“How about I set you up on a blind date?” Natasha asked, throwing a wide punch to try to catch Steve off guard. Steve didn’t even flinch, just blocked the second punch and dropped low to avoid her follow-up kick.
“It’s not a blind date if I know who it is,” Steve grunted as Natasha used his position as an excuse to jump onto his back and put his head into a lock.
“You don’t know who it is,” Natasha frowned, trying to hold the lock. “Could be anyone.”
“It’s Sharon Carter,” Steve gasped.
“No it’s not,” Natasha huffed. (It was.)
“Who else would it be?” Steve said, breaking free of her grip. Before he could get the upper hand, however, she twisted his arm around his back and pressed it down with all of her weight. Natasha bent one of his fingers back until he was gasping in pain. “Who else – do you think – I’m close enough to – date?”
“Sam,” she said randomly. He had a point.
“Uncle, uncle,” Steve groaned. Natasha flipped back off him and stood up. Steve rolled over, staring up at her.
“What, like that bromance can’t lose the ‘b’?” she snorted. “Come on, Rogers, you need to get out more.”
“Why don’t you go on the blind date?” Steve said suddenly, raising an eyebrow. She kicked him softly in the stomach and he chuckled.
“Me? On a date?” she laughed. “Yeah, right.”
So, was that a ‘no’ on Sam? Because, if you’re into guys, this widens your prospective dating pool significantly. ;)
Stop trying to set me up.
Stop being a spoilsport.
Can’t. It’s one of my superpowers, according to Stark.
If he wasn’t dating Pepper…
STOP RIGHT THERE.
“I need someone to liaison with the CIA,” Steve said one morning over breakfast in Avengers Tower. Sam looked up with a grin, but Clint looked over at Natasha and shot her a look. She shrugged.
“Nope,” Clint said, shaking his head. “No way. The CIA hates my guts.”
“This is it!” Sam said, raising his arms above his head. “This is my chance to shine. Sam Wilson, Avenger, CIA—“
“Actually,” Steve said, staring down the breakfast table. “I was thinking about Natasha.”
She considered for a moment with narrowed eyes. Sam rolled his and mouthed, Suck-up.
“Why not?” she said with a shrug. “Although I thought you were the one liaising with a certain CIA agent. If that’s what they’re calling it these days.”
Steve only smirked.
“Hello,” the CIA liaison said when she met Natasha in the lobby of her building. “I’m Sharon Carter. We actually—“
“Worked together before. I remember,” Natasha said with a small smile. “Capetown, 2008. Never seen anyone surrender that quickly before,” she continued appraisingly.
“I could say the same of you, Agent Romanoff,” Carter said, returning the smile. “I’m glad Captain Rogers sent you. Let’s head up to my office.” They headed towards the elevators.
Natasha hesitated for a moment before she said, “Just call me Natasha.”
She didn’t bring it up until their morning jog the next week.
“Why does Sharon Carter call you ‘Captain Rogers’?” she asked. “Didn’t you two go on a few dates?”
“Is that what you call taking down rogue HYDRA factions these days?” Steve replied. “Guess I did a lot of dating in the 40’s after all.”
“Never become a spy, you can’t lie to save your life,” Natasha said.
“She’s Peggy’s niece,” Steve said. “It would be weird, right?”
“And living with Howard’s son isn’t?” Natasha shot back.
“She told me she isn’t interested,” Steve said, changing tracks. “Come on, Natasha, do you really think dating will help me adjust to this century?”
“No,” she said, punching him in the arm. “I think getting laid will help you lighten up.”
“Why don’t you go on a date?” Steve asked, turning around to jog backwards, facing her.
“Black Widow spiders eat after mating,” she laughed. “Good luck finding someone who isn’t afraid of me.”
With a smirk, Steve began to run into full speed without turning around, outpacing her.
“Okay,” he called back at her with a laugh.
Natasha, are you free Friday night?
Depends. Will there be pizza?
No, but I can promise you dibs on whoever’s in charge of the HYDRA base.
“I actually expected Rogers to be here, you know,” Carter huffed as she delivered an unapologetic roundhouse to the HYDRA agent’s ribs. He howled in pain.
“He’s a busy guy,” Natasha said. She zapped the next two attackers with her Widow’s Bite.
“It would be easier with three,” Carter said. She disarmed the next agent to attack her and elbowed him in the face, hard, breaking his nose. She took out the next few HYDRA agents who rushed towards them with the gun.
“What, like this is hard?” Natasha smirked. When another agent rushed at Carter, Natasha intercepted him and ducked to the floor, sweeping his feet out from under him. “We’ve got this.”
“Have we?” Carter asked weakly. She stopped shooting.
Natasha turned. On the other side of the warehouse, emerging from the shadows of a pile of crates, stood a woman dressed in bright red. Her hands glowed with some sort of venom-green electricity. Natasha narrowed her eyes, scanning her for a weakness, a source of the electricity. Nothing.
“Agent Drew,” Carter yelled, holding up her gun in warning. “You are under arrest. If you surrender—“
“HYDRA does not surrender,” Drew yelled, “HAIL HYDRA!”
She lifted her hands and shot a bolt of energy at the two of them. Natasha pulled Carter aside, out of the way of the blast.
Carter let out a spray of bullets towards Drew, but she dodged them. Drew jumped into a series of acrobatics to avoid the bullets, throwing herself into the air. Natasha swore.
“Damn,” Carter said, throwing down the gun and pulling a pair of EMP discs from her belt. She tossed one to Natasha.
“The plan?” Natasha asked, setting her Widow’s Bite to recharge.
“You take the right,” she said, “and never let Rogers talk you into anything ever again.”
With a laugh, Natasha rushed towards the HYDRA agent, shooting at her twice with the Widow’s Bite to bring her back to the ground.
Drew landed on her feet like a cat, but just as she aimed a bolt of green energy at Natasha, Carter yelled, “NOW!”
Natasha threw her EMP disc and watched as Drew was caught in the EMP field, her green energy sparking out as she was shocked.
She fell to the ground weakly, her chest heaving.
Carter held Drew to the ground as Natasha snapped the cuffs around her wrists.
“Rogers owes us,” Carter grumbled. “I expect a five star dinner. Drinks. Something.”
“We’d be better off holding this over his head for awhile,” Natasha smiled as they pushed Drew towards the doors to the transport van waiting outside. “His idea of a night out on the town is still a dance hall and a movie and home by ten.”
Carter laughed. “We should take him out dancing,” she suggested with a wink. “Know any good clubs?”
“Steve doesn’t dance, you know,” Bucky said, propped up against Steve’s apartment door with a scowl.
“He does now,” Natasha said, shoving past him into the apartment.
“Or else,” Sharon added, following her. “We have blackmail material.” Bucky sighed and shut the door behind them.
Steve emerged from his bedroom, dressed in what he probably thought was appropriate attire for a night out – dress pants, a button-up shirt, and slicked-back hair.
“Oh, honey, no,” Sharon said, shaking her head. Natasha tsked.
“Come on, Barnes, you were going to let him go out looking like this?” Natasha said dryly. Steve frowned.
“What’s wrong with this?” Steve said, looking down. “You said my t-shirts were too tight.”
“For everyday wear, maybe, not when we’re going clubbing,” Natasha sighed. She was wearing a short dress and flats, semi-casual.
“Someone was actually complaining about his clothes being too tight?” she heard Bucky mutter to Sharon, who laughed.
“Come on,” Natasha said, shoving Steve back into his room. “Barnes, put him in something suitable. And fix his hair.”
“Why do I have to--?” Bucky asked, but he cut off when Natasha shot him a look. He disappeared behind Steve into Steve’s bedroom, leaving Natasha and Sharon in the living room.
“So,” Natasha said, leaning against the back of Steve’s couch and crossing her arms. “Need a wingwoman tonight? Or are you playing it solo?”
Sharon snorted. “I don’t even know how to reply to that,” she said.
“Just because we’re trying to get Rogers out of the house doesn’t mean that we can’t have a little fun,” Natasha said, raising an eyebrow.
“I didn’t realize the two were mutually exclusive,” Sharon said.
“Have you ever taken him out somewhere?” Natasha asked. To her surprise, Sharon shook her head. “No? Well, if you can get him to loosen up…” she smirked.
“I bet I could,” Sharon said, sticking her chin out. “Want to make it interesting?”
“Yeah,” Natasha said, pushing herself off the couch. “Whoever can make him dance first. And he has to dance with someone. An actual person.Loser buys the winner a drink.”
“You’re on,” Sharon said, sticking out her hand for Natasha to shake.
“Come on!” Natasha said, pulling at Steve’s arm. “Live a little, Steve.”
“I don’t really dance,” Steve protested, speaking loudly over the music. He glanced around the club at the red and purple lights swirling around them and frowned a little.
Old fogey, Natasha thought to herself grumpily. (She may have been a little tipsy. A little.)
“Pleeeease,” Sharon pleaded, taking Steve’s other hand to tug him towards the dance floor. (She was more than a little tipsy.)
“I don’t know how,” Steve said, pulling away from both of them.
Natasha and Sharon shared a look.
“You jump up and down and grind against the nearest attractive person in sight,” Natasha said dryly, looking around at the many clubbers who proved her point. “What’s not to know?”
“I’ll teach you,” Sharon offered with a smile. “Come on, Steve. We can dance if we want to,” she started singing, bobbing her head around. She grabbed Natasha’s hand and started dancing, backing away from Steve. Natasha bumped hips with Sharon and burst into laughter.
“We can leave Steve behind. Cause Steve don’t dance and if he don’t dance then he’s no friend of mine,” Sharon sang, bobbing her head.
“What are you--?” Steve said, looking side to side awkwardly. He looked like he was halfway between laughing and giving up entirely.
“We can dance, we can dance,” Sharon said, pulling Steve closer. “S. A. F. E. T. Y. Safety. Dance.”
She grabbed his hands and moved them up and down, then pulled him closer and twisted around, crossing his arms around her as she danced. Natasha covered her mouth with her hand as Steve visibly sighed and gave in, moving back and forth to the beat.
“You’re dancing!” Sharon said with a laugh, twisting around and pulling Steve with her to the crowd of dancers. “It’s that easy.”
Natasha followed them, breezing through the close crowd until Sharon found Steve a relatively tame part of the dance floor.
“This isn’t dancing,” he said to Natasha as she slid up to him and joined in. “This is jumping around and…wiggling.”
“You can’t forget grinding,” Sharon said, appearing at Natasha’s side and worming her way into her personal space, rubbing up against her like the other dancers. Natasha burst into laughter again, syncing up with her rhythm as Steve rolled his eyes at the two of them.
He was smiling, though, Natasha had to give Sharon credit for that.
The song changed to something faster, and so did the beat on the dance floor, the lights moving faster now, the crowd tightening around them. Steve disappeared, sliding between some extremely enthusiastic dance partners. Sharon caught Natasha’s eye and they shared a smile, the two of them dancing to the same beat.
By the time the song ended and the two of them looked up, Steve was a feet away, his tall height easy to pick out in the crowd. He was dancing with someone, although Natasha couldn’t make out who it was in the darkness and the thick crowd around them.
“He looks busy,” Sharon said in Natasha’s ear, her voice low and smug as she draped an arm around her shoulders. “So. How about that drink?”
How do I get the glitter out of my hair?
How did you get glitter in your hair?
I don’t know.
Maybe you’ve begun to naturally produce glitter. A side-effect of the serum.
Does this mean Bucky is going to start sweating glitter, too?
Hasn’t he always?
They hadn’t invented it yet.
Hey, have you talked to Sharon since last night?
I don’t have her cell. Would you call her and ask how she’s doing?
Judging by my head, I bet she has the hangover of her life.
Hangover-free glitter serum. :)
“Okay,” Cap said in a hushed voice, back braced against the door to the bunker facing the three of them. “Bucky, you and I will take the right wing. Carter, Romanoff, take the left. Radio silence for now.”
“Shouldn’t we split up a little more evenly?” Bucky said as Steve checked that the coast was clear. “Me and Romanoff, you and Carter.” Steve turned to shoot him a look Natasha didn’t understand.
“What, Barnes, scared to go off without me?” Natasha said wryly, raising an eyebrow. “Maybe he’s right, Cap, I think you two would be safer with us.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Bucky frowned.
“If you’re done bickering,” Sharon sighed, crossing her arms. She pushed the door open and checked that the coast was clear before disappearing into the hallway beyond. Natasha followed, leaving Cap and Bucky to whisper at each other.
“What was that about?” Natasha muttered as she joined Sharon’s side, holding her gun out in case they encountered anyone. The base was supposedly abandoned, but she wasn’t going to take any chances.
Natasha read the hesitation in Sharon’s voice as she said, “Steve told me he thinks we work well together.”
“And?” Natasha asked, knowing there was more.
“And I think he’s worried about Barnes,” Sharon shrugged. Natasha felt like there was more to it, but Sharon wasn’t lying. “I don’t blame him, honestly,” Sharon continued. “He’s been through a lot. Personally, I think it’s a little too early for him to be out in the field, but no one’s asked me.”
“Maybe Steve should,” Natasha said. They turned a dark corner, the beams of their flashlights shining through the shadows. Natasha pulled a spider web aside with her flashlight.
“I appreciate that,” Sharon said, smiling at her briefly.
“I mean it,” Natasha said firmly. “And I don’t throw compliments around. You should join the Avengers. Steve borrows you for these side missions often enough.”
“It’s hard to find help when most of the guys you worked with joined the private sector,” Sharon said, looking to the side and grabbing a man who had been hiding in the shadows, shoving him into the hall. Natasha disarmed him and kicked him over to Sharon, who whacked him over the head with her gun, knocking him unconscious. “And when the rest joined up with HYDRA,” she snarled, kicking him aside.
“Cap, we’ve got hostiles,” Natasha said into her comms as a band of HYDRA agents ran through a set of sliding doors.
“You want to go first, Agent Romanoff?” Sharon asked, pulling another gun out of her holster.
“After you, Agent Carter,” Natasha smirked.
Steve pushed the holographic files across the Avengers conference room table to Natasha. They lit up underneath her fingers, detailing several dossiers. She looked across the table and up at him.
“What am I looking at?” Natasha asked, opening one of the files at random. Barbara Morse, the file read. Formerly Level Six SHIELD biochemical engineer, field agent training. Current status: Inactive.
“I’m putting together another team,” Steve said seriously. “Black Ops. Top Secret.” He pulled up a bigger file on the big screen, showcasing the choices he’d made.
“For the work we can’t do publicly,” Natasha nodded. “Is Stark in on it?”
“He’s handling the legal side, as the official financer of The Avengers franchise,” Steve said. “But he left building the team to me. What do you think?” he asked as she skimmed through the material. “I wanted to keep it small. Two leaders, tacticians; a scientist, preferably biochem with field training; field agent, specializing in hand-to-hand combat; and a specialist, preferably a marksman.”
“So,” Natasha started, shuffling through the dossiers on the table’s screens. “Bobbi Morse, biochem, she’s a good scrapper. Melinda May, combat specialist…location unknown, but I bet Hill can find her. Barnes, marksman.” She looked up at Steve. “Is he ready for this?” she asked carefully.
“I think he is,” Steve said. “He’s been doing great on our solo missions. He wants to take HYDRA down.”
“That’s different, Steve,” Natasha replied. “That’s personal. Working with a team is different.”
“He needs to get out there,” Steve said. “It’ll be good for him.”
Natasha sighed. “Have you talked to him about it?”
“Not yet,” Steve admitted.
“Ask him what he thinks. If he says no, don’t push it,” she said firmly. “I know you, Steve, don’t pull any of that emotional blackmail bullshit. It isn’t going to help anybody.” Steve frowned, chagrined, but he nodded.
“I was going to ask you to help lead the team,” he said, shifting gears. “Combat expertise, extensive espionage experience, hacking skills…” Steve trailed off and looked up, catching her eye. “You’d be picking the missions. Full disclosure. You lead the team with a partner and make the calls. It balances it out.”
Natasha raised an eyebrow. “Who have you picked for me to work with? Please tell me it isn’t Barton.”
Like clockwork, the door opened. “Sorry I’m late,” Sharon said, walking into the room and taking a seat at the table, looking up at the files projected on the screen. “Did you start without me?”
When Natasha looked over at Steve, he winked.
Where are you?
Sorry, don’t think I’ll be able to make it. You two have fun.
Nothing serious. Don’t worry about it.
You know me. I never worry.
“Where’s Rogers?” Sharon asked, sitting beside Natasha with their popcorn.
“He isn’t showing,” Natasha sighed. “Something came up.”
“Huh,” Sharon said, offering the popcorn tub to her with a smile. “Well, more popcorn for us.” Natasha took a handful of popcorn and smiled back.
The movie was terrible, some horror flick that Steve had picked out ill-advisedly. While the teenaged half of the audience seemed to jump at every twist, Sharon was nearly doubled over in laughter at the vampire-zombie-werewolves’ attack on the campers.
“Yes, run into the nearest room with windows,” Natasha whispered in her ear. “Get into the least defendable part of the house. Don’t even bother getting any weapons, you’re dead anyways. Just sit back, hand them a straw to better suck your blood.”
Sharon leaned over, her breath tickling Natasha’s ear as she muttered, “Hey, wanna get out of here?”
Natasha didn’t need to be asked twice. They grabbed their empty popcorn tub and drinks and headed out of the theater, failing to hide their laughter as the screaming victim met their grisly and predictable fate.
It wasn’t late, so they walked out of the theater and down to the nearest coffee shop.
“I don’t understand why they’re always wearing such insensible footwear, you can’t run from zombies in heels,” Natasha complained as they waited for their drinks. “Well,” she amended, “Pepper Potts probably could.”
“If they’re going to wear stiletto heels, they might as well use them like the real thing,” Sharon snorted.
“Right?” Natasha agreed. “Those heels will go right through an eye.”
An older woman behind them cleared her throat in disdain. Natasha and Sharon avoided each other’s eyes, trying not to burst into giggles.
“Sorry Rogers couldn’t make it,” Natasha said as they sipped their lattes a few minutes later. Sharon rolled her eyes.
“It’s his loss,” Sharon replied. “It’s nice to hang out, just the two of us.”
When Sharon turned up the corner of her mouth in a half-smile, Natasha felt something warm growing in her chest.
“Yeah,” she said, swallowing it down with another sip of her coffee. “But next time, I’m picking the movie.”
How’d it go?
Well, the movie sucked.
Not the movie. Did you and Sharon have fun?
…Yeah? We got coffee after.
“Something’s up with Rogers,” Natasha said, sliding onto the barstool next to Bucky. He glanced at her and flagged down the bartender to buy her a drink.
“And you’re bugging me about it because?” he asked, leaning on the bar.
“Because you live with him. I’m assuming you know what’s up,” she shrugged. They quieted as the bartender set Natasha’s beer in front of her and waited until he walked away to continue their conversation.
“Do I?” Bucky sighed. “He’s all excited about this secret Avengers team of his, I know that.”
“Yeah, right,” Natasha said dryly. “I thought you were a better liar than that. Come on, Barnes, spill.”
Bucky hesitated, picking up his drink and tracing the condensation on the glass with a gloved finger.
“He’ll kill me,” Bucky said.
“No, he’ll just pout like a sad puppy,” Natasha snorted. “Come on, it can’t be that bad.”
“That’s even worse,” Bucky groaned, covering his eyes with a hand. “You haven’t figured it out yet? The common denominator to all of his weird behavior? He hasn’t been very subtle.”
Natasha took a long drink from her beer, thinking. She froze, eyes sparkling with the realization.
“Oh my god,” Natasha said. “Steve’s trying to set me up with Sharon.”
Bucky laughed. “Is it really that surprising?”
“No,” Natasha said, shaking her head. “It’s just…I think it’s working.”
I’m going to kill you in your sleep.
This text will not help your defense in a court of law.
I think they’ll let me off on account of HOW JUSTIFIED I AM.
Is this about the ice cream? Sorry, didn’t know it was yours. Supersoldier metabolism. Etc.
I’m going to kill Bucky.
Wait. Is it working? ;)
“Steve’s been trying to set us up for the past month,” Natasha said as soon as the door to Sharon’s office closed behind her.
Sharon looked up from a pile of paperwork on her desk and stared at Natasha in surprise. She had brought Sharon a coffee from Starbucks, a peace offering, or maybe an apology. She set it on her desk.
“Has he?” Sharon said, eyeing the coffee to read the order on the side. Caramel Macchiato, of course, her favorite.
“Yes. That’s why he’s been pairing us up on all of these missions lately, trying to get us to work together…” Natasha trailed off.
“It makes sense, I guess,” Sharon said. She popped the lid off her coffee and took a sip.
“I just thought you should know,” Natasha said. “I mean, he’s Steve, he didn’t mean any harm by it. He still wants us to lead his secret Avengers team. I’ve been trying to set him up for months, and he turns around and tries to do it to me behind my back.” She sighed.
“So,” Sharon said, looking up from her desk, “does that mean you aren’t interested?” She tilted her head to the side and met Natasha’s eye with a soft smile.
“Rogers would never let us live it down,” she said slowly, biting back a grin.
“Let me worry about Rogers,” Sharon said with a wink. “You just worry about what to wear for our date Saturday night. Is eight good for you?”
“Yeah,” Natasha laughed. “Eight is good.”
We’re at the restaurant and waiting at the table. Can I finally meet your new boyfriend?
Running late, sry.
Depends. Can I finally meet yours?
I never said I had a boyfriend.
Neither did I.
Natasha squinted around the restaurant until she spotted Steve’s blonde head in the booth. Grabbing Sharon’s hand, she pulled her towards the table.
“He’s going to be so smug,” Natasha sighed.
“Yeah, right up until I – Holy shit. Is that--?” Sharon stopped mid-sentence, staring in disbelief.
“You are so dead,” Natasha growled, stopping at the edge of the table and tapping her fingers against the wood.
“Am I?” Bucky said in mock surprise, looking up with a self-satisfied grin. “Tried that once. Didn’t stick.”
Sharon pulled Natasha into the booth, shaking her head at Steve, who was trying not to laugh.
“Aunt Peggy is hearing about this, Rogers,” Sharon admonished him. “Come on. I feel betrayed.”
“She already has,” Steve smiled. “She thinks you and Natasha make a good couple, actually.”
“Congratulations, by the way, I’m very happy for the both of you,” Bucky said sarcastically. “I wish we’d made some kind of bet,” he said, looking at Steve. He grinned at Bucky.
“Did you hear something?” Sharon said, turning to Natasha.
“No,” Natasha replied, tilting her head to the side. “I think I feel a warm breeze, though. I wish I hadn’t worn long sleeves.”
“I think you look ravishing in that outfit, Agent Romanoff,” Sharon said, batting her eyelashes dramatically.
“Why, thank you, Agent Carter. You’re looking stunning yourself,” Natasha chuckled, leaning in for a kiss.
“I take it all back,” Natasha heard Steve sigh as Sharon kissed her. “This was a terrible idea.”