((A/N: No, I haven't forgotten about my other stories. Just waiting on one muse to step back and let others have some time.
A wonderful thanks to my friend Lady Moonhawke, who is also my co-writer, co-conspirator, Idea tester, plot hole finder, monkey wrench thrower, and ghost editor.))
Late evening, Dec 25th….
"If you plan to pursue him then you had better plan on including his kids," Natasha commented quietly to Bucky in Russian as she watched him watch Johnny. "And when were you going to ask me if I'd allow you to?"
Bucky cast a glance at Nat before he returned to watching Johnny. "I don't know what you are talking about. I'm not planning on doing anything," the 'yet' was left unspoken as he replied back in Russian. "When I'm ready, I'll ask." Whenever he and Natasha spoke about anything on a personal level, they always used Russian. Not because they didn't want anyone else to understand them, but because of their shared past. "He didn't seem to mind how close we were in the quinjet."
Natasha rolled her eyes. "Of course he didn't mind getting close. He was ice cold and had already passed out after his shoulder was put back in place. You and Steve do tend to run hotter than most people," she pointed out. It hadn't been that long since Johnny had been pulled out from rubble, soaked to the skin with an obviously dislocated shoulder. "What if I decide to make a move first? Hmmm?" she asked, cutting a glance at Bucky out of the side of her eye, a small smirk on her lips.
Bucky, turned his full attention on Natasha. "You would, wouldn't you," he said, crossing his arms over his chest before returning his attention once more to Johnny. "Just to say you bested me at something."
"I've bested you many times," Nat shot back with a laugh. "You just won't admit it."
Both turned back to watching their prey once more, each making their own plans on how best to win their private game while derailing the other's plans.
At the moment, Johnny was attempting to find a comfortable enough position on the couch so he could try and get some rest. Even though his arm was both supported in a sling and strapped to his chest, the pain from his fractured scapula and collarbone spiked enough when he moved too much or too suddenly to put him on the edge of graying out without actually sending him over. To be fair it had only been a day and a half since he'd been rescued. There was very little medical could do for him past what they had already done. He wasn't sure if he was lucky or not, since it was 'just' a fracture, not a true break. The pain meds he'd been given were completely useless to him due to his mutations. He was just thankful he has yet to have any injury severe enough to require surgery. When he had finally found a position that was marginal in its comfort but gave enough shoulder support that the pain was starting to taper off, he sensed two people approaching. Neither matched with Doc, Donny or the kids, nor did they match with Tony or Pepper, so it had to be some of the Avengers.
"Hey stranger, what are you still doing down here?" Natasha asked casually as she moved across the room towards the wet bar. "Shouldn't you be with the kids?" she added as she motioned for Bucky to go sit as she retrieved a bottle of vodka and a pair of shot glasses.
"Umm hhmm… should be," Johnny replied tiredly. "Can't sleep, shoulder hurting too much."
Natasha arched an eyebrow. "Weren't you given anything for it?" she asked as she made her way to the couch. "How bad is it exactly?"
"Fractured scapula and collarbone, some deep muscle bruising as well. Some discussion of possibly needing surgery if it doesn't heal properly or something happens. Off of field duty for the foreseeable future too," Johnny replied. "As for the stuff they gave me, it had worn off long before we arrived here. The meds I was given are no better," he added, twisting around automatically to follow Natasha's movement and paying for it. His vision when white as he sucked in a breath and went absolutely still.
Nat handed both the bottle and the glasses to Bucky before she slid onto the couch, tucking herself into the small space between Johnny's back and the couch arm. She placed her hands on his sides, just below his ribs. "Easy...Breath out, slowly," she instructed. "Now breath in. Slow and steady, don't suck it in...and hold..2..3..4.. and exhale…." She slowly slid her hands up Johnny's sides as he breathed in and out, feeling how his muscles expanded and contracted with each breath. Over Johnny's shoulder, she shot Bucky a tiny smirk. She kept her touch feather light on the left side and a solid contact on the right as she tested the boundaries of his injury. She knew all it would take is a poke here and a jab there to numb his entire shoulder down to his fingertips, but where was the fun in that? This way not only did she give Johnny what he craved the most, physical contact, but it made beating Bucky all that more sweet and rewarding. "How'd you make it through earlier today if the meds don't work?" she asked as she worked magic on him.
"Who said I did?" Johnny asked back in a low groan as the tension in his upper back just melted away. "Maxed the daily before breakfast," he muttered slowly opening his eyes. "Took a second batch before lunch. 's why I just picked at it…" He closed his eyes again as he started to sag against the couch back. He didn't realize just how stiff his muscles were until Nat loosened them up. He turned his head to bury his face in the crook of his arm. "Gods that feels so good," he moaned.
"You were getting nauseous, weren't you?," Bucky commented from the other end of the couch as he knocked back a shot of vodka. "One of the signs of possible overdose." He poured a second shot and offered it to Nat. "And you are such a tease, making him moan like that," he added in Russian.
Natasha only smiled as she took the glass and downed the liquid as if it was water. She held the glass back out, nodding for Buck to refill it. "If I wanted to be a tease, I'd have a trio of movies sent to your personal tablet." She brought the refilled glass close then paused. "I'd offer you some, but mixing pain meds with alcohol is not good," she said in English.
"I'd accept, but only if you'd want to see a return of lunch." Turning his head, Johnny cracked open one eye to glance towards the bottle in….. he opened his other eye and blinked. Shifting his arm, he closed his eyes again and pinched the bridge of his nose as he frowned. "This is awkward," he finally said.
Bucky lifted an eyebrow, shot glass raised to his lips. "What is?" he asked before downing the liquid. Vodka was more of Natasha's prefered drink than his, but it would do just as well as anything else really. Like Steve but to a slightly lesser degree, alcohol had little effect on him.
"I know the others, but I don't remember you," Johnny admitted. "If we were introduced," he shook his head, eyes closing as Natasha's fingers combed through his hair, nails lightly scratching his scalp. If he was a cat, he'd be purring right now. Hell, he still might start to purr if she kept it up. "Please tell me someone forgot to introduce us, that I didn't forget who you are…"
Before Nat could reply, FRIDAY interrupted. "I apologize, but Miss Riley appears to have had a nightmare and is calling for you."
Johnny was honestly expecting this. He let out a sigh, as he looked up at the ceiling. Sleep will have to wait. "Have Mr. Snuffleupagus bring her down please? And que up her lullaby list please."
"Yes sir," FRIDAY responded.
He glanced at the bottle still in Bucky's hand. "Would you mind putting that away for now?" he asked as he raked his hand through his hair.
"Do you need us to go?" Nat asked as she handed Bucky her glass before setting to work on muscles that were starting to tense again.
Johnny shook his head again, "No, you should be fine. She'll be too worked up to notice anyone else."
A soft ding as the elevator arrived was accompanied by soft music and the lyrical words of Enya. At first no one stepped out of the elevator, but after a moment or two, Riley was shuffled out by a very large black lab. The dog paced around the child before it took the end of the blanket she was clinging to and tugged her in the direction of the couch and her papa. Instead of going around the couch like most would, Riley managed to scramble over the back, tumbling into her papa's lap with a sudden outpouring of hysterical tears and jumbled words.
While Nat and Bucky seemed to understand one word in ten from the child, Johnny understood almost all of it. It was an often repeated nightmare he battled. He shoved the flare of pain to the back of his concerns as Riley buried her face against the side of his neck, wrapping her arms tightly around him. With his one arm curled protectively around her back, he started rocking her as he sang along softly with the music. After about a half hour or so, Riley finally fell asleep again.
Through it all Bucky sat silently, observing his chosen prey.
Nat decided that was their cue to slip away. Avoiding small arms. she ran her hand down the back of Johnny's neck and shoulders. Leaning forward, she whispered softly in his ear. "As long as I'm here, I'll help you, so you can take care of them."