|Deja Vu All Over Again|
|What: When the Black Widow follows a tip to track down a HYDRA agent that reminds her of her past, she finds she's not the only one with Deja Vu.|
Natasha Romanov learned where the Winter Soldier was staying while in the city, from a friend of Bruce Banner's. So, did she tell SHIELD? No. Instead, she's hiding in the shadow, wearing dark civilian clothes, waiting for the assassin. She knows he'll come.
The safe house is a familiar sort...she had them often when she was an operative on foreign soil...and this one is a hidden door down in the tunnels under the city. She's been there hours and it's late in the night when she hears the heavy step of boots on concrete echoing from down the dark tunnel.
Natasha Romanov lets out a silent sigh, smiling faintly. Hopefully she wouldn't need backup if things turned violent. Because she really was on her own, here. She stands up, and holds both of her hands palms up, in a show up her being unarmed. "I want to talk." she says in Russian.
When she moves in the shadows, she can see the approaching figure tracking her..he knows she's there, and he's ready for her, step even quickening a tad, and....then she steps into the light, she speaks, and he stops dead, his face showing an expression of shocked surprise. Whatever he was expecting, apparently she wasn't it.
Natasha Romanov waits patiently not making any movements. She didn't want to startle the Winter Soldier into attacking. She mused that handling the assassin was similar to handing the Hulk. And, she noted mentally, both depended on trust. "My name is Natasha. Or, Natalia." She smiles, keeping her hands in front of her. "I don't remember much about myself. There was an accident... But, you seem so familiar to me. Do you know me?"
The Winter Soldier blinks at the second pronunciation of her name; a subtle reaction, but there none the less. He still looks surprised, and holds himself like someone who suspects they're cornered, despite her upturned empty hands. He shakes his head, replying in Russian as well, "I know you're the Black Widow." he says warily, "And that for some reason you're working with SHIELD." the way his eyes are darting around, that's probably who he's looking for.
"There's no one, besides me. SHIELD doesn't know I'm here." Natasha says, every word in Russian. "I'm working with SHIELD because..." She trails off, as if unsure of herself. In truth she worked for SHIELD because she wanted to fight the good fight - but she was seizing an opportunity here..."
He scoffs..she's the Black Widow, of course she'd lie-- but when he turns to meet her gaze again, he still finds himself believing her. "..Because?" he repeats. He's very clearly on alert..but on the other hand, they've exchanged multiple sentences now, and he hasn't drawn a weapon. Other than the one he always wields, at least.
Natasha Romanov bites her lower lip, suddenly looking unsure of herself. "...There was a reason, I know there must have been. Right?" She frowns. "..I was caught in an explosion. They nursed me back to heath." she offers.
He frowns. "You don't remember? Then why are you working for them?" the Soldier asks suspiciously.
Natasha Romanov looks thoughtful, hands still held outward. "It seems like the correct thing to do. Are you saying that I should be doing something else?" She stares at him intently. "...I do know you, from somewhere..."
The Winter Soldier doesn't directly answer her question, instead answering with one of his own, "..You're Russia's top infiltrator. Aren't they, SHIELD, your enemies?" he puffs out a breath at her suspicion of knowing him..but again, perhaps because she seems to be wondering for her own sake rather than demanding he believe it.. he doesn't argue. Maybe he wants to know too.
"...Is SHIELD my enemy?" Of course, Natasha knows the truth - enough to know that SHIELD is more than just her employer - she thinks of SHIELD as her family. But, she had been taught how to portray any face to suit the situation. "I can't remember. I recall my lessons, some of them.. they weren't fighting..." She shakes her head, looking almost bewildered. "Are you saying, that I'm supposed to be infiltrating SHIELD?"
The Winter Soldier's eyes flick down to her upturned hands distractedly at mention of dancing, and she can read his sudden bout of confusion easily. He shifts back a pace, and says with a little more heat, "Not running their errands, at least. How did you find me?"
Natasha Romanov's lips quirk in a little smile at his question. "Trade secret." she replies, almost mischievously. Then she grows serious again. "t wasn't easy. But, I knew I had to find you, somehow. I've forgotten something very important, and..." She gestures with her hands, "I think you might have the answers, somehow."
His eyes fall down to her hands again with their slight motion, and he shifts where he stands. "..'It's better for weapons to not have memories' ", he says, as if quoting something, perhaps someone. "..If those are what you're looking for, you've come to the wrong place."
Natasha Romanov looks sad for some reason at the Winter Soldier's words. "You shouldn't say such things, Uchitel." she scolds lightly - before blinking in confusion. "Uchitel? Yes... You..." She stares at him for a long while. "...But what good is a weapon, if we don't remember what our purpose is?" she asks finally.
His breathing is starting to quicken, nervous.. HYDRA's greatest assassin, and a few comments from her have him off balanced and backing off. "You don't know what you're talking about." he starts, and then hesitates. "..We don't..need to. There are others for that." though the words seem somehow dry and dead in his mouth.
Natasha Romanov notes his change in behavior, and while her expression doesn't change, mentally she's smiling grimly. She was getting through to the other assassin, but she had to be careful. Push too hard, too fast, and he'd flee. And HYDRA would most likely reinforce the brainwashing, making her efforts meaningless. She had to shift the questioning from himself for now. "But what about me? I can't remember what I was supposed to be doing." she says softly.
He still seems to be regarding her with all the caution of an armed grenade, but he says mechanically, "Then you need to find your handlers and ask for new orders."
"How should I do that, when I don't even know who to report to?" Natasha asks, looking lost. "...Are you my handler, perhaps? I feel as though I should listen to whatever you say..." She rubs at her eyes suddenly, as if suffering a headache. "What did I say back then? Uchitel? Yes, you're my instructor, aren't you? Tell me what to do."
"I..I'm not.." he hesitates. He remembers too, the instruction he barked, a habit, a routine, and she had responded in kind. 'Vnimaniye uchenik'..had she been under his command? "I need to ask.. I don't remember.."
Natasha Romanov looks into the WInter Soldier's eyes. Her own display sadness, wistfulness, and apprehension. "Please. I'll trust what you tell me. I fel like I should." She smiles, a little bit. "...I feel like I've been waiting for you, for a very long time. I feel like I've missed you."
He backs off again, another step, two. "You didn't come here just to sign on as my subordinate." he accuses. "If you're really lost.. if you need an extraction, a reassignment.. then I'll call you in." it's not a threat. It's hard to say what it is.. an attempt at order, a search for the correct protocol in a situation he really wasn't given a rote response to, perhaps.
"I didn't know what to expect, finding you. I thought you'd help me remember who I was." Natasha folds her hands together in front of her. She isn't fidgetting, but she doesn't look confident like she did when her first saw her. "And, I think I am starting to remember." She stiffens then, standing at attention. "Orders, sir?"
He shakes his head. "No one's assigned you to me." He insists.. he hesitates though. He doesn't have to accept her as an ally to take advantage of her confusion. "..But if we work for the same people, then you'll tell me what you know about my target."
Natasha Romanov nods relaxing her stance to something more along the lines of at ease, resting a hand on her hip. "What do you need to know?" she asks. Menatlly, she's a bit anxious, now. she couldn't betray Steve - she respected him far too much.
"Tell me what you've learned about Captain America. His habits, his routines..anything that might be useful." the Winter Soldier orders.
Natasha Romanov nods, once. She then details what she feels comfortable sharing - details and quirks that, while displaying intimate knowledge of the Captain, won't terribly endanger her friend. It might end up giving the Winter Soldier some advantage in a confrontation, but Natasha had faith in Steve. She describes the nature and capability of his shield, his styles of fighting, his overwhelming desire to protect innocents.
The Winter Soldier notes at the comment about innocents, "Like Morrigan. But you came instead."
"The Captain was elsewhere. I was called in retrieve Agent Morrigan." That was a lie, but the Winter Soldier had no way of knowing that. Thankfully.
The Winter Soldier says, "It ended up getting a lot of other people's attention. Maybe it's not the best approach, even if it was known he was available to respond." after a moment he says, "..I've got another idea, though. He's old fashioned, you said?"
Natasha Romanov nods in agreement at the first comment. "Besides, I'd have to get involved." She listens as he speaks again, looking curious. "He is old fashioned. Like he's from another time and era. What's your idea?"
James Barnes wonders, " 'Like'? He is, last I heard. 'Man out of time', 'Hero of the War', 'Sentinel of Liberty.'" he recites.
Natasha Romanov nods. "He is, and isn't. He's adapted to the modern world fairly well. But he clings to old values. He can't relinquish the past." she muses.
James Barnes nods...they're still standing more or less in a face off in the tunnels outside his safe house, and perhaps he's only now realizing this fact anew. "..We should call you in." he says again. "Get you new orders." he doesn't share whatever it was he was thinking.
"How will you contact me, without alerting SHIELD?" Natasha asks, not quite fidgetting with her hands.
He blinks at the nervous gesture, so unlike their confrontation over Tynan, and yet somehow ringing familiar. "They'll come for you within the hour. They always do for extractions with suspected instability."
Natasha Romanov shakes her head, vehenemently. "No, I need more time." she insists. "If I disappear suddenly, they'll come looking for me. I need time to prepare an alibi. Please, I can do this." She smiles. "I'm starting to remember, now. It's like I was sleeping, and now I'm waking up. Please give me a chance."
He opens his mouth to tell her otherwise.. and hesitates, his gut twisting without him exactly knowing why. 'Please, I can do this-- give me a chance'. Some part of him doesn't want to see what comes after words like that are denied, and he finds himself nodding before he's even really decided.
"Thank you, Uchitel." There's relief in Natasha's voice. And she called him uchitel again, because it felt right to do so - and it humanized him. "I'll leave a note here, as soon as I can. I don't know how long it will be - I have responsibilities, after all, and I cannot neglect them or otherwise there will be questions."
James Barnes nods again, still mute, while his thoughts finally catch up with what he just agreed to. "Will...you let me know?" he wonders finally, hesitantly. "What you remember?"
Natasha Romanov smiles, a bit more broadly than she has been. There's something like affection, or maybe just kindness in her eyes. "Of course I will. Just - one thing? May I hold your hand? The metal one."
The wariness returns quickly, but it's not so complete as before. "Why?"
"Just - I think I remember you walloping me good with that hand." Natasha admits, almost sheepishly. "But I can't remember what it felt like. When we fought before, I was in a daze." She blinks. "We were sparring partners once. I remember that."
His brow is furrowed, but just the same he slowly turns over his left hand, palm up, and holds it towards her-- the metal fingers glinting where they protrude from the black leather of a fingerless glove. Well.. if after all this she is looking for an opening to attack him, at least he'd know she was an enemy. Clearing that up would be all but worth the initial opening he was leaving.
Natasha Romanov reaches out with her right hand, gently placing it atop the Winter Soldier's. "Yes, I've held this hand before." she states, her fingers curling around his metal hand in a gentle grip. She's smiling, with a far away look in her eyes. Unconsciously, her body shifts a bit, lifting her other hand to about shoulder height. "This feels right - but why?"
He shakes his head slightly. "I don't know." he says. "What do you remember?"
Natasha Romanov lets her eyes fall closed, trying to make sense of the jumbled mass of memories in her mind. She steps forward, putting her left hand on his shoulder. "Like this...?" She opens her eyes, and looks horribly confused. "...Dance..? But I was a ballet dancer..."
The Winter Soldier, for he's given no other name, startles a bit when her hand lights on his shoulder. He reacts to push her away, but...it's like when they were fighting before. It's like the next note in a song.. like..
"The song may be ended but as the songwriter wrote, the melody lingers on.."
He murmurs the words in English. It's like that. Just like that. If he only remembered what that -was-. His hand ended up resting in the middle of her back, but the words coming from who knows where unnerve him, and he does back away this time, pulling his hand away to rub at his head.
Natasha Romanov startles at the hand on her back, and backs away at the same time the Winter Soldier does, just like when they first met. Her eyes are wide. "What... what was that?" she asks falling back into English. She looks shaky almost, and she takes a deep breath. "You... must have been very important to my training. Or, something like that..."
The Winter Soldier swallows, similarly shaken. "Or something..." he confirms unsteadily. "I dunno. I don't.. we need to get back to work." he switches back to Russian to give a terse goodbye, and makes a hasty departure from what was theoretically his own safe house. He seems unusually unconcerned about leaving her there.
Natasha Romanov watches as the Winter Soldier flees, not following him in her confusion. She sinks to her knees, taking deep breaths. "Who are you...?" she wonders aloud, trying to get herself under control. So many emotions were swirling around inside her. "...Need to get back." She doesn't bother trying to bug the safe house - she figures he'd spot anything she left behind.
Natasha Romanov does peer inside, though. She's careful of traps, of course.
It's a fairly standard safe house in her experience.. except for a notebook in Russian. Hawksmoor may or may not have mentioned it, but it suggests that the Winter Soldier has already done a lot of newspaper mining and flat out surveillance of Cap already. Enough that she realizes it was probably good she told as much truth as she did, a lot of what she said, it turns out, isn't information he needed-- it was information that he had already got.
And bizarrely, it's not even encoded.
"Sloppy." Natasha flips through the notebook. What she was reading made her heart grow chill. "He's almost ready - he's going to attack any day now." she realizes. "I have to stop him. Not only for Captain sake." She looks about the house. "..Do you even have a name anymore, Winter Soldier? Or did they take that as well?" She feels incredibly sad for the man - more than she anticipated.