Steve hears footsteps on the cold, kitchen tiles, too soft to be Tony or Clint, definitely not Thor. It might be Bruce - the man could be damn near silent when he wanted to be.
Steve glances up as Natasha walks towards him and over to the counter, plugging in one of Bruce's fancy electric teakettles (and was it really that difficult to boil water the old fashioned way - no, Tony, that doesn't mean over a fire made by rubbing two sticks together.)
"Can't sleep, Cap?" She stands on her toes to reach one of the mugs on the shelf above the sink, glancing over her shoulder at him the entire time. She doesn't so much as wobble.
"Haven't you heard? Captain America doesn't need sleep."
She laughs, soft and quiet as she pours the hot water into her cup. "Just because Clint and Tony gossip more than an eighty-year-old grandmother doesn't mean the rest of us pay any attention to what the tabloids have to say."
Steve chuckles, raising his mug in salute.
Steve's always liked Natasha - she isn't one to engage in stilted conversation or say any unnecessary words. She sits across the table from him, taking a sip of her tea, as comfortable sitting in companionable silence as she is trading barbs with Clint or laughing with Thor.
Steve's head slowly starts to droop, chin drifting down towards his chest. He loses his grip on his mug, but Natasha is there, catching it with a quick flick of her palm before it falls to the floor. She pushes the mug to the center of the table where it's in no danger of falling, then runs her fingers through his hair, startling him - both with the contact and the surprising gentleness behind the gesture.
"Go to sleep, Captain," she says softly, and Steve does.
"Jarvis allow Clint to program the DVR again?"
Steve doesn't jump. He might flinch a little, but he does not jump. He turns his head, arching an eyebrow like he hasn't been surprised by Natasha's sudden appearance.
She smirks, barely making a sound as she drops into the space beside him on the couch. She shifts one of her legs under her body, letting the other hang over the cushion, almost, but not quite touching the floor.
"His taste is... questionable," Steve says, flicking his eyes in her direction before pretending to watch the screen.
"It's deplorable," she fires back, lips twisting into a wry smile.
Steve laughs quietly, letting the conversation lull into silence. Natasha drags the toe of her foot along the floor, movement slowing until finally, it stops. Her head drops onto his shoulder, hair tickling his neck, and he's surprised to find he's comfortable - peaceful, even when Bruce walks past, pausing on his way out of the kitchen to stare. Steve acknowledges him with a nod.
Bruce raises his eyebrows but doesn't say a word, just takes his tea and heads back to his lab. Steve lets his head tip against the back of the couch, eyes drifting shut.
Clint and Tony don't react as quietly as Bruce, of course.
Natasha leans into Steve's shoulder, resting her hand over his knee, and Clint stops short as he walks around the couch. He crosses his arms and slowly glances from Natasha to Steve, then back again, lips curling slowly upwards.
"Don't you two look cozy," he drawls, smirk pulling at his mouth.
"I will kill you in your sleep, Barton," Natasha fires back. Steve honestly worries for a moment until he catches her smiling, Clint chuckling under his breath as he reaches over to tug gently on a strand of her hair.
Tony doesn't even bother to pause as he passes. "Remember to use protection, kids," he quips over his shoulder, and Steve throws a pillow at the back of his head, satisfied when he yelps.
"Nice shot, Cap," Natasha says, even as Tony throws up his hands, ranting so quickly, Steve only catches ever other word about his ungrateful teammates and I still own the place and I will not hesitate to kick you out.
"No respect," Tony grumbles, and Steve grins, burying his laughter against Natasha's shoulder.
She's there before him, this time, and he hands over a cup of tea, switching on one of Clint's shows. She lifts the edge of the blanket across her legs without looking away from the television while Steve settles down on the couch, his thigh pressed against hers.
"Friends!" Thor's booming voice in the otherwise quiet room shocks him, leg jumping so his knee knocks against Natasha's thigh. Her head whips around, even as Thor throws himself onto the cushions on her opposite side, shifting the entire couch backwards along the floor with his momentum.
"Why did no one tell me there was a slumber party?" Thor pouts in a way that only Thor could get away with without looking ridiculous. Still, Steve finds himself annoyed that their quiet little bubble has been burst.
Until Natasha laughs, soft bursts of sound that make Thor grin wide. He lays his head in her lap, and she rolls her eyes at Steve, carding her fingers through Thor's hair.
Steve clenches his hands into fists as he walks through the empty halls outside of SHIELD medical, physically forcing them to stop shaking.
He's never seen a simple mission go sideways so fast, not even while he was in the war. One minute, the Hulk was knocking a "somewhat dangerous" (Fury's words, of course) alien robot out of the air from the side of a building, Clint firing arrows off of the roof, laughing as each one struck true; the next, Bruce was falling twenty stories to the ground below, bleeding and unconscious, while said alien proceeded to bring the entire building down with one easy shot of it's weapons.
Bruce was still laid up in medical. Clint, too, both of them unconscious and highly medicated. Tony claimed to have a bruised everything, but after seeing his ribcage once he removed his scorched and battered suit, Steve knew he wasn't just being melodramatic.
Steve shoves open the door to an empty office, falling into the nearest chair and dropping his head into his hands. He takes a mental tally of the rest of his team: Thor is in the gym, pounding away at a punching bag, Tony's locked inside of his lab back at the tower, analyzing the remains of the alien soldiers for something - anything - SHIELD might have missed, and Natasha -
Steve doesn't look up when the the door clicks open then shut again, the soft tread of boots coming closer and the soft whisper of material as Natasha - because who else could it be? - kneels in front of his chair. Her fingers tug at his wrists until he drops his hands away from his face. He lifts his head, and Natasha lets go.
He swallows, swiping a thumb over the dark, purple bruise blossoming along her cheekbone, fingers shaking against his will. Natasha turns away, sliding his hand from her face, but she squeezes his fingers. She nudges his arms until he leans down, resting his arms around her waist and his head against her shoulder. She curls in close, stroking her fingers through the hair.
"We're okay, Steve," she whispers, and some of the tension finally leaks away when he closes his eyes.
Natasha doesn't knock.
Steve's bedroom door opens, footsteps padding softly across the floor - an effort, he knows, to not be silent, to announce her presence with footsteps even Steve can barely hear - and the bed dips at his back. He shifts over, lifting the covers in invitation. She settles on her side at his back, and he rolls over so there's no space between them, his face almost touching hers on the pillow.
She rests her hand on the back of his neck, the other resting in the space between them, against his chest. He gently grips her wrist, and she smiles faintly as she closes her eyes.