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Unmade

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She’d had a name once. But that didn’t matter. Names were what mortals needed to differentiate themselves and make them feel special. Humans, scrapping for every ounce of individuality and transcendence that such a short lifespan could give them.

Legends didn’t need true names. The names of the gods transmuted over time. Þórr, Thor, God of Thunder, it was all the same.

The Valkyries had been legends once too, maybe were legends still, though not legends often told around the fires of men. Forgotten by time, their stories were buried by the man they’d sworn to protect: Odin. And now that the Valkyries were all dead, what did she need individuality for?

She was simply Valkyrie.

Empty bottles littered the ground beside her. She tipped the last of an IPA--humans were always inventing new ways to get trashed, new ways to forget--upside down, letting the remaining droplets trickle down her throat. The bottle broke with a crash where she threw against at the wall. Forgetting. Let her forget.

But she couldn’t.

“You know you’d probably be making more money if you weren’t wasted all the time.” Her latest capture for the grandmaster was wry, ruthless, and so far had proven herself to be a pain in the ass.

“I make enough,” she said, picking another beer from the case she’d picked up on earth and opening it. The hiss of escaping air was like a whispered promise.

“Clearly.” The redhead was looking around at her ship, judgement painted on her face. Valkyrie looked at it too. She hadn’t thought about it for a while, but it really was a bit of a dump: broken glass everywhere, control panels sticky with old food and drink, and the humid smell of sweat lingering in the air. She made a mental note to hire a cleaner after she’d dropped off her latest contender and went back to sipping her beer.

But the redhead wasn’t finished. “Look, why don’t you let me go, take me back to earth, and I can make this worth your while.”

“I don’t need your money,” Valkyrie said, gruffly. She didn’t know why she was engaging. She should really just press that little button on her incapacitator and put her to sleep, but the human reminded her of someone. Those same full lips and slightly husky voice... no.

“Then why are you doing this? You’re clearly not an idiot. I mean, not to pat myself on the back too much, but typically when I end up in situations like these, it’s not on accident.”

“Then why’d you let yourself get caught, human?” She deflected.

“Natasha,” the prisoner said. “Natasha Romanov.”

“I didn’t ask for your name.”

“I didn’t ask to be taken prisoner.”

Valkyrie laughed, this girl was smart. She’d been tough to catch, particularly for a human with no superpowers, but that only meant good things for the price she was going to get for her. Lately humans had been of particular interest to the Grandmaster--gods knew why. At least this one had fight in her. She liked that. Maybe this one would survive more than a few rounds. She opened up another beer and walked it over to the human… Natasha.

“Thanks,” Natasha said, taking it from her as best she could with the manacles trapping her wrists together. Something about the woman made her want to take them off, to apologize, to hold her face in her hands and… Valkyrie fought down the urge, turned away.

“So you never answered why.” Natasha said.

Valkyrie sighed heavily. There was no reason to tell this woman anything. Prisoners didn’t deserve answers. And still she wondered what harm it would do. What harm, just this once, to say something, to let it out. The woman would be out of her hands soon enough.

“It’s an old story, a cliche really at this point. It’s not interesting.”

“It’s a long ride to wherever the hell we’re going, right? And I’m a captive audience.” Natasha smiled, chuckling at her own joke. A shiver ran through Valkyries spine; she used to laugh at herself like that. Smart-ass woman.

“I had a friend who used to smile like you do,” she admitted. “In the… military. That’s what you humans have, right?”

“Sure,” Natasha said.

“We were sworn to protect the crown, and we were fucking great at it. Just, incredible. You should have seen us flying in, swords high, blood in the clouds. We were righteous,” she said. She smiled at her own memories remembering those days, her comrades by her side. Her commander ahead of her, gorgeous and powerful in her white and gold armor. “Then things just fucked up. We were sent on a mission that we were never supposed to win. I’m the only one that’s left.”

“You were unmade,” Natasha said, almost under her breath.
“What?”

“Nothing.”

Valkyrie stood. She’d had enough of this, not sure what she thought would come out of it in the first place, cursing herself for imagining… what?

Chapter Text

An alert sounded from the speakers and a flashing light illuminated her control panel.
“An attack?” Natasha asked.
Valkyrie dropped the bottle and ran towards her alerts, shutting them off as she took a seat in her captain’s chair and grabbed hold of the controls.

Out the window, a huge ship was coming towards them, red paint smearing the sides in indescifrable patterns, looking like blood. How could she have let them get so close? Maybe if she hadn't been busy spilling her guts out to a prisoner she’d have seen them coming. Now it was too late.

“Ravagers,” she answered finally.

Valkyrie flipped the switch on her jump drive, and it let out a sputtering noise.

“That didn't sound good,” Natasha said.

Valkyrie banged the console and tried again.

This time not even a splutter.

“You’re real observant, aren't you?” She said sarcastically. She immediately regretted the hard edge to her voice. Damn, living alone for so long had really dulled her social skills.

But Natasha didn't even blink. Her face was stoic, unreadable in the flashing of he lights as Valkyrie grappled for control of her ship. The Ravager vessel was on top of them now, and it opened fire over their bow. Pushing the yolk forward, Valkyrie’s small scavenger class space ship dove down below the shot, barely escaping it. The maneuver threw Natasha across the cockpit and she yelped in pain. Valkyrie threw the keys to Natasha’s cuffs behind her, not taking her eyes from the Ravager ship.

“Come sit up here. It’s going to get rough, and I need someone to man the turrets,” she said. It probably wasn't the smartest idea to let a prisoner move around unencumbered through her aircraft, but if the woman tried anything, she always had her incapacitator handy. Plus, from what she’d seen back on earth, the woman was handy in a firefight.

“Big green button on top of the yolk to fire,” Valkyrie explained as Natasha sat down beside her in the co-pilot chair.

She didn't have time to admire how comfortable the prisoner seemed in the co-captain seat of her vessel before another shot fired over their nose. She dodged the shot and pushed back the question building in the back of her mind: Had she been in a ship like this before? What secrets was this human hiding?

More fire.

Red lasers exploded in her vision, sending shudders through the aircraft. Answering shots whipped from their ship, blue and green, the colors indicating different frequencies of shield destroying capabilities. From the corner of her eye she could see Natasha smile as a shot made contact with one of the Ravagers’s guns, exploding it in a silent cloud of debris.

“You’re good at that,” Valkyrie noted.

“I'm a woman of many talents.”

“The grandmaster is going to love you.”

“You still think you’re going to take me back there,” Natasha laughed. It wasn't a question the way she said it, more a statement of fact that she seemed to find amusing.

Another explosion rocketed through the cockpit and the alarms flashed anew.

“Shut up!” Valkyrie yelled, slamming more buttons to silence the alarm.

“Anything I can do to help, boss?” Natasha asked, yelling over the sound of gunfire.

“Just keep shooting! I’ve got to fix the jump drive if we’re going to get away from them.” Slamming a fist into the dashboard she popped open the control panel and dove into its mess of wires. She wasn't much of a mechanic; most Asgardian technology ran on magic, but in the years since she’d left, she’d learned enough to get by.

Frayed wires sparked from the console as she searched for the source of the short circuit. Natasha let out a whoop of joy, and Valkyrie imagined the look on her face, joy and pride, illuminated in the light of an explosion. Maybe her lips quirked up at the corner. Or maybe she smiled broadly, eyes crinkling in the corners, and cheeks full...

Nope. Wires. Focus on the wires.

“Almost fixed? They’re still coming!” Natasha called.

“Almost,” Valkyrie grunted in return. Plugging the last wire into place, she heard the telltale hum of the jump drive warming back up. She pushed the panel back into place and got up into her seat. “Hold on!”

The Ravager ship was facing them now, ugly gashes maring its side where Natasha had hit it, an evil red light glowing from the barrel of one of its remaining guns. Growing. And definitely more dangerous looking than Valkyrie felt comfortable with.

No time to think. No time to worry about anything. No time to freeze or consider that her last day alive might possibly be this one. Sitting next to a woman whose smile looked just like her old commander’s. Just like last time she would die with..

And before she could process what was happening, Natasha leaned over and pressed the jump drive.

Chapter Text

They were spinning. It's physical as well as metaphorical. Ever since this smart ass woman became a passenger on her ship…but no. That's not how it happened. It was just hard now to imagine Natasha doing anything she didn't want to, even getting kidnapped. Starting over: ever since Valkyrie had captured her, and forced her aboard the ship, Valkyrie’s world had been spinning. But for the moment at least, that was literally true as well.

Up, down. Stars. Planet. Stars. Planet. Sky. Trees. Sky. Trees. Ground.

And then she blacked out.

Xxx

When she came to, the sky outside was black and the interior of her ship was only illuminated by faint, blinking emergency lights.

The back of her head felt like someone had kicked it, and there was a sharp pain in her neck.

“Get your beauty sleep?”crouched down in front of the security panel, the curve of her back illuminated in the glow of the red emergency lights, the woman seemed almost feline. Dangerous.

Valkyrie reached a hand up to address the pain in her neck. Then she felt it. A hard metal disk. The incapacitator.

“I wouldn't try to take that off if I were you,” Natasha said, glancing behind her. “It's pretty uncomfortable, but don't worry. You get used to it.”

“Fuck.” Valkyrie said. She knew it was a bad idea to let her prisoner wander around the ship without cuffs… even in an emergency. At least her own wrists weren’t chained together.

“It’s not as bad as all that. It’s just until we get me back home. Then I'm going to turn you over to the Avengers and we’ll see what the team wants to do with you. We don't look too kindly to slavers back on earth.”

“I'm not a…”

“Slaver? You were just kindly going to give me the option of fighting for my life in the gamesmaster’s pit.”

“Grandmaster,” Valkyrie corrected.

“Hurting or helping?” Natasha said. “Either way, I need your help getting off this planet. I know tech, but this is several generations beyond my capabilities.”

“Why would I help you?”

Natasha held up the incapacitator and smirked. “Well, there’s this. But I thought we could make a trade instead. IF you get me off this planet and back home. And IF you promise never to return to Earth, then I’ll let you go free.”

Hells, she was clever. “Fine,” Valkyrie said.

Natasha smirked again. “Good. Because I really wasn't looking forward to throwing you in jail. Now come tell me what all this stuff is.”

Valkyrie groaned as she got up, a headache from both the concussion and the hangover she’d been dodging for the past week fighting for power in her head, and walked to squat next to Natasha. Underneath the layer of sweat and smoke, she smelled like soap. Lavender.

She squatted down beside her, pointing at different parts, giving their names and vaguely what they did--or at least what she thought they did. Natasha was a quick study, making connections and inferring outcomes as fast as Valkyrie could point and grunt. Damn. She probably could have used more of her millennia traversing the galaxy learning about the thing she was driving and less of it drinking… nope. The drinking was fine. Less… sleeping around? Nah. She had used her time just fine, she ultimately decided.

In a few hours Natasha had finished whatever the hell she was doing and stood up, a disappointing move considering how nice her ass looked bent over the bits and pieces of electronics.

“You’re surprisingly good at that,” Valkyrie said.

“And you’re surprisingly bad at it.”

The nerve. “If you didn't have my incapacitator i’d punch you right now.”

“Is like to see you try,” Natasha said, wiping her grease stained hands on her jumpsuit. Her hair was mussed up and a streak of grease marred her cheek. Seeing someone so perfect unmade like that, made a deep dark part of Valkyrie’s heart do a double flip.

She stood up to meet her, putting the beer up to her lips and taking a slow sip. “Oh would you?” Valkyrie walked slowly towards Natasha, looking her in the eye and letting her hips swing in that way she had used on many, many…. many men and women before.

Natasha didn't move, keeping her face stoic and serious. For a second Valkyrie worried her usual powers weren't working. Maybe she didn't swing that way.

And then something cracked in the corner of Natasha’s eyes, a smile.

She walked closer, letting a finger trail up the side of Natasha’s arm as she circled, using her other hand to sneak into her pocket and…

Natasha’s arm shot out, grabbing Valkyrie’s hand with such force the incapacitator she’d been pickpocketing clattered to the floor.

Valkyrie swung her other arm around for a punch and Natasha ducked it cleanly. A spin. Another punch that made contact with her opponent’s arm. Legs kicking. Hands grabbing. Pulling. Pushing.

Natasha spun away to ran for the incapacitator and Valkyrie followed, practically tackling her to the floor, knocking it even further away. And then Natasha was on top of her, pressing her arms above her head. What knocked Valkyrie still wasn't the move itself. While Natasha was strong for a human, she was a gods damned immortal warrior. She couldn't be held down. What stopped her from escaping was the look in Natasha’s eyes. Determination against all odds. And something else. Hunger.

Their faces were so close. Inches apart. Her breathe slowed, and she was suddenly aware of her own chest rising and falling and how every inhale brought them closer. She was aware of Natasha’s legs wrapped around her thighs. Aware of her lips and how much she wanted to meet them.

And because that’s what Valkyries did: she arched herself up and took what she wanted.

Chapter Text

Tangles. Their bodies were in tangles. Hands in hair, legs wrapped around legs, arms, hands, fingers entwined. And wet. And soft. Natasha was well muscled, sure, but her skin was smooth and perfect like a ripe peach.

They lay, panting and spent. Valkyrie was between her lover’s legs, head rested against the inside of Natasha’s thigh, and occasionally she glanced up over the landscape of her body, the hills of her breasts and pubis, the valleys of her stomach and neck.

“So, I think I'm ready to have this off now,” she said, poking at the incapacitator on her neck.

Natasha laughed. “You’re a great lay, but not that good. You really think I trust you after that last stunt?”

Valkyrie hrumphed and rolled off, reaching for her clothes which had been discarded haphazardly in their attempt to get closer to each other. “I'm incredible.”

“You really are. But still. Not good enough to get that off until we’re safely back on Earth.”

“What? You sure you don't want to stick around this ass end of the universe a little longer?”

“It isn't all that bad, but no.”

Valkyrie popped open a beer and wondered idly how many more she had left...12? 13? How long would that last her? A couple days, tops. Natasha shot her a disapproving look as she pulled on her jumpsuit and said, “Unlike some people I have a job to do.”

Shrug. She took a sip. “Well then hopefully you’ve fixed the jump drive because otherwise we aren't leaving this place for a very long time.”

She could still take the redhead back to the grandmaster, but at this point she didn't really want to any longer. Not that she was going soft just because of a little action, nah. Not her. This was just more fun, she convinced herself. Maybe she could spin this out a little longer. As long as the beer lasted at least.

Natasha was sitting back on her heels staring at her work, looking confused.

“I thought you were done,” Valkyrie said.

“It's hard to know when you’re done if you don't know what something is supposed to look like to begin with.”

“Let me see?” Valkyrie sauntered over and crouched down next to her, poking a finger in amongst the wires unhelpfully. “Yup.”

“Yup? You figured it out?”

“Maybe. Get me another beer will you?”

With Natasha’s back turned, Valkyrie reached in and grabbed one of the plugs, yanking it out entirely. She shoved it in her boot before Natasha returned, and offered her the drink.

“No thanks,” Valkyrie said, waving it away. “Not finished with this one.”

“Then why..”

“That one’s for you. I know you want to get back, but it’s late and, I don't know about you, but I haven't slept since before I picked you up.”

“I’ve really got to…”

“Just hang out with me for a bit. I promise we’ll get you home in the morning.”

Natasha sighed and seemed to think about it a moment. Valkyrie remembered being like that once. Reserved, careful, steadfast; back when she’d been just one of the Valkyries and not The Valkyrie. Back when she could trust in the cause she fought for, back when she’d had a partner to share her burdens with. Naive. She’d been stupid back then.

She hadn't realized she’d been holding her breath until Natasha finally took a seat beside Valkyrie. They touched bottles.

“Skol,” Valkyrie said.

“Nostrovia.”

Chapter Text

The night was cold, and the human was warm. Valkyrie had a bed in the back of her ship for occasions like this. Night was different depending on what planet she was on, but her internal clock ran just the same. The bed served her well for long hauls or simply as a place to have a quick one-night stand.

Was this a one night thing? She pulled The woman in closer to her, snuggling into the warmth of her back, and wrapping a hand around Natasha’s body and cupping her breast. Even after all their exertions her hair still smelled like lavender and coconut.

She kissed the mortal’s neck. This was nice. Morning could only come too soon.

She willed herself to stay awake longer, eyes closed, ensconced in the smell and heat, the softness of the bed and Natasha’s body: smooth skin over muscle.

But sleep came even for immortals. And she dreamed, for the first time in a long time of nothing.

Morning brought with it her signature headache. Light too bright. Some loud clanking, probably Natasha. Too loud. Valkyrie pushed a pillow over her head.

“Whatever you’re doing, you should've stop immediately and come back to bed,” she called, her voice muffled by the pillow.

“I think I’ve got it figured out,” Natasha said as she walked into the small bedroom. “There’s a piece missing.”

“Huh.” Valkyrie rolled over.

“Must have been dislodged when we crash-landed. I've looked everywhere for it, but it must be wedged under some place I can't get to.”

“Mmhmm.” She lifted the pillow from her head to see Natasha, dressed in her jumpsuit and looking surprisingly fresh.

“I hope you don't mind. I used the little shower in the bathroom to clean up.”

There was a shower on board? She’d have to investigate that. Later. Instead, she grumbled and lifted the blanket up, making space for Natasha to slip back into bed with her.

“As tempting as that is, I really need to get back soon.”

“Why the rush? Someone waiting for you?”

There was a hesitation in Natasha’s voice that made Valkyrie freeze. Was there someone else? Why did she care?

The half second before Natasha spoke again felt as if it stretched on endlessly.

Finally. “No. No one in particular. But the Avengers need me. They’ve lost people already. They can't lose one more.”

Neither can I, is what Valkyrie wanted to say. Instead she pushed herself off the bed and walked naked to the liquor cabinet.

“It’s still morning,” Natasha said, slightly aghast.

“And I'm still thirsty.” She poured herself a bourbon and emptied a can of tomato juice over it. A few chugs of hot sauce later she was sitting back in bed, enjoying her drink.

“Now what were you saying about a missing piece?”

“I think we’re going to have to venture out beyond the ship, I checked your nav unit and it looks like this place is a scrapper planet. We just happened to land on the empty side of it. There’s an outpost a little ways away.”

“How far is a little ways?”

“A little over 48 miles, but with your hover bike…”

“You’ve been busy. Nav unit, shower, finding my bike…”

“You were asleep a looooong time.”

Valkyrie glared over the top of her drink.

“Really, it’s your own fault. If you didn't want someone poking through your stuff, you shouldn't have brought a spy aboard,” Natasha said, tossing her hair back and turning to pick up Valkyrie’s clothes from the floor. She threw them at her. “Put these on.”

The woman was nosey, but at least she hadn't found the engine part Valkyrie had tucked into her shoe last night. She’d have to be more careful if she planned to keep the ruse going much longer.

Two Bloody Mary's later, Valkyrie was dressed and seated on her bike, trying to convince Natasha to get on the back.

“Asgardians don't process alcohol the way you mortals do. It’s fine.”

“You should really let me drive it.”

“What? Astrid? No. And besides, you don't even know how.”

“You named your bike Astrid?”

Valkyrie pet her bike on the handlebars and made a cooing noise. “Who's a good girl, Astrid? Who's a good girl?”

Natasha threw up her hands and climbed onto the back of the bike. The feeling of her hands wrapped around Valkyrie’s waist made her feel strong and powerful. She revved the engine once, relishing the feeling of power between her legs.

“Hold fast,” she said.

They blasted out of the ship’s hatch. Trees whipped by. Tall and moss covered. Green and pink and black. Cool wind--thankfully the air was breathable--whipped at their faces and clothes.

Natasha gripped her harder, as if nervous flying two feet above the gnarled roots and grasses of the forest floor. But that seemed impossible. Even when she was first captured, the mortal hadn't shown evidence of fear or nerves.

Maybe something else was making her hold on like that. Valkyrie smiled, and fought the urge to push the bike faster.

She already knew the ride would end much too soon

Chapter Text

The planet was small enough that she could see the curvature of the earth on the horizon when it was visible between the patchwork of trees.

It would have been enchanting had it not also been so repetitive… and boring… Various shades of dull pink and black moss over dark brown bark: Black. Pink. Pink. Black. Pink. Black.

Nature really wasn't Valkyrie’s “thing”. Give her a bloodbath over a sunset any day.

“So, why me?”

Startled, Valkyrie glanced back at her passenger. “What?”

“Earth’s a long way away from Sakaar. Isn't there easier prey close by?”

“It's not that far if you have a working jump drive.”

“And I was just the first girl to fall into your orbit?”

“I mean, don't get a big head about it or anything.

“That can't be it. Seriously. Why me? Is it something to do with the Avengers? The Kremlin?”

“What?”

They passed from forest into meadow and on the horizon a small city was rising up from the golden-white grasses. Almost there.

“The Kremlin. Russia?” Natasha said, as if Valkyrie should know. “Putin. Communism. Tolstoy.” Natasha kept saying things that sounded like words. “..Vodka.” Ah, that one Valkyrie knew.

“I don't pay attention to the affairs of mortals.”

“You just pay attention to me, then?”

Valkyrie grunted noncommittally. The truth really shouldn't have been so hard to say, but as she thought about it, it got stuck in her throat.

She remembered the first time she’d seen the quinjet. A little after she’d turned Hulk in to the Grandmaster. Poking around in there had revealed centuries old tech, little useful. Except one thing. A video that seemed to play on repeat when she pushed the right button: “Nice work, big guy.” The vision had said.

At first it had been nothing. Once she’d stripped the quinjet of the little it had of value she’d sold it off and gotten blind drunk on the profits. Watching the Hulk fight that night she remembered the video and wondered about who he was, really, before she’d picked him up.

Who he had been to make that woman look at him so.

She went to visit a few times. Sparred with him. Developed a rapport with the big lug. They became friends. But it only gave her questions. He was so… innocent. And naive. And yet angry and aggressive at the same time.

A complex creature, certainly, and one that drew her affection, but not a creature that might inspire romantic love. He was too… simple for a woman like that.

She went back to the quinjet. Not often, but often enough. She told herself she was going back to make sure there wasn't anything valuable left behind. But that wasn't true. It was the message.

“...you’re going very high very fast...I need you to help me out, ok?”

Or, less the message and more the messenger.

Hulk shared little insight even when she worked up the nerve to ask directly.

“Banner friend.” He had grunted.

“Who?”

But she gots no more from him.

When the Grandmaster had expressed interest in acquiring more midgardians--The Hulk had brought in considerable profits--she had seen the trip as an obvious business opportunity. Clearly anyone who knew the Hulk would know how to defend themselves.

Business. That's what she’d told herself.

She felt the truth on her tongue: Hulk, the quinjet, the video. But something held her back. No, not something. She knew exactly. It was the pause she’d heard after asking Natasha if there was anyone waiting for her. It was Natasha’s cool denial. It was “They’ve lost people already.”

Instead, Valkyrie answered the question the way she had answered it in her head a few weeks ago, “It’s just business.”

Natasha made a noise that sounded like a growl in her throat, “Well I take my business very personally.”

Gods blast that woman for making her feel guilty about all these secrets. Valkyrie was getting herself in too deep too quick.

She had to cut Natasha loose. Had to cut her loose before she managed to dig down through all the layers of shit Valkyrie had piled up on top of her soul. Natasha had already, inadvertently scratched the surface.

As the city neared, plains turning into dirt road turning into city streets, she decided she needed away from Natasha as quickly as possible. She needed a drink.

Chapter Text

Beer? Good. Grimy bar top? Good. Creepy dude leering at her from across the room? Not so good.

There were many things Valkyrie did not appreciate and leering was high on the list. Sure she liked to leer, but other people doing it to her? Nope. She downed the rest of her beer and set it on the bar top delicately. She cracked her knuckles. This would be fun.

The man, whose grey skin seemed to blend in with the rest of the decor--grey chairs under greasy grey tables, in front of grey walls--smiled as she approached and spread his hands wide, offering her the seat next to him.

She smiled graciously and sat beside him, prepared to punch him when he least expected it.

“Sakaar?” He asked.

She was taken aback, how had he… the man pointed to her face indicating her white face paint.

“I was a scrapper too for a while,” he said.

Something about his easiness and tone threw her off. And on closer look the hard lines of his jaw and cheekbones stood out in a way that made her think of blades. There was a dark flash in his eyes that she liked. Maybe she wouldn't punch him just yet…

“A pretty boy like you, a scrapper?” She said, scoffing.

“The Grandmaster never complained. And I find it easier to draw in prey with a smile than with whatever you’re doing,” he said nodding towards her.

She realized she’d been squinting at him, watching him like prey, muscles tense, and let herself relax a bit, then laugh.

“I haven't had any complaints either.” She let the end of her sentence drift, heavy with innuendo. Yes. She had much better things she could do with him than use him as a punching bag.

Waving the server over she bought them two drinks and let him tell her about his time in the Grandmaster’s service while she imagined if he was that peculiar shade of grey all over.

A distraction from Natasha was what she’d wished for and here it was. Something light and stupid and easy. When he finished his drink she put a hand in his lap and told him to follow her to the bathroom.

“Wait a minute and then walk over,” she instructed.

The minute passed, tense, full of promise like the first bite of a peach. And when he came in, rough lips and hard angles, she tried to let her thoughts go. She’d only been with Natasha for a few days and already she felt her world had become too tense and tangled and had become more real than it had been in a long, long time.

Nothing like strange dick to make a girl forget herself again for a bit. Better than alcohol, that.

But it didn't get that far.

Instead, the door banged open.

Natasha.

Light streamed in from behind her catching in her hair turning it into a red halo. Or a lion’s mane. And on her face, nothing. Impatience if anything.

If Natasha had been angry that would have felt better, even shock would have been preferable to this look of tired impatience.

Valkyrie coughed and pulled down her shirt, which had bunched up around her armpits, and strode out the door.

“Sorry, love,” she said, glancing over shoulder and giving the grey man a wink as he buckled his pants. “Maybe next time.”

She followed Natasha out the door.

“I found the part we needed. They need cash though and apparently they don't take dollars,” she said without pre-amble.

Valkyrie was taken aback once more by the easiness with which Natasha was taking the whole situation and even more disconcerted by her disappointment. “Err…” was all she managed to mumble before Natasha started talking again.

“You can wipe that confused look off your face. It doesn't matter to me who you go around fucking. Really. You’re a good time, but all I really need from you isn't fidelity, isn't honesty, isn't even sobriety. I just need you to take me back to earth.”

“I’m sor…” Valkyrie began. But she was cut off agian.

“Save it. Really,” Natasha said. And then she did the cruelest thing of all: she smiled. A real genuine smile, full of warmth and calm. Friendly.

And in that moment Valkyrie knew for sure: she didn’t want to be friends.

Chapter Text

Outside the sun shone brighter than it should have been. A sharp illumination that bit at her skin bringing to light all the things she wished to stay hidden; immortals weren't supposed to have scars.

Stalls full of strange fruits and vegetables lined the roadway. With a loud whack, a butcher chopped the head off a naked bird-like animal with a long tail. Nearby the butcher’s partner skewered and cooked the creatures over an open flame letting off a dense, smoky aroma that made Valkyrie’s stomach rumble. When was the last time she’d eaten?

Natasha led them past all this and down a side street to a section of the market that trafficked in bits of old tech: rusting transponders, tubs of recycled retro-coolant that seemed to glow a harsh green, gravitational retracers, and piles of loose wires. And weapons. Piles of them everywhere. Blasters, lasers, huge arm-mounted cannons, and whiphounds glittered at her. And she felt herself being pulled towards them like a magnet. She could never resist a bit of shiny that went boom. Her fiancé had called her magpie of destruction once. Once..

It had been at a market like this. Back at the ass end of the galaxy. Valkyrie had been pulled away by every new piece of tech that could kill while her fiancé had just wanted a new saddle for her war horse. It had been a different market on a different planet of course. A beautiful day. And she’d been full of light and joy and love, bouncing from stall to stall cooing over blasters while her fiancé had giggled.

“Over here,” Natasha said.

Val glanced up from the pile of weapons where she’d been lost in thought. What would Nat say if she knew? The great Valkyrie a damned widow, laid low by her own pathetic grief. Was that the way to keep her or would Natalie only find her more pathetic? It sounded pretty pathetic to her… but, well, kidnapping hadn’t worked so...

She walked over to find Natasha holding a tangle of wires and another version of the plug Valkyrie’d swiped from the ship.

“How much for this one?” Nat said, waving it in the proprietor’s face. He or she was purple all over with a long proboscis in place of a nose and mouth. The creature splorted their response, a language neither she nor Natasha could understand. Natasha looked to Valkyrie, frustration written all over her face. “Help me out here?”

Valkyrie put her hand over Nat’s, taking the plug away from her and put it back on the pile.

“What are you doing?”

“We don't need it,” Valkyrie said.

“What do you mean we don't need it? How are we going to fix the ship if we don't have the one piece that's been missing this whole--”

The stall owner threw up their hands and began to shoo Valkyrie and Nat away, splorting their displeasure.

“I think we better get out of here if we aren't buying anything,” Valkyrie said, pulling Nat away from the stall and back in the direction of her bike. Natalie was surprisingly quiet on the walk back, and when Valkyrie glanced behind her she could swear the damned woman was smiling.

No.. had to be the sun in her eyes. Why would she be smiling? She glanced back at her again to be sure.

“Okay,” Valkyrie said. “What’s going on? Why the smirking?”

“Nothing,” Nat said.

“Nothing?”

“This is just the way my face looks.”

“It's not. Your face is usually more.. pouty.”

“What?”

“Yeah, your lips… like.” Valkyrie stuck out her bottom lip in the pout she’d seen Natasha make when she was thinking.

“I don't look like that.”

“Yeah… well…” Silence settled over the both of them. It stewed for a minute under the sun as they walked. “I… so, the reason..”

“You have the missing piece,” Natasha interrupted.

“What! Why would I…? How did you..?” Valkyrie spluttered.

“You really think I’m that bad of a spy?”

“I guess not. But you’re not mad?”

“I'm super mad.”

“Then why did you let me lie to you?”

“Why did you lie to me?”

“I didn't.. I just…” Valkyrie took a deep breath. They had reached the end of the road, passing out of the thick of the market. Just a bit further, through the trees would be the bike, but she stopped instead and turned around. This was it. This was honesty. Might as well face it head on. “I guess I just wanted you to stick around longer.”

“I know,” said Natasha, letting that smirk of hers spread across her face once more.

“Spy on that too?”

“Nah. I’ve known people like you. People who would rather hide their feelings from them selves than deal with them.”

“I don’t…” Valkyrie started. Then she stopped. “Yeah, okay.”

“I know because I’ve been that person. I understand. And… I like you.” Natasha said.

Valkyrie felt a warmth spread through her cheeks. She really could get behind this honesty thing.

“But I can’t be with you,” Natasha finished. “I need to be home, back on earth.” She walked up to Valkyrie and put a hand on her shoulder. “Thank you for being honest with me about the plug though. I really appreciate it.”

“Balls.”

“Did you just say… balls?”

Valkyrie pushed past Natasha yelling. “Balls! My bike! Fuck balls! That kid’s taking my bike!”

Chapter Text

Valkyrie had a sort of second sense about people jacking her stuff. Maybe it came from jacking so many other people’s stuff, but it gave her a tingle up the back of her spine that she felt now. Also she could see the little assface through the leaves.

No one jacked her stuff right in front of her.

She heard the rip of the motor cycling up into gear and saw someone hopping aboard. She tore past Natasha, almost pushing her out of the way and dove through the underbrush, making a b-line for her bike.

But the brush was dense and the kid was already moving. By the time she’d kicked and torn her way through the thick foliage, they were halfway down the road. She tore after them, pumping her legs as hard as she could, feeling the heat of adrenaline course through her body, pissed at everything and wishing she could just pull out a gun. Fighting she liked. Running not so much. But Nat was the only one between them with any firepower.

Whatever. She was Valkyrie, dammit, she was stronger, better, more powerful than whatever idiot had decided she was an easy mark. Faster and faster, she ran, the trees zipping past her, the hot air whipping her hair back. At this point she was keeping pace with the bike, but it was still ahead of her.

She tried to go faster, calling all her powers to bear, but everyone had their limits and she’d reached hers. The little shit was going to get away.

A shot rang out behind her.

Good girl, Natasha.

It pinged off the bark of a tree.

Well… nice try, anyway, Nat.

The kid on her bike jerked at the sound, skidding to the left in their distraction and over a protruding root. The bike hopped a bit, startling the driver further, causing them to overcorrect. Aaaand, wham. Straight into a tree.

Valkyrie caught up in seconds, but the kid started taking off on foot, leaving the totalled bike on the ground. It was ruined, the smooth chromidium covering dented beyond repair and the exhaust valve twisted back on itself. It was fixable, but not without a hell of a lot of tools and a hell of a lot of time. Time she didn’t have if she wanted her vengeance.

The thief was limping a little, as if the impact had knocked their joints out of whack. Good. They’d be even easier to take down.

She grinned and veered to follow, to teach the little punk a lesson about messing with Valkyries, and their bikes, and their honor. By the time she was done, they wouldn’t just be limping, they’d be crawling from this jungle.

“Stop!”

The noise startled her and she turned back to Nat, “What?”

“Let them go,” she said.

Soft humans. Val turned back to her quarry. The thief had managed to put a little distance between them. But not enough to lose her. She started running again, imagining twisting their arm up and behind their back the way her handlebars had been twisted.

“Stop it, Val!” Natasha yelled again.

She ignored it. As an ancient being, Valkyrie appreciated a bit of poetic justice—matching the punishment to the crime. Maybe she’d steal something if theirs, too… like and eye.

Another shot rang out, and pain bloomed from her right shoulder. The shock of it stopped her in her tracks. She looked down. Blood. Red and sticky, it trickled down her arm. Looks like Nat wasn’t such a bad shot after all.

“Did you just… did you just shoot me?”

Natasha jogged to close the distance between them. “No, I just grazed you.”

“On purpose?”

“I’m not going to dignify that question with an answer. Just stop or I’ll shoot again. And it’ll be your leg this time.”

“But, look what they did to Astrid!” Valkyrie heard the whining tone in her own voice but couldn’t stop it from coming out.

“Your bike will be fine. But that kid won’t be, not if you go after him. And besides he wouldn’t have slammed into that tree i hadn’t distracted him.”

Anger spread along with the pain in her arm. “So we should have just let him steal our stuff? Just like that?”

Nat put a hand on her shoulder, the one that didn’t hurt. “I’m saying you should forgive them.”

Really? She was going to pull that one out now? Val wanted to punch something, so she did. The nearest tree exploded in splinters, sending shockwaves up her arm. Val grimaced. Maybe that was overkill..

“Forgiveness,” She grumbled.

“Yeah, that thing you want from everyone else but won’t give yourself,” Natasha said.

Val looked up, startled at the rancor in Natasha’s voice. Maybe things hadn’t been smoothed over the way she’d thought. Maybe she was still mad about the boy, mad about the plug, mad about everything. Maybe Natasha was just better at hiding her feelings than Val had ever realized.

“Okay, fine. I forgive them. You happy now?” Val said, meeting steel with steel.

“Yes,” Nat said

Val and Nat glared at each other in silence for a moment, as if each were daring the other person to address all the anger and rot that had grown between them so quickly. They’d known each other less than a week, and yet it felt like they’d been together for months. The spark of connection had been so strong, and so too had been the feeling of betrayal. Why did it have to be her? Why did this all have to happen now? Gods, Val hated having feelings, much less talking about them. Instead of giving in, Val trudged back to the bike to inspect it. Dented and twisted, but it still hovered. She pulled the cover off before inspecting the drive core. No smoke. That was a good sign at least. She slammed the cover back on and proceeded to kick at the handlebars to get them in a usable position.

Nat watched quietly in the background as Valkyrie made her way about the bike, using her inhuman strength to pull and straighten and maneuver the metal as if it were playdough. Sweat collected on her hairline and trailed down into her cleavage. She pulled her vest off and threw it on the ground, leaving her in just a tank top. It wasn’t for show, though Val was fully aware of how the tight knot of her biceps looked while dragging the bike into shape--Nat wasn’t the only one who could play mind games. It was just getting hot in the late afternoon sun. She tweaked with a few more gears and then tentatively cycled up the engine. It gave a re-assuring grumble.

“Not pretty,” Val said. “But she’ll get us to the ship if we go slow.”

“Whatever gets me home,” Nat said.

Val winced.