bubble arches

Found in the Woods

Note: #Buckynat Week 2016 Fic Prompt

Natalia never had a childhood of her own, not in any of the multiple pasts the Red Room supplied her with by Buck’s understanding.  No Christmases of lights and carols. No birthdays to be showered with toys. No lazy and long summers of baseball and catching fireflies along the creek that ran through your grandmother’s Indiana farm, delighting your little sister.

The absolute unfairness of it, of having the innocent joys of that age stolen from her, got under his collar in a particular way. Even with the absolutely cruelty of it, she never, ever complained.

Together, they righted so many of the world’s wrongs with firepower and well-timed kicks and punches. It helped him sleep better at night, curled up with her in whatever place they found themselves after the mission, but nothing they did now to the bad guys would ever give her then back to her.

He needed a different plan. No grand gestures, he decided. The only thing he could do for her lost youth was do his best to share with Natalia his own. Draw her into the brightest parts, whenever the universe presented the opportunity.

In walking the streets of London with her one late afternoon in their civilian clothes and looking out for signs of that Szechuan place she wanted to try, Buck noticed a billboard for some revival of a Broadway musical, featuring a wolfish man in costume leering at a shapely not-quite-young girl in a red cape.

“What’s that about?” he asked Natalia at his side, gesturing with his chin at the sign.

“Fairytales,” she responded, a single flick of her gaze given to the advertisement. “All mangled together. Cinderella. Jack and the Bean Stock…” She simply shrugged.

“And Red Riding Hood. Got it,” Buck finished. He found one of those golden-types of memories welling up from the century past, and thought to offer it. “Becca and I used to listen to the radio together doing schoolwork.  There was this one children’s half-hour…we’d drop our pencils and act it out.  She…I’d always be the villain.”

“So you were the Big Bad Wolf?” Natasha inquired, her lips twisting in a small, amused smirk even though she didn’t look directly at him.

“Was?!” he teased. “Past tense, Red?” Just loud enough for her ears, he offered a breathy “aaaah-woooo!”

Natalia scoffed, but a flash of her teeth was her briefest of grins.

He was getting somewhere.

As their matched stride ate up the blocks, buildings gave way to a green park to their right. Without warning her, he slowed only enough to vault over the granite wall in that casual and silent way that only a super-soldier or spy could.

He heard her call his name, but he didn’t answer. He just dodged into the nearby grove of venerable-looking English trees with their equally venerable English Ivy ground-cover, ducking behind one just as she came over the wall herself.

Buck wasn’t trying to hide, not really. It was a game, like he had performed decades ago with his younger sister.  In these reenactments, it wasn’t about winning. It never was. It was about the fun. It was about drawing her into something like play.

He glanced briefly as she put her hands on her hips and sighed. “I don’t have to skip, do I?” she complained into the woods.

“What’s in your basket, little girl?” he crooned from his half-shadow.

“Grenades. And a taser,” she remarked, her eyes narrowing.

“Perhaps Granny would prefer a bouquet instead?” he entreated, still bringing her further into the…well…role. God, this could get kinky quick because Natalia was most definitely not his baby sister. And it wasn’t even sunset yet. No moon had accompanied their walk, no darkness to easily mask them and this thing.

“So if I go along with this, you’re paying for dinner. Right?” She took another few steps towards him.

“Hmmm. Dinner.” He stalked slowly out from behind his cover, circling her melodramatically, step by slow step. “Yes, my dear.” Natasha sucked in deeper breaths than usual, and he knew that she had let him see that because she was, in her small affects, surrendering.

“What big ears you have!” she exclaimed, cutting the dialog short, because they hadn’t cast the grandmother. And, yes, she probably was hungry.

“The better to hear you with, my dear,” he responded, lowing his gaze to the ‘underlook’ had learned from a black-and-white talkie when he had caught her eyes again.

“What big—” she paused at his hips before sweeping upwards. “—eyes you have!”

Buck had tried to make it innocent. He really had. In the back of his brain, he asked his sister to forgive where this was going.

Perhaps you couldn’t ever go back home.

He ducked and rolled with a low growl. It was a move that she could anticipate. With the momentum behind him, he found her body tipping and falling with his.

He caught her almost effortlessly, his weight against hers, only he hadn’t anticipated her setting her foot against the earth. Leverage.

The both exhaled. They both smiled keenly, as she pushed and twisted and was on top. She and he didn’t need to say a thing. And they didn’t for a few long heaving breaths that may have been an beautiful eternity.

Natalia, above him in the greenness of leaves and the hint of sky and silken fall of her crimson hair, hummed in satisfaction. Kill him here, and he would die a fulfilled man.

She laughed then without restrain, canines flashing before she locked in on him.

“My,” he returned, switching it up for once. Feeling the rightness of it. “What sharp teeth you have.”

Give and take. Lead and follow. Their dance…

Her hand crept up to his jaw and she kissed him, biting strong and long enough on is lower lip to cause it to pulse if not quite bleed when she eased away.

No. She had never had a proper childhood.  But maybe happiness wasn’t just about innocence. Maybe it was about trust. Maybe it was about going down shadowy paths and being swallowed and returning with something still to love. Her.

Natalia sat back up and fixed upon him with all the majesty of a queen. “The better to be eaten with, my dear.”

The laugh started low and deep in his belly, and then bubbled up. He arched his back and let out another howl, this time without restraint. “Awww-Hoooo!” He didn’t care whether animal control or the bobbies would be sicced on them.

His lover just fell upon his chest, hugging him and holding him and murmuring to him that he was just as crazy as she was, maybe even more so, because he still wasn’t done with fairytales.