It’s dark out, and the town is so small that they haven’t bothered to keep the street lamps on at this hour, but Natasha can still see the reluctance in the good Captain’s eyes. She smirks at him, he shifts his feet uncomfortably, and she continues picking the lock (more by feel than by sight, since the moonlight is not affording her much in their shadows).
“Nat, I dunno if-” The lock clicks, she rolls her eyes.
“Shut up, Rogers. You’re the one who said you were hungry.”
“Yeah, but I coulda waited ‘til…” He drifts off, because she’s already dragged him into the diner, shrouded in darkness. Steve bumps into the little booth that the hostess stands at because he’s damn clumsy when he’s not fighting the forces of evil.
The alarm for the place beeps once, twice, three times, and then several more in rapid succession. Steve jumps. Natasha strolls over calmly and disables it with some form of trickery or another.
When she brushes by him again, somehow his hand ends up wrapped in her much smaller one, and she leads him into the kitchen.
It’s small, with outdated industrial machines coated in a layer of grease. He stands in between the metal counter and the fry baskets, where she’d deserted him to open a walk-in freezer.
“We need something quick… Do you want chicken tenders, or fish sticks?” He glances around nervously, like someone is bound to expose themselves at the sounds of her reverberating voice. Why is she being so loud? They’re so going to get caught, and this will be a pain in the ass to explain…
“Nat, I think we should…”
“So, both, then?” She walks out, arms ladened with frozen food packages. “And fries too? I’m making fries.”
He makes a noise. What for, he doesn’t really know. But, he can see a lone eyebrow arch on Nat’s face by the light of her cellphone. Her eyes roll.
“Chill out, Rogers. If anybody comes, I’ll have us out of here in no time.” She says, and he believes her because of the confidence lacing her tone, and because he knows that sneaking out of the diner they broke into is probably – most definitely – within her skillset.
“I just really don’t want to end up on Copperhill, Tennessee’s Just Busted paper.” He mumbles, leaning against the counter in defeat as she flips the fryers on. She scoffs.
“Please, Rogers… You’d at least end up on the NY Times. Don’t sell yourself short.” He laughs quietly despite himself. She smiles back – the real genuine smile that makes his chest clench it’s so beautiful.
They’re quite until the oil has heated up, Steve admiring the gentle, casual way Natasha moves, dumping mundane foods into mundane oil. He thinks this is the way he prefers her… Not the Black Widow, fighting or charming a target, but just normal Nat.
He vaguely wonders, in between thoughts of her, if the foods should’ve thawed first. He means to ask, but she’s leaning into his side and holding her own tightly. He frowns.
“Hey. Let me see.” He says, pulling away gently and moving her hands. He, of course, can’t see through the suit. He looks at her expectantly. She sighs.
“Trying to get me undressed, Captain?” She says, deadpan, and he shrugs, unconcerned.
“Nothing I haven’t seen before.” Natasha pulls down the zipper, smirks at him. When he realizes what he’s implied, his ears turn a shade of red that he’s glad she can’t see in the dim light. “I just meant that… Missions, ya know… We get dressed and undressed and…”
“I know, Steve.” She says, voice laced with a laugh. He nods, shrugs one shoulder deeply, and scans over her with the flashlight pulled from his utility belt. There are a fair amount of bumps and bruises and cuts, par-for the course really, and he’s initially unable to find a significant source of pain until he turns her.
There’s an angry purple bruise covering her from her ribs to lower back, almost black it’s so dark. He runs his fingers over it and her muscles tense under his graze.
“Are your ribs broken?” He asks, incredulous. Why were they here, and why hadn’t she said anything?
“Probably.” She pauses for a beat, shrugs, raising her eyebrows again. “Are yours?”
He follows her gaze to his own chest. There’s a gash in his suit, and there’s a bit of blood still seeping from the probably too-deep cut below it. And, okay, maybe a spot high on his right side is throbbing just enough to irritate him.
“Maybe.” He deems. “I’ve had worse.”
“Me too.” She replies. He wonders for a second what turn of events in their lives enabled them to say they’ve had worse so easily.
“Food’s ready.” Natasha’s pulling too-hot fish sticks and chicken tenders out of a fry basket, surely adding fingertip burns to the list of injuries she’s already sporting. She dumps the fries onto another plate.
“Thanks, Nat.” Steve mumbles, settling in a stool across the counter from her. They fall into silence as they eat, punctuated only by Natasha’s soft humming. It isn’t a song Steve’s heard before, which is curious because Natasha enjoys playing her music for him. He knits his eyebrows together, listening, and he thinks it sounds like a crooning-type of song, maybe.
As if having read his mind, Nat smiles and says, “It’s one of Clint’s. George Jones.”
Steve nods thoughtfully, even though he’s never heard of George Jones, and for reasons beyond him, he pushes his plate away. “Dance with me?”
He doesn’t know why he asks, and it strikes him odd that the wayward thought even escaped his lips, but to Natasha’s credit, she doesn’t seem perturbed. Maybe it’s because she knows the significance of it, or maybe it’s just because dancing sounds just as good to her as it does to him, but either way she stands and leads him to an open space of floor.
They end up just swaying to her humming, because Steve can’t do much else. He thinks Natasha could probably do much more impressive things, but she doesn’t complain, instead settling against his warm body and laying her head over his chest. It’s lovely, and he only wishes he could see her more, but it’s still too dark for that, so he settles for this for the time being, and doesn’t complain either.
The sun begins to rise what feels like only minutes later to Steve, and they’re still swaying minutely to a tune Natasha’s long forgotten to continue humming. Their half-eaten food has gone cold.
“We should probably go.” He’s surprised that he’s the one that has to say it. She pulls away from him, and he immediately misses it.
“If we want to stay off the Times, yes.” And then, “Do you have money to leave?”
He shakes his head. “Do you?”
She looks unimpressed by his question, says, “Please, Rogers… In this suit?”
“I don’t think you should be able to hide the amount of weapons you have on your either.” He looks at their forgotten meal. “Should we leave a note?”
“Sure.” She says, like she couldn’t be bothered either way. He pulls an order taking pad that had been left on the counter behind them, offering it to her with a pen. He only sees what she’s written after she’s left it next to the soiled plates.
We needed a late-night snack and a dance after fighting the forces of evil. Sorry for the inconvenience. -Steve and Nat
“We’ll have Phil send some money as soon as he gets over the fact that we broke in.” Natasha says, and Steve nods.
“Should we leave our names, though?” He tilts his head at her neat writing. Nat shrugs.
“No one will believe them, even if they make the connection. We’re Black Widow and Captain America to them, after all, not Nat and Steve.” Steve assumes her correct, if only because he likes the way Nat and Steve sounds rolling off her lips, and glances out the windows. A graying man in flannel and over-worn jeans is fumbling with his crowded key ring, approaching the diner doors. Nat whispers, “Let’s get out of here.”
The back door shuts behind them just in time for the front one to open, and they slip into their admittedly beaten up car. And Steve can’t even bring himself to worry about the sliver of red, white, and blue Kevlar and auburn hair that the diner owner caught on his way out, because Natasha’s smiling fondly at him from behind the wheel.
“We should dance in diners more often.” He smiles back at her.
“Yes, we should.”