Actions

Work Header

The Long Way Around

Chapter Text

Chapter 1: The Widow and the Witch

Natasha was made for a solitary life. Molded into a one woman killing machine by a program that allowed no room for attachments and punished weakness. In the Red Room the girls were taught to be self sufficient- rely on no one but yourself. Helping or being helped by another was the best way to catch a bullet between the eyes. Natasha had not become the most formidable Black Widow ever produced by making friends. No, Natasha wasn’t exactly what you would call a team player.
But here she was. The great Black Widow, part of a team made of super soldiers, gods, and metal men (annoying metal men). When Clint brought her into S.H.I.E.L.D and vouched for her it had been just the two of them for a long while. It took time, but eventually Natasha got somewhat comfortable with Clint watching her back- even trusting him to not get her killed. The second aliens came raining down from the sky and the Tesseract nearly destroyed the world, things had changed. And then S.H.I.E.L.D fell, and she found out that despite her best efforts to make a change, to lie for the right people, she had been stupid enough to be running missions for HYDRA. After that she disappeared for a while. A Black Widow was no good without covers- espionage is about staying hidden and not dumping all of your secrets onto the internet. But somehow she found herself in Sokovia (well part of it), working with the Avengers to stop Ultron. After, when she went to run again, Steve stopped her. He convinced Natasha that she could still be a force for good, more than the assassin that was born out of the Red Room. She didn’t need to disappear or run anymore. Everyone had dispersed, gone their own ways, but Cap had asked her to stay and help train the new recruits. Now she found herself stuck in a communal lifestyle she was not made for. Luckily Tony had made various floors of the new Avengers facility into living quarters for each occupant.
Now it was up to her and Steve to train the new recruits how work as a team (ironic if Natasha thought about it). Training had been progressing smoothly, but they were still nowhere near ready to save the world from its next disaster. Rhodey and Sam both had military training and knew how to work as a unit. Cap seemed to feel most at home with the two of them. The Vision, well he was an android with infinite knowledge, flight, enhanced strength, and god knew what else- she wasn’t quite sure what, if any, training was required with him. More often she found him regarding everyone with intense curiosity. Often he watched, head tilted, as Sam and Rhodey joked about who was better, taking in and studying their interactions. He had once told Steve he found human beings to be curious creatures, that he enjoyed observing and learning about all the aspects he himself did not possess.

And then there was the girl, Wanda. Natasha had kept her distance-a very large distance. Wanda had turned her mind inside out in Wakanda, reached in and saw things she had no right to see. Since Pietro’s death Wanda’s powers had been erratic, they were tied to her emotions. Natasha saw Wanda was trying to keep herself together, but her intense grief was the cause of her lack of control. Natasha had no desire to get pulled inside out again, that and her anger meant she avoided Wanda whenever possible.

Natasha had been unmade, pulled apart and made anew in the Red Room; her childhood and teenage years full of violence, death, control, and the abuse of her mind. When she voluntary came to S.H.I.E.L.D the Black Widow had agreed to their version of reprogramming. The memories of who she was, what she had done, and who had made her were all still there. But, she had buried them deep and only saw them again in her nightmares.

When Wanda had forced her way inside Natasha’s mind she saw the real Black Widow, the woman who hid behind a fake name and a false personality that was malleable to fit any situation. Natasha was a fiction, a creation of hers, there was very little that was genuine about Natasha Romanoff. Hell, even her hair came from a bottle. Deep down she would always be Natalia Alianovna Romanova. Like she had told Bruce, she had a dream…. a dream that she was an Avenger and that she did good and could maybe wipe out some- even the smallest drop of red that stained her ledger. But really she knew she was kidding herself, that it was all a fantasy- what the witch pulled out of her was the truth; red was her color. From her hair to the blood red painted on her nails, to the brains and blood of countless victims splattered all over the floor- she could never get rid of that much red. All the girl did was remind her of who she really was, who she always would be. There was no running from Natalia and the Red Room. For that she was avoiding the young Sokovian- she didn’t want anywhere near the one person in the facility who knew her better than anyone; who saw what and who she really was and the facade she was trying to hide behind in her cowardice.

But, a girl still has to eat. Which is how Natasha found herself silently trotting to the communal kitchen at 3 in the morning to steal some of Sam’s left over birthday cake. As she rustled through the fridge, moving around its contents in an attempt to get to the platter, Natasha heard a mumble. The noise immediately sent her hand to one of the knives hidden beneath the waistband of her S.H.I.E.L.D issue sweatpants. Not wanting to make anymore noise, she left the fridge door where it was and crouched behind the granite counter top. What she saw when she scanned the area was most definitely a threat. Unfortunately, this threat lived in the facility. Widow sighed internally as her hand reluctantly slid off the handle of the small knife. The kitchen was connected to the common room, a large area artfully arraigned with furniture, paintings, and a bigger television than Natasha had ever seen. She was sure Pepper oversaw most of the aesthetic construction of the compound. In the overstuffed chair in the corner of the room was a small lithe figure who was almost swallowed by her long billowy skirt. Wanda Maximoff, the one person Natasha was actively avoiding, had tucked herself into the chair; curling herself into as small a ball as she could manage as she slept. The book in her lap told Natasha the girl had nodded off, most likely not intending to sleep through the night in the chair. The murmurs Natasha had herd were falling from Wanda’s lips, some in Sokovian others in English. In both languages the girl sounded panicked and afraid. Natasha didn’t understand Sokovian, one of the few languages she hadn’t mastered, but she knew enough to make out Pietro’s name and some of the context with the words the younger woman said when she slipped into English. Steve had told her that Wanda had been having an increasingly hard time; Natasha had seen it too. She was so used to being a half of a whole, depending on her speedster brother for so many things, that without him she was barely keeping her head above water. Cap had said her self -confidence was waning, she had lost her center and was becoming more distracted and erratic. The girl had done well against Ultron, but once her brother died she had lost almost all control. Sometimes it seemed as if she too had died the second Pietro hit the ground.

Natasha had tried to ignore the pain that Wanda felt. It really wasn’t her problem. But it became increasingly hard to ignore what was in front of her, especially since the terror in Wanda’s voice as she slept was so familiar. Natasha had been forced to go to S.H.I.E.L.D issue therapists after her reconditioning; she had lost count after she scared the 7th one out of the room. Those idiots had no clue how to deal with her- much less ease her night terrors or help her delineate implanted memories from those that were truly her own. Wanda’s mumbles were getting slightly louder, filled with sorrow and fear. Natasha rose from behind the counter and silently made her way into the connected common room. From her position she could see the girl’s face was stained with tears, with black streaks running down her cheeks from mascara and heavy eyeliner. The assassin knew better than anyone that to wake someone in the middle of a night terror was dangerous. On missions she refused to sleep in the same bed as Clint, just in case. Not after she broke his arm in two places, rendering him useless in the field for a month. Clint had understood, but the Natasha never allowed it to happen again. She slept alone. No, she knew better, but somehow she didn’t have it in whatever was left in her heart to let the girl suffer the tumult of her own mind. She might not like or trust Wanda, but she knew the girl didn’t deserve to be haunted when she closed her eyes.
Natasha crossed the expanse of the common room slowly, semi unsure of how to wake the distressed girl. She tried calling Wanda’s name, even tried tossing a book in front of her-hoping the loud thump on the floor would wake her. But Wanda’s nightmare persisted, her panic growing louder. Natasha sighed, the girl’s powers were unpredictable; but the assassin was hoping that Wanda’s mind was so preoccupied with other things that a small nudge might help the girl wake up. She was also hoping to not end up as soup for her troubles; or worse. She barely got a fingertip on Wanda before being throw back into the kitchen island forcefully enough that the wood splintered around the indentation of her body and the marble surface crumbled a bit. Natasha had two seconds to be grateful for her enhanced healing and durability before her mind felt like it was being torn apart.

Polished leather shoes flecked with her own blood rained down on her with no reprieve- aiming for her ribs, face, stomach, any bit of her that was vulnerable and open to attack. She had curled herself into a ball, trying to minimize target spots and lessen the damage. She felt a violent tug as she was dragged upwards by her hair, the roots protesting but not giving way. Natasha tried to quickly assess the damage as she was yanked to her feet. She was unsteady, wheezing slightly, and could taste the tang of copper in her mouth. It wouldn’t surprise her if numerous bones in her body were broken severely enough to trip up her expedited healing process. She must have wandered off her in her thoughts because she was slapped hard across the cheek and a large hand roughly grabbed her chin, forcing her to make eye contact. The man was hulking, head shaved bald with dark eyes that held no compassion.
“When will you learn to behave little girl?” the question came out in the mother tongue, Natalia proffered no answer. Answering would get her killed, it was better to take her beating, lick her wounds and remain breathing. The large man trailed his other hand almost delicately down the side of her face.
“You’re old enough now Natalia, old enough for a different set of consequences if you don’t behave. You are not a little girl anymore. Your punishments will not be so gentle now” His hand going to his belt buckle was enough to make Natalia attempt to shake her head violently. She broke her rule, she broke the rule to not speak and simply take her punishment. This had never been a part of her punishments. Of all the violent and cruel things that had been done to her this was new. “No please. I won’t- I’ll be good. I won’t fail on purpose. I will do it right.” But the man had already flipped open the button of his dress pants and began to tear at her skirt. “Yes you will Natalia, but you did not do what was asked of you today. But tomorrow, you will do as requested.” He spun her hard enough that her face slammed into the brick wall behind her, more blood pooling into her mouth and dripping from her face.

Before Natalia had any time to prepare herself pain flooded through her. She had never done this, and to be forced into it…. she should have known that once they no longer considered her to physically be a child this punishment would no longer be outside realm of possibility.
“This should prepare you for the real world little girl,” the man laughed in her ear as he continued, his pants pooled at his ankles. It went on like that for several minutes, and the man took great care not to be gentle. Natalia felt it, in every broken bone, every part that shouldn’t have been touched like this- not without her consent, and never with this amount of pain. The man finally stilled, exiting her and wiped himself off on her skirt.
“Remember this next time you want to misbehave little girl. You’ve known this since you were a child. Pain is the result of Madame’s displeasure. Haven’t you seen enough of your fellow students lain bloody at her feet to know better? You may be her favorite, but she will not tolerate failure or disobedience. She has said you will follow through with the exercise tomorrow or I will be back. Remember that I was gentle because she prizes you- but if she requests that I pay you another visit I will not be so nice next time.” The man pet her hair, letting red strands fall through his fingers before quickly gathering a knot of it in his fist. Before she had any time to register it, Natalia’s face collided with the wall and she fell to the floor. Left unconscious in a pool of her own blood.

Natasha came to with a start, fighting the bile that was rapidly rising in her throat. She gripped what was left of the kitchen island as she shook her head trying to clear the memory from her mind before she spilled the contents of her stomach on the floor.
Looking over she saw Wanda was now conscious and standing. The girl made a motion in Natasha’s direction to help her, but all it did was cause the redhead to back peddle away from her. Wanda realized her error and stilled. There were no apologies for this- not again, not ever. She had reached into Natasha’s mind and pulled out things-horrors Wanda couldn’t even conceptualize. She had seen the woman violated. One of the many elements of pain that had shaped and crafted her into one of the most feared assassins in the world.

She saw Natasha’s face contort trying to hide the physical pain and violation she felt. Just as quickly as she saw it, the emotions were gone. The redhead’s face had washed back into an impassive mask meant to hide the things Widow didn’t want seen by anyone. But Wanda had seen, she had felt it in a way. Wanda went to open her mouth, rooted in place. “Don’t.” Natasha said sharply before walking towards the elevator that would take her to her own floor.
Wanda’s face fell as she heard the ding of the elevator door and Friday’s voice asking the Black Widow if she would like to return to her floor. As soon as the doors were closed Natasha scrubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands. The witch kept dredging up memories Natasha had fought to keep buried; pulling them out of her almost as violently as they were put in.

Fury had been right when he told Rogers that she was comfortable in any situation. That seduction, sex, and killing- they were all the same to her. But those kinds of missions were always on her terms. She made the call. She was always in control. This memory was a painful reminder of yet another thing the Red Room had taken from her. And it was taken through force. Natasha opened the door to her room, sitting down her bed heavily. The room was spartan, but she had indulged herself in all black bedding and had Stark engineer numerous hidden compartments around the room for her arsenal of weapons. Swinging her legs onto the bed she laid her head down on her pillow, but she knew sleep wouldn’t come- not tonight. Instead she preoccupied her mind with Wanda. The witch had forced something on Natasha that she was sure she never wanted to remember. Something that was buried deep and had now been brought to the fore. She knew it wasn’t intentional, Rogers had warned her that Wanda was out of control. But with all her understanding of what it was to be damaged and broken, the redhead didn’t know if she had it in her to be near Wanda and not want to put a bullet in between her eyes for all that she’d done.

Chapter Text

Steve didn’t have to wonder where Natasha was, all he had to do was look in the vast gym Stark had built on the top floor of the new Avengers complex. True to form, the redhead was there, a flurry of motion as she relentlessly assaulted a punching bag. Steve walked up slowly, within her line of sight, reaching out to hold the punching bag steady. He had once approached her from behind, thinking nothing of it until he ended up on his back with a knife to his throat. That was the first and last time Steve approached Natasha unannounced.

Many made the mistake of thinking of Natasha as one of the weak links on the Avengers team. Without any noticeable superhuman powers the tiny woman, especially standing next to Thor and the Hulk, looked about as dangerous as a Pomeranian. But Steve knew, first hand, that such an assumption was dangerous. Usually a fatal one. He had seen her take on aliens; launching herself towards a trickster god joking “it would be fun”. He had seen her take out men much larger than himself without blinking, popping her gum as she winked at him and walked away. To label this woman as weak was a huge mistake, and anyone who made it almost always found themselves at the wrong end of a Widow’s bite or the barrel of her gun. “You know it’s more fun when the other end punches back.” Steve smiled his perfect all American smile, all teeth and boyish charm. Widow did nothing but scowl in response as she stopped punching the bag and walked away to grab a small towel hanging from the ropes of the boxing ring. She turned to face him, wrapping the towel around her neck just beneath her short red hair.
She looked around the empty gym and then spread her arms, “Yeah well I don’t seem to have any volunteers at the moment. You offering?”
Steve chuckled, looking down at the floor then back up at Natasha. “I’m smarter than that Natasha. But I do have a favor to ask you.” Natasha knew what was coming- maybe if she got lucky she was wrong. “I want you to train the Maximoff girl.” Nope, she hadn’t been wrong-so much for luck. And the favor didn’t so much sound like a favor as it did an order.

“That doesn’t sound like a favor Rogers, it sounds like you’re telling. Not asking.”
“She needs help Romanoff. Someone who can teach her how to use her small stature to her advantage in hand-to-hand. Its not safe for her to rely solely on her powers- especially as erratic as they are.”
“Yeah well I’m sure you can teach her just fine old man.” Natasha made to pass him, patting him firmly on his well muscled shoulder. He didn’t know what he was asking. He had no clue. Natasha shook her head, tilting it to one side to stretch out the, now tense, muscles in her neck. She could still remember the pain from the boots connecting with her body, and the sensation of cold brick scratching her cheek.
“Proficiency in hand-to-hand could help her gain some confidence. Help her find balance. Maybe help even out her powers.” Steve said as he turned to walk with the redhead.

Natasha heard him, she did. It all made sense. Wanda needed to train with someone her own size before she could be expected to fight someone larger; and the confidence gained from learning a new skill could help Wanda reign in her abilities. It was completely logical, but that didn’t mean Natasha wanted to do it.
“Nat, she trains with you until she can gain some level of control.” This time it wasn’t a light order she could brush off- this was gonna suck.
Natasha gave a curt nod in agreement before walking away. She had chosen to help Steve with these baby Avengers. To that end, she really had no choice but to agree- no matter how much she wanted to kick Steve in the balls and tell him no. She was sure somewhere it was a government memorandum that you couldn’t kick Captain America in the crotch. But who cares- she’s not American.

Since defecting from Russia and the Red Room Natasha wasn’t one to be ordered around. She either did it or she didn’t- no one could force her (God help whoever tried). Even when she had worked for S.H.I.E.L.D, there was a tacit understanding between her, Fury, and Hill that if Natasha didn’t want to do something, she wasn’t going to-simple as that. But through everything; Loki, The Winter Soldier, and Ultron- she had grown to respect the old fossil enough to let his little stunt slide.

With an audible huff, she set off to find Wanda. Friday pointed her in the direction of the common room where Natasha found the girl curled up in the same chair as before, ensconsed in a rather large book. The kitchen island had since been repaired. Wanda lied to Steve and told him she had accidentally cast a hex blast in her sleep- destroying a large portion of the island. She had taken full responsibility in lieu of causing Natasha further problems and scrutiny. To avoid a repeat of last time, Natasha made her presence known; lightly knocking on the wooden bookshelf as she entered the room. Wanda popped her head up from whatever book she was reading, green eyes meeting Natasha’s; lingering for slightly longer than she should have before scrambling to get up. “I am sorry Agent Romanoff; I can leave if you want me to….”

“Relax. It’s called a common room for a reason Maximoff.” Natasha looked at Wanda again, steeling herself, before effortlessly settling herself into a chair across from the girl. Wanda made her nervous, she made her want to run and never stop. The brunette already knew far too much about her-maybe more than anyone. She didn’t need to be in the know about Natasha’s uneasiness as well. Wanda watched as Natasha settled herself in the chair- everything the woman did seemed effortless yet perfectly executed. To say this woman made her nervous was a slight understatement. Wanda figured the assassin did that to pretty much everyone. She is world renowned for her skills; and she is a bombshell. Wanda was sure that winning combination was enough to make anyone nervous. Wanda, herself, had a healthy fear of Natasha. If the Russian wanted to kill her she could do so easily- without blinking. And after everything that’s happened, Wanda was somewhat surprised she was still breathing. Still, she couldn’t help the little flutter her stomach did whenever Natasha was around. It was absurd, she knew that- Natasha couldn’t even stand to be around her, much less return her amorous feelings.

“I just thought…. after…” Wanda let her words die out, she had no excuses for this woman, no words that would make any difference; and she was sure any type of apology would only piss Natasha off even more. Pietro had always better at this. People. He could talk for days and days, flirt with an endless amount of women, while Wanda remained silent and observed in the background. Without him she found herself at a loss when it came to most human interactions. Without him she was pretty much just lost. Natasha held her hand up. Effectively silencing Wanda. “Steve has asked me to train you in hand-to-hand. We are in agreeance that you can’t always rely on your abilities. They are too erratic.” The spy let that last bit come out a little harsher than intended. “I’m going to teach you combat tactics that work for your small stature. Hex blasts or no hex blasts, you need to know how to throw a decent punch.” The statement had an air of finality to it, so Wanda nodded- averting her gaze from Natasha. Looking down to fidget with the copious amount of bulky rings on each of her hands.Natasha’s eyes tracked down to Wanda’s hands, the rings, the loose fitting dress; nothing she was wearing was practical for field training. “You’ll want to take all of that off and get into something you can move around in.” Wanda nodded in affirmation again, still fiddling with her rings. “Training starts now Maximoff, meet me in the gym in 15. For every minute you’re late you run a mile. And please, do test me on that one.”

Natasha got up from her chair, turned and left the room without another word. It was going to be a long day.

Wanda let out the breath she had been holding when she heard Friday ask Natasha what floor she wanted. Captain America-Steve, as he had asked her to call him, had seen fit to pair her with the assassin because they were around the same size. Wanda had noticed her crush on Natasha after the battle against Ultron. She had been intrigued by her in Wakanda, and became even more so when she saw Natasha put down Ultron’s robots with precise head-shots. The woman was fierce and gorgeous; but it would only ever be that- a crush. She was going to have to accept that Natasha, rightly, wanted nothing to do with her. But, now they were stuck with one another- Wanda wanting to move closer, and Natasha wanting to run away as fast as she could. Wanda shook her head; Pietro would laugh at her. Tell her to grow a pair and go talk to the pretty girl. But Pietro wasn’t here anymore, and this pretty girl definitely did not want to talk to her.

It took her 10 minutes to change; tossing her black dress onto the floor, followed by her boots, then her rings. She didn’t think the red leather costume that had been made for her would be suitable for a training session. Instead, she grabbed a pair of black yoga pants and a tank top, wondering for a split second if Natasha would think she looked cute in her outfit before catching herself. It was pointless to worry about what she was wearing, when this woman looked at her and saw a monster.
Looking at the clock on her bedside table Wanda saw she had under two minutes to get to the gym. She walked quickly, sure Natasha’s threats about being late and running were not idle. Entering the gym Wanda saw Natasha with a leg resting on top of the highest rope of the boxing ring-her forehead resting on her knee in what looked like an excruciating stretch. Wanda tried not to stare, really she did-kind of did. But Natasha’s ass looked amazing in her tight workout pants.
“In the ring Maximoff.” Natasha’s voice reverberated through the gym, causing Wanda to let out an undignified squeak in surprise- she’s was pretty sure she had just gotten caught. Thinking Natasha wouldn’t see her staring was just idiotic, the woman was a damn spy. Natasha gave her a pointed look, one perfectly sculpted eyebrow risen, after Wanda squeaked and awkwardly climbed into the ring. Before the HYDRA experiments that had given her abilities Wanda wasn’t really all that active. A run here, a run there pretty much summed it up. Now, standing across the ring from a woman who was born and bred to be utterly deadly, only served to highlight how ill-equipped Wanda was for the situation.

“Alright,” Natasha started as she moved towards Wanda, “first you need to know a basic fighting stance. If you’re off balance, there’s no power behind your strikes and you leave yourself vulnerable to attack.” Natasha dropped into a low fighting stance- giving Wanda an image to mirror, “try to copy me.” Wanda tried to replicate what she saw, but Natasha shook her head and relaxed. “No,” she said simply before walking closer to Wanda, noticeably hesitating as she did.
Wanda saw her hesitation, even for Natasha it was hard to miss. She had to try again, “Natasha I……I truly am sorry. I never meant to cause so much damage. The first time I was misguided, but wrong nonetheless. But, what happened in the common area….” she trailed off, not able to find the words to express how truly sorry she was. “What I saw,” she said hesitantly. At that Natasha put her hand up again, stopping Wanda mid sentence. “What you saw is dead and buried, and I’d like it to stay that way.” After a long second, almost an eternity for Wanda, Natasha inhaled deeply through her nose before walking towards and slowly stepping behind Wanda.
Wanda felt a strong hand behind her elbow guiding her into position; while the other hand straightened out her back. The touch was, unexpectedly, gentle but firm.
Natasha used her feet to nudge Wanda’s farther apart; putting her on balance. “Okay,” she said as she returned to her corner across the ring. Wanda’s skin tingled where Natasha had touched her-it wasn’t her fault her mind wandered. Before she knew it her legs were swept out from under her; her back hitting the mat with a thud, her eyes rolling up to look at the ceiling.

“That’s what you get for not paying attention Maximoff. Again.”

Wanda shook her head as she stood up. “ Ow….” It was going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

Training went on like this for weeks, Natasha teaching Wanda new skills- only to arrive at the same results. Wanda, on her back- staring at the ceiling. She’d been taught how to throw a decent punch, dodge, and anticipate an opponent-kind of; but Wanda knew she was still nowhere near proficient-not even close. Despite how unpredictable her abilities had been she had far more confidence in hex blasts and telekinesis over her shoddy hand-to-hand skills. But, there was an upside to all of the training; her powers had become slightly less erratic, and Wanda got to spend a copious amount of time in close proximity to a sweaty, half dressed, Natasha Romanoff- can you say yoga pants? Very tight yoga pants.

Wanda felt a fist collide with the side of her head. Ow. And more ow. That’s what she got for not paying attention. Again. It had become something of a trend around the tiny assassin. For what seemed like the umpteenth time Wanda found herself staring up at the rafters- back aching from her ill fated collision with the mat.
Tony should really look into ceiling decoration; something nicer to look at than hanging light fixtures and support beams. Maybe posters of cat memes? Grumpy cat was her spirit animal right now. Then again Wanda didn’t think any other member of the team spent nearly as much time on their backs in the gym as she did. Out of her periphery Wanda barely saw Natasha rushing in for another attack in time to roll back onto her feet- seriously, she really has a hard time paying attention around this woman.

The attack was faster than she had anticipated; forcing Wanda into a corner of the ring. Being cornered made Wanda panic-made her feel like she couldn’t breath-she felt like she did back in Sokovia with Hawkeye trying to talk her down; quipping that the city was flying, they were being attacked by killer robots, and he had a bow and arrow (which really is an impractical weapon-but to each his own). Panic was not good for a person whose powers are linked to strong emotions i.e. Wanda Maximoff. She quickly became all reflex, fight or flight- wisps of red energy tickling her palms and fingertips; pooling into an amorphic ball between her hands. She could see Natasha skid to a halt in front of her; back peddling as fast as she could away from the energy ball- away from Wanda. Yet again. The look of abject horror and fear on Natasha’s face was more than enough motivation to try and put a damper on her abilities-tear it from the orb and forcibly pulling it back into her body. Slowly the red ball of energy dispersed, snaking its way back into Wanda’s palms and up her arms; seeping into her skin like a mist. When Pietro’s had hit the concrete, body riddled with bullets, the connection they had shared since the womb had been severed. Wanda had lost control -blasting a wave of pain and power outwards. In her agony she had ripped out Ultron’s heart-or at least what passed for one. At that point she had resigned herself to die. To fall where Pietro fell-she couldn’t fathom how she could exist in a world where her brother no longer drew breath. A world where she would never see him again. The Vision had saved her. Catching her as gravity failed and Sokovia was set to break up and crash into the sea. He had saved her life-but her heart, her reason for living, was gone. She didn’t know what to do with all of this pain-she had never been alone, so utterly and completely alone. Without a barrier or balm for her emotions, her abilities had been running rampant. Here and now, was the first time since Sokovia that she had been able to pull back-she needed to relearn control.. Wanda never wanted to see that look on her face again. Natasha shouldn’t have to be afraid of her.
Once the power had receded the pounding headache was the first thing she noticed. Followed by the small amount of blood trickling from her nose, and down onto her chin, that she wiped away with her workout towel. Maybe this is what it felt like to be whammied by her.

When Wanda looked up she found Natasha, pressed into the far corner of the ring, back flush against the ropes, staring at her-but to her credit, still in the gym. Hell, still in the ring.

“I keep apologizing don’t I?” Wanda paused to wipe away more blood that had trickled from her nose, “You are not safe around me. No one is. I’ve…” she hesitated before proceeding, “I’ve lost my center. Pietro always reminded me who I was, that I could be strong… but without him I do not think I can do this.” Wanda turned to slip out of the ring, intent on going back to her own floor and shutting herself in. Natasha caught her around the upper arm, gently, before she left the ring.

“You’ve seen inside my head. You know what I am. Who I really am. Natasha is a fiction. I chose to be her, to try and wipe the ledger of that little Russian girl with all those bodies at her feet. I made a choice. I make that choice everyday. Now it’s time for you to make yours. You need to choose who you want to be, because no one can decide for you. You have to learn to stand on your own. You can do this Wanda.” Natasha’s eyes locked onto Wanda’s, lingering a little too long, before she let her go-walking towards the locker room without another word.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Natasha couldn’t sleep. Not that it wasn’t entirely unusual for her-she rarely slept. Night terrors and memories she had long since tried to forget plagued her whenever she closed her eyes. Memories of ballerina shoes, beatings, handcuffs, garrotes, and blood- another life. Another life that was very hard to forget, even with S.H.I.E.L.D level re-programming. Solution-don’t sleep; problem solved.

She was halfway through the Ultron incident files and the personal file Stark kept on the Maximoff twins when she heard muffled thuds and slamming from the floor below. She knew what it was, it had been going on since Wanda had moved into the facility. The girl had night terrors, and her room got the brunt of the panic and fear while her emotions were left unchecked. Her telekinetic powers threw things around the room-hence the noise.

Despite what had gone on between them; Natasha couldn’t help but feel bad for Wanda-if only a little. The girl was obviously having a tough time with her brothers’ death and the fact that she was suddenly alone for the first time in her life. Natasha knew, first hand, how it felt to closer your eyes and find no peace, no rest. Attempting to wake Wanda in the common room had gone poorly-very poorly. Mind fucked poorly. What made Natasha think she should, or even could, help now? She huffed audibly, leaving her bedroom to walk through her apartment to the elevator-this was a shit idea. Since when was she noble?

“Friday, take me to Ms. Maximoff’s floor please.”

“Sure ‘ting Ms. Romanoff. But I should warn you, Ms. Maximoff seems to be having a nightmare.”

“So I hear Friday.”

Once she stepped out of the elevator, barely registering Friday’s goodbye, Wanda’s bedroom wasn’t hard to find. Yes, the floorplans of the residential areas in the compound were all almost identical, but the noise alone led Natasha to her bedroom door.
Even before their training sessions had begun Natasha had gleaned that Wanda’s abilities were linked to her most powerful emotions. Rage, panic, fear-they all produced volatile reactions- reactions she had been on the receiving end of. Now, Wanda’s abilities were linked to her seemingly infinite despair. An emotion that had no stopgap while Wanda was unconscious. Natasha hadn’t known her before Ultron or Sokovia; but, she figured it was safe to assume Wanda had a better grip on her abilities when Pietro had been alive. As twins they were inexorably bound- a bond that had been abruptly and brutally severed the second the speedster hit the concrete.

Natasha tested the handle to Wanda’s door gently; unlocked. Of course it was unlocked. Apparently not everyone was a paranoid ex-Red Room Russian spy. At least she wouldn’t have to kick the door down or find a paperclip to pick the lock with. Clint had once told her, after an incident with some recruits and a stern talking to by hard ass Hill, that kicking down doors wasn’t “okay”. Especially if the door was unlocked in the first place. But honestly, how was she supposed to know FitzSimmons were S.H.I.E.L.D sci academy recruits and not just poking around in the lab that held highly classified material. Bobbi Moorse later told her that the two scientists feared she would kill them and thus actively avoided her around the Triskellion. That had made her laugh. Bobbi tried to hide it but she had laughed too.

From the doorway Natasha could see Wanda; small and twisted in her deep red sheets-panicked mumbles switching between English and Sokovian; her knuckles flushing white as she gripped the sheets. The room itself had taken a beating. Books and clothing were strewn across the floor, and Natasha thought she could she could see a few spots where Wanda’s hex blasts had left burn marks on the walls. Natasha knew this scene, intimately. Eyes closed, but the mind still ticking away. The soul burning, never getting rest. She saw it when the other girls in the Red Room slept; hands cuffed to their beds, shoulders straining-heads thrashing from side to side muttering names and things they would never forget. She saw it in the mirror when she woke up; sweat soaked through her tank top and her eyes hollow and tired. She knew what she was looking at.

But what the hell made her think she could help Wanda? Natasha knew that she herself was a jigsaw of broken pieces slapped together to create a semi-functional person. What the hell made her think she could piece someone else back together? Outside of missions, where she was what someone else wanted her to be, she barely even knew who she really was. Natasha shook her head once to clear her thoughts. This was a bad idea. All she had to do was back up. Close the door. Turn around and tell Friday she wanted to go back to her own floor. Simple as that. But then she heard her name, clear as day. Why the hell would Wanda say her name?
“Damn it”, Natasha relented as she slowly inched her way further into the room-this was so stupid. She had to dodge a few blasts, and flying books before she managed to situate herself next to Wanda’s bedside. One particularly heavy book had tried to take her head off; thankfully she was quick-and very short. And who the hell actually read “War and Peace”?

Now that she was standing next to the girl, Natasha realized she had no clue how to wake Wanda up-she needed an idea that didn’t result in her brain caving in again. As she thought red mist began to roll and pull from Wanda’s body again, building another blast-whatever Natasha was going to do she was going to have to do it fast. Oh hell, this could either go really well, or really really poorly Natasha thought as she reached out her hand, cupping Wanda’s cheek. And by really bad she was thinking mind fuck. But she really didn’t have any better ideas, short of tazing Wanda with a Widow’s bite.

Her palm made contact with Wanda’s cheek, and Natasha felt herself remain firmly planted in reality. No pulling sensation or intense pain threatening to explode her skull. Just the feeling of her hand resting against the skin of Wanda’s cheek. Win. In response to the contact the red energy began to recede back into her body much like it had in their earlier training session, and Wanda seemed to relax.

“Hey,” Natasha said as she brushed her thumb over Wanda’s cheekbone. “Come on, let me see those green eyes.” With a few more brushes of her thumb, Wanda’s eyelids fluttered before revealing green eyes. The second their eyes connected Natasha knew why she had come down here. Knew why she had stayed, when it would have been so much easier to back up and get in the elevator. She couldn’t ignore the way her heart tightened when Wanda opened her eyes. Her heart, and perhaps things lower than said organ. If Natasha was being honest with herself, the feelings had been there for a while; but she had hidden them behind bitterness and anger. Their regular training sessions had done nothing but intensify the already existing attraction to the beautiful foreigner. Kneeling there now, hand on Wanda’s cheek, Natasha was finding it increasingly hard to hide behind anger.

Wanda blinked a few times to adjust her vision to the dark. Clearly she was still dreaming. There’s no way Natasha Romanoff, a woman who fears and dislikes her, would be sitting by her bedside touching her. Wanda brought her hand up, covering Natasha’s to verify its existence. This dream felt real-really real. Like, warm hand beneath her own real. When Wanda’s hand met with hers Natasha’s first instinct was to pull away, to run away; but something about the heat of Wanda’s hand against her own felt so right. “Wanda,” Natasha said in an attempt to get the girls attention. Wanda’s eyes flicked down to Natasha’s lips, the ones that had just curved themselves around her name, then back up to her eyes, “I’m awake aren’t I?”

Natasha couldn’t help but chuckle a little at the question, “yes you are маленькая ведьмa. And it hadn't escaped her notice how Wanda's eyes tracked down to her lips.

Wanda quickly took her hand away. It seems as if they had just struck up some sort of friendship, She didn’t need to go messing it up with feelings she was sure Natasha didn’t share. “I have blown the room up again haven’t I?” the brunette asked as she looked around in attempt to divert attention away from the flush she felt blooming across her skin and the tightening she felt in her lower belly. Natasha actually smiled a little bit at that, and motioned to sit next Wanda on the bed. “It’s okay. Easy clean up.” Natasha let her hand slide off the younger woman’s cheek with reticence. She shouldn’t be doing this- whatever “this” was.
Wanda immediately missed Natasha’s warmth. But she knew Natasha was just being kind- that the hand on her cheek didn’t mean what Wanda wanted it to mean. “Come on. Up.” Natasha nudged her a bit, “You’ll feel better with clean sheets and dry clothing.” Wanda looked down at her clothing and bedding and saw they were soaked through with sweat.

All Wanda could do was nod as she clumsily extricated herself from the bed, still half asleep and slightly confused as to why Natasha was helping her in the first place. In the time it took her to get upright and not get tangled up in her own sheets, Natasha had returned with clean sheets and pillowcases from god knows where. She had begun to strip the bed before Wanda even registered what was going on. When she finally mentally caught up Wanda motioned to take the bedding from Natasha’s hands, “Please leave it to me. I’m sure you would like to go back to sleep.” Natasha shook her head and looked at the Wanda, “I don’t actually sleep much, and I know how this goes. So go change. Splash some water on your face, and by the time you’re done you’ll have a dry bed to come back to.”

All she could do was nod again before ducking into her bathroom and running some cool water, allowing it to pool into her cupped hands before splashing it on her face a few times. Lifting her head to look at herself in the mirror, Wanda saw her hair stuck to either side of her head slicked down with sweat and water; her face looked gaunt and tired. Like she hadn’t rested in ages. And she hadn’t-at least not since HYDRA and Ultron. As she shuffled out of the bathroom she saw Natasha pull the last edge of the fitted sheet taut and tuck it under the mattress.

The redhead continued what she was doing, barely acknowledging Wanda’s return to the room, but tracked her as the brunette slid open a dresser drawer and pulled out a clean red tank top- of course it was red. If anyone asked her Natasha would deny any hint of a smile in regards to the color choice. Red really did look good on Wanda. (Even if that red leather jacket was hers. Whatever, Wanda could keep it, she looked damn good in it.)

When Wanda had agreed to join the Avengers and live at the facility she hadn’t brought much with her in the way of clothing or other belongings. A few pictures, some jewelry, some books, and a small bag of clothing. Pepper had insisted on bringing Wanda an entirely new wardrobe, and anything else she thought the orphaned girl could need-all in red of course. While Wanda was grateful, she still had trouble accepting anything that came directly or indirectly from Tony Stark and his money. Working with Iron Man to save the world was one thing. But taking his money was a whole other thing.

Wanda turned her back to Natasha as she pulled the sullied tank top over her head and shrugged on the new one, combing her fingers through her long hair as she pulled it out of the back of the tank top and began pulling it into a messy bun. Behind her Natasha had grown strangely quiet. The redhead would never admit to staring as Wanda dressed and pulled her hair up; or to the fact that she had looked at Wanda before with less than pure intentions. Can you say yoga pants? Red yoga pants? She had meant to busy herself finishing the bedding, but once Wanda’s shirt hit the floor Natasha found her eyes dragging their way up the brunette’s pale, toned, back. She watched the muscles extend and contract as the Wanda pulled the new tank top over her head and battle with her long tangled hair as she attempted to wrangle it into a bun. This was definitely not a good idea. She really shouldn’t do this. But then Wanda turned around and smiled at her- it was a small smile, but it was the most genuine one Natasha had seen from the girl since Pietro had died. Something in her stomach fluttered and tightened in response. Well shit.

It had never felt like this with Bruce. No butterflies or feelings low in her belly, no tightening of the heart (honestly Natasha was surprised to find she had a heart, she thought it had long since been beaten and programmed out of her). Instead it had felt forced. After the fallout, Maria had helped Natasha realize what she had been trying to do. In the belly of the S.H.I.E.L.D hellicarrier Natasha had seen a man turn into a monster. His form twisted, stretched, and pulled into a Hulk. At the time it had terrified her, rooted her in place. But after the battle of New York she looked at Bruce and saw the monster within and a good man trying to hold him back. The man who avoided the fight all his life because he knew he would win. She saw what she hoped could be herself one day, someone who could be something other than the monster the Red Room had made her into. From then on she sought Banner out; because they both had monsters inside of them-they both had the potential for death and destruction and could never have the life the rest of the Avengers could. She had confused a feeling of kindred-ship for desire. Natasha recognized she had long since branded herself a monster and a killer- who better to understand her than Bruce Banner? A man struggling desperately to push back his own. A man who the world had seen in Wakanda, out of control. Tony had sent missiles into war, Cap had killed people in the name of America, Hawkeye had put arrows into those who had deserved it, and Thor-well that dude was a god. Did rules even apply to him? But none of them were like her. Her body wasn’t green and twisted. Instead it dripped red. She was drenched in it. Loki had once asked her if she could she ever wipe out that much red. The answer to the question then was the same as now; no-she could never wipe out that much red. She would forever drowned in it. Swallowing and choking on the thick and warm fluid she had spilled on the pavement so many times. She would always be the Black Widow; the girl who came out of Russia sterile and programmed to kill- a monster.

That was how she deluded herself into thinking that an assassin and a Hulk should run away together and attempt a life. When Banner left she had withdrawn-she felt spurned and rejected; feelings that were foreign to her. Not many people rejected her advances (strike that- no one), much less ran away from her in a Quinjet in stealth mode. She made it a point to avoid everyone unless required for training. Until one day she ran into Maria Hill, hard ass Hill, who had no problems calling Natasha on her bullshit.

“You wanted a monster to rival the twisted person you think you are. But you’re not that person anymore Natasha.”

“I think the whole internet knows exactly what type of person I am Hill.”

The taller woman sighed, placing a hand on Natasha’s shoulder, “Whether you think so or not, you deserve better. You deserve to be happy- truly happy. You may still be the Black Widow, but you’ve definitely done some good and that counts for something. You’re not Natalia anymore. You’re Natasha.”

Moments like this with the former Deputy Director were rare. Normally Maria was happy to allow Natasha her privacy- to avoid talking about anything that hit too close to home. She knew Natasha was not the most open person- and pushing her was not wise. But it had been weeks. Natasha had been sallow, withdrawn, and hard to work with like when she had first been brought in to S.H.I.E.L.D. Maria had read her file. She knew Natasha on paper. But over time they had struck up a friendship. And Maria would like to think she knew the woman even a little.

“Stop thinking of yourself as a summation of all your deeds Natasha, and start thinking of yourself as an actual person who decided to turn her life around. An Avenger who has helped save the world on numerous occasions. You might find it goes a long way.”

“Is everything alright?” Wanda’s inquiry snapped Natasha out of her thoughts. The girls accent was thick, curling around her words in a way that made Natasha feel things she knew she shouldn’t-couldn’t. Even after that talk with Maria she still found it difficult to look beyond the red in her ledger. She didn’t know if she would ever know when she had finally done enough good to call it even-or if that could ever even truly happen.

“Of course,” Natasha replied, more clipped than she meant to as she gestured to the clean and neatly made bed.
“Back to bed with you.”

Wanda smiled again and made her way to the opposite side of the bed before the mattress dipped slightly under her weight and she slipped under the sheets.
Once she was sure Wanda was settled Natasha nodded decisively, her short red hair waving as she did so, and turned to leave the room.

“Agent…….I mean, Natasha. would you……stay? It’s just-I’m not used to being alone- sleeping without someone near. It is a hard thing to adjust to.” Natasha turned to face Wanda and was struck by how small she really looked in the large bed. Almost every bit of the Russian was screaming to leave, run away now before she made the huge mistake of giving a damn. Instead she made her way to a chair situated near the bed. She would stay, but she would also stay away- no matter how much she physically wanted to be near Wanda. No matter how much she wanted to lay with the brunette instead of sitting in the chair a few feet away. Natasha knew she wouldn’t be good for Wanda- she had suffered at the hands of monsters all her life- it wouldn’t be fair to add another to the mix.

Wanda glanced at Natasha once more before rolling on her side. A small smile pulled at her lips. For tonight, Natasha hadn’t run from her- it was far more than Wanda had ever expected to get from her.

Chapter Text

Wanda watched as the number on the clock next to her bed changed again. Natasha was late. Since their routine began there wasn’t a night that she had arrived past 11 pm. The Russian was nothing if not prompt. Now it was nearing midnight and Wanda hadn’t seen hide nor hair of her.

The second she rushed out of the gym she knew she had pushed too hard-crossed that invisible line that had existed between them. It was blatantly obvious now, Natasha’s absence was because of their training session. The woman was a flirt, that was well known. But Wanda knew. She knew she had taken all of that flirting and turned it into what she wanted.

All Natasha wanted was friendship. But Wanda had made a move and it had very obviously offended the other woman. Or worse-royally pissed her off. Wanda was never very good at reading people before the HYDRA experiments-which was why it was semi hilarious her gifts included mind reading. But still- she found herself confused by most people. Especially by one redhead in particular.

Honestly she had just gone for it, and it was stupid. She got drawn in by their proximity and how close she was to those lips. She really shouldn’t have stared at Natasha’s lips. From there it was like a black hole-she was pulled towards them without realizing how royally she was about to fuck everything up.

Since Pietro’s death she hadn’t really felt close to anyone. Keeping to herself and her books. But since their designated training session began and Natasha had taken to watching over her, Wanda had grown close to her-she felt like they had formed some sort of friendship. For the first time in months she felt a little less alone. Now. Now she had messed it up and she needed to make it right.

She knew Natasha didn’t sleep much. The redhead had told her just as much when Wanda tried to dissuade her from keeping watch over her every night.

“Russians don’t sleep.” She had said with a small smile.

With a small sigh Wanda pushed the covers off and headed for the elevator. She wasn’t going to sleep at all if she didn’t make this right, and it was a fair bet that Natasha was still awake.

“Friday, could you please locate Agent Romanoff.”

“Agent Romanoff is in her room. Would you like to be taken up to her floor?”

“Please.”

Wanda stepped into the elevator with a slight amount of reticence. Wanda had been at the Avengers compound for months, but the Vision and Friday still made her uneasy. After Ultron and the destruction of her home, any type of AI or sentient computer system designed by Tony Stark made her nervous. No matter how sparkling their wit.

By the time Wanda found herself standing in Natasha’s living room, barely registering Friday’s parting words, it dawned on her that she had zero semblance of a plan. All she had going for her was, “I’m sorry.” Two words Wanda was pretty sure Natasha never wanted to hear from her again.

As she moved through the apartment she figured she would just have to wing it and see what came out of her mouth- almost always a stellar idea. Around Natasha her foot always seemed to find its way into her mouth.

But the fact that Natasha hadn’t intercepted her at this point was more troubling than her ill conceived apology. Wanda knew the assassin was good enough that, even if she was asleep, the elevator doors would have woken her up. Hell a shift in the air because Wanda’s was breathing should have been enough to alert Natasha. The lack of intervention was troublesome to say the least. Wanda knew she should have never have been able to get all the way to Natasha’s bedroom door without being stopped. Or shot…..

Wanda chanced a light knock, “Natasha? It’s Wanda.” She waited a beat for a response but got nothing back. Natasha might be mad enough to ignore her, but there was no way she would compromise her safety and let an intruder walk through her apartment. If Friday hadn’t confirmed her location Wanda would have thought Natasha was somewhere else in the compound.

Wanda did hear some movement when she pressed her ear to the door; the rustling of sheets and the sound of Natasha’s voice- low and strained. Wanda knew Natasha had night terrors-she figured it was one of the reasons the Russian didn’t sleep a lot. She had seen inside Natasha’s head, and there was more than enough there to make anyone avoid closing their eyes. A light tug on the doorknob indicated it was locked. Of course it was locked. Natasha didn’t become one of the best spies in the world by being trusting and reckless. Wanda was no spy- she didn’t know how to pick locks and she couldn’t just vibrate it at super speed until it broke like Pietro. The only way through was a method she wished she could avoid. Her hex magic could manipulate the lock- she had done it before. But she had made a promise to herself when they began training to keep her abilities and Natasha separated from one another.

Part of her conscience was assuaged by the idea that in doing so she would be able to help the redhead. The other part still felt guilty using her abilities to invade Natasha’s privacy yet again. What if she was fine? What if Wanda was just overreacting and managed to break what little trust, she hoped, still remained between them?

“No!” Natasha’s shout from the other side of the door broke the silence and was enough to make Wanda jump. To hell with it. Red energy poured into the lock coaxing it until she heard a light click. As she opened the door she summoned a small shield- hopefully Natasha wasn’t in the habit of rigging her door for intruders. The skill was still a work in progress but maybe it would protect her form any major damage. Maybe.

The room itself was spartan. Lacking of any personal touch that would indicate someone lived there. No pictures on the dresser or the walls, no books, no trinkets. The only thing that broke up the stark lack of clutter was Natasha’s field suit laying in a heap on the floor and her stingers set neatly in a black box on the dresser.

In the center of the room was a large king sized bed where Natasha lay tangled in black sheets. Wanda could hear her speaking low, switching between English and Russian. Sokovian and Russian had their similarities but not nearly enough for Wanda to understand anything the redhead was saying.

Moving closer she could see every muscle in Natasha’s neck as she strained and tossed against her pillow- jaw clenched and fists tight. “You’ll break them.”

Natasha kicked the sheets to the floor; rolling onto her side to tuck herself up into the smallest ball she could possible manage. Wanda inched closer, slowly rounding the side of the bed. “I’m tired. I want out. Cross me off.”

Wanda felt her heart plummet and ache. She knew Natasha’s pain, almost intimately. But even she would never have guessed that Natasha was capable of begging for her own death.

She had to help. Natasha had stood watch over her, sat with her while she fell asleep and kept her safe. How could Wanda do any less than that? The question was how to wake Natasha without being seriously injured or becoming super dead in the process.

Wanda’s energy shield had protected her from a few shots from Ultron’s robots before shattering- maybe it would be enough to protect her from an attack from a, maybe, unarmed Natasha. Because beyond this and throwing objects at her, Wanda had no other ideas on how to wake the redhead up. There weren’t even any objects in the room to throw at her.

Advancing slowly, Wanda situated herself next to Natasha. But, before Wanda could reach her hand out to touch Natasha she found herself being hoisted off her feet- a strong hand wrapped around her throat- driving her body into the farthest wall. A wave of intense nausea rolled over her as the back of her head bounced off the wall. The sudden attack had broken her concentration and shattered her shield.

Wanda fought through the wave of nausea, swallowing hard against the hand around her throat to push down the bile.

The barrel of one of Natasha’s handgun was pushed flush against Wanda’s forehead, “Who sent you!?” The words were laced with a Russian accent Wanda hadn’t ever heard before. Natasha had told her that she had long since learned to mask her accent and became fluent in English for missions.

“Who sent you!?” Natasha asked again, the barrel of the gun pressing harder into the skin of Wanda’s forehead.

“Natasha.” Wanda coughed, choking around the hand holding her throat, “It’s Wanda.’

“I do not know any Wanda. Or of any Natasha.” The hand around Wanda’s throat tightening again. “You will answer me now, or you will answer later when I am peeling off each and every one of your painted fingernails.”

Wanda cringed at the thought, considering putting up a fight before remembering the barrel of the gun that was pushed firmly against her forehead. She could try a hex blast- but could she project one before having her head blown off? If it was between Natasha’s reflexes and her own Wanda knew she would lose every time.

“Natasha.”

“I have already said, I do not know who this Natasha you speak of is. My name is Natalia Alianovna Romanova. And you are trying my patience.” Natalia raised Wanda off the ground a little higher.

“Who do you work for young one?” The back of Wanda’s head cracked against the wall again, bouncing a bit on impact.

All she could do was claw at the hand around her throat, only managing to leave red marks where her nails bit into Natasha’s skin. “Natasha. You are hurting me.”

Before she could register what happened Wanda was on her ass, the hand around her throat was gone as Natasha stepped back-quickly snapping a live round out of the chamber of her handgun before pulling it apart and setting it, in pieces, on her nightstand. Wanda could see her hands shake as she put down the gun; tracking Wanda with her eyes as she got to her feet.

This wasn’t entirely uncommon for her. The blackouts, missing time, and gaps in her memory.  Sometimes she remembered bits and pieces, sometimes Clint was around to answer when she asked if she had hurt anyone, other times there were just gaps and more unanswered questions.  For a while she’d manage to temper it. To limit the amount of episodes.  But, since Ultron and the Sokovia incident things had gotten worse. She rationalized her routine with Wanda as a way to keep the younger woman’s nightmares at bay and protect her from harm; but Natasha knew she was also hiding from her own nightmares- running from them as fast as she could in the other direction like a coward.

When she could bare to bring her eyes up to Wanda and assess the damage, she saw the indentation of a perfect circle in the center of Wanda’s forehead where the muzzle of the gun was pressed into her skin. Raking her eyes downwards Natasha’s stomach dropped at the bruise that was quickly blooming across Wanda’s throat in the perfect imprint of her right hand.

“You need to go.” Natasha stated flatly as she turned her back, unable to look Wanda in the eye. Wanda stayed rooted in place staring at Natasha’s back. “Wanda. Go.” Her voice was firm. Leaving no room for argument.

Wanda had two choices. She could leave- and most definitely widen the rift between them beyond repair. Or she could do what she came here to do-she could make it right. Instead of taking the diagonal path that lead to the door and out of the room Wanda moved forward, stopping just short of Natasha.

The woman in front of her went stiff. Even with her back turned she could tell how close Wanda was. Hesitantly Wanda looped her arms around Natasha’s waist from behind, resting her slender hands on the redhead’s belly over her grey standard issue S.H.I.E.L.D t-shirt. She could feel Natasha go completely still at the intimate contact-rigid and uncomfortable. Wanda tugged back lightly towards her own body-gentle enough that if Natasha resisted she wouldn’t force it. But to her surprise Natasha lent back into her body without protest. Pulling Natasha’s back flush with her front, Wanda began rubbing rhythmic circles on the redhead’s belly with her thumbs. She could feel Natasha relax slightly; finally lifting up her head and breaking her staring contest with the floor.

“Wanda. You need to go. I’m not……I’m not a safe person for you to be around.”

Wanda simply continued rubbing small circles on Natasha’s abdomen. “I trust you little spider. Now come.” Slowly pulling away from the Russian and sitting on the edge of her bed, patting the mattress to her left to indicate where Natasha should sit.
The other woman acquiesced with a heavy sigh, sitting down next to Wanda. Reaching across her lap Wanda took Natasha’s hand in her own, interlacing their fingers.

“You did not harm me Natasha. I’m right here.” Natasha couldn’t help but look at the impressive bruise that was forming on Wanda’s neck and the small cut in the skin of her forehead in the shape of a half moon.

“I almost killed you Wanda. What more do you need before you understand that I’m dangerous. I was made for one thing. One. And It’s not something I can change, no matter how much I want to.”

“No.” Wanda’s response was clipped.

“Tonight I met Natalia. Who they made you to be. But Natasha fought her way back. Natasha did not harm me. You made a choice between who you were engineered to be and the person that you strive to be- who you are. Sitting next to me is not the child assassin you hold in your mind- but the woman who watches over me while I sleep. The woman who saves the world on a regular basis with no thought to the cost or danger to herself. I trust that you would not have hurt me.”

“You don’t know who I am Wanda…. not really. Half the time I don’t even know who I am. I have spent so many years, so many lifetimes being whatever people wanted me to be and fighting against memories that aren’t my own that I’m not really sure who I truly am off the clock. I’m not made for you Wanda. You are someone who made a bad choice. One choice. I am a person whose entire life is made up of bad choices. These are facts that will never change. I wish I could change them. But I can’t”

Loki’s words echoed in Natasha’s mind as she tried to make Wanda understand, “You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers. You pretend to be separate, to have your own code. Something that makes up for the horrors. But they are a part of you, and they will never go away.”

He may be the god of tricks and lies but he had been right on that one. The KGB, S.H.I.E.L.D, Hydra-all she did was lie and kill. She thought she had changed, but she was just deluding herself. She did what she was good at and her code didn’t mean shit.

The Red Room did not craft empathic soldiers who felt anything beyond order, intense loyalty, and cruelty. They made killers who didn’t feel regret; but Natasha felt it. She felt it all. She wished to whatever power there was that she didn’t.

She felt a tug at her hand before Wanda slowly got to her feet. “Down.”

Natasha looked up at her in confusion. Eyebrow raised in the way Wanda couldn’t help but find insanely attractive. Honestly who could resist those perfectly sculpted eyebrows?

“Lay down.” she expounded.

For once in her life Natasha did as she was told, laying down on the bed-pulling a pillow under her head. The mattress dipped slightly as Wanda settled her weight next to her. The act alone surprised the hell out of Natasha. And she was not easily surprised. Wanda gave her a gentle nudge with her elbow; wordlessly asking Natasha to roll onto her right side so she could pull them together again-her back flush against Wanda’s front.

The feared Black Widow was now the little spoon-a fact she would deny if anyone got wind of the information. Hell. Barton would never let her hear the end of it.

Natasha had never done this with anyone. Not anyone she felt anything for. Usually this sort of situation was coupled with an angle. A goal. A mission.

Or just sweaty one night stands to scratch the itch. It was never like this. The breath on the back of her neck that ruffled her hair, the warmth, the feeling of Wanda’s arm looped around her midsection-thumb rubbing small circles on her belly.

“Wanda… what are you doing?” It was a stupid question. She knew what Wanda was doing. But the why- that truly escaped her.  Their flirting had been benign, or so she told herself; but now, as her hand print began to blossom across the skin of Wanda’s neck it was something else entirely. Something that needed to stop. Even if it did feel amazing.

Natasha rolled onto her left side to face Wanda with every intention of telling her to stop. To go back to her room and stay far away. Instead she lay there with her mouth hanging open. Mistake. It was a mistake to roll over and look at Wanda. Honestly, why did her eyes have to be so green? Green with a blend of blue flecks in them. Definite error in judgment. And she should really close her mouth now. Yeah. Close the mouth. It was getting dry up in there.

“Wanda, I’m not exactly someone you want to hitch your caravan to.”

Wanda’s brown furrowed slightly, “I don’t think I understand the phrase.”  

Natasha couldn’t help but chuckle; “I guess Rogers has some competition. The old man never knows references eith-“

Natasha’s words were cut off midway by soft lips pressed gently against her own.  It took a second to catch up; her eyes fluttering shut, allowing herself to revel in the feeling of Wanda’s lips against her own. Responding to her, kissing back felt like the perfect response; it felt right. Wanda broke the kiss hesitantly, pulling back to search Natasha’s face- trying to gauge her response to the sudden physical contact. The loss of Wanda’s lips on her own left Natasha with a foreign feeling of emptiness and need. She wanted those lips back

Wanda’s eyes fell to Natasha’s lips, then trialed back up to her rest on face. She wasn’t sure what she expected to come from that; rejection? A polite rebuff? She had no clue. But when she felt Natasha’s arm wrap around her waist; pulling their bodies close enough that their noses could touch- her doubts fell by the wayside.

This close she could see Natasha’s eyes searching hers; asking for permission to bridge the small gap between them- idly tracing her thumb along the line of Wanda’s bottom lip. Surging forward, Wanda crashed their lips together again- the perfect answer.

Sucking Natasha’s bottom lip in between her own, Wanda nipped at the sensitive flesh before soothing the injury with her tongue. Part of her brain couldn’t believe this was happening. Natasha was kissing her back- a moan escaping her lips after a particularly hard bite. Yup-this was happening.

Wanda inhaled sharply as Natasha’s hands began to wander, her fingers running lightly over bits of exposed skin. With a slight shift of her weight Natasha rolled Wanda onto her back, settling herself on top of the brunette’s hips and bracing her weight on her hands positioned on either side of the brunette’s head. Wanda’s hand looped behind her neck-tugging downwards insistently towards her lips. With a small smirk Natasha’s lips passed Wanda’s, using her nose to nudge the brunette’s chin upwards, giving her open access to the column of her throat. As she peppered the line of Wanda’s jaw with light kisses her hand toyed with the hem of the brunette’s shirt, drawing small circles on her hipbone. Beneath her she felt Wanda’s hips raise-pushing insistently into her weight. A small growl escaped Natasha’s mouth before she reclaimed Wanda’s lips, trailing her fingertips upwards-dragging the material of Wanda’s tank top with her hand. The material bunching as she slid her hand up Wanda’s torso. Using her blunt nails to draw red lines on Wanda’s firm stomach- her abs flexing at the sensation. Natasha swallowed the low moan from the brunette as her fingertips danced against the underside of Wanda’s breast. Natasha was normally a very patient woman, she had once spent weeks as Tony Stark’s assistant and only a great deal of patience and composure stopped her from murdering the egocentric narcissist. I mean, who had that many watches?

But none of that applied to Wanda, not when she was pressing up into Natasha’s hand, nipple hardening against her palm. Tugging her lips away, Natasha replaced her fingertips with her lips, dropping light kisses along the waistband of Wanda’s shorts.

The involuntary buck of Wanda’s hips encouraged Natasha to follow the path her hand had taken-dropping gentle kisses all along Wanda’s torso until she replaced her hand with her mouth; taking the brunette’s nipple between her teeth, biting gently then flicking her tongue across as an apology. She felt Wanda’s hands in her hair, red locks curled around slender fingers, holding her in place as she sucked the pebble into her mouth-swirling her tongue around before releasing Wanda’s breast with an audible pop.

Natasha used her knee to nudge Wanda’s legs apart. Pressing her thigh firmly against the brunette’s core. It didn’t take much to settle into a rhythm- thigh sliding against the thin material of Wanda’s shorts. Natasha could hear the other woman’s breath heavy in her ear as she nuzzled her nose into Wanda’s neck, nipping at the sensitive skin as she rolled her hips with practiced expertise.

Another low moan in her ear had her vaguely acknowledging this was all going way too fast. She wanted this. Fuck she wanted this. But not like this. A quick fuck. Natasha wanted whatever this was with Wanda to mean something. Not sex for intel or a mission, or a quick romp to scratch the itch. Sweaty and impersonal. The kind of sex where you never get the other persons’ name and are gone before the sun comes up. But if Natasha was being honest with herself. No matter how much she wanted this. Wanda was too good for her, and she was definitely no good for Wanda.

“Wanda…” she stilled her hips, pulling away from the brunette’s neck to sit back on her heels. When her hips stilled Wanda panicked, was the redhead really be regretting everything this quickly? But when she looked at Natasha, short hair tousled, lips puffy from being kissed and pupils blown, she didn’t see regret. Something was there, behind those blue eyes, but it didn’t look like regret.

“You don’t want to do this Wanda. You don’t know who I am. Not really. And fuck- I don’t even know how old you are. And you really don’t know how old I am. Our age gap should be hilarious.” Natasha shifted her weight to the right, making to extricate herself and step off the bed. Wanda closed her legs in response, locking her knees around the thigh that had been pushed up against her.

“I know what I want немного паук.”

“What? Where did you even hear that.” Surprise evident on Natasha’s face.

Wanda smiled in reply, the type of smile Natasha never, in any lifetime, thought would be directed at her.

“Pepper got me a laptop and an iPhone- the thing could probably save the world by itself.  Google is a wonderful thing when you want to know something. Especially how to translate something into Russian.” Natasha stared before laughing a bit. Apparently Wanda googled how to say “little spider” in Russian.

“And if you’re truly worried about how old I am you could have simply asked me.”

Natasha couldn’t help but laugh again, the brunette had never been this brazen. “Ok. How old are you?”

“26. Perhaps not the child you think me to be. And you?” Wanda nodded to Natasha, a small smirk on her face. They couldn’t be that far apart in age-26 really wasn’t that young.

Natasha’s posture stiffened before she forced herself to relax. She was the one who had brought it up. No reason to lie now. “Best guess? Somewhere in my 90’s but I might have lost track a few decades back.”

Had her demeanor been different Wanda might have thought the redhead was “yanking her chain” as Sam would say.

“How…”

“A botched version of the super soldier serum. The cocktail that made Steve into Captain America. The Russian government came up with it for the Black Widow program. I don’t age at a normal rate, I heal faster, can take a better beating, and I’m a little stronger than the average human. The Red Room needed their Widow’s to be more than human, but they didn’t have Howard Stark or Dr.Erskin to perfect the formula. So not so much Captain America as Captain Russia lite. And I only know a rough estimate of when I was born, no specific date. Even S.H.I.E.L.D couldn’t find out. “

“Do the others-“

“No,” Natasha gently cut her off, “it’s not something that was leaked onto the internet when my file went viral. No serum. Not even an estimated age. Even Barton doesn’t know. As far as everyone’s concerned I’m in my 30’s and I have a really amazing skincare regime. I suppose the only people who really know how old I am are the people who were involved in the Red Room and the Black Widow program.”

Natasha shift her weight attempting, once more, to get off of Wanda and put her feet on the floor. At this point she figured Wanda would let her go, she’d never sprung the whole “I’m your grandmothers age,” thing on anyone; but Natasha was pretty sure it was a deal breaker. Not like, “oh you have bad morning breath” deal breaker. But more like “what the fuck” deal breaker. Instead, Wanda gathered the front of her grey t-shirt and lightly tugged.  It was a gentle tug, not demanding, not asking for anything- Natasha could make her own choice, Wanda wasn’t going to force her. She was pretty sure there was no forcing the Black Widow to do anything.

Later Natasha would look back on her actions and realize they defied all logic- went against everything she had ever been taught, as she went in the direction of the gentle tug and settled herself on top of Wanda.  Later she would tell herself she should have turned her head when Wanda kissed her lightly on the lips.
“I am not asking you for anything. But I know you feel this too-whatever “this” is. I don’t have to look inside your head to know such things, it is in your eyes when you look at me. You think you are a monster. I think, instead, you are a hero. And that we have both done things we are not proud of. And as for your age, I like older women.”

There was that smile again. The smile Natasha was fairly certain she didn’t deserve. It wasn’t that simple, it never is. But Natasha didn’t pull her hand away when Wanda found it with her own; interlacing their fingers together.

“Come.” Wanda shift her hips intimating that she wanted Natasha to lay next to her.
 “I ask for nothing. Only what you are willing to give.” She reminded the redhead, resting a smooth palm against Natasha’s face, her black nail polish clashing with the pale of the Russian’s skin

Her point having been made, Wanda began to push herself up from the bed with the intention of going back to her floor. She wanted to give Natasha time to think without pressure.
 Natasha’s hand caught her wrist lightly, tugging Wanda back towards the bed.

 “You don’t have to leave.” She said quietly, almost inaudible. She hadn’t ever let another person share her bed. Her night terrors meant she was dangerous, even when unconscious. But something about Wanda made her feel safe, even after what had happened. She had never been an easy sleeper unless she was on a mission. She could turn her body off easily knowing she had a job to do. But without the pretense of a job Natasha spent most of her nights awake, only managing two to three hours of sleep night- what little sleep she got didn’t exactly scream quality.

Wanda settled back on the bed and smiled.  It was the smile that did it every time.  Natasha didn’t think she could ever do without that smile ever again. “Sleep.” Wanda gently proffered as she lay back down beside the redhead. “I will be here when you wake, if that is what you desire.”

Natasha nodded in response before rolling onto her side; moving so her back was flush against Wanda’s chest. In response, Wanda looped her arm around the redhead’s waist, pulling her closer. Natasha could feel the brunette’s lips pull into a smile against the back of her neck- smiling in kind when she felt a gentle kiss pressed to the nape of her neck just below her hairline.

“Sleep немного паук." I will protect you tonight.”

Chapter Text

Natasha blinked lazily, squinting slightly at the sunlight filtering into the room. She didn’t own an alarm clock and never set her phone at a specific time. Her body had long since been conditioned to rise before the sun and begin her day before the rest of the compound. With a quick tap on the screen her phone flashed 9 AM. By now she should have finished her 15 mile run and been in the gym for the last 3 or 4 hours.

She enjoyed the solitude. The woods around the compound were clear for miles for her to run uninterrupted, and the gym empty and quiet so she could train. But lately she’d found she enjoyed Wanda’s presence throughout her day. A smile over coffee in the communal kitchen, light touches during training, the unnecessarily close contact while practicing on the firing range. Sure Wanda’s posture was just fine, but maybe she needed hands on her hips to improve accuracy anyways. Wanda wasn’t really the best shot.

Natasha’s lips pulled into a small smile as she felt a soft, steady, breath on the back of her neck. Wanda was still asleep; her breathing even and heartbeat steadily thrumming against Natasha’s back. The redhead knew she had a choice to make. She could “run with it,” as she had once said. Or run from it.

There wasn’t much that could make the Black Widow run away, almost nothing- except bunnies. Those beady little eyes- the teeth. A mission in San Paolo where HYDRA had released mutant bunnies on the public was enough to give her an aversion to the little rodents for the rest of eternity.

But letting Wanda see her. Really see her. Without deception and prevarication; that was something Natasha wasn’t entirely sure she could do. Wanda had said she asked for nothing; but, there would come a time when did she want something more-what then?

Natasha knew exactly what she was. She had been raised to bring death, cruelty, and pain. None of which were the things Wanda was asking for, or the best foundation for a healthy relationship.

As she turned it all over in her head the cadence of Wanda’s heartbeat began to change; her breathing less even as she began to wake- her grip around Natasha’s midsection tightening as she burrowed her nose into the short red hair at the nape of her neck.

Natasha smiled as she turned to face Wanda.

“Good morning beautiful.”

Wanda smiled in response; bridging the gap between them to connect their lips for a brief second, cupping Natasha’s cheek to run her thumb over the redhead’s cheekbone. Leaning into the touch, reveling in the contact, Natasha kissed the soft skin of Wanda’s palm.

“Running with it,” was the answer of the day.

But such whimsical, childish, thoughts were shattered when she saw Wanda’s neck again. She was an idiot. An idiot to think she could run with it when her handprint was emblazoned on Wanda’s neck like a brand was a clear message that she could never take this any further. Love was for children. And Natasha was no longer a child. She never had been.

Natasha reached out slowly to examine her handy-work only to have her hand caught halfway.

“I am okay. I am not as breakable as you think me to be.”

Natasha sighed as she rolled on her back, disentangling herself from Wanda. “Maybe not. But around me anyone can be broken. You’re no exception.”

Wanda smiled, which was absurd considering what Natasha had just said.

“You want to know what I think?” Wanda smiled as she danced her fingers up Natasha’s chest. “I think this little spider does not want to admit she is a teddy bear who spent the night as my little spoon.” The brunette shifted closer, placing a soft kiss on the underside of Natasha’s jaw.

The kiss derailed Natasha’s thoughts. Even with Natasha’s hand print emblazoned on her neck Wanda still wanted her. She never took the girl for crazy.

“Why do you even want anything to do with me?”

Wanda smiled before settling her head on Natasha’s chest, the redhead’s heart beating rhythmically in her ear. “Attraction is not enough? And attraction, which I might add, I’m fairly certain is mutual.”

Well Wanda had her there. She couldn’t deny mutual attraction even if she wanted to. But still she shook her head, slightly jostling the woman laying on her chest.

“I’m so sure there are plenty of women who would throw themselves at you. Or men-” adding that last bit hastily. Honestly she had no clue as to Wanda’s sexual preference. But women seemed a sure bet.

“Perhaps. And if you are curious. Only women. No men.” Wanda wrinkled her nose in response, settling her hand on Natasha’s belly; beginning to rub small circles on the skin peaking out from beneath Natasha’s t-shirt. “But I don’t want any of them. I want you.” She emphasized her response with a gentle poke to Natasha’s stomach. “I am not simply attracted to you because you are gorgeous; which you are by the way- in the impossible event that you were were not aware. Physically I think it may be impossible for someone with a pulse to not be attracted to you. And I have checked, I do have a pulse.”

That last comment finally earned her a laugh. “Go on.” Natasha nudged her with her knee a bit making Wanda smile into Natasha’s grey t-shirt.

“Oh you think there is more do you?” Wanda couldn’t help but smirk as she lifted her head to kiss the woman’s jaw again and led up to her mouth. She lingered over Natasha, giving the other woman ample time to refuse or move her head. Instead Natasha bridged the gap, claiming Wanda’s lips.

There was that feeling again. The feeling that everything felt right. The warmth of Wanda’s body against her own, the feeling of her lips, and that smile. She would never get enough of that smile.

Wanda broke the kiss, leaning back to look at Natasha, “Okay yes, you have successfully tortured me. You are correct. There is more to it. I feel-” Wanda hesitated, looking at the redhead to see her eyebrow raised, encouraging her to continue. “I feel safe. Connected. But I understand if this is not what you feel.”

Natasha didn’t say anything, and her facial expression was impossible for Wanda to read. Privileges of a master spy.

“I’ve never done this.” She finally broke the silence. “I’ve never gotten close to someone outside of a mission. And sex has always just been sex. Nothing more…” Natasha trailed off, looking down at her hands intently. “I’ve never had someone care about me. And I’ve never cared about anyone else. Trust and vulnerability aren’t exactly my strong suit. And since DC the whole world knows exactly who I am and what I’ve done. Everyone knows not to get too close- that I can’t be trusted.”

“No.” Wanda shook her head. “They know who you were. Who they think you are. But if you would allow it; I’d like to get to know you, the real you, on your terms. Do I care for you? Yes. But that does not mean I expect anything from you. If this is not what you want. Then I will respect your wishes.”

Natasha was almost 100 % certain this was a bad idea. Letting someone in. But Wanda was right; she felt the same connection- the same pull. And it was getting harder and harder to ignore. Bad idea or not, she was running with this.

After a few hours Natasha wanted nothing more than to laze in bed with Wanda all day. Another thing she had never done; relaxed with anyone- Hawkeye didn’t really count; nor did getting shit faced with Maria. They kissed, hands had wandered but neither took it any farther. Instead they talked. Talked about their lives before Ultron and S.H.I.E.L.D. Wanda told her about her parents. About Pietro and their lives after their home had been bombed and they were alone. About the experiments HYDRA performed on them and how everyone else before them ended up face down in a ditch. Natasha told her about how she became an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, how Hawkeye had been sent to cross her off when she was a KGB agent- how he made a different call.

“Hey,” Natasha ran her fingertips along the skin on Wanda’s side.

“Mmm?”

“I want to try something different today. Different than the gym I mean. Unless you want to spend another day looking up at the ceiling.” Natasha smirked, earning herself a kiss with a not so gentle nip to her bottom lip.

Natasha opened her mouth in fake shock before kissing the corner of Wanda’s lips, “A few hours in and she’s already abusive, jeesh.”

Natasha shook her head with a smile, “as much as I want to stay in this bed with you all day, if we do I can’t be held accountable for my actions. And I don’t want to do that. Sex. Immediately I mean. I’ve used sex for missions, countless times. But I’ve never really had sex with someone I chose-chose because I wanted them and not something they had. I guess what I’m trying to say is. I want to take it slow. To do this right.”

Wanda smile and nodded, “then we will take it slow. But if we are going to do that I am going to need you to put a bra on. I’ve been trying not to stare at your nipples through your shirt for the last hour.”

Natasha barked out a laugh, “and you think that little tank top you’re wearing leaves anything to the imagination? Toddle on down to your room and snag some work out clothes. Training won’t be very successful if I’m being a pervy old lady.” Natasha emphasized her point with a small smack to Wanda’s ass when the brunette gave no indication she meant to move. “Get going.”

Wanda untangled herself from Natasha, standing up to pull into a tall stretch. Natasha found herself staring, yet again, at the small bits of pale skin the taller woman exposed.

“Do you seriously think that’s helping?”

Wanda came out of the stretch, smirking before dropping a light kiss onto Natasha’s lips. “It really wasn’t meant to.”

“Meet me in the garden in 15!” Wanda could hear Natasha’s shout trail behind her.

15 or so minutes later Wanda walked into the garden in yoga pants and a tank top, hair tied into a high ponytail. Natasha was already on the ground, legs crossed in a lotus position with her eyes closed. Without opening her eyes she gestured to the floor space on her left.

“No punches to the head today?” Wanda jokes, sitting lightly on the floor where Natasha had gestured to and pulling her legs into position. Seeing Natasha flinch made her regret the joke immediately; she knew the Natasha’s eyes would often linger on the bruising on her neck when she didn’t think Wanda was looking. The joke was just stupid.

“Something a little bit different today little witch.” Natasha’s grimace pulling into a smile to let Wanda know the moniker was out of affection and not an accusation.

“Not all battles can be won with a Hex blast or a bullet. I don’t have hex blasts so a few good bullets are ‘gonna have to do it for me- or a pipe. Those work too. But you do have these abilities. Abilities no amount of hand to hand training can rival. And you’ve been doing well. Progressing steadily. But to be able to control yourself in the field and continue learning about your abilities you need to learn to control your emotions and temper your mind.”

Natasha opened her eyes and shifted towards Wanda. “Your powers are linked to your strongest emotions. In Sokovia you felt fear, anger, and loss. In the arena with me you felt cornered and panicked. Right now your strongest emotions are driving you. If you want to learn control, then we are going to have to work on calming your mind. Helping you recognize your thoughts and emotions and learn how to channel your abilities at will, not as a fluke.”

“Okay, where do we begin?” Wanda shifted attempting to get more comfortable on the grass.

Natasha smiled in response, moving to sit in front of Wanda. She had told the brunette to go and change, but the outfit the she changed into was no better than the tank top and very short shorts she had slept in. It was distracting to say the very least. Wanda wasn’t nearly as top heavy as she was, but what was under her top was far more interesting than yoga and mindfulness.

Wanda hooked her finger under Natasha’s chin, tilting her face upwards, “I believe my mind is up here немного паук. “

 

_____________________________________________________________________________-

Chapter Text

Wanda took to sleeping in Natasha’s room. Each night spent wrapped around the shorter woman; both finally able to sleep soundly in the company of the other. Training in the gym continued and Wanda still spent ample time staring up at the ceiling. Mindfulness training in the garden was proving to be more effective as Wanda gained stronger control over her abilities.

Touches that had once been clandestine, fingertips across fabric and breaches of personal space, were now bold and overt. Hair swept to the side to gently kiss a pulse point and bodies flush against one another.

It was almost impossible for whole team not to know was was going on between the two of them. Except maybe Vision, he was still having trouble comprehending interpersonal relationships. He knew something was going on, but had a general look of confusion when both women were in the same room. Natasha couldn’t help but laugh and tease Wanda about the crush Vision seemed to be developing for her.

Natasha had given Wanda the morning off while she worked out with the boys. Leaving the brunette at the tail end of a book when Natasha poked her head into her room; hair matted with sweat and clothing clinging to her frame from her jog.

"Hey Красивый."

Wanda smiled and closed her book, “how was your run?”

“Same old same old, Steve ran 10 miles, and Sam got about half a mile by the time I’d run 5. Sometimes it sad to watch. He tries so hard.” The redhead smiled as she made herself comfortable on Wanda’s bed, obviously pleased with herself.

“Well at least Sam probably isn’t as sweaty as you are,” Wanda kissed Natasha on the neck, scrunching her nose as she ruffled damp red hair.

Natasha smirked, giving Wanda a small nudge, “I would be offended if I didn’t know you think I’m hot when I’m sweaty.”

“Is that what I think hmm?”

Natasha nodded with certainly, “That’s what I know. Now! your easy day has come to an end. Shelve your book and meet me outside near Thor’s crop circle in 15. I just need to get into some dry clothing. I’m fairly worried you might jump me.”

Wanda swat her arm lightly in response, feigning offense. “Go.” She laughed, dropping a kiss to Natasha’s lips, “I’ll meet you there.”

15 minutes later, on the dot, Wanda jogged out to the spot where Thor had maimed the lawn.

“You’re late.”

“No I’m not, you’re just always insanely early. I’m not falling for that after the last time you did it and I ran 3 miles before I realized you were lying.”

Natasha smirked and chuckled a bit as she walked past what she had affectionately labeled “the crop circle” or “circle of doom”. Thor might be a very muscly demi god and would be king, but he really did know how to make a mess. And the fact that is annoyed the shit out of Tony was even better. Natasha couldn’t walk by it without audibly laughing. She even text pictures of it to Tony from time to time just to ruin his day.

“Thank you for meeting me at the crop circle of doom.” Natasha lowered her voice to sound ominous; brandishing a smile only Wanda was allowed to see.

In the weeks since they had been sharing a bed and much of their time together Natasha had become markedly more relaxed and trusting. This is how Wanda found out that the worlds deadliest assassin was actually a giant dork. Wanda was fairly surprised to find out that Natasha loved to bake and watch movies whenever she had time- with her favorites being Titanic and Wall-E. Something Natasha told her to never mention, to anyone, upon pain of death. It wasn’t her fault the robot was so damn adorable.

Even Rogers had noticed a difference with both of them for the better, but didn’t want to mention anything for fear of a broken nose.

“So what are we doing at the crop circle of doooom?” Wanda mimicked Natasha’s tone from earlier.

“Target practice!” Natasha gestured behind her to shooting equipment loaded with discs all too happily. “I’m going to shoot these up so you can practice controlling and aiming your hex blasts. Eventually I’m going to shoot them directly at you to work on close in shielding and targeting.”

Natasha danced on the balls of her feet in excitement; Wanda, on the other hand, had her doubts when she heard about the whole- shooting objects at her face thing.

Natasha seemed to sense what the brunette was thinking and dropped a gentle kiss on her lips, “don’t worry, shooting things at you is a way’s down the line. I can’t damage my goods.”

Wanda swatted at her half heartedly.  “Goods?”

“Okay into the circle of doom with you!” Natasha made a shooing motion motioning for Wanda to step backwards into the circle.

“And why do I have to be IN the circle?”

“Because it makes me laugh?” The comment earned Natasha a hex blast that flew just wide of her head. “See- you’re already doing really well!”

“I was aiming for your face немного паук .“

“Cute. Okay, lets start with one disc at a time. Try to focus your blast just enough to shatter the disc- not reduce it to ashes. Don’t do what you did to the lamp.” Wanda rolled her eyes again, it was one time. One time she had gotten startled and reduced a very expensive lamp to ashes. Now Natasha lorded it over her every chance she got. Since then they would always plead the 5th when Pepper asked where the piece had gone.

Without warning Natasha shot a disc into the air, startling Wanda enough that her blast missed went wide.

“Someone has an attention problem.”

“Yes. Yes. Shoot the disc woman.”

Natasha grinned as she loaded up another disc. It was almost as if she was having way too much fun torturing Wanda.

Natasha’s finger hovered over the button, “focus this time”.

Wanda manage to hit the next disc that was launched into the air. As the ashes rained down onto the yard Natasha let out a loud laugh. Wanda shot her a dirty look, yes she was having far too good of a time.

“Okay,” Natasha stopped laughing long enough to load a new disc, wiping an errant tear from her eye. “Remember to breath. Focus on the target and nothing else. Once we can get you solely focused on the target and manage to not reduce them to ash, then we can work on other distractions and more discs.”

For the next hour Natasha shot discs off into the air; and with each disc Wanda improved. Less and less were disintegrated and more and more fragments fell to the ground.

“Okay,” Natasha said as she loaded three targets into the machine. “Get all of these and don’t reduce them to ash, and I have a surprise for you.”

Wanda lift her eyebrow at Natasha and refocused. She’d be damned if she didn’t get that surprise after all of this.
The discs launched Wanda tracked them through the air; shooting off 3 focused blasts and shattering each one by one.

Turning and looking expectantly at her tutor she saw Natasha grinning back at her with pride.

“Did I earn my surprise? And can I please leave the circle of doom now?” Wanda waved her arms in a large circle motioning to the damaged lawn.

Natasha couldn’t help but laugh and nod. She would have to thank Thor later for the intricate patterns in the lawn that had proven near impossible to get rid of. Apparently Tony had tried for week, bringing in one person after the other and nothing they did could cover up the damage. At one point Tony parroted Coulson’s wish that the Asgardian’s would send the god of cleaning up after themselves. They did have quite the habit for lasting damage.

Natasha beamed as she walked over and slipped her arms around Wanda’s slim waist, “I’m proud of you.”

“Meet me in my room at 10 tonight and you’ll get your surprise.”

Wanda frowned slightly, when it came to the redhead she wasn’t exactly the most patient person.

“Oh don’t look so grumpy.” Natasha kissed the corner of her mouth with a smile, “Your face might freeze that way and then where would we be?”

Natasha saw Sam run by out of the corner of her eye, waving as he rounded the corner to take another lap around the compound. At this point they had both decided there was no point in hiding anything- especially since Steve and Sam had caught them making out in the garden on two separate occasions. Roger’s had gone red, turned on his heels and promptly walked away with a surprised look on his face. Sam had followed with a knowing grin, laughing as the fossil promptly handed him a 20-dollar bill. Natasha couldn’t help but snort at that. A dignified noise Wanda assured her she would never let her live down.

Thankfully, they had yet to be caught by the Vision or Rhody- both, they agreed came with their own set of questions and awkwardness they would rather avoid.

While Natasha was a master spy who lied and hid things for a living she felt no need to hide Wanda. When she asked if it was okay a few weeks prior Wanda simply kissed her on the forehead and smiled.

After training both Wanda and Natasha went to their respective rooms to clean up. After her shower Wanda settled in to finish her book, while Natasha prepared her surprise one floor up. The closer it got to 10 the more anxious Wanda got. Should she go in her normal clothing, rings on and face full of makeup? Or should she go up there in a tank top and shorts, face scrubbed clean up makeup and hands bare of clunky rings?

Wanda knew it was ridiculous to be nervous. Natasha had seen her all done up for one of Tony’s self aggrandizing parties, and she had seen her messy, her hair sticking up at all angles and morning breath in full effect.

Finally, she decided on a tank top and shorts. Her face free of her usual heavy black makeup, and rings sitting on her dresser in a pile.

She still knocked on Natasha’s bedroom door out of habit. The redhead had told her weeks back that she was always welcome to just walk in. And Wanda knew it was unnecessary to make her presence known. No doubt Natasha had heard her the second she stepped out of the elevator.

“No! Eyes closed!” Natasha rushed over, slapping her hand over Wanda’s eyes. Wanda couldn’t help but laugh, pressing her own hand over Natasha’s, feeling the warm skin beneath her own as Natasha lead her to the edge of the bed and helped her to sit down.

“Okay, hands out.” Wanda couldn’t help but laugh again, smiling as she did as she was told. Second later she felt a warm bowl settle in her hands.

“Okay! Open!” Natasha took a step back and smiled wide as Wanda looked at the large bowl of popcorn in her hands. The lighting in the room was dim, and the flat screen that Natasha had never bothered to turn on was paused on film credits.

Wanda had once told Natasha that since their parents death she and Pietro had always been on the run. Sleeping where they could. Never having a chance to relax or indulge in what was deemed frivolous. When asked if she had ever had a movie night Wanda simply shook her head; smiling as Natasha said, “we can fix that,” with all the certainty in the world.

Setting the bowl down Wanda stood to loop her arms around the shorter woman’s shoulders, moving past her lips to kiss the shell of her ear. “Thank you.”

A visible shudder ran through Natasha’s body that she tried to mask by stepping backwards and promptly flopping down onto the bed. “Come little witch. Can’t very well have a movie night alone.”

“Of course not.” Wanda crawled into the bed and snuggled into Natasha’s side, picking pieces from the bowl of popcorn. “What are we watching немного паук?” The nickname always made Natasha smile. Especially when Wanda said it in Russian. Everything sounded better in Russian.

“Saw.”

“Saw?”

“A serial killer sets up games for people who have to follow his instructions or they die.” Natasha looked at Wanda. Excitement clear.

“A man. Kills people in games. Here I was hoping for something like the Lion King….”

Natasha laughed, that low laugh that Wanda loved. “This is way better than some animated lion and sing alongs!”

Wanda quirked her eyebrow before settling back into Natasha’s side. “You have sick tastes.”

Wanda knew she was in trouble the second Natasha whispered, “would you like to play a game?” ominously in conjunction with the voice over. Already, she wasn’t so sure she was a horror movie type of person.

With every scene Wanda pressed herself farther and farther into Natasha’s side. She winced as a man sawed his own foot off, and a trap threatened to rip a woman’s’ jaw off. She was most definitely not a horror movie person.

Eventually Natasha wrapped her arm around Wanda, pulling her closer. Wanda nearly jumped out of her skin with the dead body in the middle of the room pulled off a latex wound and simply said, “game over.” Before closing the heavy door, locking the other man inside to die.

Wanda shifted against Natasha, “I think I would have preferred the Lion King. Wait….. is this one of those things where you scare the girl so she’ll get closer to you? Pietro used to pull that crap all the time once he had his speed.”

Natasha mock gasped, “I would never.”

Wanda swatted at Natasha’s shoulder none too gently.

“Okay,” Natasha looked smug, “yes. You’ve figured out my evil master plan. Although, I hope I don’t need an excuse to get you close to me.”

“Well it worked,” Wanda pouted, “you should be ashamed of yourself.”

 

Natasha mustered her best innocent face. A face that made empires fall and regimes crumble.  The USSR probably collapsed simply because the Black Widow pouted, “I’m really not.”

“Just as I thought, my super spy of a girlfriend is also an evil mastermind.”

The second the g word was out of Wanda’s mouth she knew she had fucked up. Natasha’s demeanor had changed immediately; her body stilling and mouth falling open slightly.

“Uh…. I mean the girl I am dating is an evil mastermind?” Wanda tried to choose her words carefully but really, there was no back peddling from dropping the g bomb. It was out there. Like really out there. And it wasn’t coming back. Yet again. Foot meet mouth, you should feel at home there.

Natasha was the one who finally broke the silence. “is that what you want me to be? You and me,” she gestured between the two of them, “together. Like that?”

Wanda shifted uncomfortably, “it is what I would like. But I told you months ago, you owe me nothing. You have no obligations to me.”

Natasha sighed slightly, “When you kissed me that night you said that, yeah. You said that you asked for nothing. But I knew- eventually you would want this. I didn’t know if I was the type of person who could do that, a relationship I mean- I still don’t. I’ve never been anyone’s anything before, and this could very well all blow up in our faces. But,” the redhead chewed the inside of her cheek. “If you’re willing to put up with me. And everything that comes with me. Then I think I’d like to try. Being together. Really being together I mean.”

As soon as the words left her mouth Natasha felt Wanda’s crash against her own. Natasha broke the kiss, leaning back. “I’ll take it that’s a yes.”

“Shut up,” Wanda laughed before pulling Natasha into another kiss. The kiss quickly became more insistent; Wanda shifting to straddle Natasha’s lap. Natasha had wanted this for weeks-maybe even longer. And with Wanda in her lap Natasha wanted nothing more than to fuck her into oblivion, but her brain tugged at her to slow down. Sex had never been all that intimate for her. She used it to get what she wanted. Every girl that came out of the Black Widow program was trained to use their bodies as tools. It wasn’t theirs to do with what they wanted- it was a means to and end. It wasn’t what Natasha wanted; not anymore- not with Wanda.

“Hey,” Natasha settled her hands on either side of Wanda’s hips, “slow down,” she murmured against the brunette’s lips, “we’ve got all night.”

Natasha slowed the frenzied kiss down, tilting her head to one side to capture Wanda’s lip in an open mouth kiss, sucking on her lower lip.

Wanda ran her tongue along the side of Natasha’s, rolling her hips automatically as the woman beneath her pressed the kiss deeper.

One roll of Wanda’s hips quickly turned into a steady rocking against Natasha’s core. Natasha could feel the pull deep in her belly as her hips found a mutual rhythm with Wanda’s. Her hands slowly running up Wanda’s sides-tank top bunching as it followed the direction of her hands.

As her hands moved upwards, Natasha pressed pointed kisses to each inch of exposed skin; coming to a halt at the expanse of skin on the underside of Wanda’s breasts. Natasha asked for permission with her eyes, stilling her hands on Wanda’s rib cage gently enough to just barely tickle. Wanda raised her arms in response-inviting Natasha to slide the tank top over her head.

The top hit the floor quietly in a pile and was quickly forgotten as Natasha raked her eyes slowly up and down Wanda’s torso- from her perfect breasts, down the faint line of her abs that had been developing, then up again. In 90ish years Natasha was sure she had never seen something- someone- so gorgeous. Natasha tore her eyes away from the long expanse of skin to look into Wanda’s green eyes, “you are so incredibly beautiful”.

Wanda let out the shaky breath she had been holding since her tank top hit the floor, weaving her hands into strands of short red hair and using it to pull Natasha towards her.

Natasha followed the insistent tug readily-moving forwards to take a full breast into her mouth. Swirling her tongue around Wanda’s nipple before nipping gently-soothing the offense with another swirl of her tongue.

Wanda heard a low moan that she was pretty sure came from her, breath hitching as Natasha kneaded her other breast with her free hand- rolling and tweaking her nipple with dexterous fingers.

Natasha’s other hand came to settle on Wanda’s hip, encouraging her to rock forwards; receiving another low moan as their hips fell into a steady rhythm.

Natasha raked blunt nails down Wanda’s back, leaving a trail of red marks on her pale skin and earning a shudder from the brunette as she arched into Natasha’s mouth.

The redhead took as much of Wanda’s breast into her mouth as she could, biting down gently before releasing the soft flesh with an audible pop. Raking her nails down Wanda’s back once more time.

She needed more. More skin, more contact. More everything.

With a quick shift of her weight and a firm hand on Wanda’s hip Natasha flipped their positions, settling herself in between Wanda’s legs- one thigh pressed firmly against the younger woman’s core.

Wanda’s breath hitched again as her hips rolled against Natasha’s thigh involuntarily.

“Shirt.” She said as she tugged at the hem of Natasha’s t-shirt insistently. Wanda could barely remember the word she wanted. Words seemed to be becoming quite difficult.

The pressure on her core lessened as the curvier woman sat up enough to grip the fabric, slowly pulling it over her head and tossing it haphazardly onto the floor.

Wanda had to remember to close her mouth as she took in a very shirtless Natasha Romanoff. Her large breasts were barely being contained by a lacy black bra- nipples straining through the thin fabric.

“Off.” She had managed another coherent word. Good on her. The almost naked Natasha positioned in her lap was pretty much shorting out her brain.

Natasha smirked in response, reaching back to slowly unclasp her bra, allowing it so fall from her shoulders to join the rest of their clothing on the floor. It was ridiculous, but she almost felt shy as the offending piece of clothing hit the ground. This was more exposed than she had ever been to anyone-Natasha couldn’t help but feel slightly terrified.

She felt Wanda’s grip on her hips tighten; breath hitching as the brunette leaned forward to place a light kiss between the valley of her breasts.

A low moan slipped past her lips, hips rocking forwards of their own accord when she felt Wanda cup each breast- firmly squeezing each one before dropping a light kiss to each nipple.

Wanda was setting a slow pace and it was bringing on sensory overload. Natasha had been tortured, many many times, but this- this was pure hell. The feather light brushes of Wanda’s lips trailing down from her breasts to her abdomen were more enough to drive the redhead crazy.

Wanda tried to keep the kisses leisurely as she moved her way down, but the rhythmic rocking of Natasha’s hips against her own was making it difficult to think. She placed open mouth kisses against the redhead’s skin as she made her way up again- sucking the soft skin into her mouth, leaving red marks in her wake that she hoped would linger for a few days.

Natasha had called her beautiful, but there was no doubt- she paled in comparison to the woman settled atop her hips. Didn’t even come close.

As her lips slid upwards as her hands moved in the opposite direction, fingertips roaming along soft curves juxtaposed by hardened muscle in all the right places. Wanda felt a small hitch in Natasha’s hips accompanied by a small gasp as she took the redhead’s nipple into her mouth; circling her tongue around the hardened peak.

Her hands trailed down Natasha’s taut abdomen, coming to rest on the redhead’s hips urging her to rock forwards. Under the pad of her thumb Wanda felt a different texture of skin; not smooth and soft like the rest of her body, but knotted and jagged.

Natasha almost didn’t feel it. In her haze she had forgotten about them. Her hips stilled as she reached down slowly and removed Wanda’s hand from the scar located just above her left hip. She crooked her finger under the brunette’s chin so their eyes could meet. “Just ignore them. Please.”

The request was plain, but the emotions behind Natasha’s eyes told Wanda what she needed to know. The scars she saw- one on the redhead’s left hip, another on her left shoulder, and a long jagged line down her right side were ample evidence. These were what Natasha considered her visible failures; mistakes made on the job that followed her home. Evidence that she wasn’t as infallible as she wanted everyone to believe. “Wanda. Please. Not everyone has Doctor Cho to fix them up when they get bloody. Just ignore them.”

She let Wanda’s hand drop from hers and made to remove herself from the situation. The scars. The marks all over her body were things she had wanted to hide. She had slipped up, forgotten about them. Now that Wanda had seen them she felt too exposed. Usually she wore synthetic skin on missions to cover them up. That many scars, the marred and jagged skin, raised too many questions.

Wanda gripped her hips, holding Natasha in place but light enough that it still allowed Natasha the option of moving away.

Natasha watched as the younger woman moved to kiss the scar on her abdomen

“Is this okay?”

Natasha nodded her head, allowing the touch, but clearly uncomfortable and uncertain of her answer.

 

Wanda moved slowly, not wanting to spook Natasha as she lovingly kissed the marred skin- trailing her fingertips along the thin mark on Natasha’s right side; gently dancing along the mark with admiration.

The redhead let go of a deep breath she had been holding. “Elektra,” she looked down to see Wanda’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“Elektra?”

“That mark. She’s an assassin for the Hand. Her sai caught me in the side. Went through muscle. I sewed it up myself with a shitty first-aid kit and a copious amount of vodka. Not one of my brightest ideas. The vodka was cheap.”

Wanda ran her fingertips along the mark, leaning in to kiss the scar. She felt Natasha stiffen before relaxing into her light touch.

“And this?” Wanda ran the pad of her thumb along the slightly indented circular shaped scar.

“Courtesy of the Winter Soldier. I stood in the way of his mark, he put a bullet through me to complete his objective. It was a through and through, but he made sure to leave a lovely reminder. Same as the one on my shoulder. He wanted Steve, I got in his way.” Natasha fell silent, leaning over to pick up her shirt only to have it taken out of her hands and thrown in a corner. Lips fell on the scar above her hip once more followed by another on her abdomen.

Wanda pulled her lips away to look up at her, “You, Natasha Romanoff, are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on. Scars and all. They are a part of you, and I am in love with every inch of you. These included.”

It took a second for Wanda’s brain to catch up with her mouth, and when it did it hit her like a shovel to the face. Fuck up number two, and all in the same night.

“Oh shit.” Her hands on Natasha’s sides stilled as she realized what had just fallen out of her mouth. Again…. They had just agreed on the girlfriend title and then Wanda had to go and make it weird. Super weird.

Daring to look at Natasha she could see the gears in her head working overtime. This woman had run headlong into battles with aliens, gods, killer robots, and HYDRA without so much as blinking. But this was different. She was raised to believe love was for children, a liability. It had been beaten, tortured, and brainwashed into her.

She had told the trickster god as much during the Battle of New York. “Love is for children.” Children, fools and the weak. And the weak were always the first to die.

“Wanda….I care for you. A great deal, I do. It’s just- I wasn’t programmed for this. Emotions were liabilities in the field. Love. Kindness- they were severely punished. My heart says one thing- a heart I didn’t even know I had. But a lifetime of conditioning says another. Please. Be patient with me? Give me time?”

Wanda relaxed almost instantly, a smile tugging at her lips. Natasha never wanted to do without that smile again. Wasn’t even sure she could.

Natasha gave Wanda a light push as their lips met; encouraging her to lay flat on her back. Breaking the kiss, Natasha used the tip of her nose to nudge Wanda’s chin up- peppering kisses along her jawline, down to the hollow of the brunette’s throat- using her tongue to trail a path from Wanda’s throat down to take a full breast into her mouth.

Natasha increased the pressure slowly, using her other hand to roll and tweak Wanda’s other nipple with her fingers. Every suck, every roll of a nipple, was met by low moans from Wanda’s mouth.

Wanda thought she might cry when Natasha moved her hand and the sensations ceased, until she felt a soft tug at the waistband of her shorts. The tug was gentle, asking for permission instead of simply taking. Without a second thought Wanda lifted her lower half up off the mattress as form of approval. Natasha nipped Wanda’s nipple and slowly pulled both shorts and underwear down slim legs, tossing them both onto the floor.

She didn’t even try to stifle the moan that came up from her throat as her eyes raked over the younger woman’s naked body. “Jesus.”

The woman was gorgeous, pert breasts trailed down to the flat valley of Wanda’s abdomen culminating in an apex between shapely thighs. Natasha felt a flood of wetness between her own thighs, shifting them almost imperceptibly to relieve some tension as she leaned forward and placed a kiss above Wanda’s lips; denying her what she wanted most. Her hips jerked at the touch, arching in an attempt to follow Natasha’s mouth.

Before Natasha got any farther up Wanda’s body she felt a familiar tug at the waist band of her sweatpants. The pull at her clothing was needy, and Wanda had already managed to get the material off her hips and halfway down her ass before Natasha pulled them all the way off.

A shiver ran through Wanda’s body as she, hooking her leg around the other woman’s waist to pull Natasha flush against her; registering quickly that Natasha wasn’t wearing anything under the sweatpants that were now in a pile on the floor. With the first rock of her hips, thigh pressed firmly against Wanda’s core, Natasha ground down harder. She felt Wanda’s heel dig into the small of her back as their hips found a rhythm, pointedly aware of the wetness coating her thigh as she moved back and forth.

Their lips reconnected, allowing Natasha to pull Wanda’s bottom lip between her teeth- biting down harshly in conjunction with a hard roll of her hips. The heel in the small of her back dug in harder as a reaction, attempting to pull Natasha impossibly close.

Short nails raked down Wanda’s sides hard enough to leave a trial of red marks in their wake- hips jerking when Natasha pulled her thigh away just enough to slip her hand in between Wanda’s legs, coating her fingers in wetness. Wanda’s hips rocked in time as Natasha slid from her clit to her entrance torturously slow, breath hitching when Natasha gently dipped the tip of her finger inside.

This was what torture was like. It had to be. Wanda was sure of it. She wanted more, more of everything. But Natasha was insistent on going slow- dragging it out of her.

The little noises Wanda was making that were uniquely her own were driving Natasha crazy. She wanted to go slow, to tease Wanda until she couldn’t take it anymore and begged for release. But her own need was taking over- she could only hold out for so long before she gave into what they both desperately needed.

Natasha circled Wanda’s entrance again with the tip of her middle finger, entering her slowly; giving the younger woman time to adjust to the finger buried inside of her. A low moan escaped Wanda’s lips as Natasha slowly withdrew her finger, circling her a few times to coat her fingers in Wanda, then slipping two fingers inside.

Natasha was gentle, careful not to go to fast; allowing Wanda’s walls to stretch around her fingers. Wanda’s hips began to rock, a silent and involuntary request for Natasha to pick up the pace and stop torturing her.

“Nat. Please.” Wanda was surprised she had managed to get the words out, everything was on sensory overload, walls clenching around Natasha’s fingers.

The second “please,” came out of Wanda’s mouth Natasha lost any semblance of control she had left; removing her fingers to push back inside with more force, curling her fingers as she drew them out.

Natasha’s lips dragged against the skin of Wanda’s abdomen as she made her way downwards- scraping her teeth along the skin, stopping to hover over Wanda’s swollen lips.

“Please.” Wanda’s back arched slightly, trying to follow Natasha’s mouth.

There was that word again. It made Natasha shudder and press her legs together, trying once again to relieve some of the tension pooled low in her belly.

Natasha flattened her tongue, pressing a long, drawn out, lick between Wanda’s lips. Dipping into her entrance with the tip of her tongue before up to circle her clit.

Wanda let out a strangled moan as Natasha sucked the bundle of nerves into her mouth; pumping her fingers in and out slow and deep. Curling her fingers each time she pulled out.

Wanda knew she wasn’t going to last long. She had wanted Natasha since the day they met and now the redhead’s mouth was on her. Fingers buried inside of her. When Natasha picked up the pace, dragging her tongue up and pressing her fingers inside up to her knuckles Wanda came with a strangled moan. Walls clenching down on Natasha’s fingers, riding out the sensation as a shockwave of red energy emanated from her, forceful enough to shake the room.

Natasha didn’t move as Wanda came down, stilling her fingers but keeping them inside as muscles spasmed around her fingers.

The brunette’s back fell flat onto the bed, hips rocking one more time before Natasha drew her fingers out slowly- kissing Wanda’s abdomen before climbing back up to settle on the pillow next to her.

Wanda was panting, a sheen of sweat on her forehead. “That was……Jesus.”

Natasha grinned in response, “You shook the room.”

Wanda blushed scarlet, the coloring creeping down to her chest.

“Hey,” Natasha kissed Wanda’s forehead, “definitely not a bad thing little witch.”

Wanda couldn’t help but laugh, “You are to blame if any of your things are broken.”

“I’ll take that, as long as it means I get to make you shake the room again.”

Wanda rolled onto her side, lightly pushing at Natasha’s shoulder, coaxing her to lay onto her back.

“Oh I think I could, how do you say? Take one for the team again.”

Natasha opened her mouth in mock offense, “I’m hurt.”

“Oh are you?” Wanda raised an eyebrow as she settled herself on top of Natasha’s hips.

The redhead couldn’t help the little breath that slipped out at the contact, rocking against Wanda’s hips.

“Is that all you are?” Wanda asked with a smirk.

“I’m fairly certain that all I am, yeah.”

Wanda rocked her hips pointedly, causing Natasha’s breath to hitch.

“Okay. Maybe not all I feel, you little cheat.”

Wanda couldn’t help but laugh, settling her hands on Natasha’s chest and using the leverage to grind her hips downwards.

Natasha’s hands fell to Wanda’s hips, gripping them to encourage the brunette’s movements. Wanda’s hands kneaded b both of Natasha’s breasts- occasionally tweaking a nipple hard enough to cause Natasha to hiss as the two fell into a rhythm again.

Wanda slipped her hand between their thighs, rocking in time with her fingers as she found Natasha’s clit and applied pressure.

“Jesus.” Natasha’s hips bucked at the sudden sensation, trying to gain more friction against Wanda’s hand.

“Patience little spider.”

“Not in my skillset.” Natasha retorted as she ground down again seeking more contact.

The Black Widow had never been this desperate. She made people desperate. But now. Wanda had unwound her. The more Wanda offered, the more Natasha craved. She needed more contact. She was desperate for more.

“Please.” She echoed Wanda’s words from earlier. A request Natasha never thought she would make of another person. Never thought she would need from another person.

Wanda smiled, grinding her hips down once more before sliding down to begin a trail of kisses along the curve of Natasha’s hip bone- dancing her fingertips across each side, then down to massage the muscles of the redhead’s thighs. Short nails were used to tickle a path down the inside of Natasha’s thighs- down, then up again torturously slow.

Small, impatient, huffs and moans came from Natasha as Wanda continued to tease and avoid Natasha’s obvious need.

“Natasha.”

The woman beneath her didn’t answer, too preoccupied by what was going on.

“Nat.” Wanda dragged her nails more pointedly on the redhead’s thigh to get her attention.

“Hmm?”

“I would like to try something. If you are okay with it.”

Natasha’s face scrunched in confusion before cracking an eyelid open. There, in the junction of her thighs was a gorgeously nude Wanda delicately rolling a small red ball of energy along her fingers. Wanda knew Natasha was no longer afraid of her, but this was a question of trust- she wasn’t going to use her abilities unless Natasha was okay with it.

In her haze it took a few seconds for Natasha to catch Wanda’s meaning. Her breath was shaky and the pressure pooling in her belly was almost more than she could take.

“I trust you.” Was all Natasha could manage before her head hit the pillow and her eyes fell shut again.

The small ball of red energy danced between Wanda’s fingers before slowly pushing inside Natasha. The redhead’s back bowed off the bed, giving a low groan as the energy set every nerve ending, every muscle, every sensation on fire. She felt impossibly full yet wanted more at the same time.

 

Wanda slipped into Natasha’s mind delicately. Instead of pulling out memories and past horrors, Wanda showed Natasha everything she felt, everything she wanted to do to her as she let the energy ebb and flow- pushing Natasha to the brink only to bring her down again and again.

Natasha desperately tried to form words but her brain was fuzzy, she couldn’t think, “I can’t- I need-”

Wanda understood, it was time to stop teasing. The red energy emanating from her hands rolled over Natasha’s body like a wave. Every nerve ending was on fire as Wanda overloaded Natasha’s senses and pushed the power throughout her body. Their lips crashed together as Wanda entered her with two fingers, sliding in and out- using her abilities as a driving force behind her hand.

Natasha came with a shout, fingers threaded through Wanda’s hair trying to find purchase. Both women stilled, allowing the ripple of Natasha’s orgasm and Wanda’s energy to wash over them and lessen before Wanda slipped her fingers out, nipping Natasha’s lip gently before moving to lay beside Natasha- curling into her side.

“Well that was-“Natasha huffed out a breath, “ That was- an interesting use of your abilities.”

Wanda laughed a bit, kissing the underside of Natasha’s jaw.

“Wow.” The redhead dropped a kiss to the top of Wanda’s head. “We should do that again sometime.”

Wanda laughed again, a small snort escaping.

“Did you just snort?”

“I will not corroborate that accusation.” Wanda smiled into Natasha’s neck.

“It’s okay. You’re still cute.” Natasha pulled Wanda closer to her side as she pulled up the covers.

“I love you.” Wanda said with confidence. “ And I will be patient немного паук. I do not expect you to say anything back until you are ready.”

Chapter Text

When Wanda woke up the next morning the space next to her was empty- sheets cool to the touch. The brunette rolled over lazily, burying her face into Natasha’s pillow to breath in the smell of her shampoo.

Waking up alone wasn’t that unusual. Natasha was an insanely early riser by habit. By now she’d most likely run 20 miles, showered, and taunted Tony with texts of the crop circle of doom- easily the highlight of her day.

“Hey.” Natasha’s broke the silence softly.

Wanda picked her head up to see the redhead leaning against the door frame, an oversized mug of steaming coffee blocking her smile from view.

Wanda had caught on quickly that Natasha was a bit of a grouch before she had her usual infusion of caffeine. Sam once left an early morning briefing with a particularly spectacular black eye after he’d tried to snag the last cup of coffee. Natasha had swaggered away with a smug look on her face, and a mug of fresh coffee warming her hands.

“Hey,” Wanda echoed, sitting up to lean her back against the headboard. “What have you been up to?”

Natasha held the coffee aloft in response.

“Beat anyone up for that?”

“Steve may or may not be missing a few fingers. Not my fault- honest. I told him he could probably still throw the shield without said fingers.” Natasha grinned, using her shoulder to push away from the door frame, crossing the room in a few strides to settle herself on the edge of the bed.

“Don’t judge just because you don’t require coffee to live.” Natasha trailed her fingertips down the soft skin of Wanda’s shoulder idly as she sipped her coffee as if to make a point. “Tired?”

“Mmm.” Wanda cracked an eyelid open. “Someone kept me up past my bedtime. But it may have been worth the lack of sleep.”

“Well,” Natasha scratched Wanda’s back gently, “you’re young. I’m sure you’ll bounce right back.”

“Then you must be exhausted old woman. You’re no spring chicken. You should be dust at this point.”

“Wow!” Natasha swatted the brunette’s shoulder before dropping a gentle kiss to the spot in apology “Keep talking like that and you’ll have to find someone else to make you breakfast. And Vision is a shit cook.”

“Breakfast!?” Wanda’s eyes lit up, the fog of sleep lifting immediately.

“You know,” Natasha dropped one more kiss to the younger woman’s shoulder, “with how much you love food I’m surprised you’re not a thousand pounds by now.”

“Now who’s being mean?” Wanda put on an exaggerated pout.

“You deserved it for calling me old.” Natasha smiled and got to her feet, “Now. I have to get back to the kitchen, or all the bacon will be burned and we’ll most likely starve. Meet me?”

Wanda nodded, shooing the other woman, “I’ll be there in a second, let me just grab some clothes.”

Natasha shook her head with a smile, walking in the direction of the kitchen, “clothing really isn’t necessary to eat breakfast.”

“Go.’ Wanda smiled, pushing the covers off, going on a hunt for her clothing. She found her shorts and tank top tangled in a ball, and her underwear in the back of Natasha’s closet- somehow hooked onto one of the redhead’s stiletto heels. Note to self- Natasha. Naked. Stilettos.

Music from the kitchen filtered through the apartment, accompanied by clattering as Natasha made breakfast.

Wanda stood at the entryway, watching Natasha as she expertly flipped a pancake in the air, while using her free hand to push bacon around in another pan. Natasha cooked as she did all things, with grace and precision. Everything she did was a beautiful and intricate dance.

“-your’s is the first face that I saw. Think I was blind before I met you.” Natasha nodded to the beat, spinning on her heels to flip another mass of dough high in the air, “Now I don’t know where I am, don’t know where I’ve been, but I- know where I want to go. So I thought I’d let you’d know. Yeah these things take forever, I especially am slow. But I realize that I need you and I wondered if I could come home?” Natasha trailed off slowly, flipping the pancake one more time.

“I know you’re there little witch.”

“I know.” Wanda smiled; walking across the kitchen to loop her arms around Natasha’s waist, pressing her lips into the red hair at the nape of her neck.

“You’re full of surprised Natasha Romanoff. Cooking, deadly spy skills, now singing. What’s next?”

Natasha smiled, turning off the burners, dropping the last pancake on the stack.

“I can also knit a mean sweater. Go sit down, I’ll bring you a plate and some tea.”

Natasha had blanched when she’d found out Wanda was more of a tea person during their first few mornings together.

“Fine,” the redhead pointedly sipped her coffee, “more for me.”

Natasha slowly tore her eyes away from Wanda’s ass, concentrating on making her up a plate. “You know. I do believe I said clothing wasn’t necessary for breakfast.”

“Did you?” Wanda responded absently, settling into her seat with a smile.

Natasha slide a full plate in front of Wanda, setting down a steaming tea in a novelty Black Widow mug. Little known fact- Natasha Romanoff does have a sense of humor.

“Dig in beautiful. I forgot I told Clint I would call him.” Natasha snagged her phone off the island, giving Wanda’s shoulder a light squeeze before making her way to the bedroom.

“Hey,” Natasha pressed the phone up to her ear, switching to Russian incase Wanda could still hear her. Thank god she had taken the time to teach the archer how to speak the language. When they Clint had started working together it was on the short list of languages he hadn’t mastered.

“How do you know Klingon, but you don’t know Russian?”

Clint had shrugged, scratching the back of his neck. “I don’t know. I had to choose an online course to take, and Klingon looked cooler.”

Natasha had rolled her eyes so hard she thought she might have a seizure, “and how many times has Klingon come in handy?”

“Well, the dog only knows commands in Klingon….”

“Wow.” All Natasha had was wow. It wasn’t really going to be helpful partner that spoke Klingon when they were dispatched to Russia.

“Are you sure this is a good idea Nat?” Clint asked on the other end of the phone as she paced around her room.

“It’s important to me.”

Natasha could hear him sigh on the other end of the phone, “I know Nat. And you know I trust you, but these are my kids. This is my home.”

“I promise Clint. She would never do anything to hurt them. She put in a lot of work.”

Another deep sign preceded him, “Okay Nat. I’ll see you in a few. But if this goes sideways I reserve my right to shut her down.”
The fact that Wanda was the least trusted member of the Avengers was not lost on Natasha. It seemed like no one ever let them forget it. But Clint was right. This was his family; it was his right to take precautions.

“Understood. And Clint. Thank you. This means a lot.”

“I know.” Was the last thing the archer said before he hung up.

When Natasha had arrived at S.H.I.E.L.D her presence was not well received. At first agents had given her shit. They had harassed her, bullied her, and tried to attack her on more than one occasion. That had all grinded to a quick halt once she broke a few limbs and sent half a dozen people to the med bay. After that, everyone gave her a wide berth. A few side eyed glances and a fair amount of whispering was all she got.

Fury and Hill had made it clear she was being watched at all times; and that it would be wise to remain on her best behavior. But Clint- he had trusted her. He trusted her with his life, and eventually the lives of his wife and kids.

Before him Natasha had never trusted anyone. She was hardwired to shirk attachments and avoid all and any forms of empathy. But, the archer had become her family by choice. When finally given the freedom to form a bond without fear of pain or reprisal she chose the Barton’s.
 
Natasha shoved her phone back into her pocket, pausing to grab a box from her bedside drawer before heading back to the kitchen.
 
More than half of the plate of food in front of Wanda was demolished. The bacon had most likely been the first casualty of war. Then the eggs. She was serious when she’d said Wanda loved food more than life itself.
 
“Hey.”
 
Wanda paused mid bite, fork in the air with a piece of egg speared onto it. “Hey,” she smiled, popping the fluffy goodness into her mouth. “What did Clint have to say?”
 
“Ah, nothing much. Just wanted to tell me he learned Klingon on some stupid website, and nearly blew his hand off making an exploding trick arrow. You know he’s partially deaf from an explosive arrow?”
 
“mm,” Wanda wiped her mouth with a napkin, pushing the plate away, “That’s not even a little bit surprising.”
 
 “So….” Natasha chewed her bottom lip nervously, “I have something for you.”

“Why are you so nervous?” Wanda looked at the other woman skeptically. “Is it a bomb?”

Natasha let out laugh, “no. Where’d that even come from? Who even gives a bomb as a gift?”

Wanda shrugged, the last gift Natasha had given her was a gun and thigh holster. Stylish and practical. Because you never know when you’re going to have to shoot someone in the foot.

“No.” Natasha smiled as she set the box down in front of Wanda, dropping a kiss to the side of her head. “This one is special. No explosions.”

“Hmm,” Wanda tapped her chin a few times before lifting off the top of the box carefully. Knowing Natasha, it could still be a bomb.

Wanda found a simple picture frame offset by black and red tissue paper. The picture had been taken during a street parade. Pietro sat on top of their father’s shoulder, while Wanda held onto her mother’s hand. She remembered that day. Remembered that she’d held onto her mother’s hand so tightly, so afraid her parents would disappear. She had been right. When they did Wanda and Pietro had nothing, no photos of them, no keepsakes. It had all been buried in the rubble along with the rest of their lives.

“How did you...?” Wanda touched her parents faces, fingertips resting on the glass.

“The summer solstice festival. You went with your parents and Pietro right before the bombing. You were ten here. It took some digging, but I found them.” Natasha sat down, fingertips gently tilting Wanda’s chin up so their eyes could meet. “I wanted you to be able to see them again. To have them again.”

Natasha barely caught Wanda when she wrapped her arms around the red head’s neck fiercely; the chair beneath them teetering dangerously onto two legs.

Natasha could feel Wanda’s tears on her neck, clinging to her short curls and a thank you that was mostly muffled by the crook of her neck.

Natasha hugged the other woman back just as fiercely. Whether or not she could say those three little words, she loved Wanda. She’d been searching for months to find any hint of her parents, disappointment nagging at her the longer she searched with no success. Then one day she’d stumbled on an archived photo, jumbled in with other Sokovian records collecting dust with no dates or labels.

Wanda pulled away slowly, trying to scrub her face free of tears. “Thank you,” she said, bending to connect their lips.

“Remember the first night I came to your room? When this all started? When we started?”

“Mmm.” Natasha nodded. She had an infallible memory, and that one in particular was always at the forefront of her mind.

“I told you that the things people had learned about you wasn’t really who you were. This,” Wanda pressed the palm of her hand to Natasha’s heart, lingering for a few seconds. “This is who you are Natasha Romanoff.”

Natasha could feel the heat from Wanda’s hand pressed firmly up against her chest. Her heart speeding up, thrumming against Wanda’s hand. Sometimes it was nice to have a reminder that she did, indeed, have a heart.

‘C’mon beautiful girl.” Natasha connected their lips, smiling into the kiss. “As much as I regret to say this. It’s time to get dressed, I’ve got a whole day planned.”

“More?

Natasha nodded with another smile, picking a piece of bacon off of the brunette’s plate. “For once we are kind of in a lull. No one bent on world domination. No clandestine organizations falling apart on national television. No infighting. I want to take advantage of the quiet while it lasts. So finish up, we’ve got a quinjet to catch.”

“These surprises seem to be getting more and more elaborate. What would everyone say if they knew you were soft and squishy on the inside? Not ice and stone?”

“Nothing,” Natasha narrowed her eyes, “because said someone is not going to say a word, or said someone can cook her own breakfast from now on.”

 

Wanda smiled, popping the last bit of bacon into her mouth. “Come on you cold hearted Russian. Let’s get dressed and then you can fly me anywhere you like.”

Wanda lead the way back to the bedroom, smacking Natasha’s hand when the redhead tried to make a grab for her butt.

“Nu uh. You start that and we are not going anywhere anytime soon.”

The result was an over exaggerated pout from Natasha.

“Don’t even little spider. I’m immune to that face.”

Wanda distinctly heard Natasha mutter liar as she rounded the corner to the bedroom.

While Wanda still kept her room downstairs, much of her clothing now filled Natasha’s closet; her books taking up space on the, previously barren, shelves.

Natasha managed to sneak in a kiss here and there as they got dressed. A small one dropped to the soft skin of Wanda’s bare shoulder as the brunette slipped her bra on. And another to the side of her neck before Wanda pulled on a long black tank top.

“You are straying into dangerous territory Romanoff.”

 

Natasha smiled, pulling on a pair of snug black jeans, and zipping up the sides of her leather boots. “Yeah, yeah. Because you hate it oh so much. Come on.”

“Where are we going?” Wanda asked, knowing full well Natasha would never tell her.

“On an adventure.” Natasha smiled, taking Wanda’s hand to tug her out of the elevator and onto the roof.

Tony had stocked the compound with a large compliment of quinjets, motorcycles, and some seriously overpriced cars. Wanda had laughed a little at how outlandish all of it was- she couldn’t even drive. Why learn drive when you might be able to fly Natasha reasoned.

Natasha got the quinjet into the air with practiced ease, setting it to autopilot to join Wanda in the cabin.

“At this speed we should be there in about an hour.” Wanda knew at this point not to ask where “there” was. Wanda wasn’t very good at secrets. Every time she vowed to surprise Natasha she’d spit out the details.

Natasha had once told her she would make a shit spy. To which Wanda reminded the redhead that she could read minds. Natasha had tilted her head, narrowing her eyes in response. “Fair point.”

Natasha spent the next hour animatedly regaling Wanda of her and Steve’s time on the run, and how she was pretty sure he was lying when he’d told her it wasn’t his first kiss since 1945. And the plight of not having a hair straightener while on the run.

The Quinjet landed in an expansive grass field, cloaking itself as the two women stepped off the ramp.

“Where are we?” Wanda twirled in a small circle, taking in the rural surroundings.

“You’ll see.” Natasha smiled, grabbing Wanda’s hand to pull her towards a large farmhouse in the middle of the clearing.

As they got closer Wanda could see Clint sitting in a chair on the patio.

Wanda liked the archer. He had helped her in Sokovia. But some part of her couldn’t help but see Pietro when she saw the Avenger. Couldn’t help but think that Pietro traded his life for Clint’s. She didn’t blame him- either of them. But in the back of her mind she wished that, maybe, things had been different. That Pietro could be standing there now instead of Clint.

“Hey,” Clint stood up from his seat, “everyone’s just finishing up a late breakfast.”

“How’s my little traitor?” Natasha smirked, pulling Clint into a tight hug.

 

“Oh you know. The usual. Keeping us up at night, throwing food everywhere, but even his little snot bubbles are adorable.”

“He’s a Barton. That’s for sure.”

Wanda stood there confused. Natasha laced their fingers together, tugging the younger woman towards the front door. “Come on. It’ll all make sense in a second. I promise.”

As soon as they crossed the threshold Natasha had to pull her hand away to catch the toddler speeding towards her, hands thrown in the air.

“Auntie Nat!!!!”

Natasha laughed, hefting the little girl in the air to balance on her hip. “Hey small fry! What have you been up to today?”

The young girl giggled as Natasha bopped her on the nose.

“We just finished breakfast!”

“Oh really? Where’s your brother and the little traitor?”

A woman rounded the corner, baby on her hip and a towel slung over her shoulder, trailed by an older blonde boy.

“Nat! I would hug you but I’m covered in baby.”

Natasha smiled, putting Lila down. The second her feet hit the floor the girl was off, scrabbling to find her crayons and paper.

 

The older brunette woman turned her eyes towards Wanda, “You must be Wanda.” It wasn’t an accusation, wasn’t said with malice or suspicion. Just kindness and warmth. Not really something Wanda was used to from strangers.

Laura couldn’t claim to be the Black Widow, but she could plainly see the reticence and confusion comings off of Wanda in waves.

“I’m Laura, Clint’s better half. This is Cooper,” She ruffled the blonde boy’s hair lightly with a smile, “The one over there with the crayons is Lila,” She pointed to the little girl now sitting at a table drawing away, tongue peeking out of the side of her mouth. “And this little bundle of rolls is Nathanial.”

“He was supposed to be a Natasha,” the redhead cut in with a sour look.

“Hey,” Laura shrugged with a smirk, “you had a fifty/fifty chance.”

Natasha narrowed her eyes, shooting Laura a fond death glare before offering her hand to Wanda.

Clint uncrossed his arms, relaxing slightly. “Fury helped me set this house up off the grid when S.H.I.E.L.D was still up and running. When it fell our location wasn’t released to the public with the information dump. And this little guy,” Clint said as he reached for the baby, “is Nathaniel Pietro Barton. Came out of the oven just after Ultron.”

Wanda’s shock was evident. No one said her brother’s name anymore except Natasha and herself. The rest of the team members walked on eggshells when it came to the topic of her twin. But here he was, a permanent part of a baby she had never met.

Clint bounced the baby a few times before bringing him over to Wanda. “It’s okay, you can hold him.” Clint had left not long after the incident with Ultron, and his interactions with Wanda had ranged from mind control, physical violence, and impromptu pep talks on a flying city. At least now it made sense now as to why he was so good at rallying the troops. Dad skills.

Wanda didn’t move. She’d never held a baby. Clint all but pushed the infant into Wanda’s arms, nudging each of her arms into position, “It’s okay Wanda. I trust you. We trust you.” Laura was smiling at her, and Natasha was practically beaming as Wanda rocked Nathaniel back and forth, body swaying in time.

“Hello little thing.” Wanda spoke in Sokovian. It only felt right. Nathaniel’s eyes were blue, just like Pietro’s. Staring into them, Wanda couldn’t help but feel like she had a little tiny piece of him back. As she stared Nathaniel smiled, gurgling a bit as he attempted to pull at Wanda’s long hair.

“He’s beautiful.”

“My husband came home to his kids that day because of your brother. I owe him more than I can ever say. When Nat told me everything that was going on I knew you had to meet Nate, and something tells me he’s been waiting to meet you too.”

Wanda handed Nate back to Clint reluctantly, stepping back. “After everything I’ve done, you have no reason to trust me with the safety of your children.”

Laura gave her a lopsided smile, “You kept my husband safe. Helped save the world. Nat trusts you. And I trust Natasha. That’s more than enough for me.”

Natasha could see the gears in Wanda’s head turning. She was overwhelmed.

“Hey, could you excuse the two of us for a second?” Natasha interlaced her fingers with Wanda’s gently, walking them outside onto the patio.

The brunette looked down at her feet, shuffling them a bit.

“Hey,” Natasha crooked her finger under Wanda’s chin, “what’s wrong?”

“I should not be here.” After all this time Wanda still carried guilt. Guilt about Pietro, guilt about what happened with Ultron, guilt about what she had done to her country. And if anyone could understand those emotions it was Natasha.

Natasha sighed lightly, sitting down on the patio swing- patting the cushion next to her, “Come here little witch.”

Wanda sat down, leaving a small gap between them.

“Nice try,” Natasha said as she scooted herself the small distance so she could wrap her arm around Wanda.

“When Clint was sent to cross me off he made a different call. For the longest time he was my entire world. We spent so much time together most of S.H.I.E.L.D thought we were sleeping together. Here and there Clint would disappear in between missions, and here and there I found myself with too much time on my hands and a whole S.H.I.E.L.D databank at my disposal. So, one day he disappeared and I followed and there was Laura, standing on the porch waiting for me like she always knew I’d turn up. They became my family. The family I never had. The family I chose. I’ve watched Cooper and Lila grow. Helped teach them to ride bikes and finish school projects. I brought you here because they are important to me. And you are important to me. I brought you here because I wanted to share this part of me.”

Wanda understood, she really did. But she couldn’t help but sigh. Natasha smiled, lacing their fingers together. “Do you know that Lila asked who you were? The little muppet can read me- could tell I was happier. Said she’d never seen me smile so much. She asked who you were and when I was bringing you around. They want you here. So come on.’ Natasha patted Wanda’s thigh, “We’ve got coloring to do, and a Lego S.H.I.E.L.D hellicarrier to build.”

Wanda got to her feet, and genuine smile replacing her previous frown and looks of indecision; leaning into Natasha’s chest “Thank you.”

On the way back inside they were intercepted by Lila.

“Are you Auntie Nat’s girlfriend?”

Wanda looked back and forth between Natasha and the little girl before dropping to one knee. The little girl really did remind her of the Russian. Brazen, but adorable all at the same time.

“And what would you say if I said yes little one?”

Lila gave her a serious look, “Auntie Nat smiles more now and draws better pictures. So I like you.”

Natasha laughed, dropping a kiss to the top of Lila’s head. “This Muppet’s seal of approval is all you need. She runs the Barton household.”

Wanda smiled again, “Then yes. I’m Auntie Nat’s girlfriend.”

“Good.” The little girl nodded decisively before grabbing Wanda’s hand. “Come color with me. Mom just bought me glittery crayons.”

Natasha stifled a laugh as the brunette was very literally dragged to the kitchen by the little girl. To her credit, Wanda took it all in stride. Tossing Natasha a smile and a small wave goodbye.

“Thank you,” Natasha said as she heard Laura her walk up from behind her, bouncing Nate on her hip a few times.

“I know she means a lot to you Nat. I even know that you love her. You might want everyone to think you're a cold hearted bitch, but you can't lie to me.”

Natasha’s jaw nearly hit the floor before she could school her face back into place. Laura was one of the very few people who could get an accurate read on her.

“I-I don’t. I- "the redhead sputtered in the most dignified of manners.

“Natasha Romanoff, I know you better than even my husband does. Bless his, sometimes, very dense heart. You. Love. Her. It’s written all over you. You’re just too afraid to tell her.”

Natasha sighed and deflated a little, shoulders sagging. “I don’t know how to tell her.”

“You don’t need to say it Nat. You just showed her. You brought her here to meet us. And she’s good for you. Banner and Murdock- they made you sullen. They weren’t good for you, but with her you light up. Lila’s right, you smile more. And I can see it written all over her too. She loves you.”

“I know,” Natasha smiled at the thought. “I just can’t shake this feeling that something is coming. Fury once said that the only thing that lasts forever is trouble. Love and the kind of trouble we court don’t exactly go together.”

“Oh screw that man. Tony would have fixed our tractor if it weren’t for him.” Laura laughed. But seriously, she was still a bit miffed.

“Was the tractor even broken, or was that all a set up?”

 

“That rust bucked has been broken for years. Now come on. Let’s go see what kind of trouble my daughter has gotten your girlfriend into.”

They found the pair sitting at the kitchen table with Lila talking animatedly about how Barbie didn’t need Ken in her life to be happy. Natasha was pretty sure Wanda had no clue who Barbie and Ken were, but she was a good sport and nodded emphatically in agreement.

“Hey,” Natasha kissed Wanda on the top of the head, “how’s the drawing coming along?”

Wanda had somehow managed to draw an amazing piece of art using only crayons and the occasional pencil for shading.

“Woah,” Natasha picked up the piece of paper, “my drawings normally consist of blobs that I claim to be dogs and bunnies.”

“Come on,” Lila tugged at Wanda’s hand, pulling her out of the chair with all the force her little body could muster. Lila had obviously taken a liking to the younger woman, pulling Wanda into the living room where toys were scattered all over the floor. Laura picked them up nightly, straightening up the house, but somehow by the time breakfast rolled around the whole house had been turned upside down again. The kids were all like tiny explosions themselves

 

Lila plopped down onto the floor, Wanda following in suit-being careful not to sit on a dinosaur while the child proceeded to give an explanation for each toy.

“Would you like to see something little one?” Wanda smiled, receiving a decisive nod as an answer.

A small wisp of red energy danced from Wanda’s fingertips, encircling each toy in their own orbit- slowly incorporating as many toys as she could. Barbie became an expert ballerina while dinosaurs stomped across the living room

Clint was on his feet in less than second, going for one of the bows he had stashed around the house. Natasha may trust Wanda, but the girl’s powers were volatile- they didn’t belong around his children. He’d seen her use her abilities to rip Ultron’s bots into pieces. Those could be put back together- his kids couldn’t. Lila clapped her hands, giggles filling the room as Laura held her hand up to stop her husband.

“It’s okay,” she mouthed.

Natasha watched the red energy dance throughout the room, eyes falling on Wanda as she commanded the show. She was easily the most beautiful woman Natasha had ever seen; hazel eyes full of determination and red energy swirling around her as if it was the most natural thing in the world. It was gorgeous. All of it.

 

“I love you.” The words came tumbling out of her mouth. It wasn't like she thought it would be. They didn't cause her angst, regret, or indecision. She's felt them as acutely as she did everything else for the girl. The words were like breathing; natural and effortless.

 

The toys nearly dropped to the ground abruptly before Wanda caught them all and slowly put an end to the show, Nate giggling like a little monster in the background. Clapping his chubby little hands as the T. rex toy roared and stomped past him and onto the carpet.

“Kids why don’t we all see what we’re going to do for lunch. I think Auntie Nat and Wanda need some time alone.” Laura began nudging her children out of the room. Lila shot her mother a small pout, and Clint stood there with his mouth open. Laura walked by, using her index finger beneath his chin to shut his mouth. –tugging firmly on her husband’s arm.

“But-But.”

“No buts honey. Time for the grownups to talk.”

When everyone had gone Wanda turned to face Natasha, both still sitting on the floor with toys strewn everywhere.

Wanda looked unsure. Maybe she was hearing things. Maybe she had finally gone crazy. Wouldn't really surprise her “What did you just say?”

Natasha worried her bottom lip. “You are easily the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. And I know I said give me time, but just now-I loved you with everything I have. Correction- I love you. I do. I’m more sure of it than I’ve ever been of anything in my life. And hopefully I don't sound like a crazy person as I word vomit this all over you.”

“No,” Wanda smiled, pressing her lips to Natasha’s in a kiss that was soft and reassuring. “Not crazy at all.”

Chapter Text

It was the calm before the storm. Natasha had known it in her gut.

When the explosion happened, Natasha had been a few bodegas over securing the bioweapon and quipping with Sam about not petting his stupid toy bird.

She had never regretted being underpowered until that exact moment.
The moment the earth shook and swallowed her world whole. Her muscles burned and ached as she zig-zagged through streets and alleyways running towards the smoke and screams. The knock-off super soldier serum could only be pushed so far. She could only move so fast. Cap, Tony, Thor, hell even Sam would have been there by now. But here she was, moving at a snail’s pace- a Russian knock off who was going to be too late because she was too damn slow. Suddenly Captain Russia lite wasn’t as funny anymore.

For every person Natasha stopped to pull from the rubble she couldn’t stop the nagging thoughts that pulled at the back of her mind. The ones that said every second she stopped may mean she’d be one second too late. The thought that for every person she saved she might be killing Wanda. It was taking too goddamn long.

Natasha found Wanda on her knees in the dirt, the chaos treating her as if she were a boulder in a river. An impasse to move around, but never through. Heavy debris from a building came crashing down from on high to crash and break apart into rubble on an energy shield Wanda had formed around herself.
“Wanda?” Natasha approached slowly, making sure the brunette registered the sound of her voice before attempting push against the barrier. The energy that prickled and tugged its way across her skin felt panicked and distraught and for a split second she feared rejection before the barrier thinner and let her step through.

Natasha knelt slowly, the soft soil giving way beneath the weight of her knees. Energy still tugged at her skin, searing its way through her nerve endings to the base of her skull.

“Little witch?” Natasha extended a hand out to touch her cheek, her knuckles gently wiping away the tears she found there before lifting the brunettes face to level their gazes.

The almost aggressive tug of energy ceased as green eyes slid into focus as if Wanda finally, truly, registered Natasha’s presence.

“Nat?”

“Hey baby. Yeah it’s me.”

Natasha could feel the knot that had sat like a stone in her gut since the initial explosion loosen just the tiniest bit. Wanda was safe. She got to go home and fall asleep next to the woman she loved tonight. But Natasha wasn’t naïve. Something Avengers level fucked up had happened today, and they were going to pay for it in full.

“What happened little Witch?”

Then the second explosion happened. Because what’s a day with just one life altering explosion? Not a literal one though. This one was just words, syllables strung together to make a complete sentence. Two words made a giant crater where her life used to be.

“I did.”

Chapter Text

After the incident, it didn’t take long for videos of Wanda and Crossbones to surface. Do people go for cover when shits about to blow up? Do they reach for their loved ones? Nope, they go for their phones. Gotta make sure that shit goes viral man.

From there it was a fairly predictable spiral effect from shitstorm to shitnado real fast. Since Sokovia the Avengers were on thin ice. They had gone from the heroes of New York to a nuisance in record breaking time. Yeah, they sometimes saved the world, but they always fucked up a lot of shit doing it. And the casualty rate was steadily climbing- people were beginning to lose patience with them.

It hadn’t taken long for the news and various governments of the world to foist all of the blame onto Wanda. Not only was she a foreigner on foreign soil. But, she was also a powered person. And if the world had learned anything from the last few years it was to be wary of powered individuals and the havoc they can wreak. 

Since the incident Wanda had been withdrawn, choosing to stick to their respective floors and rarely venturing into the Avengers common room or really anywhere near the rest of the team. Weeks afterwards Natasha found her sitting in their room, knee tucked under her chin as she watched every news channel and every talk show report and gossip about her, lampoon her as a freak, and question her loyalties to the Avengers and the United States. Hell, even Oprah and Ellen were talking about it- that’s when you knew shit got real.

She did this to herself on a regular basis. Watched the TV and always said it was “her fault” no matter how much Natasha tried to reason with her or protest.

“It’s my fault, they’re being very specific.”

“Baby, we’ve in no way trained you to contain a bomb of that magnitude, but if you hadn’t tried the casualties would have been so much higher. You never should have had to fix it in the first place.” Wanda had tucked herself into Natasha’s side, but Natasha knew the argument was falling on deaf ears. It always did these days.

Natasha wasn’t lying. Wanda shouldn’t have had to play clean up. Steve’s bromance with his best friend meant he wasn’t looking, it meant he wasn’t paying attention to Crossbones’ bomb or any of the other little details. That’s kind of how it went when Bucky got involved, Steve had a tendency to lose all perspective. Wanda had to fix it the only way she knew how, and now she had to carry the weight of the dead on her soul.

A weight Natasha would do anything to take from her.

Natasha hadn’t spoken to Rogers in weeks, only shooting him looks that made him shrink and retreat quickly if when he had tried to approach them to apologize.
Natasha worked best in the shadows not in the limelight. Weeks in and she still had no clue how to protect Wanda from the backlash or how to keep her safe from reprisal. Natasha had assassinated heads of state, top military operatives, princesses and Shas, hell she’d once stolen nuclear codes just for fun. But, Natasha couldn’t fight off a worldwide hoard of angry villagers with pitchforks. She was good, but she wasn’t that good.

Natasha had promised to fix it, she’d promised to always keep Wanda safe. But she was at a loss as to how to do that. She was failing. Then came General Ross. Pompous General Fucking Ross, with his accords and his speeches. He had put the destruction of Sokovia and Lagos up on the screen and Wanda had looked away from the screen her eyes filled with shame and despair. 

All of Natasha’s muscles tensed. She didn’t care who he was, she’d severed better men’s spines for less. But a hand on her thigh told her to relax and stand down. 

And Tony? Fuck Tony. He was taking the moral high ground when Ultron was entirely his fault. They hadn’t dropped a building on that kid volunteering in Sokovia, He had. But another hand on her thigh told her to stand down. Now wasn’t the time to knock Tony off of his very high horse. 

And Steve. After everything with S.H.I.E.L.D and HYDRA Steve didn’t trust anyone but the team around him. The team they’d built from the ground up. He was right, it should be their call where they go, it should be their right to choose. But the world only saw in extremes. Not what the Avengers had done and who they had saved, but all those they’d failed to save. All those people they’d dropped a building on.

When she’d said Tony was right the billionaire nearly choked on his own tongue. But she hadn’t said it for him. She’d said it for the woman pressed against her side whose fingers were safely intertwined with hers. For the first time in her life going dark wasn’t an option. Telling the government to fuck off wasn’t an option- this time Steve’s shield wasn’t going to be enough, she needed the shield that only the collective governments of the world could provide. 

She didn’t go in for the funeral, it hadn’t seemed right. The church echoed the sound of her heels clicking against the marble floor as she made her way down the pews towards Steve. A cacophony of sound breaking the silence that created a rift between them since Lagos.

“I’m sorry Nat…. I can’t sign it.”

“I know,” Natasha gave a weak smile. “I’m sorry.”

“For what.” Steve leaned back against a pew, returning her smile with a weak boyscout smile of his own that didn’t quite reach all the way up to his eyes.

“Steve. I owe you my life. And I can count that kind of debt on one hand. And trust me I’m the last one to expect something like this.... but she’s my life and joining you means putting all of that at risk. If they catch us off the grid all of that is over, and I would never see her again. They’d black bag her.”

“Nat,” Steve held up his hand, “It’s okay. I get it. You don’t owe me anything. You gotta take care of your world. I’ve seen the way you look at her and the way she looks at you. I don’t think I’d ever seen you smile, and I mean really smile before her.”

“This is going to go south Steve. You know it will. There’s no other way for this to go. “

“I know.” He hung his head, allowing Natasha to pull him into a hug.

“If there were any other options, any other path I would take it.”

“I know.” She felt him offer a weak smile into her shoulder. “Then why are you here?”

“I didn’t want you to be alone”. Her heart broke a little as she said the words. The Avengers were her family and they were crumbling to dust.

She had sided with Tony. Not because she thought he was right. Fuck no. She’d had sided with the pompous asshole out of pragmatism. He was right in one respect. If they didn’t agree to it, it would be done to them later down the line. There was no hiding from this. They had saved the world, many times over, but all the public saw was the collateral damage.

Was Vision right, were they part of the problem? Was crime and chaos rising at an exponential rate in direct correlation with their existence?  She didn’t know. But this was the only way she could see to protect Wanda. Stark left a bad taste in her mouth, but he had the backing of the government.

“I don’t trust him,” Wanda paced back and forth in the living room of Natasha’s apartment 

“Neither do I, but we need a plan. We need a way to keep you safe.”

“I can protect myself.”

Natasha touched Wanda’s arm gently, a silent request for the woman to stop pacing.

“Wanda, they are calling for extradition and prosecution. Everyone’s calling for your head, and I’m doing the one thing I can think of to protect you. Siding with Stark means we have the US government’s protection. I’m trying to keep you safe.”

“I never asked you for that.” Wanda snapped back at her. But as soon as the words left her mouth she’d regretted them.

The entire situation had begun to wear on her long ago. All Those deaths were her fault and they had been slowly eating away at her from the inside. She had failed and it has cost her and so many others dearly. Was she dangerous? Probably. Honestly, she’d known that all along. But did she want to live out the rest of her life at the Avengers compound, probably not. 

Natasha looked as if she had been slapped in the face before schooling her featured back behind a familiar impassive mask. Wanda hadn’t seen that face in a good long while, and it was more than enough to show her she’d fucked up. 

“Fine.” The redhead grabbed her black leather riding jacket off of the couch. “Maybe you should let Vision protect you. He seems more than willing to hover by your side like a stalker. Pinocchio wants to be a real boy.”

Since Lagos Natasha was having to spend anywhere from days to weeks away from the compound trying to clean up the Avengers mess. She was officially on damage control and hadn’t been able to spend time with Wanda like they used to. Stark was convinced a pretty face was the best way to put people back at ease. Never mind that pretty face being one of the most notorious assassins of this century. 

She knew Wanda didn’t return Vision’s affections. If that’s what it truly was, but watching him lurk in the background and constantly try to please Wanda ate away at Natasha a little more each time she made her way back. 

He’d said, “We would protect you.” Like Natasha wasn’t enough. Like what Wanda and Natasha had no longer mattered in the great machination of it all. 

She wasn’t jealous. Not in the usual sense. But when was anything about their situations ever usual or normal. But the more she was forced to be gone the farther away she felt. 

“That’s not fair Nat. You know it’s not. Vision is just trying to help.” Wanda had wrapped her arms around herself. “Let’s just go. Leave where none of them can find us. No one wants me here Nat, and keeping me locked up at the compound means I can’t help fixing what I’ve broken. So why stay?” 

Natasha sighed, dropping her jacket back onto the couch- pinching the bridge of her nose in frustration. They’d had thus conversation before. It was like they were having this conversation on a loop only to arrive at the same conclusion.

You think you know what you’re asking, but you don’t. The government will hunt you. Every government. People like me would hunt you for money and for sport. Nowhere in the world is safe. They think you’re a dangerous and a threat.”

“And you’re not afraid of me?” The second the words were out of her mouth Wanda wished she could stuff them back in. As of recent she’d gone back to shoving her foot in her mouth on a pretty regular basis. The stress was getting to them, so on the rare occasions that they did see one another they spent some of it bickering.

“Wanda- You know I’m not. How could you even ask that?” the hurt in Natasha’s voice was evident even as she tried to school her face for the second time that evening, but doing a poorer job of it than before.

Wanda sighed heavily, pushing herself off from where she’d been leaning against the couch to cross the room and wrap her arms around Natasha’s middle. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean any of that, I know you’re not afraid of me. You might actually be the last person in the entire world who isn’t afraid of me. And no,” Wanda tipped her head up to make eye contact with the redhead, “I do not return visions affections, or curiosities, or whatever you would like to call them. I’m just tired of all of this, tired of feeling like a prisoner and like things go horribly wrong at any moment.”

“I know baby, and I’m so so sorry. I wish I could take it all back, I wish we could leave- but we are out of options. There’s no good side of this Wanda, I’m just trying to get us on the one that keeps you safe and out of some third world prison. The world has never been very kind to things it doesn’t understand- and you, my beautiful witch, are something that can’t easily understood.”

Three weeks later Natasha had to say goodbye to Wanda.

Again. 

Something sinking in her stomach told her this wasn’t going to be a short stint. She had held the younger woman close, not wanting to let go as the Quinjet fired up. 

“I don’t want to go,” Natasha held on tighter, threading her hand through Wanda’s long hair. “I don’t’ even know why he’s sending me of all people. You don’t stand on Capitol Hill one day and say fuck off and then turn around and go to the UN the next to make nice. Tony should be going, this is his mess.”

Wanda pulled the redhead in close, hoping to remember the feel and smell of her long enough to last her until she came back. “Because you’re much better looking,” Wanda smiled and kissed Natasha’s neck, “Everything will be okay my spider.”

“You know, I had a long-ish conversation with Vision yesterday telling him to back off, but I don’t think he really understood that I was essentially threatening his life if he kept making puppy dog eyes at you.  It was an odd conversation…… “

Wanda couldn’t help but laugh, “I don’t know that he’s even capable of making ‘puppy dog eyes’. Don’t be jealous my little spider. I love you. More than words can say in any of the languages I know. And I will see you soon.” It had felt good to laugh just then, but it didn’t mitigate the feelings of sadness that were beginning to rise to the surface again.

“I don’t like the idea of being kept here while I’m gone. And I don’t trust a word Stark says. I never have.”

“I know” Wanda agreed, wholeheartedly, but she’d come to accept that this was the hand they’d been dealt and if she wanted to keep Natasha she was going to have to be in bed with the devil. Sadly, it was better the devil she knew. “But Vision would never hurt me and I can come and go as I please. “ 

Natasha sighed as she nodded, strands of hair falling in her face as she tugged at her pantsuit.

“Stop fidgeting, you look amazing.”

“I’m more comfortable in all black. Black cat suits and black silk robes. I’m only being sent because I can fake making nice and smile with the best of them. Fake smiling that long hurts my face babe.”

Wanda laughed, “You can do this Natasha Romanoff. Go do your job, but make sure you come back home to me.” 

This time it was Wanda’s turn to sigh, “Go.” She said as she kissed Natasha on the forehead. “When you get back I’ll make you breakfast in bed and watch a movie with you. You keep promising me The Lion King”

“Or we don’t ever even have to leave the bed,” Natasha wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. “We can order in and have sex until we die from exhaustion.”

“Go,” Wanda pushed her gently by the shoulder in the direction of the quinjet with a small smack on her butt for motivation. “I love you, everything will be alright.” As the words fell out of her mouth Wanda hoped she was right. That everything would be okay. That their current shitnado wouldn’t upgrade into something worse. She knew Natasha was doing everything she could to put them both on the winning side. The side that would keep them safe. But neither of them agreed with Tony. It was just the ‘path of least resistance’ as Natasha called it.

“I love you,” Natasha responded in kind as she finally turned and walked onto the ramp of the quinjet, taking one last look at Wanda- the sinking feeling in her stomach growing deeper and coming to settle like a stone in the pit of her stomach.

Chapter Text

The UN summit was the last place she should be and beyond the last place she wanted to be. It was deafening and Natasha couldn’t help but think of what she was missing to be here in a crowd of diplomats she didn’t know and didn’t give a shit about. It was her job to smile and be approachable, to be the face of the shiny and new legally authorized Avengers. To assure the populace that Steve and those who went rogue with him would be handled. Her heart ached every time she made these assurances- that the people she considered her family would be handled and brought to justice. T’Challa had flirted with her. On any other woman, she was sure that charming smile had a 100% success rate. She’d almost laughed when she’d remembered what Wanda had said. That “ anything with a pulse would be attracted to you.” So of course, she’d smiled and played along in the interest of peace and cooperation. It’s what the old Black Widow would have done.

Fuck- she really didn’t want to be here. She had argued with Tony until she was ready to shoot him. She’d actually threatened to.

“Look Nat, between the two of us it’s truly hard to figure out which one of us is more attractive. I think I come ahead, but it really is a close shave- but I just have too much to do so I’ve gotta send in someone who is equal parts attractive and equal parts deadly. That’s you pal.” Tony had smacked her on the back of the shoulder before he could think better of it then looked warily between his hand and her shoulder for a lingering second as if willing her not to murder him.

Vision had been instructed to “keep Wanda company” at the compound while Natasha was away. Part of Natasha knew she was leaving Wanda in nothing but a gilded cage- but at least she was safe until Natasha could come up with a better plan….if she could come up with a better plan. The longer this thing dragged on the less likely a better plan seemed.

Part of her thought, this is why she’d never had attachments before. Why she’d never been beholden to anyone or anything. She’d never even owned a cat. Her love for Wanda was tying her to Tony. Her need to keep the other woman safe, at all costs, was the one thing keeping her from falling off the grid. At best unfamiliar feeling, and at its worst it was terrifying. She was trapped.

Normally she would sit this one out. Let the boys duke it out, break out their measuring sticks, and have their tantrums until they both walked away black and blue- eventually shaking hands and laughing it off.Or join Steve like before and be branded a criminal- it would be a far less unfamiliar feeling. But this time was different. This time the infamous Black Widow was out of contingency plans, out of plan B’s, and escape routes. This time plan A was it.

Because while the label of assassin and criminal suited her just fine she’d never put those labels on Wanda. The world hated and feared her and Natasha still didn’t know how to shield her from that. She loved Wanda, more than anything. But part of her still felt like that love- it was a weakness. A chink in her otherwise flawless marble. But every other fiber of her being told her that Wanda was the best thing in her life. The best thing that has ever happen to her in her very long time on this Earth.

It was the deal with the devil or bust this time.

This was the situation they were forced into. To keep Wanda safe, to protect her weakness, Natasha had to do things she found distasteful. Even things that made Wanda unhappy. Because nothing that became of this entire situation would make anyone happy.

When the building exploded, debris narrowly missing her head, Natasha knew the tentative stand-off that had been established between Steve and Tony was over. Then when it was Bucky’s face on the TV Natasha knew all hell was about to break loose. Tits. Meet up. At least this time it wasn’t Wanda’s face on the TV being associated with a blown-up building. A shitty thought, but hey it was an honest one.

Berlin was a fucking fiasco. The worlds issue with the Avengers was collateral damage, both in property and people. And here was a Russian assassin, an American hero, and a guy dressed as a cat tearing their way through the city. Cars were demolished, police were brutalized, and people were injured- for what? Steve’s boyhood friend? Steve really needed to get honest with himself about what that relationship was. Because it didn’t exactly scream plutonic.

Natasha understood, probably more than most. The Winter Soldier was programmed to kill. His brains had been scooped out with a melon baller and something else was dumped back in. Natasha had gotten a second chance, and something tugged at her saying that Bucky deserved one too. But the price of his second seemed to stacking up pretty rapidly.

The Avengers were the first casualty in what was now becoming a civil war between Tony and Steve.

Natasha had agreed with Steve, right up until the moment it became the Bucky show. Suddenly it wasn’t about rights anymore. Their right to choose, or where they went as a team, or their right to operate out from under organizations with agendas. Suddenly it was Bucky. And only Bucky.If Wanda was her weakness then Steve’s boyhood friend was his. He was willing to drive them all into the ground for this man, and fuck if Natasha was about to let that happen. She loved Steve, she really did- but he wasn’t going to take her down with him.

Suddenly it wasn’t about collateral damage or legitimacy, but about one man and his right to a second chance. Steve had heart, he had loyalty, but they tended to blind him to everything. He didn’t calculate and plan like Natasha did for the inevitable shit shows. And dear god was it one shit show after the next right now.

Tony had pulled Steve into a conference room confident he could get the other man to sign. Natasha was pretty confident pens weren’t going to do the trick no matter who they had once belonged to and she was at the end of her rope with this pissing contest. She hadn’t spoken to Wanda in days and Tony kept coming up excuses out of his ass to keep her busy or nearby.

“Hey Sharon, can you watch Barnes for me for a bit, I’m gonna go get some coffee or something. And by something, I mean an entire bottle of vodka.”

“Sure,” the blonde nodded with a small smile as she took up Natasha’s post. “ Bring me back a cup of either."

As soon as she was around the corner Natasha pulled out her phone. Five missed calls from Wanda and a string of text messages. Shit. How had she let this happen? She’d been so caught up in this shit show she’d had no time for anything else.The last text message was what did it. The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Where did that phrase even come from…… could straw even break a camel’s back?

“Vision won’t let me leave.”

Natasha’s heart sank and the stone that had been in her gut since this whole thing started seemed to get heavier. She’d known this was coming- knew that Wanda was locked in a cage, but Wanda hadn’t known it. This entire time she thought she had some degree of freedom, but now she knew the truth. She was a prisoner and it was Natasha’s fault. The second she’d signed their names to the Accords she’d all but locked her in and thrown away the keys- how could Natasha even look her in the eye after this…... How could Wanda love the woman who made her a prisoner again?

She’d been wrong. So fucking wrong. Honestly it was rare that she was wrong, but she’d never been in this position before. Tied to another human being, her judgement clouded by love and panic. She’d been played and outmaneuvered by Stark, she’d even be embarrassed by that fact if she wasn’t so pissed.

It was time for a change in strategy, a drastic change.

It took some doing but Natasha found an empty conference room with a viewing panel far away from the control center where no one would see her or bother her. These days she didn’t have the same fear factor as the Winter Soldier, but she still had some of the same effect she used to. Apparently if you play hero for too long you lose some of that scare the shit out of people effect.With a few keystrokes she managed to pull up the camera in Stark and Roger’s conference room. Stark had kept her in the dark and twisted her good intentions long enough. She’d known, of course she’d known that he was pulling her strings- but she’d remained willfully blind to some degree. That was on her.Steve gently turning the fountain pen between his fingers.

“I’m not saying it’s impossible, but there would have to be safeguards.”

Oh Steve, always thinking people led with good intentions- never seeing snakes like Stark for what they truly were. Sometimes she envied that quality in him.“Sure, once we put out the PR fire’s. These documents they can be amended. I’d file a motion have you and Wanda reinstated.”

Stark took up a chair at the end of the conference table, looking at Steve as he spoke.

“Wanda what about Wanda?”

“She’s fine she’s confined to the compound currently, Visions keeping her company.”

Typical Tony Stark. Spinning the truth to fit his narrative. He’d always been a snake, he just hid it behind money, a charming smile and an asshole demeanor.

“Ah god Tony. Every time I think you see things the right way-“

“It’s a hundred acres with a lap pool, it’s got a screening room, there are worse ways to protect people.”

Protection. That’s what she thought she had been doing. Anything and everything to protect Wanda. But this kind of protection meant she’d be kept in a prison. Another one. For the rest of her life, while everyone feared and hated her.It would destroy Wanda eventually.

“Protection? Is that how you see this? It’s internment.”

“She’s not a US citizen and they don’t grant Visa's to weapons of mass destruction-“

“She’s a kid!”

“Gimmie a break! I’m doing what has to be done, to stave off something worse.”

“You keep telling yourself that.”

Tony had no intentions of fighting for Wanda. He just wanted to lock her away. Look like a hero and wipe his hands clean of this when all of this was his doing in the first place. Ultron, Sokovia, all of it because he couldn’t leave well enough alone. He had to go and play God.

Natasha had heard enough. Pushing her chair back hard enough put a small crack in the glass of the conference room door. Wide strides took her across the compound and back to the hub just as the two men were finishing their conversation, nearly plowing into Steve as she butted her way into the conference room to face Stark.

“Out Rogers”

Steve stood rooted to the spot for a second before putting the pen on the conference table and leaving. He knew better than to question a pissed of Natasha Romanoff. He was in enough deep shit as it was.

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

“Excuse me?” Stark looked genuinely confused.

“Wanda.”

“What about her?”

“She’s not allowed to leave.”

Tony sighed as he stood up, smoothing out the lines of his suit.

“Weapon of mass destruction Stark? Really?”

Stark’s face hardened for a second, “Once a spy always a spy, eh?”

Natasha kept her face impassive, trying to hide just how much she wanted to skin Stark and wear him as a coat. “Did you know that by the time I was 7 I knew how to torture a man in 10 different ways?” Natasha took a few steps closer, idly spinning a conference chair along the way, “By the time I was 15 I’d upped that number to 40. I’m proud to say I can get pretty creative. Do you know how easy it is to pull someone’s fingernails off? Highly effective too. See Tony- I think you’ve all forgotten, I wasn’t just a spy. I was the best assassin in the business. People hired me when all the A lister’s had failed. The Black Widow didn’t become a thing of nightmares and legend because she failed. I think you know me well enough by now to know I’ve been playing nice for a little while now. So, I guess the moral of this little story is- I am truly the last person in the world you want to fuck with. Natasha closed the gap between them, straightening his tie and smoothing out the lines of his suit.

“Tread lightly.”

To his credit Tony only flinched a little bit, managing to wipe the grimace off his face and replace it with his usual smug mask quicker than most.

“Why the sudden affection for the little WMD Romanoff? It’s not like she’s done you any favors since Wakanda.”

There it was. Classic Stark. Hiding behind a cavalier, know it all, façade when in reality he was probably shitting himself.

“Don’t play games with me Stark, I don’t have the patience for it. You know. You may not live at the compound but you know.”

“Know what? That you’re robbing the cradle and schtuping our resident problem child? I’ll admit you two make a pretty hot couple. Way better than you and Banner, that never really made sense to me.”

“You’re pushing your luck Tony. I’m working with you because I wanted to keep her safe, not keep her prisoner.”

“What is with you people and the ‘p’ word. She is at a compound where she’s free to do anything she likes!”

“Anything but leave.”Tony huffed a breath out of his nose, clearly frustrated.

“Look Natasha. It’s best she stays where she is. Trust me. You don’t want her going where Barnes is going. The compound is the happy alternative. No lap pools where he’s going.”

“And where is that Tony?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he waved her off, clearly done with the conversation. Like she was a dog and he had just given her a pat on the belly. Natasha narrowed her eyes. Tony was never going to show his hand and she was done trying to force it. Maybe it was time to take a peek into his system and find out for herself.

“Fine. But be very careful how you play this Stark. You’ll find the world can be a very small place when I’m angry with you.”

She would keep playing along if she had to. She was good at that. The best even. But it was time to start digging.

Before Natasha could open her mouth again the compound fell dark, red lights flashing in the background. What in the actual fuck was going on now? Why was it one shit storm to the next. At this point she would do anything for a shit sandwich and not a storm.

A junior agent poked his head into the conference room, “Um sir?”

“What!?” Stark was losing composure.The agent tugged at the collar of his suit, hoping this wouldn’t signal the end of his career. “It’s Barnes sir. He’s loose.”

Both of them were past the agent faster than the poor guy could move.“Please tell me you brought a suit.” Their argument could wait. Shit was about to go even farther sideways. Barnes could not make it out of the compound.

“Sure did, it’s a lovely three-piece Tom Ford, I’m an active duty non-combatant.” Natasha shook her head. As if Tony could get even more useless.Sharon ran full speed past them, “follow me.”

They came up with a plan on the fly. It was a shit plan honestly. 1/3 of an Iron Man suit, if even. One non-powered individual, and one semi kinda maybe dunno whatever the fuck powered individual against a Russian assassin with a highly powered metal arm and alphabet soup for brains. Yeah this was going to go great.

Stark didn’t last long. The sonic blast and light burst was the best he had going for him. One on one without the suit and he’s lucky he was still alive. Her and Sharon tried to work together, but as Natasha ran at full speed, slamming her knee into Bucky’s chest it was clear that they weren’t going to make a dent. The man had barely moved, shaking off the attacks like they were nothing. To him they were basically just annoying little gnats and it was clear by the look on his face no one was home anymore.

Sharon went down first. a table splintering beneath her as she hit the floor with a hard thud. Good old’ Shield training, so sub- par. Not one to hesitate, Natasha used Bucky’s weight as leverage to climb up his body wrapping her legs around his neck.Bucky didn’t even flinch as she drove her elbow into the top of his head three times; using sheer brute strength to flip Natasha and slam her onto a table.

Bucky’s cybernetic hand went straight to the task of trying to crush her throat as Natasha desperately scrambled to try and get her boot into any part of his body- she need to get away, it wasn’t her time, it couldn’t be. It’s taken her nearly 100 years, but she’d finally found her place in the world and now she was about to lose it. Natasha tried to reposition the sole of one of her boots beneath Bucky’s throat but she couldn’t find purchase- nothing was working. Jesus fuck nothing was working.

“Do you at least recognize me?” His grip wavered at the question, eyes moving over Natasha’s face in confusion. He knew her. He did. Natasha saw it, if only for a second.She’d never told Steve, or even Wanda. The Soviet slug through her abdomen wasn’t the first time she’d met the Winter Soldier. There was a period of time, god knows how many years ago, when the Winter Soldier had trained her during her time in the Red Room. One day he had just disappeared. When they met again in Iran Natasha could see it in his eyes. He didn’t recognize her. Didn’t know her, they’d scrambled him one too many times by that point. For her to ask now was a last-ditch effort to keep herself alive. She hadn’t expected him to waver. Then the recognition was gone. Gone as fast as it had appeared and the grip on her throat re-tightened. Natasha shoved her boot upwards, pressing against Bucky’s windpipe, but as the edges of her vision began to darken it was quickly becoming apparent this was one fight she wasn’t going to win.

Natasha could feel the small bones and muscles of her neck strain against the metal hand, trying desperately not to collapse under the pressure. She barely registered the lessening weight. The freedom to breathe again as she choked and sputtered, breath short and raspy.

Bucky was gone. So were Steve and Sam. Tony was in medical licking his wounds with Sharon who was getting checked out for damages. Natasha had refused to go to get checked out. She’d never gone before and she wasn’t about to start now. She’d always taken care of herself. The bruising around her throat had already started to fade. There was something to be said for an advanced healing factor- even a botched one. How no one had ever noticed she healed quicker than average was a mystery, she just kinda chalked it up to human stupidity.

With Stark was otherwise occupied Natasha decided it was time to start digging. He had said something about a prison and then gotten all cold and silent. She had agreed to this war, or whatever it was. But she hadn’t agreed to putting her friends in prison- left there to rot as the world faced threats only the Avengers could handle. Maybe it was foolish. Actually, she was sure it was, but Natasha had truly thought Steve and Tony could come to some sort of an agreement that would keep them all together. She’d never thought it would get this far.“Staying together is more important than how we stay together.” She’d said it to Steve at the funeral, and she had meant it. The world needed the Avengers, all of them. But they really were dragging this shit out.

It had taken some effort but she’d manage to raise Coulson. He had been laying low, hoping the Accords would blow over. The document had a wide scope, and they applied to his little rag tag band of Inhuman's as well.

Coulson’s came up on the viewer, a frown on his face.

“Frowns will give you wrinkles Coulson. You don’t want to come back from the dead and then age prematurely.”

The man’s expression lightened a bit.

“You’re lucky I have Daisy scrambling our signal, or else I wouldn’t even be taking this call Agent Romanoff.”

Daisy. That was the one. She needed Daisy’s help. Before the woman was an Inhuman with the power to move mountains, she had been a hacker. One of the best.

“I need your help Coulson.”

“You signed Natasha. I can’t really offer anything up.”

“Phil.” Natasha sighed, letting her shoulders sag slightly. “I made a mistake.”

“A mistake?” Coulson paused for a second before slouching in his chair. He hadn’t expected this.

“They were going to extradite Wanda.”

Coulson had heard rumors. Rumors of the assassin’s heart softening. He had known Natasha since she was brought to S.H.I.E.L.D by Barton and even he had to admit, it was surprising. He’d never known Natasha to have much of a soft side beyond the sarcasm that she used as a defense mechanism to keep almost everyone at arm’s lengthCoulson sighed again, “What’s going on Nat?”

“I need to borrow Daisy.”

“No.” His tone was clipped and left no room for discussion.

“Not for her abilities. I need her hacking skills to get into Stark’s system. I’m good, but I’m not Stark good. He’s keeping things from me, from all of us.”

Phil leaned off screen for a second, holding up his index finger to indicate that he needed a minute. Natasha thought she heard a woman’s voice in the background and it wasn’t May.

After a few seconds a slim woman with short brown hair walked into frame of the screen.

“Hey.” She waved to Natasha. “I’m Daisy. Big fan.” Natasha laughed a little. The first thing she’d had that was anything close to mirth in weeks. “How can I help?”

“I need into Stark’s system. He mentioned something about a prison for people who don’t sign the Accords, and I think we can both agree that’s bad for everyone. Including the Inhumans.”

Daisy crossed her arms, hugging her tablet to her chest. “We’re trying to steer clear of this as best we can.”

“Then help me, please. I’m trying to shut this down before it gets even more out of control……”

Daisy seemed to think about it for a second before nodding. “Give me an hour.”

An hour. At this point Natasha would take anything she could get. True to her word Daisy got in contact with Natasha an hour later.

“So. This info is bad news bears.”

Natasha frowned in response.

“That means it’s really really bad news.”

Natasha held her hand up to silence the brunette, “I know what bad news bears means Daisy.” The brunette promptly shut her mouth, an almost frightened look on her face. This was, after all, still the Black Widow she was dealing with.Natasha sighed again. How many times had she sighed today? “I’m sorry Daisy. The situation here is a huge mess.”

The Inhuman smiled, shaking her head. “It’s okay. So- here” She tapped a few buttons on her tablet, sending Natasha the information she’d dug up.“Okay….what am I looking at here?”

“It’s called ‘the Raft’. From what I can tell it’s a super max prison made for powered people and whoever else doesn’t sign submerged in the middle of the ocean.” Natasha resisted the urge to drop her head into her hands. Who the fuck comes up with a prison in the middle of the ocean. “There’s more…” Daisy looked like she very much did not want to spit out the rest of it, worrying the bottom of her lip with her teeth.“Out with is Agent Johnson.”

“Some of the cells are designed with specific abilities in mind. There’s one for me that is built to absorb my shockwaves. There’s one for Yo Yo designed for her speed. And…” Daisy chewed at her bottom lip again, hesitating before receiving the death glare from Natasha.

“There’s one built specifically for Wanda Maximoff.”Daisy watched as the muscles of Natasha’s jaw clenched and unclenched, hesitant to go on.“An enhanced straight jacket and a power dampening collar has been made to her specifications. And the cell itself is designed to dampen any telekinetic abilities, with reinforced glass to prevent mind control and any sort of energy transfer. Some of these specs are beyond me. I think Stark has figured in for every eventually and everything he knows about Wanda. He has detailed analysis of the abilities she’s presented and counter measures. He’s been monitoring her since the moment you guys met her and then has been keeping tabs on her energy output at the complex.”

Natasha’s lips were drawn in a thin line, the muscles of her jaw working overtime. “Can you pin down a location?”

“That’s gonna take some time….I’ll let you know when I do.” Daisy gave Natasha a weak smile.

“Thank you Daisy. Tell Coulson the same for me?”The brunette nodded before Natasha severed the line of communication. She was going to kill him. She should fucking kill him. But at this point Natasha weighed her options. She could play her hand, or she could be smart about this and do what she was best at. She could stay right where she was and play him like the fool he was, placate him with a pretty face just like she had when they’d first met.

Pulling her phone from her pocket as she exited the building, no doubt Stark had the building bugged, Natasha’s finger hovered over the dial button. Was it really fair to pull Clint into this because she’d fucked up? No. It wasn’t. But she needed help and of all the people in the world, aside from Wanda, Clint was the only person she could trust.

Natasha couldn’t help the feeling of guilt that sank into her gut as she hit the head dial button. She might have sided with Tony, but Clint hadn’t. But the idiot would pick her call up no matter what- hell or high water. Laura was going to kill her.

The line picked up after a few rings. Clint was no doubt wrangling one of the kids. That’s what made this call even worse

“Nat?”

“I fucked up Clint.”

“Yeah. I was waiting for you to figure that one out all on your own.” Natasha pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index finger.

“He’s got a prison built. Cells made for all of us. A cell for Wanda. A goddamn dog collar with her name on it….”Natasha could hear Clint sigh on the other end of the phone, “well that’s a new low. Even for Tony.”

“I have to get her out of the compound. Stark has Vision keeping Wanda there.”

“Where are we going with this Nat?”

“Something big is coming Clint. Shit has gone way beyond sideways. I need you to get her to Steve.”

“And where are you going to be in all of this?”

“Right where I’m at. Stark still somewhat trusts me. Or at least still has use of me. We need to use that to our advantage.” Natasha could hear Lila giggle in the background. As if she didn’t feel like a horrible person already.

“You know we’re supposed to go water skiing Nat.”

“I know, I’m sorry. I didn’t know who else to call.”

“Me Nat. You always call me. Laura won’t be happy, but she’ll understand, and the kids will be fine. Fury set up contingencies, places they could go in the case of an emergency.”

“So any ideas on how to overpower an AI that can lift Thor’s hammer and phase through solid matter?” Natasha let out a laugh. It felt good to laugh again. “I have a few gadgets I’ve stolen from StarkTech that might help. I’ll leave them at that safe house in Burbank.”

“And what are you going to do once I get her to Steve?” Natasha took in a deep breath, squaring her shoulders. “Yeah, I’ll tell you once I’ve figured it out. Coulson might be able to lend me a hand, a show of force-maybe.”

“When did we get so out of our depth Nat?”

“Such a good question. I’m pretty sure it was when god’s and monsters started knocking at our door and all we had were guns and bow and arrows.”

“Alright,” Natasha could hear clattering in the background as Clint grabbed his bow and started to throw essentials into a duffle bag. “I’m gonna talk to Fury on the way, move Laura and the kids. I’ll head out in a next three hours for Burbank, then I’ll let you know when I snag Wanda. Provided Vision doesn’t knock my head off.”

“Clint. You know there aren’t enough thank you’s.”

“Nat, you’re the godmother to my kids. The reason I’ve come home safe to my family time and time again. You’re family Nat, which means she’s family. Now let’s go and get the rest of our family. I’ll get her. I’ll make it happen.”

“Tell Laura I’m sorry.”

“She’ll understand. Now go be a spy Romanoff. I’m gonna go be a human punching bag.”

The line went dead a second later, they both had a lot to do, and Natasha had a lot of apologies to make. Laura, Clint, the kids- but most of all Wanda. If they got out of this Natasha was going to spend the rest of their lives making this up to her.

Natasha’s thumb hovered over the send button before tapping it, wishing she could say more- do more. But for now, this would have to be enough, enough to let Wanda know she loved her and would never abandon her.

“Help’s on the way little witch. I love you.”