The first time it happened, Natasha thought it was simply something the Hulk automatically did for the entire team. So, she ignored it.

The second time it happened, she thought that it was only because she was a woman and the Hulk just assumed because of her small stature she was weaker than the others. She didn't like this, but she knew Bruce had no control over it, so she let it go.

The third time it happened, Natasha thought it was simply the Hulk's way of apologizing for scaring her the first time they fought. She appreciated that, so she didn't tell Bruce.

The fourth time it happened, she ran out of excuses and had to ask Bruce.

She knocked on the door to his lab lightly. Leaning against the threshold, she waited until she heard his footsteps approaching. He opened the door, eyes widening slightly in surprise.

"Natasha." He greeted, silent question left unanswered as Natasha sashayed by him into his lab. Sitting on a stool, she spun slowly around to face him. His eyes were now narrow, nervous, untrusting.

"Bruce…" she trailed off, thinking of how to state this, "You have already said that you have no control over what the Hulk does…" she trailed off again and Bruce groaned lightly, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"Please, please Natasha, tell me he didn't hurt you." The raw pain in his voice made her frown. She shook her head, only to realize he wouldn't see that with his eyes shut.

"No Bruce…of course not….actually, the opposite…." Bruce's brow furrowed and he looked up to her. She shifted slightly. "He keeps protecting me. For the last four missions, I have been unable to do anything to help the others, because the Hulk refuses to let any enemies near me." Bruce looked interested, confused, and sick at this news. Natasha raised an eyebrow, waiting for some sort of explanation.

He sighed, shifting on his feet. "I can't say I know exactly why he is doing this, but…"

"But?" Natasha prompted. Bruce bit his lip, face heating up slightly. She waited.

"Uhm, the last time he did something similar to what you are explaining was with…Betty. He took from my emotions and felt protective over her. I-uhm…" he trailed off again, but Natasha had already put the pieces together.

He liked her. That was…interesting.

Tilting her head, she watched him continue to stumble out some excuse or apology. She didn't know nor care. Now her interest was piqued.

He continued to talk, but she silenced him, stepping closer until they were face to face. Bruce swallowed his words, staring down at her with his slight height advantage. Natasha tilted her head, searching his face. She both felt and heard his breathing quicken.

"Natasha." He said softly, word loaded with more meaning than she could comprehend at that moment. She knew he had his worries and she had her own, but she couldn't deny the chemistry. She felt it when they had first met and it just continued to grow over the course of a war. She knew his dirty little problems and he knew some of hers. They were both broken, but they both had the opportunity to be fixed.

She leaned up, pressing her lips to his.

Natasha nearly screamed in frustration as the Hulk made a leaping jump, tugging her away from the terrorists she had been in the midst of fighting.

She almost regret asking Bruce, because now it was ten times worse.

Almost regret.


R & R.