Facing Your Own Demons

It's Your Choice

Natasha coughed as clouds of dust entered her lungs. Her eyes slowly fluttered open. Through the haze of dust and cob webs she saw bars. It was dark and dim. Through the bars she could see dark stone halls that looked seemingly endless from her point of view. Oh perfect she mused bitterly.

Natasha pushed herself up so she sat on her knees. Thick, steel, old fashion locked gate. Natasha grinned. She immediately began unhooking her boot, a small knife laid in the heel. Perfect. Well, good enough. Natasha slipped her slender arm through the bars, she stuck the end of the knife in the key hole and thrust and twisted it about to try to get it to swing open. Every once in a while the knife would slip and would cut Natasha lightly in the palm. She would curse under her breath and increase her efforts.

"дерьмо," she muttered in Russian. Her palm and become slightly slick with the light flow of blood trickling down it. The knife slid out of her grasp and onto the floor outside the cage. She was just lucky it wasn't too far. She could reach it. She stretched her arm out, her finger's just above the hilt.

A heavy clad boot stomped down on her hand. Her hand was soon released and it felt numb. The knife was picked up and taken away from her.

"Don't scream, the Master is feeling a little under the weather and honestly, someone should have searched you better. In no less than an hour you could have been on your merry way and someone would have to pay for that. The Master would be quite displeased," said the same female voice from the restaurant.

"He's not my Master," Natasha snapped coldly, climbing quickly to her feet. The girl smiled coyly and cocked her head. Her blonde ringlet's falling to the side as she did. Her gray eyes showed pure arrogance, just like Natasha recalled from years ago.

"Oh that's right, you stabbed us all in the back and joined our enemy," sneered the girl, her voice as cold and piercing as ice. Natasha was able to keep her expression even as as always.

"It wasn't like that, but I don't expect the likes of you to understand," Natasha replied calmly. The girls eyes seemed to flicker with something, but it was there and gone too fast for Natasha to catch.

"No? I thought we were friends, Natasha." The red head quirked an eyebrow.

"Friends? Get real, Galina. You and I both pleasantly know there's no such thing."

"Here," Galina cut in "you seem to be doing fine with the American's. Barton, Stark and Banner," she listed. Banner! Natasha's mind raced. She had forgotten about Banner. Where had the Red Room taken him? Or wait-

"So, Banner? That was your play this whole time." Galina smirked.

"Wow, you must be off your game today," she jabbed weakly. Natasha saw through it. Galina was good but she would never be great. Not in Natasha's eyes or Strucker's as she was so foolishly led to believe.

"So then it's me. It's always been me, Galina. Strucker was willing to kidnap the Hulk in order to get to me and put you in the middle of a suicidal threat. You're nothing more than expendable to him," Natasha remarked mockingly. Galina's form seemed to tense. "He dug up the most dangerous, well locked up information in order to get my attention, yet he wouldn't even give you the time of day."

"Don't pretend you know anything, Romanov. You've been deemed a traitor by half of Russia," Galina snapped.

"And at the end of that day," Natasha continued as if Galina hadn't said a thing "who do you suppose his favorite still is?" Galina banged her hands against the bars.

"You're not the center of his universe! He's seen enough!" Natasha smirked.

"Then why, do you suppose, that I'm still breathing?" Galina gripped Natasha's knife tighter.

"If I had it my way you wouldn't be," Galina growled through clenched teeth, "I am the loyal one. You are the traitorous witch who stabbed your Master in the back and only then had the courtesy to twist the blade!"

"And yet I am still highly favored." Galina quickly plunged the knife through the bars aimed right at Natasha. Natasha dodged it easily and shoved the blade back through to stab Galina in the leg. Galina screamed in fury more than pain. She grit her teeth, grasped the hilt and yanked the weapon from her thigh.

Three guards, all of them male, quickly appeared on the scene. One grabbed Galina and pulled her back. Another shot a bullet into the cell, missing Natasha by only a foot. A warning shot no doubt. He kept his pistol aimed towards her, some clear encouragement not to try anything. The last man paced slowly through the hall. Instead of turning his sight's to Natasha, which she fully expected him to do, he turned to face Galina.

"I would scold you for you act of insolence, but it seems you have embarrassed yourself enough for today," he said, gesturing to the blonde's bleeding wound. "You should have known better than to toy with the famous Black Widow, Galina." Galina looked away, a frown very much prominent upon her lips.

"Don't worry, The Master will deal with her once he has what he's been seeking." The man then pointed to one of the male guards. "You stay here and keep watch over her, be sure she doesn't try anything. And you," he said, pointing to the one who was apprehending Galina. "Escort her to the medical wing then head over to level seven. We have a possible code green on our hands."

Code Green. For an organization of spies that's stupidly obvious mused Natasha. The men and Galina dispersed. Leaving Natasha to wonder. What were they doing to Banner?

Banner's head hurt. Badly. It left him to wonder if the other guy had made another appearance. Bruce wasn't sure. It was a different feeling, albeit not a good one. His head, but only hurt marginally compared to that of a post Hulk-out, his muscles didn't ache and his clothes were still intact. The possibility of a Hulk-Out was looking less and less likely now.

The room was seemingly empty and looked slightly blurry. That could have been a result of his glasses lacking, or leftovers from a tranq he assumed they used on him. Whoever they were.

"Dr. Banner, You're finally awake."

Now if that isn't the cheesiest line to say when a prisoner awakes Banner thought wryly. Then the familiarization of the voice broke through. "Agent Pyke," Bruce nearly growled. Pyke walked until he was about 8 feet from the other man. Pyke's hands were in his pocket's, his expression was calm and he looked totally casual. It made Banner sick. This man was a traitor! In the list of thing's Banner couldn't stand disloyalty was ranged right at the top.

"So, I suppose you have a few questions, but don't worry," said Pyke, holding up his hand. "The Master will answer some thing's for you once you clear up some thing's for him." Pyke held up a manila folder labeled in Russian, but Banner understood.

"And what exactly does your Master expect to find? It's a failed experiment. I should be evident proof of that," Banner said coldly. Pyke crossed his arms, folder still in hand.

"The Master thinks that there's something missing, something your team left out," Pyke explained with a casual shrug. Bruce couldn't even begin to understand how he could be so casual. Did he have no guilt from knowing what he had done?!

"I can't exactly find what your Master want's me to without some further detail," Banner pointed out. Pyke smirked.

"Of course. But before I do there has to be some kind something to ensure you stay this cooperative." Bruce already didn't like where this was going. Pyke set the file down on the floor and pulled out a glass tablet. When Bruce squinted he could just make out what it showed. Natasha.

"In case it's unclear, anything negative that you do will come right back to her and I'm sure with the Rocky Relationship you two already have, I don't really think she'd be so forgiving if she found out you were the cause." Bruce nodded stiffly after a minute. He could barely process all that was going on. Pyke once again picked up the file and handed it to Bruce.

"You better get cleaned up, Doc. You'll have company soon," Pyke said with a wink. As soon as Pyke left the pad locked door shut closed behind him. Banner stared down at the file in his hands. This folder, this work, his work. Once he started there was no going back and now again.

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