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Uncharted Territory

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Natasha was in a state of complete bliss. She was caught unaware by just how content she was. After moving in with Tony, their life in the cabin these past few months was nothing short of a blessing. They were living in their own bubble, with only each other to keep themselves warm.

She went to the compound on a weekly basis as discussed to train Peter and Wanda. Otherwise there were rarely any missions which required her expertise. Though one particular mission regarding the remnants of hydra justified the need to call in all the avengers. That’s how she interacted with all the new members who joined the avengers including Carol, Scott who had gotten off probation as even T’Challa, Okoye and Shuri lended a hand.

She couldn’t deny that she missed her Tony during missions like that. His snark and humour almost made those extensive circumstances bearable which she never realised back when he was there. Rhodes and Clint would visit every once in a while and they were the only two who had even seen the cabin. Tony wanted to shield Peter from exposure as much as possible and that meant keeping him safe and away from the Avengers when they ran missions. That also meant he had to stay away from them and the cabin. She knew how much Tony adored the kid. She also knew how hard it must be for him to stay away from the compound.

But she understood his reluctance. It’s suffice to say that the last time they were both there, it didn’t end up well for anyone. He had barely stepped out of the cabin ever since they moved out of the compound and was drowning himself in his work in the lab. He had built far more suits than what should’ve been possible in six months. And she knew he needed a break. What better opportunity to get the gang back together then Christmas?

“Hey, girlfriend.” Tony said wrapping his arms around her from behind. It was amazing how she let her guard down around him to the point where he could easily sneak up on her. She turned around in his arms to see his eyes still groggy with sleep and hair sticking up in all directions. She had to smile at her adorable mess of a man.

“I thought you were still asleep.” She says pressing a kiss against his lips.

“Uhmm. I woke up a while ago. You were obviously lost deep in my thoughts to notice.” He smirks and she kisses it off his face.

“What did you wanna do today?” She asks hoping to bring up the compound.

“I was thinking, we could curl up beside the fireplace with a glass of that amazing hot chocolate you make and spend the entire day lazily,” he said in between dropping kisses on her eyes, cheeks and finally stopping on her lips.

“That sounds really good,” she had to admit but she wants him to be surrounded by his friends on Christmas.

“I feel like there’s a but coming,” he says noticing the look in her eyes.

“Maybe we could go to the compound and spend the day with them? Peter’s gonna be there as well and you could get acquainted with the newer avengers.” She suggests placing her hands on the nape of his neck.

“Do we have to? They’re not exactly my fans right now.” He says with a sombre expression. That being said she realises she hasn’t come in contact with James  ever since that night they broke up. She hopes that wouldn’t cause a problem.

“We could at least try? What’s the worst that could happen?” She muses.

“I could get punched again,” he jokes and she has to swat him.

“We’ll leave if you’re not feeling it okay? Besides Rhodey’s gonna be there and Peter along with a whole lot of people who care about you.” She can see him thinking it over.

“What do I get if I agree?” He asks with a glint in his eyes.

“Whatever you want,” she plays along knowing exactly what he meant.

Just then he wraps his arms around her waist and lifts her up on the counter. She lets out a little squeal which Tony knows better than to call her out on as she wraps her legs around him. He traces her cheek with his deft fingers and she closes her eyes as her hands move back to tangle into his hair. He sighs and places his forehead against her neck.

“I love you,” he murmurs the sound muffled by her shoulder.

“I love you too,” she hums melting into him.

“Can we please do the hot chocolate and curling up beside the fireplace before we leave for the compound?” He whines into her shoulder.

“Whatever you want, baby.” She chuckles massaging his scalp.

They did end up cuddling the entire day away until it was time for them to get ready. As soon as they enter the compound they are aware of the festive spirit seeing the Christmas tree lit in the corner and all the decorations which were undoubtedly put on by Clint and Sam.

Before she can even register her surroundings a woman flings herself at Tony. Tony makes no effort to move her wearing a genuine smile on his face as they hug for what felt like hours to Natasha. A pang of jealousy shot through her at this woman who was essentially an unknown variable.

“Hope?!” Tony exclaims.

The woman, Hope, finally pulls herself away from Tony.

“Tony, I can’t believe it’s really you,” she says keeping a hand on his shoulder.

“Yeah, we’re seeing each other after what, a decade maybe?” He scoffs.

“I saw enough of you on TV. I just wished we could reconnect after all that happened,” she says with regret.

“How’s Hank?” Tony asked and Natasha found herself searching for answers. Hope still hadn’t noticed her standing right next to them.

“Still pissed at you and Howard,” she jokes.

“Yeah what else did I expect?” He says sarcastically. “Wait, what are you doing here?” He says with confusion.

“Well. I’m an Avenger now. They call me the Wasp.” She explained and Natasha was relieved that they were finally on a path of conversation that she could follow.

“Are you telling me you let Hank use the pym particles on you?” He asks curiously and she could see him racking his brain for answers.

“Yeah. But he used it on himself first. And mom. Did you know they were a superhero duo back in the day?” She continues.

“Hank? Are you serious?” Tony’s eyes widened.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Hope shrugged.

“So, Scott...” he trails off still a little confused.

“Dad gave the suit up to him. Now we’re the superhero duo I guess?” She says pointing at Scott standing behind her who just now became visible to Natasha. She was glad to see someone else just as clueless as him.

“I was wondering when I’d meet you again,Tony. I’ve been here a few weeks and didn’t come across you. Honestly I was a little worried.” Hope says.

“Moved out of here a few months back. Retired from active duty.” He says. “Oh. This is Natasha Romanoff,” Tony finally introduces her to Hope.

“So I finally get to meet the Black Widow. Huge fan here,” she says with a kind smile and some of the tension seeps from her shoulders. Natasha extends her hand as Hope firmly shakes it.

“And you are?” Natasha questions.

“Hope Van Dyne. I’m Hank Pym’s daughter.” She explains. Before Natasha could continue any further she directs her attention back to Tony.

“I heard about you and Pepper. I’m so sorry, Tony. I’m pretty sure things will be fine again.” She sounds sincerely apologetic.

“Right. Pepper and I are done, Hope. We really need to catch up.” Tony says and before Hope can reply she feels Peter’s presence.

“Mr.Stark!” He says in that excited tone of his.

“Hey, kid.” Tony laughs turning to hug Peter. Then Peter proceeds to give her a hug and the feeling which passes over is completely foreign to her.

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Stark, Natasha. I really thought I wouldn’t get to see you today either.” He says sheepishly.

“I’m here now aren’t I?” Tony says and she can recognise the relief in his eyes when he sees that Peter’s safe.

“Yeah! There’s so much I have to tell you. Natasha’s been helping me with my training and I unlocked all these skills that I didn’t even know I had...” Peter begins and Tony draws him away for a conversation. She sees Hope and Scott moving to the other end of the room. She sees Steve talking to Rhodey at the far end of the room and nods at him which he reciprocates. She knows he wasn’t mad at them but he still had to take his best friend’s side which was completely valid.

Just then she sees Clint through her periphery and notices him coming over to her. He practically picks her up while giving her a hug. She chuckles at his enthusiasm.

“You came! Is Stark here?” He asks.

“Yeah he came along. What about the kids?” Natasha asks direly hoping to meet them.

“They’re in the common area.” He smiles as she begins to move toward the room but Clint’s voice makes her turn back.

“Nat, I’m glad you both are here.”  Clint says and she knows he’s not happy at how detached her and Tony have been the past few months. As least they can spend this day together as a team. She just nods at him.

“Auntie Nat!” Lila squeals as soon as she sees her. She picks her up just as soon as Cooper runs over to her with Laura in tow.

“God, I missed you guys.” Giving them all a hug before Laura hands Nate over to her.

“He’s grown up so much,” she says regretfully tracing Nate’s cheek. She hoped she could see him grow up but that seemed unlikely.

“I would’ve come along with Clint when he visited you guys but it probably wouldn’t be safe for our cover.” Laura says and she puts a hand around her shoulder.

“It’s just been a little overwhelming. I love my life with Tony but we’re just trying to lay low. It’s kind of unbelievable that the media didn’t pick up on what really happened that night in the gala.” She sighs.

“Well, he does look like a man crazy in love if that’s any consolation,” Laura teases giving her a nudge in Tony’s direction. She sees him glance in her direction every once in a while, winking at her when they make eye contact. She can’t help the smile which threatens to cross her face. She spots Hope at the bar and heads towards her handing Nate over to Laura.

“So, how does it feel being an Avenger?” Natasha asks.

“Pretty much the same as I did when I wasn’t one. Then again I’m yet to go on an official mission.” She jokes.

“How do you and Tony know each other again?” She tries subtly.

“We went to college together and we dated for a while. But I’ve known him since I was kid.” Hope supplies.

Of course they did.

“Right. Your father was a liaison of Stark industries.” She says starting to connect the dots.

“Yeah until they turned into rivals. Trust me they weren’t happy when they found out about Tony and me. But I guess we did do it to get reactions out of them.” She chuckles.

“That sounds like Tony. Were you both serious?” She asks curiously. It was worse when she thought about how Tony never mentioned her.

“He’s one of the only friends I had as a kid. There were residual feelings, probably only from my side but you know how Tony was back then.” She says with what can only be described as regret.

Natasha was overcome by this fierce need to defend her man. Now she knew she shouldn’t be so possessive but that probably had more to do with this being the first time they were actually in a crowded setting since they started dating rather than jealousy. Or so she tried to convince herself.

“He’s not the same Tony any longer. He has only been in committed relationships this past decade. It’s not fair to judge him based on his mistakes.” She defends and Hope considers her cautiously.

“I was worried about him after I heard about the break up with Pepper. But he seems happy right now. Do you know what happened?” She asks genuinely concerned about him and as glad as she was that Tony had people watching his back, she also felt the need to mark her territory.

“He fell in love with me. That’s what happened.” She deadpanned. Hope almost looked shocked for a while before schooling her expressions into a blank.

“You’re dating him? I don’t know why but that makes a lot of sense.” She says cryptically.

“Yeah. That’s why we moved out of the compound.” She provides.

“Do you love him?” Hopes asks catching Natasha a little off guard. She’s not sure she likes the protectiveness that Hope radiates towards Tony.

“More than anything in the world.” She says honestly and Hope seems to accept that with a curt nod almost telling her that she was backing off.

Natasha was exhausted by the end of the night. She had caught James’ eyes once and he barely acknowledged her presence as he made his way upstairs. She didn’t expect anything more. She finally slipped into Tony’s lap where he was animatedly explaining something to Clint, Peter and the kids.

“You wanna head back?” He asks taking his attention off Cooper.

“Nah. Just a little tired. We can hang around for a bit.” She assures him. “Besides I love seeing how good you are with the kids.” She says giving him a kiss.

Coop makes kissy noises from where he’s sitting beside Lila as she giggles.

When the kids finally fall asleep with Clint carrying them to their rooms, she pulls Tony away.

When they’re inside what used to be Tony’s old office she pulls him in for a hug.

“I missed you,” she sighs breathing him in.

“Yeah? We could’ve been curled up on the sofa at home right now.” He says. “I’m just saying,” he raises his hands defensively seeing her glare.

“I know you had fun today. Can’t pull off that act with me.” She says and he nods agreeing to her.

“I did. I also got to meet Hope after years. So thanks for forcing me to come?” He says with a grin.

“About that. Why didn’t I know about her?” She enquires still feeling a little unsettled.

“I guess it just never crossed my mind with all that’s been going on. We honestly dated just to piss off our parents.” he shrugs. “I just hoped that I could’ve spend more time with you today.” He says tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as she links her arms around his neck.

“Could’ve fooled me. Carol and Hope seemed to hog your attention all night.” She says hoping she’s not being too obvious.

“What can I say girls love me,” he jokes then pauses. “Wait. Are you jealous?” Tony asks seemingly amused.

“No. I was just stating what I saw.” She defends but can’t help but feel a little ashamed.

“You know there’s only one woman on my mind all day,” he says pressing a kiss against her lips.

“So maybe I am a little possessive. But they don’t seem to be aware that you have a girlfriend,” she huffs with frustration.

“You’re way more than that.” He says gazing intently into her eyes.

“What am I to you then?” She asks almost challenging him and fisting his shirt in her hand.

“You’re everything to me. You’re the love of my life, baby. Nothing has ever mattered more.” He says leaning in and whispering in her ear. His voice sends a warm tingle all over her body which should be a foreign concept to her but she realises being with him is full of surprises. He grazes his lips against her ear before capturing her mouth with his. She parts her lips granting him entrance as he lifts and pins her against the wall. He’s mouthing at her neck when the lights in the office suddenly turn on.

“Ugh. Why do I even bother checking up on you both?!” Clint slams his hands down in frustration scurrying away from the room which causes them to break into a fit of laughter.

She rests her forehead against his as they try to catch their breath before he pulls her in for a kiss again.

“You remember our deal?” He smirks.

“Whatever you want,” she grins back at him wrapping her legs around his waist.

Yeah she’s not trading Tony for anything else in this world.