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where the lines we drew in the sand were crossed

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Natasha doesn't often go to see movies, and when she does, it's always with Lara and Clint.

She hasn't gone to the movies in months. There is this one, though, that Lara takes her to see. It's date night, and Clint volunteered to stay home and take care of the kids. Lara and Natasha head to the cinema.

Neither one of them is all that interested in rom-coms. No, rom-coms are saved for date nights with Clint, who's always had a soft spot for true love stories. Natasha and Lara go see the latest horror movies, the latest crime dramas. Black Swan is just the newest in a string of what Clint has christened “sick chick flicks.”

Natasha watches Nina spiral, watches her fall, and understands. Natasha was a ballerina, once- she knows the pattern of obsession, the drive to be the absolute best.

-

Natasha does not feel much for many people. She loves Lara, and she loves Clint, and she cares about their children. She has a soft spot for Tony Stark, and by proxy Sam Wilson.

She does not care about too many other people.

(She does not care about any other people.)

-

There is blood on Natasha Romanoff’s hands. She can't quite bring herself to care about the consequences behind it.

-

She sometimes thinks about her childhood, about how something probably broke inside of her. She thinks about how softness was scraped away to make room for sharp edges, how soft underbellies were traded for blades.

She doesn't feel any remorse as she slices through soldier after soldier. Perhaps she should, perhaps in another life she might have, but she won't think about it. She doesn't care about any human life save her family.

She is a weapon, and she is okay with it.

-

She smiles as she spars with Sam, the adrenaline rush flowing through her veins. She is a machine, a robot pummeling away at her opponent. She notes his weaknesses, his strengths.

He is getting better, learning to trust his bionic leg as his own. He is learning to fully trust it as a weapon just as he does his wings. It is satisfying to witness.

Sam Wilson is good for Tony Stark. He takes care of the billionaire. Tony's bruises are paler, his ribs less prominent, and his smiles more whenever Sam is around. Natasha approves of the Lieutenant as partner for her only friend.

(If he slips up, though…)

-

She was prepared to make room for Steve Rogers, to perhaps allow him into her small circle.

It is hard for her to trust, but it is far harder for her to care. Perhaps she could have been something approaching friends with him.

But Steve breaks her trust. He hurts her Tony, and-

-

Natasha Romanoff has always been coldly objective. Lara refers to it as playing devil's advocate with a quirked eyebrow. Clint refers to it as Her Evilness, the devil herself with a smile and a quip.

She does this after Siberia. She faces Sam and recites the other side's story, tries to dissect Steve Roger’s intentions. Normally she would be good at staying this way, would be as objective as JARVIS, but here is the sticking point: Steve Rogers messed with one of the few people she cared about.

This she cannot forgive.

-

When she was a child (if she was ever a child), Natasha happened across the case of Phineas Gage. She read about the pole that went through his skull, that destroyed his frontal cortex and removed his inhibitions to do things like swear and fight and steal.

She realized that something like that had happened to her. Killing isn't fun, brings her no pleasure, but she sees no wrong in doing it. Even at eight years old, Natasha Romanoff has no hesitation killing people.

The metal pole removed Phineas Gate’s inhibition to swear- something removed Natasha’s inhibitions to kill.

-

She slices through some goon’s armor. Tonight was supposed to be a date night, but fucking Fury got in the way. If that commander wasn't so useful, she'd have taken care of him long ago.

Her phone vibrates once in her pocket and she has it out within seconds. “Yes, love?” she asks as she fires off a laser blast at the idiot running toward her.

“Will you be home within two hours?” Lara asks, and Natasha slices her way through some soldier.

“Yes, love,” Natasha says.

She can practically hear Lara’s smile as she says, “See you in a few, then.”

Natasha smiles. “See you in a few.”

Click.

She spins, knife burying itself in the neck of the guy sneaking up on her.

Slice.

-

Steve Rogers ends up kicked out of the Tower, and he finds himself lost in a world not his own.

Unlike Sam Wilson, Natasha feels no sympathy for him. She's never been capable of feeling sympathy towards anyone save Lara, Clint, the kids, Tony, and sometimes Sam.

-

Steve Rogers slowly descends into obscurity, and then-

-

There is a very good reason why the name Black Widow is the most feared of the Avengers, why even the facade of control stops none of the rumors of her viciousness.

A machine, they call her, a ruthless, killing machine.

(They are not wrong.)

-

Natasha does not have much humanity left.

-

Someone tries to touch Lara, tries to touch the kids, and Natasha unleashes thirty one years of hell on them.

Her enemies never stood a chance.

 

It's done, she texts Clint and Lara, blood red hair falling into her face as she stands on a ship of the dead. Back at home, her children are bruised and her lovers battered. Beneath her feet, corpse after corpse decorate this ship of fools who tried to take her family down.

Natasha grips her phone between painted fingernails (blood-soaked hands) and feels so very, very alive.

-

In unrelated news, Steve Rogers disappears.

-

A black widow trails death in her wake. Is it any surprise that Natasha would do the same?