Disclaimer: I do not own The Avengers, Iron Man, or any related characters and plotlines you see here.

This is what I'm doing in-between chapters of my Avengers/Hunger Games crossover: a series of Natasha/Tony one-shots.

There's this community on LiveJournal called The Pepperony 100, where there are one hundred one-word prompts on which you can base a "Pepperony" story. Since I'm a fan of Natasha and Tony, I've decided to attempt turning the Pepperony 100 into the (insert clever mashup of Natasha and Tony) 100.


Heart of a Spider

98. Pretend

He would never admit it—that's just Tony—but I see it: the way he looks at her. The stories they laugh over. How he behaves whenever she's around. I ran Tony's life for years; I still do, sometimes. I know when he sees something (or someone) he likes. I've handled countless art and car transactions. I've attended too many parties to not recognize "the look." And in all those instances, I never would have imagined the look would be turned on me.

Tony came out of captivity a completely different man. He stopped the wild partying. He set his company on a more honest path. In short, he got his priorities in line. It just so happened, after a dance and an almost-kiss, that I seemed to be included in those priorities.

At first, I thought he was suffering the effects of a concussion. Sure, we traded some interesting banter on a regular basis, but banter was the language Tony spoke. It wasn't flirting (so I thought), and it certainly didn't explain the jump from witty retorts to that soft look in his eye the night we danced together. Romance just wasn't in Tony Stark's repertoire. Or it wasn't as far as I knew.

Then suddenly, there was a "you and me" and a mention of "let's get out of here." I didn't know what to do but say yes.

We never sorted out what "you and me" meant. Tony was new to the whole romance thing, so I let it slide. But for all his lack of experience, he sure knows how to sweep a girl off her feet. Parties. Galas. Endless presents and flowers "just because." And the things he says…I spend countless daydreams replaying them in my head.

It's different, waking up next to him every morning. Sometimes, he's still asleep. Others, he's staring at me with that big dumb grin of his. "Morning, kiddo," he always says. I hate that, but I know Tony means it in the best possible way. Pet names obviously aren't his strong suit. He's the man who is good at everything he ever picks up…besides relationships. But I let that slide, too. His attempts and failures are cuter than they are disappointing.

This, though. This may be something I can't handle. I knew she was trouble the minute Tony invited her into the boxing ring in his gym. Her out-of-nowhere fighting skills, the sharp look in her eyes. She's out of Tony's reach, and I know Tony—it just makes him want her all the more. He would never admit it, though. So as long he's around, I guess we'll both have to pretend she's not a threat.

It's only a matter of time.


Reviews are appreciated. –MS-