Natasha sighed inwardly, trying not to count the ways she could kill the guy who was trying to talk her up, with one of the ice cubes melting in her martini. He was explaining, drunkenly, about the holes in the plotline of some action flick. She had tuned him out after about three words. The guy had ignored her subtle hinting, her more direct, “Go away,” and laughed at her very serious threat to snap his neck. He thought she was kidding. Cute.
She sighed again, this time outloud, and was rewarded with a hand on the small of her back. She had to forcibly remind herself not to react, and lucky for the guy she had such control, else he would be on the floor with a barstool cutting off the air to his lungs.
“Get your hands off of me,” she said slowly, and he just smiled, sliding his other hand up her arm. She jerked away from his touch.
“Hey, baby, give me a chance,” he said, and his hand slid back down to her waist, staying there. She gave him a small smile, and pulled out her phone.
>>Asshole Alert, requesting backup
Natasha located Steve on the other side of the bar with her eyes and waited for him to receive the message. He was chatting with Charlie, his favorite bartender (only because they both loved baseball). Steve reached into his back pocket and held up a finger, stopping Charile’s story to read the text. It was the newest Starkphone, practically forced upon him by Tony who said he didn’t work with people who didn’t have at least 32 gigs and 4G on them at all times. Not that Tony needed to really try to convince Steve of anything…
Reading, Steve’s eyebrows shot up and he met Natasha’s eyes over the bar. He tilted his head and she jerked her chin to her left, indicating the guy behind her. Steve’s eyes narrowed when he noticed the guy’s hand on her back. He stood, said something to Charlie, straightened his shirt and walked over.
“Is there a problem, sir?” Steve asked politely, never one to start a fight - but usually the one to finish it.
“Dude, back off, me and the lady here are talking,” the asshole said, brushing up against Natasha, who carefully (and barely) didn’t react.
“I believe the lady told you she wasn’t interested.”
“I believe it’s none of your business,” the guy said, and then nearly dropped his beer when Steve bodily pushed his way in between the guy and Natasha.
“Move, dickhole. I was talkin to her,” the guy said.
“No, I think you were done talking.”
“MOVE,” the guy shouted.
“No,” Steve said quietly.
Natasha grabbed the barstool behind Steve and moved it closer towards her, anticipating what would happen next and not wanting it to be in the way. Sure enough, the asshole threw a punch and Steve grabbed it in mid air, twisting the guy’s arm sharply behind him and slamming him down into the bar. The crowded room stopped for a moment, all eyes turning towards them, but soon enough the chatter started again, after the clientele realized it was just Steve.
The Avengers had become fairly regular customers here, it being the closest and classiest bar to the Tower, and Steve and Natasha were here every week. The staff and most of the other customers had seen many an asshole get their shit straightened out by Captain America, so it was really no surprise.
“Listen here, dickhole,” Steve said into the guy’s ear. “You ever touch, talk, or think about her again, I won’t hold back next time and you’ll end up putting an asshole-sized dent into this bar, capiche?”
Natasha grinned. Steve had been picking up phrases from Tony.
“Yeah, yeah, sure thing man, just don’t break my arm,” the guy whined, and Natasha rolled her eyes. Pathetic.
Steve released him and he immediately disappeared into the crowd.
Steve slid the barstool Natasha had earlier moved back to it’s spot and sat down. Charlie moved his drink over without a word - Coke, Steve was here for the company, not the booze - and Steve thanked him, then turned to Natasha.
“Request backup? Really, Nat?”
“What, he was pissing me off.”
“Not that it bothers me, because it doesn’t, but why didn’t you kick his ass yourself?”
“You know, I had that same thought,” Natasha said, sipping her drink, “but, you see, it’s been a hell of a long time since I had to take someone down without lethal intent.”
Steve looked at her for a second, and she shrugged.
“You called me over because you were worried about killing him?” Steve asked, voice skeptical.
“Basically. It’s a hard habit to break. And I’d never pass up a chance that Captain America would come to my rescue and flex his golden muscles at me, ooh, he’s so perfect, will you sign my boobs?” She said, imitating one of the bimbos they had run into yesterday on the street. Steve frowned at her, so she threw a paper coaster at his face, and he laughed, throwing it back.
Shortly after the Battle of New York, Steve and Natasha had become friends. She wasn’t sure when or who initiated it, but it made sense. They were both always at SHIELD, they were assigned lots of missions together, and more often than not, both cajoled and needled their way out of medical. Once Stark had finally convinced both of them to move into his stupid Tower, they started sparring and watching TV and it just kind of happened. Natasha had Steve in her phone contacts as “All American Vampire Slayer,” (long story,) and she was simply Natasha in his. Stark had valiantly tried to get Steve to use nicknames in the contacts, “Names are booooring, Steve, spice it up, everyone does that,” but he had refused, smiling and saying he preferred it to be simple.
That was something Natasha greatly admired about Steve - he was simple, straightforward, no bullshit. Natasha felt like she didn’t get nearly enough of that nowadays.
They both knew - or were dimly aware, at least - that most people assumed they were dating. Steve had never said anything about it, and neither had Natasha, but they definitely weren’t dating. Firstly, because Natasha had gathered that Steve leaned more heavily on the male end of the spectrum when thinking of partners. He hadn’t exactly told her, but she knew he was far more likely to check out an Adam than an Eve. And secondly, Steve wasn’t her type. Not that she had a specific type, it was just that currently she was only into green eyes and short hair and leather vests and a tendency to perch in high places and crawl through air vents…
She was fairly certain Steve knew about this, though she had never said anything, because he shot her very meaningful looks during debriefings when she mentioned Clint or he mentioned her.
Steve was comfortable being Natasha’s shield (haha,) and Natasha was cool with being Steve’s beard. The only problem with their little almost-arrangement was that they were so good at acting like they were together (or at least not denying that they were) that everyone believed it. Even those people that were closest to them, and that group included the people that Natasha and Steve ACTUALLY wanted to be dating.