November 13, 1969. My objection was to assassinate an American named James Rogers. I was on the Staten Island Ferry, trying not to catch anyone's attention. I kept an eye on my watch, It was around 8 in the morning and the ferry didn't have too many people on it. The occasional homeless person and a few tourists.
I hummed softly to a soft tune, a melody I couldn't quite remember. Occasional remembered words would serve as lyrics. You say yes… mmmm… You say stop, mmmm… You say goodbye… and I say go go go… I wasn't allowed to sing through most of my training at the Red Room. Not that I was ever big on singing. Well, who knows what I was like before the Red Room. Maybe I wanted to be on Broadway. I smiled a little at that unrealistic thought.
The Statue of Liberty stood tall, looking over Manhattan, though up close, and compared to the growing skyscrapers of New York it didn't seem so big. We passed it, and the few tourists that groveled at its base looked like ants. But I reminded myself- I wasn't American. I wasn't Russian, either, though I knew the language and many of its people inside and out. I was British, and even now I retained the accent (partially as my cover). I had no right to call Lady Liberty my own, though somewhere, deep down, I wanted to. I sighed and pushed my one red-dyed curl of hair behind my ear.
I spent the majority of the voyage lost in my own thoughts and strategic planning. Target was fifteen years old and lived in a one-story house. Two parents, one worked and the other seemed to stay at home all the time, which could make things difficult. I'd have to figure out where his room was, break-in from there, kill him, and flee. Perhaps I could use a larger gun, shoot him dead from the street. I had a great shot, after all. But I settled on going in and using a close-range pistol- one I had in my bag. Better to be sure that the job's done, double-tap. It was too late for a decision to use a different gun anyway.
The ferry came to a stop, and I navigated the streets with ease. There was an oddly familiar feel to the streets as I strolled around them. I looked for a very certain house, one I'd seen photographs of. There was a weird feeling of deja vu as I parked my bike right outside of the backyard and scaled the fence, before landing on my two feet inside the backyard. It was grass, with a little porch area with a barbecue and seating. I avoided the glass patio door and found my way to the side of the house.
The owner of the windowed bedroom was all too obvious. Pictures of beautiful actresses seemed to cover his wall, with occasional record posters. And there sat a young brunette boy at a desk, reading a "sports" magazine. He was very muscular- the shirt he wore flattered him very well in that way. I couldn't see his face, but from his body, I could tell that he was probably one of the most agreeable kids at his school. I shouldn't break the glass, not with him here like this…
I had to find a different plan. I sat down in the little grassy area below his window and thought things out. I could go through the front door. I was pretty enough to where I could seduce him. If that "sports" magazine was what I thought it was, he wouldn't be able to resist. Then I could kiss him, and mid-kiss plunge a pocket knife into his back. Or look like I was running my fingers through his hair and snap his neck. I liked the second one. So I approached the front door and rang the doorbell.
It was the boy who answered. I had guessed right, he had a handsome face. And even better were his eyes, such an engrossing color- similar to mine, which were almost a mix of brown and blue yet so… brilliant, more like a hazel that was on the blue side, if that was possible.
"Can I help you?" The boy said, in a very pleasant voice. He had such a smooth, sweet-sounding American accent. He raised an eyebrow, looking me up and down.
"I'm looking for a Mr. James Rogers?" I said, using my natural British accent instead of a Southern accent (which my training suggested was best to charm boys, but why wouldn't a boy like my British accent?) He sighed.
"That would be me."
"I'm here about the, erm, homework, help?" I raised an eyebrow, "I heard you were failing history?"
James blinked twice, looking like he almost couldn't believe it. "I'm sorry, do I know you…?
"I don't believe so, why?"
"Holy shit- you're Josephine! Josephine Carter-Rogers."
"Do, erm, explain what you mean," I was utterly confused. Though it sounded familiar, Josephine wasn't my name. I had a Russian name. Unless… that could've been my name before the brainwash. Rogers… James was a Rogers too. Dear lord. My plans of seduction weren't sounding so bright now.
"I had a sister. Josephine Carter-Rogers. But she… went missing right before I was born, in '54. She was born in 1952."
"I'm afraid you are mistaken, I'm thirty-one years old for goodness sake!"
"That's how old my parents said she would be. My sister in the picture," He pointed to their fireplace mantel in the next room.
I eyed the mantle cautiously, spotting a family photo set on it. It was too far to be easily seen. I then looked back to James, flashing between him and the mantle, "I'm just here to tutor you- if you don't want my help…" The kiss idea seemed to be logical, now. Kill him right then and there.
"Mom, Dad, come here!" James turned and yelled, before looking at me, face unsure of what emotion to display. Shit. Plan ruined before started.
"Josephine?" A woman in her late forties quickly walked to the front door. She was British, with brown hair and deep brown eyes. Fuck- I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I recognized her from somewhere. Was she in SHIELD…?
"Erm- I'm afraid I'm not-"
"My god, you are Josephine!" the woman then looked relieved. "It's been years since I've heard your voice!"
I was caught off-guard- I stuttered in response, "Well, not necessarily mine. I'm afraid I'm not a 'Josephine' or even a Rogers. I just came regarding your son-"
"You really don't remember?" There was almost pain in her eyes as she looked at me. For a moment, speaking with her was somewhat reminiscent of… something. "Steve, come here…"
An athletic man approached the door. Despite the fact that he wasn't young, he was extremely muscular and tall. "Peggy, what do you need?" His voice. I could have sworn I'd heard it somewhere. He scanned me, up and down, before giving an unsure smile, "Jo!"
"I'm so sorry but my name isn't Josephine- why do you all keep insisting on it? I'm afraid you are mistaken-"
"Than how can you explain this photograph?" the man quickly grabbed the photo off the mantle and handed it to me. "This was a picture taken of me, my wife, and my daughter Josephine in 1953. You're saying that this isn't you?"
I stared at the photograph, unsure of how a teenage me could have been standing with this exact family at that exact time. In 1953, according to the records, I was beginning my training in the Widow Program. There was no possible way that this could be my family. In fact, the entire picture was impossible! I simply frowned and looked back up at the man.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I was overseas in 1953. You've got the wrong woman."
Peggy sighed and took the photo from me. "Alright, if you insist. Don't press it, Steve."
Steve looked at Peggy, before saying to me. "Well, alright. What's your name and what do you have to say to James?"
"Lydia Martin and I'm here about James' grade in history." Not my best cover name, but it would function.
"Alright, are you going to tutor him? Please, come inside. Sorry to keep you standing, I know its a bit chilly."
"No, don't worry about me, I'm alright. And thank you."
I noticed I'd forgotten to take off my leather jacket at that very moment. I wasn't the most respectable looking teacher, but hopefully, the target wouldn't care. Part of me felt bad for continuing to pursue the target, even after the parent's obvious missing daughter, but I remembered that killing him would do our program well. I was an assassin for a reason and a good one at that. I had to put emotions aside and focus on my job.
"Are you from England too?" asked Peggy as we entered the house.
"I am. Just moved over here a few years ago."
James led me to his room, and I stepped inside after him, shutting the door. The room seemed familiar (God, I was having so much Deja Vu!), I sat down on his bed and let him take a seat down at his desk.
"So your school told me that you're failing history."
"Yeah, we're learning about World War II right now."
"You know that wasn't too long ago. I was alive during the war, but I was really young." Not that I remembered it. Nevertheless, I smiled and brushed back my hair. "I can tell you about it if you like."
"Yeah, I'd… like that," James' eyes wandered down to my chest. Great, not the most comfortable situation, but it'd work to my advantage. Seduction was the easy part, even if I was fifteen or so years older.
"So… they sent off all eligible men to war. And women worked behind the scenes."
"Yeah, I know that- but what was it like as a kid?"
"It was… stressful. My father was sent off to war."
"Really?" James' brow furrowed.
"Yes, it was a frightening time."
There was silence. James grew close to me, and we both looked as if we were pondering kissing the other. I leaned in, one hand clenched to the gun hidden inside my jacket, and kissed him. The moment seemed to be an eternity, but I finally pulled away and the boy, stuck in the amazement from the kiss, was unaware that I had the gun pointed at his chest. I pulled the trigger. There was a loud bang, and James collapsed against the wall. I'd done it. Target? Killed. I quickly fired gunshots at the window, glass breaking, and moved towards it, punching the glass away. I then tucked away my gun. But right before I could jump out of it, the door swung open and both Rogers parents were at the ready.
Steve ran to James' side, but Peggy stood at the door, pistol aimed directly at me. In her other hand, she held a leather-bound book of some sort.
"Who are you, really?"
I sucked in some air- "Ever heard of the Widow Program?"
Peggy's eyes went wide- she held the pistol less confidently, hands shaking. "What is your name?" It was less of a question and more of an order."
"I told you. I'm with the Red Room. Ever heard of it?"
"And I'm Margaret Carter, head of SHIELD- ever heard of me?"
My hands were in the air, and I was at the enemy's mercy. But why had I never known who the head of SHIELD was? Her name did sound so familiar, but I clearly never had attached it to SHIELD. She wasn't lying, though- I knew that much. I made eye contact with her and prayed, to whatever God there was- Please don't let this be the end. Have mercy.
I shut my eyes. "I was assigned to kill your son. It isn't personal."
"But it clearly is! They knew- they completely knew that you looked like my lost daughter, my lost-" Something certainly was registering within Peggy. "Sorry, you're with the Widow Program? Of the Red Room?" I nodded, and Peggy slowly lowered her gun. I was confused as to why, but Peggy showed no hints. Steve gave her a funny look, but Peggy kept her gun lowered. She tossed me the book, and I caught it.
"Go before I change my mind."
I stood there for a moment, confused as to why she didn't shoot. I had the book in my hands and didn't know what to do. "Why?" I asked breathlessly.
"You heard me," her voice was stern, and she made her way to her dying son. "Get on with it."
I bit my lip and nodded. I dove through and landed on the ground, ending with a somersault. I looked back to Peggy. Her eyes were red and puffy, and she stared at me as if I were a ghost. Go.
I ran for my life. I could hear sirens in the distance. I hopped on my bike and threw on the helmet. My foot meddled with the gas for a moment before I shot off, trying to gain as far of a distance to the house as possible. I took in a breath. That had been strange. I drove as far as I could, before taking a stop at a diner. I parked my bike, setting the helmet down.
I got myself a table in the diner and ordered a tea. Once the waitress was gone, I opened up the book that Peggy had given me to begin reading. The Red Room would've hated me if they knew I did, but I did it anyway.
My name is Josephine Carter-Rogers. I'm fifteen years old, and I've been through more shit than most. I was born in 1952 but somehow wound up being raised by a multitude of foster parents in the UK in the 2010s until 2025 when I came to America and met the Avengers.
The Avengers were a lovely group of people, men and women with superpowers teamed to save the world. Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, brought me to them. She was a nice person, and extremely powerful. Carol Danvers and I had a nice acquaintance, though. I really admired her. I didn't exactly know her powers, but she was the sheer definition of a strong woman. And then I met Bucky Barnes, who claimed to know both of my real parents personally. He told me that there was a way for me to go back in time and be with my parents. It seemed like a stretch- but it was successful. And here I am in Staten Island. It worked. I couldn't believe it.
I met both my parents for the first time today- Agent Peggy Carter and Captain Steve Rogers- future head of SHIELD and Captain America himself. Two of the most amazing people to ever exist, according to Bucky. Although things had been strange at first, I was so overwhelmed with emotion tonight. They'd welcomed me with open arms.
I've been crying for the last two hours. I don't think they know that. Its roughly midnight and Steve gave me this diary two hours ago for my own use. But once he'd left me- kissed my forehead and said goodnight, I'd burst into tears. I had finally achieved my biggest dream, and that was finding myself a proper family. If you know me, you know I've never had one. I've always felt like a bit of an outsider, yet here I was welcomed and accepted. I finally felt right.
I felt like I'd walked midway into this girl's life, but the emotion conveyed by her words hit oddly hard. Before I could move onto the next entry, the waitress brought me my tea, so I thanked her. I took a sip- American tea was never as good- and continued on.
Mum has been missing for days. Dad has been so much more stressed lately… I feel like I'm pissing him off whenever I open my mouth, but I know he's just on edge because of Mum's disappearance. Dad has had Jarvis pick me up and take me to the SHIELD offices every day since I came.
When I'm there, Howard Stark interrogates me like I'm the enemy or something (which I'm not, but I think Steve is thinking the same thing). I need to find some way to prove myself, but maybe a DNA test could be enough. I'm surprised Mr. Stark hasn't already performed one on me, but I understand that everyone has been preoccupied. It's hard to not only be new to the time but also be not fully welcomed- I hope that'll change with time. I almost feel like I'm being blamed for Mum's disappearance, even though my arrival clearly had nothing to do with it!
Life's just been so stressful lately. I cannot possibly wait any longer for Mum to return and life to start its routine.
The diary entries seemed to start to get smaller- but my strange concern for this lost girl remained. I wasn't aware I could be so concerned, but her diaries conveyed a strange feeling within me.
Mum's back. She essentially told me I'm fucked. But to summarize- she was kidnapped by the Russians. They tortured information out of her- the fact that I exist and have enhanced genetics, or what most people might call a "super-soldier." I don't think I knew how to react in the moment. Hearing that someone you love (well, care about. I barely know the women, for goodness' sake) has been tormented is horrifying. In fact, the idea of torture, in general, is horrifying. Dad and I welcomed her back with open arms, and even though we're all a bit stressed, I think my life in the fifties may finally, properly, begin.
The Russians… oh no. So Margaret Carter had preexisting ties to the Red Room. Her words back at the Rogers household suddenly became extremely clear, along with what had happened to the girl- we'd gotten her. The program would have either performed experiments and disposed of her or had her killed. Chances are, she was dead. I sighed and shut the diary close as a waitress approached.
"Anything, in particular, ya' wanna order?"
"Do you have any pancakes?"
The waitress nodded.
"Thanks," I said plainly, before smiling softly and looking back down to the diary. I opened it up to the next page-
Today is October 5th, 1953. I'm sitting in my new bed, thinking about how I'm about to time travel 72 years into the future and seriously help everyone out...
I don't think I've been this scared in ages. Time travel's messy-
I cannot describe the experience of remembering one's own life for the first time. It's like a jab to the head, a sharp jostle to the mind. Suddenly all you know becomes only a continuation of a childhood you never thought you had. You feel like your head is going to explode.
I remembered everything. From the innocents I'd killed to my training, to the kidnappings, to time travel, the disappearance of Peggy Carter, and my first real meeting with my parents. But most importantly, my childhood, and fond memories of the twenty-first century. Guilt flooded into my brain, and I was reminded of an entirely different persona.
There was no feasible way for Josephine Carter-Rogers to be back. I quickly remembered that. Things or little reminders of my past triggered the memories. I'd tried to go for a week, once, remembering who I was. I lasted a day. And when I couldn't go on any longer, I rushed back to the Red Room to forget again, do the same program over and be brainwashed once more. But still, forgetting could only do so much. It only provided temporary relief to my guilt.
I noticed a single tear streaming down my cheek, which I quickly wiped away. I took a final sip of my tea but didn't even wait for the pancakes I'd ordered. I left a five on the table and headed out, clutching the diary within my two hands. I couldn't keep this. It… it didn't belong to me. Not anymore. I don't think fifteen-year-old Josephine- the dumb girl who'd been so easily kidnapped by the Red Room- would approve of the owner. Not someone who'd killed her own brother.
I hopped on my bike, doing my best to not cry. Josephine was so much weaker than this… assassin. I don't think I'd be able to live with myself. I started to drive, as quickly as I could, and in time arrived back at the Rogers house. SHIELD agents flocked around the property near James' window. I rode a bit past and pulled off, before parking and trying to quietly walk to the front door, where I laid the diary on the welcoming mat before stepping away. Josephine, you've fucked up. I took a final look at the diary before running away again. I couldn't face Mum. Not after all that'd happened. And soon I drove off, hoping to never have to face my past again.
I returned to the association and announced my success. All too quickly, our supervisor had noticed that I was a bit… off. "Are you alright dear?"
"Yes, I…" that was a lie- it was too obvious. I sighed, the reality was that I had to admit my realization, no matter how embarrassing. "I remember."
"Oh," was the supervisor's simple answer. She frowned and wrote something down. "It is time for procedure, no?"
I sighed, a bit aggravated in my embarrassment. "Yes, I suppose it is."
The supervisor crossed her arms. "This will be fifth time-" she sighed, before saying, "You better not be rogue agent."
I laughed softly, despite the seriousness of the situation. I raised an eyebrow and then frowned again.
"I can make no promises."
Thanks to everyone who stayed with me to the end! I'm sorry the whole thing isn't longer but I had a pretty tight plot to keep and not a lot of time for fun and games. I'm overall really happy with how this came out, even if it took a year of on and off (more off than on) writing to complete.
Jo's character has grown and changed a lot over this year and if I'm honest, her rounded version is my best oc ever. I don't think I'll be able to top her. But also, I've grown and changed a lot and that's pretty evident in my writing. Between coming into my first year in high school and the pandemic, so much has changed since I began writing this. I'm hopefully going to write more fanfiction revolving around the Red Room as we near the Black Widow movie, and I'm sure I'll have a fic going once the movie is released! This fic might also become a little outdated and I might have to fix it-
Anyway, thanks again for reading, and if you liked this, please review!