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14 August 2012 @ 12:28 am
Fic: where the evening splits in half  
Title: where the evening splits in half
Rating/Warnings: PG13; mild swearing, murder, lots of blood, wanting to die.
Length: 1,230 words
Summary: for the prompt A linguistic interaction is first and foremost manipulative. Natasha and words. from dictator_duck at the be_compromised epic and wonderful promptathon.
Author Notes: this is a prologue of sorts for the small acts verse by workerbee73 and bob5fic, also with an epilogue by sugar_fey, the master list for which can be found here. This verse took over my brain. Thank you for letting me play in your sandbox! The title is from Richard Siken’s poem Wishbone from which bob5fic took the title for the small acts installment your killing floor.

where the evening splits in half

“Once upon a time,” begins the storyteller.

Language is a lens through which the world is viewed and the ones that tell the stories paint the glass so beautifully, making an art out of lies.

Natalia, Natasha, Natalie, Nadine, Nancy, Naomi.

Romanova, Tsarina, Slut, Bitch, Whore.

Words are names and labels put to objects and ideas, and names and labels, she knows, are nothing. Words are like breasts, hips, and thighs: things to use, to manipulate people with, and deadly. Words are weapons. Truth can only be learnt from action. People can only be judged by what they do. Experiences are the only thing that can be trusted and even there she treads warily.

So when the Ambassador escorts her outside, telling her that they’re going to his fancy car and then to his home, seductive words falling from his mouth, she is ready. She is ready for the dark of the abandoned factory, the bullets, and the pain.

She is ready, but from the surprise on his face when the doll that has been hanging from his arm all night transforms into a monster that snaps his neck he is not.

Admittedly she isn’t ready for her cover to have been blown this early or the number of men lying in wait, but she rises to the challenge, until she is covered in blood and dripping with it, blood plastering the silk ballgown to her legs, blood in the air and in her mouth, only some of it hers.

Enough, too much, of it hers.

There is a legend of a Countess who bathed in blood, reputedly to remain young and beautiful. This is a not a story told to children, but it is one that she has been told. It is one that hides behind the lie of a tale spun with pretty words, a woman drenched in blood.

She breaks the Ambassador’s neck, takes his gun, uses his body as a shield whilst she shoots three men, drops the dead weight and lunges, steals another gun, lashes out with her feet, shoots, slaughters.

She dances, death come alive, but she was not ready for this number of men and her mouth splits into a smile as she realizes that she will die here. It stings, that these people will be the end of her. Not the dying. She doesn’t mind the thought of dying, but she aches to die at the hand of someone who could rise to the challenge of killing her, who would make an art of it and her, not this flood come to wash her away.

A bullet drives her back, punching a hole through her that somehow misses her heart, perhaps because she doesn’t have one.

Something moves, fast, in her peripheral vision and the one who shot her in the shoulder falls with an arrow in his eye.

Arrows are a distinctive way to kill. She’s been aware of the man tracking her, codenamed Hawkeye, has been leading him in a dance of another kind, but he hasn’t used his reputed weapon of choice until now, perhaps thinking to avoid her notice. He ends four more as she ends two and she will admit to being impressed.

She’s under no illusion that she too is a target to him, but she dances in a rain of arrows and it is glorious.

Arrows and bullets until they are the only two still breathing, her barely, and he drops down from the shadows in the rafters as she spins around. Hampered as she is by the wound in her shoulder and a dislocated knee his arrow flies before she can shoot. It hits her two inches above the wrist, pinning her to one of the wooden posts holding up the ceiling, and her gun clatters to the floor.

She is not dead. This is a surprise.

He stands facing her, bow drawn, and she isn’t dead.

It is a small, still moment in the factory that they have turned into a slaughterhouse.

With her free hand she fingers the shaft protruding from her arm between the radius and the ulna, a wound that shouldn’t cause permanent damage and she’d call it a lucky shot if she hadn’t seen him in action.

He moves closer, cautiously like approaching a cornered animal and at the same time confidently like stalking his prey, until the sharp point of an arrow presses against the centre of her forehead. He lowers his arms without changing his stance, ghosting the point down the length of her nose until it comes to rest on her lower lip, pricking the skin. She tastes blood again and this time it is definitely her own.

He stares at her lip in fascination for a moment, then takes a sharp step back, hands steady even as his breath catches.

Such small things: a drop of blood, a step, a breath.

“Do you want to live?” he asks.

Words sound so intrusive here.

She shakes her head, or at least lets it loll from side to side, and thinks what a picture, what a painting she must make, in the midst of carnage bathed in silk and blood.

He returns the nocked arrow to his quiver and lowers his bow to the ground, then reaches out to take her trapped hand, holding her hand, reverently, as if giving comfort to the type of person who dies in a bed.

She lets him.

Her hand is wet with sweat and red, his wrapped in an archer’s glove, but they fit. He reaches with his other hand as well, trails fingers down her wrist to where the arrow pierces her, and the hand holding hers squeezes tight as the other snaps the shaft of the arrow and both pull her away from it. She grits her teeth and tries to trap the sounds of pain behind a vicious smile, but they escape as the arrow slides through soft tissue and blood pulses from her arm unhindered.

He releases her as she slumps down into the growing pool of blood that has been forming beneath her and she burns with anger. She should have known that his words, his offer of a choice, had been a lie.

“Tie yourself up,” he says quietly, softly, using his feet to push some of the wires and cables dumped on the floor, dirt and dust covered, towards her until they touch her leg. “Wrists and ankles. Hands where I can see them.”

She does as she is told.

He watches as she follows his orders, biting through her tongue as she secures her ankles and gasping for breath as she forces herself to sit upright once more. She winds a length of wire around her wrists and forearms tight enough that it rubs raw against the arrow wound beneath, tight enough that it will mark her but not scar as the arrow wound will, then raises her eyes to his and licks her bloodied lips.

He has yet to look away and if he cannot see the monster instead of the doll then she will teach him.

The bonds are easy enough to slip out of if she wants to, but she hasn’t the strength left to make him leave her to die. The only thing left to want is to see what he will do next.
feeling: bouncybouncy
Koren: Jeanine in Redcybermathwitch on August 13th, 2012 11:50 pm (UTC)
Oh my flippin' - wow.

Just WOW.

I'd say you nailed it, this was awesome, and I love - absolutely love - how you wove this all in.

I'll probably have more coherent thoughts eventually. ;D
inkvoices: avengers:smile (clint&tasha)inkvoices on August 14th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
Woah, that was some fast commenting O.O

I'd say you nailed it So, so glad that you think so. I was really nervous about this because it's playing in someone else's sandbox and with a whole bunch of already concieved worldbuilding and charactersation, and everything in the verse is so amazing. So yes, VERY GLAD :D

Feel free to have as many thinky thoughts as you like ;D

Koren: nataliecybermathwitch on August 14th, 2012 01:38 am (UTC)
Woah, that was some fast commenting O.O

I might have the prompt-thread set up as "track" in my LJ so I get emails... and I might be sitting at Panera right now 'writing' (by which I mean procrastinating a lot and hovering over my gmail inbox in hopes of distractions. ;) Plus I read fast, usually.
inkvoices: avengers:hawkeyeinkvoices on August 14th, 2012 01:41 am (UTC)
I di not know this track thing existed! I approve :D

Lol I would never get anything done if I did that though. I rely on people yelling at me about anything really amazing if it crops up that I have to read now, then I'm working my way through the master list(s!) in my own time, and I wander through the comments pages every so often :)
(Deleted comment)
inkvoices: avengers:synchronized flailinginkvoices on August 14th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC)
Aww *twirls you* Thank you so much for letting me play and giving the draft a read through. I'm all kinds of happy that I made it worth your while and that you liked it :D

I just found Ophelia Drowns - do not understand how I did not see it before today! - and read Bee's new installement and you both broke me. AGAIN.
sugar_fey: avengers: black widow beautysugar_fey on August 14th, 2012 12:26 am (UTC)
*joins Bob in the flail backstroke*

DAMN. This is incredible.

Natalia, Natasha, Natalie, Nadine, Nancy, Naomi.

Romanova, Tsarina, Slut, Bitch, Whore.

All the names she's been given. *brain explosion at this awesomeness*

I love the moment when Clint and Natasha meet, it's perfect.

He has yet to look away and if he cannot see the monster instead of the doll then she will teach him.

Oh, Tasha. He's always seen more than the monster or the doll.
inkvoices: avengers:scarlett lostinkvoices on August 14th, 2012 01:47 am (UTC)
THANKING YOU! I'm so very glad that you like it :D

I have a thing for names and naming when it comes to Natasha. Which, um, you may have noticed *grins*. I hadn't made the connection between names and the fact of actions being the 'truth' over words when it comes to Natasha, as in workerbee73's meta, until I saw this prompt and then I had a lightbulb moment :D

When you wrote lost inside this forest with the culmination of the Clint-as-Prince thread with the idea that he's at once both the Prince and the Demon King, and then Natasha gets referred to as thinking that she's a monster in earlier fics...well, I was trying to use your fic a lot for this one, making the prologue and the epilogue brackets, so as you put Clint into a duality that ends an arc for him I wanted to put Natasha in one that starts an arc for her. And that she thinks of it as two things, either or, when she's many and he thinks of himself as one thing when he's many... Here be further proof that the small acts verse owns my brain *grins*.

Edited at 2012-08-14 01:47 am (UTC)
workerbee73 on August 14th, 2012 01:01 am (UTC)
This is so unbelievably perfect, my friend. I'm still joining Bob in the massive flailstorm. Just GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.

Thoughts in a minute. Right now I need to update the master list of all the 'small acts' stories....
inkvoices: avengers:synchronized flailinginkvoices on August 14th, 2012 01:39 am (UTC)
unbelievably perfect WOAH. Excuse me whilst my brain checks out and I happy dance all over the place. Ohwow ohwow oh. wow. OH. WOW. :D :D :D

You are excused from immediate thinky thoughts on account of having great and important work to do *nods* because I only just noticed Bob's Ophelia Drowns and it therefore needs urgently to be added to the master list so no one else misses it! And I read your Natasha and Fury installement! AND YOU BOTH BROKE ME AGAIN *flails*
Sunny: X Scully woosunny_serenity on August 15th, 2012 11:06 am (UTC)
yes! more cronenberg!spies. continuity is a thing i love the most. you've got it here both in tone and story telling but with your own voice and flavour. it's a great addition to the established lore.
inkvoices: avengers:smile (clint&tasha)inkvoices on August 20th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
Thankfully I had help from Bee when it came to continuity, because I had a few things happening in my first draft that definitely did not fit with established events! I'm all smiles that you think it fits in, wow, tone and story telling and voice and flavour, seriously, epic amounts of smiling going on over here. Thank you! :D
im_ridiculous: thumbs upim_ridiculous on August 22nd, 2012 06:29 am (UTC)
Man... I go away for a couple of weeks and there's a fic avalanche! I'm sorry I'm only getting to this now, but it's fabulous - a really fitting beginning for a great series of stories. You've got a really lovely voice and style here which is a pleasure to read. Love it :)
inkvoices: avengers:smile (clint&tasha)inkvoices on August 22nd, 2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
Tell me about it! I went home for a weekend and missed fills that people had done for me *hangs head in shame*. I'm struggling to keep up with the promptathon. Love it to peices though :D

Wow, thank you! a really fitting beginning for a great series - so glad that you think I managed to pull it off and live up to the wonderful that is small acts <3