This was the second time in six months that Natasha had gone MIA on mission in what was a suspected hostage situation.
Clint was really going to have to have a talk with Coulson about the missions they decided to send her on. Later, he would find out that Shield hadn’t actually organised the mission at all, that Natasha had found it and decided to go herself. They did that from time to time, usually for situations that were personal to them. Bucky would find Hydra agents or suspected brainwashing situations and would take off on them. Clint had a thing for people who had gotten in too deep into bad things, drugs or underground rings, and would often bring home strays with him.
Natasha’s thing often centered around kids. Around abductions, experimentation on children, paedophile rings.
But for now, Clint needed someone, something to be angry at, so he chose Shield in that moment.
Gathering the others and preparing themselves to leave took no time at all. By the time Clint had received the called that Natasha hadn’t checked in two days in a row, to them getting suited up and congregating on the jet took all of five minutes and then they were in the air.
A minute after they’d took off, Clint got the message with the coordinates of Nat's last known location and his stomach dropped straight down to his feet.
God fucking dammit.
Because where else would it be but Russia? Not only Russia, but fucking Moscow because of course.
Natasha never could resist the pull when information came through their channels about stuff going down in her home country. Literally, never. She was terrified, hyper vigilant, scared stiff, that any one of those reports coming in meant The Red Room was back.
Wasn’t that literally Hydra’s motto? And now since they knew Hydra had had a hand in The Red Room the whole time, wasn’t it possible that Natasha’s ‘cutting of one head’ AKA burning the place to the ground, wasn’t the end?
But, never in all their years tracking and hunting down and stopping whatever was going on, had they had anything come out of Russia, from the original site of The Red Room. Until now, that was.
Tony let Jarvis drive the jet so Clint could talk to all of them.
They all knew of Natasha’s past, they knew of the place that had raised her and trained her. They knew how important it was that that place never see the light of day again.
As Clint told them the location, there were a few wary glances at each other but most didn’t know Moscow was where it all started. Clint did, and so did Bucky. He hated how he had been even a small part of that.
They all knew, that whether that hellhole had returned or not, Natasha was in danger.
They had to get to her.
Natasha woke with a jolt, pulling in a shuddering breath through the freezing cold water that rained down her face.
The man in front of her laughed, tossing the plastic bucket aside as he grabbed a handful of the woman’s hair and jerked her head up to face him. “Natalia.” The voice hummed, breath ghosting across her cheek.
God, she despised when they sent in him. He was far too fucking handsy and loved getting in her face.
As far as she could tell, it had been two days, at least.
Two days in a dingy, cold room with zero natural light and dirt fucking everywhere.
Two days of beatings, hands all over her, trigger words chanted over and over and over. The trigger words hadn’t worked in a long time. She’d fought fucking tooth and nail to get that shit out of her head and had succeeded. They wouldn’t get her with them.
But they knew them. They knew every single word.
So no, they wouldn’t get her with them but the fact these men knew those triggers told her something possibly much much worse. It told her that they knew her, they knew The Red Room, or someone connected at the very least. It told her that they probably had the tools to just start the whole process again.
To take her mind, to implant new words, to use drugs and shocks and wipes and pain until they were so firmly ingrained all they had to do was say the first word and she would comply.
However, after two days of the old trigger words, Natasha grew restless. Didn’t they know the Avengers would be on their way? Didn’t they realize the words didn’t work anymore? Why weren’t they wiping her already, making her a clean slate for a new trigger?
She got her answer, wishing she’d never even thought those questions.
The man dropped her head, taking a step back.
He’d brought in a case with him and Natasha wasn’t particular interested in finding out what was in it.
Obviously it didn’t matter what she wanted, and the man began to pull out a collection of items that, at first glance, made no sense together but then the pieces clicked together and Natasha felt her veins fill with ice.
They weren’t after the Widow. They’d been calling her Natalia and the woman had assumed that was because that was the name she’d had back then, but it dawned on her quickly that actually, it was far more nefarious than that.
They wanted Natalia. They wanted the girl in her head, not the woman. They wanted her dropped and then…then they were probably going to start the process.
Children were easier to mold and Natalia was the most dangerous child out there.
She had the most kills under her belt by the time she was ten, that the Red Room had ever seen. She was ruthless, unstoppable, deadly.
If she was controlled…if she was controlled, it would all be over. She could kill her family and friends, kill Shield completely, kill anyone they wanted her to.
The man knelt down on one knee, fingers hovering the items before he chose one and stood, bringing it to her.
It was a teddy bear. Soft, brown, with a button nose. The kind of toy that Natty would ooh and aah over, wanting desperately to hold it to her chest.
“We can do this one of two ways.” The man said, smiling and holding out the bear.
“Is one of them the easy way?” Natasha growled.
“I suppose, for you it is. You can take the bear, you can take all the toys you want and you can submit willingly or…well, I’m hoping you’ll choose the second option because then I can have some fun.”
“Please, enlighten me.” Natasha said dryly.
“We make you submit. In much more…interesting ways. Either way, the outcome is the same. You submit.” He pressed the bear to Natasha’s face, brushing a paw over her cheek.
“Please, please tell me you don’t want the toy.” The man grinned.
Natasha grit her teeth and glared up at him, her body straining against the restraints. She was going to fucking kill him.
“No? Thank god, it’s been far too long since I got to play.” He threw the bear over his shoulder and slid a phone from his pocket.
“You know, these things are so useful. You see, it says right here that Natasha Romanoff has a tendency to drop when certain things happen."
Natasha stiffened. He had her Shield records.
"For example, getting knocked out, having a fever or being sick, and one I think sounds very promising, when drugged. Doesn’t that sound like fun? I think that’s the option I’ll play with first. Or I could combine the second two, what do you say? You feel like a nice cold bath?” He grinned, sliding the phone back into his pocket. “Unfortunately, getting a bath filled with ice water sounds like far too boring a chore but lucky for you, I have everything I need right here to implement that last option. I hope you’re not afraid of needles.” He turned towards the single door and clapped his hands three times.
The door swung open and two men carrying a hospital style bed came strolling in.
Once the bed was in place on the floor, one of the newcomers came up to her, a cloth in hand. Natasha knew instantly by the smell that it was chloroform.
“Just so you don’t get any funny ideas and try to escape or anything.” The original man grinned at her, waving the newcomer over.
Natasha struggled, though her arms and legs were bound, she managed to get in good few headbutts and bites in before the cloth came over her mouth and nose. She could hold her breath for a long time, so she did that, all the while still struggling.
Don’t panic, that will make you breathe faster, don’t panic.
But the restraints were good, another hint that they’d been in contact with someone from The Red Room and after a few minutes her lungs began to burn with the lack of air, her vision swimming. Eventually, she had to take a breath and within seconds, everything darkened.
Natasha woke this time both freezing cold and uncomfortably numb. As she blinked away the haze of the chloroform, her vision slowly returned.
She was alone now and as she forced her frigid muscles to move, she realized she was laying down, straps across not only her arms and ankles but her chest, waist and knees. She also had two needles firmly stuck into the crook of both arms, suspiciously murky liquid trickling in from IV bags handing above her head.
It was clear that they hadn’t been in for long, but she was already starting to feel the effects. The cold seeping into her bones came from the drug, as did the numbness spread out across her body.
She could feel sweat collecting across the goose bumps covering her body and her heart raced in her chest.
She had no idea what drugs they were using, whether they simply wanted to confuse and disorient her or if they were going to make her hallucinate, scare her into a drop.
Pulling in a heaving breath, Natasha looked up at the gray ceiling, feeling the burn in her throat that usually indicated she was going to cry, usually a good sign that she was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed wasn’t good. Overwhelmed Natasha was always one step closer to dropping.
She lay there for an indeterminable amount of time, trying to force her leaden lungs to give her enough air and as shapes began to appear at the sides of her vision, Natasha knew she was in for a rough ride.
Alright, Natty, you’re going to have to listen to me and be strong right now. You cannot come out.
Staring back up at the ceiling, trying to ignore the figures dancing in her peripheral, Natasha fought to just keep on breathing like nothing was going on.
She couldn’t drop.