A/N: Just a random one shot I've been working on for a really long time. Finally finished it and thought I should post.
Disclaimer: I do not own Marvel or it's characters.
Seven months after the battle of New York, Tony found himself alone in his bedroom in the newly renamed Avengers was a throbbing pain radiating from the advanced piece of technology implanted in his chest cavity. He sighed, it was going to be one of those days. He longed for his boyfriend to be there to to take care of him but Bruce was at a science convention in Kentucky and he wouldn't be back until the next morning. He wasn't the only Avenger missing from the tower, in fact, most of the team was gone. Steve was off in Europe seeing the world, Clint was with Coulson on a mission in Columbia, and Thor was taking Jane to Asgard for the first time. That left only Natasha and Tony at the tower.
Though she and Tony had become like brother and sister, he has refused to let this weakness slip. The only person who knew of the constant ache of the arc reactor was Bruce and he had hoped to keep it that way. He knew that if the others had access to that information, they would coddle him and treat him like he was a delicate thing that was always in danger of breaking. Tony would not let that happen.
With this in mind, he prepared himself to get out of bed. He'd much rather stay in bed all day and try to sleep off the pain. But Tony knew that if he wasn't downstairs in the kitchen with his morning cup of coffee in approximately three minutes, Natasha would become worried and would be determined to find out what was up. He took a deep breath, wincing when it caused pain to flare momentarily, and stood up. The blaring pain caused by his his actions was almost enough to send him to his knees and he whimpered. It took all the determination he possessed to keep him moving towards the elevator. He stepped in and leaned heavily onto the wall, pushing the button for the communal floor for the members of the team. He took a moment to catch his breath or rather to try and catch his breath but not quite succeed. The elevator signaled his arrival and he stepped out into the kitchen. Natasha was waiting for him with a steaming cup of coffee.
"Wow, Stark. You look like shit," she said with a smirk that didn't quite match the small hint of worry in her eyes.
"Thanks, Tash. That's really what I was aiming to hear from you when I woke up this morning," he said a bit breathlessly but with the same sarcastic tone that was regularly present in his voice. She narrowed her eyes at him in concern and looked him over from head to toe. She took in the crouched position in which he was walking, the slight pant that was becoming more noticeable the longer he stood there, and the hand he had subconsciously laid across his chest.
"You're in pain," she stated plainly.
"I'm fine, Natasha, don't worry about it," he replied with as much fake flippancy as he could muster.
"Don't lie to me, Tony," Natasha answered softly. "Please."
There were only three people on the planet she'd ever talk to in that tone of voice. Tony was proud to say that he had wormed his way into the famously cold Black Widow's heart. It wasn't fair to her that Tony hide what was going on from one of the only people he knew that would legitimately care.
He moved painfully over to take a seat on the couch in the living room and patted the seat next to him. She sat down beside him and placed a hand on his thigh. Tony placed his hand over top of hers and sighed, here goes nothing.
"You've seen the x-rays from Afghanistan," he stated. She nodded, confusion in her eyes.
"Is something wrong with the reactor?" She asked worriedly.
"Yes and no. Indirectly, yes but it is more about the casing surrounding it, it's very deep and very heavy. Sometimes, I just wake up and everything hurts. Usually Bruce is here but that's not the case today," he said, leaning his head on her shoulder.
Natasha looked down at him with sympathy and shifted so that his head was relocated to her lap. She carded her fingers through his hair and Tony practically purred at how good it felt. A small smile graced her face.
"You know that none if us would judge you if you told us about things like this more often, right?" She told him softly. He hummed an affirmative. "So, when the boys get home, you'll tell them?" Tony mumbled something along the lines of 'sure' and Natasha didn't push the subject any further. After all, she understood his desire not to show weakness, being the only girl on the team.
They stayed in that same place for the rest of the day, Tony switching in between sleep and wakefulness. Natasha had turned on the TV after Tony had fallen asleep. Eventually Natasha fell asleep there too. That's how Bruce found them the next morning when he got back from his convention. He walked quietly over to the couch and laid his hand gently on Tony's arm. Tony rubbed his eyes and looked up at his boyfriend.
"Hey," Tony whispered.
"Hey," Bruce answered, "One of those days?"
Bruce looked down at the ground guiltily. "I'm sorry I wasn't there," he whispered.
Tony guided Bruce up to look him in the eyes. "It's not your fault. They're completely unpredictable. Besides, Natasha was totally on top of things." Tony whispered as to not wake up the woman who had taken such great care of him the day before.
"I'll have to thank her when she wakes up," Bruce replied. Tony nodded his agreement before easing himself up off the couch and walking over to make him and Bruce some coffee. Natasha's eyes drifted open when the weight disappeared from her lap. Bruce noticed she was awake and made good on that statement.
"Don't mention it. Sometimes all of us need someone to take care of us."
A/N: I kind of hate the ending but besides that, I find it to be a personal accomplishment that I wrote something over a thousand words. Please review and tell me what you think. Reviews are air and I need air to live! - Love, Sydney