Natalia had known the first black widow, the original.
Dottie Underwood was her code name.
Her real name was Alexandra Novkin.
All of her life, throughout all her training, Natalia had been told, had been taught, shown and forced to let go of emotion. For emotion would only make killing and seducing those she would kill, that much harder.
Unfortunately, she had to be tested. And Dottie had been the one to do that.
She'd managed to crack her, find chinks in her armor she didn't know she had.
A tender stroke of the hand on her face, and Natalia had instinctively missed the knife between her ribs. One tiny second of distraction, and almost death. If not for the Russian made version of the super serum, she would have been dead before she saw her shade of a thirtieth birthday.
Not that she really aged much after she’d been injected on her twenty first, her initiation.
And then there was Tony Stark.
She'd known his father. There were so many echoes of Howard in him, that he would probably be disgusted to hear, and yet, Howard had been a good man, in his younger years.
Dottie had nearly killed him, and had always been surprisingly bitter that he'd escaped with the help of a certain Agent Carter. When Natalia, as Natasha, had asked Steve about 'the girl' down in the old S.S.R. base she'd been hoping to hear about her, from his perspective. All she'd ever heard from Dottie had been negative.
Except the kiss.
Dottie had actually praised the Brit for her skill. While Natalia had been confused as to why it mattered, she soon was taught why.
Being able to seduce and kiss and kill anyone was important. Men were not always the marks.
She knew she'd never have a rational discussion with Tony if she ever let that slip, so she just brought up his dad one day.
The way his face simultaneously lit up and dropped was astonishing. He'd once loved his father and his mother. But clearly he missed them and blamed them for many things he'd originally had little to no control over.
As Natalie Rushman, she’d been witness to his weaker moments, his flaws, and how he faced almost dying. At one point Natalia missed that. She missed the truth she’d seen.
Now, she found herself on his side, once more, playing the double agent. But at what cost?
Finding a new identity hadn’t been easy, and after Sokovia, she’d been forced once again to face the fact that there would never be any real peace for her, no normal life, no love like she once dreamed of.
She was it.
Black Widow was not just a cover story, a mask, it was a part of her.
She hung up the phone with Steve, and felt her shoulders ache, the muscles crying out for relief.
He thought he held up the world, but she did too.
It was beginning to get too heavy for her.