“I’m gonna fuckin’ eviscerate you.”
Tony dodges as Steve goes toppling off Bucky’s shoulders. Natasha sips her iced tea and wishes Bucky would teach her how to say ‘eviscerate’ with that much venom. The poor photographer jumps, clearly seconds away from pissing his pants. Facing down a furious, naked Winter Soldier is probably not what he signed up for.
“Do you know how much that man weighs?” Bucky stalks towards Joe—Jeff?—something with a J—and the man raises his camera like it can protect him from the Winter Soldier’s wrath. “Do you know how much Captain fucking America weighs? Do you think it’s easy holdin’ him up on your shoulders for half an hour? Would you like to try holdin’ up two hundred pounds of muscle with a naked-ass dick poking the back of your neck for half an hour?”
“No!” Jack(?) and Steve yell at the same time, and Captain America and all of his two hundred pounds of muscle picks himself up off the ground where Bucky left him and runs to the rescue. His pecs literally jiggle with each bouncing step. Natasha can’t decide if she finds that attractive or not.
“C’mon, Buck,” he says, then takes a step back when Bucky whirls on him. “I mean,” he amends quickly, and turns to Josh(?). “Are you sure you don’t have enough shots already?”
“Uh, sir,” Julius(?) stammers, torn between doing his job and running for his life from the man Captain America isn’t brave enough to stand up to, and also saying the word ‘penis’ to a national icon, because somehow or other the penis is always the problem. “It’s just, sir, Sergeant Barnes’ hair, sir, is, um, covering more of you than we—want.”
“The problem is that my hair is hiding Steve’s dick,” Bucky says flatly. “Are you fucking kiddin’ me?”
“It’s a very patriotic dick,” Clint calls from where he’s carefully lowering Sam to the ground. Which is a lot more careful than Rhodey is when he dumps Tony on his bare ass on the concrete, pretty much the same way Bucky dropped Steve. Ah, best friends. This is why Natasha doesn’t have any.
“It’s not the, um.” Jace(?) visibly steels himself. “It’s not the penis, Sergeant Barnes, sir. We’re going to make sure none of your, uh, penises end up in the final photos.” Bucky stares at him. John(?) wilts. “It’s covering the rest of his groin and parts of his thighs, too.”
“I wanted to put my hair up,” Bucky reminds him. “You’re the one who decided I should leave it open so it could get fucking everywhere!”
“That was before we realized—” Joshua(?)grinds to a halt and looks like he could gladly swallow his own tongue.
That the serum did not, in fact, enhance everything, and we wouldn’t need your hair to hide Captain America’s surprisingly small dick, Natasha fills in for him silently, eyes flicking helplessly to Steve’s crotch. It’s not that small. Steve’s probably a grower.
“Realized what,” Bucky prompts, suddenly calm and very, very dangerous. Steve drags a hand over his face. Jacob’s(?) knees are shaking.
“For fuck’s sake, Barnes,” Tony yells. “My balls are shriveling up in this wind. Can we just skip past the diva act and get this over with?”
Steve slaps a hand over Bucky’s chest, presumably to hold him back, but his hand starts stroking over the pec so he’s either gotten distracted or he’s aiming to distract Bucky from trying to kill Tony for the fifth time today.
Bucky puts his hand over Steve’s and smiles at him, so either way it works.
“Get back on his shoulders, Rogers,” Natasha nods at Johnny(?). “Last time.”
There’s some grumbling as Sam and Tony climb back on Clint and Rhodey’s shoulders, but when Bucky starts to crouch down, Steve just grabs his thighs and hefts him up.
“This isn’t so bad,” he says, laughing as Bucky grabs at his head for balance.
“Shut up, asshole,” says Bucky. “Give it thirty minutes.”
The Avengers’ roof garden is open, and windy, and cold, and really isn’t conducive to sex, let alone the naked jousting the photography team is aiming to capture, but turns out they should have tried this arrangement from the get-go. Tony and Bucky are fiercely competitive, and even though Sam mostly just waits on the sidelines for one of them to tire out before going in for the kill, the photos from this round will undoubtedly be much fiercer than when Steve was spending most of his time making sure he didn’t hurt anyone.
Tony holds his own surprisingly well, possibly because him and Rhodey make a better unit than Steve and Bucky with their roles reversed. Natasha can easily picture Bucky Barnes running down the street with little Steve Rogers on his shoulders. Bucky on Steve’s shoulders is a more jarring image, never mind that Steve is the bigger one now. Clearly, they feel the same way, and after Bucky nearly falls off the fourth time he kicks Steve in the ribs and jumps off.
“Please tell me that’s enough,” he says, and grins viciously as Tony’s tackled off Rhodey’s shoulders by a victorious Sam.
“Caw caw, motherfuckers!” Clint hoots, with absolutely no shame. God only knows where he picked up that phrase, but not even the threat of decapitation via Russian ex-assassin can stop him from using it. “We beat the supersoldiers and the metal people!”
“The supersoldiers forfeited, asshole,” Bucky says, sour. Steve elbows him in the solar plexus. “Ow! Okay, I forfeited, not that it matters who did the forfeiting. We’re a team, Rogers.”
“Bite me,” Steve tells him, then ambles over to where Natasha is not going to share her iced tea, thank you very much.
“I’m not going to share my iced tea,” she says. “Get your own.”
“I just want pants,” Steve says. Natasha looks down.
“Are they really shriveling from the wind?” she asks, curious.
Steve considers this. “A little,” he says. He may be lying. One of these days they’ll hopefully get hit with a body-switching spell. Natasha wants a dick for twenty-four hours just to see what it feels like.
Preferably Rhodey’s, or Bucky’s. Those are two very pretty dicks.
“We done with this one?” Sam asks Jared(?). Tony and Bucky are arguing over who gets to hold the American flag for the next set of pictures, since Steve outright refused to do it himself.
“Look, Stark, it’s only fair for it to be me,” Bucky waves to where Steve is surreptitiously eyeing Natasha’s iced tea. Natasha shifts the cup to her other hand. “I do my patriotic duty to America every morning, after all.”
“Yeah, and since you get to salute the goddamned flag literally every day,” says Stark, “It’s my turn!”
“How do you shave your balls?” Natasha asks in fascination.
“How do you shave your vagina?” Steve returns pleasantly.
Natasha sucks on her straw. “I don’t,” she says.
“It really would be best if Captain Rogers holds the flag,” Jim(?) tries to interject, and Bucky turns to glare at him. Jackson(?) shrinks back in alarm.
“He said no,” says Bucky. He’s very particular about that word. “Are you going to make Captain America do something he has plainly stated he is not comfortable with? Son?”
“N-no, Sergeant Barnes, of course not,” stammers Jonathan(?), and wisely backs off. Tony and Bucky start a game of rock-paper-scissors.
“Steve, tell him to be nice to the man.” Sam plucks the iced tea from Natasha’s hand before she even realizes he’s there. Steve just grins when she turns betrayed eyes on him. Dammit, it was a conspiracy! “If he flees in terror Pepper will be upset.”
“I think Pepper deserves to be a little upset for forcing us all into this, don’t you think?” says Steve, because he does have several mean bones in his body, and because Bucky’s been rubbing off on him. Literally.
Sam turns to Natasha, pleading. “Do something,” he says.
She scoffs at him. “I’m off the clock, Wilson. I’m not here on Avengers wrangling duty, or as a babysitter. That is not my job. That is actually Bucky and Rhodey’s jobs, and occasionally Pepper’s job. It is their actual jobs. Go talk to the people in charge. I’m busy objectifying all of you.”
Sam looks at her, then looks over to where Bucky’s beaten Tony (paper eats rock) and is now threatening to feed him his own intestines. Rhodey’s helping the conversation along, more amused than concerned, even though with Bucky the threat has a 50/50 chance of being real.
“Yes. They’re doing great, aren’t they?” Sam says.
Natasha shrugs, “Not my fault Bucky and Tony decided to like each other and now either Rhodey or Steve is about to lose his place as bff.”
“Not me,” says Steve, with the absolute confidence of a man who knows exactly how to suck his best friend’s dick.
“Of course not you,” Sam mutters, and goes to make sure this photoshoot doesn’t drag into the next day.
Natasha glares at him balefully. “Steve, I need more iced tea.”
“I’m busy,” Steve says, tilting his head to better watch Bucky’s naked ass walk away. “Get your own.”
To be completely honest, Natasha did volunteer for babysitting duty when Pepper asked. Mostly because she’s awful at it, and had nothing better to do, and she genuinely thought Bucky and Rhodey would have it well in hand, as per usual. She did not expect Bucky to take advantage of the confidentiality agreement and go full-on Russian assassin on the poor photographer’s ass, something he took an unreasonable amount of pleasure from, or for Rhodey to decide that the only person he was required to babysit today was Tony.
Natasha had just wanted to make fun of untimely erections, but turns out a photoshoot is really too uncomfortable, and the wind too chilly, for anyone to be remotely in the mood. Not even Steve popped a boner when Bucky laid him out on their king-sized bed and kissed him senseless so he’d be all puffy lips and pink cheeks and glazed eyes for his solo shoot. The American flag draped artfully (read: scantily) over his—heh, flagstaff—hadn’t even been necessary, and Natasha was of the opinion that the whole scene with soft morning light streaming in through the floor to ceiling windows was far too serene for July.
Hell, Clint got set up with an actual bow and arrow for February and not a single person made a comment about shooting off a dick! Tony made a couple cracks about Cupid, but those are getting old. Natasha can’t run a constant stream of dick jokes on her own, people.
Bucky holds the American flag as the other men take positions clustered around him, hands cupping their soft dicks to hide them from the camera as they all strike an individual power pose. The amount of testosterone in the air is enough to choke a Norse god, and Natasha’s only human. Thank fuck Thor won’t be back on earth to shoot the June cover until next week.
Rhodey’s March shoot starts off smoothly enough, with the rest of the guys lounging about in sweatpants in the common room because James Rhodes is done with Tony’s bullshit. Natasha stays, and gets to watch a very professional-looking lady who didn’t bat an eye at the Winter Soldier defiling Captain America falls all over herself concealing Colonel Rhodes’ penis with colorful flowers.
“I can still see half a ballsack,” Natasha calls out helpfully.
“Oh, but that flower’s all but disappearing against his skin,” she says. “It looks like part of his dick.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to put a couple stems up his ass?” she asks, and Rhodey throws a pink carnation at her. The lady looks like she’s about to have an aneurysm. Natasha is a genius, but Rhodey doesn’t seem to be appreciating her efforts.
“Ask her out!” she mouths at him a while later, when the flowers have finally been placed to Natasha’s satisfaction, and Rhodey is totally ruining the peaceful effect by glaring at her. “She’s in-to you!” she enunciates.
Rhodey doesn’t stop glaring. She remembers when he used to be afraid of her. She remembers when all of them used to be afraid of her. Not anymore. She blames Clint, although it’s probably Steve’s fault. No one had dared make fun of her before Captain fucking America shacked up with the Winter Soldier, got a whole lot sassier, and started their double act of Who Can Pull Natasha’s Nonexistent Pigtails Harder Without Losing A Metaphorical Hand.
(They think it’s metaphorical. Natasha has been doing a lot of research on Bucky Barnes’ metal arm.)
“You should tone down the glare,” says Natasha. “You’re looking more June than March.”
“Please leave,” says Rhodey.
“I’m helping,” says Natasha, miffed.
“You’re really not,” says Rhodey.
Fine. Natasha kicks her feet off the chair and stalks out. October will appreciate her.
October does not appreciate her.
“Thought you weren’t on babysitting duty today,” Sam says, grinning like Christmas came early as Natasha complains to him about being kicked out by Rhodey. James Rhodes. Guy who has enough patience to deal with Tony Stark. Rhodey Rhodes kicked her out.
Natasha is not pleased.
“I’m objectifying you,” she sniffs, accepting a brand new peppermint iced tea from Bucky, and pretends they’re all still naked even though they’re not.
“Natasha,” Steve says patiently as Bucky goes to drape himself all over him like a cat stretching out in the sun. “We’re your friends. You know we only want what’s best for you.”
“The first step towards healing is to accept that you have a problem,” Sam intones, sipping at a frothing cup of pink-brown something. If this is how he speaks to vets in the VA Natasha would like to know how he hasn’t gotten shot yet.
“Do not, July,” she says, warning, but Steve doesn’t listen to logic on the best of days, and today he’s had to sit through three hours of Tony Stark negotiating their assigned months on the stupid calendar.
“You’re going stir-crazy,” he says, blithely ignoring her.
Bucky pinches Steve. “Leave her alone,” he says. This is why he’s her favorite. “She just has a twelve-step guide on How To Be Normal, and she keeps getting stuck on step number ten because she doesn’t want to date so she’s projecting it onto everyone else.”
She takes that back.
“Hey man, good for you,” Sam bumps his frappa-latta-whatta into Bucky’s metal fist, pleased. “Been paying attention in therapy.”
“Fuck all of you,” says Natasha, and chews her straw. “I just want Rhodey to be happy.”
Bucky laughs in her face.
“I’m sure you want Rhodey to be happy,” Steve spreads his hands. “But mostly you’re just really fucking bored.”
“Rhodey kicked you out,” Sam reminds her, like she’s likely to forget. The man put up with Tony fucking Stark for twenty years.
Bucky stretches his legs on the couch and yawns. His feet end up very close to Natasha’s thighs.
“Quit bein’ so fucking crabby.” Bucky’s accent comes out strong when he curses. “It’s your own fault for sitting here waiting on Fury’s orders when you could be halfway to Syria by now. I hear Hell’s Kitchen’s got a new vigilante. You know who he is yet?”
No, she thinks.
“Yes,” she says.
“You’re such a liar,” Bucky says, and throws his feet over her lap. “Why haven’t you tracked him down yet?”
“I just, I don’t know,” she sighs, frustrated. “I really fucked up last month, blowing my cover and getting my face splattered all over the papers. I want to make it up to him. Fury told me to stay put. Stay in the Tower. Not get myself into anything. That Daredevil’s a disaster. If I go after him we’ll both end up in the news.”
“Like that’s ever stopped you before,” Bucky says, and Steve puts a hand over his mouth to shut him up. Bucky probably licks it, but Natasha doubts that works so well on someone he swaps spit with on the regular.
“What about a hobby,” Steve suggests. Sam must be oh-so-proud of these two.
Bucky rubs his head into Steve’s crotch. “Stalking is a hobby,” he announces when Steve yelps and lets him go. “You like stalking. There’s also that kid, Spiderman. Flies all over Manhattan and Queens. I’m sure you can find more if you go looking.”
“Privacy is a thing,” Sam reminds him, and Bucky scoffs.
“They’re masked vigilantes. They’re practically beggin’ us to go check ‘em out.” He turns to Natasha. “Come on. You know you want to.”
She wants to. But she made a promise, and nothing short of world-ending disaster is going to make her go back on it. Fury fucked up, then he made it up to her. Natasha fucked up, now she’s going to make it up to him.
“No,” she says, resolute. Bucky blows out a breath and flops back onto Steve. “I’ll do it after Nick comes back, but not now.”
“Then you need something to do that’s not babysitting,” Steve says. He’s detangling Bucky’s long hair with his fingers, abs folded over each other as he slouches down. Natasha doesn’t know if either of them is ticklish. It seems like something she should know, considering how much time Bucky spends using them both as body pillows.
“I’m not babysitting,” she says. “I’m objectifying.”
“I really don’t understand you,” Sam says plaintively, sucking on his straw.
“Fuck you and your frappa-latta-whatta,” she says, and shoves Bucky’s feet off her lap.
Without Natasha around to pester Rhodey and the photography team, March finishes up within half an hour, but January does not go off without a hitch. Rhodey doesn’t even show up to help them out. Tony is loud, and annoying, and pisses Steve off within five minutes, and Tony and Bucky are—well.
“Wear the fucking helmet too, Stark; it’s a marked improvement on your face,” Bucky yells up to where Tony’s hovering several feet above the roof, wearing only the repulsors on his hands and feet. It’s a very strange sight, and Jaime(?) has been begging him to float back down and take off all but one metal glove for the past fifteen minutes. The poor man is not getting paid enough for this.
“What do you know about ugly, Barnes?” Tony yells back. “It’s not like you looked into a mirror in the last seventy years!”
Steve bristles, but Bucky laughs long and loud. He loves that Tony doesn’t bother to walk on eggshells about his time with Hydra, can joke about it in a way not even Steve or Natasha have been able to bring themselves to do. Natasha can respect that, even though the only thing that makes Steve lose his temper faster is suggesting Bucky should be put down for his crimes as Hydra’s greatest asset.
“Do I look like Rhodey to you,” Sam says when Natasha looks at him. “I’m just here for the free entertainment.”
Natasha heaves a sigh. She needs to pee. “Steve, leave them alone. Bucky can handle Tony.”
“Why does he always have to make things difficult?” Captain America whines at her. Sometimes Natasha genuinely can’t tell if he’s jealous of Tony’s easy childlike friendship with Bucky or not. There’s too much history between Steve and Bucky for that relationship to ever be easy.
“Sit down and finish Bucky’s mocha,” she says. “It melted; he’s not going to drink it anymore.”
“Look, asshole, you look like a fucking moron,” Bucky tells Tony, matter of fact. “Get down here and let the nice man do his job.”
Jeb(?) blinks at Bucky, unsure about the safety of his balls when the Winter Soldier is calling him ‘nice’ after threatening him not three hours ago.
“Maybe I should take up Steve-wrangling as a hobby,” Natasha says to Sam. “Shoulder some of your great burden.”
“I’d really appreciate that.” Not even Captain America can pull off sincerity quite like Sam Wilson. “He can be a real handful.”
Steve flips them off. “You two can suck my dick.”
Sam snorts. “I’m sorry, but my blood pressure cannot handle being anything more than your friend.”
“I said you can suck my dick,” Steve says snootily. “I wasn’t offering anything more.”
“Wow,” says Sam. “Not even reciprocation. You hearing this, Natasha?”
“I’m hearing a lot of things but dick jokes aren’t among them,” Natasha says, because people are naked and yet there is a dearth.
“Mr. Stark, please come down here so we can finish this and I can go home,” Jason(?) snaps, really out of patience. At this rate he’s going to quit and then they’ll all have to sit down and listen to Pepper being disappointed in them for half an hour, and Natasha will feel more awful than the rest of them because fuck her life, but she volunteered to babysit.
Sam sucks noisily at his straw. He’s clearly going to be a ton of help.
“Seriously Stark, if you don’t come down here and do as the—photographer—says, I’m coming up to get you,” Natasha says, injecting venom into her voice. Tony looks at her and wavers.
“You’re just showing off with your tin can cause you don’t think you’re impressive enough without your thousand dollar suits and shades,” Bucky calls, and that does it. Tony finally deigns to lower himself back on the roof. He strides up to Bucky, pulling himself up to his full height (and toes) to smirk at him.
“Why, Barnes,” he purrs, batting his eyelashes. “Do you really think I’m that impressive in a suit?”
Bucky stares at him.
“Tony,” he says. “I have literally fucked your father.”
Sam chokes. Natasha falls out of her chair. Steve covers his face with his hands, shoulders shaking with silent laughter.
“What,” says Tony.
“Howard,” Bucky clarifies, because no one taught him mercy, probably. “Howie? Your dad. I may have known him in the, y’know. Biblical sense.”
“Oh my god,” says Sam, thumping at his chest.
Tony’s heels sink to the ground. “Howie,” he parrots, like it’s the first time he’s heard the nickname. It probably is, if Bucky used to call him that.
“So I’d appreciate it if you didn’t flirt with me?” Bucky continues, shifting his feet. Holy shit, he’s not kidding. “It makes me a bit uncomfortable.”
“Wow,” says one of Jenkins’(?) assistants, and Natasha lurches to her feet.
“No one leaves this roof until they’ve signed an updated non-disclosure agreement, and if I see one word of this conversation on the internet, I will find you.”
The January shoot gets postponed to tomorrow.
“So all those ‘your dad’ jokes,” Tony manages half an hour later, still shell-shocked.
“Sorry,” says Bucky, unapologetic.
Since they have to wait until sunset for October, Jesse(?) and his crew go downstairs (without signing anything; apparently updating non-disclosure agreements can take hours, so Natasha can only hope her threat holds until Pepper’s people have taken care of that) to photograph November wrapped in a soft blanket sitting by a fireplace, steaming mug of cocoa in hand, reading a book, his bare calves and feet the only hint of undress. Very peaceful, very wholesome, very not-green. Bruce flat-out refused to participate in the group shots, but it wasn’t too difficult to convince him into taking a couple modest photos for charity. Natasha stays long enough to make sure everyone’s comfortable, then uses Bruce’s bathroom and returns to the communal floor to find a butt-naked Sam sitting across from Clint in a pair of jeans. There’s a pile of clothes on the floor between them.
“Is this reverse strip poker?” she asks, once she’s peeked at both their hands. Clint’s about to win this round, just like he won the last round, because no one told Sam that the esteemed Hawkeye used to pickpocket and hustle for a living.
“Mhm. Steve and Bucky fell asleep in the entertainment room,” Sam informs her before she can ask. “Well, Bucky fell asleep, but he’s sleeping on Steve and Steve doesn’t want to move and wake him, so he’s stuck. I think we should get him more cat owner brochures. Tony went to find Rhodey. Or call a therapist, maybe.” He manages not to squirm when she looks at him, but there’s an uncomfortable tick in his eyebrow. The Avengers have tarnished a lot of things in this man’s life, but his sense of modesty is not one of them.
Natasha takes pity on him and averts her eyes. “What do you think about the Avengers’ trauma counselor as a hobby?”
Clint has as little respect for her as Bucky does, so he laughs at her. “Natasha,” he says. “You don’t know what trauma is.”
“I’m a very sensitive person.” Natasha protests.
“It’s like you think if you say it enough times it’ll become true,” Sam says, and folds.
Clint gathers his winnings, though he doesn’t deign to actually put them on. “Last time you tried to be sensitive Steve thought you were going to blow up Tony’s lab,” he says. “With Tony in it.”
“The lesson to be learned from that day,” Natasha points out. “Is that you can make Captain America do just about anything if you tell him it’s probably not a good idea.”
“I thought we learned that from the Winter Soldier Incident of 2014,” Clint shuffles the deck and quirks an inquisitive brow. Natasha shakes her head, settling down next to Sam to partner up with him instead.
“You want Clint to own all your clothes?” she asks when he looks at her quizzically. “Did you even notice him cheating?”
Sam did not. Sam is appalled, mostly because he can’t figure out where Clint could have been hiding extra cards.
Sam also says gambling is not a healthy hobby, and since he’s the whole team’s benchmark for normal and logical (Rhodey doesn’t count; his best friend is Tony Stark), it’s probably wise to believe him. Not that she’s interested in taking up gambling. She can’t even dupe an ex-carnie well enough to win back Sam’s socks.
Rhodey turns up to watch October, with Tony in tow, which is truly unfortunate for the photography team because they really want to capture the Falcon against a natural sunset over the New York City skyline, so they’re on a time crunch with the entirety of the Avengers cast sitting on their fully-clothed asses to watch Sam get his naked ass photographed. Poor Sam stands on Iron Man’s launchpad decked out in only his wings, back to them and unable to turn around to glare at the increasingly annoying peanut gallery.
“Sir, if you could just turn your head to the left,” Jan(?) snaps a series of shots and sinks to his knees, angling his camera up. “You have a magnificent profile.”
“Yeah, Wilson,” Natasha sniggers. “Your profile’s what they’re gonna be looking at.”
“Sir,” says Jay(?). “Please don’t clench.”
“I’m not clenching,” Sam growls. He’s definitely clenching.
“You’re definitely clenching, buddy,” Clint tells him. Natasha should have brought popcorn.
“Relax, Sam,” Rhodey calls, like he didn’t lose his patience with one of them and send her away. Sam’s dealing with all seven. “Think peaceful thoughts.”
“I’m thinking about pushing all of you off the building,” Sam says. “That peaceful enough for you?”
“I think you’ve been spending too much time with Bucky is what I think,” Steve waves at him to go back to posing with his face turned to his left and his ass cheeks clenching alternately. He’s either very nervous or very pissed, but if he throws anyone off the building he’ll have to fly down and catch them himself, so Natasha’s not worried.
“This is still more July than the actual July,” Tony gestures to encompass the whole setting, orange backdrop and skyline and all. Sam snorts.
“Captain Small-Ass over there don’t stand a chance against this and you know it.”
Clint shrugs. “He’s got a point,” he says, and Natasha has to agree. Steve’s best assets lie waist up and neck down, as Bucky told him that time Steve mouthed off to a brainwashed assassin and got himself a broken face and a bullet in the ass.
“Can we focus here?” Jeffrey(?) snaps at them, which is a marked improvement from his nervous stutter from this morning. “We’re losing light.”
“Yeah, you dicks, leave him alone. His butt’s just got character,” Bucky scolds them like the party pooper he is. Sam’s whole ass chooses that moment to jerk up. “On second thought, twerk it, Wilson!”
“Whoa there grandpa,” says Natasha. “Don’t hurt yourself catching up to all that hip future lingo.”
“Heard you were a smooth dancer, Barnes, Did you go twerking in your dancehalls? Did they have twerking in the time of the dinosaurs?” Tony adds, bumping Natasha’s fist.
That was a mistake. Bucky’s whole face lights up. “Didn’t need fancy-ass moves to get your dad to stick his tongue up my—”
“Stop, stop!” Tony cries, covering his ears.
“Ass,” Bucky finishes, grinning like a loon.
Over at the launchpad Sam’s laughing himself silly and getting berated by an exasperated Jasper(?). Steve and Rhodey share a commiserating shrug. Clint looks like he wants to take out his hearing aids, but he also doesn’t want to miss more of this when it inevitably comes.
Natasha would really like to know how Bucky managed to refrain from telling Tony for this long. It’s possible he didn’t even remember until recently, since Steve has been very good about letting him remember as much as he could on his own, and there are many, many memories Bucky will never get back anyway. She doesn’t have any idea about the exact nature of Bucky’s relationship with Stark Senior, and they never managed to find conclusive evidence of whether or not Hydra employed their Asset in Howard Stark’s assassination.
She leans towards Steve, even though Steve won’t tell her anything at all if he decides it’s not her business. But Natasha is a world class spy, and she can make it not about Bucky at all.
“That doesn’t bother you?” she asks quietly. Bucky will still hear her if he’s paying attention, but they’ve both been learning about boundaries lately.
Steve looks at her. I know what you’re doing, says his Disappointed Dad face. She hates it when he does that.
“Not really,” he says honestly. “I don’t really know the answer to that question you’re dying to ask either, but whatever they were, it’s in the past.” His eyes are very soft. “Having as much history as we do means you gotta be able to let the past rest, Natasha.”
He tilts his head towards Clint, the fucker. Natasha settles back in her seat and tries not to frown.
Rhodey says something Natasha doesn’t catch, but it makes Bucky roar with laughter. Steve turns towards the sound like a flower to the sun, and Natasha listens to Tony and Clint’s combined efforts to smother another dirty anecdote and is suddenly fiercely grateful to Howard Stark, for giving Bucky Barnes a few more memories he can laugh at.
The next session is just Steve and Bucky, and it goes wrong before it can even start.
“No,” Bucky grits through clenched teeth for the second time. It’s been a long day around a lot of people, and for the first time he sounds harried. It’s a good thing Tony and Rhodey decided to go down to Tony’s lab instead of coming up here, and Clint went back to Bed-Stuy when they wrapped up the final two group shots an hour ago, because if anyone gets on Bucky’s nerves right now there’s a 70/30 chance they’ll actually get tossed off a roof.
And of course, the one time the stupid photographer should be worried about the Winter Soldier, he isn’t. “But Sergeant Barnes, it’ll be perfect!” he insists. “There’s already a premise set up, and the whole world would love to know who would win in a fight between Captain America and the Winter Soldier. You don’t have to actually fight; just pretend to wrestle and hold for a few minutes.”
Steve and Bucky wrestle all the time. They act like little street urchins more often than not, always shoving and kicking and punching and, on occasion, biting. Whatever is raising Bucky’s hackles, it’s probably not the pretend-wrestling part, but no one will make him do something he’s already said no to.
Steve puts on his Captain America smile and opens his mouth, but Sam steps in first. “I don’t get why it has to be aggressive,” he says. “We got a rooftop garden and mood lighting. Scrounge up a blanket and some sandwiches and we can have a nice shot of a romantic picnic.”
“Naked picnic,” Natasha interjects.
“Yes, Natasha,” Sam rolls his eyes. “Naked romantic picnic. It’s cute, sweet, a bit suggestive but y’know, in a good way.”
“Oh my god, they can share fondue,” Natasha widens her eyes meaningfully, and although Steve groans in consternation, it draws a smile from Bucky that isn’t even strained.
To his credit, Jefferson(?)—Natasha’s running out of J-names—only fidgets a little. “It’s a good idea, of course, but it won’t work for a public calendar,” he says.
“Why not?” Steve’s brow creases in confusion. “Everyone knows about me and Bucky.”
They had an official press conference and everything, and when the reporters asked too many questions toeing the line of calling the Winter Soldier a national traitor and questioning Captain America’s objectivity, Steve literally gave the cameras the finger and bent Bucky backwards into a messy, open-mouthed kiss. Pepper probably wasn’t impressed, but Natasha was.
“Yes, Captain Rogers.” The professional-looking lady with the little crush on Rhodey is called Robin, and she is in fact extremely professional, and extraordinarily patient. “But we’re marketing this calendar to the general public, which unfortunately contains many people who don’t want a visual confirmation of your relationship hanging on their wall.”
Steve’s Captain America neutrality collapses, and Natasha’s pretty sure what she’s witnessing is tiny asthmatic Steve Rogers’ face as he prepares to wheeze his way through a tirade of epic proportions. Bucky drags a hand over his face in resignation.
Robin must see something of it too, because she raises her hand. “It’s not just homophobia, Captain Rogers, though that is a factor. This calendar needs to make you look eligible. There needs to be an abstract prospect of availability. A blatant display of a committed relationship goes a little against that. We’ll lose a massive market.”
Steve’s jaw is jutting out in that mulish way not even Sam can diffuse, but his huge shoulders lower a little when Bucky slumps low on the bench. “She’s right, Rogers. The whole point of this bullshit is to raise money.”
They still have another month to shoot tonight, and December is fast losing steam. Steve reaches out to stroke his hair.
“We’re really very sorry,” says Robin. “But we can’t shoot anything romantic.”
“I’m not gonna pretend-fight Steve,” Bucky tells her, leaning into Steve’s hand.
“You don’t have to,” Steve says immediately. “We’ll figure something else out. We can do this another day.”
“I want to get it over with,” Bucky says tiredly, but he manages to smirk over at Natasha. “Can’t get it up for this shit twice.”
She coughs to hide a laugh. “I was gonna suggest something about war brides, but I figure that’s off the table too.”
“It is,” Robin affirms.
Jeremiah(?) shrugs apologetically. “I decide what looks good; not what’s appropriate.”
“How about, I don’t know,” says Sam. “They could just sit and read together. That’s peaceful and unromantic.”
“Reading can be romantic,” Steve says. His eyebrows do that dance they do when he’s remembering something from the time of the dinosaurs. Probably thinking of Bucky Barnes in suspenders reading to itty bitty wee Steve Rogers laid up from rheumatic fever or scarlet fever or pneumonia or all three, probably. Or just Bucky in suspenders. His remembering things face is very similar to his thinking-dirty-thoughts-about-Bucky face. Natasha’s pretty sure that’s weird even by normal people standards.
Sam huffs in annoyance. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Rogers,” he says. “I don’t need to know about your weird-as-hell foreplay habits.”
“I was just thinking about reading!” Steve protests.
“Rogers,” Sam says, pitying. “Don’t lie. You don’t have a duplicitous bone in your body.”
“Ha,” says Natasha. They all look at her. “It’s funny because sometimes he does,” she explains.
Bucky sniggers. “She means my dick,” he says helpfully, just in case they didn’t get it. He is her favorite.
“We got that, thanks,” says Sam.
“Could we get back to the problem at hand, please?” Robin asks, pinching the bridge of her nose. She’s short and stocky and dark-skinned, but she suddenly looks enough like Pepper that everyone in the room shuts up to think.
“Brothers in arms,” Natasha says at length. “That’s the sum of their whole story, right? Put the shield on Steve’s arm and a couple guns in Bucky’s hands and let them protect each other.”
There’s a beat, then Robin and Jonas(?) look at each other and shrug. “I like it,” says the photographer, so they go down to the gym and fit Steve and Bucky with their shield and guns and stand them back to back, Steve’s shield on his left arm protecting his modesty and Bucky’s right thigh protecting his, facing off against unseen enemies. When they finally get it right they don’t even look at each other, but it’s the most romantic thing Natasha’s ever seen.
Of course, they don’t get it right immediately.
“I swear to fucking god Rogers if you don’t quit micromanagin’ our photoshoot I will shove my left arm so far down your throat you’ll shit nuts and bolts for a week,” says Bucky. His arm whirrs in agreement.
“Eat my entire ass, Barnes,” says Steve. “Do I look like I give a single fuck?”
“I ate your entire ass, asshole,” Bucky shoots back. “Captain Asswipe’s ass don’t taste like peaches, I can tell you that.”
“I could start a vlog,” Natasha tells Sam. “The Daily Life of the Avengers. That’s a hobby.”
“You’d have to edit out the whole thing if you wanna keep it family-friendly,” Sam points out.
“Look at this, the lighting in here sucks!” Steve gestures around them. “And it’s making your arm look like shit! They don’t care, but I do!”
“That’s real sweet, but the pool was too reflective for you and the jungle gym was too grim, and we’ve been here for ages already!” Bucky throws up his arms. “This is the future! They got Photoshop!”
“The lights are better near the racing tracks,” Steve says stubbornly. “It’s literally a ten second walk. I don’t want our images Photoshopped too much.”
“Why does it need to be family-friendly?” Natasha asks in bemusement. “I want to dedicate at least a minute per entry to Erotic Supersoldier Wrestling by Barnes and Noble, patent pending.”
“Can you get a patent for that?” Sam asks, interested.
“Yeah, and then you’ll decide the lighting was best by the jungle gym after all,” Bucky rolls his eyes with his whole body; even the plates on his arm shift back and forth. “No fucking way. Hold still and let the man take your picture or I will sit my naked dick on your naked ass and they can slap a photo of Captain America eatin’ the Winter Soldier’s dirt on their fancy future eight-pager.”
“Please,” Steve wrinkles his nose very, very slightly. He pulls off disdain better than the Queen of England. “Like you could keep me down.”
Bucky tackles him to the ground, straddles his chest, and proceeds to feed him his metal fist. Steve topples him off and sticks his fingers under Bucky’s armpits.
“I would get so many subscribers,” says Natasha, watching the ensuing tickle fight destroy a treadmill and cave in the boxing ring. At least everyone has the good sense to not even suggest taking a photo.
All in all, April is a success.
Natasha lifts up Bucky’s hair to look at the back of his neck.
“What?” Bucky demands, craning his head towards her, then glares at Steve because he still hasn’t stopped laughing. “Fuck you sideways, Rogers.”
“Oh, don’t mind me, Buck, I’m just an astronomer,” Steve manages, then dissolves back into laughter.
“The fuck,” Bucky says flatly.
“He’s checking out heavenly bodies,” Sam explains, teeth flashing white in the dark. “Hey Barnes, can I borrow your phone? I gotta call god and tell him I found his missing angel.”
“Your face is missing an angel,” Bucky says nonsensically. “Ow! Natasha! What are you doing?”
“I’m looking for the tag,” Natasha yanks his hair one more time and steps away from the metal fingers reaching back to pinch her. “Should say ‘Made in Heaven’?”
“Why do I even associate with you assholes?” Bucky grumbles, letting an assistant come forward and ‘artfully dishevel’ his hair again after Natasha ruined it. “This is the worst idea ever,” he tells the photographer.
“We’d also like a full frontal,” says Jensen(?), because he watched the Winter Soldier go down in a pile of undignified giggling supersoldier not two hours ago and is therefore no longer very intimidated by him. Bucky stares at him for a long moment.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I must have misheard. Full frontal?”
“Whole body facing the camera,” Jordan(?) confirms. “Chin up, legs apart, hair loose. We’ll light you up with spotlights from the front, do some shadow manipulation to hide the penis, slap big shadow wings on your silhouette on the wall. Like on that show, Supernatural. It’ll be great. Powerful imagery.”
Steve’s laughter hiccups to a stop, and even Natasha’s grin wavers. Bucky doesn’t want his left side photographed. He’s fine with the metal arm and the nudity and even the suggestive poses, but he doesn’t want the scarring at the seam of his arm visible.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Steve opines after a moment of Bucky staring at Jeremy(?) in something like horror. “You’ll look amazing, Buck.”
“Are you fucking crazy?” Bucky asks Jimmy(?). He glances at Steve, says, “Well I know you’re crazy as they come. This is the worst idea I’ve ever heard,” and walks away.
“That went better than I expected,” says Robin.
Natasha throws up a hand to stop Steve from following. “I got this.”
Sam frowns at her. “Bucky isn’t a hobby,” he warns. Natasha feels her muscles coil tight.
“He’s not a job either,” she says, suddenly angry. “We’re not his handlers, or his shrinks. He’s not some trauma patient you can counsel because saving people the way the Avengers do isn’t enough for you and you miss fixing broken things.”
“Natasha,” Steve says, reproving, but she isn’t done.
“We’re his friends,” she tells them both, and somewhere in the back of her head she can hear Clint laughing at her. She ignores it. “I got this,” she says again, even though she really, really doesn’t.
Bucky’s pulled on sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt by the time she finds him on the balcony with a cigarette between his fingers, smoke curling around him with every breath. He doesn’t look at her when she comes close to bump their shoulders together.
“Mrs. Smith,” he says.
“Mr. Smith,” Natasha replies automatically. Their little joke usually makes him smile. Not this time.
“You must be lost,” she says after a moment. “Heaven’s a long way from here.”
Bucky’s lips twitch up in a sardonic smile. “So’s hell.”
Natasha can’t argue with that. Bucky offers her the cigarette and she takes a long drag even though she doesn’t smoke. He watches her, amused like he knows it’s burning her throat.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here.” Her voice is a little hoarse, but they can both pretend it’s a cough stuck in her throat. They’re good at things like that. “I should’ve let one of the others come to you. But Bucky, if you deserve hell, so do I, and I don’t even know if I believe in any of it, but I don’t want to go to hell.”
The plates on Bucky’s arm shift noisily. “I’m not Steve, or Sam, or even Clint,” he says, quiet. “Don’t try to con me, Widow.”
Natasha raises her empty hands and doesn’t reach for the knife at her hip. “Just because I’m manipulating you doesn’t mean I’m lying.”
“Honesty’s a new policy, huh?” Bucky plucks the cigarette from her hand. She shakes her head.
“Vulnerability is,” she says. He doesn’t reply.
“You should do it,” she tells him. “It’ll change public perception of you completely. That’s a good thing. One of us should have this chance, and it suits you more than me.”
Bucky takes a long drag from his fingers, blows out the smoke in a sigh. “Yeah,” he says. “That’s the problem.”
“Please,” Natasha snorts. “I’ve heard the stories. The original Bucky Barnes was no angel either.”
Bucky smiles, warm like honey. “And he’s the one who fell.”
She watches him for a long moment. “I like what rose from the ashes.”
“You’re awful at this,” Bucky says, and stubs out his cigarette. “You’re supposed to tell me there’s no original Bucky Barnes, that we’re the same person, that fallen angels are still angels. Some shit like that.”
“You say that like introspection suits you any better,” Natasha rolls her eyes. “It’s a picture, Barnes. Take the photo; it’ll make Steve happy and give teenagers all over the world something to jerk off to for the next couple years. Internalize the emotional breakdown and leave the self-reflection issues for your actual therapist.”
Bucky’s laughing now; she allows herself to feel a small bit of pride over that. “Sam would be disappointed in you.”
“Sam’s not our therapist,” she says. “And he isn’t always right.”
If Bucky picks up anything from that, he doesn’t mention it. They stand in companionable silence for a while longer, then he rolls his shoulders back and straightens.
“The Winter Soldier as a fallen angel,” he says like he’s convincing himself. “At least it fits.”
Natasha hums in agreement. “If we ever get hit with a body-switching spell and you and I switch bodies, can I take your dick out for a test drive?”
Bucky doesn’t even blink at the non-sequitur. “As long as you wear a condom and I can do the same with yours.”
“Deal,” she says. “You don’t even have to use condoms; just remember I’m not a supersoldier and bring it back in one piece.”
“Motivational speaking is a hobby,” Bucky informs her, and turns towards the door.
The photos turn out beautifully. Jones(?) angles the shots from above so all Bucky has to do is leave his arms at his sides and raise his chin to look up into the camera, and the assistants aim spotlights to light up his face and present a striking silhouette on the wall behind him. They’ll edit in the wings later, but even without them Bucky looks ethereal; scars patterned over one shoulder, eyes bright and very, very blue. It takes all of fifteen minutes, and when it’s over Steve tilts their foreheads together and kisses him slow and sweet.
“Hey, Buck,” Natasha hears him say softly. “Did it hurt when you fell from—oh. Shit.”
Bucky pulls back to stare at him. “Yes Steve,” he says, amusement overtaking exhaustion on his face. “It did hurt when I fell from the fucking train.”
“That’s not what I meant, jerk, and you know it,” says Steve, and pushes his face away when Bucky tries to kiss him again.
“Aw, sweetheart, don’t be like that,” Bucky makes kissy faces at him, sniggering. “I literally fell from heaven to be with you.”
“Did you lose all your romantic sensibilities on the way down?” Steve punches his metal shoulder. “I want a refund.”
“Baby, I am the answer to all your prayers,” Bucky croons at him, undeterred. “I got a ladder in my pants just for you, if you wanna come join me upstairs.”
That is a lie. Bucky’s not wearing pants, and his dick is basically a limp noodle right now, but Steve looks charmed despite himself. Those two are really fucking weird. Natasha leaves them to what hopefully didn’t used to be the 1940s version of flirting and herds everyone else down to Pepper’s office to make the photography team sign the finally updated non-disclosure agreements before they leave for the day.
She can find Steve and Bucky, or she can stay and talk it out with Sam, but she goes to Bed-Stuy, sneaks in through the window, and curls up on the couch with the dog.
“I don’t think you’re broken,” Sam says when she finally lets him track her down the next day. He doesn’t sit on the couch beside her. “Either of you.”
Natasha presses her lips together. “But you still want to fix us,” she says. Sam winces.
“It’s hard to turn it off when I have the training to help people like that, but I’ll work on it,” he promises. He sounds like Captain America. It’s not even his fault.
Natasha makes him wait, because she can be cruel like that. “I shouldn’t have snapped at you,” she says eventually. “I’m sorry.”
“I accept your apology,” Sam says, because he’s better than any of them deserve. It occurs to her that their benchmark for normal regularly jumps off tall buildings of his own volition, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
“Tomorrow’s going to be a disaster,” she says, and gives him a significant look. He sits down and lets her change the subject.
“Fine, I’ll take over babysitting duties, am I forgiven?”
There’s nothing to forgive, but Natasha says, “Yes,” and smiles with all her teeth.
When the photography team shows up for the centerfold shoot, Natasha greets them with, “What happens when you make a penis out of Legos?”
Everyone ignores her.
“You get cock blocked,” Natasha says loudly. Everyone keeps ignoring her, but she’s positive that’s what sets the tone for the rest of the day.
“This is not my job ,” Rhodey says to the room at large, throwing his hands into the air. “I did not sign up for this shit. Do your motherfucking job, Wilson.”
“You leave my mama out of this,” says Sam. “I’m doing my job. I am doing my job so well there ain’t one dead body in this tower yet. I’d like to see you do better, Colonel.”
“Only reason I’m not doing better is ‘cause this is not my job, not today, Tony, you and I are going on a break.”
“You can’t break up with me,” Tony tells him severely, settling down at the foot of the plush armchair. Natasha shifts her feet so she doesn’t end up kicking him in the ass. “You and me, baby, we’re for life.”
“There better be food after this,” Clint grumbles. “I waxed my chest and shaved my legs for this; I deserve food.”
They’ve been at this for over an hour already. The men are all naked again, Natasha’s faux leather wraparound dress cinches uncomfortably at the waist and if an assistant tries to touch her hair one more time she’s going to stab someone with her seven-inch red stiletto. Or Bucky might stab someone with her stiletto. She’s pretty sure that’s why he’s willingly sitting at her feet, though it might have something to do with the fact that he fell asleep at least fifteen minutes ago, head pillowed on Steve’s thigh behind him. She leans over him to whisper to Steve, sitting on the arm of the chair even though Julian(?) told him to stand at Natasha’s flank at least five times for a more Captain America-esque image.
“Rough night?” she asks, because yesterday was hard on Bucky and she’s trying a new thing called being a good friend.
Steve grins. “In a manner of speaking.”
Natasha wrinkles her nose. “Please, like you fossils ever fuck anyway but slow and sweet, like a proper old married couple.”
“What would you know?” Steve blinks innocent blue eyes at her, asshole that he is. “You missed out on your chance at allllll of this.” He sweeps his hand down his body, flexing only slightly.
“Sorry, handsome,” she says. “I prefer younger men. You know, ones that can keep up with me?”
“I’ll have you know I’ve never lost a challenge in my life,” Steve retorts.
Bucky stirs at that, rolling his head perilously close to Steve’s crotch to squint one eye open. “Yeah, you tell her all about how you never come second, Mr. Pop-Pop-Pop-I-Can-Go-Three-Rounds-Before-You’ve-Gone-Even-One.”
Natasha chokes on a laugh.
“Fuck you, Barnes,” Steve sputters, cheeks bright red. “You love it, Jesus Christ, like you’ve ever gone unsatisfied, shut up.” He aims his fist at Bucky’s nose, but Bucky scoots out of the way and Natasha gets an unobstructed view of Captain America nearly punching himself in the dick.
“Sam,” Natasha calls, eyeing the wide-eyed assistants in the corner staring at the Winter Soldier now sweet-talking Captain America’s “poor abused” dick and dodging half-hearted kicks to the solar plexus. “We need to add another clause to the non-disclosure—”
“If you finish that sentence,” Sam says, threatening. “I will throw myself off this balcony. I swear I will throw myself off this balcony and you can explain to my mama why her son ended up flattened to a Manhattan pavement in his birthday suit.” He whirls on Joseph(?). “What exactly is wrong with this setup? You’ve been whining about power and sanctity for at least half an hour but you haven’t managed to tell us what’s wrong with the picture!”
Joss(?), much braver after a whole day of putting up with the Avengers’ shit, scowls right back. “I want Colonel Rhodes where Captain Rogers is sitting now.” Tough luck, because Bucky’s settled back down and is nodding off again on Steve’s thigh, which means Captain Rogers is stuck where he is for the foreseeable future. “It would be ten times more meaningful if Captain Rogers would stand at the Black Widow’s flank instead, and Sergeant Barnes looks far more enticing when he’s not falling asleep in the middle of my photoshoot.”
Everyone pauses to look at Bucky, who doesn’t even bother to open his eyes. Jacques(?) takes a deep breath. In through his nose, out through his mouth. It doesn’t really calm him down.
“Just—flank Ms. Romanoff,” he bites at Sam. “Colonel Rhodes, if you could please move to Captain Rogers’ left? Mr. Barton, to Mr. Stark’s right, please. And if all of you could actually look like you want to be here? Smile? Look sexy? Sergeant Barnes, please wake up.”
Bucky does not wake up. He does, however, crane his neck back and arch his whole body into Steve’s hand when it starts stroking his hair, and they all watch in bemusement as he instantly turns into the most erotic sight in the room. Natasha is ninety percent certain he’s still asleep.
Justin(?) snaps several photos.
“Ugh,” says Tony eventually, looking away. “I can’t even enjoy that anymore. He fucked my dad.”
“What do you mean ‘anymore’?” says Steve.
Tony shrugs. “His arm is a work of beauty, Rogers. You can’t blame me for wanting a piece of that.”
“You know he’s attached to the arm, right?” Steve reminds him, like he does every time Tony looks like he’s preparing to bore them half to death with an oral dissertation on why Bucky’s arm is a miracle of science and art, never mind that Tony knows less than nothing about art. “The arm is not a disembodied limb.”
“More’s the pity,” Tony sighs wistfully.
“Look,” says Sam. “None of us wants to be here. Can we please focus? Get this over with? This is the last one!”
“I don’t see why I can’t smile,” Natasha gripes as she sits up straight for another series of snap-snap-snaps.
“We want you looking dangerous like the Queen,” Clint tells her. “Not dangerous like you want to eat someone’s face.”
Natasha shuts up, not because she can’t smile properly but because she doesn’t want to put in the effort, and after another five minutes of no one looking like they want to be here, Bucky wakes up enough to say, “My ass is cold,” and scrambles up to climb into Steve’s lap. Natasha hastily tries to move her feet out of the way and ends up shoving Steve, Bucky, and Clint off the arms of the chair.
Rhodey and Tony wisely move out of the way. Sam tries to follow, but Natasha yanks him in to use as a human shield as the other three pounce.
The centerfold was supposed to be a super sexy shot of the Black Widow, regal and fully clothed, sitting in her armchair with a harem of beautiful naked men strewn about her.
The photo that ends up in the calendar instead shows her sitting cross-legged on the floor, dress hiked up around her hips and mouth open in what she will forever deny was a shriek as Clint sticks a spit-wet finger in her ear, Bucky kneeling on the armchair to hold her down by the shoulders. Tony and Rhodey are shouting encouragement, arms around each other’s shoulders, and Sam and Steve are laughing so hard there are tear tracks down their cheeks. The dicks are conveniently blurred out. It’s terribly unattractive, and excruciatingly human.
The Avengers get multiple copies of the whole calendar for free, but some star-spangled asshole gets the centerfold framed and puts it up on the wall of the common floor lounge. No one fesses up to making copies, but Sam and Clint beam at her like proud parents every time they catch her looking at it.
Natasha looks at that photo a lot. So does Bucky.
He nods at her as she comes into the lounge, ending his conversation with Sam and pulling himself off the couch. She grins, coming close to bump his chest with her shoulder.
“Mr. Smith,” she says.
“Mrs. Smith,” Bucky returns, smile crinkling the corners of his eyes. “Can’t stay, I’m afraid; gotta go find my mistress, make sure she ate something today.”
“Steve’s painting?” Natasha asks, because he tends to forget the world when he walks into the studio on their floor, and even Bucky has to work pretty hard to get him to come back out for superfluous things like food and sleep. Bucky shrugs a ‘what can you do’, waves at Sam, and turns to leave.
Sam watches him go, but Natasha keeps her eyes on the photo. It’s a nice reminder, she thinks, that they’re all disasters in their own ways.
“Maybe I don’t need a hobby,” she says, tracing Johnson Ramone’s name credited at the bottom with a finger. “You think this is what normal people do when they’re not working?”
“I think,” Sam says carefully. “That you should stalk Spiderman.”
Natasha looks at him out of the corner of her eyes, hears the you deserve friends and quit thinking so hard and you’re still fucking bored he doesn’t say, and seriously considers buying him a BFF bracelet.