe kind motives to me, Natasha. I sold you to Drakov knowing what he would do to you. I have killed many children, and sold even more of them into slavery and prostitution."

Natasha frowned, "That sounds... not wrong... but unnecessarily harsh."

"She's right, mother." Hanabi said, putting out a plate of mochi and pouring the tea. "Inari may have forced a fearsome price on you being able to stay with father, but you've never been crueler than necessary. You've made seven children's lives better for every one you've had to ruin."

Clint sniffed his tea suspiciously. "So you take in children, check their future, and deal with them accordingly?"

Kagome nodded. "I take the children, Shippou the adults. Kitsune cannot hurt a child, it's completely against their instincts, but adults have chosen their paths and so are accountable. The division has worked for us over half a millennium."

He almost choked on his mochi.

Takeo came in, bowing to Kagome and offering her a baggie. "Matron."

"Thank you, Takeo." She caught the curiosity of the humans. "There is a price for everything, children. If I did not pay for the herbs to open the spirit eye, the price for visions would be astronomical."

"I remembered hash..."

"Illusion." She pulled out a long, thin pipe and stuffed it, puffing for a long while until the humans succumbed to the drug. She quietly snuffed the pipe. "Hanabi, this headache's loyal to the government. Have Takeo do a full memory block. She broke the old one so easily..."

~oOo~

The Hollows was a dreary, hopeless place where misery saturated the air. Hawkeye was on full alert as he and Natasha traveled further into the neighborhood. As the human rats slid back into the shadows, Hawkeye shivered with a sense of deja vu.

Just ahead, a small woman wrapped in shawls was sitting on a street corner. As they watched, a kid came up and gave her something and she patted his head before he ran off.

"St. Teresa," Natasha whispered. She walked faster, long legs eating up the distance.

Hawkeye cursed and hurried after her, his sharp vision picking out three toughs inconspicuously guarding the woman. One of them looked directly at him and laughed, waving as if he knew him.

"St. Teresa," Natasha called out to the old woman who was rocking back and forth as she smoked a pipe. The heavy, sweet smell of some opiate saturated her clothing.

"Ah, a little Russian girl. With a face that pretty, I bet men all want to fuck you. She considered the spy's livid face for a moment. "You're a strong woman, I'd fuck you too."

"You fucked me when you sold me to an utter bastard." Natasha growled out.

The woman in front of her just nodded. "Ma, ma, you truly hate me, don't you? When'd I sell you? 'Cause it don't look like he's near satisfied with you yet." She pointed her pipe towards Hawkeye, laughing when he glared at her.

"This is bullshit." Natasha was furious.

"No bulls around here, though that one beside you may be hung like one." Her eyes glowed supernaturally blue. "Only foxes 'round here. Girl pretty as you best take care, or you'll find one slipping in your chickenhouse and eating it out."

"Filthy old bitch." Something clicked in her head, "You're higher than the moon."

Laughter bubbled from the woman. "Of course I am. I'm a seer of sorts, I make my money, got to get my dime. Your face is so very innocent and pure- if you'd follow me down that sidestreet, I could find many wanting to take you, control you, defile you... you'd make a killing as a whore unless fate despises you immensely."

A man appeared at the so-called saint's side. She patted his hand, taking her wallet and baggie. "Thanks. Just what I've been needing." She began to pack the pipe, querulously saying. "The power to see the future. Feel it rise in me, child!

"You foolish old woman, there's no such thing as seers. Next you'll be saying you're caught up in the sky, like the saint you call yourself."

"You mean caught up in the clouds."

Natasha snarled and stalked off, Clint hurrying after her. "Show me your Teresa you said-"

Shippou came up behind Kagome and rested a hand on her. "The new stone caught all her memories of us?"

She nodded, fingering the chain of stones, feeling the warmth of the stolen memories in each bead. Every stone a story, like a rosary.


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Relish is a 1995 CD by Joan Osborne, folk rock style music. It is heavy hitting if you're like me and really pay attention to the themes. I've wanted to do a series of stories for it a long time, but its only with the Avenger/Inuyasha crossover that I really felt I could spin the tales.

Kitsune are known for passing judgment on people, and dealing them accordingly. I wanted to play with that theme.

Thieves? Sesshoumaru routinely sends Rin to steal from farmer's fields. It is a case of 'you can only own what you can hold'."

The part about sex in the second scene- For centuries on end people have lived in one room houses and had lots of kids. I guarantee you, they didn't sneak out to the barn to save the kid's sensibilities.

I've never really followed American comics, so I only know that Natasha was trained in a Russian program. Loki called her Drakov's daughter, so I made my own background for her.

Dozens of people die from choking on mochi every year, mostly children and the elderly. Watch what you're eating, Clint.