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nothing more than strangers they've never met

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Lt. Sam Wilson keeps showing up at Stark Tower, visiting at odd times and sometimes spending a few nights at a time in the residential quarters. After this occurs every few days for two weeks, she goes digging through files. She soon finds evidence of a Sam Stark-Wilson, married to Tony Stark-Wilson for a year and a half.

At first, she can't tell why Tony married Sam. He seems a nice enough man, polite to her in a way most clients are not, but he is nothing extraordinary.

What makes Sam Wilson special? What made Tony Stark, genius and billionaire and superhero, fall in love with an ordinary soldier?

This is one of the questions that constantly flows through Natasha’s head, entering when she sees him and exiting when he’s nowhere near. How could such an ordinary man- no traumatic past, no genius, no superpowers- capture the attention of Tony Stark?

And then she learns about Riley, and what happened in Afghanistan, and she begins to understand Tony’s husband.

When Steve guides her to Sam Wilson’s apartment when they're running from SHIELD, she is ready to meet the man who has fascinated her (just as a Venus flytrap fascinates a scientist) for years now. 

"Hello," Sam greets them, "How can I help you?"

As Steve explains about HYDRA, she watches Sam's face. She watches the seriousness in which he takes in the info, the fixed stare of his eyes. There is nothing soft or ordinary about the way he volleys back a few quick, well-thought questions about HYDRA's military strengths and plans.

Perhaps she underestimated him. Dammit, she hates it when she does that.


She catches Sam checking his watch as they strap into their gear.

"Checking on Stark?" She asks, and his head jerks to look at her. He stares at her, a guarded look in his eyes. 

"What do you care about Stark?" He asks, tone hard in a way she has never heard before. Sam had never been anything but jovial to Tony Stark's PA. 

"Certainly not as much as you do," she says, tone even, and watches as he nearly flinches.

"Don't tell anyone," he instructs her, and she raises an eyebrow. 

"You ashamed of him?"

His expression is dangerous, reminding of Clint's arrows or her blades. The Sam Wilson of Stark Tower is well gone, replaced by soldier and secret spy-hero. "Never."

She looks him over, everything that should be ordinary yet isn't. "When we get back to the Tower," she says, "We should spar."

It only takes him a moment to pick up on the new conversation thread. "Sounds like a good plan, Romanoff."

Steve ducks his head into the hallway. "We've gotta go, guys."

Sam nods. "We'll follow you out," he says, grabbing the last remote from his bag.

When Sam becomes such a hero renowned a world over, she still doesn't quite understand it. She does accept it, though.

Sam Wilson is a curious thing to Natasha. At first glance, he seems to be the most ordinary of all the Avengers. He has no superpowers, is no god, is no extraordinary genius. He isn’t a superspy, or an assassin, or any kind of specialized hero. His wings are not even own.

And yet, he is everything a hero should be.