NICKNAMES: I always had Steve call Natasha 'Nat' because I wanted something different from what Clint calls her. There's a lot of Clintasha out there (and frankly it is just not my thing. It's worse than some of the Stony stuff in my book, and I really can't read that ship in the slightest) and Clint ALWAYS calls her 'Tasha'. I needed something different. So last chapter the difference was more apparent than ever because Steve and Clint were both calling her their respective names. It was a writer's choice thing, but I think it'll stick for me at least. I haven't read much in the way of Stasha in awhile.

Last chapter and the shortest one too. Oh well. I rather like it though. If anyone's interested, this is the chapter I got stuck on. I had the first chapter done and just kinda sat there and went, "Well, damn. What next?"

That's the curse of the Writers.

Chapter Five

They were completely unnoticed by everyone in Central Park. Everyone around them was too busy enjoying the nice day outside to even consider matching their faces to that of New York's heroes. Though the Chitauri invasion was not likely to be quickly forgotten, it was definitely within the out of mind, out of sight column of human life.

She and Steve took a more secluded pathway that hugged more to the trees rather than one of the larger, bench lined paths. It was slow and quiet, exactly what she wanted right now, and part of her wondered whether or not Steve enjoyed the atmosphere as much as she. From what she knew about life when he'd grown up, everything was done slower, at an easier pace. The hustle and bustle of today was non-existent and after her life as a spy she sort of craved that idea.

"I got beat up behind that set of trees there," Steve said suddenly and Natasha followed where he was pointing to with her eyes.

"When?" she asked without thinking. It was such a contrast to what she knew about him today to think of him as unable to defend himself.

"I was fifteen," he replied, "and these two older boys were taunting this little girl. I told them to leave her alone, and they turned on me. The girl ran when they weren't looking, and then they beat me up."

"Did anyone help you?" she asked, hoping deep down that someone had. She couldn't fathom why anyone would truly want to hurt him for the sake of pleasure, but she knew from her time in Russia and her life as a spy that many people did horrible things for their own sick pleasure.

"My best friend found me," he nodded. "Came out of nowhere. He was always like that though; he just showed up and saved me when I got beat up. Sometimes he wasn't there, but when he was he always fought them off for me. And he never made fun of me for it either."

"He sounds like a really good friend," she smiled and bumped shoulders with him. It was a bad move, since he hardly moved, and she ended up hurting herself a bit in the process.

"He was," Steve chuckled a bit and nodded. "He died in the war."

She didn't say anything, just reached down and clasped his hand in hers, twining their fingers together. Steve glanced at their hands and then at her, flashing her a small grin and looking forwards once more.

"I heard you officially quit SHIELD," he changed the subject.

"I did, a few weeks ago," she nodded.

"I'm glad. You were really torn up the last time I saw you," he told her and gave a small squeeze to her hand to show he didn't mean to patronize her. She found that she wasn't quick to anger at the comment like she had when Clint had come to her apartment a week ago. Instead she felt better, like he accepted her in whatever form she came in.

"I was," she answered honestly. "But you helped a lot though, I really needed you there that night."

"I'll always be there when you need me, Nat," he told her. "I'm glad you called me. It felt good to be there for you."

"You really mean that, don't you?" she asked and looked up at him. His head turned and his blue eyes met hers making her suddenly feel a bit more vulnerable.

"I do," he truthfully said. "You have trouble believing that sometimes, don't you?"

She looked away ashamed. It was true, she did have trouble accepting the unconditional love that Steve always gave her.

"Why?" he asked after a moment.

"I… I lost my parents when I was very little. I was taken in by the wrong people and conditioned to not trust anyone. And then I came to SHIELD with Clint, and they still told me not to trust anyone. Clint was the only person I was close to for years, and I can trust him to have my back, but he's not very good with his emotions. He's not a good example. No one in SHIELD was, really. It wasn't until I really got to know you that I realized what it meant to feel the way I do. To feel… alive.

"When Clint found out I'd left SHIELD he was angry," she continued. Steve gave another reassuring squeeze to her hand. "He didn't understand why I didn't tell him beforehand, why I hadn't told him afterwards. He heard from SHIELD that I'd left, when one year ago he would have known a month ahead of it. But a year ago he'd have also been able to talk me back out of leaving, and I didn't want to feel like I was being… rejected by him. And then he rejected me anyways. He and I jumped to anger, and when I tried explaining why I left he didn't understand."

"He'll still be there for you," Steve told her and a small smile lifted at the corners of her mouth. She looked up at him and nodded.

"I know, but it'll take time. We probably won't ever be as close as we were before. I don't know if it's just because I left SHIELD either; I think a lot of it is that I've changed."

"That's not a bad thing that you've changed. Sometimes people just grow and most of the time it's for the better."

"I know," she told him, and it was true. She did know that she'd changed and it was for the better. She felt more alive and in touch with her emotions than she ever had before and it was exhilarating. "Thank you for still being here."

"I'll be here in whatever way you want, Nat, you know that," he said, and she picked up on the slightly forced tone of his voice. What he said was still genuine, but she thought it sounded longing almost. He wanted more, and she knew it. But she also knew that she was in more of a position to give it to him than she ever had been in the past.

She stopped walking and turned towards him. "What do you want, Steve? Really? You're too self-sacrificing and while that is admirable, I want to know what you want."

Steve looked off towards the trees across the green opposite their path and let out a long breath. He looked back down at her and answered, "I want you, Natasha. I want to be there for you every single day of every year. I want to wake up next to you and have you not regret what happened the night before, whatever it was that happened. I just want you to be happy, but I also want you to be happy with me."

She smiled and replied, "Okay," before stepping up on her toes and leaning in to capture his lips. He was still a moment before returning the kiss with fervor she hadn't felt since the night that had really spawned every change in her. His strong arm wrapped around her lower back, lifting her closer to him and her own arms reached up to link around his neck and hold his head to hers. It was one of the best kisses Natasha had ever had, and for once she finally let herself go into it. She relaxed and let it happen, not caring about her surroundings, or how exposed she was, or what he was thinking in that moment. The level of trust she gave him was like nothing she'd ever really given anyone before and while it struck her suddenly she never wanted to take it back. She trusted Steve with more than her life, like she had always trusted Clint. She trusted Steve with her heart and she let him in.

When they pulled back, neither pulled their arms back, they just held close, still reveling in the high that remained.

"Wow," Steve whispered between them.

"Yeah," Natasha nodded. "Wow."

"You want to go Steady then?" he asked with a crooked smile and after a beat Natasha burst into laughter and leaned her forehead against his shoulder and hugged his shoulders tighter to her. "That a yes?" he asked and she nodded into him.

"It's a yes," she said and pulled back to look at him. "I think I love you."

Steve's grin grew more and he nodded, leaning in to capture her lips again. "I think I love you too, Nat," he said when he pulled back again.

"Good," she grinned and gave him one more chaste kiss before slipping down to stand fully on her own. "Now, go show me a proper time, Captain."

"That I will, Ma'am," he nodded and took her hand again and continued their relaxing walk through the park.

That's it. That's the end. Unless I come up with a REALLY good plot, I won't be adding a sequel. You're welcome to suggest ideas, but there's just no guarantee. It took me just under a YEAR to write this. Yeah. And I type fast too, I just suck at keeping up on things. There's a reason I only upload a video to YouTube every month or so (which if you're interested you can find the link to that and my Tumblr on my Bio. Beware the Whovian Explosion though. Season 7B is out and it's also the 50th anniversary this year.). So until next time, I'm Lynn, and thank you immensely for taking the time to read this. Though, if you're anything like me, you're just glad to have found a fic that's completed and was decent. Which I hope this was actually decent and I'm not just... you know what? I'm rambling.

Good Day, Sir/Madame.