Chapter 1: Prophecy Girl
They came at night. A group of vampires, a larger pack than the young Slayer had ever seen. She and Ivan worked together, fought back to back in the dark alley of Novgorod. Her watcher stumbled over a broken metal pipe on the ground and that was all it took for one of the creatures to get the drop on him. She dispatched the bloodsucker hanging off Ivan’s throat with the stake in her hand but it was too late for her mentor. The young woman ran as his body cooled.
Natalia Romanova boarded a plane to the United States the next week and didn’t look back. It was Natasha Romanov who stepped off the plane and found a taxi. Natalia was left behind.
She enrolled in a local high school and found an apartment to sleep in. Her days were spent working on her placement tests and learning the layout of the small town; she used her nights for patrolling. Ivan had drilled routine into her at a young age, before she had even come into her powers.
It was on one of these such patrols that she found she had company. Natasha was in the midst of a battle with one vampire, bantering in Russian as she traded blows with the freshly risen undead. She doubted the young-looking creature dressed in an ill-fitting blue suit could understand her mother tongue but Natasha didn’t care.
“It’s unwise to play with your food,” a male voice commented idly. He sounded amused and Natasha staked the idiot vampire as he tried to pounce on her. She whirled around, stake raised.
“Easy, little bit.” He chuckled, hands raised in surrender. “Now, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a graveyard in the middle of this fine evening?” Natasha took in his bright blue eyes, trimmed goatee and leather jacket.
“I could ask you the same thing.” she responded, sliding the stake into her back pocket.
“Just out for a walk in the moonlight,” he grinned at her. “Mind some company?”
“I don’t know you.” Natasha turned on her boot heel and began to walk off. The man jogged to catch up.
“I’m a friend.” He stopped in front of her, blocking Natasha when she tried to go around him. “Look, at least let me help you. There are things out here that you have no idea about.”
She raised an eyebrow at him incredulously. “Did you miss the part where I just staked a baby vampire? I can handle myself.”
The man didn’t respond, eyes looking behind her shoulder at something. Natasha turned around to see three vampires, eyes bright yellow and moving fast. There was a clicking sound behind her but Natasha didn’t glance back to see what he was doing. She readied her stake and ran forward.
Something thin and long, bright in the moonlight, shot past her ear and into the vampire on the right. He exploded into dust as another projectile hit the vampire on the left. Natasha grappled with the remaining one, kicking at his kneecap to bring him to the ground. She thrust the stake into his back and she pulled it out as he became dust.
“What did you do?” She called back to the man, peering closer at the stakes he’d sent flying. They looked like silver arrows but that was absurd in this day and age. Or perhaps not, considering the man was holding an actual bow in his left hand. The stranger slung it across his chest and waved at her. Natasha glared automatically.
“I helped you out!”
“I didn’t need it. You could have gotten yourself killed, you’re not trained for this.” Natasha snapped. She picked up the arrows - they were heavier than she expected - and walked back to the man. He took them in a gloved hand and slid them into a pouch on the back of his jacket. Natasha continued walking past him. She was nearly done with her patrol and then she could get some sleep before her first class tomorrow, no, later today.
“You wound me, princess. I’m the best shot there is and I never miss.” He smirked. “Want some company on the walk home?”
“No. Go away.” The man finally took the hint and strolled off, whistling as he blended in with the shadows. Natasha doubted she’d seen the last of him though.
Her alarm went off early as the sun streamed into her eyes. Natasha groaned and got up to start her first day of American high school.
She made it to the high school a half hour before the bell rang and presented herself at the front office. “Good morning. Can I help you with something?” the receptionist asked calmly.
“I need a schedule,” Natasha muttered. “and a gallon of coffee.”
“The cafeteria doesn’t open for another fifteen minutes,” the woman’s name tag read Maria and she smiled at Natasha’s scowl. “but if you want to use the pot in the corner, I won’t tell.” She winked at the redhead and began tapping at her computer. “I’ll have your schedule printed out in a minute.”
Natasha was taking her first sip of coffee when a blond boy stumbled in. “Hi,” he smiled at Maria. “I’m Steve Rogers, I just transferred here from Brooklyn and I need a schedule.”
Maria smiled back but Natasha could tell it was false. “Great to hear, it must be the day for transfer kids.” She grabbed two pieces of paper off the printed next to her and handed them to Steve and Natasha. “Schedules here, class starts in two minutes. Have fun and welcome to Howling High.”
Natasha glanced at the paper and scowled. Someone had put her in chemistry for the first class of the day.
“I’m Steve Rogers.” The kid stuck out a hand and Natasha gave him a look. The smile on his face dimmed. He looked over at her schedule quickly and then back at his. “So, you have Banner for chemistry too? You want to sit next to each other?” Natasha didn’t reply and opened the classroom door.
She hid the recoil as her senses tingled but couldn’t supress the full body flinch as a dark-haired man in a white lab coat walked to the front of the room.
“Nice of you to join us,” the teacher said. He smiled gently at Steve and Natasha. “Please find your seats, they’re alphabetical by last name. My name is Dr. Bruce Banner and this is the first day of Chemistry for Juniors.” Natasha slid into the empty seat between Steve and a young-looking dark haired boy.
“Hey there gorgeous,” the strange boy leered. Natasha stifled the growl in her throat and glared at him. His mouth snapped shut and he turned back to his own desk. The class passed in a haze, Natasha not bothering to pay attention. It was hard to quell the urge to slam the teacher’s face into the chalkboard he was writing on. Her Slayer senses told her the teacher was something not human but it clearly wasn’t a vampire since the sunlight fell on him and he wasn’t in flames.
The bell rang and Natasha stalked off to the library. At least she could unwind in study hall, lose herself in the smell of old pages and maybe find something written in her mother tongue. She stopped short at the very large, very old book sitting in the middle of the table when she walked in. Vampyr read the embossed gold letters on the cover. Natasha took a seat and started to flip through the pages.
“Ah, please be careful with that. Some of the pages are loose, I haven’t had time to rebind them quite yet.” A man with thinning hair came out of the small office and Natasha stood. “Mr. Coulson, Watcher’s Council. You’re Natalia-”
“Natasha.” she corrected in a flat voice.
“Of course,” Coulson said smoothly like she hadn’t interrupted him. “I’m sorry to hear about Ivan, he was a good man.”
“Who’s teaching chemistry here? Does the principal know he’s a demon?” Coulson’s bland expression didn’t change at Natasha’s blunt query.
“Bruce Banner, and yes, Principal Dugan knows who he hires. He’s not on the Council but he is aware of the goings on in this town. His longstanding friendship with Mayor Fury has perks I wish it didn’t, but Dum-Dum is a good man overall.” Coulson’s lips thinned. “No one else teaches chemistry for your grade, I’m sorry. Just don’t make Banner angry and you shouldn’t have a problem.” Natasha nodded firmly.
“So what’s your job then?” Natasha looked at all the books. “You play the librarian card and no one wonders why you have so many ancient books on mythical subjects?”
“The general student population cannot access my private collection,” Coulson sounded peeved. “However, if you would like to research something just let me know.”
“I want to know what Banner is.”
“He’s a relatively benign species of Hulkith,” Coulson answered. “When he’s angry, he transforms into a gigantic, green, rage monster. You let him smash a few cars and get the aggression out, he’ll eventually turn back into himself.” The librarian shrugged. “It’s happened once or twice but he’s enrolled in yoga classes and is handling it much better nowadays.”
“Okay,” Natasha said slowly, processing this. “And I met a guy-” She didn’t get to finish as three people burst through the doors of the library.
It was Steve, a willowy redhead and the boy who had leered at her in chemistry. The dark haired boy headed straight for the Vampyr book and was scanning the introduction page before Coulson snapped it shut, nearly on his fingers.
“Can I help you?” He said pleasantly as Natasha leaned against the table. The redhead sized her up silently and Natasha did the same. Steve hung back as the third boy opened his mouth.
“So you’re the guy who knows everything, right? That’s what my dad says. You have any idea what ratio of silver to steel I should use to create a weapon that will get rid of the little undead problem we have in this town?” Coulson’s lips thinned. “I’ve got shop next period and I really want to finish this design.”
“I suggest you ask your father, Mr. Stark. He is the weapons manufacturer, not I.” The boy grinned brightly and turned to Natasha.
“Who are you? His new sidekick? Warning, you definitely could have picked better. I’ve known this guy a year now and haven’t seen him smile once.”
“Tony,” the redhead said sharply.
“You know it’s true, Pepper!” Tony didn’t quite whine. “I’m Tony Stark,” he introduced himself to Natasha. She didn’t take his outstretched hand. “This is Pepper Potts, who helps run my life, and we picked up Steve Rogers in the hallway.”
“No Tony, you nearly mowed him down by the water fountain.” Pepper cut in. Steve shrugged at Natasha, who bit back a smile. The blond boy was sweet, like a small puppy.
“So you just moved here?” Tony flapped a hand at his friend. “Do you know about the problem in this town where things just happen and that other things go bump in the night and go grrr?” He crooked his fingers near his mouth as he growled and Natasha’s lips twitched. Steve looked confused and Coulson sighed.
“Since it seems we’re all on board,” Coulson interrupted what Natasha supposed was Tony’s rendition of a vampire, “and Steve, I’ll give you some reading material - let’s discuss what you all can do to help out Natasha.”
“I build things.” Tony stated proudly. “If you need something, a new weapon, a better stake, just come see me.”
“I’m usually busy either corralling him,” Pepper jerked a thumb at Tony next to her with a roll of her eyes. “but I have some martial arts training.”
“Uh,” Steve floundered when they all looked at him. “I just ended up here on accident.”
“He’s plucky,” Tony said, clapping Steve on the back. “Great, we’re a fine team!” The bell rang and the students reached for their books. Coulson pointed towards the door.
“Get out, all of you. Natasha, come see me at the end of the day and we’ll plot patrols.” She saluted and followed the other three out of the room. It seemed like life in Summersville wouldn’t be dull.
Chapter 2: Patrol
Natasha walked amongst the headstones and trees, idly eyeing the flowers that leaned against the marble and granite. At least some people cared about their loved ones. The young woman spared a thought for Ivan and then heard the familiar noise of a fledgling clawing its way up through the dirt. She scanned the ground for any fresh burial sites and spied a hand waving in the mound.
Natasha took her time and leaned against a statue of an angel, waiting for the new vampire to rise. There was an itch beneath her skin and Natasha was looking for a fight. She doubted the uncoordinated undead would deliver but it would slake some of the feeling, at least.
“You don’t have anything better to do?” The man’s voice hit her ear but Natasha didn’t see him anywhere.
“I could ask you the same thing. Unless you just like to watch young girls in which case I suggest you get a new hobby.” She watched the vampire break free of the dirt and crawl out of the hole it had dug. “Don’t kill this one, he’s mine.”
The man chuckled. “Wasn’t aware we were staking claims on fledglings all of a sudden.” Natasha waved at the new vampire as she stared confusedly at her surroundings. The undead girl picked at her skirt and blouse and Natasha saw the moment she inhaled and caught scent of her blood. The girl’s face shifted, becoming wrinkly and her eyes lightened from brown to bright yellow.
Natasha checked the gun Tony had repurposed for her with wooden bullets. “New toy?” The archer appeared next her, lounging against the other side of the angel statue. “Looks nice. Stark tech, if I’m not mistaken.”
Natasha raised the weapon as the girl started towards them. She fired and the undead thing howled in pain. Natasha smiled serenely and the man next to her flinched almost imperceptibly. She fired again and sent a wooden bullet through the girl’s elbow next.
“Vicious little thing,” the man regained his cocky attitude. “Remind me not to piss you off.”
“I don’t harm humans.” Natasha said, killing the girl with a bullet between her eyes. She disintegrated and she holstered her gun as the man stepped closer.
“I’m glad,” he said quietly. He leaned down and picked the three bullets out of the pile of ash at her feet. “You want these back?” Natasha took the wooden projectiles from his glove.
“Thanks,” she said and he gave her a mocking bow. The woman wondered where his bow was, since she didn’t see it over his torso like last time, not that she was looking at his defined muscles in the dress shirt he was wearing, not at all.
“We’re on the same side,” he told her with a smile and Natasha’s eyes met his blue ones. “Happy hunting, Romanova.”
Natasha’s eyes narrowed at the use of her last name. “Oh really? You think we’re friends because we killed some of the things that go bump in the night that one time?” He started walking away and she yelled after him. “How do you know my last name?”
“I don't just play poker for kittens, sweetheart. You can learn all sorts of things at the right game." He winked at her. "I never said I was your friend.” He called back, disappearing into the shadows once again. Natasha fumed and looked around for something else to kill.