1964-12-16 - Our Kind Of Traitor
Summary: The Black Widow is out to finally assassinate Winter Soldier, a result of his actions in Berlin. Turns out it was a doubleplay, and rather than Widow eliminating the Winter Soldier, Peggy Carter has taken her out of the equation.
Related: Much Ado About Bucky
Theme Song: "My Other Voice" by Sparks - https://youtu.be/gGpIrTXLT58?t=184
rogue black-widow bucky peggy 

They want the Widow. Bucky's warned SHIELD about her - who better to detail her terrible strengths and few weaknesses than the one who did so much of her training? He's even consented to be bait for luring her out, because cold, calculating intelligence aside, there's that bond there still. Even if it's curdled to something bitter, courtesy of betrayal and anger.

The City Hall Station is still glorious, in a dim and dusty way, a relic of the time when public architecture was treated with a kind of lavish beauty. For Winter and Widow, it's weirdly reminiscent of the glories of Moscow's more impressive Metro stations. Buck himself is loitering in the patch of light glowing from the glass vaulted roof. In his overcoat, but without his hat, that betraying tail of dark hair visible, proving that it's not one of his variants waiting there. Nominally one of the places he's used as a dead drop, in his old days as a Soviet agent….but he's checked the drop and now he's just waiting, hands in his pockets. Dangling in the wind, as it were, shoulderblades bunched against the anticipated bullet.

With access to the Lock and Key formula, Peggy Carter has her own plans for dealing with the Widow. And while she doesn't WANT to use Bucky as bait…she'll do what she has to, because ultimately, that's how Peggy rolls. She looks over, watching through placed cameras to keep an eye on the situation. She's made sure to have SHIELD wire the place for her, and she looks through various screens from her control, watching for the Widow. She's seen the way they move before, and she's watching for any tell-tale signs.

The last thing Black Widow would expect is for anyone, let alone SHIELD, to bother with wiring a deserted subway station. She has been tracking Winter Soldier for a while. She did him the courtesy of serving notice of her intention to eliminate him. Since then she's been tracking. Always from afar, but always close enough. Charting his routes, observing his routine, but finally she had a lucky break. Winter Soldier, for all his training has apparently choosen to lay low in a spot that she herself frequented in the past. Remote, abandoned, and very infrequently visited at all. A perfect spot to hide in the open, and as far as she's concerned, a perfect spot to give her a chance to enjoy this.

It's not that she wants Winter Soldier to die, it's not that she wants to do it on a more personal level than her usual method of sniping a headshot. It's that he marred her pristine record, ruined her perfect reputation. She was reprimanded heavily, and she had to visit Moscow for a scathing session with Ivan Petrovich. Since than she's executed three flawless assassinations, one in particular at a very public local in the Radio City Hall, and the Red Room's faith in her has been mostly restored. But that didn't wash away her anger, her desire for revenge, and naturally her top priority from Central: eliminate the traitorous Winter Soldier.

Just as her namesake, she sneaks inside shortly after Bucky enters the station, but she keeps to the ceiling, crawling along it much like Spider-Man might, avoiding the remarkable glass vaulted ceiling, and keeping to the beams and arches to settle in a spot sans the sun's natural spotlight. Unless Bucky was wont to look upwards, she likely can slip his notice, but not knowing about the place being wired, a careful observer would notice some movement before long. She settles in place, stuck to the ceiling, as she removes her sniper's rifle from over her back, setting down for an upside down sniping shot at Bucky. She doesn't aim for the head, however, she wants to finish this in person, she instead goes for a knee.

Once upon a time, a boy was raised on heroic tales of brave boyars and bogatyrs instead of black bread and thick oatmeal. That sort of diet gives notions and ideas that age never really diminishes, merely warps. Maybe he still dreams of contending with midnight-spirits and winter-demons now, though the darkness holds no terror for him. An access tunnel is good as any other for reaching into the abandoned space, drifting through cobwebby passages little investigated even by the city's homeless community. A rat skitters past, dashing off into an electrical duct used by no one anymore. Why would they? The nests in there destroyed copper wire, stripped plastic, and brought back grass and trash for generations of vermin.

Microphones might detect the merest vibration, nothing at all like a footfall. They could perhaps measure the unnecessary little sigh of the wind through a chink in the wall where it meets the ceiling, the place where weather made a hole by erosion. SHIELD has her spies, yes, and so too do the children of the Volga.

He's never had any supernatural abilities, not like some of the variants churned out by God only knows who in Russia. But training like that, it leaves a rapport. Buck's got the sense of her presence, the knowledge of timing to move just as she fires. The sound of the suppressed rifle is only a flat *clack* in the quietitude of the decrepit station, no louder than a fragment of tile dropping forgotten to cracked pavement.

He's moving on the instant….but not managing the dodge. There's no neat tumble out of the way. The round meant to kneecap him strikes higher, right into the muscle and bone of the hip; a step, two, and he topples onto his side. No sound of pain but a gasp of indrawn breath, before he's rolling onto his belly to try crawling for cover. By the smear of blood that trails him, she hasn't hit an artery.

Peggy started moving the instant she spotted the conspicuous figure, crawling around the station. She's headed through, moving to come out in the best position she can for ambush. She has her pistol in hand as she moves, and sights in. Peggy happens to be an exceptional shot, especially with a pistol, and she squeezes off several quick shots, aiming for the exact anchor spots where the Widow is attached to the ceiling.

Black Widow isn't waiting to discern where she strikes, and it turns out to be her fortunate intuition to follow through with a swing. She shoots out a Widow's Line at one of the support beams and swings down towards Bucky, Peggy's shot missing her by inches. «Brought support, comrade?» Black Widow says even as her trajectory takes her closer to Bucky, «clever…but I'm not going to be distracted.» Her next move is to fire a Widow's Bite from her golden gauntlet, aimed directly at Bucky's robotic arm. That's the one massive advantage he has over her, and she wants it out of the equation ASAP. Whoever fired the shot, had perfect vantage on her position in the ceiling, so she assumes they'll need to go out of cover to take on her next to Bucky. But then, do they fire and risk hitting the Winter Soldier? She's willing to gamble that they won't, apparently. As far as she's concerned, Winter Soldier is the one person in the room that she might lose to. She had after all lost to him numerous times in training before finally succeeding. Just like she progressed light years since, she has no doubt, so did he. If she continues blitzkrieging him, she might win the day. Then she'll have the time to eliminate the pesky agent daring to interrupt her execution of the Winter Soldier.

She might have thought otherwise if she had a clue as to who fired the shot, but she hadn't even bothered, she's in predator mode and Bucky is her target.

|ROLL| Lucian +rolls 1d20 for: 4

The point isn't murder. The point is immediate and direct, as taught a hundred different times in a hundred different scenarios. Slide forth out of the darkness, allowing no treacherous tile underfoot to scrape or the withdrawal of a glistening, whisper-thin blade to betray noise. So many means can stifle presence; holding his breath, oiling a sheath, using the cover of a pillar or a wall to his advantage. But the other James Barnes in the train station does not exactly anticipate one of those glittering projectiles flung by the redheaded woman tracked as his quarry. Nothing else matters, not a pistol or the stream of blood pouring out of an older brother struggling to find protection along a treacherous bit of track.

He turns the knife over and flings it on a calculated trajectory for her, or where they may be trusted to advance, rather than the Widow's Bite. It would be a plus, cherry on the sundae, if he could risk hitting the metal chit, but better the big chit. But his point is embedding that razor-thin, oddly resilient blade in a boot, a tile, square in the thigh rather than anywhere else. The Winter Soldier has an advantage in the arm; the mirror-image derivative quite another. On the move, he makes no noise whatsoever, sprinting at an angle. Might as well be that Peggy isn't there. Hunter, hunted.

Superseded, as he was always intended to be. He wasn't expecting one of those 'children' to be present for this, to intervene in what was supposed to be the triad of Carter, Barnes, and Romanoff. So Buck's focussing on Natasha, trying to roll out of the way again. But his muscles aren't obeying with their usual swift surety.

"Natasha, no," he says, but then the Bite has his arm. There's the crackle of electricity, worming blue along the panels of the arm, leaving some out of true like ruffled feathers, complete with stressed servos buzzing like bees. It delivers a jolt to the organic nerves, too, hard enough to bow his spine backwards, muscles locking. A clack of teeth as one of the spasms hit his jaw, cutting off further protest.

Damn it. Peggy's going to have to close in more. Thankfully, she had a large amount of Lock and Key synthesized, and she breaks the seal, applying it to herself, as she starts to move in, doing her best to take cover, while she keeps laying down suppression fire to help make things easier for Bucky.

Detaching the Window Line, the Black Widow lands a short distance from Bucky, figured she'd want the intimidating effect before engaging. «How is your arm…?» She keeps to Russian, taunting the Winter Soldier as she approaches menacingly, only to be stopped by a knife landing at her feet. She looks at the direction it was thrown from and frowns, «this was supposed to be an intimate affair, Winter Soldier, not nice to call so many friends…I'd almost think this was a trap. You wouldn't set a trap for me now, would you, love?» She asks in a very disturbing tone, she's out for blood. But a suppresive fire from Peggy, cuts short her bravado, as she rolls towards Bucky, picking the knife up mid-roll and trying to finish the roll on top of him with a stab. A stab anywhere, she's looking to hurt him, not kill him off too quickly, «I told you what will happen, you shouldn't have lied to me, shouldn't have used deception on me…I thought we had something special. Something that defies loyalties…but choosing the Americans means you choose death.»

She figures the pain from the bite's surge in his robotic arm, coupled with her shot before, should be enough to allow her to overpower Bucky compared to equal grounds struggle. She doesn't know who is supplying suppression fire, but she assumes it is an everyday agent she would easily dispose off. The one who threw the knife, however, that one she's unsure about. She assumes the knife was a akin to a card stating: we'd love to inform you that you have been selected for a one on one scuffle, prepare youself.

She doesn't expect gun shots from that one, she expects a face to face confrontation, but to ward it off, she calls out in English this time, "if you don't want your dear friend to die, you better keep your distance…" a lie, to be sure, she'll absolutely kill Bucky.

Didn't Natasha's mother never tell her to pick up strange knives? No? One way to learn about the risk of doing that. Especially that particular weapon, so terribly slim from the hilt to the tip of the ice-cold blade. Cold, the frostbite of an everlasting winter, it makes touch numb at a whisper. The device vibrates to the touch, partly from the impact. Partly from nothing to do with impact.

At least two of the three in the station know the horrid secret of Mother Russia, no? They've had plenty of opportunity to watch; the pups fight in a pack. The one you see is an issue, sometimes. The one you don't, on the other hand…

The proxy of Bucky in question really doesn't hesitate: he races for a wall and springs up it with all the ease of a cat, momentum allowing him to scale the tiles with an oddly suppressed murmur at best. Gloved hands clutch at a decorative light fixture long since put to use as a nest and little more, spinning to give the momentum he needs to get up and stay on the move. He shouldn't be able to move with that level of flexibility and strength, wedding some of Black Widow's own innate grace with the raw power of a man. Never does he really stop running, separating her attention with any luck. Diversionary tactics to give Bucky an opening, Peggy another shot, a chink in the armour.

A frantic fish-tailing has her attempt at a stab mostly skating off the locked arm, though the blade slashes through the coat he has, and leaving a long gash across his chest. It's still refusing to obey him, but the organic hand has produced a pistol. A blocky little Walther, only, but enough to do damage if he can hit her point blank, as he tries to level it at her. "Natasha," he says, urgently. "Natasha," He sucks in a breath, «Don't play around. This is beneath you. I do what I have to do. But you have to help my sons. They've made no choices, don't blame them for what I've done.» Trying, in his turn, to merely give her a flesh wound, something disabling but not deadly.

Peggy's focus is singular, at this point. Swimming in Lock and Key, as it were, she's trying to get close enough to Natasha to let it do its work. "What's the matter, Widow?" She calls out, trying to get her attention. «Afraid you can't take me in a fair fight without your little knockout toy? Let the boys play. Come show me what you're made of.» She adds in Russian to the end.

It's a testament to the Black Widow's commitment to execution that she keeps her grip on the blade and doesn't let go until she digs it into Winter Soldier, because that blade was unreasonably freezing to the touch, even with her tactical black gloves. She's biting her lips through stabbing the Winter Soldier, with any luck the fact the blade is so freezing will actually serve to further debilitate him. Because it turns out that one of the two other agents, is someone she really needs to worry about.

After stabbing Bucky, she lets out a torrent of screaming Russian swear words, shaking the hand that was holding the blade, and using the other to reach for a pressure point on Bucky's gun hand, doing her best to make him drop the pistol if the freezing stab wound isn't enough of a distraction. «I will take you to hell, for what you did to me, Winter Soldier…» but she doesn't continue this tirade, her attention stolen by the amazing feats put on display by one of those aforementioned 'sons'. «Is this one of them?» She asks Bucky, «clever…enjoy the stab wound, this blade is a fun one…I'll be back after I'm done with your 'son'» she pats Bucky on the head and starts to get up. Her eyes are for a moment on the acrobatic feats, as she draws out a pistol and aims, she means to take out the fake Winter Soldier, one of those 'sons' Bucky has been going on about, but that is only until Peggy talks. That agent providing suppression fire? That was Peggy Carter!? Damned Director Carter being here is bad news. On the other hand, she trumps Winter Soldier in priority. If Widow can take her out, it will still be a good day.

"I'm not afraid of you, Director Carter," the Black Widow shoots venomously towards the woman with the British RP accent. "You want me and you, one on one, no pistols?" Natasha asks, stomping harshly against Bucky at her feet, before lowering her pistol from Peggy and firing a debilitating shot at Winter Soldier, «he stays out of it…I only disengage him from the fight, okay?» She then turns to look at Acrobatic Winter Soldier clone, and points at him, she goes with English because she has no clue what he speaks, "you keep out, I'll deal with you after Ms. Director, yes?" Assuming he was sent by Peggy herself, she trusts the other Winter Soldier to stand down. Hopefully what she did will make sure Bucky doesn't jump in and now she starts walking towards Peggy, but only if the other Winter Soldier seems like he's not about to interfere. «You want me? You got me, bitch,» Natasha snaps at Peggy, holstering her pistol as she approaches her. But as she draws nearer, Natasha is starting to eye Peggy skeptically. Something feels wrong, her intuition is firing up like crazy, and she's not sure why. Then again, the Widows themselves never knew a thing about Lock and Key, likely not even their handlers. That was a last resort defense mechanism to the top ranking party members, top ranking Red Room personnel, top ranking KGB personnel, never just anyone.

Having a bit of a change of heart, Black Widow stops advancing towards Peggy, "I want to know this is not trap. You come fight me here!" She points at her feet, not progressing any further towards Peggy.

Bucky is just having a no good, very bad day, isn't he? Will this go down in the Ops Report, or will the finer points of his suffering be documented nowhere at all? The knife bites skin but, far too fragile to endure much brutal treatment. A slip through reinforced clothing, if any, could well snap the blade like the ice it is. It certainly will upon piercing any deeper than an inch, shattered by the vibrations within. Flesh aches to the brittle kiss, but it at least provides a cooling barrier against the shock of lightning that may still radiate out into those living nerves. He's probably cold as much as the Black Widow is, her finger joints radiating an ache and the burning cold in their wake no help for delicate finesse work or reflexes.

The ground has enough blood to be dangerous. The air has enough curses to be shocking. Bulletfire and cordite mingle with the copper rot of the years, and the moment the Soviet assassin turns to curse the Director of SHIELD in thirty ways til Sunday…

…there is no more Winter Soldier. The real one on the ground, armed as he is, receives his absolution from whatever ice-demon fled over the Iron Curtain after him. A moment there, a moment gone.
The acrobatic clone clears the tracks in two bounds at full bore, diving to roll off his shoulder and stay low in a crouch. He doesn't speak a word. The look in his eyes is cold, nigh empty, one that a good many SHIELD agents on the road to Danbury, Connecticut, witnessed before their ends. Tension pins along his body, and he waits.

A dim remnant of Winter's stoicism - even as she's literally twisting the knife, he's silent. That blow has the Walther skating away over the cracked tiles.

Widow's pistol shot lands, takes him right in the chest. Another wound that's not an instant killer - clearly she means to play with him a while, before winding things up - but there's a choked cry from Bucky the worse for not being loud at all. Then the sound of him trying to suck in a breath….and then silence.

There're the smears of blood left on the station's paving, and then….nothing. The Winter Soldier's vanished entirely.

She wants to look over at Bucky, and make sure he's okay. She really does. But to do so would be to look away from Widow. And that would jeopardize the mission. And it is always, ALWAYS about the mission. At least that's what she tells herself. It's what she'll tell herself later, with some brandy, cursing herself for trading away another little sliver of her humanity.

Peggy doesn't hesitate. She strides right towards the Widow. When the redhead holsters her pistol, Peggy does the same, presenting every intention, every bit of body language, of a woman who is about to go kick some ass. Officially, in her report, it'll be because putting herself in grappling distance is the best way to ensure the Lock and Key works. Unofficially…she owes the Widow one. «Then show me what you're made of, without your toys. After all, you ran like a coward last time.» she tells the other woman in fluent Russian, still baiting her enough to ensure she can get up and in range. Her heels tic-tac out a rapid beat as she approaches the Widow. With luck, she won't have to fight this fight; she REALLY doesn't want to go up against the physically augmented woman. But as always, whatever it takes.

Spent metal hits the ground in a click.

«Middle of Triskelion, SHIELD HQ, and you think I will stay until hundreds of agents take me out? I'm not an idiot, Peggy Carter,» Natasha leers at the woman who once bested a Red Room operative, codename: 'Dottie Underwood'. Natasha knows better than to let her egg her on and pull some trap she's not foreseeing, that's why she had Peggy come to her for their one on one fight. «I don't need toys to destroy you, Director, I will enjoy doing it by hand.» Natasha says it with full confidence, glaring at Peggy and smiling a rather menacing smile, «I will be there at your funeral, shedding tears and leaving roses,» she promises and unfortunately the Winter Soldier disappearing act is done with perfect silence, meaning Black Widow's attention is still entirely on Peggy.

Natasha still seems rather cocky, perfectly certain that her superior physique alone, let alone her tremendous martial arts skills, will certainly see to her absolutely owning Director Cartor in a hand to hand fight. Which begs the question…why didn't it occur to Natasha that Peggy might have something up her sleeve, because the moment Natasha charges at Peggy, murderous intent in her eyes, it looks like she will destroy her, but then it stops. Natasha is frozen inches from Peggy, her limbs falling aimlessly at her sides. She planned on a whole routine, leaping at Peggy's head, taking her down while ensnaring an arm and crushing the back of her head into the ground. There was much more that she planned as a follow up, but all of it remains as plans that will never materialize. She had the whole fight charted, but she's left frozen, not in control of her own body. «WHAT IS THIS!?» She snaps at Peggy «YOU SAID NO TOYS!» She has no clue what device is affecting her at the moment, she's not familiar with such a tech. Nothing struck her, she doesn't think she's been exposed to any poison, besides, what kind of poison would just freeze her with full awareness? It's eerie, unsettling, and most of all scary. She's facing Peggy Carter, and is unable to move. She fully expects to die, and the knowledge she was bested releases a primal cry of frustration out of her, "AAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!" She wants to struggle, to fight to the death, and she cannot.

Peggy lets out just the slightest of sighs of relief when the stolen formula proves that it finally…well…works. She stops, looking at the frozen redhead in front of her. «You seriously thought that I would make the mistake of trying to fight you in a physical brawl again?» Peggy says, with that tone of cool disdain in her voice that the British do so well. That /she/ does so well.

«I have been doing this for a very long time. There is a reason I am the Director of SHIELD. I know my weaknesses. And I know my strengths. Quite simply, you've been out-spied.» She takes a moment to reach out, and unholster the Widow's pistol, making sure to take it. Because as she just claimed so dramatically, Peggy is not a woman to make mistakes.

Then, almost sympathetically, she adds «I'm afraid this isn't one of my toys. This is your handlers playing with your mind. The same as they did with Sergeant Barnes. The same as they did with the clones. But there is a better path. Trust me. Come with me. I'm going to help you find it.»

The crouched Buckling, in all ways terribly similar to Bucky but for differences of height and breadth of shoulders, slowly starts to smirk. A strange expression for him to wear, given that face is so resolutely without any indication of emotion present anywhere. Muscles unused to smiling or frowning express that odd, tenuous beginning of springtime satisfaction by the corners of his mouth widening and tilting up. Eyes narrow in a blink, the pale frostiness hollow of emotion yet. He isn't laughing. Rather the cold locks onto that sight of total humiliation and does not change, even as his bearing shifts barely enough to alter his center of gravity. One spring and he could be off with finessed speed. If it were any but that particular young man, there would be a snort at the notion.

«You are weak. Their words shackle you. No strength in screaming.» Flat, hollow Russian comes clipping out and it sounds disturbingly like a man who isn't there.

«You were leading me on…? Calling me a coward…? Hmph,» needless to say, Black Widow is never happy when she's fooled. Again it had to do with her focus being hampered due to involvement of the Winter Soldier in a situation. She likely wouldn't have made the mistake she made if she weren't so eager to get to torture Winter Soldier before discarding of him. Instead, she wanted to quickly handle Peggy Carter and the clone, and wound up bested by an unforeseen device. «Clever. I'll give you that, Director Carter.» Now that she's let out her frustration and aggravation at her helplessness with screaming, she's back to speaking in calmer tones, though she still looks beyond furious.

Natasha can't do anything but observe by averting her eyes downwards as Peggy reaches to simply take her pistol straight out of her holster, without her having any say about it. This entire affair is humiliating beyond belief. «What do you mean…?» Natasha is quite surprised to hear Peggy not take credit for whatever it is that made her freeze. When she elaborates that it is something made by her own handlers, Natasha looks stunned, «no, impossible. I am the best graduate. I am THE Black Widow…they have full faith in me…why would they?» Did they play with her mind? Oh Natasha knows better than to doubt that, she's had her fractured memories, her inability to reflect on her own childhood without it being a different memory every time. She has no doubt her mind has been toyed with, but she never put the blame on the Red Room. It was always the strain of it all. Now she is helpless, and the way Peggy doesn't even take credit of her sure victory over the Black Widow, just lends credence to her words. Natasha would never let another take credit for her wins. She trusts few ever would.

«I will not…» Natasha starts telling Peggy that she will never come with her, but before she even completes the sentence, she finds herself already following Peggy quite obediently. The very shock of obeying the Director of SHIELD has Natasha dropping to silence as she follows her.

Then comes the blade twisted in an open wound, as she hears the words of the clone, Volya, taunting her in what is surely the worst moment of her career. A complete and utter failure. «You fucking dog of a whore, go fuck yourself,» she hisses at the one who taunts her, she's got nothing else to say. His words sting the most for ringing true, when she finds herself helpless to resist obeying Peggy's words. Director of the enemy's agency, and she can't disobey her. Something is very wrong in the world, and while trying to keep a calm exterior now that she realizes there's nothing to do about it, her mind is freaking out at 200 miles per second.

Peggy read the documentation, and what it's supposed to do. So her words are less about physical commands, and more about things that will work on the mental level. «Shhh.» She makes the shush noise. «Relax. Just relax. I'm not going to hurt you. I'm here to help you. Come with me. We're going to have a very long talk, you and I.»

Still no sign of poor Sergeant Barnes. Peggy's caught the Widow, but the Soldier has vanished. There's only the blood smeared on the platform's tiles to mark his passing.

Natasha actually quiets down at Peggy shushing her, and follows her in silence, none too pleased about the pending long talk mentioned. On the plus side, she's not going to be executed right away, so that's a plus.

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