It works for people differently - some people go crippled up on the floor crying like their knees were shot out from under them and their mothers were trying to knit the bone back together. Some people were easy to identify like a bright light that flickered too much on a middle of the week type of night -- you straighten the bulb, you say your good night prayers, you sleep. Some don't sleep. Like it's some curse, like the little death and dream hurt are more than the working moments of the day. These half awake prophecies that make promises to everyone's subconscious.
How dare you -- the words sort of break and rumble around her ears and knuckles, nobody asks. Not right out loud, nobody really should. It's not anything she wants to say out loud - true and with tone. These aren't so much fears as promises - and sadly not all promises are going to be broken, she keeps telling herself that. There's always the possibility. As much as she'd like to believe those little things would be broken and buried, it just doesn't seem likely. There are always bigger things to consider. There are always more important things to take up time and thought, not numb anymore, just the budding red that would, no doubt, grow angry and irritated as these conversations went on.
Irritated because how would you face a mirror and say those dark things over and over until the blood and the stripped muscle disappeared were jut words again?
It was just different, difficult to be afraid, it was there waiting to bubble up and scar through her throat, of course. But these were just possibilities and Natasha was trained for most, if not all, possibilities, and why would this be any different?
The arguments are long and cold - cold because she's at a loss and doesn't know the right words to make it stop fast enough. Faster than she can right now - because it's taking up too much time that would be better used elsewhere. Because she's becoming apathetic toward all of this. Not because she doesn't understand, she does. Because it sounds ridiculous. Because it is ridiculous. Because this is not something that, ultimately, she feels another person can help with - not in the deep, black parts that aren't for public consumption. To be able to get over something, you must accept it on the terms it's given to you or that you can best understand. And this was not something that was going to be brought up in front of strangers or people she loved. This was her own and nothing anyone said would change that, admitting that in front of a group wasn't going to help or change or better the situation. Some fears were rational. Some weren't. She was of the opinion that hers were a bit of both.
These words all sparked red and repetitive, even if they weren't to that set situation. Like these small fundamental things about her, her life and the things that happened in between weren't being considered. Just do, don't ask - that's how it sounded. Bright like a big, bleeding mouth that had been yelling for the better part of a week.
That just was not going to happen.
The dreams were the same, more vivid perhaps. But the same since the start of the year. -- What story doesn't start out with a sterile medical table with leather bonds and stirrups and the promise that if she's very, very good that she wouldn't be put under and that she could watch what was going to happen. This amazing thing, this miracle that was theirs.
These people with thick accents and long gloves start to rub iodine over her belly and check her vitals and then, then comes the sick initial puncture. The initial slicing through skin and fat and muscle that eventually hit the mark. Of course she wanted to scream over the long hours and careful cuts. Of course she always wants to scream and go into shock, but that's not how it works. That was never how it would work. She starts to stir in her bed, her fists curling and clenching around the comforter the only real sign of movement - the rest of her body still to the point that to an untrained eye, it could look a lot like death.
The blood spills and collects in folds of fabric, on the floor and on her thighs. The short conversational phrases that she picks through the pain make her nauseous but these things happen. Enough tissue is cut through that she's slowly accepting the shock and numbing her head - gnawing at the sides of her tongue while she lays in her warm bed at home to the point that if she spat there on her pillow, it would be colored red.
-- Next she was clean and stitched like a mute little monster. It was a girl. Small and pink and ugly with loud, loud lungs. She was lean and long for being premature, but what was time or logic when the horror was right there. The clean, crisp and white doctors made way for a tall man with broad shoulders and a happy, warm and familiar voice. Ivan was standing there holding the baby in his hands while she was still left with her legs open and eyes all spread out wide - "Natalia, you didn't think anything was so simple, did you?" His hand found her bare knee - the even warmth of his free hand spreading against her cold and sweat stained skin with a knowing smile on his face. He handed the little thing off to one of the nurses and tsked at her gently, "She is exactly what we need, someone to truly surpass your failures -- " he shook his head and watched Natasha's eyes follow blankly to the women cleaning up the baby, "and you have so many of them, don't you?"
She flinched away - mouth gaped and dead eyed as the woman brought the new thing back for her to look at her - because it was a thing. It wasn't going to be a person, that was gone now. Natasha could remember the sharp tug at her breast when she fed the little thing. Being sat down still and dumb and told that yes, he was dead. He was going to stay dead this time, too. No one was coming, and why did she think it would ever be any other way?
The girl aged, she grew tall with four freckles that were burned away and had long strawberry blonde hair - she would kill Natasha eventually, she was told as much. First she had other missions, other targets and other tests. Other bodies to leave laying dead on floors she would never remember at all.
Natasha woke up with the taste of iron and sugar in her mouth - dark exhaustion in her eyes and around her bones and when anyone asked, she would be fine. These were just bad dreams. These were just things to unravel the tight knots. These were things that she would handle on her own and with that firmly in place - she could hear the voices, the conversation that would have happened anywhere else. But it's stupid and terrifying -- and the voice on the other end would laugh. And she missed that laugh.