The Winter Soldier is still out there. Hydra is still a threat. Time to move.
Characters (this chapter): Natasha Romanoff, Maria Hill.
Content Warnings: Canon-typical violence.
Rating: Teen & Up.
Four hours later, she opens her eyes.
Her vision adjusts to the predawn gloom without fanfare. Garbage is being collected three blocks west. No recycling. Someone in the apartment above her is using the stovetop. She counts her weapons. Everything is where she left it.
After checking the perimeter, she lies down on the floor, going through the routine of core exercises drilled into her muscles. It feels right, waking up like this, her body moving in the same choreographed patterns it knows deep down. Bend, release, breath. Repeat. Again. Natasha moves until her stomach aches. It’s a comforting sensation.
She checks the time. It will be early evening in Pakistan.
She dials a number she memorized months ago. They connect on the second ring.
“Who is this?”
“Maria.” She can hear Hill’s apartment in the background, early morning Manhattan traffic, one siren, she’s alone. “Go outside for a cigarette.”
“I wasn’t awake, you know.”
Natasha doesn’t say anything. Hill grumbles, but there’s shuffling, and then a click. Balcony door. And there’s a light wind, good.
“I quit years ago.”
“Then why do you still have a pack and a lighter in your dresser?”
The lighter snaps.
“What is it?”
“Who do you trust?”
Agent Hill inhales.
“What do you need?”
“Medical, someone with a psych background. And enough tranquilizers to take down a racehorse.”
Hill clicks her teeth together; usually this means she’s unhappy.
“What are you doing?”
“Do you have anyone?”
Hill is quiet while she smokes.
“How far are they from Philadelphia?” She can pick the asset up and explain en route.
“I’ll tell you if you tell me who you’re going after.”
Hill sits down; the chair legs scrape the balcony floor.
“Will you tell the Ca-”
“Not until it’s necessary.”
“You’ll need someone else. If you’re the one on the ground, you need somebody watching your back. An extraction team would be better-”
“I’ll talk to Agent Carter.” They don’t know each other well, unlikely Hill will connect the dots. “She’s a good spotter. I trust her to take care of anyone on the target’s tail.”
Agent Hill hums in thought.
“Did you have a safe house in mind? I can talk to Stark, move some resources around-”
“Not yet. I want him under the radar. Until the waters settle.”
“Since Hydra will want to recapture him right away.” Hill’s clever. And easier to talk to. Her responses are predictable, logistical. Efficient.
“Give me a few hours. I’ll have an answer for you by this afternoon.”
That won’t give them much time, but it’s all right. Natasha can drive all night if she has to.
“I’ll call you at 13:15. Send your asset to Laurel Hill Cemetery. I’ll contact when they’re en route with exact coordinates.”
She doesn’t say goodbye when she hangs up.
Time to move.
Thanks for reading everyone! There's going to be a surprise visit from one of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and I'm really looking forward to sharing that with all of you!