Note: There may be a slight spoiler for Iron Man 3 in here.
Eyes on Me
By Jennifer Collins
"So you've danced with Bruce, Barton, Cap… even Thor, but you won't dance with your host?"
Natasha turned around slowly, looking up at him through thick eyelashes. "Is that the proper way to ask a lady to dance, Stark?"
He grinned, holding out a hand to her.
She grinned back, placing her hand in his. "I figured that since this is the Avenger's fifth victory party, that you should be the fifth Avenger I danced with," she said as she let him lead her to the center of the floor.
"Saving the best for last? You look absolutely stunning tonight, Agent Romanoff."
"Watch it, Stark. Just because you haven't shown your face around New York since last summer doesn't give you the right to go all sweet talk on me."
He smiled wide, showing his perfect white teeth. "We saved the world together five times now. I think it's time you start calling me Tony."
The music slowed and she stepped closer to him, tossing her red curls over her shoulder. "I'll call you Tony when you start calling Steve by his first name rather than some poor derogatory nickname that you think is funny," she said with a wink.
He laughed and raised his head, pausing for a moment to address the many cameras that were flashing in their faces.
She let a smile slowly spread across her face for their benefit, her smile freezing when she felt his body stiffen. "Stark? What is it?"
She turned her head ever so slightly to gaze briefly over her shoulder, but found nothing out of the ordinary.
His eyes widened as his breath started to come out in short, quick gasps.
"C-can't breathe.." He murmured, his fingers shaking in hers. "Oh, God. Not here…"
She looked up at him intently, tightening her hold on his shoulders. "It's alright, just take it easy. Take a deep breath."
"Everybody's watching us, are they looking?"
"Sssh, eyes on me, Stark. Just keep dancing. It's alright. Nobody's watching," she said soothingly, although she knew it wasn't true. "Just keep your eyes locked on mine. It's okay. It's just us. Right?"
He nodded slowly, gasping for air.
"Easy, easy," she murmured.
"Just us," he said, resting his forehead against her shoulder. "I-I need to… get out."
"Do you want to take this outside?" She asked, raising her voice as she brushed her fingers through his hair.
"Okay. Let's go get some air," she said, smiling flirtatiously. She leaned her head down close to his ear. "Follow me to the balcony," she whispered.
He took her hand as she led him out of the room, forcing a smug smile.
He exhaled deeply once they were outside, gripping the rail tightly with both hands.
"What the hell was that?" She asked, eyes narrowed.
He placed a hand to his forehead. "I'm okay. Just an anxiety attack."
She frowned. "I know it was an anxiety attack, but you most certainly are not okay."
He shrugged. "I'm fine. Happens sometimes."
She raised an eyebrow. "Since when?"
He turned to look at her, gesturing his hand without saying anything.
"This is your first time in New York since the attack, isn't it?"
His mouth set in a line.
"And what triggered your attack just now?"
He shrugged. "I don't know. All those people… I just… I just kept picturing them all running and screaming."
"Tony… have you talked to anyone about this?"
She rolled her eyes. "I meant someone who can help."
He chuckled. "Boy, if I had a nickel for every time someone suggested professional help, I'd be.. well, I'd be me."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "This isn't funny."
"You think it's that easy to just talk to someone? A total stranger? And what exactly am I supposed to tell them? Huh? That I must be the worst superhero in the world because I freak out whenever things get intense?"
She sighed. "You're not the world's worst superhero, Tony. In fact, you're probably one of the best. Why don't you see a S.H.I.E.L.D. psychologist? I can make an appointment for you if you'd like."
He sniffed. "You ever talked to one of those bozos?"
She smiled, placing her hand over his. "Tony, I've talked to more psychologists in my lifetime than you can even imagine."
He sighed loudly.
"It's okay to ask for help. Even for people like us."
He nodded. "Thanks, Natasha."
"No problem. We're on the same team now, remember? All in this together and all that," she said with a smile.
He grinned. "And you're even calling me Tony now," he pointed out.
She grinned back. "I guess I am."
"Of course I did figure that the first time you did that would be a breathless whisper on top of some sweaty sheets, but…"
"You had to go and ruin it, didn't you?" She said angrily.
He laughed. "Come here," he said, holding out his arms. "I was just kidding."
"Ugh, fine," she said stepping into his embrace. After a few moment she added, "No, you weren't."
"No, I wasn't," he agreed, tightening his hold on her. "Listen, Nat… don't tell the others about this, okay?"
"Of course." She tilted her head back to look up at him, smiling a catlike grin. "I'm good at keeping secrets."