|The beginning of Trust|
|What: Black Widow and Winter Soldier meet again|
A few weeks after the initial failed attack on the political dignitary, there is another attempt, only this time, it is a different one. The bullet shot the tire of his limo, sending the car crashing into a telephone pole. There were minor casualties. Then, a few days later, there's another attack with a flash-bang grenade. Luckily, the dignitary made it out alive...just rather bloody and stunned. Even as security around these individuals have increased, they haven't stopped. It's almost as if someone is being dared to show up as the dignitaries aren't fatally injured or even maimed.
The attacker is trying to get someone's attention.
All of which means Natasha has yet another case to add to her workload. Between her personal hunt for James, the hit out on Daredevil, the assassination attempt on Superman, and the activation of Protokol 17, the Widow's certainly got her hands full. Thing is, she's willing to bet at least one of her investigations dovetails with this one. It was the single brass casing she found at the scene of one of the shootings -- and the Russian stamp on its side -- that tipped her off. That casing wasn't left there carelessly. It was quite purposeful.
She's certain of it.
The best way she knows to find the shooter, however, aside from tracing that casing (which, unsurprisingly, led her nowhere but in circles), is to stalk his next likely target -- a Russian economist sent by the Kremlin to address the UN on matters of Eastern Bloc finance... among other things. The man sits well away from a window in a small cafe, surrounded by body guards and dining companions. She, however, sits on a rooftop several buildings over, scanning the rooftops expectantly.
When the first couple of hits didn't bring her, Winter Soldier left the casing. He isn't usually careless about such things, but anyone else wouldn't be able to make the connection but he had the feeling she would. There are, of course, dozens of similar emissaries and diplomats in the city, but he had a method to this and finally, it was paying off.
If she didn't show, the man might have had his shoulder grazed at best, his hand shot at worst. But he's not unfamiliar with spy and stakeout tactics. It takes him a few moments to get to the same rooftop, his rifle at his side, but a revolver ready to be drawn.
"<<It took you long enough,>>" is spoken, in Russian.
"<<Yeah, well, I'm a little busy, these days,>>" Natasha replies, turning towards the man as he makes his presence known behind her. She doesn't seem particularly surprised. "<<You could've left the casing earlier.>>"
She, too, is entirely ready to pull whatever weapon is needed, though the Bite from her cuffs may be a better choice than the old Makarovs on her hips. She switches back to English. "You should put the guns down, James," she tells him gently. "I'm not intending to arrest you. But, I do have a friend that wants to meet you, if you'll let him."
There is a start as she uses the name again. "<>" is said, still in Russian. He stays where he is, but Winter Soldier holds his hands out, just barely, from the guns. "<<I didn't come here to shoot you,>>" is spoken, honestly, "<<Why do you give me that name. How do you know me?>>"
Natasha tilts her head. "You don't recognize me," she concludes, again, perhaps not surprised. "You called me Natalia, once. We took long walks along the river in St. Petersburg." She offers a small smile, a slight crease of, perhaps, disappointment to her brows. "Do you not remember any of that, James?"
"<<I don't remember St. Petersburg,>>" is admitted, Winter Soldier keeping to Russian still. Perhaps he doesn't trust himself with English at the moment? He might not know what will come out. "<<I...remember you. I think. But who are you? How do I know you? Why do you give me that name? How do -you- know it?>>" He steps closer now, not quite menacingly, but his tone is urgent. He wants answers.
Natasha doesn't back away. Indeed, she moves a step closer, herself. "You gave it to me," she says. "Just as I gave you 'Natalia'." A small, nostalgic smile touches her lips. "I suppose I could call you 'Dmitrii', if you prefer. It's more properly Russian for 'James'. But, you were never 'Dmitrii'. You were always James. Even in the darkest heart of Moscow."
Moscow. St. Petersberg. Apparently, they've been all over.
"James, please. You must trust me. If I can't help you remember... it won't be for lack of trying."
"Trust you...with what?" The English words are spoken carefully, but without the Russian accent from before. After all, 'James' isn't a Russian name and while it seems fairly new to him, it seems to fit. Mostly. "How do I know you?" Not that he's complaining -- what shadows of memories that have been clawing their way to the surface haven't been unpleasant. His eyes glance to her guns then, as if gauging if she's going to reach for them even as he takes another step closer.
Let me take you someplace safe," Natasha says, slowly reaching up to lay her hand on the man's chest. A familiar gesture. A gentle one. "Someplace where we can work on recovering your memory, together. I have friends. We can hide you from SHIELD. From the authorities. And from anyone else that might be hunting you. If you trust me."
Her touch causes him to initially tense, but as the gesture and feel of her hand on his chest -does- feel familiar, he reaches out to place a hand, his real one, over her's. "The question is," Winter Soldier asks in return, "Is do you trust -me-?"
"I'm going to have to, aren't I?" Natasha replies, looking up into his eyes. She offers him a small smile, hand trapped pleasantly beneath his, against his chest, still. She doesn't pull away, and doesn't make any other move -- threatening or otherwise. Despite the smile, her eyes are serious. "But, you're going to have to be willing to tell me what you do remember. And you need to know... remembering can hurt." She ought to know.
Winter Soldier's eyes look down at her's, searching for the truth and any sign of deception in her words. He doesn't return her smile, but it might have helped with his decision. His hand remains on her's, "I will tell you. Not your friends. Not anyone else." At least for now. "I'm not afraid of pain," and for some reason, at least on some level, he trusts her.
Natasha nods to that. She slides her hand from his chest, and takes the hand that had lain across hers. "Come," she says. "I have safehouse not so far from here." One of many not even SHIELD knows about. Never know when she has to go to ground, after all. "We'll go there."
Guess the rest of her investigations will have to wait.