Natasha Romanoff was a patient person. She had to be, given her upbringing as a trained spy. But the 5 bickering men in front of her had a special way of getting on her absolute last nerve. She loved them all dearly. But they currently had her considering a permanent career change.
The original 6 Avengers were all in the main common room at the compound. Something that rarely happened since Thor was often off world and Clint with his family. But Natasha thinks it’s a good thing the 6 of them being together was so rare considering they were just about to tear each other apart after less than an hour together.
They were a great team. There’s no denying that. Other than Yelena, there’s no one that Nat trusted more in battle. No one she instinctively understood more in a life-or-death situation. After all, they did spend over a decade posing together.
They were also all great friends socially. Natasha had a unique connection with each of them. But when the banter and battles died down and the Avengers actually had to agree on something serious (see Sokovia Accords), it was just a complete disaster. There simply wasn’t a room big enough to hold all their egos. Specifically, Steve and Tony’s. Add Thor to the mix and there was just no chance of agreement.
It was times like these where Natasha missed the peace and quiet of her other team. The team she led during the worst 5 years of her life. She’d never want to go back to those times, but at least that team didn’t fight every 2 seconds. And at least it had another friendly female face. Natasha often wonders how she survived as the only female Avenger for far too many years.
The six of them were trying to discuss a plan for their next global initiative. Naturally, Tony wanted to make a huge scene while Steve wanted it to be ridiculously patriotic. Thor wanted to bring all the Asgardians to earth for a huge party. Bruce didn’t want to do it at all. And Clint, well, his first words when he walked in were that he didn’t want to be at the compound, never mind an initiative.
Natasha sighs, putting her feet up on the couch as the boys stand around bickering. She rubs at her temples, feeling a migraine coming on. She then feels the familiar buzz of her phone.
Are you alive Poser?
Natasha grins, typing out her reply. No, I think I’ve died and this is my hell.
Hmmm but would you get texts from your favorite sister in hell?
You’re my only sister Lena.
Natasha quickly types another message. But you’re right, if you’re here, it can’t be hell.
Awww what a softie :)
Admit it Poser. You’ve gone soft.
Please. We both know texting me is far better than listening to all that testosterone.
Natasha rolls her eyes at the emoji that Yelena used far too much. You’re lucky you’re cute.
I’m not cute!
Have you seen your baby cheeks and nose Rooskaya? You’re adorable.
Shut up Poser!
Natasha puts her phone down and sighs as she hears the men continue to argue.
“Tony for the last time! The council will never agree to that plan!” Steve huffs in anger.
“Since when do you listen to councils?” Tony refers to the Sokovia Accords debacle.
“I still don’t understand why we can’t have it in New York. People have already seen the portal Loki opened there. Asgard can just come for a quick visit. It will be an even more unifying event.” Thor chimes in, twirling Mjolnir.
“The people of New York have already been traumatized enough!” Bruce interjects.
“Asgard isn’t traumatizing!”
“Thor, there isn’t enough space in New York for all of freaking Asgard.” Clint interjects, muttering under his breath how he could be golfing right now instead of at this meeting.
“You humans are so tiny.” Thor mumbles.
“It’s okay Point Break, at least you’re trying to do something actually unifying and not incredibly boring like Star-Spangled Man with No Plan over here.” Tony pats Thor on the shoulder, looking annoyed back at Steve.
“At least I’m trying to protect the event from being absolute chaos!” Steve grinds out angrily.
“What’s wrong with a little chaos?”
“Tony we have literally destroyed at least 5 cities and 2 whole countries with our chaos.” Steve bites back, thinking through all the destruction they had caused.
“You didn’t seem to care all that much when they initiated the Sokovia Accords about it!”
“You only cared about those Accords because you couldn’t live with your guilt!” Steve yells. Natasha winces, knowing this was going nowhere good.
“Oh you want to talk about guilt? Let’s talk about your dear friend Mr. Barnes that is currently living under my roof!”
Steve opens his mouth to retort and the two men look like they’re about to have a second civil war in the Avengers’ living room when Natasha jumps up.
The Black Widow pushes the men apart so forcefully that they both stumble back, looking slightly shocked.
“I have had it with all of you!” She points at the 5 men who all stare at her in legitimate fear.
Clint frowns, glancing at Bruce and Thor, “What? We didn’t do anything, that’s not fair!”
Natasha glares at her best friend and he falls silent. “Clint, if you really don’t want to be here, then leave. Honestly, I’m sure the kids would love to see you. But if you’re here, at least try to contribute helpful commentary!” Clint looks down at that, fiddling with his shirt.
The redhead just turns to Bruce though. “Bruce, I know you hate all of this and going to an event where you have to be out in the open. I get it. But no one is forcing you to go anywhere, really. And if you want to go, then speak up about where you want the event to be that is best for you!” The scientist rubs the back of his neck sheepishly and nods.
Natasha turns to Thor whose eyes widen, not being used to seeing the Black Widow so angry. “Thor, come on. You know bringing all of Asgard here is a bad idea. Sure, Thanos and his army came and there was that whole battle of New York, but those were contained events. Bringing an entire planet to visit earth for a giant party is just not something we are ready for.” Thor pouts a bit but nods.
The Black Widow turns to Steve and Tony last and Tony tries to interject, “Look Romanoff we-“
“No! You’ve spent the last 60 minutes talking Stark. It’s my turn.” She steps closer to the two so-called Avengers leaders, fire in her eyes.
“You two, are on my last nerve. I have put up with your antics for the last 15 years of my life, but that just means that I have 15 years of things to be annoyed about! I can’t remember the last meeting we had that you guys didn’t fight! I’m so done with it! We’ve all been through hell together, and yet the one constant that remains is that you two can’t agree!”
Natasha takes a breath, but she’s just getting going.
“I have followed you guys for over a decade. Helped clean up both of your messes.” She refers to her time at Stark Industries and helping Steve chase The Winter Solider around. “And I have no regrets about that. The 6 of us are a great team. But for all the credit you guys get for forming this team and saving the world, let me remind you, that it was you two that tore it apart. You two that got half of us sent to prison. You two that made me have to go into hiding for 2 years when I literally tried to help both of you see eye to eye!”
The Black Widow pauses one more time as she feels the words that she had been thinking for so long on the tip of her tongue. She supposes she needs to get them off her chest.
“And if you guys hadn’t spent 2 years acting like a scorned divorced couple, then maybe we would have still been a team when a certain titan came to our planet. And maybe, just maybe….we wouldn’t have lost everything for 5 freaking years.”
The room is deadly silent as the words hang in the air.
Natasha can’t bring herself to feel guilty about them though. It was something she had wondered every single day during those 5 years. She tried not to hold onto things anymore. Especially now that Yelena was with her again, she had no need to hold a grudge. But it wasn’t a grudge really. It was more like she wanted these two men, some of the most important people in her life, to finally see the point.
That the biggest threat to the Avengers is always themselves.
Tony looks at the ground, looking more humbled than Natasha had ever seen him. Steve just gazes at Nat guiltily.
“I don’t want apologies Rogers. Just…do better. I know you guys can.”
All the men nod at her and she lets a deep breath, feeling a weight lifted off her shoulders at finally getting her point across.
“And that’s why we had her run the Avengers while all y’all were running away.” A new voice chimes in.
All of them turn quickly, not having heard anyone else come in while Natasha was airing her grievances. They see Rhodey standing there, smirking. Others like Wanda and Sam are there as well. But Natasha focuses on the blonde behind Rhodey who is looking at her with wide eyes.
Natasha winces slightly, not really wanting her baby sister to have heard all that. But Yelena just looks at her with so much pride and adoration that the redhead feels her heart swell.
“How long have you guys been standing there?” Tony asks.
“Long enough to know you all just got your assess handed to you by the Black Widow and she didn’t even throw a single punch.” Sam smirks.
Steve shakes his head, figuring there’s no use in denying anything or rehashing it. He sits down on the couch and others follow, sitting around the common room. Yelena comes over and quickly sits next to her sister, grinning up at Natasha who shifts uncomfortably.
“What?” Natasha asks.
“You never told me you led the Avengers while I was gone!”
Natasha blushes, “It was hardly leading. And we certainly weren’t the Avengers. It was more just me staring at emails and holograms, telling people what to do and trying not to cry.”
“Please. She’s being modest. Nat kept us all together.” Rhodey chimes in next to Yelena. “I mean, she helped the entire universe, even Carol reported to her. And she read messages from the raccoon.”
Yelena grins in surprise, “What? You have to tell me about that Sestra! Why doesn’t anyone talk about this?”
The blonde looks around at the other original Avengers who all shift nervously. Natasha clears her throat, feeling awkward. “Yelena, it’s just not a time any of us like to remember.”
Yelena softens slightly at that, but turns back to Rhodey. “So who else was on this team?”
Rhodey glances hesitantly around the room before answering. “Me. Rocket. Carol. Nebula. Okoye and some other Wakandans.”
Yelena’s eyes widen, “That’s it?!”
The blonde gets up and points at the others in the room that hadn’t been dusted. “You five, her so called friends, left my sister alone??”
“Yelena-“ Natasha tries to pull her sister back down but the blonde shakes her off, glaring at the others.
“No, what is all of your problems!?” Yelena glares at them. “After all my sister did for each of you?”
The other 5 glance guiltily at each other. Getting reamed out by one black widow was enough, but two in one day was something that none of them ever wished to experience again.
“I can’t believe all of you!” She curses at them in Russian before turning wildly back to her sister, “Tasha how is this the first time I’ve seen you yell at them?”
“Потому что, когда я вернул тебя, все это уже не имело значения.” Natasha answers genuinely, hoping to calm the blonde down.
Yelena softens slightly at that but still turns back to glare at the others who continue to avoid her gaze.
Clint finally speaks up, “Yelena, we made mistakes. I made mistakes.” He looks at Natasha guiltily as he thinks of his time as Ronin, but the spy just shakes her head. “I’m sorry.”
The other men nod in agreement and Yelena huffs, annoyed that was the only apology she was going to get her sister.
Steve pipes up though, “Yelena, they were in good hands though. Natasha is a great leader. She was their rock. She kept everything together. And the rest of us…well, you’ve seen our leadership skills sometimes leave a lot to be desired.” He glances at Tony who doesn’t disagree, and Yelena supposes that speaks volumes for the billionaire.
“Fine.” The blonde huffs. “But it sounds like you all owe my sister a lifetime of favors.” Thor raises his hammer to that and the others nod.
“Also, it’s ridiculous that you guys are called earth’s mightiest heroes when you all looked ready to shit your pants when my sister was yelling at you.” Yelena throws one last glare at the men, making it clear how displeased she still was at them.
“Yeah, who were you guys saying the most powerful Avenger was again?” Sam looks smugly between Thor and Bruce who were constantly having that argument. Thor frowns deeply while Bruce just shrugs not caring if he conceded that title to The Black Widow.
Natasha rolls her eyes, feeling embarrassed by the whole situation. She grabs Yelena again and this time the blonde lets her pull her back down.
“Enough talk about me. I hate it.” Natasha addresses the room.
Yelena grins, “That’s why you’re such a great leader!”
“True.” Clint agrees.
Natasha huffs, biting back a blush as she looks over at her sister with mock irritation. “Don’t you have cleaning that I asked you to do or something?”
“Bah, since when do I clean? And since when do I listen to you? Unlike these ridiculous scaredy cats, I’m not afraid of a big bad Poser.” Yelena grins back at Natasha as the rest of the room falls into their own conversations.
Natasha rolls her eyes. “You know, you’re wrong. What makes me such a great leader is my endless patience for people’s ridiculous antics like yours.” She reaches out and musses her sister’s blonde hair.
Yelena swats at her. “Please, like you could live without my antics.”
Natasha sobers, thinking back to the 5 years that had been referenced far too much that day. She massages Yelena’s scalp with her fingers and presses a kiss to her forehead. The blonde just basks in the affection.
“You’re right little one, I couldn’t.”
Yelena grins and is about to reply when Tony clears his throat, causing both sisters to roll their eyes but turn to him.
“Steve and I have agreed on something.”
Natasha raises an eyebrow.
“Must be the end of the world.” Sam chimes in.
“More like trying to prevent that from happening again.” Steve responds.
Tony nods, looking at Natasha. “We’re appointing you leader of the Avengers, Romanoff.” All eyes turn to the Black Widow.
Natasha just stares at them with a mix of bewilderment, amusement, and slight annoyance. These guys, bless their hearts, still didn’t get it. Natasha didn’t want that. She certainly didn’t want to do all the press and speeches that Tony and Steve did. Didn’t want even more publicity than she already had. Didn’t want the power. The scrutiny. The responsibility. She didn’t have the need to be the leader like Steve and Tony did. She’d much rather just continue as she has been, operating in the background and getting things done that her fellow Avengers never could while still having time for her favorite person.
Besides, Natasha Romanoff was the greatest spy on the planet. She could get her way from the other Avengers whenever she really wanted without them even knowing it. Today was a prime example of that. But no way did she want or need the title of leader bestowed on her.
Natasha glances at her sister who looks at her with a slightly unreadable expression, wondering what the redhead would say. Though Yelena knew for a fact Natasha could lead the Avengers far better than anyone else, she selfishly didn’t want her sister to spend even more time dedicated to the initiative than she already did.
The Black Widow smirks her signature smirks and leans back smugly. Figuring she’d have time to officially decline the ridiculous title later.
“Poor boys, don’t even realize you’ve been following me the last 15 years already.”
The other five pause at that, thinking through the statement. Bruce thinks back to how Natasha was the one that recruited him to be an Avenger. Clint remembers how The Black Widow killed the Ronin. Thor recalls how the redhead got his brother to spill his secrets in less than 5 minutes when Thor never could. Steve remembers Nat shooting T’Challa over his shoulder, knowing it had to be done before the entire team tore itself apart. Tony remembers his introduction to The Black Widow where she played the best triple imposter he’s ever seen, one that saved his life multiple times in the span of a few days. They all remember Natasha’s ultimate sacrifice on Vormir, and how they truly did feel lost and leaderless when Clint came back alone.
Yelena smirks at the looks on the men’s faces. “I think you broke them.”
Natasha rolls her eyes, “Nah, they’ll be back to their usual annoying selves in no time, trust me.”
But she smiles meaningfully at the other five men across from her as they all share a moment of silent understanding and bonding that only the 6 of them would be able to comprehend.
The Avengers was a complicated mess. But they were her mess.
 Because when I got you back none of it mattered anymore.