“No one else will stop it. Steve Rogers won’t stop it. No one else is capable. You are capable. You will do it.”
Characters (this chapter): Natasha Romanoff, Sharon Carter. (Implied past relationship).
Content Warnings: Canon-typical violence.
Rating: Teen & Up.
The apartment building should be under better surveillance. All the local defense teams have been recalled, with manpower spread so thin, but they should have been replaced with drones, at the very least. Natasha is not impressed. By fault of design, the complex is difficult to secure, but it appears that no one has tried. It is vulnerable from the roof, from the fire escapes on both the north and west sides, and there is minimal security at the main building entrance (one lock on the front door, easy to pick, often unnecessary due to the polite old lady who lives on the second floor and walks her dog at predictable intervals). Easy to assail. Inadequate protection. It’s no wonder Fury was shot here.
It’s safe to assume Steve wasn’t thinking about modern safety protocols when he chose the building. It’s not a specialty of his. None of the dogs are combat-trained and only two are large and aggressive enough to be considered ‘guard’ dogs. Too few cameras, and the remaining functional locks on all the doors are outdated. The windows don’t even have locks. Or bars.
Natasha goes in through the garbage room, out of habit. The lock on the door in the basement is broken, and the stairs to the mailroom and apartments are unmonitored. Unless she includes the solitary video camera above the superintendent’s apartment, which she does not. There is a blind spot along the wall where the poorly-hung lights cast anyone walking more than two feet away in complete shadow.
She leaves her bag by the front entrance. Sharon isn’t home when she arrives. It is late at night, but the damage caused by the helicarriers is probably a considerable inconvenience. Natasha scans every room, thought she doesn’t step inside the bedroom, out of respect, on the off chance Sharon was smart enough to install a camera there. She hears Agent 13 when she exits the elevator. Her footsteps are even and familiar, and Natasha recognizes the quiet pattering sound of one of Sharon’s more sensible pairs of shoes. She waits in the well-lit kitchen, in an attempt to keep the Agent from startling.
She doesn’t succeed.
She stands, because it’s supposedly courteous.
“You’ll never guess who I just spoke to.”
Sharon takes her hand off her gun.
“Was it someone who appreciates coming home to a break-in?”
Sharon places her purse on the table beside the door.
“I did you a favor." Sharon ignores her as she passes her, crossing through the apartment. "I’ve identified four new weak spots in your apartment’s security,” Natasha finishes. She leans against the wall while Sharon fiddles with the faucet.
“I almost shot you.”
Natasha slips off the wall, sliding her hand over Sharon’s waist.
“I would have dodged. I can be very flexible.”
Sharon’s shoulders bend forward.
“What do you want, Natasha?”
She leans closer while Sharon rinses a glass.
Sharon places the glass down in the sink. Letting it fill up with water.
"Take a step back please."
She obeys, leaning against the wall, arms crossed.
Sharon reaches into the sink, taking a long sip from the overflowing glass. “Tell me what you came here to say.”
Natasha isn’t sure what to make of Sharon’s expression. Tired, possibly angry-
“The Winter Soldier contacted me.”
Shock is easy to register as Sharon’s eyes go wide.
“He’s still alive? And he contacted you? Was he under orders?”
Natasha bites the side of her lip.
“Don’t know for sure. There were definitely a few things he couldn’t tell me.”
Sharon puts her glass down on the counter after an aborted second sip.
“What did he want?”
“My help. Or so he said.”
Sharon nods, staring at her empty hand. She’s easier to observe when she’s not paying attention.
“Have you told Hill? Or… Rogers? I know he’s injured, but-”
“I didn’t want to bring it to his attention until after we had the Soldier in custody.”
“Custody, how-” Sharon shakes her head. “How do you think we’re going to pull that off? S.H.I.E.L.D. is done.”
“There are resources-”
“Why me?” Sharon cuts her off, demanding: “A real answer, please.”
Natasha considers the most optimal response, and the bait necessary to elicit it.
“Because I can trust you.”
Sharon begins to pace.
“Huh. You’re sure about that?”
“Your priority has always been public safety. Whatever your personal feelings are, you’ll want to do whatever it takes to secure the Winter Soldier.”
Sharon leans against the counter.
“And do what with him?”
“Extract information.” Natasha’s trigger fingers twitch. “Obviously.”
Sharon squints at her.
“Extract it how?”
“That’s why I came to you first, instead of Hill, or Stark.”
Sharon drums her fingers against the countertop. Natasha counts the beats, one, two, three-
“You’ll need to contact one of them anyway. Probably both of them. If I help you, if,” she glares with the emphasis, “it’s not like we can keep him locked up in my guest bedroom.”
Natasha blinks. Sharon groans.
“That’s exactly what you were planning, weren’t you?”
“I could secure the room.” She shrugs. “Given enough time and a steady supply of inhibitors, he could be detained here indefinitely until he could be either deprogrammed or eliminated-”
“Natasha, I am not keeping a dangerous super soldier drugged in my apartment.”
She’s not surprised by this. The apartment has the benefit of consistent monitoring, with Sharon living there.
But there are other options. A warehouse near the Navy Yard, empty for the season.
“Did you hear me?”
Natasha nods. There’s the rural farmhouse in Garrett County.
“Nat, the timing of this is really suspicious-"
Or an abandoned church in Annapolis.
"-he might just be trying to trick you.”
Spread a few rumors insinuating the building is haunted-
“Are you listening?”
… Accompanied by some prominent rodenticide warnings, and word of mouth should steer all but the worst of the teenage population away. And these are viable even if Tony Stark refuses to help.
“Natasha, look at me?”
Which is a distinct possibility. Since, according to the Hydra file, the Winter Soldier was responsible for the assassinations of Howard and Maria Stark.
Sharon is waiting for Natasha to look at her.
“Is this really a good idea?”
She’s looking, but Natasha doesn’t see the point of this discussion.
“I, we both just found out that S.H.I.E.L.D. was being run by Hydra. The project that was supposed to protect us just crashed into the Potomac. I’m exhausted, you were injured…” She shakes her head, rough gold curls coiling around her shoulders. “This doesn’t seem like a good idea.” She sighs. “This isn’t your job anymore.”
Sharon takes a step backwards; she bumps into the edge of the counter.
“I’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about it.”
Natasha shifts, aiming her body at the door.
“You’re not going after him alone, right?”
Natasha dons one of her more charming smiles.
“Of course not.”
“You’ll talk to Stark? Or someone? I know May owed you a few favors before she retired...”
“I’ll figure something out. I’ve been told I’m very resourceful.” She steps back into the kitchen, resting her palm against Sharon's hip. Sharon closes her eyes, and her mouth curls into an indecipherable shape.
"Yes," her voice rumbles.
Sharon opens her eyes.
"Natasha." She grabs Natasha's wrist with impressive speed.
Thanks for reading!
Like I said last week, nobody trusts poor Bucky. Chapter 4 is up!