Title: the things one shouldn't do
Rating/Warnings: PG13 for mentions of murder and a shirtless Clint
Ficlet length: 460 words
Summary: Natalia has always wanted to know because knowing means having a choice. (Regency AU; graphics and ficlet)
"I always want to know the things one shouldn't do."
"So as to do them?"
"So as to choose."
Natalia Alianova Romanova has always wanted to know. She was listening at keyholes and cracked doors long before her parents were murdered and Ivan took her under his wing, teaching her ways of gaining information she never dreamed of back when discovering secrets was child’s play. She believes there’s no such thing as knowing too much. Unfortunately others disagree, or at least they believe there’s such a thing as the wrong people knowing too much, and they send people after Ivan and his little songbird to kill them.
Natalia, warned by Ivan’s murder, dresses herself in other women, wears and sheds other lives, as she leaves Russia and travels around Europe, plying her trade and trying to lose those who hunt her.
At the English Court, under the Prince Regent, Natalia becomes Natasha. She attempts to con Tony Stark and his colleague Bruce Banner, because detailed knowledge of their innovative work will fetch a pretty price, but getting past Pepper Potts proves to be difficult, especially with the eagle eyes and sharp ears of Philip Coulson, Nicholas Fury, and Maria Hill tracking her as she plays politics for her own ends. Meanwhile she’s befriended by Jane, who against her family’s wishes and all advice has accepted an offer of marriage from a loud, boisterous Northerner, and is looking for someone other than her lady’s maid (Darcy) that can talk to who isn’t trying to stop the marriage from going ahead. Thor is of a royal line, wealthy, and obviously head over heels for his fiancé, so Natalia fails to see the problem. It seems there is one though, tangled up in the affairs of the Court and the affairs of Thor’s brother.
Natalia has always wanted to know because knowing means having a choice. Everyone should have a choice. Her own projects start getting away from her as she draws on her resources to help Jane and figure out what Thor’s brother is planning. She means to approach Steven Rogers, recently returned from military service, to use him to get to Stark, who greatly admires the man, and instead ends up introducing them both to Thor. She intends to question Banner on his work and instead questions him on the use of a material she believes Thor’s brother has stolen.
“Do not think that just because your game has changed that I don’t know you’re still playing one,” Pepper says, smiling sweetly.
Amidst intrigue and assassination attempts, enter Clint Barton: the one pursuer Natalia just can’t seem to get rid of.
But everyone has a choice and this man who has been sent to kill her may yet make a different call.