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Cure for the Common Cold

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“You look terrible. And that is not something I ever thought I’d have cause to say to you,” Tony said.

Natasha glared weakly at him from where she was wrapped up in a cocoon of blankets on the couch in the Tower’s common room.

“Nothing? No witty rejoinder? No sarcasm? Not even a ‘shut up, Stark’? Wow, you must be sick. Where’s your lesser half? Shouldn’t he be here to mop your fevered brow?”

“Clint’s on a mission,” Natasha said, her voice hoarse and creaky. “And if he ever tried mopping my fevered brow he’d be down one hand.”

“I respect violence in a woman,” Tony said and went to sit down next to Natasha, in the corner by where her feet were. “Don’t cough on me, okay? You won’t like me when I’m sick.”

“I don’t like you now.”

“There you go, then. Incentive.” Tony settled into position and then took in what Natasha was watching on the TV. “The Notebook? Oh, come on. I thought you were better than this.”

Natasha kicked out at him. “You don’t like it, you’re welcome to leave.”

“The Notebook. Seriously? The respect is gone, Widow. It’s gone.”

“So we’re even.” Natasha pulled her blankets up higher, tucking them beneath her chin.

If Tony hadn’t known any better, he would have said she looked cute. But ill or not, she was still the Black Widow, and she could still kill him with her thighs. Which wouldn’t be a bad way to go, honestly, if Tony got to choose.

He looked at the sorry image on the TV screen. The star-crossed lovers were kissing in the rain, nauseatingly. What a waste of high-def. Tony wondered if he could get Nicholas Sparks -

“Clint and I watch shitty romcoms sometimes and mock them together,” Natasha said softly, so that it was difficult to hear her raspy voice over the inane movie dialogue. “After missions. It feels... normal? So... so Clint’s not here, and I feel crappy, so I’m damn well gonna watch a stupid movie if I want to.”

Tony was pretty sure Natasha had just shared something personal with him and he had no idea what he was supposed to do with that. Maybe she was on something, cold medicine or something, maybe it was making her loopy. Tony didn’t know what to do with a Natasha who talked about her feelings. He hoped she wouldn’t get sappy.

Then Tony remembered this was Natasha they were talking about and realized he was safe.

He didn’t know what to do so he said the first thing that came into his head. “Darcy left some movies for Thor to watch as part of his education. I think she’s probably got Love, Actually or whatever. I could get it for you. You know. If you’re interested.”

Natasha gazed at him with tired eyes. “Make me some hot chocolate while you’re at it and you’ve got a deal, Stark.”

“You drive a hard bargain, Romanoff,” Tony said, getting to his feet. He didn’t actually know what he was getting out of this, but he decided he didn’t care.

“Put in those little marshmallows, too,” Natasha called after him.

“Slave driver,” Tony called back.

He gave her extra marshmallows.