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I Only Pretend To Know Everything

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"I lied," Steve said, the first night they stayed with Sam.

He only had the one spare room, and Natasha offered to take the floor, but so did Steve, and then Sam said he'd give up his bed and take the floor, with the result that they agreed none of them should sleep on the floor (Natasha felt this was unpragmatic, somehow, but was honestly too exhausted and sore to give a fuck). So eventually Sam kept his bed and Steve and Natasha shared the guest bed, even though Steve was visibly straining not to suggest building some kind of wall of pillows between them, or keeping one foot on the floor.

"What did you lie about?" she asked, lying in the bed in a shirt too big for her (Sam's) and a pair of clean underwear (Sam's ex-girlfriend's, apparently, left behind and laundered but never returned-for, which was sort of depressing). Steve was staring at the ceiling, just a shadow in profile.

"The kissing thing," he said. "I panicked and I lied."

She kept silent, because that was the best way to make men like Steve talk.

"The last kiss I had before you was in 1945. It was Peggy. We were in a car chasing an airplane."

"Well, that's impressive, at least, I guess," she said. She saw his Adam's apple bob gently.

"I don't like people thinking I'm a prude, or somehow strange, but it's hard," he said. "Hard to connect. Hard to...I'm not very good with people when I'm not, you know. Captain. So when people ask, I misdirect. Sometimes I lie. I'm not proud of it."

"Not proud of lying?"

"Well, not that either, but I meant being inexperienced," he said. "Sometimes I wonder if I am dead."

"Figuratively," she said.


"Is that why you've been seeing Sam?"

"I haven't been seeing him. We just talked a few times," Steve said, sounding defensive. "When you picked me up for the Batroc mission, that was the first time I'd met him."

"But you worry. About what people will think. That's not like you."

"Shows what you know," he muttered. "I wanted -- I didn't want you to treat me like a child. I wanted to impress you."

"You'd impress me more if you were a better kisser," she said with a smile.

"Being fair, I wasn't on top of my game," he replied.

"Oh, you have game?"

"I have a little game. More game than that, anyway."

"You have no game," she said. "It's okay, it's sweet."

"I don't want to be sweet. I want to be normal."

"Normal is overrated, and you won't ever be normal anyway."

"Thanks for reminding me," he sighed, and slung an arm over his eyes. "Sorry. You should get some rest."

"Everything that happened to you today happened to me too," she pointed out. "Plus I blew four bucks on bubble gum. Do you really think I'm coping with this better than you are?"

"It's not a matter of coping," he said. "I don't need much sleep, is all."

"Yeah, I got used to that a long time ago."

There was a soft, amused snort. "The great spy Black Widow has trouble sleeping?"


He let his arm slip back down to his side, rolling over to face her. She'd read his file; he could probably see more than her, given his supposed nighttime acuity, but she didn't bother schooling her features.

There was a hint of reflection in his pupils, like a cat's.

"What do you want me to be?" she asked, wondering how he'd answer this time.

"Not a friend," he said, voice suddenly rough. "I'd like you to be someone who doesn't need to ask me that question."

She sat up, pulled off the too-big shirt, squirmed out of the underwear; he watched, those pale slivers of reflection flicking over her body, but he didn't move.

"Natasha," he said, half a warning.

"I want this," she replied. "Don't you?"

"What I want and what I oughta take are two different things."

"I'm not asking for marriage," she said.

"What are you asking for?"

She took his hand, pulling it up to her breast, hooking her thumb around his and dragging it across her nipple. He inhaled, fingers cupping her like he was holding something precious, then pushed himself up with his other arm. The hand cupping her breast slid down her ribcage, gently skirted the scar from her last encounter with the Winter Soldier, and curled around her hip. He leaned into her, one long stretch of muscle and warm skin, face pressed to her neck, arm holding her against him. She lifted her near hand and twined it in his hair, cradling his head, and tipped her own down to rest her cheek against the crown.

"Show me something true," she said. "My life's a little short on truth right now."

"Not sure you're gonna enjoy the truth I got," he said. "This is because we almost died today, isn't it?"

"There are so many reasons for this," she replied. "That is one of them, but not all of them."

He inhaled against her, exhaled warm air on her throat. "Truth is, I've never been with a woman."

"Well, everyone needs practice."

He laughed into her skin, but it came out a little broken. She turned her body, turning his as well, until he settled back against the headboard. Moonlight through the window cast enough glow to see his face, and he looked startled as she straddled his lap smoothly, tugging his shirt up over his head. She leaned in and rested her face against his shoulder, breasts pressing against his chest as she hitched herself up and tugged on his briefs until he got with the program and helped get rid of them.

His arms came up to pin her in place gently -- she could pull away if she wanted, but she didn't want to -- and his voice was almost harsh in her ear. "Tasha."

She slid a hand down his belly, which contracted delightfully at her touch, and wrapped a hand around his cock, warm and hard against her thigh. He gasped, his whole body jerking, and she shifted in his grip until --

"Stop," he managed breathlessly, and she froze, leaning back. His face was almost agonized. "Condom," he managed.

Aw, they taught him safe sex in Welcome To The Twenty First Century school. Or maybe he'd had anti-VD films in the Army.

"I haven't got anything, and you can get anything anyway," she pointed out.

"I'm told I'm a little more -- effective than most fellas," he said.

She sat back, and he let go of her shoulders. "Effective."

"In the -- parenthood department."

Oh. That made sense -- enhanced genes, enhanced chance of passing them on. He looked embarrassed.

"Doesn't matter," she said, petting his face, smiling. "I can't get that, either."

His look turned sorrowful. She rolled her eyes.

"I don't want to," she said. "But since I can't anyway, we don't need one. If you have one, please, feel free, but I don't, so..."

He nodded, weighing his options, and finally pulled her close again, giving her just enough room to rise up.

"Yes?" she asked, catching his eyes.

"Yeah," he managed, and she sank down on him. He hissed, eyes closing.

He seemed content to let her stay in control -- either that or he was covering the fact that he didn't know what he was doing -- so she took over, setting a slow, undulating pace. He was like a well-bred horse; thickly muscled, huge and powerful, but fragile at the bone. He trembled when she kissed him -- high-strung, but he'd gentle, given time and training.

And a hell of a ride.

She smiled against his mouth and let him pull her close, at least until his rumbled groans threatened to give them away. Then she slipped a hand up his chest, over his throat with a brief squeeze that made him stiffen, and pressed her fingers over his mouth.

"Unless you want to put on a show for Sam," she said in his ear, "better keep it down, soldier."

He nodded, huffing, and pressed his mouth to her shoulder, hot and damp against her skin. He fell silent, almost completely, but after a few minutes he was breathing like a bellows and she knew he must be close. She dug her fingers into the back of his neck and bucked her hips against him sharply, heard the rattle of his indrawn breath, and felt his orgasm more in his body than in hers. His teeth broke the skin of her shoulder and she came a second after him, muffling a cry in his hair.

He took a long time to come down from it, but that was all right; she let herself relax in his arms, enjoying the warmth. When he was ready he eased her into the bed, turning with the motion to stay close with her.

"We're only going further down the rabbit hole from here," she said, after a while.

"I know," he answered, sounding unhappy about it.

"So serious," she teased, stroking his cheek.

"I can't help it," he said. "That's what I traded, y'know, for the job. Be Captain America -- nobody ever tells you all the extra muscle's 'cause there's so much more to carry."

She was quiet, considering how to answer, when he sighed and shook his head. "Doesn't matter. This was good. You liked it, right? I liked it."

"Yes, Steve, I liked it," she said softly.

"So. That's good. And we'll figure out what Zola's up to with Insight, and we'll stop it."

"And then what?" she asked.

"Well, then we..." he faltered. "Then we see where we are and our thing."

"Our thing."

"We work pretty well together. We, you know, do what we've always done. I don't know, I'm only the man with the plan in the song."

"Maybe we should save the plan for after we sleep," she admitted.

"Maybe," he agreed, and rolled off the bed. She watched as his shadow moved around the room, pulling on underwear and a shirt. "You want your..."

She waited, to see how long it would take before he'd say something; she was betting on dainties or clothes.

"No, thanks," she said finally. "Just let me have first shower in the morning."

"Might have to wrestle Sam for it, he's an early bird."

"Funny," she remarked, as he climbed back into bed. "Goodnight, Steve."

He surprised her; he slung an arm around her, loose enough not to constrict, tight enough to pull them close, and fell asleep with his face buried in her shoulder. He smiled more when he slept, she thought, before she drifted off as well.