Actions Speak Louder Than Words (February 2012)

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Post by Conleth on Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:55 pm

Logan was the first to jerk the door open. The light came on immediately just as Steve, Kate, Tony and Isabella ran toward her room. Logan held out his hand as she looked at him. Her eyes had a crazed, fearful look in them. “Natalya, whoa! Hey, it’s me, Logan,” He said as he held up his hands in a non threatening manner. “Why don’t you let the man go, ok?” He asked. The others nearly ran into his back and Natalya’s eyes shifted to each person as if she were going through the situation tactically. Malcolm’s face was blue as he choked and sputtered as she pulled back on the cord. He struggled feebly to try and get a couple fingers under the cable.

“Natalya, you’re killing him! Let...him...go!” He said more firmly.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:04 pm

Natalya looked like a wild jaguar that had been backed into a corner...extremely beautiful...but extremely dangerous. Isabella could see that she wasn't fully awake. She was sleep walking. This was something new...and very unsettling. Kate looked at Isabella and Isabella knew that she was prepared to use her powers to stop Natalya if she didn't let him go within the next few seconds.

Natalya looked at Logan and something about him caused her to awaken fully. She blinked and then looked down and saw what she was doing. She gasped and immediately let go of the cord. Isabella and Kate immediately rushed to Malcolm and Steve and Tony stood behind Logan to ensure that Natalya wasn't going to do anything else. Natalya's face had paled and she was backing up as she looked at Malcolm. She began muttering in Russian and began trembling again.

Thankfully, Malcolm was conscious but appeared quite shaken up. Isabella and Kate helped him up and out of the room.

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Post by Conleth on Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:13 pm

After the others left the room Logan turned to Tony. “Shut me in with her, I’ve seen this before,” He lied. “Shut the door and have Jarvis lock it,” Logan said. When they only looked at him his face hardened. “Do it,” He growled. Steve sighed and stepped back as Tony backed out and shut the door. With a metallic ‘click’ the door was locked and Logan looked back at her. He moved and sat down cross legged on the floor.

“Natalia, come sit down,” He said forcefully. When she remained where she was he sighed. “Agent Sokolova...sit down!...There!” He commanded and pointed onto the floor in front of him.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:20 pm

Natalya was pacing back and forth muttering to herself in Russian. Anyone who saw her now would have thought that she was completely mad...and in some ways she was. She heard a voice, but she didn't react. However, upon being commanded she suddenly stopped pacing and muttering. Her entire body straightened and her jaw set. She turned sharply, almost mechanically, and walked over and sat down. She just looked at Logan and waited for another command.

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Post by Conleth on Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:29 pm

“You’re behavior in this last mission was less than satisfactorily, you’re being taken offline for more training...from now on, you are to speak in English. Repeat after me, I am Natalya Sokolova, I am no longer an SSB Agent,” Logan said as he waited for her to repeat that. “I live at the Stark Tower and I am an Avenger. I have no enemies here, only friends,” He said. When she hesitated he was more insistent. “Say t!” When she did he began again. “What is your name? Where do you live? What do you you? WHo are your friends?” He asked.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:34 pm

"I am Natalya Sokolva. I am no longer an SSB Agent. I live at the Stark Tower. I am an Avenger. I have no enemies here...only friends." As she spoke it was as if the spell she was under had been broken. Her eyes focused on Logan and she recognized him. She could remember everything though. She remembered hurting Malcolm...almost killing him. She felt tears come to her eyes and as she began to cry Logan took her up into his arms and held her. "I almost killed him."

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Post by Conleth on Sat Nov 09, 2019 8:16 am

“No, no you didn’t. Agent Sokolova did,” Logan said. As he held her trembling form in his arms. “This is nothing new Natalya, we will get through this but it’s going to take time. And he does not know what he’s doing,” Logan said softly.

“We will teach him, you and me,” Logan said. “You are very important to us all Natalya. Everyone shares in your pain,” Logan said. “We all need you,” he said. Logan felt like crying, it felt like starting over.

——————-

Malcolm was in the biobed. It had suggested a pressure sleeve around his neck. An IV was set up to help with the swelling and the marks on his neck. He laid there as Isabella modified the pressure. He watched her with haunted eyes.

“What happened to her?” Malcolm said in a strained, pained voice. It was painful for him to swallow. “She would have killed me,” he rasped in disbelief.


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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Nov 09, 2019 9:07 am

Natalya leaned her head against Logan's shoulder as he held her. Several tears slipped from her cheeks and onto his shirt, but he didn't seem to mind...he never did. He would always just hold her for as long as she needed to be held. He never asked for anything from her...only gave himself entirely to helping her. He could have killed her that day...anyone else sent to would have. But Logan saw something in her that she didn't see in herself...hope. He still saw it.

"I love you Logan," she whispered against him.

---------------------------------

Isabella made sure Malcolm was as comfortable as possible. His neck would heal, but it would take time. He was lucky that Logan had been there to stop her, otherwise she probably would have killed him...no Agent Sokolova would have.

She sighed at his question and almost shook her head in disbelief. "What happened to her is what everyone has been trying to tell you Malcolm. Why you should have read her file. You're dealing with a woman that up until a few years ago was trained for one job and one job only...to kill. In order to create the 'perfect killing machine' they tortured her...severely from the time she was a child up until today. Her file would have told you about 'the helmet'. A device used in 're-programming'. The reason Natalya didn't tell you about it is because it is nearly impossible for her to talk about. The only reason we know about it is from her talking in her sleep while she's dreaming. The helmet was used on her today. We don't know how long it was on, but it was on long enough for her to be right on that line between being the Natalya you know and Agent Sokolova. Tonight, you said she was starting to wake up and appeared to be dreaming. When you touched her she just reacted out of fear and in that moment she became Agent Sokolova again."

She walked over and sat down on the edge of the biobed and looked at him. "Malcolm, I know you love Natalya, but you need to decide if you are ready for this," she said as she motioned to him being injured and in bed because of her. Natalya will never be what society considers 'normal'. She is always going to be struggling to keep herself together. It's a big responsibility and challenge. I've watched Logan do it for the past few years and even he's struggled with it. Just think about it, ok? Really think about."

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Post by Conleth on Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:05 am

Malcolm could not keep the shock of what Isabella told him out of his expression. He was still on that line between belief and doubt in what Isabella told him. He didn’t know these people well but she certainly sounded as if she knew what she was talking about. And she did try to kill him. She could have killed him...and he knew she loved him. The Natalya part did anyway. God this was just not fair. He loved her, why did everything have to be so complicated? Why did this have to be about a story of sin instead of a love story?

“So your going to keep her from me then?” He asked and could not keep the bitterness from his voice. “What if I want to help in her...uh… recovery?” He asked.

——————-

“We’ve Ben through a lot you and I but you chose Malcolm and he chose you,” Logan said softly as he lightly stroked her hair. He did it in such a way, in a specific pattern that seemed to keep her calmer for longer. Hours and hours of just holding her like this. Everything was going to be up to her, once again. And he needed to be ready for the signs...again. “Are ya hungry? I can get you whatever you like? I think Isabella and Kate are jealous of us. We can eat cake and ice cream every day and never gain an ounce,” he said and felt her mouth curl up to a smile as it rested on his arm. “Ooo, those gooey cinnamon rolls you like,” Logan said. He used all of her senses in her recovery. Taste was a big one for her. Tatiana never let her eat anything delicious. Accept as a ploy for compliance. With taste came smell, she loved the smell of maple syrup and the look of it as it oozed out and dropped down onto the sides of a stack of pancakes. He leaned down and lightly kissed her cheek. He closed his eyes as he struggled not to break down in front of her. He could not do that! Not now! He thought and choked back his anguish.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:17 am

Isabella stood up and sighed at Malcolm's question. "No, I'm not going to keep her from you...unless either you become a hindrance to her recovery or she asks you to leave. But again, I implore you to read her file. It will fully help you understand the woman you are trying to help. Also, talk to Logan. Logan has been by Natalya's side since he spared her life. He knows everything about her and how to help her. I've never seen him devote himself to anyone like he has with Natalya."

---------------------------------------

Natalya didn't say anything more. She was too upset to be hungry. What she needed was rest. "Will you stay with me?" she asked quietly. She didn't want him to leave. She needed his comfort and the safety of his arms around her.

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Post by Conleth on Sat Nov 09, 2019 10:44 am

“You know I will,” Logan said then helped her get into her bed.

———————

The following weeks had brought with it more New York weather. More snow and wind and even a bit of rain that brought with it ice. A lot of car accidents and slippery sidewalks that sent pedestrians sprawling if they weren’t careful.

In the tower Logan and Natalya set up a new routine for her. Similar to the last time but one that required the use of the improved wrist communicator. This one had the time, alarms, stop
watch function, heart rate monitoring, the whole kit and kaboodle. Early she was up and in the gym. Logan set up the treadmill for a cross country run that took her up some pretty steep hills. The expenditure of excess energy was key for Natalya, it helped to regulate her emotions. She sat in hot steam and then took a shower after that and then ate a good breakfast, whatever she wanted and Logan encouraged her to indulge.

Natalya had always thought she liked peppermint hot chocolate but when he suggested it it nearly brought her to panic. Even the smell of it made her crazy and so it was removed from the house completely.

Tony and Isabella left to see Serena on her birthday. Since Natalya had been doing so well Logan decided it was time for her to spend some time with Malcolm. Malcolm has read her file and though that it appeared to trouble him he still voiced his intent on helping her recover. Logan had prepped him for this meeting, it was actually her mid day meal,

Malcolm no longer needed the pressure cuff but his neck still bore a few marks from the cord that Natalya used to try to strangle him. In truth he was a bit nervous about this but his love for her and the fact that he missed her dearly brought urgency to see her forward in him. He sat with his back to her. That was an important distinct. Facing Natalya made her try to analyze expressions. When you sat with her back to her, she chose a seat and sat down before she did any of that. It forced her to deal with a low level decision she made without knowing everything in advance. A trick Isabella and Kate had come up with.

Malcolm put a bit of mayo on his piece of toasted bread. There was fixings for BLT sandwiches and he was actually pretty hungry.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sat Nov 09, 2019 7:22 pm

Between Natalya and the incident at Osborn Corp and Evan's death, there was quite a bit of stress at the Tower. Logan knew that Natalya needed a set schedule and he made one for her. She needed to be constantly active and work out her energy. Natalya's day started out early each morning with a rigorous treadmill routine. Logan then insisted that she sit for an hour in the steam room before taking a shower. Logan was quick to encourage her to indulge in whatever foods she wanted to eat. However, after the incident with the peppermint hot chocolate everything peppermint was removed from the Tower immediately. No one knew what would trigger an emotional reaction in her, including herself, but Logan kept a running list in his head and Isabella would consult with him before buying anything new at the grocery store.

During this early part of her recovery Malcolm stayed away from the Tower and remained at his place. Isabella had given him the flash drive with the copy of her file on it and he had actually read it. She encouraged him to talk to Logan as well. The lunch with Natalya was arranged by Logan at a time when the Tower was quiet and almost entirely empty. Tony and Isabella were upstate visiting Serena at the mansion for her birthday and Steve and Kate were out having lunch with Phil Coulson.

Natalya slowly walked in to the dining area and saw Malcolm sitting with his back towards her. She hadn't seen him since the night she had almost killed him. She took a deep breath and slowly walked over and took a seat beside him. Sitting beside him and not directly across from him gave her an opportunity not to look at him head on. She could turn her head to look at him or look ahead if she needed to. Malcolm would be able to see that Natalya still looked quite rough. She looked like she wasn't sleeping well at all and looked slightly drugged. She was still on medication to help with her anxiety and depression. She didn't say anything because she didn't know what to say. She was obviously still upset over what had happened.

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Post by Conleth on Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:07 am

For a short while Malcolm said nothing. At first he had that ‘knee-jerk’ reaction of fear toward her but when he actually turned and looked at her it faded away and resolved onto the feelings that he always had for her. Mixed with the guilt of not being here for her. He knew what happened but he didn’t know how or why.

‘Why did she leave the tower alone?’ ‘Why the SSB still wanted to capture her?’ He wanted to know but he wasn’t going to ask. He smiled a small smile when he looked at her. “Are you hungry?” He asked softly. She looked at him. Looked into his eyes and when she did all those feelings he had for her suddenly flooded back as before. He took up her hand in his then kissed her knuckles.

“I’m sorry for not being here...I love you Natalya and I’ve missed you,” he said. The last few words held more warmth in them than the others. He wanted to be back into her bed but he didn’t know how to tell her that.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:13 am

Natalya could sense Malcolm's reaction of fear towards her. She didn't blame that reaction in him. She had tried to kill him after all...no, Agent Sokolova had. However, within seconds she could sense him relax and he asked her if she was hungry. She slowly turned and looked at him and a few tears came to her eyes as she saw the faded bruises on his neck.

"I'm sorry too," she said as a few tears slipped down her cheeks. Logan had told her not to apologize for what 'Agent Sokolova' did (that and Malcolm had touched her and triggered that reaction in her when he shouldn't have).

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Post by Conleth on Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:50 am

Malcolm turned and pulled her toward him. He kissed her cheek and tasted the saltiness of her tears. Reading her file felt a little like snooping or looking in on someone without their permission. There were some things in there that shocked him. Namely how many people she killed. Hat number was not small and many of them were involved in law enforcement or politics. She seduced men and women, killed and tortured them for information. She manipulated them and used them. However everything, all of it was her training. It was a result of her brainwashing and her torture. The sweet girl that was Natalya was not that Agent that they ‘made’. Malcolm knew the sweet, lovable girl now grown into a beautiful woman. Malcolm tilted her head up by her chin and lightly kissed her lips.

“Do you remember this?” He said softly to her while their lips were still very close. “If you remember this, remember me then you will find your way back to me, Malcolm said.

-------------------------------

Steve and Kate watched them from the door of their room. Steve stood just behind Kate, they were supposed to watch incase something untoward happened. Logan should be the one doing this but Steve understood why he couldn’t. “This is...encouraging,” Steve said as he watched them embrace.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:14 am

Natalya let Malcolm kiss her. His lips were warm and soft against hers and made her happy. However, Logan too made her happy. Logan had sacrificed so much for her. If that wasn't love then she didn't know what was. Logan could have killed her that day or he could have given up so many times during her recovery and just left, but he didn't. He had stayed through it all and knew her better than she knew herself. She had made a decision, but she wasn't sure how Malcolm was going to take it. She decided to wait until after lunch was over.

They kept the conversation light during lunch. Natalya knew that Logan had questions, but he never asked her any of them. They ate and Natalya allowed Malcolm to hold her hand or touch her cheek if he wanted to.

After lunch was over, Malcolm started to get up to put away the dishes when she gently pulled him back down to sit with her. "There's something I need to talk to you about." She was quite nervous about how this was going to go, but what she was going to say was the truth and Malcolm deserved to know that. Natalya decided to not beat around the bush but to just come out and say it.

"I'm in love with both you and Logan. I need both you and Logan. I cannot choose between you."

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Post by Conleth on Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:39 am

At first Malcolm thought what she meant was that she loved both he and Logan and always would. But it was how she said it that confused him. He tilted his head as if he were trying to understand.

“Ok…” He said and smiled a small smile to hide his confusion. “I know Logan’s done alot for you and cares alot about you, anyone can see that,” He said. “I know this Tatiana got to you and that it will take a long time for you to recover. I know you need him, I expected that. I expect that you’re close with one another…” He said but when her expression only looked more troubled his eyebrows rose in understanding to what she was truly saying.

“I...I thought Logan decided that it was better if you remained friends…” Malcolm said as his brows turned down in concern. He still wasn’t exactly certain of what she really meant. That or he didn’t want to understand it.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:51 am

Natalya sighed as she tried to figure out how to explain this. "He thought that was what he wanted, but his feelings have changed and he wants more now between us. I want that as well. However, I also do not want what is between you and I to end. If you decide that this is not something you can be alright with and want to leave then I will understand. What I'm asking isn't traditional or conventional, but neither am I. You certainly don't have to decide now. Please take some time and think about it."

Kate and Steve had overheard the conversation and she glanced back at him with raised eyebrows. This was certainly something new, but Kate also didn't think it was strange for Natalya to want to be with both men. Kate was certainly much more traditional in her relationships, but that didn't mean it had to be that way for everyone. She mostly just wondered if Malcolm was going to agree to this.

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Post by Conleth on Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:07 am

Malcolm blinked and his cheeks flushed. “That’s...what I was afraid you were saying,” he said. Malcolm wanted to try and dissuade her from this as a pang of jealousy hit him. Ok, maybe more than a ‘pang’ It was more of a large boulder that crushed him. All of what he had thought he and Natalya would be quickly began to shrivel up and die inside of him. A couple, marriage, all of it. Just gone. But that was what he had kept hidden. That selfish side of himself. He should have known though...when she took off the diamonds that she wasn’t going to be the doting, beauty that leaned on his arm when they attended fancy functions. What was he thinking?

“Well, how will that work? I’m not...into men,” He said. “I don’t think Logan is either,” Malcolm said. He was imagining all three of them living together but her surprised expression spoke volumes.

“Oh...that’s not what you meant...then...what? How do you see this working? And is it only you that makes the rules?” He asked. His voice took on an irritated tightness but he still sat and held her hands.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:24 am

Natalya sighed again when she heard the irritation in Malcolm's voice. She pulled her hands back out of his and looked at him. "It wouldn't be all three of us. It would be me and you and then me and Logan. I'm not exactly certain yet how it would work. Probably the easiest way would be for me to be with you certain days of the week and Logan the other days. Then, if we all happen to be together I'm with neither of you. And no, I don't have to be the only one who makes the rules."

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Post by Conleth on Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:21 am

Malcolm took up her right hand again and his eyes were intent on her own that were reamed in red and damp from tears. Her cheeks were splotchy as well but he still thought she looked beautiful. “I had...I have plans for us Natalya. I know those plans have hit a speed bump but one day, I was going to ask you...I was...I wanted us to be husband and wife,” He said finally. He felt complete honesty was what Natalya needed and wanted right then. “Steve and Kate make it work...I figured we could too but...but not if I’m sharing you,” He said and felt her try to remove her hand again. He held onto it though.

“I think I will have to think about this Natalya. I’m not certain how I’m going to fit into your life. I am willing to fight for what I want but I think I need you to fight for me too,” He said softly then loosened his grip on her fingers so she could remove her hand from his if she wanted.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:02 pm

Natalya looked at Malcolm when he admitted that he wanted to eventually marry her. She sighed and looked down slightly. She didn't want to hurt him, but she needed to be honest with him. He deserved that. He needed to understand everything she was thinking so he could figure out what was best for him. He was too good a man for anything less.

"Malcolm, the truth is is that I'm not certain I ever want to get married. It's not something I've ever really wanted. I'm sorry for disappointing you, but I need you to know the truth. You're a good man Malcolm and you deserve to be happy and have what you want. I'm not certain I can give you that."

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Post by Conleth on Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:17 pm

“Natalya, just a day ago…” he began but his voice cracked and he looked down at the floor and took in a breath to bide for time. He eventually looked up to meet her eyes. “Was what we had real or was I just imagining that you were mine?” He asked. “Really mine,” he said and that touched more than a little on what he read in her file about how she manipulated men. She got important men to fall in love with her, give her expensive gifts and shower her in luxury in the longer cons she had perpetrated to get information. He wanted to know if she was just shining him on or really felt something for him. He didn’t hardly even know what was up or down anymore.

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Post by XslvrstarX on Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:28 pm

Natalya looked at Malcolm. It hurt her to think he thought she was just using and manipulating him. She was starting to feel frustrated and upset.

“Yes, what we have is real. Malcolm, if I was just using you I would have kept that Rolex and diamonds and would have sold them for cash. I would have been asking you for money. You pursued me, not the other way around. But I just need you to understand that what I have with Logan is also real.”

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Post by Conleth on Sun Nov 10, 2019 3:32 pm

Malcolm nodded slowly as what she said sunk in. Malcolm wasn’t the most intelligent person but what she said made sense to him. “Then, I guess what I need to know is this. When Logan turned you down the first time, was it you who pursued him or the other way around?” He asked. He doubted she would know why he asked this but the answer matter alot to him right then.

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