Characters: Natasha, Loki, Clint, Coulson
Warnings: death of family members
Summary: Loki keeps falling into her life
A/N:Written for singalellaby for the avengers_xchng. I didn't use any of the official prompts but instead what you suggested under pairings "him 'falling' through time at various points in her life" although this turned out to be gen.
Also I'm a movieverse fan so I picked all info about Natasha's past from wikipedia.
Hope you'll like it anyway :)
The smoke was scratching in her throat and burning her eyes but Natasha kept her hands pressed over her mouth. She couldn’t cough. Grandmother had told her to be quiet. Grandmother had told her to stay here. There were men outside and voices speaking words she couldn’t understand. She had heard a car that had woken her up, a car and men shouting.
The smoke was getting worse but Natasha didn’t cough, her hands pressed so firmly over her mouth that it hurt. The men had shouted and Father had walked out but she hadn’t been able to hear them.
She had heard the shots though and Mother’s screams. She had heard the men laughing.
Natasha flinched when something crashed through the roof. Her knees were already drawn up to her chin but she tried, hiding herself in the shadows between the oven and the window. The smoke had dried her throat and it was itching worse than ever before.
“This is new”, a man said, standing up from the rubble, brushing dust from his clothes. He peered up to the hole in the roof and sighed. “Midgard, of course.”
He turned around and Natasha caught his appearance in the flickering light: He was tall and dark haired, wearing clothes she had never seen before. He didn’t look like the evil people on Father’s newspaper and when he had talked his Russian had been flawless.
“Did I frighten you?” He asked, looking straight at Natasha.
Grandmother had told her to stay quiet.
The man looked from her and then out of the window for a brief moment before returning to her. “I see. You were told to stay hidden.”
“This house is burning. We need to leave.”
She shook her head. Grandmother had told her to stay here.
“Do you want to die?”
She shook her head. She wanted to cough so badly. Grandfather had coughed a lot last winter. And then he had died.
He held his hand out for her. It was slim and pale and looked soft, not like Mother’s hands or Father’s. Something about him made her want to take his hand but she finally lost the battle against the urge to cough. Her throat was so dry it hurt, wrecking her whole body. The soft hands caught her by her shoulders and lifted her up.
A wave of cold hit her and then she was sailing through the curtains of snowflakes that were dancing in the darkness and the flickering orange light.
Someone caught her. Father, she thought for a moment but when she looked up it was the man again. He was looking at something behind her and Natasha twisted in his grip to see it as well.
The house was burnig. The door had been nailed shut and flames were bursting from the windows on the ground. Above that there was only smoke so thick she couldn’t even see the chimney.
And in front of the house where Mother planted herbs each spring lay a row of bodies, unmoving and silent, in the snow.
Mother, Father, Vitya, Kolya, Zhenya but not Grandmother.
Later Ivan told her that her scream was the first time he had ever heard her.
The injections left her shivering and sweating at the same time. Natasha tried to see it positively. At least she wasn’t getting cramps like Maria or threw up for days afterwards like Elena. With trembling legs she made her way through the dormitory to the bathroom. Elena was retching noisily into the toilet and Ilyana had lost the battle against nausea as well, occupying the sink. The sickly sweet smell that hung in the air made Natasha turn back. She grabbed her coat, shivering involuntarily when the cool wool touched her bare arms, and left the room. She had to stop every couple minutes to catch her breath and fight off the feeling of weakness.
Finally she reached the bottom of the stairs and opened the back door. It was still bright outside but overcast and cold. The snow was piling up to her knees and she could see the guards smoking in the relative shelter of the tower. Ivan gave her nod which she returned before walking around the building. The fresh air cleared her head.
That was when something fell from the sky.
In the blink of an eye Natasha’s stance shifted from relaxed to alert. She was about to call for help when a voice she hadn’t heard in a decade said, “Not again.”
The snow moved and revealed the same man that had crashed through her family’s roof more than ten years ago. He hadn’t changed or aged, even his clothes were the same as far as she could tell.
“It’s you, isn’t it?” He asked, looking up to her.
Natasha, who was fairly certain that this was nothing but a new side effect of the injections, still asked “What do you mean?”
“You’re the girl that was hiding in the burning building last month.”
“Ten years”, Natasha corrected him.
“Is it?” the man asked, then grinned. “Did you miss me?”
“Why would I miss a hallucination?”
He stood up and brushed snow from his clothes. “Perhaps you wish to be saved again.”
“Natasha”, that was Ivan, “you should go back inside.” He turned around the corner and stopped as if something had frozen him. He wasn’t even blinking.
“What did you do to him?” Natasha asked before she could think better of it.
“Perhaps I wanted to talk to you a little longer”, the man shrugged.
“But you’re not real.” She looked from him to Ivan and back. “This isn’t possible.”
“I am Loki of Asgard and I am very real”, the man introduced himself.
“If you’re real, undo this”; she demanded, gesturing towards Ivan.
“Why would I?” Loki asked. “You haven’t even told me you name.”
“Natasha Drakovna Romanova”, Natasha’s instincts told her that she should avoid angering this man.
“Maybe we’ll meet again, Drakov’s daughter”, Loki said and vanished right before her eyes.
“Natasha, you should come back inside”, Ivan said as if nothing happened. “Natasha”, he said again when she didn’t react.
“Of course”, she answered.
“Comrade Petrovitch, Comrade Romanova you have no authorisation to be here.” Natasha and Ivan snapped to attention. The man in front of them was one of her trainers, known only as the Winter Soldier.
“I am sorry”, Ivan replied. “Comrade Romanova felt sick and I believed a bit of fresh air would do her good.”
“Very well. Now bring her back. She is violating curfew.” He gave them a curt nod and left.
“Let’s go back, Tasha”, Ivan said, taking her by the arm. She followed him but not without looking over her shoulder to the impression of a body in the snow.
The Mariinsky Theatre was empty but Natasha didn’t mind. This stage was her home, especially now that Alexi was gone on a mission again. Just two nights ago the boards had been covered in flowers after she had finished the final act and the air had been filled with applause and cheers.
Now every step she took echoed over the ranks.
There was no music but Natasha had heard Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev so often that she could easily listen to it in her head while she danced. For the moment she didn’t follow any routine but simply chose one figure after the other. She just wanted to forget that Alexi was gone again.
The moment she stopped to catch her breath a slow clap came from the front row. A man was sitting there, tall and slim with black hair and strange clothes and although she didn’t recognise him there was something familiar about him.
“Who are you?” She asked. “What are you doing here?”
“Did you forget me that quickly, Drakov’s daughter?” the man asked with an amused smile.
“I don’t think we have met.”
“Do you truly not recognise me?” He was suddenly on the stage as well even though she hadn’t seen him move. Instinctively Natasha took a step back.
“I am sorry. Perhaps your name would help me recall-“ she stopped abruptly when his fingers touched her temple. They felt cool but soft and for a moment she thought she smelled smoke and felt the scratchy wool of a cheap coat on her skin with snow piling up to her knees.
She touched her touched her cheek to his palm and closed her eyes without knowing why. There were flames and an overcast sky.
“Loki”, she whispered. When she opened her eyes again he regarded her curiously.
“How old are you?”
“Are you? I would have sworn I last saw you fourteen Midgard years ago and you not a child anymore then.”
“Were you a friend of my father?” That would explain why she hadn’t recognised him immediately.
Loki pressed his free hand against her other temple. “Someone tampered with your memories.”
She stepped away from him. “You’re talking nonsense.”
“Do I?” He reached out and touched her forehead.
Natasha never danced again.
“I can make you a better offer”, Barton had told her. “The people I work for, they’re the good guys. Not particularly nice, granted”, and here he had laughed a bit as if recalling a fond memory, “but they’re good. Think about it. My handler would meet with you if you want.”
Now she was jogging through the Kowloon Park in Hong Kong, debating with herself what to do. The offer not to work alone again was tempting but risky. Her background search on Barton had been useless. A circus artist turned mercenary linked to a couple people that had all been busted after he arrived. He was either perpetually unlucky or backed by someone with a dislike of human traffickers, drug lords and extremists of every colour on the political and religious spectrum.
“This is becoming a pattern”, a voice said and Loki stepped from the bushes, brushing leaves from his clothes. He had changed as little as she had in the last twenty years.
“I should kill you”, she told him calmly, switching into Russian to minimise the chance of being overheard.
Loki shrugged. “You’re welcome to try if you think what I did was worse than what they did?” He didn’t sound like he cared either way.
“What are you doing here?”
“If I knew”, Loki shrugged. “Every time I happen to slip from the branches of the world tree I end up with you. I can’t explain why and I know that you can’t either.” His haughty, distant tone reminded her of the Winter Soldier. More than once she had wondered what had become of him after the fall of the old regime.
“Then why don’t you leave?” She asked impatiently.
“I annoy you”, Loki said intrigued. “That’s the most open reaction you ever showed to me.”
“What does it matter to you?”
“This is the fourth time we’ve met. I want to know what makes you so special.” He came closer but Natasha refused to feel intimidated by him.
“You just said you can’t explain it.” She turned around. “See you in twenty years”, she called over her shoulder.
“Do you miss him?” Loki asked but Natasha ignored him and started jogging again.
She called Clint Barton the same day.
“Why do you get the fun mission and I get babysitting duty?” Clint grumbled after the briefing.
“Because Luchkov believes women not to be a threat while being attracted to redheads? But if you want we can ask Coulson to swap missions. I haven’t seen you in a dress since Bangkok.”
“I’d totally rocked that dress and the wig”, Clint grinned.
“There’s a standing bet whether you will resurrect that combo for Halloween at one point”, Coulson said dryly. “I have my money on next year and I’m willing to share.”
“So do I”, Natasha added.
“I hate you both”, Clint told them with a pout.
“Did the Director assign you off base as well?” Natasha asked Coulson but he shook his head.
“Clint babysits the scientists and I babysit him while you get all the fun.”
“I’ll see you in a couple days”, she smiled, hugging hem both.
“See you”, Coulson said.
“Take care”, Clint added.
Four days later she stood eye to eye with Loki on the Helicarrier.
He didn’t seem to recognise her or maybe he didn’t care.
Neither did she.