Her eyes flutter open slowly, but as she sits up she realizes she not in bed. Instead she’s back in the shallow pond.
So it all was a dream.
“Natasha.” The familiar voice called again.
She rubbed her eyes with her palms as the blurred body of Tony Stark came into view.
“Tony?” She breathed looking at him.
He extended a hand to her and she grasped it as he pulled her up.
“Am I still dead?” She asks confused.
“No. Everything from the past twenty four hours is very real.” Stark assures.
“Then how are you here? How am I talking to you?” Natasha questions.
“That’s not important right now, let’s talk about the kid.” Tony begins, and honestly if he hadn’t averted to that topic she probably would’ve argued and asked more about how the hell she was with him.
“He’s back.” She clarified.
“Please I know. He had to watch me die.” Tony says sadly, like that was the worst part.
Natasha’s mouth falls agape, Peters been through hell and back that’s exactly the last thing he needed.
“There’s something I meant to give you, five years ago.” He begins to speak before she can.
“I never got the chance. I told myself when this was all over and we got him back I would, but here we are.” Iron man explains.
“Well what was it?” Nat asks curious.
“Call Pepper for me. Tell her I had some papers for you in the top left drawer of my desk. She doesn’t go in there as is, so I bet it’s untouched.” Tony tells her, his voice breaking slightly over his wife’s name.
“But what is it?” She presses for answers.
“Later. Wake up Red.” He smiles softly.
“Hey you’re awake.” The voice says.
She rubs her eyes to rid clear her sight. The redhead can’t help but smile at the sight of blonde.
“What are you doing up here?” She asks, but not complaining.
The spy plants her palms on the mattress as she pushes herself to sit upright against the headboard.
“The Captain insisted I supervise while he and the Witch went to gather you some belongings.” Thor explained.
“Belongings?” She echoed.
“The avengers base was wrecked during the battle. My apologies Natasha, I fear your possessions are gone.” The god tells her sadly.
“It’s okay Thor, I’ve got everything I need.” She smiles placing a hand atop his larger one.
She knows all the important things she needs are locked away in her apartment and other corners of the world. All the material things anyways. She wasn’t trying to be cheesy but being with her family again was enough.
“He never gave up Natasha. None of us did.” Thor tells her, and she knows that the ‘he’ is Steve.
Her green eyes just stare at the now larger blonde, almost prying for him to go on.
“Barton told us that whatever being inhabited Vormir said it could not be reversed, and Banner attempted to return you in the snap.” He began.
“As usual with all the odds against you, you’ve managed to return.” He smiles.
She does the same. The door sounds downstairs, and Thor sighs and stands from his chair. Natasha pushes back the covers to do the same, but he stops her.
“I’ll inform Steve you’re awake.” He assures.
She looks at him quizzically, not understanding why she can’t follow.
“He’ll he angry if I let you get up without his supervision. He can wield the hammer now, might hit me with it.” Thor joked as he started to climb the steps.
Natasha chuckled. She knew she could join him down the stairs, but decided not to, she had a phone call to make.
Her hand found the device as it punched in the number. On the fourth ring she picked up.
“Natasha. I didn’t expect to hear from you so soon.” And Nat can practically hear the smile through the phone.
“I actually had a question.” The spy began nervously.
“Shoot.” Pepper responded.
“Tony, he said he had some papers or something to give me, but he never got the chance.” She gulped at the last part.
“Sure.” The strawberry blonde replied.
Natasha opened her mouth to explain where she believed its location to be, since Tony, whatever form he was in, told her so. But Pepper beat her to it.
“I bet he kept it in the top left drawer of his desk. He puts all that type of stuff in there. But I never bother even trying to clean it, and I’m not starting now.” She chuckles.
Natasha laughs too, but for an entirely different reason. At the fact of how well both she and Tony know one another. It’s endearing, and something Natasha wishes for. But as she hears Pepped shuffle through the phone she remembers that Steve keeps all his military documents in his sock drawer, oh...
“Ah ha!” Pepped cheers in celebration.
“There is a large manila folder with your name on it. I’m going into town later for dinner with Rhodey and Morgan, I can send it out. What’s your address?” She asks.
Natasha settles on giving her the nearest post office, and Pepper explains whatever it is, Nat will have it within three to five business days. They bid their goodbyes, and just in time Sam is at the top of the steps, luggage in tow.
“How do you feel?” He asks placing the bags down.
“Can I get up? Rumor is I need Steve’s permission.” She says sarcastically, and Sam knows she’s joking because she’s on her feet in no time.
“So he’s a little over protective, can you blame the guy?” Sam shrugs with a grin.
Natasha’s face contorts in mock confusion.
“Please I’ve had my share of brushes with death before I knew Steve and I survived.” She points out, slipping on some socks.
“Yeah but this time you didn’t.” He says seriously.
Natasha freezes at the sudden tone shift.
“Okay genius. I recall you dying too.” The redhead argues.
“Come on. You knew I was coming back. There was no way you Steve and your self sacrificing ways weren’t gonna bring me back.” he pauses, “When you went, we all thought it was it.”
The words make Natasha cringe, deep down she knows he’s right.
“And you’d also think dying would be a big enough push to tell Steve how you feel. You two are morons.” He finishes.
Natasha groans annoyed.
“I didn’t know this was resurrect and ridicule Natasha. Last time I checked I’m fifty percent why you’re here right now.” She growls.
Sam chuckles as she brushes past him to the steps. On the contact Natasha hears the dog whistle like sound and falls to her knees.
She sees Sam struggling in some foliage. He turns to dust like the others as she spots a frantic Rhodey just yards away.
“Sam! Sam where you at?” He calls out.
Natasha watches as the specks rebuild themselves and Sam is brought back.
“I’m here man! I’m here!” Sam pushes himself up to go to War Machine, but he’s too late.
Rhodes turns to dust like the others.
Okay, what? Natasha thinks.
Sure the last five years were a blurb at best but she knows for a fact that James Rhodes did not succumb to Thanos’ decimation.
Sam is running to the pile on the dirt and trips. Before Natasha can watch him hit the ground she closes her eyes and hears a thump. But when she opens them again, she’s atop a sandy dune. She notices Sam nearby struggling to stand.
Then she spots it. The small detonator flashing red inches next to Sam's body. So she tries something, something she hadn’t attempted in any of her previous visions.
If that’s what you could call them.
“Wilson!” She hollers.
“Sam!” The spy is almost desperate as she runs to him.
He lifts his head up and she sighs in relief thinking he’s noticed her presence, but it’s not her he’s looking at. It’s the man in the sky with a set of wings similar to his own. He flies down and scoops the rpg.
“No!” Both she and Sam yell as the explosion goes off meters from the ground in the soldier's hand.
He falls to the ground along with the ash and debris and Sam is sprinting to him. He grabs his bloody form as tears stream his cheeks.
“Riley.” He shakes.
“Why’d you do that?” Sam cries.
“Why?” He chokes out barely audible and broken.
Natasha feels moisture build up in her eyes as he clings to the lifeless body.
Shaking her head she feels two strong arms around her own.
“You okay?” Sam asked
She sighed. She was okay, she was back in the bedroom as opposed to the battle field. Sams told her the story a few times, just bits and pieces, so she knew that the man falling from the sky, Riley was his previous partner, hence why he carried the survivors guilt.
“I’m fine. I just stood up too fast.” The lie falling effortlessly from her lips.
Sam snorted at this, and turned to grasp the railing on the steps. Nat stops by gripping his arm tightly. When she does she sees flashes of Riley’s corpse as the medics drag Sam away. Her breath hitches and she retracts her hand from where it laid on his skin.
“Don’t tell Steve about this.” She tells him.
“Why shouldn’t I?” Sam asks with a raised brow.
“Because he worries too much, and I’m fine.” She insists.
“Whatever you say Romanoff.” He replies with an eye roll.
They reach the bottom of the steps in no time and Steve grins at the sight of her, but turns his attention to Sam and glares.
“You let her get up.” He scolds.
Sam laughs, he was too predictable.
“I’m fine Steve.” She says offering a ghost of a smile, but it wasn’t that convincing.
Steve wanted to reach out and pull her in his arms, or at least ask if she was alright, but before he could muster any courage, someone cleared his throat from behind.
“Hot dog or hamburger?” He smiles lifting a plate.
“Hamburger.” She responds snagging one from the plate.
Everyone began unpacking some goods and set the table as she munched on the sandwich.
“I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Star-Lord.” He says the last word in a deeper voice.
Natasha furrows her brows. She’s read all about his guy during his five year absence.
“Okay Peter,” She emphasizes his real name, causing his face to drop.
“Well I know who you are. Steve really doesn’t shut up about you.” He stage whispers the last part and Bucky chuckles loudly as Steve blushes.
“Rocket doesn’t shut up about you either.” Nat says trying to save Steve some embarrassment.
But what did he say.
A hand is brought to her attention as Quill waits for her to shake it.
“Nice to properly meet you.” He smiles
She grins back, and takes his hand.
Mentally she’s preparing herself for the impending doom to come at the brush of their skin.
“Mom!” It’s a little boy that looks eerily similar to Quill.
Peter must’ve forced his hand away because the image goes as fast as it came. Sighing in relief and thanking whatever god she didn’t tumble over to send her friends, more specifically Steve into panic.
“You good?” He asks.
She nods and puts on her best smile.
Natasha seats herself in between Parker and Steve. Practically sandwiched between his broad shoulders and Peters excessive tendency to spread his limbs, she realizes there’s no where she’d rather be.
She turns to the right as Spider-Man hurriedly digs into his mac and cheese like someone’s about to steal it from him, as Steve lifts up his third burger. The soldier notices her intent staring and places his food back on the plate.
“Hey, everything alright?” He asks concerned, his hand reaches to touch his own.
At the contact she almost flinches away, not in the mood to be exhausted by another one of her premonitions, but it never comes. All that remains is the warmth of his hand, and it's a relief she hasn’t felt in days.
“I’m good.” She tenderly squeezes his hand back, she stifles a yawn before she can stop herself.
“You’re still tired. Do you want me to take you upstairs?” The blonde offers.
“You worry too much.” She shakes her head.
There’s a pregnant pause among them as their friends converse around them.
“Last time I didn’t worry enough.” He states.
He looks sad and guilty. This would definitely be something she’d need to bring up later. Let him know what happened wasn’t preventable and all that matters is she’s here now. Being it isn’t the time or place she just offers a sad smile and speaks.
“I’m exactly where I need to be.” She answers his earlier question.
Steve smiles, and neither retracts their hand as they dive into their meal.
Nat is distracted by some tale Rockets spinning as he stands on the table, and she laughs, and Steve smiles at the interaction. He feels a pair of eyes on him and he focuses in on the man across the table.
T’Challa winks at him and cocks his head in Natasha’s direction while throwing a thumbs up. It’s something out of character for the usual poised king. Steve blushes wildly as Shuri nudges her brother.
Dinner was successful and Steve directed all their friends to each room in the large remote mansion he got his hands on. It’s no Avengers Tower, but it’s enough. Though the day was full of laughter and smiles, he’s still hurting. Hurting over the fact that he couldn’t prevent what she did, find some other way, and he knows she’s back, and he couldn’t be happier. But he also knows her. All of her. He knows there’s something else going on in that beautiful head of hers and Steve would be damned if she goes through whatever it is alone.
He steps out from the bathroom. As he runs his hands through his hair. The working of his beard is coming in as stubble and he decides to let it grow in, Nat did once tell him that she loved the beard. Smiling the slightest bit at the memory he pads over to where Natasha’s been taking residence, and funny enough it’s where he had been sleeping prior to her return.
He notices that there’s no light pouring from the crack beneath the door, so as quietly as he can he pushes it open. The soldier expected her to be asleep but wanted to check on her nonetheless. However, he was shocked to find her perched at the foot of the bed, staring blankly at the wall.
And she must really be focused because she doesn’t even turn her head as his entrance, and it’s almost concerning.
“Nat.” He breaks the silence in a tentative, soft tone.
She shakes her head the waves of the red and blonde hair burrowing at her shoulder. Her sad almost void eyes connect with his and offers a pathetic attempt at a smile.
She looks unsettled and it makes him nervous because he absolutely aches for her.
“What are you doing?” He asks carefully slowly walking to her.
“Just thinking.” Nat purses her lips, her tone full of anything.
The bed dips as he plops himself beside her.
“Care to share with the class?” The blonde jokes lightly turning to face her.
She chuckles, but it’s dry and almost as if she’s working on auto pilot.
When she says nothing, he reaches for her hand. She flinches at the touch, terrified of the memories it may unleash, but when his hand remains she coaxes herself into lacing her fingers through his.
“Nat.” The Captain almost pleads.
“It’s really nice that everyone came out here to see me. Spend some time together.” She starts.
“But?” Steve knows it’s coming.
“But I can’t pretend,” she takes a deep breath before continuing.
“I can’t pretend that it never happened.” The redhead states.
“Nobodies asking you to.” Steve argues.
“Feels like it.” She mutters.
Now it’s his turn to release a breath.
“I wish I could pretend it never happened. That when we won you were there, but the thing is you weren’t. I failed you, and as much as I want to push that from my mind, I can’t Nat. I just can’t.” He shakes his head in defeat.
The confession makes her shiver. Failure was a topic she was taught not to take lightly.
“Don’t do that to yourself.” She whispers her voice hoarse.
“If anything I’m glad you weren’t up there with me.” She can’t believe the words to her own ears.
Steve’s head snaps and his fingers tap lightly against her chin as he pushes it up so their eyes are reflecting one another.
“I should’ve been there.” He rasps.
“No.” She deadpans.
The soldier looks hurt, but his hand remains as it smoothly cups her cheek.
“You being there would’ve made what I did would’ve made what I had done near impossible, but less of a choice.”
It’s a self contradicting statement, but he gets the idea anyway. She’s basically saying she would sacrifice it all for him, even if it meant losing him. It’s bittersweet.
Despite getting the picture, he wants to know more. Fully wrap his head around her words so he can finally be useful and help.
“Less of a choice?” He implodes.
“The world needs Captain America.” It’s a simple statement in attempts to mask all she really wants to let out, but it’s enough.
There’s a pause.
“Steve Rogers needs you.” Is his response.
A tear escapes her eyes and he’s swiping from where it’s sliding down her hollow cheeks without a beat.
She bites her lip nervously trying to come up with any response.
“I’m not saying we ignore this, but no matter what you say, todays been a long day. Sleep.” His voice is tougher but not in an intimidating way, it’s no nonsense.
Her lips quirk recognizing the tone from so many different occasions.
Taking the small smile as enough he returns one back and stands to leave. Before he can reach the door, a hand wraps around his wrist. Her touch is feathery but it’s there, as he closes his eyes to basque in the moment.
“I’m scared to sleep.”
Whenever she doesn’t drift off and see Tony, which is nice but tinges her with sadness, she’s left on the cold concrete slab as the harrowing memories of those before pass through her mind at lightning speed.
He stares blankly and she’s worried she’s crossed a line. They used to share a bed practically every night, but maybe it’s different. Maybe he fears her touch as much as she’s been scared of his. But why?
“It’s just that when I close my eyes,” she starts to justify it, but he stops her.
“You never have to explain it to me. I’m here.” The captain says more sure of himself as his eyes melt into her own.
The statement makes her sigh in relief as he throws back the covers.
She crawls forward until her head hits the pillow and he follows suit. Laying flat on his back, he extends his arm as an invitation which she doesn’t think twice about. Despite all the terrible things plaguing her mind, Steve puts that at bay. She knows now she’d be a damn fool to pull away from that.
“Sleep well.” He murmurs, exhaustion evident in his voice.
She grumbles words of agreement, as he leans down as his lips brush her fiery red hair. At that, she lets her lids fall, praying for a peaceful slumber.