Hey guys! I know I've been off the radar but I've had a few things going on. I'll continue MIMLY, don't worry. AU where Tony Stark was born Natasha Stark (Earth 3490). Takes place just after the Avengers movie. Read, Rate, etc and I hope you enjoy! If not, please tell me, I LOVE critiques. :)

"How desperate are you? To call upon such lost creatures to defend you?"

Loki was right in every way when he asked Nick Fury that question. Natasha Stark had asked herself that question a few times herself as she observed the group she had been placed in. She sat in the confines of her workshop, secluded from the rest of her team. Team… She thought to herself as she twirled with a strand of her dark brown hair. In the area she chose to sit, the only light sources were coming from her arc reactor that was somewhat visibly through her shirt, a light a few feet away on a table, and the light from the holographic files she had Jarvis pull up for her. The files of the Avengers.

Steve Rogers. Captain America. A soldier out of time who lived up to the legend. America's golden boy and at the mere sight, Natasha couldn't help but feel a slight rush of nausea rush through her. She frowned, roughly pushing his file to the side. The next file came up as Dr. Bruce Banner. She felt a smile curve its way on her face. Small, but enough to be visible. The one man on her team who she could actually speak English with. The one man she could actually stay in a room with for than five minutes without getting bored. Dr. Bruce Banner was a man of many talents, and one of them was putting up with her obnoxious ways.

Natasha respected that immensely. She gently slid his file, causing the next one to pop up.

Thor, god of thunder and son of Odin. The holographic images reflected brightly against her large brown eyes. Analyzing every detail of every file her eyes met with. Thor, as godlike as he was, reminded her of a soft bear in a way. He was nice enough from the moments they spoke, and he seemed like a fun guy to be with. She felt a small frown appear on her face as she remembered the reason why Loki had turned to a much darker route. Sympathy seemed to shroud her thoughts for a split second as she thought of Loki. Blinking out of her trance, she slid the file over once more revealing there were no more files to be looked at.

Clint Barton's file, along with Natasha Romanoff's file had been marked as classified in the SHIELD database. It wasn't as if she couldn't hack the system easily. She just didn't feel up for such a menial task. She knew somewhat of their pasts. Not a lot, but enough to create a theory around what Loki had said.

Lost creatures…

It was true, whether Fury wanted to admit it or not. They were all lost creatures in one way or another. She too was a "lost creature." And even then she didn't belong. Natasha Stark knew she didn't belong, that much was obvious. Her team didn't even know it was her behind the iron mask. Her eyes darkened as she found SHIELD's file on her. Well… both files on her. One showed her public identity. Natasha Stark. CEO of Stark Industries, former weapons manufacturer. The file delved somewhat into her childhood, but not enough to actually give a good description. The details of her captivity in Afghanistan were completely shortened, leaving the file to only say she had been kidnapped for weapons and that was it. Nothing of Obadiah's betrayals, her torture, or of her arc reactor were mentioned. The second file showed a picture of Iron Man. At first, she wanted to tell the world of her identity. To tell the world of the arc reactor in her chest. But Pepper and Rhodey convinced her otherwise. It seemed to her that perhaps only Fury, Pepper, and Rhodey knew. And maybe Phil Coulson, she could never really tell. She gave props to Coulson though since he always seemed to know everything.

Pepper had mentioned to her that she didn't just have her and Rhodey anymore. She had a team she could depend on, but Natasha found it rather difficult to believe in. Pepper had even gone as far as saying she had a family now. She sighed, thinking about the statement. She didn't need a family. She wanted one, but she didn't need one.

And besides, who would want Natasha Stark to be a part of their family…

In all seriousness, the team didn't like her for her. They liked her for her technology. They liked her for the fact that she brought Iron Man to them. They liked Iron Man, even though "he" disobeyed sometimes. They liked him because he was useful in combat.

Natasha Stark? Not so much. In her mind, the suit and her would always be one, but to them they'd always be two separate entities. Even if they knew her identity, they'd still see it as two separate entities. Nick Fury saw it that way.

Her hand reached for the glass of scotch that had been sitting idly to her side. She had been somewhat sober for a rather decent amount of months, and had only taken a drink or two when she felt stressed. When she felt the need to calm her nerves. For the most part, the alcohol was a way to numb whatever fear or pain she had been feeling. Mostly the alcohol was reserved for the nights she woke up in cold sweats. God only knew how long she had been down here. To her it felt like minutes but she knew better.

More than likely it had been hours since she wandered down here. "Jarvis, what time is it?"

"It's 7:58 am, Miss." Jarvis' voice rang through the lab. She sighed. She had been down there for eight hours. As she grabbed her MIT sweatshirt to cover her torso and arc reactor, she found walking up the stairs out of the workshop to be a bit tiring. Her legs were still a bit sore from the injuries of the Chitauri attack. In the kitchen she found a box with a letter from Pepper. "Get some sleep, you workaholic." A tired smiled reluctantly tugged at her lips as she opened the box to find a few donuts. Crème filled donuts with a chocolate covering. Her favorite.

She took a bite before going over to the coffee machine. Taking two cups along with her: a green and purple cup and a red and gold cup. Natasha found no reason to try and go to sleep. She'd only fall victim to more of her nightmares and she definitely wasn't going to give them that pleasure. "You're up early, Miss Stark." Her eyebrow raised as she recognized the voice. Her eyes glanced to the golden boy as he walked into the kitchen. "I could say the same to you Cap." She responded in monotone.

Steve Rogers scratched the back of his head, clearly nervous about having to be alone with Natasha Stark. He and she weren't on the best of terms since they had a few altercations on the helicarrier. He wasn't too fond of her and she clearly wasn't too fond of him. He knew that well enough. She poured the coffee into a cup before fumbling towards a chair at the counter, not even giving a second glance at Steve. The air couldn't be more tense than it already was. Steve was thankful when Jarvis decided to speak up. "Miss Stark, Director Fury is on the line. He says it's imperative to wake the others for a meeting." She pinched the bridge of her nose. She didn't need visits from the one eyes asshole so early in the day. "Thank you Jarvis. If you could, wake up the others and deliver the message." She took another bite of her donut when she noticed Steve looking at her.

"Aren't you going to call Iron Man? Should he be here for the briefing?" He held a worried glance as he posed the question. She smirked in response. "I'll pass on anything important to Iron Man. Don't get your tights in a twist Wonder Boy." Steve frowned at her comment as Natasha got up once more, this time crossing the area to Steve. Steve had begun to notice a lot about Natasha Stark. The way she would spend hours awake without an ounce of sleep. How she seemed to always respond with a joke or a sarcastic response. How she would disobey any orders that were given to her by Fury or himself. How-

Steve shook his head, stopping himself from thinking any more harshly of the women in front of him. She wasn't even on the team, technically speaking. If anything Natasha Stark played the role of a consultant or sponsor for the Avengers. Giving them housing, technology, ect. But even then, she still ought to have listened every once in a while. She walked away from him and too the meeting room, still in her short shorts and MIT sweater. Steve Rogers hadn't been able to get a lot out of her file, but he knew she was a rather different individual. He followed her to the meeting room, forgetting why he had come to the kitchen in the first place.

The rest of the group slowly began to trickle in, which Steve was thankful for. Natasha seemed to refuse any form of conversation with Steve, and frankly he couldn't help but feel fidgety. Almost as if there was an underlying glare from whenever she briefly looked up to see if he was still there. She sat on her chair rather casually, her knees brought up to the seat, her phone firmly held in her hand. Steve also noticed how she had two cups of coffee in front of her. He could only assume they were to keep her awake. Her lack of sleep was evident and Steve couldn't help but notice this was one of the many horrible habits of Natasha Stark.

"Hey Nat." Her head shot up at the voice, Bruce Banner came strolling in. A lavender flannel shirt and a pair of sweatpants. His hair was still disheveled and he looked like he had just gotten up. Fury had said it was rather urgent. He took his seat next to Natasha as she slid him the purple and green mug of coffee. "Just the way you like it." She grinned widely. He gave her a smile in response as he took a sip and immediately began talking about technology and scientific stuff, something that Steve wasn't quite able to follow from across the table. Steve observed the interaction and noticed the way her attitude would change with Bruce. How her face immediately lit up at the mere sound of his voice.

And it unnerved him to no end.

Romanoff and Clint walked in side by side, looking a tad bit more put together compared to Natasha and Bruce. They sat next to Steve, making him feel slightly less awkward than before. Nick Fury strolled in with the ever professional look he had. It was strict and stern in every possible way imaginable. As he approached the front of the room, everyone began giving attention except for Bruce and Natasha. "Excuse me, but if you two gossiping girls are done, I'd like to brief you all on a serious threat, especially to you, Stark." He glared at the two. Bruce raised an eye brow in curiosity and Natasha merely smirked.

"We've recently noticed that a group of terrorists witch Miss Stark has been well acquainted with." Fury emphasized. "Has recently shown up on our radars." Steve glanced at Natasha as he noticed her attention was completely on the screen. Her eyes darkened as an area began to be pinpointed. "They were scene using tech from both Stark and Hammer Industries. It was from before your closing of the weapons manufacturer but it seems Hammer has taken the time to upgrade it."

The screen began showing men running around attacking and killing civilians, the screen zoomed in on what seemed to be causing alarm. Fury froze the image and enhanced it for all to see. "This is why we've called you all here for…" The image showed something similar to an iron suit. Obviously more outdated, and more than likely more vulnerable. Shitty workmanship… Natasha thought to herself, although she still felt a need to glare at the screen. Hammer was still planning on trying to copy her ideas. She needed to put an end to it. "We have a few problems here…" Fury decided to speak up again while he had her full attention. "One being this. Plus the fact that it's not necessarily made of iron. We believe it's made with vibranium. How Hammer got his hands on it, we're going to find out. The other problem is that three of our agents have been captured and held hostage, more than likely being interrogated, tortured-"

Natasha stood up sharply in her chair, interrupting Fury completely. She grabbed her cup of coffee and began to make her way out of the room. "Miss Stark, we're not done her-" Steve Rogers had used his Captain voice. A stern and strict authoritative voice that deeply contrasted the persona of Steve Rogers. It turned Natasha on. She'd never admit it out loud, but she continued out of the room, ignoring him completely. "Let her go, Captain. She knows first hand what those agents are going through…"

"How? She's a civilian, isn't she?" He was deeply confused for a moment, just as Clint and Bruce had been. Romanoff kept a stoic face. Steve hadn't read the file, but even if he had he knew there wasn't much information on Natasha Stark. At the time he wasn't sure why but he felt himself trying to fiddle the pieces together. A look of remorse formed on his face as he finally pieced it together.

After everything he said to her on the helicarrier, he felt like an asshole…

No one would see Natasha Stark for the next few hours. Bruce had been reading a book silently in the corner, flipping a page every few seconds. Clint and Romanoff were sparring in the training facilities as Steve had been in the room with Bruce, scanning through Natasha Stark's file. He wanted to know more about her. Just so that he wouldn't make an ass of himself any further than he already had. A part of him felt guilty for what had happened…

"You have no idea what it's like out there. You're a selfish little brat. You've been kept prim and neatly inside this glass bubble of luxury when you have no idea what it's like to be a soldier. Why Fury ever considered calling you is beyond me."

It was harsh. He knew that. But a small part of him believed she deserved the yelling. She was reckless, and incredibly hardheaded, not to mention rude beyond belief. Steve held a frustrated gaze at the incredibly vague file. Bruce had been observing him for some time. "Anything wrong there, Cap?" Bruce's calm voice broke Steve from his thinking as he looked up and met eyes with the doctor. Steve sighed. "I think I'm going to go talk to Stark. I have a few things I need to say to her. I-"

"I wouldn't do that if I were you." Bruce chuckled as he closed his book. Steve frowned at the objection. "She's a private person. She has her secrets and her reasons. She can come off a tad bit strong but she has her reasons. We should respect that." Bruce picked himself up off the chair and stopped a few feet in front of Steve. "I have to go down there since I said I'd help her with something. But if you really want to try your luck, you can go ahead of me?"

Steve was definitely in the mood to try his luck.

Down in the workshop, Natasha Stark was fiddling with her arc reactor. Parts of the medal had been dented in a previous battle and she wanted to fix it while she had the time alone to herself. She had since changed into a button down red polo. Much easier to work on her arc reactor when she didn't have to pull and stretch a shirt. She turned the reactor gentle and pulled it from its position in her chest. The blue light illuminating her face gave her a rush of anxiety. Her memory flashed to her time in that cave. Her time with Yinsen. Her time being tortures and struggling to hold onto life.

And in her subconscious, she wondered about the consequences of completely pulling the reactor out and never putting it back in. To control her own fate for once. She'd never admit it to the SHIELD interviewers or the PTSD specialists that Pepper and Rhodey had hired, but she did at times feel that maybe the world would be better without a Natasha Stark. It would be a hell of a lot easier to live in a world without her. She paused before disconnecting the wire that connected her and the reactor together. A gasp of air left her lungs as she began feeling weak. She felt her face begin to pale as she placed the old reactor on the table and grabbed the new one. Her hands were small enough for her to connect it herself and with a jolt of energy she took a deep breath, feeling a bit better. She felt out of breath. It was almost as if she had been placed under water. The feeling of knowing you could die at any minute was a feeling you could never exactly forget. It would always resonate in her mind.

"Miss Stark, Captain Rogers is requesting entrance to the lab. Would you like to grant him access?" Jarvis' AI voice rang through the lab. Shit… "Yes Jarvis!" She ran across the lab to grab her MIT sweater, throwing it on her just before Steve Rogers strolled in. He was taken aback by her appearance. She looked ghostly pale and seemed out of breath. "What can I do for you, Capsicle?" She enunciated as she regained her composure. Her hair fell in such a way that it framed her face perfectly, her wide eyes met his blue eyes, waiting for a response. "I came…" He hesitated, now unsure if him coming down had been a good idea at all. "You seemed… upset during the briefing. When they mentioned the terrorist group… I was just making sure you're okay. I mean Fury said you had a closer relation to this than you let on and-"

She raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me, Fury said what?" She would murder the man if she could. "He said you knew what the agents were probably going through." A scowl appeared on her face. "Listen Golden Boy, the douche bag had no right to tell you any of that. Forget you heard it and move on." She walked past him and approached a rather large table made for two to work at. Steve presumed it was for both her and Bruce Banner. She took a seat and began fiddling with a few machines. "Stark, look, I get you don't want to talk about it, whatever happened over there. But the main reason I came down here was to say I'm sorry…"

"Okay, apology accepted." She said bluntly, continuing to fiddle with her project. Steve frowned. "I don't think you understand what I'm apologizing for. What I said on the helicarrier about you not knowing what it's like… I didn't know when I said that and I shouldn't have said it."

Natasha rolled her eyes, spinning around in her chair looking him dead straight in the eye. He couldn't help but feel a bit of blood rush to his face. "I'm going to stop you right there. You're apologizing because it wasn't polite to say what you said. Don't go apologizing for saying something you believe in. Especially when it's the truth. Yes, Natasha Stark is a selfish little brat who only fends for herself. I get it. We can move on. Now if you would, let's leave the big business machines to Bruce and I. Okay? Okay." Her voice held a bitter tone And Steve began to piece together that there was something more behind her words.

She turned back around just as Bruce began walking up from behind Steve. Steve had a look of defeat as he turned to leave the lab, leaving the two geniuses to their work. He was angry at the fact that she wouldn't let him apologize but he was more frustrated over the fact that even though she put on the big show of being an ego obsessed billionaire genius playgirl philanthropist, she inwardly thought so low of herself.

And it was incredibly unnerving.

Before he could leave, Jarvis' voice rang through the lab. "Miss Stark, Director Fury is on the line. He said it's time to suit up." Natasha's eye twitched slightly before figuring out a response. "I guess that's for you guys. I wish you the best of luck then. My advice: don't die." She looked up and her eyes met with the Captain's. He contemplated saying something, but decided against it. It was a conversation for a later time. Now it was time to suit up. He walked out and Bruce lingered for a moment, sensing that Natasha had been feeling off. She was lacking her usual spunk. But nonetheless, he followed Steve out.

Natasha stood there for a moment, thinking to herself.

"Jarvis?" She said loudly stopping what she was doing. She felt herself slouch in the computer chair as she slid off her sweater. She looked down at her arc reactor once more. The bright glow filling the room with the odd light. "Yes, Miss Stark?" He replied.

"Should I even be doing this?" She asked, just loud enough for the AI to hear. She got up and walked over to her wall of suits, which was located in a restricted room that she only had access. She stared up at the suit, unsure what she should be doing. "What exactly do you mean, Miss Stark?" Jarvis replied swiftly. "Really though, how desperate was he… to call on us? To call on me?" Her mind flashed to what the Captain had said to herShe scowled as she pressed the button that signaled for the suit prep to begin as she walked over to the circle. Before Jarvis could answer, she quickly added.

"Rhetorical question. Don't answer." She said in a swift, detached sort of voice.