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The Pearl

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The fall of Shield has consequences Natasha did not anticipate.

The American public is unsure of what to do with her. She does not exist in their world of black and white, of good and evil defined by giant aliens and men in iron suits. She does not fit easily into their molds, with her confident stance and demure expressions, her strong arguments and apparent disinterest. She is an anomaly in their carefully built structure.

But there is one thing they can agree on: she is a sex icon.

It’s everywhere she goes; plastered to the front of newspapers and magazines, causing arguments on talk shows, and all over the internet. She’s even trending on twitter. She’s certain Stark has at least a little something to do with it, bitter as he is for having been left out of the action, regardless of his current mental or physical state.

But Natasha is used to the role of the seductress. Enchanting men and women alike with only a swing of her hips is a talent she has worked hard for. She knows the value of her ability to sashay across dance floors and into bedrooms with ease.

Yet, when she sees the first magazine, the cover boasting advice on “HOW TO GET A BUTT LIKE BLACK WIDOW” and “GETTING THAT BLACK WIDOW BODY”, she can’t help but pause.

She remembers lying in a room, staring at walls that drip with condensation as she is strapped down to a metal sheet. Feeling men prod at her stomach and thighs, circling her blemishes with a marker that’s ink is bright red. The flash of something, an emotion not quite fear, would pass through her as she imagined what would be different when she next awoke. She catalogues her body, so that when she looks later she’ll be able to recognize the reduced width of her hips, the slight straightening of her nose, the increased pout of her lips.

She remembers when she learned to block a blow to the nose just right, not to reduce the pain, but because another broken nose would simply lead to a new one. The perfect assassin does not end in knowledge of weaponry or fighting techniques, but in pure, alabaster skin that could lead any man or woman to welcome their grave with open arms.

Natasha remembers how it began. With a twelve-year-old girl having the baby fat sucked out of her cheeks, and implanted into her breasts.

With the promise that when she awoke she would be flawless, and instead discovering that something deep within her had been distorted.

Of being shown where flesh and sinew met between her legs, and told that the weakness that had once laid there was gone. Her clitoris removed, replaced by a small pearl underneath the skin. Creamy white, perfectly smooth, its placement faultless, as if it were natural.

Before, she had watched sometimes, as the older girls prepared for missions, fingers deep inside themselves as they attempted to recreate the musty smell of sex, manufacturing the sheen of a body post coital. She had attempted the experience herself once, taking note of her form in the dingy mirror that hung across from her bed. She had failed, and took comfort in that as she grew older. She learned to fake it, to mimic the pulse of excitement, displaying the perfect amount of pleasure as her partner came. It was not an ability that had ever been natural to her, regardless of their changes.

And the sheen's no longer a problem, laminated onto her skin as it was.