#31: Natasha Romanoff / Steve Rogers
"I never expected to meet you."
Steve is getting used to random visitors, but a dark line skids across his sketchbook anyway.
Natasha curls up at the other end of the couch, continuing, “I was once given orders in case I found you alive, working in secret. But you missed it all, the arms race, the Cold War...”
“I can vouch for the cold part,” Steve replies ruefully. “So you were ordered to kill me?”
“Oh, no,” she says, smiling in a way that makes him flush. “I don't think I'd have regretted these orders.”
#12: Clint Barton / Natasha Romanoff
“Whatever you need,” she said to him, after Loki. He'd nodded, face impassive as stone.
She beats the crap out of him in the gym. He fights for every inch, but she's faster, better at hand to hand, flowing like flame. He's better at the range, by a matter of millimeters, but she hands him his ass on the mat.
“Whatever you need,” she says again when he shows up at her door in the middle of the night, nightmares painted in the hollows under his eyes.
She kicks his ass again the next day, and the next.
#15: Phil Coulson / Nick Fury
Like clockwork, before Coulson leaves for the night, he stops by Fury's office and asks, “Is there anything else, sir?” On good days, Fury smiles and tells him, “No.”
On bad days, Coulson doesn't ask; Fury has to order him to sleep with all the infuriated invective of a commanding officer watching his best agents push themselves light-years past their limits.
Every now and then, on quiet days that make Fury's skin itch with idleness, Coulson asks instead, “Is there anything else you need, sir?” with subtle emphasis.
Fury shuts down the surveillance feeds and says yes .
#17: Phil Coulson / Maria Hill
Phil's always away on one mission or another; Maria handles most of the day-to-day, and he heads up the field ops, but sometimes they're in SHIELD HQ at the same time. When they are, she usually finds out during meals, spotting him in the mess, coffee cooling in front of him, fiddling with a report on his tablet like he's not expecting her to join him.
She always does. They don't talk, don't share gallows-humor jokes about their latest missions; they just sit in companionable silence, ankles brushing every so often.
Maria wishes she'd said something.
She eats alone now.
#2: Bruce Banner / Phil Coulson
It takes Bruce a while to notice, but once he does, it's all he can see whenever they share a room.
He waits until they're alone to say anything. He stops what he's doing and turns on his heel, quickly but with deliberate care.
Coulson just raises his eyebrows and asks mildly, “Sorry, am I hovering?”
“You don't flinch every time I move.”
“Why are you here?”
“I like watching you work.”
It's as simple as that. Bruce turns to his equipment, working on autopilot, his mind busy processing an entirely different equation.
#23: Clint Barton / Nick Fury / Natasha Romanoff
[Trigger warning: implied bloodplay]
They strip him down between them, purposeful and efficient. He gives no orders here, said “please,” once the first time, and ever after it's been bitten-off curses and “yes” hissed between his teeth.
He knows what this says about him, knows what people would think if even a fragment of a rumor started about this. But among the three of them, they make absolute certain that there's no reason to suspect what happens here in the dark.
Barton's hands tighten on Fury's wrists, pinning him in place, and Fury catches the glint of the blade in Romanoff's hand.
#35: Steve Rogers / Tony Stark
Tony's completely at ease in his skin, owning every space he's in, smooth motions and smoother quips at the ready, no matter what gets thrown at him. It irritates Steve, even after everything else has been settled between them.
“He's trying to impress you,” Pepper whispers as Tony gives them the grand tour of the refurbished Tower.
She smiles like she's sharing a secret. “It's okay. He gets one free pass, and I'm kind of flattered he's using it for you.”
When he realizes what she means, Steve almost trips on the edge of a rug.
#28: Maria Hill / Steve Rogers
She's assigned to 'bring Rogers up to speed.' Sometimes this means teaching him to use computers, to access the database, warning him about the internet. Sometimes she digs into the hard-copy archives for random bits of intel that aren't digitized.
One night, Maria finds him asleep on the couch, newspaper folios scattered around him. She quietly stacks the books, and turns to wake him.
His face is softened by sleep. Without thinking, she brushes a hand across his forehead.
He startles awake, catching her hand in his, and she freezes, caught between his firm grip and his blue, blue eyes.
#7: Bruce Banner / Thor
“You should come to Asgard,” Thor booms as he enters the lab. Bruce closes his eyes against the onslaught of sound and charisma that Thor carries with him like hammer and cloak.
Breathe, he reminds himself. “What for?” he asks aloud.
“There, your strength and valor will be celebrated instead of feared!” Thor grins broadly. “We will toast to your prowess and many fine and sturdy warrior women will fight for the honor of warming your bed!”
Bruce sighs. “That's really... no, thank you.”
“...or men,” Thor supplies with equanimity.
Bruce laughs, despite himself.
#11: Clint Barton / Maria Hill
The weirdest thing is how normal it is. They'd exchanged surreptitious glances at the range, he'd 'helped' her with her stance, steady hands on her shoulders, and then Fury finally snapped at them, “Stop mooning over each other; this coy shit is distracting.”
Maria had blushed and looked away, but Barton had just leaned in, solid and warm, and asked in a low voice at her ear, “Should I buy you dinner, or...?”
“The mess is free,” she'd pointed out, squaring her chin and turning just enough to meet his gaze. “And my room is closer.”
#13: Clint Barton / Steve Rogers
Steve hefts the shield in his hand. Tony had 'upgraded' it with what he called a nano-something whatever, and it's supposed to be helpful and durable, but Steve is dubious.
Therefore: field testing in the woods.
An arrow hits it with a loud 'clang,' dropping to the ground; Hawkeye materializes nearby, grinning.
“I couldn't resit,” Barton says. “It's a target.” He saunters up to retrieve his arrow. When he stands again, he's very close.
“I've wanted to do that for a while,” he says with emphasis, and Steve's mouth goes dry. “Gotta have some fun, right?”
#22: Maria Hill / Nick Fury
She knows all his secrets.
Maria knows how many men he's killed with his own hands, the number of deaths he's ordered others to execute, and how many soldiers have fallen under his command. She knows which of these lists keep him awake, and which haunt his nightmares.
She knows that he usually prefers her on top, but sometimes he needs to cover her protectively, his face buried in the crook of her neck. She also knows when to slip away silently, and when to stay.
Maria Hill knows all this about Nick Fury, but she'll never breathe a word.
#1: Bruce Banner / Clint Barton
Sometimes Bruce needs someplace remote, where no one can drop by uninvited (usually Tony) and there's relative peace. He likes high, shadowed places where he can pretend he's elsewhere, invisible and unobtrusive, but can keep an eye out for for interlopers.
He keeps running into Clint.
Usually, Bruce stammers an apology and finds somewhere else, but one day, he's just too tired to brave the crowded halls, and instead settles down in a separate corner of the eyrie. Barton nods but stays quiet, a calm sentinel over the hangar bay.
Eventually, Bruce looks forward to sharing the silence.
#33: Natasha Romanoff / Pepper Potts / Tony Stark
Natasha visits Pepper a lot.
“All right, fess up: you're having a torrid lesbian affair,” Tony says, as they're about to leave one day. “You can tell me. In detail, please.”
Pepper bursts out laughing.
“That's... not it,” Natasha says, suppressing her own grin.
“Then what? You two are inseparable lately, and... that's a little frightening, honestly.”
“Really wanna know?” Pepper asks. “C'mere.”
Seconds later, Tony's flat on his back, looking up at two smug redheads.
“Okay,” he says. “Sparring. Also hot, and yet: ow.”
They make it up to him later.
#3: Bruce Banner / Nick Fury
“You don't want me on your team,” Bruce says as he enters Fury's office.
“That's debatable,” Fury responds.
“I'm a liability.”
“...why me?” Banner finally asks.
“I have every report, every publication, and every newspaper clipping with your name in it. I have interviews with everyone you've ever met, and evaluations about you from a dozen professionals. I know you better than you know yourself, Dr. Banner, so I can say the following with confidence: I believe in you, even if you can't.”
“Oh,” Banner says, something warm unspooling in his chest.
#4: Bruce Banner / Maria Hill
Bruce keeps his head down in the hallways, trying to make himself as unobtrusive as possible. He doesn't want to see the wary glances, but he notices that he's always given a wide berth.
You'd think SHIELD agents were made of sterner stuff, he thinks to himself with grim humor, then rounds a corner and runs right into someone.
“Oh my god,” Agent Hill says as papers go everywhere.
The hallway clears out.
He kneels to gather the scattered files, and finds that she's still there, doing the same.
“Let me help,” she says, with a gentle smile.
#5: Bruce Banner / Natasha Romanoff
“You don't have to be here,” Bruce says when Natasha visits. “I know I scare you.”
“I'm not afraid of you,” Natasha replies.
“Right; you're afraid of-”
“I'm getting over it,” she interrupts. “When I see you, I don't think, he could erupt anytime. Now I think, what if that happened to me?” She looks away. “If my emotions, my... history, stained my skin, I wouldn't be green. I'd be bathed in red every minute of every day...”
Bruce stares at her.
“But like I said, Doctor – I'm getting over it.”
#16: Clint Barton / Tony Stark (/ Pepper Potts)
Tony's never been known for his impulse control.
So when he notices Clint watching him, he indulges in a few lingering glances of his own, pretends interest in Hawkeye's gear, offers upgrades...
Tony doesn't expect anything to happen.
Then Clint visits his workshop one night. Tony lets himself look at those dextrous fingers, but doesn't stand from his chair to close the distance as he once would.
Clint takes the initiative, sliding to his knees with a knowing grin and...
“Pepper's going to kill me,” Tony mutters.
Clint pulls away. “Pepper's watching the feed,” he replies.
#18: Phil Coulson/Natasha Romanoff
She's having a drink in some Barcelona dive when a stranger sits beside her. He's so nondescript that every alarm in her mind goes off.
“There are six Mossad agents watching you,” he says.
“You here to warn me or help them?”
“Neither. I'll finish my drink while you take them down, then we'll talk someplace quieter.”
And so it goes.
The next morning, he hands her her clothes and a suitcase. “That can't happen again if we're to work together,” he says.
“That's why it happened last night,” she says, and takes the suitcase.
#27: Maria Hill / Natasha Romanoff
Maria watches Natasha sparring with the others, envies her strength, her skill, her speed. Her impeccable form, always, even when she's down. Natasha rarely stays down.
Natasha notices. Of course she notices. “Don't envy me,” she says, cornering Maria in the deserted locker room.
Maria's read her file. She meets Natasha's gaze. “I know.”
“Don't pity me, either.” Natasha comes close, her voice low in warning.
“Then stop watching me.”
Maria smiles. “If I don't?” She steps forward, closing the distance between them.
Natasha takes her down.
Maria doesn't stay down, either.
#26: Nick Fury / Tony Stark
It is a well-documented fact that Tony Stark loves women - all kinds of women, sometimes several simultaneously.
Inversely, few know that sometimes, Tony Stark just wants to get nailed. He's a hedonist, after all, and lately, he catches himself missing the feel of bruises on his hips, rubbed-raw skin on his knees from getting owned.
To his surprise, he finds himself half-hard the next time Fury yells at him, the force of Fury's voice and the angry tension in his shoulders triggering an unexpected heat.
Fuck, Tony thinks, and resolves to build Pepper a harness when he gets home.
#14: Clint Barton / Thor
Someone's trying to break down his door. Clint stashes Catching Fire under the couch cushion and answers, one hand on his bow in case Banner's on the tear again.
It's Thor, flashing an exuberant grin. “When did you get back?” Clint asks.
“To Midgard or this Tower, rebuilt in splendor?”
Clint shakes his head, “Never mind. What do you want.”
“Jane has instructed me to drink heavily with you that we may speak frankly of my shame regarding my foster-brother's actions.” Thor lifts two cases of beer. “Will this be enough?”
“...let's find out.”
#6: Bruce Banner / Steve Rogers
Steve can't help but feel a little guilty. He knows it's not his fault, not directly, but if the experiment that... changed Banner is even remotely connected to his own transformation, guilt by association is inevitable. He's the only one left to atone.
So he says 'yes' when Banner asks for samples, for readings, for tests.
He doesn't say, I'm sorry, I wish I could have been there to save you. He doesn't say, I'd give every drop of blood I have to save a life warped by trying to emulate mine.
Instead, he says yes, and yes, and yes.
#8: Bruce Banner / Tony Stark
Apparently, Tony Stark has decided that Bruce is his new best friend. He hangs around the lab in Avengers Tower – specially designed for Bruce – asking about his research, showing off new gadgets, complaining about Fury, and generally chatting incessantly.
“So, uh, this might be rude of me to ask, but I'm dying to know,” Tony says one day, and Bruce braces himself. “Okay, do you only Hulk out when you're mad, or it it like any loss of control?”
Everything clicks. “Have you been wooing me with stuff?” Bruce asks incredulously.
“Well,” Tony hedges.
#19: Phil Coulson / Steve Rogers
Steve drops by Agent Coulson's office, immediately taken aback at the response. Coulson's restrained, but Steve can read volumes in the fidgeting hands and the barely-banked smile.
Coulson holds out a handful of cards and a pen, and Steve sighs inwardly. “Phil – can I-” he starts and receives a nod in response. “Phil, my name is Steve. I grew up in Brooklyn and got the snot kicked out of me more times than I can count.” He gently wraps his hands around Phil's. “I got lucky, once. Can we just-”
He forgets to sign the cards.
#9: Clint Barton / Phil Coulson / Natasha Romanoff
Natasha spots him first, halting mid-stride. Phil crosses the hallway to meet her, about to speak when she hits him.
It could be called a slap, but it feels more like he ran into a steel door.
She continues past without a word. Clint, three steps behind her, gives Phil a rueful smile and claps him on the shoulder (perhaps a little harder than necessary), and mutters, "Welcome back."
And that's it.
That night, he mutters apologies into their skin. “I'm sorry,” he says, and “I'm sorry,” and he takes the marks they give him as his due.
#25: Nick Fury / Thor
Fury finds him on the roof, perched on the precipice, facing into the gale. “It's going to rain,” Fury comments.
“Aye,” Thor says, looking pleased.
It's so easy sometimes, to think of him as an another misfit soldier. So much stranger to think of how old he is, the battles he must have fought against foes Fury cannot fathom.
“My father did not lose his eye; he traded it for magic, and power, and wisdom,” Thor says. “Did you gain as much?”
“I fought for every scrap,” Fury replies, “And wisdom? Sometimes I wonder.”
#34: Steve Rogers / Thor
Steve tries not to think it, but it's almost nice to have someone else around as anachronistic – more so, in some ways – as he. Eventually, he realizes they have more in common: they both understand sacrifice, and loyalty, and honor in ways that the rest do not. They settle in as easy allies while the others founder and fight.
Still, Thor finds ways to surprise him.
“Uh,” he says one day, with Thor suddenly too close. “This isn't-”
“No?” Thor says, “I thought-”
Thor shifts away, and Steve resigns himself to novelty.
#24: Nick Fury/Steve Rogers
When Steve's pulled from the ice, he's blue with the cold and as solid as stone. When they thaw him out, his muscles are as weak as water, but regain their strength with impossible ease.
When he wakes, the ice stays in his eyes.
Fury thinks he can see the fissures and cracks if he looks long enough.
Steve Rogers, one of the only biological experiments Howard Stark ever conducted, moves like a machine instead. Something outdated, like a classic Chevy, sleek lines disguising a broken engine within, still moving by force of will alone.
It breaks his goddamn heart.
#10: Clint Barton / Nick Fury
Nick used to be a great shot. Oh, he's okay now; he still surprises the piss outta recruits when he gets bored, but he could've been spectacular.
He lives vicariously through his team instead. Well, most of them. Banner shies away from the range, and the Hulk couldn't care less. Tony has tech guiding him, Thor's skillset lies elsewhere, and Steve does okay with his souped-up frisbee.
Natasha's blades are a thing of beauty, though. While Barton...
“That's how it's done,” Fury says. He lets his hand rest on the back of Barton's neck, and smiles with envious pride.
#36: Tony Stark / Thor
Thor's touch sends electricity over Tony's skin. Usually it's slight, like static at his fingertips when they grip hands, but once Thor had leaned heavily Tony's bare arm as they wrestled a generator into place, and a jolt had shot through his whole body, leaving him panting and stunned.
He'd pretended it was the exertion, though the crane had taken most of the weight. Thor laughed at him and clapped Tony's shoulder, and – thankyougod – left right before Tony had embarrassed himself.
Once recovered, Tony was fascinated . No one else seems to react this way.
Tony decides to experiment.
#32: Natasha Romanoff / Thor
He is a god of weather, of lightning and thunder and freezing rain. His family are the pantheon of winter, of snow and ash and the rare distant warmth of the sun. Their stories are epics of battle against the wastes made malevolent flesh, and when they're victorious, they drink and they fuck and they sing.
She may not hail from the lands where his legends endured, but she knows the winter, and the eternal fight that will end, inevitably, in catastrophic defeat. So when they find victory as comrades-in-arms, she occasionally celebrates with him in the old, old ways.
#29: Maria Hill / Thor
The last thing Maria Hill expects on her day off is Thor outside her apartment, bellowing her name.
She opens her window and stares at him, completely at a loss.
“I have been told of your valor in battle,” he shouts. “I declare you Valkyrie, here in Midgard.”
“What does that even-?” she asks.
“You hold the life and death of warriors in your hands, and deliver them to my father's hall in glory where we feast and you serve them mead.”
Her neighbors are staring. They think she's a temp .
“You'd better get inside.”
#20: Phil Coulson / Thor
He'd ushered Darcy and Jane aboard the plane himself, trusting no one else's fortitude for such an assignment. Jane loaded several crates of research before he'd prevented her from making another trip, and she'd pulled him aside with earnest eyes and steel grip on his lapels.
“You have to take care of him,” she demands, and Coulson laughs. “No, really. ” She fixes Coulson with another look and climbs aboard the plane.
I don't think this is what she meant , Coulson thinks a few days later as Thor strips him down. But hey, the world's about to end.
#21: Phil Coulson / Tony Stark
“Are you finished?”
“I don't know why you're so worked up over some star-spangled scrap metal,” Tony says. “I mean, it's not like I'm performing seat-of-my-pants quantum physics with my dying breath or anything – Oh, wait.”
“Are. You. Finished.”
“What if I said no? I mean, your mission is to facilitate the work I'm doing here, right? You can't-”
Tony finds himself pinned face-first against his workstation, one arm wrenched up behind him. Coulson's breath is hot against the nape of his neck. “Keep underestimating me, Stark. I dare you.”
#37: Pepper Potts / Phil Coulson / Tony Stark
Phil is permitted 'light duty' when his damned physical therapists let him escape their not-so-tender ministrations. He's assigned as 'liason to Stark Enterprises,' a task with mixed blessings.
For instance, tonight he's having dinner with Pepper while Stark prattles on about renovations to the renamed 'Avengers Tower,' the generosity of which Tony has emphasized repeatedly. Still, JARVIS has provided an excellent meal, and Pepper's input keeps the conversation entertaining.
“You know,” Stark says, apropos of nothing, “Pepper took cello lessons in high school.”
Phil looks at Pepper.
“We're very glad you're back,” she says simply, and smiles.
#30: Maria Hill / Tony Stark
Long before Natasha, two dozen SHIELD agents had infiltrated Stark Enterprises at various levels and in different departments, the better to get thorough intel on the company and its quicksilver CEO.
Maria doesn't regret that assignment. She'd gotten a promotion from it, after all. But at the time, she'd wondered if her decision had been the right one.
The opportunity to examine Stark Manor's security system had been irresistible.
And now she's working with Tony Stark again. One day, he stops, stares at her, and asks, “Do I know you?”
“No,” she responds easily, “You really don't.”
Tony wakes to a screaming hangover. He seems to be naked, which is not new, but the snoring sounds like Steve. Tony's eyes focus reluctantly.
Actually, the snoring is Thor.
Tony then spots Steve curled protectively around Bruce. He finds Natasha staring back at him over Clint's shoulder, her legs tangled with Pepper's.
There isn't a stitch of clothing anywhere.
“We took a vote,” Natasha says. “We've decided to blame this on you.”
Tony opens his mouth to speak.
“Go the fuck to sleep,” Fury says, somewhere between Coulson and Maria, and for once, Tony follows orders.
--- END ---