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Domestic Bliss

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Renovations 

 

Knock knock knock. 

‘Does the wall sound hollow to you?’

Knock knock knock.

‘Sounds like the resonance of the room to me.’ 

‘No listen—’ 

More knocking. 

‘See this part rings but the other parts are dull.’ 

‘Sounds the same to me.’ 

‘Well, in any case, I want to knock this down when we get a new kitchen, make it open concept.’ 

‘A new kitchen? What’s wrong with the current one?’ 

‘We’re due for an update—the sink leaks, the cabinet handles are loose, there’s a dent in the ceiling, and for some reason this wall is hollow, I’m afraid of rats.’ 

‘Where are we going to find the money for that? Are we going to apply to appear on some home renovation show, or buy lottery tickets?’ 

‘I’m glad you’re taking on this childish attitude when I’m trying to talk about real issues, husband dear.’ 

‘Nat, the kitchen is fine. As for the hollow wall, how about this? How about we get a builder and examine if there’s termite damage, and block it up.’ 

‘Termites? Termites don’t stay in one place, James, we need to check what other parts of the house might have termites!’ 

‘You know what I should never have mentioned it—’

Knock knock knock, ‘Yeah well now that you have—’ knock knock knock, ‘Oh my god this wall sounds hollow as well! Come listen!’ 

Fading knocking as Bucky touches the wall in the kitchen, checking to see if there are any visible seams in the paint, and finding none, replies.

‘Coming dear!’ 

 

Family Dinner 

 

‘So who are these colleagues of yours, I’ve never heard you talking about them.’

‘Not colleagues, clients.’ 

‘You said they were Russians? Since when do you guys have Russian clients?’

‘Since Steve got big on social media and international clients started messaging us. Most of them we politely decline, since we have a pretty steady local clientele that Steve prefers working for, but these ones came in person to find him.’

‘And Steve couldn’t find it in himself to say no?’

‘Quite the opposite, he shut the door in their faces when they started talking about money.’

‘Oh?’ 

‘I convinced him otherwise. You know how it is with Steve, he doesn’t see the business side of things, that's what I'm there for, to make sure we keep afloat. I figured that since it’s the holiday season, and they're here in the States anyway, it’s a good opportunity to make relationship less icy.’

‘What a good friend you are, compromising Steven Roger’s artistic integrity.’ 

‘We could do with the extra money, for the renovation.’

‘Oh?’ 

‘I’ve thought about what you said the other day, an update couldn’t hurt. Plus, those men might be intrusive, but only their appreciation for Steve’s art is sincere.’ 

‘Is that what you said to Steve?’ 

‘No, I blackmailed him. He still owes me after what happened on that blind date I set him up with.’

‘The one where he punched that West-Coast techie in the face?’

‘The other one.’ 

‘The one where he abandoned that trainer at the restaurant when he saw the championship ring on the date's hand from the host stand?’

‘No the other one.’

‘The one where he threw soup on his date’s face because his date said ‘better the Chinese than us’ .’

‘It wasn’t his date who said it, it was some random whom Steve decided to have an argument with, which unfortunately escalated into a bar brawl. And his date was the one doing the soup throwing, not Steve.’ 

‘Sounds like he owes you much more than entertaining a client at our house over dinner, James.’

‘Yeah well, he found you for me, I owe him for life.’ 

‘Aren’t you the model spouse.’ 

I do my level best. So, I figured we would get the supplies the day before and—’ 

‘Wait we’re cooking?’ 

‘We aren’t?’ 

‘Are you kidding me? Last time we cooked was when we almost blew the place up.’ 

‘Oh God you’re right, we literally put a hole in the ceiling when that high-pressure pot exploded. But you know who might cook?’

‘Steve?’

‘Exactly, see this is why I married you.’  

‘I thought you married me because you watch got stuck in my hair but I’ll take that as well.’  

   

Shopping 

 

‘It’s a bit patronising when you come with me to Costco, you know? I can handle it on my own.’

‘I know, Natasha, I’ve been thrown down onto the mat by you enough times at the gym to know exactly how well you can handle it on your own. Steve insisted that I come with you, told me that it was my house as well, and I can’t just let you do all the work.’

‘I’d rather Steve have come with me.’ 

‘Careful, I might get jealous.’

‘Please, if something were to happen in that way you and I would never have been a thing. If anything I should be the jealous one.’

‘Wait, I got to text that to Steve so he can gag with me.’

‘Didn’t one of your high-school girlfriends write fanfiction about the two of you?’

‘Don’t remind me! I can’t count on one hand how many girlfriends I lost after they learned that Steve was gay and became suspicious.’

‘So that was the reason why you were still single when I met you huh.’

‘Why? Surprised that a catch like me got dumped more than once in high school?’

‘No, counting my lucky stars, clearly.’  

‘I’m flattered, my dear wife.’ 

‘Get me that slab of seltzer water for me, Mr Homecoming.’ 

 

Preparations 

 

‘Buck, we’re out of fire starter, can you run to the shops and get some?’ 

‘Really Rogers? Right here, under my roof? You’re ordering me to leave?’ 

‘Be honest Buck, how much are you going to be of actual help in the kitchen?’

‘I can be of great help, no don’t give me that look. I can. Plus, how do I know the two of you won’t get up to shenanigans behind my back, huh? Who’s going to be the one with the fire extinguisher when this whole place goes up in flames?’ 

‘James, catch—’ Jingling ‘—and don’t worry if this place burns down, we’ll save on the demolition cost.’

‘Natasha, you do me a dirty, but I’m willing to forgive you because I love you anyway.’ 

‘Don’t forget to also gas up, husband dear.’ 

Door closes. 

‘So—’

‘So.’ 

‘I found four hollowed-out chambers, Rogers.’

‘Have you checked them out?’ 

‘I haven’t had the time to do it, since I need to cover up the mark afterwards. But I know what a stash looks like, right here, under my own roof.’ 

‘—Are you saying—’  

‘No, I’m not sure, I have no evidence. But that, along with the arrival of your new clients, you must be suspicious.’

‘I am, but I have no evidence either. I mean, the way they came to us in person. And—’  

‘He told me that you shut the door in their faces when they talked shop.’

‘He was the one who declined their request first. ‘That’s not how we do things ,’ he said.’

‘—Oh.’ 

‘Nat I’m sure he’s not—’ 

‘I know Rogers.’ 

‘It might all be a coincidence.’ 

‘Yes it might.’ 

‘Can you help me with the basting?’ 

‘Of course Steve.’

‘The bottle of olive oil is over there, yes, now, pour it into my hand here. Yep, thanks, just like that. Now the salt and pepper, yes, those shakers—thanks Nat.’  

‘Steve, during your tour—there was never anything suspicious—’

‘Nat, it hardly counts as tour when he was spending the time romancing up those European—’

‘Careful, that’s my husband you’re talking about.’

‘I’m sorry Nat.’ 

‘Yeah, yeah, you’re always sorry. Tell me something I don’t know.’

‘—Do you feel bad sometimes, that we told him we met in art school? Instead, instead of the truth?’  

‘And what, Steve, go into the whole thing with him? About who I used to be and what I used to do? How does that help with the ‘reintegration process’ you and Fury kept going on about?’ 

‘It is, I just—’

‘Unless you’re suspicious, you think I’m still in the business, that somehow this is my play—’ 

‘…’

‘Oh. My. God. Rogers. Drop that tray of steaks so we can fight this out in a fair fight.’ 

‘Nat, of course I don’t think that. I wouldn’t never—’ 

‘Put. The meat. Down. Rogers.’

‘Natasha— 

‘—And wash your hands, I don’t want meat-juice on my good pair of culottes.’

‘Really, really unnecessary, Romanoff—’

‘Well I don’t care. You’re not my SO anymore and I won’t have you coming into my house accusing me of subvertage. So wash the olive oil from your hands and the least you can do is let me suplex you to the ground a few times.’

‘...’

‘What are you stalling for, Rogers, let’s go—’ 

Door unlocking. 

‘Honey I’m home.’ 

‘In the kitchen darling! You got away with it this time, Rogers.’ 

‘I am genuinely grateful, Natasha.’

‘Yeah, well I have laminate floors and it’s hard to get blond hair out of the cracks—honey, can you get the barbeque started in the backyard?’

‘What is this, I haven’t even taken off my shoes yet!’ 

‘It’s finicky, and I know you’re going to need the extra time, unless of course you want to take over from me, and help Steve, and I can go get the fire started.’ 

‘Natasha please don’t leave him with me.’

‘Et tu, Steven? I am mortally wounded.’ 

‘Yeah well, I guess it is your house after all Barnes, and your ceiling that will end up with scorch marks, and bits of crisped eggplant stuck to your walls.’

‘That was one time! How was I supposed to know kerosene is different from butane?’

‘It’s two against one, James.’

‘Ok, ok, if it pleases master Rogers and mistress Romanoff, may I at least use the restroom before my next chore, my lord and lady?’ 

‘Your honorifics are all over the place, Buck. Natasha I thought you said that he watched Downton Abbey with you.’ 

‘He snored through Downton Abbey with me, I don’t think he even knows who Maggie Smith plays.’ 

‘I will not take this kind of abuse, not under my own roof.’ 

‘—And while you’re at it, can you set up the picnic tables as well? Buck?'

‘He flipped me off. Did you see that? Your husband flipped me off.’ 

‘He’s your friend before he’s my husband, Rogers.’      

‘Potato, pota to.’ 

 

Welcoming the Guests 

 

‘You have a lovely home, Mrs Barnes.’

‘Romanoff. and please, call me Natasha.’ 

‘Ms Romanova.’ 

‘Actually I don’t stylise my name that way. I grew up in Oakland, the orphanage just used the last name provided in the father column.’ 

‘Oh you are an orphan, I am sorry to hear that.’ 

You aren’t the first one, Mr—’

‘Doctor, Dr Zola, but please, call me Armin, we are sorry if sometimes we forget to adapt to the American way.’ 

‘No need for apologies, Dr Zola, and your friends?’ 

‘How terribly rude of me, Ms Romanova, these are not your guests, I mean, they are happy to wait outside for us.’ 

‘Oh we insist that you join us, we’ve got food for plenty.’

‘You are very kind, Ms Romanova, but—’ 

‘Please do not stand in my driveway and make my neighbours uncomfortable, there’s a perfectly good backyard if your—associates—would like to maintain formation.’  

‘In that case, please pardon our intrusion.’ 

‘Not at all, and you can keep those combat boots on, by the way.’ 

‘May I ask where are Mr. Barnes and Mr. Rogers—?’

‘I sent them to pick up the pies I ordered, they’ll be back in a moment. Now I hope you don’t mind ice-tea.’  

‘Oh no, that sounds lovely, thank you.’ 

‘There are plastic cups in the backyard, I’m assuming everyone is thirsty, no doubtedly sweating with so much gear holstered to you.’ 

‘Oh we—’

‘There’s oreos as well, and crackers and cheese platters, please, feel free to make yourselves at home. I like your tattoo, is that Russian?’  

‘It’s Kazakh, Dennis is—’

‘Dr Zola, is it? I’m just making small talk with my guests, there’s no need for your friend to reach for that badly-concealed knife.’  

‘—I guess the disguises were poor to begin with, Ms Romanova.’ 

‘Indeed, though wearing a cup under sunday slacks would hardly be what I call maximum effort.’ 

‘We know who you are. Black spider.’ 

‘Actually, it’s Black Widow.’ 

‘Honey, we’re home!’ 

‘Hold that thought. In the backyard, honey!’ 

‘Oh, I see our guests have arrived. Hello Dr Zola, and—fifteen of Dr Zola’s…friends?’ 

‘James, Steve, these are Dr Zola’s associates, they like standing in formation.’ 

‘We are having a lovely conversation with the lady of the house, Mr Rogers. Mr Barnes, we would like to thank you for inviting us to your home.’ 

‘You’re—welcome?’ 

‘I wasn’t aware that you were going to be bringing extra guests, Dr Zola.’

‘Well I—’  

‘I insisted that they join us, James, wouldn’t want the neighbours becoming paranoid, isn’t that right, darling?’ 

‘Nat, what’s going on?’ 

‘You tell me. Nothing? James? How about you? Steve? Nothing? Well, since no one has anything to say, I do believe we are quite short on utensils, please excuse me while I go and get some from the basement.’ 

‘Nat, wait—’ 

‘Dr. Zola, this is quite—’ 

‘Are you aware of who your wife is, Mr Barnes?’ 

‘Natasha? What are you talking about.’

‘She’s not just a woman known as Natasha Romanova, Mr. Barnes, her identity, in fact, is—much more complicated, I’m afraid.’

‘The hell are you going on about—’ 

‘Buck, wait— Dr. Zola, your manners are quite rude, during a house party we don’t go around confronting the master of the house accusing the lady of the house for someone else. Now the barbeque is already started, would your combat-trained associates like to have a go at grilling some chicken skewers?’

‘Oh, Mr Rogers, I—’  

‘I insist, Dr Zola. Here, that good man with the Kazakh tattoo on his face, what is his name?’

‘Dennis, Mr Rogers, he—’ 

‘Dennis, do you see that tray over there? By the tongs?’

‘Yes.’

‘Here, just line them up in the grates over there, that’s right. Now make sure you wear those gloves when you are flipping the skewers.’    

‘They do not fit.’ 

‘I guess you’ll have to use the tongs in that case. Buck, want to come to the kitchen with me and get the ice?’ 

‘I—I guess I have to.’  

 

Playing the host

 

‘Steve, what’s going on? I thought we were just inviting our business client over for dinner.’ 

‘Are you sure you don’t know what’s going on, Buck?’

‘What are you talking about?’ 

‘I saw you freeze when you heard Zola’s name, the first meeting we had with them, I’ve only seen your face like that one other time.’

‘…’ 

‘And I remembered that was immediately after—’

‘Really, Rogers, we’re going to go there right now? Right here in my kitchen where Natasha and I have our coffee in the morning! And what is with Zola saying those things about Nat? And why did you cut him off?’ 

‘…’ 

‘Steve?’

‘Buck, you really don’t know?’ 

‘Don’t know what? That there’s a creepy Russian in my backyard with fifteen of his mossad-looking bodyguards ruining my chicken skewers while accusing my wife of a double identity? Or that you’ve been cryptic ever since that email I got from them? You’re accusing me of acting different, do you know your face when you read Zola’s name in the email? Steve, you kept things from me, I get it, I’m fine with it, but if we’re going to bring all this up right now you better tell me all of it, you better hold nothing back.’ 

‘Natasha, she—’

‘What is it Steve? What is it about my wife that has anything to do with this?' 

‘Buck, I’m sorry—’ 

‘Not as sorry as you’re about to be if you don’t tell me everything you’ve kept from me right now. I don’t care if the Russians set our backyard on fire I need to know the fuck is—oh shit, I forgot about Nat! Didn’t she say she was going to get the drinks—’ 

Running

‘Nat! Oh my god, what happened?!’

‘Help! Help me Mr Barnes, the black widow, she— ARGH!’

—and if you know who I am, you will also know my bite.’ 

‘ARGH—glugglugglug’ 

‘James, Steve, I’m afraid I’ve made a mess.’ 

‘Natasha, you— you killed him! And…these men, they—’

‘I probably should’ve warned you prior, but don’t drink the ice-tea.’

‘You spiked the, the ice-tea ?! You did all of this?’

‘I’m calling the po—Ow!’ 

‘Steve!!’ 

‘He’ll be fine, James, he’ll be a bit dizzy when he wakes up but I didn’t give him anything more serious than a mild concussion.’

‘Natasha... What. The. Fuck—?’

‘Husband, I think we need to talk.’ 

 

Couple Talk

 

‘Did you just speak Russian before you slit that man’s throat?’ 

‘You’ve been lying to me, James.’

What the hell Natasha, you killed all these people!

‘I need a beer.’

‘No, don’t fucking come closer, I don’t know what the fuck is happening. Who are you? What do you want?’

‘James, I just want a drink.’

No, don’t fucking give me that! The wife that I know doesn’t know how to slice someone’s throat open like she’s butterflying chicken—’ 

‘I’m not going to hurt you James.’ 

‘Yeah well, before today I didn’t think you were capable of hurting anyone so—’ 

‘Fine, just toss one to me then.’

‘Fine.’ 

‘Thanks James. I’m sorry for getting blood on the fence.’ 

‘That’s not—why would I care if there’s fucking blood on the fucking fence? Oh my god, that’s a lot of blood on the fence, wait nevermind that! What the fuck happened? Why would you do this, how did you even—’  

‘James, please, let’s stop playing games.’ 

‘What games? You’re the one sitting on top of that—that pile of corpses ! And Steve, Steve didn’t even look shocked! What is going on Natasha? What are the two of you in cohorts with?’  

‘I’m the one who should be asking that question, James. You told me Steve rejected the clients when it was you who told him not to go through with it.’ 

‘I tell him not to go through with all online solicitations! You know that! I told you he prefers working for local jobs, meeting his clients in person when he takes on a project!’  

‘That’s a nice tight leash you have in your clutch then, isn't it?’ 

‘That was really uncalled for, Natasha, if that is your name.’ 

If , that is my name?’ 

‘I mean, who are you really? I know you’ve taken a lot of those kickboxing lessons but I don’t think they teach you how to kill people in that mid-city gym.’ 

‘Who am I to you, James?’

‘You’re my wife, at least that’s what I thought you were! Natasha, hand over heart I swear to god I don’t know what’s going on. What is the truth, Natasha? I thought you were Steve’s classmate from his art school who took a dance major, who grew up in the Bay Area. I thought our honeymoon trip to Saint Lucia was the first time you travelled internationally. I thought that for the last eight years, you taught at an academy during the day and listened to classical music at night. I didn’t think you spoke another language, or know how to slice open another man’s neck. So tell me what’s going on, where in my range of knowledge have I been mistaken?’

‘Why are there hollowed out parts of the wall in our house?’ 

‘You tell me.’ 

‘Do you know who this man is? Was, I mean.’ 

‘He was a client who wanted Steve to do some poster work for his upcoming construction projects, he’s from St Petersburg, and flew into the country last Friday just to meet with us. I don’t know anything else! Damnit Natasha.’ 

‘If I take your words to be true, James, then how do you explain your reaction upon seeing the name on the email?’

‘What—’

‘How do you explain why you are ok with Steve keeping the details of what happened during Europe from you?’ 

‘Wait, how did you—what did Steve tell you?’ 

‘James, you’re the one who owes me an explanation, as to why you chose to keep quiet about how you know these Russians, why the high school you claimed you and Steve went to doesn’t exist. How do you explain the two bank accounts, the fact that half of the client receipts in the tax declarations for your business turned out to be bogus and doesn't have anything remotely to do with Steve's art?’  

‘You’ve been doing recon I see.’ 

‘Routine surveillance, James, call me cautious, I don’t think you trust me.’ 

‘You clearly don’t trust me. And what do you mean I don’t trust you, once again, you’re the one who killed all these people!’ 

‘Whom you brought into our house.’ 

‘Who I thought was a client! Ok, ok, you know what, Natasha? Let’s do it this way, you answer one of my questions and I’ll answer one of yours.’  

‘Like a game, James? Where the first person who refuses to answer loses?’ 

‘Up for it?’

‘Are you?’

‘I’ll go first. Is your real name really Natasha Romanoff?’ 

‘Natasha Romanoff was the name given to me for as long as I can remember.’ 

‘From birth?’ 

‘That’s two questions, James, my turn. When did you start suspecting something was going on?’ 

‘I don’t suspect. I know something’s going on because there are dead Russians in my backyard.’ 

‘I don’t think that goes in the game, James.’

‘My turn, when did you know Steve?'

‘Nine years ago, a year before he introduced you to me. Were you the one who hollowed out our walls, James?’ 

‘I was not. What was the exact nature of your relationship with Steve when you met him?’ 

‘We were acquaintances, and we did take classes together at an art college. Why did you make up the fact that you work as Steve’s business partner and submit false tax returns?’ 

‘I did not make up the fact that I—’ 

Smash! 

‘What the hell Natasha?’ 

‘Did you see that coming? Was it easy to dodge that beer bottle? Stop lying to me, James!’ 

‘Natasha, that was crazy! I’m not lying to you, what is going on?’ 

‘I—you’ve known from the beginning, haven’t you? It’s the only way it makes sense.’ 

‘Natasha I—’

‘My dealings in the past, my complicated relationship with Steve, with this country. You’ve known—you’ve known from the beginning that I hid things from you but I always thought that since you’ve hid things from me as well then it was fine for it to be this way, we could keep our secrets and continue. I didn’t think they mattered, James, one way or the other. But everything I’ve known, from your poster boy exterior to your porcelain clean past, it’s all been a lie! Now are we going to start playing this game seriously or not?’ 

‘Natasha, I—’ 

‘You know what, I want to go first this time! My name is Natasha Romanoff and once upon a time my call sign had been Black Widow. I worked for quite a few agencies doing jobs assigned to me until Steve came along, and convinced me that there’s an alternative, there’s a way out of that hellhole where you didn’t have a say over what you needed to do. And I trusted him, it was at a point where I had no other choice, so I trusted him. He extracted me, introduced me to you, his childhood best-friend who was also his art agent. And ever since then, for the last seven years, I’ve wanted just one thing, to be your wife.’ 

‘—Natasha—’ 

‘Recon, you think that was recon? You know what, I should’ve vetted you, James Barnes, I I should’ve treated you as hostile like I did with everyone before I met you. But, I let myself believe that there was one sincere soul in the world who would hide nothing from me—

‘But now I find hollows in my walls and my past comes knocking on my door. You, Barnes, you’re the one who brought my past back to me, my past that I want nothing to do with, so I took into my own hands.’ 

‘So you and Steve didn’t meet in art school?'

‘Is that you question, James?’ 

‘And Steve, he—’

‘Look at me! How did you know who Zola was?! What is your true business with him?’ 

‘Dr Zola?’ 

‘Yes, Arnim Zola, you claim that you know him to be Russian, in actual fact, he’s not, not since he defected for Hydra.’

‘Hydra?’

‘James, can we please drop the facade? I know your business with them is not just selling Steve’s art.’

‘My cards? My cards Natasha? I just found out that my wife is a spy , my best friend is also probably a spy! I, what the fuck do you want me to say? I didn’t know any of this? I thought you were a girl from San Francisco!’ 

‘Actually—’ 

“Oakland, whatever! I didn’t know any of these dead Russians before today and I admit, the way Steve looked when I showed him the email was really strange, so that’s why I persuaded him to continue doing business with Dr Zola! I want to find out ok? I was getting suspicious and I wanted to—’

‘You invited him as a test.’ 

‘... On Steve.’  

‘On Steve?’ 

‘Natasha, what did he tell you about Europe?’ 

‘He said for the brief days you were there you ran around romancing girls and then disappeared for two weeks and then appeared at HQ not remembering a thing about your time AWOL.’

‘Oh Natasha, it was the opposite, he was the one who disappeared.’ 

‘What?’ 

‘I think it’s time we tied Steve up.’      

‘I’ll go get some cable ties from the kitchen.’

‘Ok, so, you’re saying it was Steve who had gone missing?’ 

‘Not just that Nat. He, he came back different.’ 

‘Different?’ 

‘Steve had always been a skinny kid growing up and an even smaller adult after—underweight. He insisted on joining the army, then coming with me to Syria, god knows how he managed to pass all the drills, he’d never even made a dent on the scales.’

‘Syria?’ 

‘Yes where did Steve say we went for our tour?’ 

‘...It’s not important, go on.’   

 ‘Then, out of the blue, he disappeared for two weeks, right there in the mountains. When he came back he was different, acted different, looked different.

‘The army kept him under monitoring, when I protested, they discharged me. I wasn’t dishonored, I guess they didn’t want the bureaucracy, but there was no severance pay, or reintegration package.

‘And two months after Steve joined me as well. He gained seventy pounds of pure muscle and had grown taller, I never knew a guy in his late twenties would be capable of growing but he gained fifteen inches, and we were the same height. He didn’t tell me anything about what happened afterwards, guess now I’m finding out the reason why.’ 

‘Then what happened?’ 

‘We were both down on our luck, no prospects. Steve insisted we have nothing more to do with the army. He said he was going to try and sell his art, and I said that I could help him.

‘We pooled all our finances, what little we had left in savings and hired a table at an art expo. I don’t know. I was working three different food delivery jobs at at that time. I figured I didn’t have much more to lose.

‘Anyway, he was in the bathroom and I was minding the stall for him, when someone approached me.’ 

‘James—’ 

‘I didn’t fucking know ok? I was just... poor and desperate and it was so much money.’ 

‘What did you do James?’ 

‘Middle man, he called it, all I needed to do was take the pieces to the galleries, and take the same pieces back.’ 

‘...’ 

‘And it was so easy, even easier after Steve started doing well, and I didn’t need to take catering jobs at the auction house where my uniform made me suspicious, I could go as Steve’s agent, in a suit and tie, and legitimately access the storage rooms.’ 

‘—You—steal art?’   

‘I swear I didn’t steal from the artists themselves! The targets were always—’ 

‘You’re a thief, JamesThat’s, that’s so trivial!’

‘Ouch.’ 

‘I don’t mean any offence, but after everything—’

‘Forgeries. And you don’t even make them, you just—switch them out.’ 

‘Geez, sorry for disappointing Mrs International espionage for being a basic lowlife.’ 

‘I don’t—wait, so you invited Zola because you suspected he had connections to Steve?’  

‘I—Dr Zola seemed keen on some pieces for distribution, usually I strictly do not mix my side job with Steve’s business, but after Steve’s response at seeing his name on the email, I thought he might have something to do with—well.’ 

‘That’s why your tax returns were all bogus.’ 

‘Yeah.’ 

‘And if I were to open the hollowed-out walls, I’d find—artwork ?’ 

‘No, cash.’ 

‘Oh.’ 

‘Yeah, I need to have it laundered, you know.’ 

‘I do know.’ 

‘Of course you would.’ 

‘Natasha, I’m sorry for lying, and for forcing these things on you. Truth was, I thought I was protecting you by keeping these things from you, and I guess I thought the same way, the past, it doesn't matter as much as our marriage. But, my god, Natasha, Black Widow ? That shit doesn’t even sound real.’ 

‘James, I’m sorry.’ 

‘...Don’t, don’t apologise. Come here, Natasha.’

‘What do we do now?’ 

‘Well, for one thing, I have a lot of questions for Steve when he wakes up.’ 

‘Zola, he was working on a project back when, when I kept a folio on him. He called it, well it would have been translated as ‘The American Captain’ .’ 

‘Not one for creative names, that Doctor.’ 

'To be fair that line of work is extremely glamorised, and not everyone has a flair for the arts, except for, well.'

‘So Steve told you he was, CIA? When you met him?’

‘He said he worked with the agency, not for them.’

‘I can’t believe it. We spend so much time together, yet he tells me nothing. And this, this whole Zola business—I trusted the guy.’ 

‘He did find me for you.’ 

‘That he did, although now I’m realising why he did. If I had been less careful, and left clues as to who my clients were—’ 

‘Or one day your clients asked a bit more from you than replacing art in auction houses. He would find out, I would inform him, like I did—for this.’

‘No wonder why he agreed to inviting Zola.’ 

‘James, there are fifteen dead bodies in our backyard, and an unconscious American Captain tied to our barbeque. Do, do you really want to wait until Steve wakes up?’

‘It’s really not a possibility, is it? we have to bail.’ 

‘Exactly my thoughts. We can’t stay here, we can't live here anymore.’

‘Oh, Natasha I...'

'No time for sentimentality, James.' 

'...Good thing I gassed up the car.’ 

‘I’ll go get our essentials.’ 

‘And I’ll get the cash from the wall.’ 

‘Why are you laughing, James?’ 

‘Just thinking, we’re never getting those renovations done.’