Of Sticky Fingers And Comfortable Silences

Natasha Romanoff will unashamedly steal food off anyone's plate.

It's somewhat of a habit, something she even does subconsciously, at times; especially when the team hangs out together. Those are people she trusts, people who she even enjoys to spend her free time with and who she even gets to call friends. During her life, Natasha didn't really have friends and she now finds that she quite enjoys company of other people. And, since this group of people isn't the smallest, there's almost always someone with a plate of food and eating.

The movement comes almost natural. With Tony, she takes some of the sweets he always has with him in the middle of their usual bickering, just casually taking a few from the bag and he lets her.

With Thor, she took a few of his fried chicken wings, Tony took him on a tour of New York and he came back with two buckets of the stuff from the local KFC. It was most entertaining to watch Thor eat as he openly talked about his admiration of the city. Natasha chuckled as she came up from behind where he was sitting in the sofa in the living room of the Avengers Tower, and grabbed a few wings.

With Steve, it started after the everything with HYDRA went down. They were at this hideaway diner at the edge of the city with only a few customers currently there, probably regulars. He ordered a usual breakfast, something he'd manage to both get and eat fast, because they had to be prepared to leave at any minute. Natasha decided not to order anything for herself. But as she waited for Steve to finish his meal, she stole a few strips of bacon from his plate. He said nothing but simply gave a little laugh, and she smirked in return.

Taking food from Clint was natural to her. She took food from his plate, he took from hers. They've been doing it for years and every time Clint's eating, he always has two forks on his plate - he takes the other one instinctively - and it's never really been discussed. She has known Clint for ages and he's the one person she trusts the most, he's the one that probably knows her better than anyone else in the world, and this is a thing they do, just like it's a thing that Natasha takes food from everyone on a pretty regular basis.

But with Bruce, it's different.

He's the only one whose plate she doesn't touch. It's not that she doesn't trust him - well, to a degree she does, but you can never be sure with Banner. He's a trustworthy person, and she believes in that - in him - but there's this unpredictability around him that she hasn't gotten comfortable with yet. Natasha's the kind of person that likes to be in control, likes to be the one that does the manipulating, and with Bruce she's never completely sure what could happen. She has slowly been getting used to that, learning how to get around the feeling and accept it; maybe even find an up side to it. But Bruce is also a private person that keeps to himself, and she doesn't take food from him because she doesn't know how he'll react. It's not about the Hulk; Natasha isn't naive to think that Bruce would turn into the Big Guy just for something as silly as food - but she just doesn't want to make him feel uncomfortable.

So, she keeps Bruce's plate off limits.

Until he steals food from her, that is.

They're having a movie night at the Avengers Tower one Friday evening. It's sort of become a tradition for them; when they're all together, they'll meet up in the living room at around eight, bring food and drinks, and have JARVIS start a movie they all spend a good half hour arguing over. They lie down on the couches - this time filled with cushions of different shapes, sizes and colors (courtesy of Pepper, who spends those nights with them as well) and not so rarely sometimes spend more time talking about the most random of things and catching up instead of actually watching the movie.

This time, they're watching "Casablanca" - they all decided it was Bruce's time to choose, since he mostly stays out of their movie arguments - and Natasha's lying on the couch with her legs in Clint's lap, her head popped up on one of the bigger cushions, Bruce sitting on the armchair beside her and she's using one hand to hold a bowl of chips while eating them with the other.

Suddenly, Bruce hand spreads out towards her chips - careful to stay out of her eyesight so her movie watching is not disturbed - and Bruce grabs a handful of chips, putting them all in his mouth at once.

She raises and eyebrow at him.

Bruce shrugs. "I ran out of chips.", he says in a whisper and Natasha smirks, shaking her head. He offers her his bowl. "Pretzels?"

A laugh escapes Natasha's lips as she reaches out and grabs a handful of pretzels, mixing them with her chips.

"Never pegged you for a food thief, Banner.", she says. "Isn't it bad for your chi?"

Bruce chuckles and they continue watching the movie.

Natasha doesn't like ketchup on her fries, but Bruce does. After she once took a bit from his plate, he noticed how it wasn't really her preferred way of eating them and has since made sure to always leave one half of his plate ketchup-free. They always put a bit extra on their plates, and soon their habit of sharing food developed into making each other coffee.

It started when Natasha noticed that Bruce pulled an all-nighter at the lab. Heading to the kitchen, she made two cups of coffee - both black, the way they liked them - and she headed down to the lab, only to find Bruce lightly asleep with his head on his hand. She smiled to herself and made her way to the other side of the lab table. Soon enough, Bruce shakes himself awake as his head started falling off his hand, and Natasha let out a laugh at his surprise.

"Good morning, Doctor Banner.", she smiled, handing him a cup. He nodded in gratitude.

"You're a life-saver, Natasha.", Bruce replied, hastily drinking his coffee to wake himself up.

She took a sip of her own drink. "Forgot to sleep again?"

"It tends to happen sometimes.", he replies and Natasha nods her head lightly.

The next day, she walks into the kitchen only to find a cup of coffee on the table where she usually sits.

"I forgot to say thank you.", she turns around when she hears Bruce's voice. "So I figured I should make up for it.", he finishes putting eggs and bacon on a plate for breakfast and takes a seat down opposite her. She steals a strip of bacon off his plate and he smiles.


He continues eating and she drinks her coffee slowly, both enjoying the comfortable silence surrounding them.

A week later, Bruce finds himself putting extra food on his plate, which wouldn't be that unusual if Natasha wasn't away on a mission for the past week.

He finds himself missing her. Missing drinking coffee with her in the mornings as they eat breakfast, missing the afternoons they spent together - him reading a science magazine, her reading a cheesy spy novel, which is a quietly pleasure of hers - in comfortable silence, missing the evenings when they would talk and share stories of places they visited while drinking tea.

He misses her, a lot, and it hits him like a brick. So, once she comes back, he tells her that. She smiles - he missed her smile, and her laugh and, God, she wasn't even gone for that long why is he such a sap? - and she takes a seat on the couch next to him. While the others are fighting over the movie they should watch for this week's movie night, she stretches her legs on the couch and leans on his shoulder. With one hand she starts eating her chips and subtly puts the other into one of Bruce's, intertwining their fingers.

"I missed you, too.", she whispers, looking at him once before turning her eyes to the opening credits of the movie. Bruce's lips form a genuine smile, and he steals a few chips from her bowl as he settles to watch the movie.

Natasha Romanoff will unashamedly steal food off anyone's plate. Especially Bruce Banner's.

A.N.: Based off a Marvel Headcanon I found on tumblr: "Natasha Romanoff will unashamedly steal food off anyone's plate, except Bruce's. She wasn't sure how he'd take it until he stole chips from her during a movie night. They now share food quite a bit." which I completely turned into a somewhat pre-Hulkwidow fic. Oops.