*gets face slammed by a tomato*

Alright, I know I haven't been around as much as I would have liked to, so here's a fic as an apology!

Me: Do I own Marvel?

Stan Lee: Nope, definitely not.

Me: Oh man!

This is my first ever Marvel fanfic, so read it and lemme know what you think!

Now edited. Everything's the same, I just fixed some S&G issues.

Serina wasn't used to losing. She'd been trained all her life not to lose. Where she grew up, losing meant punishment, and she found out very early that sleeping with whip marks on her back wasn't fun at all, not that she had much of an idea of what fun was back then. So when she was about to lose, her mind raced for other options. The punishment this time? Death.

So she gathered her strength and jabbed her knee into the agent's guts. He doubled over, and she delivered a final kick to the head. He was sent spiraling down, his head hitting the wall, which finally knocked him out. She wanted to sink to her knees, but she had work to do.

She grabbed a black vase off the small shelf and swung it at the other agent, who had his back turned to her. It caught him in the right side of his head, and the vase shattered. The man staggered heavily and the redhead he was fighting with took the moment of weakness to punch him in between his eyes, hard. He slumped down, unconscious.

"Took you long enough," she remarked. Serina slumped onto the new blood-stained bed, utterly exhausted.

"You're getting sloppy, Tasha," she remarked.

"Oh, you're no fun. Get up now." Serina reluctantly sat up on the bed and inspected the gash on her left arm, the result of a tiny mistake on her part. But it should heal.

"Are you okay, Tasha? I saw you getting clubbed in the leg," Serina said, gesturing to the colorful bruise that was forming on her right thigh. The redhead didn't respond, too busy thinking of their next move.

Serina got up, then gathered the few belongings they had while Natalia tied up the SHIELD agents so they wouldn't be followed just yet. It could buy them some time, even though they knew the two men had called for backup. They worked in comfortable silence as fast as they could. Just as SHEILD pulled up to the inn, they were calmly walking out the front gate, dressed as pilgrims. Five minutes later, they were driving to Queens to one of their safe houses in a car they rented out. Serina hoped she could give it back, but it seemed unlikely.

Thirty minutes into the drive, Serina called out to the backseat. "Do we have any food there in Queens, Natalia?"

"I thought I told you not to call me Natalia?" A grouchy voice replied.

Serina chuckled. Natalia - now going by Natasha - always sounded grouchy when she was peeved. It was true back in her earliest memories, and still true now, seventeen years later.

"Right, right. Do we though?"

"If there was any, it would have gone bad. It's been months, remember?" Natasha replied, her voice slightly strained due to her position. She was curled up in the backseat, cleaning up the wounds on her leg.

Serina cursed. That meant she'd have to stop at a store. Which meant more delays. Delays they could barely afford to have.

Serina hesitated on asking her next question, years of training still telling her not to question orders. However, Natasha picked up on her unasked question.

"Aw... Is the big bad sister too shy to go out?" Tasha mocked.

Serina chuckled at her sister. The former tried to make sure they were together as much as the Red Room allowed them to. The longest time they had been apart was when Natasha was sent to Ohio as an undercover family. She just had to pretend to be a normal kid. Serina, on the other hand, was sent to Istanbul for a...less innocent mission. Serina envied her sister but didn't resent her for it. She was 14 at the time.

Serina was the only one who remembered their parents. They had been taken by the Red Room when Natasha was four and herself ten. Then, they started the vicious cycle of training and psychological torture. It had affected her more than it did Natasha.

"Alright, alright. If you stop sulking, I might spare you a bit of the chocolate I made last time," Natasha offered, a smile lacing her words.

"That you stashed away? No thanks, I might as well be eating poison," laughed Serina.

"Oi! It's not that bad!"

"Remember the Great Waffle Incident?"

Natasha promptly shut up.

"That's what I thought too."

They drew back into a comfortable silence as they drew closer to the grey building, on whose 11th floor was their apartment. They pulled into the parking lot, Serina wincing when the dingy car skidded to a halt. She felt a growing sense of uneasiness but pushed the thought away.

The clock in the lobby showed 12:30 a.m.

Serina and Natasha helped each other into the lobby. Despite the 4-hour ride, both of them looked dead on their feet. Natasha looked slightly better, as she slept through most of the ride, and Serina didn't have the heart to wake her. Natasha was annoyed when she woke up, but Serina could see the relief on the younger woman's features. It was worth it.

The chestnut-haired woman sat down on one of the chairs in the waiting area of the lobby, while the redhead went up to the front desk. The lady pulled out something...

Serina shot up to her feet, her heart beating wildly, fearing for Natasha's life.

It turned out to be a register. I must be getting paranoid, thought Serina

"Name?" The lady behind the counter asked, not bothering to be polite. It was way too late in the night anyway.

"Emily," said Natasha without hesitation. Serina smiled. Natasha hadn't forgotten her training, despite being on the run for months.

Serina planned what they needed to do once they got hold of the apartment. She figured they needed to dye their hair, her long, wavy, dark red hair, and Natasha's shoulder-length red hair were getting too recognizable. They'd need to discard their clothes too, Serina suspected that they were bugged.

Natasha got the keys and they climbed up the stairs. Despite their superhuman stamina, they were both huffing and puffing by the time they reached the 11th floor. However, Natasha froze just as she was about to insert the key into the doorknob.

"What's the - " Serina started, but Natasha held a finger to her lips. Then gestured to the doorknob.

It was shiny, without dust on it despite not having returned there for months. But more importantly, there were faint scratch marks on the doorknob. Nothing noticeable to the common person, but just noticeable to someone with a price on their head.

Someone had tampered with the lock.

Paranoia can do stuff to people. Serina and Natasha were taught that in the Red Room, but they only experienced it when they went on the run. They changed location every other week, never stopping in one place for more than a few days, and never giving out their real details. They lost count of the number of identities they'd created.

So the scratches on the lock could mean a lot of things, all of them bad. However, the worst-case scenario is the one that sprang to their mind, which was confirmed by a glance through the gap between the floor and the door.

There were two black figures about six feet in.

They had walked straight into an ambush. The Romanoff sisters went very still.

The moment they heard the click of the safety of the guns being released, they pressed themselves to the side of the door. Not a moment too soon, they heard two loud gunshots, and then two holes appeared in the door, right where their heads were. Footsteps ran closer. Serina and Natasha looked at each other.

The door was pulled open, but their attackers hadn't stepped out yet. Natasha and Serina tensed, ready for another fight. Their attaches suddenly stepped up to either side, the guns pointed straight ahead at the sister's heads. They ducked and punched their wrists, forcing them to fire upwards.

Their attackers weren't SHEILD, but the Widows of the Red Room. Since the sisters deserted it, they have been trying to eliminate the two, adding to their already stressful lives.

Serina managed to punch the widow in the gut, effectively pausing the fight. She grabbed hold of her arm while the Widow tried to regain her breath, forcing her to release the pistol. A GSH18, she noted.

Natasha's fight, however, was taking a bit longer. At the age of only 21, she had significantly less training and experience than Serina. By the time she finished the fight, two more gunshots were made and the lights were turning on in the surrounding apartments. They took the guns and all but flew down the stairs into the lobby. There. at the entrance was the lady, now armed with a knife.

Natasha, as the one with the least injuries, faced the lady. She slashed the knife and Natasha ducked, tripping the raven-haired woman. She slashed again and this time, it caught Natasha across the arm.

Serina wasn't faring much better. Her attacker had gotten up again and caught her just as she reached the base of the staircase. Serina realized that this woman was experienced, probably around her age or older.

By the time she finished the fight, she sported a black eye and colorful bruises on her back. She should have realized something then, but she didn't. Her reflexes were slowing. A sign of sleep deprivation and stress.

At last, Natasha managed to end the fight by firing a bullet into the lady's leg. The downside was that it drew a crowd. They had less than five minutes to get out of the area before SHEILD got to them.

By the time they pulled out of the driveway on a stolen motorcycle, SHEILD was hot on their heels. Serina was driving while Natasha was in the passenger seat.

"Where do we go now?" Yelled Serina.

"Anywhere!" Natasha yelled back.

Serina swung into a deserted alley, knocked down a few trashcans, and emerged at the other end. They lost their pursuers for a while.

"We have nowhere to go! That was our last safe house," said Natasha.

"What about the - " Serina swerved to avoid a car, "-one in New Jersey?"

By now it looked like SHEILD brought out its motorcycle specialists, as two motorcycles came upon either side.

"Are you crazy? We're not gonna get there in time!" Natasha said. The motorcyclists grew closer.

"On your nine!" Natasha yelled as she kicked away the biker on her right. Serina turned just in time to see the other agent aim her gun at her. Serina bent low on her bike in time to dodge the bullet, then wrestled to push the bike away. Serina changed her path subtly so that the agent would crash into a truck. It was then she noticed a small dot blinking on her thigh. She plucked it.

it was a tracker, with a tiny microphone. A Stark Industries product.

Serina held it up for Natasha to see. Her eyes widened in understanding.

"Right, that's a great idea. The one beside the Thai restaurant, right?" Natasha played along.

"Wait, is this a tracker? Crap!" Serina exclaimed, inserting as much surprise and shock as she could muster into her voice, then discarded it into the road.

"Now that that's taken care of, let's go to the one in Long Island," said Natasha. Then it was Serina's turn to call her sister crazy.

"That one is at the other end of Long Island, surrounded by water on all sides. We'd be trapped if SHEILD or Red Room gets there."

"We don't have another option!"

"There has to be!"

"The nearest one which isn't swarmed by SHEILD or the Red Room is in Indiana. Would you rather go there?"

Serina didn't have anything to say, so she ducked into another alley and turned north.

"Besides we need - " Natasha started but was abruptly cut off by SHEILD firing at them.

"Oh for the love of - " Natasha cursed, then grabbed the gun she looted off her attacker at the last place. Then she flipped over in the bike, her back now facing Serina. She aimed at the tires and fired, knowing from experience that any metal or glass parts of the car were bulletproof. She missed the first shot, but the second one hit the front right tire.

The car dragged to a stop, and they were clear. For now.

As they passed several blocks the two took note of anything that might put them in danger, one of the few good things the Red Room taught them. There wasn't much though, as it was nearly 2 in the morning.

Once they reached the highway the road became more or less deserted. The Romanoff sisters finally eased up. Alert, but not as lense as before.

After a few minutes of silence, Natasha asked, " 'Rina, do you think we'd ever be free?"

It was a valid question. They'd been hunted for months, each day being harder and harder to cope with. Serina didn't reply. Natasha rested her head on her sister's shoulder, and let her stew over it.

At last, they reached their safehouse, a small wooden log house five miles away from the beach. It was only meant to be for emergency supplies, a quick shower, food, and a change of clothes. It had been robbed multiple times, so they never kept any weapons around. So the only weapon either of them had was a gun with only 5 bullets left in it.

Still, they took no chances. Natasha, taking the lead, kicked the front door open, the gun clenched tightly in her outstretched arm. There was no one in the cabin.

Natasha went straight for the shower, while Serina fished out the meager supply of canned food. Some canned tuna and beans. Serina dug out a pan from the utensil rack of the tiny area one could hardly call a kitchen. It was just a sink, a single stove connected to an old-fashioned gas cylinder. By the time Natasha came out, the food was nearly ready.

"Watch the beans, Tasha," Serina said, then grabbed a change of clothes.

"Do you want me near the stove after what happened in March?" Natasha asked.

The Great Waffle incident, as Serina dubbed it, started with Natasha trying to make some waffles in the waffle maker. Then she forgot about it and set the waffle on fire which sent up flames as if they were leaping from the depths of hell. Fortunately, nothing else caught on fire, but the smoke triggered the smoke detector and brought the firefighters and half the building's residents over.

"Nevermind. I'll watch them myself."

By the time they sat down to eat, it was half past 3.


Natasha looked up, surprised by the serious tone and the use of her real name.

"Tell me, will all that the Red Room put you through, how did you keep your good heart?"

Natasha was taken aback and took a moment to answer.

"Remember the time I went to Ohio?" Natasha asked. Serina nodded. How could she forget? Four years of not knowing how she was were some of the most painful memories she had, right after their mother's death.

"It was one thing that my mother told me there," Natasha continued, not noticing the conflicted look on Serina's face, "that stuck with me throughout the years."

'What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger

Serina thought over it and decided it was sound philosophy.

"But never mind that," started Natasha, pulling Serina out of her stupor. "I had you pull me out of the psychological reconditioning. Who pulled you?"

Serina stayed silent, trying to find the right way to put it into words. She set her poor excuse of a soup down on the rickety table. There was a rustling of leaves in the wind outside, and the soft footstep of a wild animal in the background, although that went unnoticed by both sisters.

"I never was brainwashed in the first place, Tasha," Serina said. "When we were brought to the Red Room, we were unconscious. You were fine but," Serina fiddled with her spoon, "I had amnesia for a while. Had difficulty remembering much of anything apart from my name and our families' names."

Natasha winced, but some part of her warmed at the thought of her being one of the few people her sister remembered.

Serina continued, "You, at just four years old, were the perfect recruit for the Red Room. I, on the other hand, was too old, and too experienced with the outside world.

"When I began to regain my memories, they started to take notice. They became stricter, and harsher, until one day I overheard them say that if I regain any more, I'd be a danger to the organization. They'd kill me.

"So then I stopped reporting them. I pretended to not remember my childhood and pretended to believe their propaganda while knowing they were wrong. I trained, studied, just so I wouldn't be one of the widows they controlled."

There was a tense, heavy silence. Natasha kept her finished bowl back up. Thunder rolled, and it started to pour.

"I'm going to get some sleep," Natasha said, then stood up. Serina started as a whizz of black zoomed past her ear...

...and lodged itself in Natasha's torso.

Natasha screamed and fell, Serina following her. A silhouette was crossing the window. Serina cursed herself. How could she have been so stupid as to not make sure there were no intruders?

Serina painstakingly shifted Natasha so she was behind a makeshift bed, out of sight of the window and the door. No, no, no, no, no, Serina thought, as she tried to stem the blood show.


"I know, I know it hurts, but y-you gotta stay still for me, okay?" Serina tried to soothe her. Natasha hissed as her older sister held the sleek black arrow. Serina immediately let go. Natasha was breathing fast. Way too fast.

It was Hawkeye's arrow. One of SHEILD's best agents.

"Natasha, look at me," Natasha turned. "Breath with me, okay?" Natasha nodded. Serina, though panicking, managed to calm down enough to breathe deeply a few times. While this wasn't the first time either of them was stabbed, it was certainly the first time with no medical equipment or backup.

The doorknob rattled as someone tried to open it. Shaking with fear for both her sister and herself, she drew the gun she had taken from the widow hours ago. It felt like a lifetime.

The doorknob rattled again. Serina released the safety of the gun with practiced ease and fired; one at the head level and one at the foot. The pouring rain sounded thunderous, the gunshot even more so.

The doorknob went still. For ten whole seconds, there was silence. Her heart pounded so loud she thought her attacker could hear it, yet she could hear Natasha's ragged breathing. Flipping her brunette hair back, she forced herself to focus. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement near the window. Instinctively she turned and shot the window. The bullet put a clean hole with cracked edges, but nothing more.

3 bullets were wasted. She had 2 left.

In desperation, Serina called out, "Come out and face me, coward!" This time, she meant it. She was dead tired of running away from problems. She wanted to end this once and for all, then get Natasha the help she needed. Serina's heart ached at the mere thought of losing her sister. How long could she keep fighting?

A moment later, she felt something sharp in the small of her back and a rough voice whispered against her ears. "Do you really want me to do that?"

Serina wanted to give up...

...but she had to hold on.

She stood frozen, contemplating a next move that wouldn't get her killed. Moving away was a bad idea, as judging by the sharp point of the weapon and the lack of space between them, she guessed it was a dagger or one of his classic arrows. It shouldn't matter. She could talk her way out of this.

Serina was a second too late though. She heard the faint buzz of a Taser being activated right before the pain in her leg exploded. Arcs of electricity shot up in excruciating pain, and her knees buckled. A faint foul smell spread. The smell of burning flesh, she realized. The teaser was incredibly powerful. As Hawkeye reached for her, she rolled away and shakily stood up, using the round table as a crutch and leaning on the wall, barely two meters away from the bed meant to hide Natasha. Serina decided she had to keep Hawkeye's attention on her and not on her sister.

"What do you want?" Growled Serina. Hawkeye dared to laugh.

"You think that's gonna work on me?" He said as Serina slowly leaned off the wall.

"Well, unless you explain, I don't know what you're talking about."

"You're a widow of the Red Room and a spy for Dreykov. You know exactly what I want." She did, but she wasn't about to show it.

"Former," she snapped, and his face showed brief confusion.


"A former widow. I don't work for Dreykov anymore."

He smiled, then spoke into an earpiece in his right ear. "Hear that, Coulson? You owe me twenty bucks"

Serina used the moment of distraction to pounce upon Hawkeye. She fished out the pistol that he neglected to confiscate and tried to aim it at him, but he caught her wrist so that she was forced to drop it. He scooped it up and threw it out the window, shattering the glass in the process.

She dodged the first jab of his taser but was caught unawares by a second one, which caught her in the back. Arcs of pain shot up again, and she collapsed in a heap. Hawkeye pinned her arms above her, rendering her nearly immobile.

"I'm gonna ask this once," he growled, "where is Natalia Romanova?"

Serina didn't say anything but redoubled her efforts to free herself from his vice grip. She bucked to try and make him lose his balance but failed.

In a flash, he pulled out a hunting knife from a pocket in his sleeve and held it against her neck. Serina immediately went still

"Last chance. Where. Is. She?"

"I'll never give her up," Seina whispered, just enough for Hawkeye to hear. Serina wanted to signal Natasha to climb out of the now-broken window and save herself while Serina kept his attention fixated on her. But she did not know how to express this without getting herself or Natasha killed. Normally, being pinned down with a knife to her neck would be nothing to her, but the circumstances were different. She was tired, almost dropping from exhaustion, almost all her defenses broken down and corned without a single weapon within reach. Only a mask of anger hid how terrified she was.

"How about a deal?" Hawkeye started. "You tell us where Natalia is, and we'll let you go. Scot free."

Serina wanted to laugh at his half-assed attempts at negotiation. Of course, she knew SHEILD wanted Natasha dead more than she! If he thought she'd give up at that, he's got another thing coming.

"Ha! That's the best you can do? Is SHEILD going soft now?"

Hawkeye smirked.

"Looks like I have no choice but to finish you off now." Just when Serina thought it was all over, came out a yell, "STOP!"

Both the assassins looked over to see Natasha leaning on the makeshift bed, the arrow in her torso broken in half. She looked pale, much paler than normal, even with all the extra tan she'd been getting from being on the run. The bottom half of her shirt was stained with so much blood that it was difficult to discern the original color. She looked ready to collapse.

"Tasha!" Serina yelled, then struggled even more, despite the knife held to her neck. He held it tighter. A bead of blood appeared.

"Here's a new proposition. Surrender, and we'll make sure your sister lives. How 'bout that?" He said.

Serina looked over to Natasha, who was now struggling to breathe. She was losing too much blood, and it was evident she wouldn't survive without help.

Ultimately, it was a battle between pride and survival.

Her pride lost.

"I surrender," she whispered.

Epilogue: 7 years later

Serina brought down the final kick to the last person who dared to stand in between her and the pen drive. A simple red one, but contains all the information Dreykov needs. The killed bodies were scattered across the alley - the work of Serina and another widow, whose name she did not know. Serina had a fleeting desire to ask for her name which she immediately stamped down. Dreykov did not need their names. What he needed was the pen drive. Their only use was to find it.

Locate. Kill. Retrieve. Put everything behind a mental wall.

Serina and the other widow searched for the survivors who only passed out, or pretended to pass out and snapped their necks without thinking about it. Red Room wanted no witnesses.

Check for pulse. Grab the neck. Twist. Put everything else behind a mental wall.

Serina got through most of the bodies. As she reached for her last one-


She heard the sound of plastic dropping, 'about five feet away', her subconscious calculated.

In a flash, Serina drew her knife in the direction of the sound...

...and found herself pinning a terrified girl to the wall.

She looked no older than eight, with a round face and a complexion like sandalwood and hair the color of freshly fallen autumn leaves. She was wearing an orange frock, which went perfectly with her hair. But what entranced her was the eyes. Those big, light brown eyes were downright terrified of what they saw.

Terrified of her.

The next thing she knew, there was a loud bang and a red hole appeared in between the golden bangs on the girl's forehead. As Serina watched, the brown eyes turned glassy and lifeless.

"What was that, Serina?" The widow asked.

As Serina stood up, she morphed her face into an emotionless mask.

"I'm sorry ma'am. I assure you, it will not happen again."

"What's our mission?"

"Anything against the Red Room is treacherous to Russia, and therefore must be eliminated," Serina repeated out of rote memory.

"Good," she said, then opened her mouth to say more but what came out was "wake up, wake up, wake up..."

"Wake up, wake up, wake up!"

Serina shot up in her bed as a 47-year-old billionaire grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her so hard her instinct to punch him was covered by a strong feeling of nausea. Though once that cleared up, she still did punch him. The hero rubbed his arm. "Okay, I deserved that one."

Serina rubbed her eyes and glanced at the clock. Then said, "Why on earth are you calling me at 6 in the morning?"

"Uh, you forgot already? Why did I conduct that amazing party yesterday?"

"To boost your already inflated ego?"

"No! The inauguration of the new training compound!"

Serina let out a long sigh. "Alright, fine. I'll be up."

Tony turned to a figure at the door. "See! Your sister is much more fun." He quickly scampered off to avoid the wrath of the duo. It didn't work as Natasha, after giving a quick wave, raced after him. Serina sat up and took a few deep breaths.

In that 8-year-old girl, there was that single factor that had made all of Serina's defenses, the one she built painstakingly brick by brick, punishment by punishment, come crashing down like a rock thrown at a glass pane. Serina barely managed to not gasp when the bullet killed her without warning.

Had she stooped so low little kids were terrified of her? Serina had, long ago, promised herself to not descend so low as to hurt children. And here she was, as good as killed one.

The reoccurring nightmare/memory crept up every once in a while, reminding her of how red her ledger was.

The reason she joined the Avengers.

Serina showered and changed, then went to the common space for some breakfast, which was pancakes that morning, thankfully not made by Natasha.

When she finally made her way down to the training room, it was a hubbub of activity - Natasha and Clint arguing, Tonny messing with the controls, Sam, Steve, and Bucky having an intense discussion on modern music, Bruce Banner checking the medical kits and Rhodey helping him, Wanda throwing around obstacles while the occasionally-resident Spiderman swung between them.

They were the reason she stayed with the Avengers.

They felt like home.

Whoo, finally. Do you have any idea how long ago I wrote this down? Like, 3 months!

Also, please review. A single 'nice job' goes a long way!