"Again!" Natasha hit her fist on the kitchen-isle-slash-breakfast-counter. "I need more cranberry juice! I'm going to pee and we are doing it again!"
Bruce, Steve, Clint, and Tony stood by as their only female teammate had a mental breakdown. Tony nudged Bruce with his elbow. Bruce shook his head, even the other guy seemed nervous. They looked to Steve who seemed to be on the level of Natasha in freaking out, although internally. Clint had just been frozen for the last quarter of an hour. Tony sighed, it was apparently up to him to man up and take the horns of this particular beast.
"Nat," he said in the fake bravado calm he was so famous for. "You have tried twelve different tests, and Bruce did the hormone analyse three times. Face it. You are pregnant."
"No I'm not!" she yelled back, her fists clenched and her eyes flashing with rage. "We need to do it again!"
"Well, you drunk all the juice. You are going to give yourself an ulcer, and then were would the baby be?"
"Babies are not inside the stomach sack, you idiot!" Nat gave him a push that made him fall back on Steve. "And I'm not pregnant."
"If I may, Miss Romanoff," interrupted JARVIS politely. "I have scanned you, and taken your heat signature, and you are."
One of the holographic computer screens by the counter lit up at showed a small 3D image of Natasha in a varied range of colours, the red and orange ones were heavy in her abdomen. Clint gave a small squeak that made Bruce look at him worriedly.
"But I can't be..." Nat breathed, supporting herself on the counter staring at the image. "I can't."
"Eeh," said Steve and shifted in a uncomfortable way. "Congratulations?"
"Shut up," hissed Tony.
"Isn't that what you are supposed to say?"
"Not when she's upset," he frowned. "At least I don't think so... Nat, do you want to be congratulated?"
"Fuck off," she sat down on the kitchen floor with her head between her knees and arms over her head.
"It doesn't seem that way," Tony shook his head. "Man, I need a drink. Clint, you talk to her."
Clint shook awake from his small blackout and stared panicky at his friend.
"What me?" his voice had a high pitch to it. "Why me?"
"Because..." Tony rolled his eyes and pushed the archer forwards "...it's obviously you who put her in this position, so take some responsibility for your actions."
That thankfully seemed to shake Clint into some sense and made him carefully approach Natasha. He slowly sat down on his haunches and, only after a slight hesitation, he reached out to pat her on the shoulder.
"Hey, sweetie?" he asked. "Are you okay?"
"Don't call me 'sweetie'," Nat breathed hard. "And no I'm not okay. I'm pregnant."
The next moment she moved so that the was leaning against him. Clint took it as a sign to put his arms around her. He pleadingly glanced up at his three friends looking down at them. Tony sighed and sat down on the floor too. Bruce and Steve followed. The tension in the room seemed to loosen a bit.
Tony leaned against the fridge, it had been a long morning. One starting with Nat nearly fainting and then several hasty runs in disguise to different pharmacies and grocery stores. Then the nerve wrecking waiting and the subsequent yelling had began. There hadn't been time for breakfast, and his stomach was growling. Still, propriety told Tony not to fix himself some toast until Nat seemed at least a bit more stable.
"Nat," Bruce adjusted his glasses and made a sad grimace. "I... I have read your medical file, and I know you were hurt. But it doesn't have to be that bad?"
"Is this abut the gunshot wound you showed me?" asked Steve with a slight flush on his face.
"You showed him your gunshot wound?" asked Tony in a fake whining tone. "You never showed it to me! I want to see that!"
"Shut up, Stark," Nat rolled her eyes, half a smile playing in the corner of her mouth.
"You shut up," bantered Tony. "I let you put your hand inside my chest when we changed the arc-reactor casing, the least you could do in return is to show me the gunshot wound on your belly."
Nat almost laughed, which made Clint brave enough to run a hand through her hair. She exhaled and leaned against Clint's chest. She seemed calmed down.
"It's not just the gunshot," she sighed. "That did give me some internal scar tissue, but the damage there had mostly been done..." Again she took a breath. "They sterilised all of us when we were picked for training. In Russia. I was eleven. You can't be an assassin if you risk being pregnant, especially if you need to get close to your targets. This shouldn't be possible."
They sat quietly for a moment reflecting her words. Tony was quite angry, and it seemed he wasn't the only one since Bruce looked a little green around the edges. Steve had already noticed and was patting circles on Bruce's back.
"I probably won't be able to carry it full term," Nat placed a hand on her abdomen. "There is too much damage. Perhaps it better to just have it removed."
"If that's what you want to do," said Clint giving her a sad smile.
"We are behind you what ever you do," Tony reached out to her and she took his hand. "Either way you decide, I'm paying for the best doctors money can find."
Bruce and Steve put their hands on theirs as well.
"Thank you," Natasha smiled.
There was a hint of a tear in her eye but nobody mentioned it for fear of their lives.
"Now then," Tony rubbed his hands together. "I think this calls for a brunch. If I'm starving, think of poor Cap with his crazy metabolism, he can't live in patriotism alone. Who wants waffles? Or better yet, who can make waffles? Because I can't. Bruce?"
"I'm on it," laughed Bruce and got to his feet, Steve followed him to help.
"You two stay there," said Tony to Clint and Natasha as he rose. "I'll just call someone in the lobby to go buy some more juice, somehow we are out."
"Yeah," Nat sighed. "Sorry about that. I really need to pee now."
"Too much information," Tony winked. "And I wouldn't mind you cleaning away your little white sticks here either. Honestly, girls and their clattering."
As he walked towards the intercom by the elevator there was the sudden sound of thunder from outside. Tony checked and the sky was as clear and sunny as the late morning of autumn day in New York could be.
"Thor seems to be back early from New Mexico, better order some boxes of pop-tarts as well."
"Why are we not celebrating?" Thor asked when he had found out the news. "Is it because she is unwed? I have heard that being called a single mother on Midgard isn't as bad as anymore."
"She's not going to be a single mother," protested Clint with his mouth half-full of waffle. "I'm with her!"
They had all gathered around the kitchen-isle-slash-breakfast-counter. Waffles and condiments were on plates, as well as toast, pop tarts, and bacon.
"So much more reason to bathe you in a tub of mead," Thor smiled. "Then we shall drink toasts to fertility and serenade the mother."
"Is that how you do it on Asgard?" Tony looked up from his reverent waiting of the coffeemaker. "That actually sounds fun."
"Yes," Nat rolled her eyes. "I want to be screamed of tone to by drunken idiots."
"And it's it's not even eleven a clock," reminded Steve.
"Also," Nat looked down on the untouched waffle on her plate. "I'm not sure I'm going to keep it."
A sad uncomfortable gloom settled over the kitchen. It was only broken by the coffeemaker beeping awkwardly. Tony lifted away the pot, but again he felt propriety telling him not to pour it any of the liquid in his cup. It was hard living with other people.
"What do you mean?" Thor seemed a bit panicked. "Don't you want the child?"
Natasha took a breath, again her eyes seemed a bit too moist to mention. All the men, except for Thor, felt uncomfortable. Tony stared at his empty cup. Bruce poked his waffle with his fork.
"I want to keep it," Nat explained, her voice was hard and lacking of emotion, but that was just a coping mechanism even though it broke as she continued speaking. "I want to keep it so much, but my body probably won't be able to carry it. There's a lot of damage in there, Thor..."
A tear escaped her right eye, but Clint caught it with his thumb before it ran down her cheek.
"What if..." Thor took a breath, turning his eyes away from everyone in the room towards his hands. "What if I can guarantee you that it will be fine?"
The guilty tone in Thor's voice made Tony botch his hopefully, up until then, very sneaky pouring of coffee behind his back. He had only managed to fill half the cup and now he had burned himself. Nobody seemed to noticed though. Bruce cleared his throat, a hint of anger in his tone.
"Please tell me you are offering her some kind of Asgardian prenatal care... Because if you say the L-word..."
"Damn," Thor shifted nervously, that wasn't a good sign.
"Thor..." Nat was clenching her fists. "At this point I really, really hope you are implying that Loki is some kind of a midwife, and not that he put this inside me."
The silence was speaking a multitude of words. Tony swallowed down his coffee with out tasting it. Bruce started doing heavy breathing exercises. Steve looked like he was going to punch someone, though not as much as Natasha and Clint.
"Where is he?" Nat bit out.
"You must understand," Thor looked a bit more panicked, most likely not a familiar feeling for the god of thunder. "I thought he was dead... He's trying to redeem himself."
"Where. Is. He." Nat wasn't kidding around.
"With Lady Jane," Thor rubbed his face. "I was just there before. He asked me to go here to see how his gifts were getting received."
"Now hold on," Tony walked across the kitchen. "'Gifts'? The baby is a gift? From Loki? Why? And plural? What other gifts have we gotten?"
"I'm not sure..." Thor cleared his throat and glanced over at Bruce who had had to lay down on the floor. "That's partly why I'm here..."
"Get him," said Clint. "You get him here now or I will get my bow and beat you to a bloody pulp with it."
"I don't think you can..."
"Now!" screamed Nat
At that moment the Hulk erupted, but he wasn't close to the scariest thing in the room.
He was distraction though and forced Clint to make a choice to drag Nat out of the room to protect her from potential fallout. She resentfully complied. Steve immediately took on the role of damage controller, or more accurately put: 'green angry monster distraction'.
Tony took hold of Thor's arm, dragged him into the adjacent room, and handed him his phone.
"Call him, and get him over here," he said. "And you better be right about the redeeming part, because if you are not then nothing can save him."