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“Red?” It’s Tony’s voice.

“Tony!” Natasha cries and she leaps into his arms.

He catches her and laughs.

“What are you doing here?” She asks looking around, she’s back atop the sand dunes of the stone.

“Just came to pay a visit.” He smiles.

“Visit?” Natasha’s face falls.

“Sure. I was just with my mom, dad, Jarvis, Coulson, hell I even saw Loki.” Tony explained.

“Peter? Do you have him?” Natasha asked frantic.

Over the years the two grew close. Following the sudden death of his aunt he killed the man responsible, which went against the accords. Long story short, the teen lived out his days with Natasha until Tony managed to strike a deal to safely get him back to school and normal life. Stark even became his legal guardian.

“No I don’t.” Is all Tony says, but he doesn’t seem sad.

“I don’t understand.” Natasha said scrunching her brows.

“It’s okay. You will.” Stark offers.

Tony plants a kiss on her hair as he begins to walk away.

“Wait!” She yells.

He turns.

“Where are you going?” She asks.

“I’ll see you again. Wake up Nat.” Is all he says.

..........

Steve managed to get some rest after Wanda insisted he eat some soup before the sun went down. He doesn’t even remember drifting off, unsure how long he’s been out for...

The room is pitch black when Steve hears the gasp. Sitting up, he finds Natasha clutching her chest desperately.

“Nat.” He says in disbelief.

She heaves a bit, and the soldier rubs circles on her back. Once catching her breath she cries. Without reluctance, he pulls her in close, and absently strokes her red tipped blonde hair.

“Hey you’re okay. It’s over.” He silences her with a soft kiss on her crown.

“Did we win?” She says voice breaking.

“Yeah Nat we did, and it’s all thanks to you.” Steve assures brushing back her hair as he wipes her tears.

Her small shaky hands reach out to grasp his face, making sure this was real.

“Thanks to me?” She says pushing for elaboration.

“You and Tony actually. A pair of self sacrificing idiots.” Steve says a bit sad.

Natasha frowns as more tears leave her eyes.

“Tony?” She croaked.

“It was the only way, he knew that. We all knew that.” Steve responded.

Natasha nodded, but her tears didn’t stop. Carefully pushing her back into the pillows he clings onto her, and she to him, as he lulls her to sleep.

The minute her lids block out the world around her, she feels like she’s falling off the cliff all over again.

Her fear kicks in and her eyes snapped open with a harsh gasp.

A pair of strong arms encircle her waist. She escapes the embrace and sits up to check her surroundings again. Still in disbelief she’s here.

“Nat?” Steve’s soft, sleep filled voice sounds.

He must’ve of managed to doze off while she was attempting the same.

“You alright?” He continues, propping up ok his elbows.

“Just... weird.” Is all she manages, too drained to get into it.

“Come lay back down. I missed you.” He says, and Natasha knows had he not been that sleepy he wouldn’t have had the courage to be so bold. Probably press her to talk, so she complies instead of pushing it.

The redhead climbs in next to him and he pulls her flush against his side.

“I missed you too.” She says her eyes welling with tears.

He squeezes her tighter and she sniffs the scent of his cologne, something she missed so much.

.........

The pair manages to fall back asleep. This time Natasha’s sleep was hollow and empty, not like the last time. When she wakes this time her eyes flutter open to Steve shaking her lightly.

“Hey, there’s some people here who wanna see you.” He says offering a gentle smile.

Her lips tug, and she gets up from the bed, not bothering to change, she starts down the steps. Before she reaches the bottom she stops and Steve hears in the heavy breath she takes. Placing a soft hand on the small of her back and offering an encouraging smile, she continues.

Her eyes light up when she sees the group. All the guardians manage to make it, Wakanda’s finest, and familiar faces from around the compound, not to mention Morgan and Pepper made the trip along with the Barton clan. Her eyes find the teenage boys in an instant. His brown orbs sparkling in disbelief.

Before Nat could even speak, she gets a splitting pain in her head and falls to her knees with a scream.

“Mr.Stark,”

“I don’t feel so good.”

The voice she recognizes as Peters sounds in her head as images of him turning to dust appear in her mind. However the dust blows with the wind and her eyes follow it. There the particles assemble together again and she watches as the boy wakes up with a sharp intake of air. Suddenly, they’re on the streets of New York, and it’s pouring.

“Mr Stark!” He calls.

He runs around the pavement looking for Tony to find nothing. Instead Natasha watches as a car come crashing from nowhere and the boy screams, as does Natasha.

Her eyes snap open again and the entire group stares in fear. Steve’s at her side helping her to her feet.

“Nat, what’s wrong? Are you okay?” He asks concerned, his hands atop her shoulders.

She shakes her head back to reality.

“Sorry, I just. This is new to me. I’m okay now I promise.” She says the last part turning to the group.

Relieved the group smiles back. Peter speaks first.

“Welcome home.” His voice breaks as he absently sheds tears.

Then he’s running, and she’s doing the same. She catches the youngest avenger in her arms as he sobs into her shoulder, and the spy informs she’s real.

After the emotional reunion, Clint chirps from his spit behind the counter.

“You’re so damn stubborn.” He smiles, as he steps forward and hugs her, tears mingle with the embrace.

Following the hug from Clint it triggered a series of events, the Barton children’s caroling Natasha. Everyone was grateful to have her back, hell even Nebula gave her a hug with a small smile.

As Natasha conversed with everyone she had missed, no dry eyes in the house, Clint made his way to Steve.

“Please tell me you told her.” Clint asks sipping lemonade.

“Uh,” Steve stutters.

“God man, literal death and you can’t grow a pair. You’re hopeless.” The archer says annoyed.

I mean in his own head he’d like to think it’s a secret. One he only shared with Sam and Bucky, but everyone has always been so god damn nosy when it comes to them, he shouldn’t be surprised. Not that Barton dropping any comments is surprising, he probably realized it before Steve.

However, when Rocket came prodding around Wakanda following the fight he kept asking Steve where he could find his wife. The comment threw him off, and he gave the raccoon a quizzical look.
Rocket just replied: “Okay how hard did you get hit. Your wife. The blonde.”
This was after being in each others presence with the creature, for maybe three days, maybe.

Sighing he watched Clint walk away and tell something to Wanda that made her chuckle low, as Nate gathered at his fathers feet. Smiling at the normalcy of the scene, his eyes wander the room to find Natasha. He finds her outside on the porch, alone. Concerned, he goes to her.

The slide of the glass door makes her jump.

“Sorry.” Steve apologizes as her scared eyes snap to his own.

She shakes her head and smiles sadly.

“Now what are you doing out here? Everyone’s in there for you.” He points out softly.

“I’ve been figuring out for the last ten minutes what to say to Pepper. How to explain to her why I’m here and Tony’s not without her resenting me. They have a kid Steve, a damn child.” Natasha says almost frustrated.

Steve heart breaks at her words. Just because Tony had those things doesn’t mean she deserved it more than him. It didn’t mean that she shouldn’t be alive.

“You have a family too.” Is all he can manage in that moment.

She lets out a breath and her shoulders relax a little.

“I know... it’s just, this is a lot.” Nat admits unable to come up with words to explain it.

“I’m here. We’re all here.” He offers a smile.

She bows her head sadly and fiddles with the dog tags. The spy hears Steve’s feet shuffling and she slowly turns. He’s extending a hand to her and a smile is on his lips.

“Come on. We’re going to talk to Pepper.”

Natasha shyly grabs his hand and can’t help but let her cheeks burn at the use of the word ‘we’.

A few tears from both Pepper and Nat, as well as several sloppy kisses from Morgan, she found herself at peace. Pepper wasn’t in the slightest upset at Natasha’s unexpected return and claimed that if Tony were still around this is exactly how he would’ve wanted things, both Nat and Steve nodded as this, before vacating to get some food.

Somewhere in the shuffle Sam, Wanda, and Bucky managed to push a few tables together and gather chairs around it. Some feasted at it, while others gathered at the porch, or couch. It was calming, almost normal. When Natasha’s appetite was seemingly small so all she did was munch on some bread before getting up to clear her plate. She reached the trash can and bent over to open the cabinet, struggling to juggle her drink and plate. A voice came from behind her.

“Here let me.” It was Bucky as he went to grab the plate.

At this their hands brushed and Natasha heard the ringing in her ears again. She jumped back and cupped them with her hands trying to suppress a scream. Before she knew it, her mind was flashing with memories that weren’t her own.

“Steve?” It was the soldiers voice and the scenery was one of a Wakandan landscape.

In an instance the gun in his hand dropped with a loud clunk, and his knees were buckling. But he never hit the dirt, instead of disintegrating into dust. But seconds later, the dust was piling back together to take shape of his body. Natasha blinked in disbelief, and when she opened her eyes she was in a cold basement. Bucky strapped to a chair nearby.

 

Longing.

Rusted.

Seventeen.

Daybreak.

Furnace.

Nine.

Benign.

Homecoming.

One.

Freight Car.

Each word whispered by a raspy voice in Russian.

Bucky looked like he as struggling but when the tenth word left the man's lips, his blue eyes darkened.

“Ready to comply?” The man nearby asked.

Bucky remained stoic and nodded.

“First mission, kill Captain America.”

Natasha’s breath hitched. As the hinges around his wrists became undone.

“As you wish.” The winter soldier stood cocking a gun on a nearby table and walking out the door.

Next she felt someone tug on her and the next time she opened her eyes she was on the floor curled into a ball as everyone circled her.

“Natasha!” Steve’s voice was the one to draw her back.

Releasing her hands from the spot on her head, she sat up. Her eyes finding Steve’s and next shifting to Bucky’s who looked guilty and concerned.

“What happened?” It’s as Peter who came running in, and squatted next to her.

“I’m fine.” Natasha groaned.

“Passing out is not fine.” Clint retorts as he and Steve help her to her feet.

She rolled her eyes at the archer and did her best to remained balance. Her weight shifted and she landed in Steve’s arms.

“I’m just really tired.” She explains.

“I’ll take you upstairs.” Peter offers as Steve hesitantly passes her to Peter and he wraps an arm around her waist.

“Let me say bye to Pepper and Morgan first.” Natasha mumbles,

Pepper told her she had to leave tonight because Happy and Rhodey were going over to help her clean stuff out, while everyone else was saying.

Peter escorts her over where she shoos him off gently and crouches to Morgan’s level.

“Bye kiddo, be good for your mom.” Natasha whispers as the little girl pulls her into a hug.

Morgan pulls away and her chocolate brown eyes meet Natasha’s green ones.

“My daddy talked about you a lot.” She says almost shy as she twirls Natasha’s hair in her hands.

“He loves you three thousand, maybe even more.” She whispers so it’s only for them to hear.

“I love your dad very much too.” She responds getting choked up.

“I hope to see you again.” Morgan says with glittering eyes.

Natasha nods.

“You bet.” She smiles, and plants a kiss atop her head.

Standing up, Natasha hugs Pepper.

“Don’t be a stranger. You are my kids god mother.” She laughs into Natasha’s shoulder.

“I won’t. Have a safe trip Pep.” Nat says pulling away.

“I’ll see you.” Pepper offers before scooping up Morgan and heading to the door.

“Bye uncle Pete!” The little girl shouts with a smile.

Peter waves as his teeth sparkle to the young Stark.

“That’s sweet.” Natasha slurs, as she loses her footing.

“Come on. If I let you fall over Mr.Rogers will kill me.” Peter says seriously as his hand finds its way around her hips as he supports her up the steps.

When they reach the top Peter sets her on the bed and throws the covers to her shoulders.

“Rest Nat.” Peter instructs as he walks back to the steps.

“Peter.” She says voice groggy as she reaches for his hand.

When it makes contact she gets flashes again. This time it’s Peter dirt and grime covering his face and he’s walking over to someone, Natasha is pretty sure it’s Bucky, but the image fades when his voice breaks through the air.

“Yeah?”

“Where have you been staying?” She asks concerned.

He shrugs.

“Here and there. I was with Pepper and Morgan after the service for a night. Then Lang took me to Barton’s.” Peter explained as if were nothing.

“But I need to find you some-“ Natasha begins.

“Shh.” He cuts her off abruptly.

“Rest now. Worry later.” The teen says.

“That’s my line.” Natasha barely mumbles before her eyes shut and the world goes dark.