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Girl, Compromised

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Chapter 1

The mission was simple enough. Go in, seduce, get information, kill, leave. One, two, three, four, five. It was something that Natalia had done thousands of times in the past, and she was confident enough in her abilities that she didn't consider the possibility of the mission being compromised. Well, that wasn't entirely the truth. She was used to someone from a rivaling agent, an enemy of some kind trying to foil her mission, but she was good at what she did. Meaning that anyone who tried to stop her mission wound up dead. So if anyone tried to bother her tonight, she knew that she'd be able to handle it without batting an eyelash.

She was 2/5 into the mission when the moment of impact arrived.

She lay beneath her target, writhing and moaning in a convincing manner as he kissed her neck. His fingers caressed her hipbone, and she arched her hips against him. She was, in no way, shape, or form, attracted to this man, nor did she want sex from him, but quite frankly, she had no choice in the matter. That lesson was something she'd learned the hard way many years ago during training; if she ever thought that she had a choice, she didn't. The only choices were those that she made when presented with different options of how to kill her marks.

Her current mark pulled back to kiss her on the lips when suddenly, there was a symphony of breaking glass and a soft thwump as an arrow crashed through the window and embedded itself in his skull. For a brief half-second, Natalia was nearly thrown off kilter, but as soon as the first drop of blood dripped down onto her chest, she pushed the body off of her and went straight into a defensive position. Swallowing hard, she looked around her, taking in everything that she could. The arrow had come in through the glass window, and as a result of its trajectory, the window was now shattered. The broken pieces of glass glittered on the floor in the low lamplight of the room, almost resembling tears. Natalia wondered why she would notice those small shards and make that comparison at such an inconvenient time, and she pressed her lips together, pushing everything out of her head. She had work to do.

Her trained eyes quickly assessed the situation, and she ducked behind the bed as she pulled her gun out of the dress she'd wriggled out of and dropped onto the floor only moments before. Her target had never even known that she'd had a gun sewn into the slip of her dress because, true to stereotype, men typically didn't seem to think about those things. That lesson was another one she'd learned early on. And even if men did happen to think about the possibility of a woman carrying a gun, by the time they'd considered the option, they'd spent an extra few seconds thinking about it, thereby allowing enough time to pass for her to actually use the gun.

Natalia was quiet. Her heart thumped loudly beneath her ribcage, but she didn't show any fear. Her green eyes peered over the edge of the bed, but nothing happened. Confused, she slowly lifted her head higher. She knew that she was risking being shot in the skull by revealing her position in such a careless, open way, but the current situation she was in was something she'd never dealt with before. This was when the hailstorm of bullets was supposed to come in; men with bulletproof vests and cold, angry eyes and gnashing teeth were supposed to kick the door down and storm the room to take her. Or at least try.

It was a very difficult task to throw Natalia off, but she was most definitely thrown off. Since no one seemed to be waiting outside the window to shoot at her, she lowered her head back down beneath the bed to safety, and she began sliding her dress back on. Just to be safe, though, she kept her head ducked low behind the bed. One of the perks of being was a spy was that she was used to getting dressed in strange, uncomfortable places. Being crouched between the bed and the floor while slipping on a dress wasn't one of the more uncomfortable positions she'd dressed in, she thought with an inward smirk.

Moving as quickly as she could, she kept one hand wrapped around her gun. For now, she seemed to be out of danger, but she was good enough at her job to know that she was never really out of danger; she always had to be ready to take down the next target or the next person who had targeted her. Her breathing was soft and gentle in the empty room, even and quiet as she reached behind her back to pull the zipper of her dress up. She pushed her long red hair out of her face, and she lifted her head, preparing to stand up and get out of this room.

And that was when she saw him.

There was a man in the doorway, and he had her at what would appear to be a disadvantage. She couldn't see his face; his eyes were hidden behind night goggles, and the angle at which she was on the floor made her unable to see his features behind his gun. A moment of silence passed between them; Natalia could hear him breathing. Tightening the grip on her Glock, she raised it up towards him to show that she wasn't quite as disadvantaged as he might think. The man's face remained unchanged, and he cocked his gun at her. It was at that moment that the wind outside roared in through the window; if Natalia hadn't been who she was, she never would've noticed the way the man's ears almost literally seemed to prick up at the sound of it. Just by that tiny, subtle gesture, she was able to detect that he was sensitive to sound and despite his own training, was unable to completely block it out.

As small as it was, this audial distraction was the advantage she needed. Without wasting a beat, she raised her Glock and went to pull the trigger when suddenly, the man leapt forward and knocked the gun out of her hand, effectively disarming her. The loss of her gun wasn't much of a problem for Natalia, though she did find it annoying; however, this was a challenge, if nothing else. She grabbed the arm that he'd used to knock the gun away from her, and she used it as leverage to swing her legs up and around his neck.

The man seemed to guess what she was going to do, and he easily countered the attack by flipping her over onto the floor so that she was on her back, and he was above her. Natalia's arms were still free, and she used all her strength to smash her right elbow into his nose. The man's head whipped to the side from the force of the blow, blood flowing freely from his nose as he swore out loud in English.

Natalia used her other arm to bring her fist to his temple, but before she made contact, he easily blocked her punch by grabbing her clenched fingers and twisting hard. Natalia squeezed her jaw tightly to keep from screaming out as her wrist erupted into volumes of burning, excruciating pain. She knew that it was broken, and she knew that from this point out, her left arm would be completely useless. The break wasn't a big enough deal for Natalia to end the fight and run—she'd fought with worse injuries before—but it would definitely slow her down.

Yet in the back of her head, there was a voice that told her this was her chance. This was her way out. Over the past year, she'd been wondering what it would be like to be free of the KGB. Realistically, she knew that there was no way out of the KGB. That just wasn't possible. The only way to be free was to die, and if she let this man kill her…

Natalia contemplated the choices as she continued to fight, her left arm protectively tucked into her body, but as soon as she'd decided that she refused to let this man with the hidden eyes kill her, he'd seen her slight hesitation, and he used his opportunity to attack. With one swift strike, he slammed the flat of his hand into the exact spot where he'd broken her arm. Natalia let out a cry of pain, and she immediately jerked away from him, her mind racing with an overload of defensive/offensive positions as she pulled herself away. She flipped her hair out of her face, and when she looked up, she looked into the barrels of both her gun and the man's gun as he held one in each hand.

This was it. This was Natalia's choice. She could either fight him until she'd killed him and risk possibly injuring herself even further, or she could give up. Panting hard, she stared at him with huge, furious eyes, adrenaline pouring through her veins, rushing as quickly as white water rapids. Part of her frustration in this fight came from not being able to see the man's face, to see how he truly looked. Once she saw a face, she never forgot it, and she didn't want to forget his. She didn't want to forget what the silent man with the goggles looked like underneath his armor; faces without armor said more about people than anything else, and she wanted to see him in all his vulnerability.

"Don't move." The man's voice was a flat monotone, and his Russian, though perfect, was colored just the tiniest bit with an American accent that betrayed his true nationality. Natalia stayed quiet, her eyes daring him to shoot as she gasped hard for breath. She had to give it to this mystery guy: he knew how to fight. He was well trained. Particularly for an American. "You're hurt."

Natalia wanted to look down at her arm so she could assess the damage, but she didn't dare take her eyes off of this strange assassin. His arms steadily held both of their guns, his face unchanging in the silence. They were at a stalemate, and Natalia didn't want him to win. She didn't like anyone to win, but she especially didn't want him to win. But he was the one in control right now; with just one move, he could pull the trigger on either of their guns and end her life. In one second, she could be dead. In one second, she could be free from her employers.

Blood streamed downward from the man's nose and into his mouth. He spat it off to the side and seemed to notice the dead man on the bed with the arrow sticking out of his head. He paused and tilted his head. He looked back at Natalia.

"He's dead, right?" he asked. Natalia didn't speak. She simply continued to breathe and glower at him. He sighed but didn't lower his weapons. "Of course he's dead. Do you speak? You sure can fight. Can you talk? I'm speaking Russian. I know my Russian isn't that bad."

Despite the seriousness of the situation and the fact that she was quite possibly facing death, Natalia wanted to grin, but she didn't. However, the man took her by surprise by cracking a little smirk at his own joke.

"Ok. You don't want to talk. That's ok." He kept his guns trained on the redheaded assassin, and he took one small step towards her. "I'm not going to kill you. I'm going to take you in. You're injured."

"No." Natalia's voice was quiet but firm. The man paused, and since Natalia couldn't seen his eyes, she imagined that he was studying her. 

"I'm not letting you go," The words were simple and clean in his mouth, even though his American shone through just the smallest amount. "You need medical care."

"No," Natalia repeated. The man didn't move or speak for a few seconds, his guns still up. Finally, he slowly moved to put one in his thigh holster, holding it up and showing her exactly what he was going to do before he did it. His movements were slow and cautious, almost as if she were a wild animal that he was trying to show he meant no harm towards. Natalia kept her green eyes, still shiny with adrenaline, trained on him as she scrutinized and analyzed his every move; after he'd secured the weapon, he lowered his head and reached up to his face with his free hand.

With his head tilted down, his face and eyes were directed towards the ground as he began fiddling with something on the side of his head around his temple. Natalia saw her chance; she could move while he was distracted. For someone who was such a good fighter, this man had made a big mistake in taking his eyes off of her; any spy knew that you didn't do that. He was looking away from her and leaving himself vulnerable and her with a chance. All she needed was this quick second, and she could grab his gun—technically it was her gun—and then he'd be dead. All in a few seconds. This was her window of opportunity.

But she didn't take it.

And she didn't take it because she realized that he was looking down because he was taking his goggles off. She watched him slowly pull the goggles up and over his head before dropping them to the ground. He let out a sigh and lifted his head, his eyes closed. Natalia watched him run his free hand over his face and rub his eyelids and the bridge of his nose; he'd closed his eyes, again presenting her with another window of opportunity. She lifted a foot to step forward, but his eyes snapped open, and the arm that held the gun tensed, his finger dangerously tight on the trigger. So that was why he felt like he didn't have to worry about taking his eyes off me, Natalia thought, mildly impressed, even though she didn't want to be impressed at all. His reflexes are amazing.

"Don't move," the man said, repeating his words from earlier. Natalia froze. Not because he'd told her not to move but because of how blue his eyes were. Finally, she saw the man in his entirety. This strange assailant who had appeared out of nowhere with his American accent, perfect Russian, and near perfect combat training. He was clearly dangerous, and Natalia would've been lying to herself if she'd said that she wasn't the smallest bit afraid. The KGB had taken most everything away from her, but they'd left her with the ability to feel fear, just the right amount to make her lethal.

The man regarded her with his calm eyes. She wasn't sure she'd ever seen eyes so blue, and she'd seen plenty of blue eyes in her day. His eyes were shockingly blue, and she couldn't stop staring at them. It had to be a mutation, she thought briefly. He looked like the kind of guy who should be a grunt in the American Marines. His sandy blond hair was cropped short and close to his head, and his musculature was solid and evenly distributed, though he was definitely more built in the arms than in the legs.

"I'm going to put a lock on your hands," the man slowly said. "They're like handcuffs but more…intense."

Natalia stared at him as hatred began to quickly fill her eyes. She hated her hands being restrained more than anything; if he'd beat her until she was unconscious and then transported her, she would've preferred that because at least her hands would've been free. She wanted to kill him, but she was rational enough to know that if she made a move, he pulled that trigger, and she was dead. So she didn't do anything. She simply stood there as he fluidly moved behind her and grabbed her hands, locking them in a strange device she'd never seen before.

"If you try anything, you'll be shocked. Kind of like a taser." The man stepped back and examined what he'd locked onto her. "There we goOk, we need to get out of here before your little friends check in on you. Once they find this guy here and you nowhere to be found…won't be fun. I've still got a gun on you, by the way, Natalia."

At the sound of her name, Natalia's head jerked to the side to glower at him with loathsome but surprised eyes, and he smiled at her. Natalia wasn't sure she'd ever seen a spy smile the way this one did; he smiled as if he were genuinely happy or amused by something. His smile lit up his blue eyes, and she hated him for being able to smile like that. She also hated him for using her name; she hadn't been expecting that one. Most everyone knew who Black Widow was, but few people knew that Black Widow was Natalia.

"Yeah, I know your name. Don't you learn the names of your targets?" The man looked at her, though this time he looked as if he didn't expect an answer from her.

"Well, anyway, nice to meet you. My name's Clint Barton."