He was so tired. She could see it in his eyes. The day weighed heavily on him.
"Come on," Nat said, grabbing his hand firmly. "We're going to bed." She started to walk them from the bathroom to the bedroom, but Bruce stood still, refusing to budge. She turned around and looked at him questioningly, "What's wrong?"
"I-I can't. You know that."
"What? Why not? It's just cuddling. And it looks like it you need some sleep."
Bruce stared at her open mouthed. He wasn't sure how to respond. "Oh… Okay… But I don't think..." He laughed awkwardly, suddenly insecure.
It suddenly dawned on her why he looked so embarrassed, and why a red tinge had started to touch his cheeks. She laughed, "You didn't think I meant sex, did you?"
"Well… uh… It did sound a bit suggestive…"
Natasha brought his hand up to her lips and pressed a light kiss on his palm. Bruce's breath hitched, and his chest constricted. Looking up at him, she whispered, "After the conversation we just had, I don't think we've reached that step yet. I wouldn't do anything to compromise you or… or the Other Guy. I just want us to cuddle. We've both had a long day, and we need rest."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" he managed to say. His eyes searched hers for any sign of hesitation, any sign of doubt. He found none.
"Of course I'm sure."
He swallowed, and nodded. Nat flashed him one of her smiles that made his heart ache and his fingertips tingle. She led him to the bed and pulled back the covers.
"Big spoon or little spoon?" he asked jokingly, awkwardly. It had been a while since he had another person in bed with him. A long while.
"Big spoon," Nat answered nonchalantly. Bruce couldn't for the life of him figure out whether or not she was aware that he was joking.
"Okay." He crawled in bed, and patted the spot behind him, grinning at her. In her robe, Natasha looked different. Not vulnerable. She could never be vulnerable, not in his eyes. She looked relaxed. Like for once, she could let her guard down.
"Don't mind if I do," she smirked and climbed in behind him. She pressed her front to his back, and wrapped her right arm around his middle and squeezed him tight.
"It's funny," he breathed, "I'm so tired, but I don't want to go to sleep now."
He heard her laugh softly. Then he felt her lips brush against the back of his neck. He shivered involuntarily, and grabbed her hand, bringing it up to press a feather-light kiss on it. He felt her smile against his neck. "I know how you feel."
"I want to lay here and talk with you. Or we don't even have to talk. I just want to feel you here. Because when I'm with you, I know I'm all right."
She hummed appreciatively, but didn't respond. She already was falling.
Bruce smiled, and pressed her hand to his lips again. Before sleep claimed him, he whispered on her knuckles, "I adore you, Natasha."