|Interview: Black Widow|
|What: Red Skull gets a feel for one of his newest henchmen, and finds her methods a bit surprising.|
There are some things that simply don't look natural. A man with a Red Skull for a head is one of those things. But even more unnatural is a Red Skull who's wearing a dress shirt with the top few buttons undone. He looks less terrifying and more... well... almost 'leisure suit.'
But this is certainly something that he's aware of, if the way that he berates his new (as of a few minutes ago) assistant. "NEIN! These are not an improvement! The Red Skull demands perfection in all things, but most especially in his haberdashery! If you cannot produce something better, you will meet the same fate as your predecessor!"
It takes special skill to hold a coherent tirade while taking a brisk walk through the halls of one of HYDRA's secret facilities. But although he has only been there a few hours, the Red Skull already seems to feel at home. In fact, he's starting to feel a bit like his old self.
"Nevermind. I see now that HYDRA simply no longer possesses agents who share my sense of artistry. Tomorrow, I will seek out a reputable tailor, and begin the process again."
The clack of his booted feet resounds on the hallway floor, but his steps gradually slow the closer he gets to the end of the hallway.
"I am going to my chambers. You will bring the woman to me, and I will sample her talents myself. Who knows? If she lives up to her reputation, perhaps she'll even survive the experience?"
The sound of the Red Skull's laughter fills the hall even after he's shut the door behind him, leaving the flustered assistant to go about his master's orders, and retrieve the Black Widow for the 'interview' that the Skull has in mind for her.
The poor goon who has to get Black Widow is not at all happy about it. Handling the Winter Soldier was simple - he was easy to lead around. The Black Widow? Everyone was hesitant around her - some because they thought she was still loyal to SHIELD, and other's simply because she was famed tas the world's best assassin.
So the redheaded Russian is led to Red Skull's quarters, the poor minion half-expecting to get offed at any moment. "Herr Schmidt, I have brought Black Widow as requested." The woman remains silent.
The Red Skull in a tie-less suit is an unnatural-feeling image. But it would be a step up from the sight that greets the Black Widow when she is brought into the Red Skull's 'chambers.'
Sitting on an antique chair, holding an extremely long cigarette holder, is the famed Founder of HYDRA, and one of the most feared monsters in all history.
But the former Right Hand of Hitler is wearing a white terry cloth robe and a pair of matching slippers. Either he has recently emerged from a shower, or this is simply what he wears when he wishes to relax. Or whatever it is he's doing at the moment.
Taking a puff from his extremely long cigarette holder, the Red Skull glares at the woman in what is likely his approximation of a 'come hither' stare. Smoke seeps out of his mouth between his teeth and through his nostrils, as he doesn't possess quite enough lip to 'blow' out the smoke anymore.
"You are dismissed, Franz. See to it that we are not disturbed until I have finished with this woman."
'Franz' departs dutifully, closing the door behind him. He stands immediately outside the door, both to ensure that Skull is not disturbed, and to be present the exact moment that he is 'finished.'
Sitting in his chair, the Skull continues to smoke, though Black Widow will probably wish she didn't have to see the disturbing sight. He pulls the cigarette holder away from his mouth, letting it dangle daintily between his fingers."So... the Black Widow. My men have told me that you are what they call 'a big deal.' But I keep wondering something. If you are a 'Black Widow', whatever has become of your husband?"
Black Widow is remarkably unfazed by seeing Red Skull in a bathrobe and slippers. After all, she's probably seen worse. Like overweight Russian mobsters. "Sir." she greets calmly, not even lifting an eyebrow. To her, him being in such a state told her a lot about the man. She smirks, ever so slightly at his question.
"It is a title, sir. Awarded to the finest female graduate of the Red Room Academy." she explains, standing not quite at attention, but not casually either. "A Black Widow uses whatever means at her disposal to accomplish the mission at hand."
"I suppose that makes sense. But I must admit, I was hoping for a much more entertaining story. Perhaps one involving the consumption of your partners after mating."
Although the Latrodectus isn't really as well known in Germany, the Red Skull seems to have done his homework. This probably isn't surprising though, given his reputation as an extremely thorough man. Whatever his motivations, he's at least learned enough about the Black Widow's namesake to make a joke about the spider's mating habits.
"I'm sure that this 'Red Room' is a fine program, and I'm quite sure that I'm suitably impressed with your resume. But I am up to 'die hoden' in soldiers, operatives, and cut throats of every variety. They are, as they say, one dime for each dozen."
The nightmarish figure rises slowly, though he thankfully doesn't shift enough in the process to expose anything that can't ever be unseen. Pacing slowly across the room, he continues to smoke from his 'Cruella de Ville'-esque cigarette holder.
"Nein. From you I need something different. The sort of thing that only a woman can provide."
"It is true that most men that lay with me do not live to see the sun rise afterwards." She doesn't say it like a boast, or a threat. The Black Widow is simply stating facts. "Although I do not eat my targets. Too much change of getting sick from some disease." The woman crosses her arms lightly, leaning her weight on her back foot. "I am your servant, sire. Whatever it is you require, I shall do my duty."
"Ah. How delightful. Perhaps you are a more exciting specimen than I had supposed... I look forward to discovering just how deep your talents truly lie.
The Red Skull is dangerously close now. So close that she'd have to breathe in smoke that's still warm from his lungs if she were to inhale. He looks deeply into her eyes, and his voice starts to quaver, almost as if he's choked with emotion.
"I feel as if I am tormented, and the pressure... it just keeps building. I need you to help me release it."
He takes a step back, and points in the direction of the massive closet his room is equipped with. "I need you to use your feminine skills to help me select a suit and tie with complimentary colors. BUT, the ensemble must also make me seem fearsome to the men under my command. It must be classic, befitting a man of my station. Yet it must also seem modern, to prove that I am not, despite my appearance, an old fossil."
Black Widow doesn't flinch or even noticeably react as the Red Skull gets closer to her. She doesn;t even crinkle her nose at the stench of smoke. She does allow herself a somewhat bemused smile as he explains his, ern, difficulties. "Hmm. Well, I'm sure I can find *something* flatering in here. Otherwise I might have to take drastic measures." She steps over to the closet, and starts looking through the contents. "Too dark - too broad in the shoulders - too red...."
"Too broad in the shoulders? Surely you jest..." The Red Skull conveys emotion surprisingly well with his voice, which is pretty fortunate since his face pretty much only has the one expression. But he doesn't sound genuinely hurt by the suggestion that his shoulders are in any way 'narrow', despite taking pains to point it out.
Standing over near his liquor cabinet, he digs through the bottles as if debating the merits of each one. For a moment, it looks as if he's about to pour himself a glass of schnapps, before he finally settles on a bottle of vodka that is covered in a thick layer of dust. Clearly, it's old, and clearly vodka isn't his favorite. But that doesn't stop him from filling two white wine glasses with nearly equal servings of the clear liquid.
"Perhaps I ought to have Franz assist you, my dear?"
Black Widow lets out a snort. "He'd be more hindrance than help, sir." she remarks, her head stuck partly into the closet. She's not sure what he's doing behind her, but that isn't her concern right now. "Aha - maybe this one?" She pulls out a particular suit - a deep warm brown. almost the color of good leather, even though it's cloth. "It's not too severe, yet I think it would look quite good on you."
"I've placed complete faith in you, child. I have no doubt that you are completely capable of finding a shirt and accessories to match a brown of that shade. Like I said, this sort of job requires a woman's touch. But perhaps I should warn you what happened to the last assistant who gave me a tie that I did not care for..."
It's likely she heard the man's dying screams, courtesy of her partner in crime the Winter Soldier. But on the off chance that she didn't, perhaps Skull will take her with him to watch the servants cleaning up the blood stains later.
"At least you seem to understand." Black Widow seems very unconcerned about what happened to the unfortunate HYDRA goon. She simply hums a small tune to herself as she digs through the closet, giving a satisfied hum as she pulls out a shirt that matches well, but doesn't blend into the suit. The tie is a fetching wine color.
"Hm.... this is an interesting choice. It's not 'quite' purple... but.... it comes dangerously close..." The Skull appraises the outfit that she's selected, clearly unsure whether he likes it or not. Of course, he hasn't seen what it looks like on himself yet, but this is a man who was primarily accustomed to wearing large dramatic black trench coats with HYDRA armbands back in the day.
"And you find this color arrangement both appealing and frightening? You would not dare refuse the commands of a man who dressed in this fashion?"
"If that man were you." Black Widow gives Red Skull a satisfied looking smirk. "They say that clothes make the man, but I believe the opposite. Because it is you, sir, that wears these clothes, you will make them much more intimidating to lesser beings."
"Very good. Very good."
The Red Skull seems to be genuinely pleased, though this likely has nothing to do with the outfit that she's selected. "The rest of these cretins have tried to solve the problem, as if I were a child throwing a tantrum. But you were sharp enough to realize that I don't give two figs about something as silly as a costume. I merely wish to have my ego stroked."
Setting his cigarette holder down, the Skull raises on of the glasses, leaving the other where it sits on the table.
"Tomorrow I shall go to one of my old safe houses, and there I have stashed gold, jewelry, and works of art. But most importantly, several of my old uniforms are still most likely preserved within the vacuum seals that Zola devised. These suits can all be burnt, for all that I care. But you... you I might have some use for in my New Order. You are capable of being subtle, and I have no doubt that you can manipulate men who are more gullible than myself. But that is not enough to convince me to grant you the privilege of serving at my side. To serve at the Skull's right hand, you must be vicious. The Red Skull demands sacrifices, but he only accepts payment in blood."
He holds the glass up to where his nose would be, inhaling the scent of the vodka. It's vodka, so it doesn't really have much scent other than 'alcohol', but he seems to enjoy it somewhat nevertheless.
"Out in the hallway, my assistant Franz is no doubt listening to this entire conversation. He's a good boy. Young, dedicated, probably loves his mother. But right now, he is my assistant, and he stands in your way. So tell me, Black Widow, how badly do you want to earn your place at the table?
Black Widow merely smirks in response to Red Skull. "What would you ask of me?" But she's already moving quietly, even holding up a single finger to forestall any reply. Because she's heading to the door. With a swift series of motions, she's opening the door, and lunging out to grab the surprised Franz by the wrist. She drags him inside, closing to door again.
"Ah, good evening Franz."
The young man barely struggles as he's pulled inside, like a mouse caught in the hypnotic gaze of a cobra, succumbing to the inevitability of his plight. Held captive in the Black Widow's arms, he begins to shake uncontrollably, as all the color drains from his face. It's all he can do to stammer "M-m-m..." before his voice goes entirely silent, although his mouth keeps moving.
The Red Skull, on the other hand, is as loquacious as ever. He holds the glass in his hand, with his other hand behind his back.
"Tell me, Franz, have you ever been to Colombia? I've never been, but since my return I've learned about a fascinating ritual that allegedly originated from one of Colombia's civil wars. It's referred to as a 'Colombian Necktie.'"
Calmly, the Skull sips his drink, staring at both Franz and the Black Widow with a mixture of bemusement and cruelty. "It seems an appropriate way to punish someone who has failed so spectacularly to pick out a proper tie for his master, ehm?"
Black Widow tilts her head. "Seems a bit much. I mean, can you really blame the boy for having poor fashion sense?" She trails a finger down Franz'z cheek. "Ssshhh, don't cry sweet one." she whispers, a dangerous look in her eyes. "Calm down, now..." She turns him around - and kisses him. Which might not have the calming effect a kiss would normally have, considering who's giving it. She giving Red Skull a look while embracing the HYDRA goon - and if gives a signal, she'll slice his neck.
"We're well past caring about his sense of fashion, my dear. He has proven himself to be weak and unimaginative, which means he has no place in my new world order."
The Skull looks only slightly surprised by the tactic that she uses to keep the boy calm, he must have realized that there was at least a small chance that she would do something like that. After all, he knows the sort of weapon that she was trained to become. Sometimes a kiss is just as effective as a kill shot.
"But I'm a bit surprised by your reluctance to dispose of an obstacle. After all I've heard about your ferocity, I must admit to feeling a bit disappointed. Perhaps there isn't a spot at my table for you after all."
Behind his back, the Red Skull's hand begins fidgeting with something. It's unclear from the Widow's direction, but he's certainly making no effort to hide his movement. After all, he's threatening her pretty openly at this point.
Black Widow doesn't respond, as her mouth is currently pressed against Franz's. Oddly, the young sap seems to be relaxing - he seems confident that, somehow, the Widow will spare him the wrath of the Red Skull. He actually lets his eyes drift close for moment. And that's when the Black Widow makes her strike.
She pushes him against a wall, pinning him with her body. As his eyes open is surprise, she pulls back, a hand presses against his sternum. The other hand comes from behind her back, wielding a stiletto. Franz doesn't even get a proper scream out before the thin blade punctures his trachea, missing his carotid arteries. He's left wheezing and slowly, very slowly, dying on the floor.
Say what you will about the Red Skull, he knows how to make a threat stick without ever raising his voice. It probably has something to do with having a skull for a head. But although he got his point across, he wasn't quite expecting her to comply with his wishes in such a... theatrical fashion.
"My my... now that is cruel. It reminds me of the way experienced butchers slaughter pigs. They let the blood drain slowly, to enhance the flavor of the meat. Your hands are far to delicate to have ever spent any time in a slaughterhouse, so I must assume you learned your skills elsewhere..."
There's a bit of new appreciation in the Skull's eyes for the young woman, and perhaps a hint of other emotions that he is normally able to keep buried. But whatever else might be going through his brain, it's clear that she's made an impression.
He brings the other hand from behind his back, apparently abandoning whatever contingency plan he was making regarding her immediate future, and uses the hand instead to pick up the other wine glass full of vodka. Holding it up, he does his best to smile at her.
"Very well, you've earned this glass. Come, and drink with me. But I must warn you that earning a place close to me will also put a target on your back. You must be prepared to defend your place, over and over."
Black Widow doesn't spare a glance at the dying Franz. She takes a tissue from her pocket, cleans the blood off of her blade, and carefully sheathes it, before stepping forward to accept the glass. "You speak like I'm not accustomed to being a target." she says, taking a sip of the vodka, savoring the burn. "I only ask that your forgive my - indulgence."
Franz's dying gasps do little to lessen Skull's enjoyment of his drink, and in fact they probably enhance it somewhat. Like the Widow, he's sipping his vodka casually, as it would be uncouth of him to down the entire glass in a gulp like some sort of peasant. Or like some sort of American.
"Surely you must realize by now that my philosophy tends to run a bit... libertine. No man or woman who is in the Red Skull's favor need ever ask for forgiveness. From now on, you will take what you want, slaughter who you will, and give in to every carnal pleasure that you wish. There is no sin for people like us, there is only power."
He swirls the drink around in his hand, looking at her with eyes that burn with the fires of what most men would call 'insanity.'
"I will teach you to wield power like a goddess, and all of your desires will be fulfilled, provided you obey me completely."