There are bad days.
When Jessica wakes up, she feels off. She glances to the other side of the bed and sees that Natasha has already left for her morning run. That makes her feel worse. Sometimes, everything comes crashing down around her and she feels like she can’t breathe. Looking down, she realizes that the sheets she had clutched in her hands are smoldering green, her venom blasts sparking without her control. Quickly, she drops the sheets and stumbles out of bed.
Alone, alone, alone is the mantra inside her head. And… it’s silly, she thinks because logically she knows she isn't alone. She has friends: Carol, Kate, Bobbi, Bruce. She has Nat. But no matter what the logic is telling her, she’s starting to panic. Her breathes are shallow and her hands are shaking.
Jessica sits down on the floor in front of the couch and wraps her arms around her legs, staring blankly at the wall as she tries to flatten the panic welling inside her entire body. She’s sitting like that when Nat walks in the front door. Hurriedly shutting the door, Natasha rushes to Jessica’s side. Crouching down, Natasha strokes the side of her face until she responds. Once Jess looks up at her, Natasha wraps her in a hug.
“Do you want me to wake you before I leave from now on?” she whispers in Jessica’s ear.
“Just in case.”
Natasha’s sitting by the window, eyes blank. But inside her mind is anything but empty. She’s seeing flashes of ballerina shoes tangled in machine cogs, a splash of red across a white leotard. Then she’s seeing all that she’s done. It’s been years and she can’t shake the guilt. No matter how much she tries to make up for her past, she can’t move on. Now, she doesn’t know how to move on. She thinks of all the good that she has in life – her friendships, the lives she’s saved, Jessica—and can’t help but feel that she doesn’t deserve any of it. Mentally, she throws herself into a frenzy trying to come up with some way to make up for the things her hands are responsible for. But she can’t think of anything. Maybe she’ll never be able to.
She can feel Jessica hovering just beyond the door. After a moment, Jess enters the room.
“I brought you some tea.”
She smiles bitterly because Jessica knows her so well. As well as any person can know her, really. She knows how to make Natasha feel better when Natasha herself isn’t sure she wants to. Jessica sets the tea down on the table next to Nat and joins Natasha in front of the window. Jess reaches forward and takes Natasha’s hands in her own. Slowly, she brings them to her mouth and kisses each finger.
I may not deserve any of it, Natasha thinks, but hell if I’m giving any of it up.
But there are good days. And oh, are the good days good.
Jessica is not a morning person and she curses the fact that Natasha is. She’s slumped at the kitchen table, listening to the gurgling of the coffee pot, when Natasha gets back to the apartment after her morning run.
“Morning, sleepyhead.” Natasha says as she enters the kitchen and sees Jess. Jessica’s only response is a grunt. Natasha chuckles and rolls her eyes, flicking the switch on the electric kettle. While her water starts to boil, Nat gathers ingredients for breakfast.
“Omelet and bacon?” Natasha asks. Jess is lying with her face buried in her arms and her hair a wild mess around her, but Nat can see a tiny nod. As Jessica continues to be a sleepy lump against the table, Natasha prepares omelets and bacon for the two of them. She then pours her tea and a cup of coffee for Jess. When she places the plate and mug in front of Jessica, Jessica looks up at Nat from her arms.
With a small, sweet smile on her lips, she tells Nat, “I love you.”
Natasha smiles and leans down to kiss Jessica on the top of her head.
“I know” She grabs her own plate and mug and sits down across from Jessica, pressing their ankles together. “Now eat.”
Natasha’s getting ready to leave for a mission: another bust she’s working with Laura. She’s getting ready in the bathroom, door propped open. Jessica is lounging on the bed, book open in front of her. Her masquerade of reading is not too convincing because Nat can feel Jessica’s eyes rove over her body. She puts the finishing touches on her makeup and walks out of the bathroom.
“How do I look?” Natasha asks as she spins in front of Jess.
“Damn. Those goons stand no chance” Jessica praises, getting up on her knees and crawling closer to Nat. “You look perfect… except I think your lipstick is a little smudged.”
Natasha’s eyebrows crease and she moves to start toward to the mirror again. Jess jumps up.
“No no! Let me help you with it.” Jessica grabs Natasha and pulls her in for a kiss. After a moment, Jess breaks away.
“I think I got it.”
Natasha moves forward for another kiss.
When they aren't out running missions and doing other Avengers things, Natasha and Jessica generally have a movie night. Wrapped in warm clothes, a giant blanket, and each other, the two women are snuggled on the couch, trying to decide what movie to watch.
“Ooh, how about Arachnophobia?” Jess asks.
“Ha ha ha. Very funny.” Natasha answers dryly.
“I know! Let’s watch Big Ass Spider!.”
“I will push you off this couch.” Nat threatens. Jessica’s face looks like she’s up to the challenge, but the way her arms and legs suddenly suction to Nat’s body make Natasha think that she doesn't want to risk her chances. Satisfied with Jessica’s surrender, Natasha kisses her on the forehead.
“You’re such a sap. What’s the most ridiculous romance movie we own?” Jess teases.
Natasha rolls her eyes. “I’m picking the movie; you get no say.”
She gets off the couch and holds up the Princess Bride DVD. Jess nods her head.
“I concede. It’s a good choice.” Jessica stretches out on the couch, “Make me some popcorn while you’re up.”
“As you wish.” And Natasha flicks the DVD case at Jessica’s face. Jess winks when she catches it.
The mission was brutal. Jessica and Natasha stumble into the apartment at 3 am, exhausted. Their bodies feel strange: both sluggish and wired from the battle and left over adrenaline. They need a way to relax, but because it’s so late their habit of going to the spa is not on the menu. Therefore, they decide on a bubble bath. Jessica slowly pulls off her clothes while Natasha fills the bath. Then Jess undresses Natasha before they both climb into the tub. They end up with Jessica leaning back against the wall with Natasha between her legs, leaning back against Jessica’s chest.
For a few moments, they just close their eyes and breathe. Natasha tilts her head back onto Jessica’s shoulder, who then presses a light kiss to Nat’s temple. Jessica begins tracing shapes across Nat’s skin - starting on her thighs, arcing over her stomach, swirling around her breasts and shoulders. Nat hums when Jess then traces down her arms and tangles their fingers together under the water. Pressing kisses to the side of Natasha’s face, Jessica wraps their twined fingers and arms around Natasha’s body. Natasha turns her face to kiss Jess’s jaw; Jessica sighs and closes her eyes again.
They sit like that until the water turns cool and Jessica hears Natasha pull the stopper from the drain. Together they stand and wrap each other in big, fluffy towels. Their movements slowed because of tiredness and warmth, they make their way to the bedroom. Forgoing pajamas, they fall onto the bed together and somehow make their way under the covers. Despite Nat being shorter, she insists on being the big spoon and tucks her body behind Jessica’s. She wraps her arm around Jess and presses a kiss to the back of her neck. Both women are drifting off to sleep, content and relaxed for the first time in a long while, when they feel a pounce and light footsteps treading on the bed next to them. All of a sudden, Liho plops onto Jessica’s face, purring and kneading the pillow.
“Liho!” comes the muffled groan. Natasha bursts into laughter despite her exhaustion while Jess shoves the cat off her face. Nonplussed, Liho continues to knead the pillow. Jessica harrumphs and flips her body so she’s facing Nat. While Jess continues grumbling, Natasha kisses her on the tip of her nose. The grumblings quiet down and Nat tucks Jessica’s head underneath her chin and starts threading her fingers through Jessica’s hair. Natasha feels Jessica’s body slowly relax against her and Jessica’s breathing lulls her to sleep as well. She falls asleep with her fingers still tangled in dark curls.
In the morning, Jessica will laugh because Natasha’s bangs will be sticking straight out from her forehead. Then Natasha will slowly kiss her way up Jessica’s body only to jump out of bed to go make tea as a way of payback.