Note: This was written for a prompt at the livejournal community be_compromised. The prompt was thatTony realizes that Nat's in a long-term relationship with someone, only Nat insists she doesn't do long-term.

Midnight Ramblings

It was midnight and Tony was doing what Tony did best – mixing a drink. And Natasha was doing what Natasha did best – ignoring him.

He was rambling on about something, she didn't know what and she didn't care. It wasn't until she heard her name and Clint's that she looked up from the book she was reading. "What?" she asked.

"What what? Don't tell me the super spy wasn't paying any attention? You're slipping, 007." He was holding a pair of ice tongs and he waved them in her general direction, which was on the couch in the sunken living room. "Don't make me report you to Fury."

She rolled her eyes. "Trust me, even Fury tunes you out. All of us do."

"All of you?"

She nodded, enjoying the billionaire's look of bewilderment. "We have a support group that meets weekly to discuss different strategies."

"Now that I know is a lie."

"How do you know that?"

"Rogers wouldn't be able to keep something like that a secret."

"He silently recites preamble for The Constitution over and over again until you stop talking." She answered so quickly and so matter-of-factly that Tony faltered for a second. Unfortunately, it didn't take him long to recover.

"And let me guess." He smirked as he poured the bourbon into the glass. He capped the bottle with a flourish. "You like to picture me in my underwear."

She crinkled up her nose in disgust, the unwanted image flashing in her mind. "Ew, no."

"Don't worry, I won't tell our fine feathered friend that you have the hots for me." He winked. "It will be our little secret. Wouldn't want to break up the happy couple."

"Happy what? We're not a couple." She dropped the book and glared at Tony.

"Could have fooled me," he said as he took a sip of his drink. "I was actually going to ask him for advice."

"You were going to ask Clint for advice?"

"Sure, I mean who better to ask about how to survive a long term relationship in the face of all this danger? Life. Death. Saving the world. PMS." He was waving his hands around as he spoke, walking around the bar. He took a seat on a bar stool, his feet not reaching the ground.

"Long-term," she repeated, ignoring the part about PMS, and he nodded. She looked at him like he was stupid. "I don't do long-term."

"Sure. So how long have you and bird brain been doing this whole 'not long-term' thing?" He actually did the air quotes. Air quotes were like fingernails on the chalkboard to her and he was lucky she didn't break his fingers.

She kept her gaze steady. "I've known Clint for five years."

Tony raised an eyebrow at that. "Five years." He gave a low whistle. "And he still hasn't popped the question? Want me to talk to him for you?"

She crossed her arms. "There's nothing to talk about."

"Red, you're the last person I would have ever thought would be living in denial. I knew there had to be a reason you didn't throw yourself at me when we met."

She rolled her eyes. "Please - I didn't throw myself at you because I just needed to be a distraction. You were predictable."

"Predictable? Me?"

"Yes, you. Throw on a short skirt and a good push-up bra and Little Tony does all the thinking."

"I prefer Adequately-sized Tony, thank you very much." He shifted in his seat.

"If that makes you feel better at night …" she let her voice trail off as she picked up her book again.

"Um, what exactly has Pepper been telling you?"

"Wouldn't you like to know," Natasha said as she slowly turned the page. She couldn't even remember what she was reading, but her eyes caught a heaving bosom and she realized it didn't really matter what she was reading. It was a romance novel about a navy seal rescuing a damsel in distress – she'd found it lying on a bench in the training room and she had no idea which tough guy team member it belonged to. She'd asked Pepper if it was hers, but she said she'd never seen it before but to lend it to her later if it turned out to be good.

She was surprised Tony let her get through two paragraphs before clearing his throat, turning the attention back to him. Had to be a new world record. "Didn't you notice when we had shawarma?" he asked, clearly dropping the size topic.

"Notice what?"

"Barton had his leg propped on your chair."

She dropped the book again and gave Tony her best "what the fuck" look. "So?"

"So? He was one leg lift away from peeing on you to mark his territory."

"He hurt his hip." Jesus, it felt like she was talking to a five year old. "Falling off a building," she added as he looked at her blankly.

"And I died delivering a nuclear bomb to outer space. I didn't wind up lying in Steve's lap at dinner, did I?"



"He was sitting at the opposite end of the table."

He put his drink down on the bar and stood up, clapping slowly. She narrowed her eyes at him. "What is that for?"

"I'm impressed. I could almost hear a rim shot on that last one." He bowed slightly. "You learn well, young padawan."


He groaned and looked at the ceiling, as if searching for divine guidance. "Oh, no. Please, I can't handle one more culturally inept member on this team. I'll start recruiting, I swear."

Clint came into the room, carrying a beer and a file – Natasha recognized it as the brief for their next mission. They were leaving in the morning, if she didn't kill Tony and get carted away by the police before then.

"Padawan," Tony said, pointing at Clint who froze in mid-stride.

"Huh?" was his answer.

"Padawan." Tony snapped his fingers at the archer. "What is it?"

"Um …"

"You have thirty seconds. Don't let me down, Robin."

"Robin? What?"

"Hood. Robin Hood. Jesus, do I have to explain everything?"

"Well, I thought you meant Batman and that just didn't make any sense."

Tony snapped his fingers again. "Time's a ticking here."

"Right. Padawan. Star Wars. The lesser trilogy. Everyone knows that." Clint shrugged like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

"Not the future Mrs. Barton."


"Tony thinks we're getting married," Natasha explained from her spot on the couch.

Tony made his way over to the pair and clinked his glass with Clint's beer bottle and then took a seat on the couch, a smug look on his face. "Correction," he said, "Tony knows you're getting married. Congratulations."

Clint looked from Tony to Natasha and then back to Tony, clearly confused. "To each other?"

Before Tony or Natasha could answer, Steve walked in. Tony jumped up, a huge grin on his face as he bellowed, "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union …"

The color drained from Steve's face and he looked at Natasha. "You told him?"


She heard the familiar sound of the door handle turning, though the person opening the door was doing it so slowly that if she'd been asleep, she wouldn't have caught it. The door opened and closed so quickly that she thought she might have imagined it until she sensed movement in the dark space across from her bed, more so from the fluctuations in the air than from any actual noise. Whoever was in her room moved silently and she couldn't make out any shadows.

She eased her hand under her pillow, wrapping it around the small pistol she kept there. She was seconds away from pulling it out when she felt a weight settle onto the mattress next to her. "Hey," the familiar voice said and she let her shoulders relax in relief.

"Hey," she whispered back to her partner.

He stretched out next to her and she instinctively curled into his side. He rested his chin on top of her head, his hands snaking under the t-shirt she wore to bed. His naked chest was warm under her cheek and she smiled.

"Think he bought it?" she asked and Clint laughed.

"Who, Tony? Not for a second, Future Mrs. Barton."

"I like the sound of that." She sighed.

"Me, too."

"Though, I was thinking …" she looked up, tapping her chin. She knew he could make her out in the shadows, his keen eyesight good for more than just spotting targets.

"Stop right there," he warned.

"Future Mrs. Romanoff-Barton has a nice ring to it. Or maybe I won't change my name at all. I don't have to, you know."

"Tasha," he said, his fingers ghosting across her bare skin as he lifted up her shirt.

"What?" she asked as he pulled the garment over her head and tossed it onto the floor.

His fingers traced down her spine and she shivered. He grinned and said, "Shut up and kiss me."

"It would be my genuine pleasure."