Natasha Romanov lay on the roof of Stark Tower, now affectionately dubbed "Avengers Tower" after the battle had taken all the letters but the A out of STARK. The more than slightly mangled tower had become the Avengers' temporary base after the war.
It was hard to believe that mere hours ago a war had ravaged upstate New York... Looking up at the sky, nothing had changed. The stars were still perfectly aligned, and cosmic life went on as usual.
Natasha sighed. The battle had very nearly cost them all their lives. It wasn't just fun and games anymore... Life was suddenly very real. Even taking off the jumpsuit and putting on regular clothes didn't change anything.
"Hey, mind if I come up?" Came a familiar voice. Natasha rolled onto her side so she could see Hawkeye as he came towards her. Clint Barton, also dressed in regular clothes, sat down beside the redhead, resting his elbows on his knees and staring blankly out at the destroyed city.
"You ever wonder... if things had turned out differently today?" Clint asked, looking at his companion. Natasha rolled onto her back, once again surveying the heavens above.
"Scenarios have been running through my mind, now that I actually have the time to unwind." She replied.
"You should rest..." Clint said, his gaze softening.
"Can't, yet. The nightmares are too close..." Natasha replied, letting another sigh escape her.
"What's this about nightmares?" A new voice came from the other side of the roof. Both Hawkeye and Black Widow looked just in time to see Captain America pull himself over the edge of the roof and begin to walk towards them, zipping up his leather jacket against the nighttime chill.
"Thought this was a private party..." Hawkeye teased. The Captain chuckled and sat next to his teammates, mimicking Clint's posture.
"Play nicely, Steven... Clint..." Natasha scolded, refusing to tear her eyes away from the bright lights of the Big Dipper.
"Wow, would'ya look at that moon, whoo-ee." Steve said, reclining back to look up at the sky as well.
"It's a big 'un" Clint chipped in, taking a flask out of his pocket and drinking from it before passing it over Natasha to Steve.
"Is it really a private party?" Yet another voice came from the edge.
"Just leave your big green friend at the door and you're in the club, Doctor." Hawkeye said.
Bruce Banner clambered up onto their section of roof, setting down a couple liquor bottles by his teammates.
"Pepper chased me out with the broom, so I hijacked a few drinks and figured I would join the party up here." He said nervously.
"Better than the party that's going on in their room..." Steve said, snickering. They each took a bottle, not caring what was in it, and began to drink.
"Actually, they're not in their room. Their room got destroyed, so they took over the dining room table. Luckily I had finished eating my dinner before they went at it, but still. There are things I don't want to know about Tony and Pepper's sex life" Bruce continued.
"Does that mean that there are things you DO want to know about their sex life, Doctor?" Steve asked. Hawkeye choked on his Tequila, nearly spraying his mouthful on Natasha, who rolled away, shrieking. Doctor Banner flushed bright red and took a quick gulp of his beer.
Hawkeye thumped himself on the chest a few times while Captain America chuckled. Slowly the group fell into silence, each sipping at their drinks.
"...You know, we're lucky that we all made it out in one piece today..." Natasha said, holding her bottle close to her chest.
"Amen to that." Hawkeye said, taking another gulp of liquor.
"Here here" Captain America said, raising his bottle.
"To the Avengers." Natasha added.
"To the Avengers" The others echoed, clinking bottles. The group fell into comfortable silence once more.
"Well, I think i'm going to go to bed." Natasha said after a minute or two, getting to her feet.
"Avoid the dining room." Bruce said, wincing.
"Tony said that we could have the rooms on the east side, just take the elevator down and follow the signs." Captain America said. When Natasha raised an eyebrow in confusion, Clint got to his feet.
"I'll show ya. Stark gave me the rundown." He said, taking Natasha's arm and leading her off the roof.
"You two kids be safe..." Steve said, winking when they glared at him. "Good work today, both of you."
"Thanks, Captain" Natasha said. Clint nodded in reply, then they left.
"Well, looks like it's just you and me, Doctor." Steve said, looking at Banner.
"As nice as that sounds, I think i'll be retiring as well." Bruce said politely, getting up and trying not to fall off the roof in his tipsy state.
"Guess it's just me, then" Captain America said, chuckling. He finished his Bourbon and lay back to look at the stars. In seconds, the Captain was asleep.
Hawkeye and Black widow walked through the deserted corridors of Stark Tower, their footsteps echoing noisily off the walls.
"Here it is." Clint said, pressing some buttons on the door lock. The door slid open with barely a sound. Natasha made to go in, but Clint stopped her by stepping in her path.
"Excuse me." Natasha said, trying to move around her teammate.
"Are you okay, Nat?" Clint asked, his serious eyes filled with concern.
"I'm fine..." Natasha replied.
"That doesn't sound like fine to me. If you were fine, you would have kicked my ass to get into your room already." Clint said.
"Don't tempt me..." Natasha warned, causing Clint to chuckle.
"C'mon Red, what's bothering you?"
Natasha sighed, shoulders slumping.
"We fought on the airship... And you almost killed me." Natasha said, looking straight into Clint's eyes. He took a sharp breath.
Natasha moved to pass him, but he caught her around the waist with one arm, spinning her around to look at him, their faces barely an inch apart.
"Did I hurt you?" He asked, his voice dangerous.
Natasha didn't answer, instead she used one hand to pull up the bottom of her shirt, revealing an angry red bruise on her hip. She slowly turned around, revealing that the line of bruises snaked across her hip and up her back.
Clint reached out, matching up his right hand with a hand print on her back. His hand hovered above the surface of her skin for a moment before he let it settle on her bruised back. Natasha inhaled sharply, turning around and letting her shirt fall back into place.
"I'm sorry..." Clint said, tears glimmering in his blue eyes. "I never wanted to hurt you, Nat."
"Kiss me." Natasha whispered in reply. Clint slowly closed the space between their lips, a single tear dripping down his cheek.
They stood there in the deserted hallway for what seemed like an eternity, arms wrapped tightly around each other and kissing as if the fate of the world depended on it. All the unresolved feelings poured out in one moment.
Slowly, they walked through the door of the bedroom, the door sliding shut behind them.
That night, the Avengers fell asleep each thinking of that day. How it had changed them, how it had strengthened them. But the very last thing on each of their minds, even Clint and Natasha's as they fell asleep tangled in each other's embrace, was how close they had become that day.
They were a Team... For real now.