1965-06-30 - Many Happy Returns
Summary: Natasha returns to SHIELD HQ after bailing on Steve and Bucky in the USSR mid-mission. Seems there are no hard feelings between assassins and soldiers.
Related: None
Theme Song: None
kai bucky steve-rogers black-widow 

The last time that Natasha has been with Steve and Bucky, was on that mission to the USSR. Omega Red happened, and he was unhinged, all the reason to expect Widow to stick with Bucky to the end. However, things turned out quite differently when she was confronted by another shadow from the past. A far larger one, that drew her out of the altercation. For once, she bailed on her teammates, and left them to their own devices without a word on her whereabouts. There has been no reports from Natasha, save for the one made but a day ago, when she finally returned, seemingly out of nowhere.

At the moment Natasha was sitting on the floor of HQ, her back stretched against the wall, merely staring ahead of her without saying a word. Some kind of meditation exercise? Perhaps?

IT's been a while. But look, Buck and Steve survived. And there they are, Buck's room-mate in tow. Kai's an Avenger, after all. He's a SHIELD ally, and has clearance enough to be there with Steve vouching for him.

Buck's ahead of the other two, and he breaks into a trot when he spots the redhead. "Natasha," he says, g leefully. Buck…..well, he's in a lot better shape than he was at the endof that Russia adventure. IT even looks, at first glance, like someone's finally done something to that arm to make it look human. No gleaming metal on display past the end of his t-shirt's sleeve.

Steve cranes his head to look around the brunet to see precisely what's got his abrupt attention before the name registers. Ah, Natasha. His jaw grinds side to side briefly before he inhales and exhales out the momentary leap in frustration. He can be civil. A lift of his hand is greeting before he volunteers,

"Good to see you alive." Because that is utter truth, from the bottom of his heart. The chaos of Russia was enough to test his faith in many things, but seeing her present is balm in the oddest way.

Kai follows after the pair. Hell, he'll come anywhere that might have air conditioning! So along he tags. He's in jeans and a t-shirt, and his gait is a comfortable shuffle. When he spies Natasha, he perks up. "It's that lady!" Kai says to Bucky. "Natasha, right!" He waves a little to Natasha, despite the fact she's decidedly preoccupied. "Do you remember me? Hi!"

Natasha turns her head ever so slightly towards Bucky when he calls her name, oblivious it seems to the pleasant tone, as she mutters in turn. "Bucky." Hey, she didn't insist on refering to him as 'Winter Soldier' first, so there's progress there. Shifting her gaze to the other side, she notes Steve, her face becoming even more devoid of emotions at his sight, "you are alive." She remarks, as if it wasn't obvious enough on it's own. "How did you manage to deal with Omega Red?" Turns out she wasn't of the opinion that they probably don't need her to succeed when she disappeared, she bailed on them while having the impression they may very well meet their doom. Now they know. And knowing is half the battle.

Then there's Kai ever so politely stealing her attention, as she looks at him with a squint of her eye, before recalling, "the one I mistook for Bucky, yes, sorry about that…intel didn't suggest more than one person at that safehouse."

Buck's not in the least dismayed. In fact, he's apparently agog to see her. The Red Room's training is what it is. "Long story," he says. "But we're okay, and so are you." If he had a tail, he'd be wagging it. He offers her a hand up - the human hand. "Right?" He flashes a grin at the others. Look, one of his redheads has returned, safe and sound.

In terms of Omega Red: "We did what was necessary." Steve's not offering more than that at the moment, standing as he is off to one side. His arms aren't folded, but he does rest thumbs at the loopholes of his jeans, where his belt threads through. He's in civilian garb, a plain grey-plaid buttoned shirt and the oddity of combat boots. Construction worker to those glancing over? Perhaps. "As Buck says though, we're no worse for the wear." At least on the outside.

Kai beams. She remembers him! "No need to apologize," he says. What's a little breaking and entering between friends? He looks at Steve. Look! Steve! The pretty redheaded lady! Then he notices Steve isn't as excited as he and Bucky are. "I sense a lot of history here," he says. "We're all okay though, right? Just a few friends with security clearance?"

"Incredible, isn't it?" Natasha says to Bucky, a ghost of a smile lingering on her lips, "it's like we're cursed to live and never die." She felt Arkady's power when she was trying to buy them time in Volgograd, there was no mistaking it, Omega Red was prepared to kill her even though they were on the same side. She has no doubt he'd have little reservation about killing Americans, not that she thought Arkady ever saw it in colors. To him everyone were expendable. It's a wonder anyone in the Red Room can even control him.

She takes the offered hand if only because it was offered, and helps herself up, though she still keeps close to the wall to lean on. "You must have done more than that to be alive," she interjects Steve's comment, before looking aside at Kai. "Your friend is pretty sharp, isn't he?" She remarks to Bucky about Kai, before shifting to look from Steve, to Bucky, and back to Steve, mutterings, "I am no coward. I didn't bail on you because of Omega Red, I want you to know that. But I also had to leave, and I couldn't relay any messages."

"I understand, Alianovna," His old nickname for her, that deliberately rustic use of only the patronymic. "It's all right," Buck's smiling into her face, even daring to pat her cheek with his human hand. "YOu were doing what you needed to for the mission. Thank God you were there to begin with."

Then there's a proud glance at Kai. "He's a lot more than he seems at first glance." An to the elf himself, "Yeah, all friends here. Natasha's on our side now."

If anything, the Captain puts forth an air of stoicism, interested without being overtly so. He continues to consider Natasha across the space between them.

"We would've been in trouble without you…and you did what you had to in order to survive. It's water under the bridge now." Steve looks to the Elf and smiles the slighest. "Yes, she's got security clearance and she's on SHIELD's docket."

"Oh good," Kai says. He accepts Bucky's word on Natasha's allegiances without question, and he merely smiles as he's described as more than a first glance might imply. His smile shifts to Steve. "If I'd have known, I would've brought cookies. You know, it's funny, when I met Natasha, I was so high I barely remember anything I said. Hopefully it wasn't too offensive."

Natasha looks directly at Bucky when he calls her by that name, and she nods at him, there's appreciation in those blue eyes of hers, at not being questioned nor blamed for her actions. "True. I did save you at a few spots down that road, didn't I? The Russian Winter is not often a friend to people."

"Not to be rude," Natasha notes to Kai, "but my full attention was on Bucky that night, you were an unforeseen entity, but I knew what he was capable of…if he was a traitor, as I thought, he could have ended me just as easily as I could have ende him if it was him in that bed, and not you, Kai."

Yes, all friends here, casually discussing how they might have killed one another. You know, friend stuff that friends do.

It's like a Red Room high school reunion, isn't it? "Nah, you were pretty dopey, but not bad," Buck assures the elf. "But anyhow. Kai, this is Natasha Romanoff. Natasha, this is Kai of Aelfheim. He took me in when I was sick and confused as to who I was. I owe him a whole lot." To the redhead herself, he asides, "I like hearing you use that name for me. Makes me feel that much more real."

"I wouldn't say no to cookies," murmurs the Captain as he gives the Elf a big grin. It turns mild as he turns his attention back to his oldest friend and the redheaded assassin. "…you were nearly assassinated, Kai?" This he asks of the group as a whole, not entirely certain as to what is being referenced.

"I understand," Kai tells Natasha. "I don't normally think about ending people, so I was the fish out of water there." He rubs the back of his neck almost sheepishly. Sure, he could break a human body in half without giving it much thought, but his heart just isn't in it. It's not where he is in his life right now.

Kai shakes his head and tells Cap, "Nah, I was just there. I was trying to sleep, to be honest, but they were talking pretty intensely, and there were guns, so I kind of faded in and out."

"I guess I finally have enough reason to believe that story," Natasha offers dryly, not liking to vest too much focus on the whole Bucky/Winter Soldier affair, because it deeply relates to a painful truth about herself. "You told me, I didn't want to believe it…" she whispers, and then abruptly changes the subject. "To put the matter away, you say you are Bucky Barnes, I accept it."

She turns to look at Kai more curiously as Bucky mentions Aelfheim, "is that somewhere in that fairytale land of the Queen of Nevers? Because that might explain why the Widow's Kiss didn't knock him out…" she smiles rather mischeviously at that, turning to peer curiously at Steve, "you know about the Widow's Kiss, don't you?"

"No, it's another realm. Like Asgard, I think?" Buck looks to Kai for confirmation. Then he grins at Steve. "Natasha here came for me, not realizing I was living with Kai. She doped Kai with some compound the Russians had cooked up, but being what it is, it didn't put him down. Just got him high," he explains to Steve. "No harm done, in the end."

"This compound being…the Widow's Kiss," Steve extrapolates through the information given to him by each person persent. "I've heard tell of it, but haven't experienced it myself, no." Now the arms get folded. He gives Bucky a mild glance of significance before his blue eyes flick to Natasha. "It must be effective if it can influence someone of his physiology," and he nods in Kai's direction, looking away from her momentarily.

"Yeah, we're one of the higher realms," Kai says. "Like Asgard only a great deal more fun." He beams. Don't let any Princes of Asgard overhear him. Then he asks, "Do you have any omre of the Widow's Kiss? I was hoping Bucky would score some for me, but he never did."

His gaze strays to Steve, Captain Boyscout, and he adds, "So that I can build up a tolerance, which will no doubt prove useful on missions, which is my only motivation."

"I'd offer you a sample, but you really don't need it, plus, you've been too kind to me…" Natasha clearly relates to that mission in the USSR. While they were both surprised to meet her there, Bucky was the one who knew her as a friend, Steve was the one who has only known her as a foe to that point. If at all. He could have made it turn bad, and he didn't, she respected that.

And then there's a request she's never gotten before, mostly because people who got one hit of Widow's Kiss didn't tend to be there to ask for seconds, "you're serious, aren't you, Kai?" She ponders, then adds, "can't give you…but I can hit you with a dose…I mean, if you truly want me to." She just laughs at the very idea.

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