Author Topic: Miles Before I Sleep  (Read 761 times)


  • Young Wyrm
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Re: Miles Before I Sleep
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2016, 08:58:57 AM »
"I know you don't," she assured him. "I know. And Doctor Lucy doesn't mean for Tony to be so horrible to you. He ... he thinks of himself like father to me, da? Only he did not have such a good time with his own father, and he thinks this is how you do it. He is an ass. And he treats everyone like that, he wasn't making an exception for you. He holds everyone at arms' length, and mocks everyone, so that they won't see how lonely he is, how unhappy he is. It doesn't excuse his behavior. It only makes it easier to understand."

"And this is freedom," Nicholai muttered, wondering again if he'd exchanged one kind of prison for another. "To live in a place where we are monitored and watched by a computer program, mocked by the person who is supposed to be our host, and poked and prodded by those who want to know what makes us tick. All so that we can vanquish Hydra and aliens and whatever else threatens the world. I cannot live in a place where I am treated like, like ... a science experiment."

"So you are going to leave, then," she said softly, turning back to look at him. "They will let you go. They will argue against it, but they will let you go if you want it. I don't think they would let me do the same, and I would miss you."

"Nyet, I ..." he sighed. "I do not know what I am going to do, but I do not like being watched. I know they do not know me, and they have no reason to trust me. The truth is, I have nowhere else to go, and there's this to consider ..." he said, holding up that hated metal arm of his again. "What am I to do, Alyona? Natasha speaks of friendship, but Stark does not trust me, and the truth? The truth is somewhere in the middle. I am neither friend nor enemy. I am an unknown."

"It has been only a few days," she said gently. "Tony does not trust anyone, even himself, but he has not turned you out. Natasha believes you to be a good man; Steve and Lucy do, too. When you meet Sam and Clint, I am sure they will give you a chance to make friendship." She was quiet for a long moment, before adding softly, "I trust you."

"What about Jarvis?" Nicholai added, glancing around at the unseen presence that seemed to be ever present, ever watchful. "What do you think, Jarvis? Am I to be trusted, or will I lose myself again and attack the people who are supposed to be my friends?" he asked, with just a hint of sarcasm, not really expecting an answer. He wasn't even sure if he trusted himself either, but he knew he'd rather leave than hurt any of them, especially her.

"In order to alleviate your suspicions, Mr. Petrov, I feel I should tell you that my monitoring of your whereabouts is no more or less than my monitoring of anyone else who enters the mansion," the computer answered. It was a little muffled, suggesting that the speaker, wherever it was, was buried under the snow. "Had I not intervened earlier, I believe Mr. Stark would have done something ill-advised and held it against you when it did not work. He has a somewhat immature sense of the appropriate, but he is not distrustful of you. He is merely wary of upsetting Doctor Rogers, who has, I should inform you, told him not to tease, mock, or otherwise antagonize either yourself or Miss Evchenko."

"It's a little too late for that," Nicholai murmured regarding Doctor Rogers' warning that Tony not antagonize him. He was already antagonized. The question now was what should he do about it, if anything? He wondered if perhaps Alyona should make that choice, instead of him. "What happens between myself and Miss Evchenko is no one's business but ours," he said aloud, looking to Alyona to see what her reaction to that would be.

"Unless it involves bloodshed, indeed, Mr. Petrov, I am in complete agreement with you," Jarvis assured him.

Alyona's lips curved into a smile, but it didn't touch her eyes. Something felt off to her, be it the renewed uncertainty, or Tony's behavior. Whatever it was, it had stolen the joy she'd found in the cold and the snow, and in Nic's presence. "Perhaps I should go back to my room," she said quietly. "It seems I am the cause of whatever this problem is."

Nic's expression darkened at her suggestion. This was Stark's fault. Everything was fine, until he'd interrupted. Alyona's virtue or lack thereof had never been at risk and there was no worry about her safety so long as he was around. "You are not the cause of it," he pointed out, and neither was he, but if she wasn't willing to fight for what she wanted, maybe he shouldn't either. "You said you trust me, Alyona," he said, offering her his hand. "Look into my mind. Tell me if I should be trusted."

For the first time in her life, she had been asked to look into someone's mind. Raising her eyes to his, she focused on him, on the soft murmur of his voice in her mind, and saw what he needed her to see, what he wanted her to see. That what she felt around him was real; that sense of safety and security, the odd hope that surged, the desire for more than friendship mingled with the fear of what could happen if it went wrong somehow. Her fingers smoothed over his palm as she breathed in the fresh air around them. "I trust you," she promised him, stepping close to curl her hand to his cheek, drawing him closer than ever. Perhaps there were unspoken words, and perhaps not. But words weren't necessary when the next thing to touch her lips was a kiss, offered freely to his own as she breathed him in.

If he'd expected anything from her, it hadn't been that. He hadn't expected her to kiss him, only to see inside his head and judge for herself whether he could be trusted and whether he deserved her trust. Even if he had something to say to that, she hadn't given him a chance before her lips were touching his, unexpectedly, but not unwelcome. There was wonder in that kiss, some spark of feeling shared between them, the blossoming of something that felt like a lot more than friendship as his arm wound around her waist and pulled her close. Her kiss was different from Lili's, but no less tender or passionate, special in its own way as it tugged at his heartstrings.

Her fingers curled through his hair as she lingered against him in the chilly air, feeling the snow brush her cheeks as she dared to be brave and do this one thing that she had been trying not to do since they had argued the night before. She was glad she had waited, that she hadn't done it when she was angry, when he was hurting. She'd chosen her moment wisely, for the first time in her life, and he wasn't pushing her away. Her lips curved in a soft smile as she gently drew away, that smile illuminating her eyes as she looked up at him. "Spasibo, Nic," she whispered to him. "Thank you, for trusting me, too."

Thank you. Somehow that wasn't what he'd been expecting to hear, anymore than he'd been expecting Tony Stark to interrupt their moment, or to ask her to look into his head, or for her to kiss him. None of anything that had happened in the last few days had been expected. If anything, he'd expected to die in a research facility in Siberia, but ever since he'd been rescued and brought here, everything had changed. But what now? Where did he go from here? Where did they go from here? And suddenly thank you was exactly what he needed to hear and what he needed to say. "Spasibo, Alyona," he echoed back at her. "Thank you for reminding me what it is to ... to live."

Her smile warmed, her thumb stroking over his cheekbone for a brief moment before she retreated, curling her fingers through his. That was it; she really didn't expect anything more. She offered her affection, but she didn't push for anything beyond what they had shared. One kiss was enough, for now. "I think I saw a volume of Pushkin in the library," she offered shyly. "I could make chocolate."
[size=9:3f66ad2e5e][b:3f66ad2e5e][i:3f66ad2e5e][color=darkred:3f66ad2e5e]I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail ...[/color:3f66ad2e5e][/i:3f66ad2e5e][/b:3f66ad2e5e][/size:3f66ad2e5e]


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Re: Miles Before I Sleep
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2016, 08:59:49 AM »
"Pushkin," Nicholai echoed with a brief chuckle. "You realize Onegin did not have a happy ending, but chocolate sounds good." What better way to follow up a walk in the snow but with some hot chocolate? And maybe a book or two and a good friend. It still didn't feel real, his fingers tangled with hers.

"I only know Pushkin's poems," she admitted, falling into step with him. "I have never read Onegin. Is it a good story?" One kiss, and the damage done by Tony's poorly timed attempt at humor seemed to have been swept away. It was a good sign.

"A good story? I suppose it is that. A lesson of sorts," he said, wondering what lesson he should take from that story. To not wait too long, perhaps? To accept the love that is offered you before it is too late?

"The stories Pietrovich told me always had a lesson in them," she offered conversationally. "He called them ... morality? Morality tales. Mama Pietrovich called them fairy stories." She giggled a little, remembering the vaguely contentious, but loving, relationship those two had shared so openly.

"You miss them," he said, not having to look into her head to know that, fingers linked as they strolled back toward the house. Russian folklore was full of fairy stories, but that wasn't what he wanted to talk about now. What he wanted was to get to know her better, if he could.

"They did not have to take me in," she said softly. "They chose to. They could have left me. I was just another child on the road through Sokovia, but something made them stop and ask my name, where I came from. As soon as I told them about where I had come from, they took me into their caravan, hid me away until we reached Romania once again. They taught me their language, made me the big sister to their children. They gave me a family when I had none. They are good people. If I can ever go back to them without putting them at risk, I will. Just to say thank you for everything they did for me."

There was something worth fighting for right there. "You will go back to them someday, Alyona," he assured her quietly. "Obeshchayu." I promise. Once they had destroyed Hydra and made the world safe again. It might take years, but they would do it. Together.

She smiled, wrapping his hand in both her own as she stepped closer, brushing her cheek against his shoulder. For so many years, she had struggled, knowing she was different, knowing she did not fit in. Even here, where there were so many amazing people, she had still seemed out of place. Until Nicholai woke up. Now she felt as though she had a place, somewhere to belong. So long as he was there, so would she be. "Obeschayu," she echoed softly, not knowing quite what she was promising him in return. But whatever it was, she would hold to it for as long as she had breath.

One way or another, he'd make sure that promise was kept, even if it took the rest of his life to wipe Hydra off the map. "Shall we face the music, as they say?" he asked as they reached the door. The music being Tony Stark. Without any way of knowing what was going on inside, it was hard to tell what the man might say or do next in his misguided attempt to keep Alyona safe.

She nodded, gently tightening her grip on his hand as the door opened for them. But there was no music to face. Tony was nowhere to be seen, though given the noises coming from the gymnasium, he might have been facing a different kind of music at the hands of another team member. Still, it gave them a clear run to the kitchen, where Alyona wasted no time in working on creating real hot chocolate. "I do not like the powder they use," she explained as she melted chocolate into a bowl, keeping an eye on the milk as it heated. "This is much nicer."

"Powder?" Nicholai echoed, shrugging off his coat and laying it across the back of a chair before moving over to see what she was doing. Westerners might have had instant hot chocolate in the 1960s, but it wasn't something he'd had much experience with back home in Russia. Besides, there was nothing like the real thing, in his opinion.

Alyona nodded, using her power to use the whisk as she poured the melted chocolate into the warming milk. "They have something made with cocoa powder," she explained. "It does not taste like real chocolate, but they seem to think it does. They can be very strange here."

"If that is what you are accustomed to, I suppose," he admitted with a shrug, though he didn't see the point in giving up the taste of real chocolate just for convenience. "What was life with the caravan like?"

"Crowded," she laughed. As she worked, she used her own version of telekinesis to perform tasks that were out of her reach, opening cupboards and collecting cups, keeping the chocolate mixture whisking, shaking the can of cream. "There were eight of us by the time I left, but when they first took me in, they had only three children. I shared a bed with the youngest, Sylvie, but it was not so much a bed as a shelf with blankets on it. We were poor, but we got by. Pietrovich was a bard; he would sell his stories for food or money, and Mama Pietrovich made shawls and scarves and snoods which they would sell, too. She taught me how to do it. It was ... a hard life, I suppose, but it was happy. I do not think they would change their ways, even if they could."

"A hard, but simple life," Nicholai pointed out, a little enviously, as his life had been anything but simple. "Do you miss it?" he asked further, unsure if she would have preferred that life or this one.

"I miss them," she told him, easily able to answer that question. "I do not miss the icy cold water we had to wash with, or the bad food, or gathering wood every day just so we could heat enough water so that the horses could drink in the middle of winter." She smiled. "It was a difficult way to live, but it was better than anything Hydra had given me."

"Why did you go back?" he asked, watching as she used telekinesis to gather the cups and spoons and whisk the hot chocolate mixture. He wasn't quite sure how to make use of that ability yet, or at least, how to control it.

"To find out who I am?" she suggested with a shrug that was almost helpless. As she turned away to rinse out the pot and set it in the dishwasher, crimson coils shook the can of cream and sprayed a neat spiral of it on top of each steaming cup. "I did not know anything about myself. I thought I could break in, that they would not be able to stop me from learning what I wanted to know. I ... I was wrong. And I paid the price for it."

"You are never going back," he told her, leaving no room for argument. "We are never going back," he insisted further, as he picked up one of the cups and handed it to her before taking one for himself. "Obeshchayu," he repeated, making a second promise to make sure neither of them ever returned to Hydra. In truth, he would rather die first than return to Hydra.

Wrapping her hands about the cup, she managed a small smile for his promise, still haunted by those few days she had spent at Hydra's mercy only a month before. "It is strange," she said quietly, "that I never had nightmares about them until after I came here. They filled my childhood with pain and I did not dream about it. But three days of that machine, and ... sometimes I wake up screaming, the way I did there. I don't want to be so weak."
[size=9:3f66ad2e5e][b:3f66ad2e5e][i:3f66ad2e5e][color=darkred:3f66ad2e5e]I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail ...[/color:3f66ad2e5e][/i:3f66ad2e5e][/b:3f66ad2e5e][/size:3f66ad2e5e]


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Re: Miles Before I Sleep
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2016, 09:00:27 AM »
He frowned, trying hard not to lose himself to the rage he felt at the knowledge of what Hydra had done to her, giving in to the sadness instead. "You are not weak, Alyona. You are brave. I know what that pain is like. It is torture. No one could suffer such pain and not have nightmares." He paused a moment, as if considering something before he continued. "Your room is next to mine, yes? If it would make you feel better, call me the next time you wake with a nightmare, and I will stay with you until you aren't afraid anymore."

"Thank you. I-I think that would help." What she didn't tell him was that she was always afraid at some level. Now she had realized just what lengths Hydra would go to in order to have some control over her, over him, she would never stop being afraid. But she felt it would be unfair to share this with him, at least not yet. "Where shall we go?" she asked, purposely moving away from that topic. "It is not very comfortable in here."

It had been him who had woken screaming just the night before, and he was likely to do so again. Whichever of them awoke with nightmares, it seemed clear that both of them was willing to be there for the other. "The library?" he asked, where they had been before. He didn't really know he was around very well yet, but the library seemed a safe place. It didn't hurt that there was a fireplace, and she seemed rather fond ot the books.

"I agree." Smiling, she took one hand from her cup, sliding her fingers between his once again to draw him out of the kitchen and into the long corridor that traversed the width of the mansion. "It took me a long time to learn my way around," she offered, trying to be helpful. "Jarvis is always helpful when I get lost."

He left his coat in the kitchen, but he wasn't too worried about it walking away. They'd left the tea tray in the library, as well, but there would be time later to pick up after themselves. For now, he was more concerned with getting acquainted and getting acclimated. "Yes, I've noticed how helpful Jarvis is." How someone with such an irascible personality had managed to create such a helpful and polite program, he wasn't quite sure, and although it was a little unsettling to know Jarvis was always watching and listening, it was comforting in a way, too. "How long have you been here?"

The first room they passed on their left was the gymnasium, which was still ringing with the sound of Natasha "sparring" with Tony. Then was the main foyer to the front door, and then the laboratory, which seemed large but was actually rather cramped for the multiple people who used it. Alyona walked along at Nic's side, happy to share what little she knew about the place as they went. "I think ... a little under a month," she told him thoughtfully. "A lot has happened since I came here, but I think most has been good. I spoke to my father for the first time; they arranged it for me. And we saved you, which is a very good thing."

"I will not argue with that," he said with a faint smile that slowly faded as another thought came to mind. "I hope they do not regret it," he mused aloud. "I suppose I should say thank you." So far, he had not really had much of a chance to show his gratitude and had even attacked Captain Rogers and argued with Tony Stark. "I'm afraid I am not an ideal guest." Or whatever he was there.

"I attacked them, too," she said softly. "Natasha and Steve, when they turned off the machine and saved me, I used my power against them. You are not alone in your actions, Nic, and they do not hold it against you."

He didn't ask how she knew what he'd been thinking. Even without the ability to see into his mind, it wouldn't have been difficult to deduce what he'd been thinking. "I am only worried it might happen again," he admitted. Something inside his mind had triggered his attack on Captain Rogers, and he wasn't entirely sure it wouldn't happen again. "They didn't program me to kill Captain America, but to subdue him, capture him. I am not sure what they want with him, but I am sure it is not good."

This, Alyona did know, but she had promised Steve that his children would be safe from her speaking of them. That left only a narrow piece of information she could give Nic, but she was prepared to try. "They want to use his blood," she offered. "To make the serum that enhanced him again. And ... they want to turn him, make him theirs, so that he can lead the army they hope to create."

"Then we must make sure they never succeed," Nicholai said with a grim expression on his face. He wasn't quite sure how to do that, except to stay one step ahead of Hydra and eliminate their bases, as well as their operatives one by one, if necessary. He was not yet aware Hydra was interested in the Captain's children, but if he were, he would have insisted they do everything in their power to keep them safe, too.

"We will help them do that," she nodded in agreement, reluctantly releasing his hand to open the library door and allowed them both access inside. "I want them to end as much as anyone."

"And what do we do until then?" he asked, waiting for her to step into the library before following her inside. Though he had only been there a few days, he was already feeling a little useless and wasn't quite sure what was expected of him.

"We ... we could train?" she suggested a little nervously. "There are things that we can do, that we can help each other to learn. Natasha says I need to learn how to fight with my hands, not just with my power. She says I should be ready for anything to happen."

"Things like learning poetry?" he teased, sensing her nervousness, a small smirk on his face. "I do not think you and I would be a fair match, Alyona," he admitted. She had already seen him once in action, and if it hadn't been for her intervention, there was no telling what he might have done.

"But you know how to fight," she pointed out to him, easing down onto one of the couches before the fire. bent almost double, she picked the laces of her boots undone before making herself comfortable. "I do not. I do not even have the sense to run away."

"It was not Hydra who taught me that," Nicholai pointed out, taking a seat on that same couch, but leaving a respectful space between them. He took a sip of his cocoa and stretched his legs out to warm them in front of the fire. As accustomed to winter as he might be, he appreciated the warmth as much as anyone.

"Does that matter?" she asked curiously. "If you taught me something, would it not harm them because they are Hydra?" She frowned in concern. "Because Natasha was not trained by Hydra, either. I was trained by them, but not to fight."

A dark brow lifted at her question. "Are you asking me to train you to fight, Alyona?" he asked. Though that seemed to be what she was saying, he had not expected it.

She nodded, drawing her feet up onto the couch with them. "I think that I am, da," she confirmed softly. "And there are things I can teach you in return. Now that we know you have some power like my own, I can help you learn to control it."

"I'm not sure what they did to me, Alyona," he admitted with a frown. Other than for the metal arm, he had no idea what abilities he might have now or how he might have obtained them. "They injected me with something," he told her. "They said it would change me."
[size=9:3f66ad2e5e][b:3f66ad2e5e][i:3f66ad2e5e][color=darkred:3f66ad2e5e]I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail ...[/color:3f66ad2e5e][/i:3f66ad2e5e][/b:3f66ad2e5e][/size:3f66ad2e5e]


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Re: Miles Before I Sleep
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2016, 09:02:05 AM »
"They were wrong," she told him firmly. "They did not change you, the man that you are. You have simply been given abilities that they do not understand and cannot have known would be the result. I can help, Nic. They trained me in how to use it; I can train you. And I will not hurt you when you do not progress."

He clearly did not look happy to have had Hydra change him in any way, even if those changes might eventually be used to his advantage. "I suppose there is no way to reverse what was done," he mused aloud. The arm was one thing, but whatever had happened to his DNA was another.

"There may be, but it would take many years of trial and error to succeed," Alyona said quietly. "Lucy is very honest. She is not a genetics doctor, or a biology scientist. She is a medical doctor, and everything she does is from that viewpoint."

He'd be happy just to get rid of the arm, since it seemed he was stuck with whatever else they'd done to him. "How am I to know what abilities I have?" he asked, unsure whether Hydra had programmed him to have certain abilities or whether they just developed at random.

"I do not know," she told him, her expression sad that she couldn't simply pick it out of his mind. "They develop, over time. I could not hear another's mind until I was seven years old, but I was moving things with my red mist from the age of two. And it is only recently that I have even attempted to put my mind into another's."

"What is the red mist?" he asked curiously, now that she'd mentioned it. It seemed he had a similar talent for telekinesis, but there was no red mist or anything else visibly evident to aid him.

"Lucy thinks it is a side effect of the radiation treatment my mother had when she was pregnant," she said thoughtfully, raising one hand to roll her fingers, crimson coils passing about her fingertips easily. "That it affected me so that when I use the telekinesis, the forces that I am harnessing take on a visible spectrum."

"It is very confusing," Nicholai complained, rubbing two fingers against his temple, as though he was getting a headache. They had only freed him from Hydra a few days ago, and it was a lot to take in. "But if anyone is to teach me, I would like it to be you."

She smiled, reaching over to gently touch his temple - just a touch, no power involved at all. "Then we will do that," she promised him. "Whatever I can do to help you, I will."

"You are helping me, Alyona," he replied with a soft smile as he drew her hand away from his temple and linked his fingers with hers, resisting the urge to touch a kiss to her fingertips for fear someone might be watching. The last time he'd tried to kiss her, they'd been very rudely interrupted.

Her smile deepened at the sight of his, feeling the warmth of his fingers curling about her own. With easy grace, she closed the distance between them, settling down comfortably at his side, her head resting against his shoulder as a single gesture with her fingers brought the book she had been reading earlier over to their laps. "I am glad of that."

"Are you going to read me poems?" he asked, with a hint of amusement crinkling his eyes, his gaze darting to the book to try and catch the title and author on the cover. He didn't move or discourage her from resting her head on his shoulder, but only took a sip of his hot chocolate before setting the cup aside.

"Just one," she giggled softly. "You said you knew the poet, but I like this one. It is easy to see myself in the last stanza." Sipping her own chocolate, she turned the pages with a glimmer of crimson, finding the appropriate page before she began to read aloud. "Whose wood these are, I think I know; his house is in the village, though ..."

He smiled as he recognized the words. "He will not see me stopping here, to watch his woods fill up with snow," he recited from memory. Whatever it was Hydra had done to him, it didn't seem to have erased his memory, at least as far as Robert Frost was concerned.

She almost laughed as he recited from memory the words in front of her, her smile coloring her voice as she went on, enjoying the warm comfort of leaning against him as she read aloud, her voice entwining with his through each line and stanza until they reached the last. "... The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep; and miles to go before I sleep ..."

"And miles to go before I sleep," he finished, one brow arching as he wondered why she saw herself in that stanza of that particular poem. "I do not understand," he told her quietly, looking puzzled.

"It is ... it is the feeling, in the words," she tried to explain. "To find somewhere, in all the world, where there is peace and gentleness, a sense of belonging that does not happen anywhere else. And to know that, no matter how much I want to hide away there for the rest of my life, I have promised myself to something that will take me away from it, something that may take a very long time to complete. But for just a moment, everything is still and peaceful, and I am home."

"Hmm," he murmured, taking a different meaning from the poem, though he was not sure what meaning Frost had intended. "I think he realizes that if he tarries too long in the woods, he may not make it home alive. What are the promises he has to keep? Promises to a loved one, perhaps? The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but as peaceful as they are, he cannot stay."

"You think the snow and the woods are a danger to him?" she asked curiously. "I had not thought of it like that. I suppose, to a man like him, they would not be a safe place in his mind or heart. I spent much of the last ten years in snowy forests. Trees and snow ... they will always be linked in my mind with the family who cared for me. They will always be safety. But I was talking about being here. Jarvis says it is something called a metty-for."

"A metaphor, da," Nicolai agreed. "Something which symbolizes something else. So, the question is what do the snow and woods symbolize to you? To some, it might be peace. I believe Frost meant for it to invoke a feeling of peace, but could sleep not also symbolize death?"

"I read sleep as meaning rest, the end of the journey," she mused thoughtfully. "Not death, but freedom from duties and responsibilities that keep you from simply being." She shrugged, tilting her head to look up at him. "I think, perhaps, it is because I have been hunted for a long time, and finding somewhere that is safe, with you, who will help to keep me safe ... That is my wood, my lovely dark, deep place. And it will always be here, for me to return to when my promises are kept."

"Which promises are those?" he asked, wondering if those were promises she had to keep or promises that had been made to her. He had made his own promises, whether spoken or unspoken, but he thought he'd slept long enough. The woods dark and deep didn't sound particularly comforting to one who'd been asleep for too long, but he understood how she might find it so.

"Promises to myself, I think," she said softly. "That Hydra will never be able to hurt anyone again the way they hurt me, or the way they hurt you. That I will help you, any way that I can, to find peace. That, one day, I will have a home, and a family, and we will not be afraid."

"I would like to help you keep those promises, if I may," he told her, reaching over to take her hand and give it a soft squeeze.

It was unclear just which promises he was hoping to help her keep, if not all of them, but time would certainly tell. Whether they were in her woods, or on his journey, they had already made one promise to one another that both seemed determined to keep. That whatever happened, whatever they did ... they would do it, together.

[size=9]((Bloody hell, that was long! Fun, though ... anyone who gets all the way through it deserves a prize of some kind. Once again, any discrepancies in Tony and Natasha's characters can be laid firmly at my door.  Hugely enormous thanks to my partner in crime!))[/size]
[size=9:3f66ad2e5e][b:3f66ad2e5e][i:3f66ad2e5e][color=darkred:3f66ad2e5e]I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail ...[/color:3f66ad2e5e][/i:3f66ad2e5e][/b:3f66ad2e5e][/size:3f66ad2e5e]