Protocol


A.N.: I need more power couple fics for these two. This was inspired by a fight-scene in episode 2x21 ('Al Sah-him') of the TV show "Arrow". Not really sure when this is set, although the bit of dialogue implies that it might be post-AoU. So, yeah. Spoilers?


"You're sending me in."

Bruce surprises everyone in the room by speaking, because there's this tone of certainty in his voice and it's as if he's giving an order, which isn't exactly what all of them expected from the usually shy doctor.

Tony is the first of the crowd to speak. "What do you mean we're 'sending you in'?", he asks, lifting an eyebrow. "We're all getting Natasha back, that's why we're here."

Bruce simply takes off his glasses and starts cleaning them with the hem of his shirt. "All of us going in is completely unecessary.", he says and even Steve looks at him in confusion.

Bruce is way calmer than they expected him to be when they got the call from Fury to get their asses to HQ, especially since it was about Natasha. Tony even had Veronica in a constant state of prepareness, just in case of a sudden Code Green.

"Natasha's got it covered. Just send me in.", Bruce adds. Even Fury's interested in what he's got planned. "We'll be out in thirty minutes, tops. Actually, I'm willing to place a mean bet Natasha will finish the job in less than half of that."

Fury leans in on the table. "Not to doubt Agent Romanoff's abilities, Dr. Banner, but you seem pretty sure of yourself there."

"Yeah, Doc.", Barton speaks up. "What's up with that?", he asks even though he thinks he figured it out already.

"Natasha doesn't break easily - at all, even. Why do you think she's telling us to do the trade?", Bruce goes to explain, replaying the video. It shows Natasha in pretty bad shape, and it does make the Other Guy itch for a fight, but Bruce calms him down. He knows Natasha's been through worse. "The way she shakes her head, looks down. It's code."

Clint nods his head to the side, acknowledging that the doctor has a point. This isn't usual Natasha. It is a code.

"Code for what?", Steve asks from his seat and Bruce shrugs.

"We have a protocol.", Bruce replies simply. He turns to Fury. "Send me in."

Seeing no other answer to the situation at hand, Fury nods.


A part of him feels extremely awkward standing in the middle of nowhere holding a suitcase filled with money - or codes, or government secrets (all probably false), or whatever it was the badguys were after this time, he didn't bother to pay attention to that part - while watching a black SUV arrive, but he didn't have much to do, anyway.

Five men leave the SUV, two of them dragging a female with a bag over her head. They pause in a line a few feet away from the SUV, but not that much closer to him, and take the bag off.

He can see her look around quickly, scanning the area but masking it with fear and disorientation. She's playing them all so well, and Bruce needs to work really hard to keep a smirk off his face.

A man approaches him soon, attempting to search him. Bruce keeps eye contact with him and can see the fear the man's trying to hide. So, they do know who he is. He was counting on that.

As the man takes a step closer to start searching him, Bruce takes a step back. "I don't like other people touching me.", he says and he can see the fear in the man's eyes becoming more visible. Bruce smirks. He lets a bit of the Other Guy fall into his voice. "And you don't want to make me angry."

The man looks him once over before turning to the others and nodding. They let go of Natasha, and she pretends to lose her step. She slowly starts walking towards him, limping a bit and grabbing her ribs. He can see dried tears on her cheeks and if he knew her less, he would've probably been worried.

But there's just this little glint in her eyes that he can spy as she comes closer, and the limp fades a bit here and there, and he almost doesn't notice the way the corner of her lips turn upwards in a smirk just the slightest bit, and he likes to think he's gotten better at reading her although it's more likely that he's seeing all this because she wants him to.

(Oh, she's gonna give them hell.)

As the man takes the suitcase from Bruce's hands, Natasha makes herself stumble so Bruce has to catch her. She slowly puts her arms around his waist as she pretends to sob, hiding her face in her shirt. He slowly runs a soothing hand over her back and kisses her temple, hiding his smirk in her red, bloodied hair.

"I brought your favorites.", he whispers when he feels that she found the guns hidden in his suit jacket, and he can't see it but she smiles.

"You know exactly how to impress a girl.", she says and he can hear the teasing in her voice. Bruce lightly chuckles and is about to ask if she needs the Other Guy, but she cuts him off. "No Code Green, I've got this.", she says and Bruce nods.

He didn't for a second think she couldn't handle this by herself.

They both mentally count to three before she pulls out the guns and starts shooting. She takes them all out before they even have the time to process what was happening. Natasha pauses for a few seconds before taking out the last guy that just opened the SUV doors to step outside, before she puts the guns away.

She turns around and walks a few steps to Bruce. The limp she had before was gone. "I notified Fury. A car is on its way.", he says.

Natasha nods. "I think I broke a few ribs.", she adds and Bruce nods back, getting closer to her and she puts an arm around his shoulders as he puts his own around her waist to help her walk. Bruce knows she doesn't need the help; that a few broken ribs is nothing and that the only reason she even mentioned them was so he didn't have to ask. He still offers though, and a part of him is surprised that she accepts it. She puts the palm of her hand over the one of his that's holding her waist, and they slowly make their way towards one of the cars that are coming their way from the distance.

"Tell me, how pissed was Fury?", she asks him and he can't help but smile.

"Well, he was pretty furious.", he says and Natasha lets out a small laugh even though it makes her ribs hurt.

"You're such a dork."

"I've been told that chicks dig that."

Natasha nods her head to the side. "True."

"He was more curious than pissed, actually.", Bruce eventually answers.

"Shame.", she replies. "I really wanted the opportunity to be smug about this."

Bruce helps her get into the back of the car before joining her. "I think Tony was pretty doubtful."

Natasha's famous smirk graces her lips and the only thing on Bruce's mind is how glad he is that he's not Tony right now.

"Even better.", Natasha replies, and they drive off.