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11 June 2012 @ 12:20 am
Fic: On Names  
Title: On Names
Rating/Warnings: PG13, highlight for warnings/triggers: *implied rape – blow job, an f-word use, murder, refusing proper medical treatment*
Length: 1500 words
Summary: She has been called many names in the past and she is called many names in the future, but she is and always will be the Black Widow.

On Names

When they ask for her name she tells them, “Anastasia.”

Her family have been murdered, she has been left behind, one of many lost children, and these people who are telling her stories to lure her, why should she give them anything but a story in return? What does it matter what her name is?

“Anastasia,” she says.

The myth, the legend, the story. She is one and will become one.

“Agent Romanoff, this is Agent Barton. Barton, Romanoff.”

They introduce him to her as if she has never met him before, as if they hadn’t ordered him to hunt her down and take her out, as if he never disobeyed.

He nods, once, finishes packing his bow away, and walks out.

“You’ll be okay working with him?” she is asked, as if she has a choice.

She nods, once, eyes busy searching the target range for evidence of the skill that she knows Barton possesses.

“I owe him a debt.”

“Natalia Romanova,” they call her. Romanova, Czarina, like it’s a joke and she is the butt of it.

They force her to speak with a refined accent, teach her poise and grace, and provide her with an education worthy of a member of the last ruling family of Russia. They force her body to contort, teach her how to kill and murder and slaughter, and provide her with an education worthy of people who execute families.

“Don’t you want revenge against the bad people?” they ask her, voices mocking.

“Romanova,” they laugh as they yank her head back by her hair and fuck her mouth.

She will make the joke be on them.

“That was a good call,” Barton says as he pulls on a headset and starts the engine, fastening the seat straps with one hand.

His voice sounds like he’s underwater.

“Hey, Nat,” he says, drawing her attention, the first time he has called her anything of the sort. “Don’t bleed to death on me.”

She tightens the straps of her own seat, using them to secure the towel she has pressed against her abdomen. It’s a towel from the hotel where their latest mission ended, white before she soaked it with blood, and a gold logo, embroidered and rough beneath her fingers.

“I’m not dying,” she tells him.

She isn’t. She isn’t even close to dying. She is, however, rather annoyed and not just because their mark was able to wound her. Every assignment that she has gone on with Barton so far they have completed without injury and without any interaction between the two of them other than those professionally required. That he choses now to compliment her and stick a nickname to her, like the towel sticks to her broken skin, insults her.

“Shut up and fly the damn plane,” she says.

“Tetchy.” He flicks three switches overhead and raises the wheels. “It’s the good drugs for you when we get back.”

“There are no such things as good drugs,” she mutters.

He doesn’t shut up, anchoring her to consciousness, but he does fly the plane.

The name on her passport is Natalia Shostakova. It is not a name that she has been called before and it is not a name that she will be called again.

Nadine Roman, Laura Matthers, Nancy Rushman. She slips under the skin of women who do not exist and what is a name without a person to inhabit it? What is a person who inhabits many names?

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” she has heard said. “Roses have thorns. Make them bleed, Natuska. Tsarina. Romanova.”

She is the Black Widow, weaves the truth of that around herself, and that is the one name from which she will never be free.

When she walks into Barton’s room on the helicarrier, as small and bare as her own, the bathroom door is open. He has his back to her and with his front reflected in the mirror she can see all of him at once, be it only all of him that is on the outside.

“I’m fine,” he snaps when she steps through the door and into his line of sight.

He’s covered in bruises and knife wounds with a graze from a bullet on one arm. None of his injuries are fatal but at least three will scar.

“Are you blind?” she asks him without thinking and he smirks.

“Are you? This isn’t your room.”

“You need stitches,” she says, for the slice on his left shoulder blade that is still bleeding sluggishly, a red trail creeping from it down his back.

“You offering?” He turns his head to look at her instead of her reflection and there’s something in his eyes that she hasn’t seen before and cannot label. “I wouldn’t ask, but I can’t reach, obviously.”

“Don’t be an idiot,” she tells him, because they’re partners and even she, who has only ever had this one partner, knows that asking is not needed.

She uses the supplies he has spread out on the narrow shelf above the sink. He has scars already, patterns of his past on his skin, kissed by history. She reads him as she stitches and doesn’t question why he isn’t in the infirmary. Barton, she knows, does not like hospitals, clinics, infirmaries, doctors, or anything along those lines.

“Sure, Tasha,” he says, a soft shortening of her name, and she can hear that he’s smiling. “Whatever you say.”

She defects to the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division and they tell her that she requires a new name. She thinks the same of them.

She has chosen names for herself on occasion before and the trick is to pick one that sounds familiar, so that she will easily catch it when addressed or when people are talking about her. She is close to being Natalia Romanova here, the same part in someone else’s play, so she says, throwing it out, “Natasha Romanova.”

“Ro…man…” the man filling in her paperwork repeats slowly.

They have pages and pages of paperwork, easier to discard and destroy than computer files she supposes, but there hasn’t been a room that she has been allowed to enter so far that has had a computer and there hasn’t been a room without a security camera. It amuses her, the cautionary lengths that they are going to and the uselessness of them.

“Sorry, how do you spell that?”

She spells out Romanoff instead on a whim and with a smile; a male, Americanised, bastardised version. Let the world make of that what they will.

After Budapest, after the hospital and then the infirmary and regaining enough strength to leave, she hobbles into her room to find Clint on her bed, sat cross-legged with his hands in his lap. He obviously hasn’t been officially set free, still dressed in the loose pyjama pants issued by the infirmary and a medical wristband and nothing else, but he has at least had the good sense to leave his IV in. The IV bag is duck-tapped to the wall above his head.

She sits next to him, carefully, and then leans back against the wall, letting her crutches fall to the floor.

“They’re going to find you in here,” she tells him.

He doesn’t reply, just slowly, ever so slowly, leans sideways until his head rests on her shoulder.

“Your head is in my personal space and you are therefore in danger of losing what little of your brain remains,” she informs him.

Then she reaches out and places a hand over his.

“Natasha,” he says softly, a name that she chose leaving his lips like an offering.

“Clinton,” she replies with a bite to it and he laughs a little, a small sound.

“God, don’t call me that.” He wraps his hands around hers, gently, enclosing not trapping, and steady even now. “It’s Clint, okay?”


She has never been given someone else’s name before, not like this, not a gift and a right. It is such a small thing, to be told a name, but it feels like a large thing to be given one, to have someone name themselves for her. She is used to being labelled and making those labels her own. That is fine, people rarely chose their own names, saddled with them by parents or institutions. That people can, however, chose what name to give to people, what name to be called by, to be called by by them, is not something that she has considered before.

Romanoff, Nat, Tasha, Natasha.

Clint drifts into sleep as she thinks, his head a trusting weight on her shoulder.

“Natasha,” she says quietly, but in her own mouth it’s not the same.

She lets her own head tilt, just a little, until it rests lightly against his.

“So you’re the Black Widow,” they say.

“Yes,” she replies, tossing her hair back and smiling.

The myth, the legend, the story. She is and always will be the Black Widow. To them.
feeling: contemplativecontemplative
a part of me apart from mechimeriques on June 11th, 2012 12:30 am (UTC)
DSFASFAEGRSH ugh i looove the way you write natasha! This was so great!
inkvoices: avengers:smile (clint&tasha)inkvoices on June 12th, 2012 11:25 pm (UTC)
THANK YOU and thank you :D Glad you enjoyed it!
Rayrayruz on June 11th, 2012 01:01 am (UTC)
Excellent! :)

She spells out Romanoff instead on a whim and with a smile; a male, Americanised, bastardised version. Let the world make of that what they will.

Particularly loved this line right here. The little rebellion of it.

And that little scene towards the end, where she finds Clint in her room. Very cute.
inkvoices: avengers:natashainkvoices on June 12th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I like to think that she doesn't have Romanoff as a surname as a mistake, because I don't think she'd put up with it (and surely SHIELD aren't that stupid). Glad you enjoyed it :D
aurora_0811: Avengers - Black Widowaurora_0811 on June 11th, 2012 02:49 am (UTC)
I love how you convey that names have meaning and power. Naming herself and taking control is pretty much the backbone of Natasha's awesomeness. She is her own woman, she gives what she wants to who she wants and there aren't many who qualify. Clint giving her nicknames is such a show of affection and a very lovely way of getting through her defenses. It's such an excellent way of showing emotion but in a subtle way which is how I picture them in my head.

The pacing and voice in this fic is just so unbelievably good. I enjoyed it so much!
inkvoices: avengers:budapest againinkvoices on June 12th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
I think names are important, especially the names that people chose for themselves, and I think it's interesting that Clint has so many names for Natasha in the films. My theory is that he calls her by different names depending on the situation, but there's also the thought that instead of just labelling her, he kept trying to find a name she was happy with being called...and settled on the one that she chose for herself? Something like that, anyway :)

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it :D
patron saint of neglected female characters: black widowrose_griffes on June 11th, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
Lovely and painful.
inkvoices: avengers:love is for childreninkvoices on June 12th, 2012 11:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
workerbee73 on June 12th, 2012 11:15 am (UTC)
This is perfect. Completely and utterly perfect. You've taken the meta of it and made it into magic. ;)

I love this. Love the evolution of it. Love the way you've cross-cut her experiences, love the theme of reclaiming woven throughout. And of course he gives her his name in return. (Oh Clint, honey. You never stood a chance. Neither did you, Tasha. Just so you know.)

inkvoices: avengers:budapest againinkvoices on June 13th, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
Awww, thank you! :D

I don't usually write meta and I usually write fic to get an idea out of my head. Without writing fic the idea wouldn't go away :S

The more I think about, the more I'm convinced that she chose Natasha Romanoff, because she wouldn't put up with that surname if it was incorrect and that bothered her, right? (Also, I like to think that SHIELD aren't quite that stupid.) They're partners; Clint had to give her something in return ;)

Glad you liked :D
sugar_fey: avengers: black widow sultrysugar_fey on June 12th, 2012 04:08 pm (UTC)
MY HEADCANON, YOU HAZ IT. Seriously, you have mind reading powers too!

I love this, the way you integrated all her names with the process of her reclaiming and re-inventing herself is beautiful, and I especially love the way you used the scenes of her bonding with Clint to show how she's developing. And your Clint is wonderful.

“Natasha,” he says softly, a name that she chose leaving his lips like an offering.

*wibbles* Oh, this is pretty much perfect!!!!!! In fact, that whole scene is just... *fails*

They force her to speak with a refined accent, teach her poise and grace, and provide her with an education worthy of a member of the last ruling family of Russia. They force her body to contort, teach her how to kill and murder and slaughter, and provide her with an education worthy of people who execute families.

Oh, wow. Concise and beautiful and an emotional punch in the guts. Well done.

I have a question, how old do you see Natasha being in the last scene? I know you have her meeting Clint at fifteen, and I was wondering how long it took them to get to this point timeline wise.

If this is an indicator of things to come then I'm super excited for your Marvel Big Bang fic. :)
inkvoices: avengers:budapest againinkvoices on June 13th, 2012 12:16 am (UTC)
Haha, we're tuning into the same brainwaves all over the place, aren't we? :D

The more I think about, the more convinved I am that Natasha chose Romanoff, because if it was incorrect and that bothered her she wouldn't put up with it. (And I like to think SHIELD isn't quite that stupid.) So I got stuck on the importance of names and naming for her, and, voila, fic ;)

I didn't actually have the Natasha from The Child Takers in mind when I wrote this. It could be the same Natasha, but I think in this story she defects to SHIELD, is that little more a self as such, than the Natasha in Child Takers who follows Clint home like a stray. And I see the ages in this as rather undefined and open to interpretation *shrugs*. I do think, regardless, that from Natasha first meeting Clint to the point where they're comfortable enough to fall asleep together, when vulnerable and injured, and give names to each other, is a long time for these two people who don't trust easily. (If it's The Child Takers Natasha then it would be a long time because of her age and the age gap. Actually, I think that Natasha had Clint dropping in on her as she grew up and adapted to her new circumstances, and every time he comes back she's that bit different...) I have no one timeline and 'verse for these two, sorry! I know I did for Wash and Zoe :)

Thanking you for all the wonderful comments!!! And glad you enjoyed it, yay :D
a dull creatureheartequals on June 14th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
I love this!
inkvoices: bubbles and heartsinkvoices on June 15th, 2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it :D