Disclaimer: I don't own the Avengers.
Note: This fic is based on events from the Winter Soldier monthly series and may contain spoilers, including a spoiler for a character death.
Out In The Cold
by Jennifer Collins
"We're calling Tony?" James asked, slightly irritated.
Steve sighed. "You might as well face the fact that your cover is blown."
"Besides, Hill and Fury think it's best if she stays in her old room at the Avengers mansion for now," He added, not quite looking his former partner in the eye.
Bucky frowned. "She really has no memory of me?"
Steve shook his head. "I'm afraid not, pal."
"Then I guess the apartment's no place for her right now," He said quietly.
"I'm sorry, Buck."
"Does she know about Sitwell…. and everything else?"
"Yes. Maria told her."
"How is she taking it?"
Steve shrugged. "S.H.I.E.L.D. got her a therapist to help cope. She's also seeing a psychologist four times a week. It's going to be a long process getting her back, you know."
"And we need everyone's cooperation."
"I'm talking about you, Buck."
James narrowed his eyes defiantly. "I'll be on my best behavior," he promised sarcastically.
"We're all in this together," Steve reminded him. "Don't worry, we'll find a way to get her back. But until we do, we need to focus on what's best for Natasha. Now come on. Hill's already at the mansion and Tony is expecting us."
"Where's Natasha now?"
"Clint's driving her over there."
"What, he gets to see her before I do?"
"Barnes. It's good to see you alive. Truly," Tony said, grabbing his hand in a firm shake when they arrived at the mansion. "Steve told me yesterday but of course I had to see for myself."
"Of course," James said, a little coolly. After a moment, he added, "Thank you… for doing this."
"Anything for a fellow Avenger," Tony replied. "And you know… your room is just the way you left it. It might do you some good to stay here for awhile as well. I'm sure the others would appreciate having you close by, now that they all know."
"Gentlemen," Maria Hill greeted them. "Barton just pulled up in the driveway."
James looked up, his heart pounding in his ears.
"Agent Romanoff will not be on active duty until further notice," she reminded them. "And we mustn't do anything to disrupt her healing process," she advised, looking pointedly at James. "Now, happy faces, everyone."
Just then, the front door opened and Clint came sailing through, followed by Logan and Natasha, who walked in arm in arm.
"Agent Romanoff," Tony said with a smile. "Welcome home."
Natasha threw her arms around his neck, pulling him into a hug. "Thanks, Tony."
"It's good to see you, Natasha," Steve said, patting her on the back.
James nodded a polite hello.
"I've got to bring this stuff upstairs," Natasha said, gesturing to her bags with barely a glance at him.
"I'll come with you," Hill offered. "We have much to discuss."