It had been the same story for a month now.
No new assignments. Come back later, Natasha. Enjoy some time off, Natasha. You earned a short vacation, Natasha.
Perhaps it was difficult for Fury to understand Natasha’s desperate desire to lose herself in something, anything. The rush of the hunt, the thrill of the final chase, the satisfaction of victory. It was the best distraction that Natasha knew of and distraction was something she had never needed more in her life. New York, and the entire world, had been saved. Everything was in order. SHIELD was struggling with a hundred and one budget cuts to pay for the damage. The Avengers had been disbanded for the time being. Loki had been apprehended and taken to Asgard for… who knew what.
So why couldn’t she relax?
It wasn’t the first night that Natasha had spent pacing in circles around her apartment. But this time, it was different. All of the little details about her past that she’d locked away, refused to confront, ignored even, they all came crashing down and left her panicking, suffocating under the sudden weight of their existence. A familiar mocking, taunting voice bounced inside her skull and left her teeth grinding, jaw taut enough to ache.
Loki had been right. That was what infuriated her so much. He was right and the Black Widow had no idea what to do about it. Confronting others, that was easy. Confronting herself though? The thought along was strangely terrifying.
A deep, uncomfortable sigh passed Natasha’s lips and she forced herself to settle down on her couch.
Fear wasn’t something Natasha was used to feeling. Pain, death, loneliness. None of it truly terrified her. She was too tough. That was what she’d always thought. It had been easy to convince herself that she was something she wasn’t. And she could do that on the outside, while she was busy. She could keep moving, keep herself so busy she never had to face who she really was.
There had always been a distraction. A lover, a mission. All of those were temporary though. Was it because sex numbed the pain? She didn’t know. But she did know that she had been somebody. Before the Red Room, before Alexi. Before the brainwashing, before the realization that even Fury had used her altered chemistry for his own ends. She had been someone. Someone with a life she had chosen for herself.
And now? Now it was just about getting through the day without remembering that fact. It was hard to realize that she was scared. Scared that she wasn’t herself anymore, and scared that she was. Other people weren’t the scariest part of her job. Alien invasions, underground organizations, assassins. No. It was coming face-to-face with who she really was and realizing that she had no idea who that was.