Part I: Prologue
While the Winter Soldier was a ghost story, Nadine Ryker is a ghost. She’s The Ghost. Her past is a mystery, her identity even more so.
Few knew her as Nadya Ivanovna Rykova, the lost recruit of the Red Room, never spoken of after her disappearance. But she got along just fine, hiding away with her secret life, re-emerging only to take contracts that few others are willing to take.
To hunt other Assassins.
But when she’s contracted to take out Black Widow? Her long ago ‘little sister’?
Her life and her secrets all begin to unravel.
Part I starts just before Avengers: Age of Ultron and Part II starts shortly after AoU ends and will go through to Captain America Civil War.
This story is effectively split into two parts, with Part I focusing on themes of family, the price of secrets, self-acceptance and finding somewhere to belong, with the romantic sub-plot beginning in earnest in Part II.
It also takes place in the same story-verse as my other MCU fic, Haven, though it is not necessary to have read it to enjoy and follow this one.
I will only post a single disclaimer, and it is this: This is based solely on the MCU live-action films. Nothing from comics, animated films or animated shows though I may draw some inspiration from them periodically. Additionally, there are going to be times when I may play fast and loose with the films’ timelines to accommodate my story arcs. So if something is ‘wrong’, don’t flame please; I am not aiming for perfect canon, but enjoyment.
Oh, and the MCU is not mine…sadly… I only own my tweaks and my characters. If they weren’t in the movies I likely made them up.
I’m also going to take the chance here to say that this story is rated M for a reason. Parts of it are a little dark and there will be some legitimate smut.
Unlike my other MCU Story, Haven, where I rated it for safety, this story is going to earn it. There’ll be some heavy and likely uncomfortable stuff coming up, including some dub-con. I just want to make absolutely certain all you lovely readers are aware of that.
It’s nothing too terrible, though for me it’s a step beyond anything I’ve written in the past, so I’m probably just being overly cautious in my caution...compared to some stuff I’ve read and come across on this site it isn’t all that bad at all, but everyone measures these sorts of things differently.
Also, since I believe they interfere with the flow of the story, this will be the first and last of your warnings.
Cool? Cool. Moving on.
New York City, USA
With a few quick taps on the tablet screen, Maria Hill deleted the communiqué, leaning back against the table she’d paused next to when the encoded message had come in.
Inhaling deeply, her mind was buzzing as she processed the information she’d just been provided, mulling over implications and courses of action. It had been left to her discretion, and quite often that would mean she’d keep it close to the chest. But Maria had grown rather close to her Avengers colleagues over the last couple months and her secret self, kept safely hidden behind the spy she was first and foremost, considered many of them friends. She’d known Romanoff for a long time now and, in addition to having a great deal of professional respect for her, rather liked the woman. She needed to know.
Looking up at the sound of footsteps too light to belong to one of the male members, Maria sighed as the Avenger in question retreated from the Conference Room, likely heading back to her own quarters to clean up after their most recent mission; a success, of course, but not the kind they’d been after.
“Natasha,” Hill called, just loud enough that the redheaded spy heard her. Black Widow paused, glancing over to her fellow former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with a questioning look on her face. With a guarded but still curious frown, Natasha made her way to Maria’s side, sipping out the last green-tinted dregs from the cup in her hand that Tony insisted everyone drink after their missions.
“What’s up, Hill?” It was said lightly, but Maria knew Natasha was concerned; Maria rarely called her Natasha save when it was serious. For a split-second Maria regretted having deleted the encrypted message so quickly. It would have been simpler just to hand Romanoff the tablet to read it for herself. But Maria pushed the thought aside.
“I’ve had a message from an old friend,” she said nearly under her breath. Natasha’s head tilted with interest, her green eyes sharpening. Maria nodded in confirmation of the silent question. “He says there have been whispers underground that the Ghost has come out of hiding.” Though she hid it well, Maria detected the worry that suddenly flooded through Romanoff by the way her full lips thinned, her face paling ever so slightly as her gaze slipped to focus somewhere inside her own head. After processing the information for a moment, Natasha glanced up again, meeting her colleague’s eyes.
“Is there a rumoured target?”
Maria inhaled deeply, crossing her arms as she met Natasha’s gaze head on and nodding.
“Rumour is the Ghost is being contracted to go after Captain Rogers or even Tony.” Natasha’s eyebrow quirked skeptically, knowing that Maria was about to add in a ‘but.’ It nearly drew a grin from Maria. But the former agent sobered immediately.
“But our friend says the Ghost is likely coming after you.”