|Red Dawn: Part 7|
|What: Natalia Romanova is the young woman set on the path to becoming the Black Widow. Meanwhile the Red Room's machinations to destroy Nikolai come to a head.|
Nikolai had kissed Natalia goodbye, promising to come back - but he knew that look in her eyes. And in his heart, he figured she was right. He wasn't going to survive many more missions. At least Ivan was with him, this time. Once they're away from the handlers, he gives up trying to act brave. "...Uchitel..." He can't say the words he needs to, they stick in is throat.
But Ivan, who had opened up to Nikolai over the months, now seems tense and closed. Does even he know how doomed Nikolai is..? Or maybe he's trying not to see it, as he quietly gives Nikolai tips on their way to the mission site-- it's a hostile gang. The mission is to send a message--take them out violently. The sort of bloodbath it would be easy to lose an agent here or there in.'
Nikolai quakes, every bone in his body seemed to ache. His elbow still didn't feel right, he has stitches in more than one place and his knee refuses to bend all the way. The fighting soon breaks out, and though he does as he was taught and rushes with the others, his first skirmish tears open a wound in his side while his knee threatens to give out, not to mention the fresh injuries he receives, and it abruptly hits him that he's not going to live through this one. "Tasha I'm so sorry... I had to lie to you." The young man - so sweet, even though there is blood on his hands - sees almost frozen.
Ivan has been looking out for him as has become his habit, though this time it's cost him a gash over one eyebrow and a bullet graze to his side. And the blood on Nikolai is..not just that of others. He's wounded, and getting dizzy, and there's still sounds of fighting all around. Ivan snaps for him to pay attention-- they have to finish clearing out the building. There's a door in front of Nikolai, though if it houses more enemies, this..may be it for him.
Nikolai looks at the door, holding his gut, wheezing. His eyes are wide, and his face is pale. "I... I can't, Uchitel!" he collapses to his knees, letting out a pitiful cry. "I don't wanna die like this, please! I'm scared Uchitel!" He sounds like he's calling for his parents.
Ivan startles, but takes down the mobster he was fighting, shoving his way over to Nikolai. "You're not going to--you're not going to, do you hear me? Come on, we'll--" he spots what looks like a closet door to the side and kicks that down. It'd be shameful for Nikolai to hide in combat like that, but right now Ivan has an objective and limited options... he grabs Nikolai under the arms, tugging him along, shoving them both inside...and it turns out it's not unoccupied. There's two bound and gagged people in the surprisingly large storage closet.. and if the clever Nikolai has been doing his research before everything went downhill, he recognizes them as two well known foreign spies operating as part of an ambassador's retinue that have been suspiciously missing a day or two ago. The gang perhaps wanted them for ransom or interrogation, but their higher ups would probably -love- such a prize for any number of reasons.. they just scored.
Nikolai is at first too out of sorts to do anything other than sag in Ivan's arms. It takes a few moments for him to realize what he's looking at. "...Those... the spies? Why are they here?" He's still in shock, but regaining his feet. He makes his way over to the spies, ungagging them with trembling fingers. "S-stay calm... please?" He in no way looks threatening. And his shirt is looking redder than before. "Uchitel...?" The man's still convinced he's going to die.
Ivan is staring in surprise too.. both of them know the spies in question are probably wanted by their superiors for no good end, but while Ivan hesitates, Nikolai's immediate kindness convinces the two they're being rescued rather than thrown from the frying pan into the fire. "Who are you?" one of them asks in accented Russian.. their Red Room uniforms are unmarked, after all. Ivan closes the door abruptly, saying, "...We're here to get you out. But you have to do us a favor.. take him with you when it's clear."
Nikolai looks wide-eyed at Ivan. "But, I... Uchitel, what about you?" He's staring at his teacher in shock. What was Ivan doing? Did... Of course. Tasha must have asked him to. Of course she would. Sweet, sweet Tasha... "What about you?" he repeats, even as he unties the ropes keeping the spies captive.Nikolai looks wide-eyed at Ivan. "But, I... Uchitel, what about you?" He's staring at his teacher in shock. What was Ivan doing? Did... Of course. Tasha must have asked him to. Of course she would. Sweet, sweet Tasha... "What about you?" he repeats, even as he unties the ropes keeping the spies captive.
Ivan smiles wanly, shrugging the metal shoulder he doesn't hide on missions. "I'm...a little too recognizable." more than that, he has a feeling the higher ups mostly just want Nikolai gone to the point they won't care if he goes missing, whereas they might not let Ivan go so easily. And...and besides, he's loyal, isn't he? He never really acknowledged the question in the back of his mind until now.. after he's just told Nikolai to defect with foreign intelligence operatives. He's suddenly not sure he even knows the answer, or what answer he thinks is the right one. "Besides, if someone doesn't go back, she won't know you're alive." he finishes, and scoots back to the door. "Stay here.. I'll make sure no one investigates this room."
Nikolai shakes his head, fumbling with the restraints, but quickly releasing the captured spies. "Uchitel... I can't. I can't just abandon you. Even if I'm not that strong." He's scared beyond belief, nearly breaking down - but he's loyal. Maybe not to State, but definitely to friends. The nervous young man stands up. He's shaking.
The spies stand as well, looking between Ivan and Nikolai with a mix of cautious distrust and curiosity. "...You want the boy to come with us?"
Ivan frowns.. he'd been afraid of that. He doesn't back down. Maybe if he's stern enough he can cow Nikolai into doing what any fool could see he needs to. "You're half dead." he points out flatly. "If you come back with me, it'll be all the way dead within two weeks, do you understand? You need to so as I say and go." he nods to the spies. "He -is- going with you." he states.
Nikolai gets that stubborn look in his eyes - even though he's bleeding and terrified, he wants to protect Ivan. Somehow. "I know. But... What good am I, really? I want to help Tasha, I want to help you-" He stops speaking coughing violently and falling to his knees. When he wipes his mouth with his sleeve, there's a bloodstain. "Please."
Ivan shakes his head, still trying to play the stern-teacher card. "You're no help at all if you're dead. This is your chance to get out, and I'm not about to let you miss it."
"I dont - *COUGH* don't want to go! All I know is back *COUGHCOUGH* home." Nikolai protests. The two spies seem rather concerned for the young man, and one steps forward hesitantly. "Son, you're badly injured, you need medical help!" he says in passable Russian. The stubborn young man shakes his head again.
Ivan tchs, taking a step forward into the small room. "Listen to yourself! You're in no state to be fighting--"
"I have something worth fighting for!" Nikolai shoots back - even though he's barely able to keep himself upright, still on his knees. Adrenaline is pumping. "Please, I can do this!"
Ivan's fists clench, the metal faintly creaking as his composure falters-- there's no -time- for these pointless heroics! "Dammit Steve, would you LISTEN to me for once?! If you go back there you'll die!" he snaps, and then gets a very odd look on his face. His breath catches a moment and he seems unbalanced, but he shakes it off... or at least tries to appear as if he has. "Just...just get out of here."
The spies stare, caught off guard by Ivan's outburst. Nikolai, too, is surprised, and looks at Ivan in shock - until another coughing fit overtakes him. He's having trouble breathing. The two spies jump into action, trying to position Nikolai to help him breathe better, and apply what aid they can. "When he gets better - " one asks, nervously, "Should we... send him back to you?"
Ivan is shaken.. but he forces his eyes to focus, he can't afford to do this, not here, in the middle of a battle. "He's going with you." he repeats. Not a statement to brook opposition. His gaze turns to the coughing Nikolai. "Listen to me...she'd never forgive you, if you had a chance to live and didn't take it. This is -how- you can help her. Do you understand?"
Nikolai gasps for breath, as the foreign spies try and help him. One mutters in English - "His lungs are filling with blood." while the other staunches the bleeding on the young man's chest. "Ivan..." The boy looks scared - Ivan was family to him. He was scared to be handed off to strangers. "Don't - "
"Stay down, Nikolai. I'll let you know when the coast is clear. You'll take care of him?" this last to the spies, and it too is said in a way that clearly expects cooperation.
Uchitel!" Nikolai cries out, but when he tries to get back up he isn't able. The two spies try and help ease him back into a sitting position. "He's badly wounded." one reports, taking off his coat to make a makeshift bandage for Nikolai's torso. The other eyes Ivan, wondering just what the other was thinking. "..We'll make sure he gets out of here alive. We'll stay until the coast is clear.
Ivan nods to the foreign spies, and though Nikolai isn't well known.. Ivan very well may be. The Winter Soldier is already a nightmare ghost story--he's not known for appearing anywhere without people left dead or vanished in his wake. The Winter Soldier tells them, "..He's a good man; he shouldn't be in this world." and while he says it his expression is almost fond...and then it switches to ice. "..And if you don't see him to safety, I'll find out." he promises.
There's nothing but the sounds of gunfire and screaming for quite some time... when it finally starts to die down, there's a step by the unopened closet, and Ivan's voice sounds quietly, "Wait another half an hour, and you should be able to leave."
"Uchitel?" The spies have wrapped Nikolai in a blanket to keep him warm. They've done their best to treat his injuries, so he should live, if they can make it out of the area without being seen.
The door remains closed, and Ivan stands next to it, answering sternly, "Nikolai.." sounding as if he's worried Nikolai will try to return with him, and ready to dissuade him..
Nikolai shivers, looking at the door. He looks scared, but also.... sad? "Tell Tasha... tell her I'm sorry I wasn't strong enough." He reaches into his pocket, pulling out a small marble. "She gave me this - could you...?"
He coughs, and one of the foreign spies tries to soothe him. "Don't talk son. Keep up your strength."
Ivan opens the door slightly for a moment.. but shakes his head when he understands. "If she gave it to you, she'd want you to have it; you're not weak, Nikolai. I know that, and so does she." he assures.
Tears form in the young man's eyes. "I won't ever see Tasha or you again, will I?"
One of the spies, a man who looks old enough to be Nikolai's father, pats the young man on the shoulder. "It's for the best, kid. I think your teacher here... would rather you be alive, safe." Though he eyes the door cautiously.
So doing the man might catch the flash of softness in the famous killer's eyes at Nikolai's words. It's gone when he notices the man looking and meets his eye..but it was there. "Exactly." he agrees. "Nikolai...you're stronger than you think. Strong enough to start over."'
The older spy nods to Ivan. He saw the look in the Winter Soldier's eye. If he wasn't sure that they were teacher student, he might have thought Nikolai was the other's brother. "You should go. Your superiors might get suspicious if you don't get back soon." Nikolai's eyes are wide - clearly he doesn't want Ivan to leave. For one moment, he looks like a child watching his father walk away...
Ivan nods to the spy... he's not wrong. He'd hope that they see each other again someday..but in truth he's afraid for the circumstances that might happen in. He meets Nikolai's eye once more, and a small quirk of the lip suggests that he at least thinks something good is before Nikolai.. that this is for the best. And with that, the door shuts again and he's gone, shouting to the others that this section of the building is clear...and a new chapter of Nikolai's life begins.