Title: Cake

Author: Raylie, otherwise known as dietcokebreath

Summary: The gang receives a token of gratitude for their services. The sweet treat brings two Avengers a little closer.

It had been a gift.

The gang had been staying at Stark Tower for the past few days, and conveniently, this is where Nick Fury knew where to send it.

It arrived late one night, a few hours past dinnertime, and no one really knows how it got through the elevators, let alone propped in all its frosted glory in Tony Stark's kitchen.

Accompanying the five-tiered, five-foot tall cake - half marbleized, half dark chocolate, thickly frosted with pristine, smooth white buttercream and small, crafted edible painted fondant figures of each of the Avengers - was a note.

"If you, for any reason cannot save the cake," the note read in pedestrian handwritten scrawl, "I'm sure as hell you'll find some way to eat it."

Natasha Romanoff noticed it in in the kitchen first, and admired the cake and the gesture on Fury's behalf, but couldn't help but think it was a bit childish. Cakes were something that were for children's' birthday parties. Graduations. Weddings. Celebrations that were few and far beyond what she was acclimated to as a master spy.

She did have a slight penchant for sweets, as she did as a child, so she figured she might give into indulgence and sneak a slice in before dawn where Clint - god love him - might end up eating half of the goddamn thing. She could see the Captain and Stark go to town on it, as well. Cake may not be Thor's thing. Do gods even eat cake? She wondered.

Natasha figured sleep wasn't coming, so she walked to the kitchen for a late night snack, a schematic of the kitchen appearing in her head. Now where does Tony keep his knives?

She was about to rummage through the drawers for a plate, when a voice startled her.

"Mmm, refined sugar." Bruce Banner stood in the kitchen, prodding a slender slice of cake on a plate with a fork.

She glanced over at the cake, a tiny sliver in one of the middle tiers missing.

"You can't sleep either?" Natasha propped herself on a stool by the breakfast bar, and unbeknownst to her, a cup of coffee appeared out of thin air. She shifted on her elbow, knocking it to the hardwood floor.

"I don't sleep," Bruce said, poking his slice a little more, not looking up.

"You don't sleep?"

"Well, I do, just not very well."

"This probably won't help much," Natasha said standing up next to the cake, admiring the craftsmanship in the small, gumpaste and fondant sculpted figures nestled in the frosting. She lifted the Hulk figure - a giant, brilliantly whittled edible green toy - and bit its arm off. It was chewy. The fondant was sweet and pliant in her mouth.

"I metabolize sugar pretty well," Bruce said nonchalantly, with a mouthful. "The other guy...not so much."

Natasha raised her eyebrow at the comparison. "That's an interesting...dynamic."

Bruce smiled. "From my lips to his ass."

It took Natasha a brief moment to realize this was a joke.

Putting the plate down, he walked towards her slowly, standing in front of the giant, frosted marvel. He lifted the Black Widow figure and held it up to her half-eaten Hulk as if wanting to play.

"So the Other Guy enjoys cake too, I take it?" Natasha said to break the silence, now somewhat uncomfortable since Bruce chose to keep Natasha's fondant figure untouched.

"You want to see how the Other Guy eats cake, huh?" Bruce said, grinning.

Natasha knew she might be wading into uncomfortable - hell, dangerous territory, but something in the back of her mind, perhaps out of stupid curiosity, told her to proceed. "Yeah, sure?"

To her chagrin, Bruce then reached into the giant cake - pulled out a crumbly, frosting-filled handful, and proceeded to feed himself with his bare hands, cascades of chocolate raining down his cream woven shirt.

Natasha stifled what was something between a giggle and a gasp of horror. She could not believe what she was seeing, and was torn between running out of the room screaming, or perhaps taking a swipe of the giant cake herself.

Fight or flight instincts flooded her brain, and for some reason, she chose to do neither. Without even her noticing, a smile spread across her face, so wide that her lips might be touching her red locks.

"So sometimes he goes 'Awwrrrrr'," Bruce began. "And other's he's like 'Rwwaaaaa.'"

"So he says something, then says it backwards?"

"Yeah, and other times he recites a Shakespearean sonnet, depending on how good the cake is."

Natasha then sighed, letting go of any fear she had prior, almost forgetting why she had been afraid in the first place - of being alone, especially with him, his tendencies, and their history.

She was starting to realize that in this moment, he was neither mild-mannered scientist nor raging green post-steroidal psychopath - he was boyish and demure, a careless child happily devouring a sweet treat during a birthday party, and she was afraid she might actually start laughing at him.

Bits of chocolate cake littered his shoulders, his fingers smeared with blended bits of colored frosting. He unknowingly ran his fingers through his dark, wavy locks, causing the frosting now to streak down his face.

Natasha was about to lose it herself. To maybe turn into something scarier than the Hulk would ever be.

"You've got a little..." She gestured to her upper lip, flicking it up and down.

"Do I?" Bruce grinned at her as he attempted to wipe the cake off his face with his shoulder, stopping suddenly to instead try to lick the frosting off his upper lip. The long tongue darted out of his mouth, catching some of the white, straining to reach the far corners of his cheeks, but failing.

He was aimlessly licking his chops, and Natasha was nearly at the breaking point.

"No, you missed. See?" Natasha once again demonstrated on her own face where Bruce should probably try to scrub his own.

"Here, let me -" Natasha stepped forward towards him, grabbing a paper towel from the counter, trying to wipe some of the frosting off the side of his face. She held his neck upright and tried to swipe the tissue towards his earlobe when he pulled away.

"No-" Bruce looked away for a moment with a gruff grunt, then turned directly away from her, stiff.

Natasha's blood ran cold. His heels did not turn, yet his fists started to clench.

What did she do? Did she let her guard down too quickly? I shouldn't have come here alone, she immediately scolded herself, then swore a few times at herself in Russian, How could I have been so stupid, how could I even have thought just for a moment, JUST for a moment that -

Natasha's thoughts were interrupted when Bruce stiffly turned his head back towards her.

He stared blankly for a second.

Then gave her a wide grin the size of Russia itself.

His teeth were covered - completely blackened by another mouthful of cake.

"OH MY GOD! YOU-" Natasha then could not help but break down in laughter. She was chortling at the absurdity and audacity of it all, and Bruce - god damn it, Bruce, such a fucking wiseass, would even think to pull such nonsense, would even have the nerve to pull such a stunt. He was soon tumbling after on his behind, laughing right along beside her.

She fell to her knees, clutching them. Natasha laughed so hard she thought her sides would collapse in exhaustion. She felt as if Stark's kitchen floor itself might possibly move to how hard her body was convulsing. She was laughing so hard that she briefly couldn't remember where she was, what she had been doing, or the context of the entire situation. Most frightening above all, she couldn't remember laughing this ostentatiously hard about anything, let alone ever.

He stood up and over her, his hands still covered in the cake bits. He reached out playfully, and pretended to lunge out to grab her.

"Don't you even THINK about -"

He softly growled and shook his fingers, getting close to her face. Her assassin instincts caused her to lock her legs around his waist, swiftly pulling him down. She pinned his wrists to the ground, and she was now on top, both of them breathing heavily, labored, wide eyed, glaring at each other like children - no, really more like animals - playing together for the first time.

It felt primal, and the energy was raw and unfiltered, and for a minute, she forgot about heart rates, gamma rays, blood pressure monitors, professionalism, extraterrestrial beings, terrorist attacks, protocol - it was just Bruce, smartass man-child dressed like a hipster professor with his disheveled glasses, brooding dark eyes and fantastic - noticeably fantastic cheekbones and jawline - and what the hell?

What was coming over her? Natasha, still breathing heavily, examined Bruce, and he did the same to her, his chest heaving, still full of chocolate.

"You..." she began, growling.

Bruce replied with a low, rumbly chuckle. His dark eyes fluttered in what appeared to be absolute rapture. A stray bit of vanilla frosting found itself back to his upper lip. Natasha noticed his tongue dart out to retrieve it, when out of instinct, without even thought, she swept down and licked the dollop of frosting off his skin, sucking his upper lip in desperation.

She felt him tremble and tense beneath her for a brief second, then relaxing, one of his cake covered hands caressing her face and pulling her in closer, returning the kiss. Natasha pulled back for a brief moment, and his head thrashed a bit from the recoil, and she took the opportunity to twirl her tongue down the sinewy, stubbled muscles of his neck. They were littered with smears of the frosting and she claimed every streak as her own, the sugar mixed with sweat dancing in her mouth.

She moved up, and down over him again, his lips capturing hers once more, this time her hands directly on his bare chest, the buttons on his shirt inferably popped off. She froze for a brief moment, then examined his skin.

Pink, she noticed. No green. Carry on.

Natasha's tongue was so far deep in his mouth that she swore she might eat him alive. This wasn't a problem since he seemed to be perfectly content devouring her right back, consuming the sugar between them that had haphazardly covered both of their bodies.

She was consumed by a cloud of hunger, all perpetuated by him - now no longer just mousy, marginally attractive Dr. Banner, but now just right out fucking gorgeous - unpredictable, capricious, animalistic.

He then surprised her again by briefly wriggling free of her grip to grab another messy handful of cake - this time, from the marbleized side, and held it up to her earnestly, as if offering a truce.

She pulled back, examining it, eyebrow raised. She accepted a small messy handful and smeared the marble-chocolate mess on her hand, slowly sucking and licking each of her fingers, sitting upright on his torso so the filtered moonlight through the kitchen window would flood in the room and halo around her.

Her eye peeked down and he was indeed watching with eyes wide open, as enveloped by euphoria as she.

Natasha's next move was to punish Bruce for his earlier insolence - for threatening to smear cake in her perfectly blow-dried crimson locks. Actually, he succeeded - it would take at least an extra shampoo to wash all of it out. She took the remaining smudge of frosting and streaked it across his ear, then proceeded to suck the earlobe.

As she suspected, Bruce twitched beneath her in unbearable arousal, and he acknowledged the unspoken punishment by letting her in, letting her flicker his ear.

Just as Natasha was about to give Bruce and the kitchen a break-in that would probably wake up all of Manhattan, a clamor from outside the kitchen arose.

"Ugh..." Clint, somewhat drunk, stumbled into the kitchen, flipped up the tap and filled a glass with water.

To Bruce and Natasha's horror, he took a swig of the glass and looked around the room.

"Oh hey, there's cake." He then proceeded to pass out on Tony's kitchen floor.

"We need to get out of here," Natasha whispered sharply. "My room?"

"Co-sign." She helped Bruce up, and they both darted out of the kitchen. Fast.

"What the hell happened here?" Tony woke up early the next morning to find his usually pristine kitchen smeared - no, completely obliterated, by a partially destroyed giant cake.

What was left of the cake had stood up quite well over the night, unlike the hungover Hawkeye that lay not far from where Tony stood.

"Aw, Clint. Seriously, man, what the fuck?"

Clint's eyes adjusted to the sunlight rather quickly and he looked upward to find Tony Stark standing in what was once the glass of water he poured himself last night.

"Why am I here?"

"You know exactly why you're here. And the cake - are you responsible for the cake?"

Clint squinted. "There's cake?"

"Yes, there's cake. It was probably a really good cake, too, until your drunk ass came in here last night and walloped it."

"I didn't do that," Clint said, dumbfounded. "I was incredibly drunk, but I didn't have any cake. Yeah, now I want some cake." Clint managed to hoist himself up via some stools and stumbled next to Stark.

They examined the area that had been damaged, and they eyed the two fondant figures pulled off the cake - Hulk and Black Widow, Hulk being half chewed through, the food-color paint job off the Black Widow figure smeared as if someone had been grasping it.

"Clint, you seriously don't remember what happened last night?" Stark mused, pinching the withered Black Widow figure between his finger and thumb.

"All I know is that someone got to this cake before me, and that's rather upsetting." Clint stood up and swiped some frosting from the opposite side of where the cake had been gutted.

Without candor, Bruce and Natasha then walked into the kitchen in a single file line, both immediately frozen at the sight of Clint and Tony, in front of them the partially-decimated Hulk and Black Widow fondant figures on the counter.

"Look guys," Tony said coldly to the room, "there's cake."

"Ah, cake!" Bruce exclaimed, nodding in admiration.

"Yeah. Caaaake." Natasha nodded with a forced smile, just as guiltily.

"You guys wouldn't happen to know what happened to the cake, would you?" Tony asked.

Bruce pursed his lips thoughtfully. "No," he mused innocently, shaking his dark curls.

Tony turned to Natasha.

"Nope." She shook her head, her short red locks bouncing.

"Interesting." Tony said as he took a swipe of frosting still Natasha's cheek as he exited the kitchen.

Without even looking at Clint for solidarity, they both bounded out of the kitchen.

"Well, what do we do with the rest of it?" Bruce asked her.

"We can always save the rest for tonight," she said. "I'm sure at this point they won't even want to touch it."

They both chuckled under their breath, knowing that they probably would get weeks, hell, maybe even months worth of shit for their kitchen antics, but the satisfied looks they gave each other both read one sentiment: Worth it.