My dear, my darling one - CorralineSage (2024)

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Crybaby Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 2: New acquaintances Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 3: Superhero Chapter Text Chapter 4: Sharing is caring Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 5: Accidents happen Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 6: Ups and downs Chapter Text Chapter 7: Tater tots in town Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 8: Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 9: Sugar, spice and everything nice Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 10: Training wheels Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 11: A piece of my childhood Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 12: And chaos ensued Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 13: For I warned you a thousand times Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 14: It’s a big, bad world Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 15: Hobby-hunting Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 16: Joy to the world Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 17: Stranger danger Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 18: Mommy’s here Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 19: Dingbat alert Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 20: Peach in June Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 21: Tooth fairy Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 22: My only sunshine Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 23: Morgan Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 24: I miss my mommy Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 25: Time won’t move fast enough Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 26: Aftermath Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 27: Just like you Notes: Chapter Text Chapter 28: The monsters are gone Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 29: Teatime Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 30: Just the way you are Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 31: Magic Kingdom Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 32: Into the woods Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 33: Downtown Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 34: Show and Tell Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 35: The Davieses Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 36: Boo Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 37: Change Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 38: July Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 39: Little white lie Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 40: Dark as night Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 41: Motherhood Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 42: Girls’ day Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 43: Growing pains Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 44: Trip down trauma lane Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 45: Friction Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 46: Final straw Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 47: Letting go Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 48: Forever ingrained Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 49: Cool girls Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 50: Paying the price Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 51: Slippery slope Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 52: Sweet sixteen Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 53: Beating around the bush Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 54: A blast from the past Notes: Chapter Text Notes: Chapter 55: Normal (1) Notes: Chapter Text Notes:

Chapter 1: Crybaby

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

There you were, a tiny baby, probably no more than six months old, staring Natasha straight in the eye with the most blank look she had ever seen on a baby. Truth be told, she was scared of you. She had no clue what to do. She had rescued you on a whim because leaving a baby in an exploding Red Room air-station was not on her bucket list and she was your only hope. Natasha wasn’t amazing with babies, children sure, but babies were scary. Babies couldn’t be bribed with candy and cartoons. Babies couldn’t speak. They cried and pooped their pants and hopefully, if you were lucky enough, slept. She knew you were most likely already severely traumatized, which was something that she herself had also gone through. She wouldn’t say it out loud but the real reason she had to save you was because you deserved better, just like baby-Natasha had deserved better, had deserved someone to fight for her, and so she decided to be that someone for you. She was there to offer you a second chance at life.

Natasha sat down next to you on the bed of her hideout house, both of you observing the other in silence. She felt awkward around you, and based on the wary looks you shot her way, you felt some semblance of that awkwardness as well. You were an adorable baby, that Natasha couldn’t deny. You had huge eyes, a button nose, silky smooth cheeks and a tiny pout on your lips. You looked like a real rascal, someone who definitely provoked outrage with their behavior. Your face was quite stoic but your eyes told her everything. They were vigilant and intense, never letting her disappear from your view. She saw a lot of fight in you, tiny as you were. She gave you a gentle smile as if testing the waters, but all you did in response was scrunch your nose as if something had just tickled you.

“You don’t like me very much, do you?” She questioned with a sly frown, but you just stared up at her. She had spent no more than an hour with you and you were already an enigma to her. You made her feel helpless with a single look.

“Do you have a name? I suppose you do. What did they name you? Yekaterina? Ksenia? Nataly?” She felt herself grow bitter at the thought of the Red Room. She hated that the very thing she had thought was her own might have been given to her by none other than the Red Room. There had been no “mother” who had looked at her and thought “she looks like a Natalia”. She bit her lip, glancing down at you. Maybe it was better that she didn’t know your name.

“What if I gave you a name?” She suggested, laying beside you on the bed, but unlike she had thought you continued to stare at the ceiling. “Hmm, Let’s see. Who do you look like?” Natasha continued to think over different names she knew. She decided to go with Slavic names since she couldn’t tell your country of origin solely based on looks.

“How about Anastasia?” She mumbled but you didn’t move an inch. She was becoming more and more uncomfortable with your robot-like stillness. She needed to figure you out soon or she would lose her mind. “You’re right, it’s too basic for you”, she reasoned, falling back inside her mind.

“Radmila? Maybe Yaraslava?” At that point she actually had to get up and check if you were still breathing. The redhead co*cked her head as she looked down at you but you just stared at her with your widened eyes. First she had thought that you being unresponsive was just shyness but after a while of her trying to get any reaction out of you she began to wonder if you were all there.

“Y/N?” Nothing. Not that she expected you to react. “Nu khvatit uzhe (Oh, stop it already)”, she groaned impatiently, waving her hand in front of your face. “Ty tolko po-russki govorish, ah? (Do you only speak Russian, huh?)” she inquired, her grip on her tone slipping and turning annoyed. She slid her hands under your arms, but pulled away immediately when you let out a horrified wail, scaring both yourself and Natasha. The loud crying invaded her ears and she winced, deciding to pick you up from the mattress after all. You felt unfamiliar. She didn’t know how to hold you, how to soothe you, how to give you what you needed. She only knew what the Red Room would have done which would’ve most likely been something along the lines of ignorance or pain, and she refused to repeat their actions. There was still time to undo what they had installed into you. She settled you into the crook of her elbow clumsily, bouncing both of you rhythmically. She had seen Laura do that with her children and so she gave it a shot.

“You sure do have a healthy pair of lungs on you”, she muttered tiredly, after thirty exhausting minutes of bouncing. You were crying so hard your body was overheated and tense, your voice starting to grow raspy and tired. It was time to try something else. Natasha grabbed her phone off the nightstand, dialing a number she had called one too many times in the past few weeks.

“Hi, Mason”, she sighed, adjusting you in her arms to keep your screams farther away from the microphone.

I sense you’re about to ask for a favor”, he joked just as you heaved your lungs full of air, screaming out in panic.

“Wow, how did you guess”, she groaned with a monotone voice. “This time it’s a bit of an odd one”, she admitted with a sigh, trying to pat your bottom to calm you down, clamping the phone between her ear and shoulder, hushing you gently.

This situation I haven’t heard yet”, he chuckled, listening to your heartbroken cries.

“You don’t have a store near you, do you?” She questioned, her voice laced with exhaustion.

What does the lady need?

Half an hour later Natasha opened her door to find a lone box on the porch. She struggled to pick it up with you wailing in her arms but she eventually managed to get back inside. She unpacked the box while you screeched and cried beside her on the bed, every now and then almost choking on your ragged breath.

“You won’t stop, will you?” She grumbled, the agonizing screaming starting to get to her and she almost regretted rescuing you. She had her laptop open, her nimble fingers typing in “how to make baby stop crying”. She tried everything from changing your diaper to feeding you but you were having none of it, screaming louder the more she touched you. And then it clicked for her. You were conditioned to expect pain and most times in the Red Room touch equaled pain. Natasha’s heart ached at the thought. She didn’t know exactly what was done to babies in the Red Room and truth be told she never wanted to know what she had gone through as a baby which is why she never bothered finding out. Now she wished she had.

Natasha went out of her way to search information on traumatized babies, her main objective to find a way to make you stop crying. She closed the curtains to get rid of the bright sunlight, she turned off the radio to get rid of additional noise and finally she undressed you from your plain gray onesie revealing a heavy diaper. You had finally wet yourself.

“Shh, shh, baby, you’re safe. Natasha’s just changing your diaper. I’m gonna make you all cozy again”, she crooned softly, the tone falling a little unnaturally off her lips as she unwrapped your diaper, and tugged your legs up to replace the diaper under you as she wiped you clean, her eyes going back and forth between you and the YouTube tutorial where some woman was changing a BabyBorn doll and explaining each step, giving out tips on how to maintain the baby’s skin. You were still sobbing your little lungs inside out and Natasha was starting to panic. Maybe there was something wrong. Maybe you were hurt. Maybe Natasha just wasn’t cut out for this.

“Come on baby, Natty doesn’t know what to do. Help me out a little”, she whined, leaning over you, staring at your contorted face helplessly. The noise you were making made her want to bang her head against the wall and rip off all her hair. The screams echoed inside her mind and she was so irritated she even thought of leaving you alone into the tiny bedroom to cry until you couldn’t anymore, but she wasn’t that cruel. She just had to endure it. But then, when she nearly burst into tears herself, a thought occurred to her and she let out a cry, mocking you just as loud as you were crying. You paused completely, looking up at Natasha with your huge, teary eyes, both of you just staring at each other warily, neither of you daring to move. The redhead was the first one to offer a slight smile and to her utter surprise you didn’t go right back to wailing, although you did start to fuss a little, waving your tiny fists in the air in discontentment.

“Look at your tiny, little hands”, she mumbled softly, her smile widening, the near silence pure heaven to her ears. And then you were suddenly reaching for her. Natasha wasn’t sure if she was seeing correctly, your hand opening and closing, clearly aiming for her loose-knit sweater. You let out a quiet whine, scrunching your brows together as you built your energy back up for proper wails.

“Nu-uh”, she tutted you, praying that you would keep quiet. Unfortunately her prayers weren’t answered and you were once again sobbing loudly. Natasha sighed heavily, feeling tears prick at her own eyes as she tried to rack her brain to come up with a solution. You were clearly not content on the mattress so she lifted you up into her arms again, petting the back of your warm head softly. Your hands clawed at her shirt, legs kicking furiously as you cried against the wool of her sweater, trying to suckle on the fabric in between your sobs.

“Maybe you’re hungry. Let’s try that again, shall we?” She asked, gritting her teeth, trying to keep her voice light and airy. She plucked up the bottle off the nightstand, not caring that it had cooled down by then. She adjusted you in her arms, cradling you to her chest, bringing the bottle to your swollen lips. You did latch onto it for a whole three seconds which was a win but then you were right back to crying. Natasha felt the warm tears cascade down her cheeks as she gave in to the disappointment she was feeling towards herself. She wasn’t enough for you.

The laptop on her bed had turned off and so she opted for her phone instead, once again opening up a new search tab trying to find an answer. You were tugging furiously on her shirt but Natasha had completely given up, ignoring you because she had no more will to make you stop. She scrolled through article after article, the stupid websites sharing the same few tips that she had tried lord knows how many times. She used the back of her wrist to wipe her tears, a particularly powerful yank from you finally drawing her attention back to you, the loose neckline of her sweater allowing the garment to droop slightly off her shoulder. Of course. Why hadn’t she thought of it earlier? She glanced at the article she was reading, noting the shirtless woman and her naked baby. Of course.

Oi blyat, ty durak (oh, f*ck, you idiot)”, Natasha whined to herself, tossing the phone to the bed, halting as she realized what she said. “You don’t mind cussing, right? Eh, why would you care?” She waved her hand, scooching to the backboard of her bed, setting you between her legs as she pulled off her sweater and the tank top under it, leaving her in her bra.

“Alright, you brat, come here”, she muttered, lifting you off the bed and bringing you to her chest. You kept on crying but this time Natasha had faith. She held you gently, your face burning up against her collarbone as you whined, rubbing your face into her skin. And finally, finally, your cries began to die down, your arms tucked tightly to your chest as you settled down, huffing as if you had finally gotten what you had been screaming for. Then it was time for yet another challenge for Natasha when you started to mouth her collarbone, your determined lips searching for food. Natasha had been tortured, abused and violated in her lifetime more than the average human, but never had she felt as drained as she was feeling at the moment as she stared silently out the window. It was getting dark outside and she was already saying goodbye to the uninterrupted sleep that she had been longing for. You let out a quiet coo, trying to press your mouth closer to her.

Naturally, she forced herself to get up and go into the tiny kitchen to warm up the old milk formula. She tested it on the back of her hand —something she had seen Laura do often with any kind of food given to babies. It didn’t burn her, barely even felt warm which she deemed good enough. She had you cradled on her right arm, your fist gripping her bra for dear life. She knew what you were after, yet she completely disregarded it for obvious reasons. She simply let you grope and suckle whatever part of her chest you found interesting because it kept you quiet, and quiet was the only thing Natasha desperately needed.

She had never dared to imagine that side of being a woman. She had never allowed herself to wonder what it would be like to hold a child in her arms, to have a little baby need her. She looked at you softly, feeling disappointed in herself once again when she realized that she could never have that life, no matter what. That option had been stolen from her against her will, ripped into shreds without anyone asking for her consent. Maybe she would have wanted a baby of her own. Maybe she could’ve been a mother, someone who loved her child unconditionally and infinitely because she knew what it was like to not receive that love. In a sense it felt unfair to not be able to breastfeed a baby in need but she had to remind herself that you weren’t her own to begin with and she was simply there until you found your forever home, wherever that may be.

The redhead guided the nipple of the bottle to your lips, your hands still more than busy with the lace hem of her bra, yet you opened wide and allowed her to settle the bottle comfortably into your mouth. Just when she thought she was winning, you pulled away, spitting out some of the milk, the white liquid dripping down your neck and chest. Natasha was on the verge of a breakdown. She was not sure if she could take it a second longer. You clearly wanted the real thing when it was right there beside you but what you didn’t know was that only mama could give you what you needed, and Natasha unfortunately wasn’t her. That threw Natasha down another bottomless rabbit hole of how you had spent the few months you had been alive. Did you have a mother, someone who fed you regularly like a normal baby would be fed? Had Natasha herself had a mother? What did they give babies in the Red Room?

It took you hours to finish the single bottle, even though your stomach was rumbling with hunger, your mind fuzzy with need. You had cried twice already simply from hunger but the hard rubber nipple was not the most welcoming thing in your opinion so you kept playing with the redhead’s lingerie, intense eyes focused on the lace. You held off for as long as you could until you had no other option but to give in. The next time Natasha offered the bottle to you, you took it, sucking eagerly to fill your tiny belly with milk.

Natasha could’ve honestly burst into tears at the sight of you feeding from the bottle, her gentle words of praise a little shaky as she whispered them to you. “Thirty-sixth time’s the charm”, she joked, stroking your cheek with the back of her index finger. You kept your eyes wide open, staring intently at your new caregiver, her green eyes soft and beautiful, smile a little tired. You fought until the very end of the bottle to keep your eyes open but slowly they rolled shut without you even noticing and then you were off to dreamland, Natasha sighing heavily, thanking the heavens for allowing you to fall asleep.

“Good girl, you’re such a good little baby, Y/N, aren’t you? Yes, you are”, she hummed quietly, accidentally slipping the name that she had subconsciously chosen for you. “Huh, Y/N? That’s it. At least it’s better than brat or baby”, she mused quietly, walking back into the bedroom. Her next challenge was to find you a place to sleep in. She could’ve built you a makeshift crib but for that she would have had to set you down and quite frankly she was downright terrified of waking you up so she settled down on the bed, making sure she was surrounded by pillows as she lay down on her back with you snuggled between her pillowy breasts. She should have probably put you on the bed but she dozed off in an instant, forgetting everything as the heaviness –both emotional and physical– took over her.

Notes:

Should’ve left reader in the red room lmao

Chapter 2: New acquaintances

Notes:

Pretend that Civil War never happened :D

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

You woke up warm and comfortable if you ignored the slimy diaper you were wearing. It made you want to burst into tears so you let out a displeased whine, moving your hands to grasp Natasha’s neck as you attempted to crawl closer to her face. When she didn’t move, you let out a sob as if to test if you could wake her up. The louder cry had Natasha blinking sleep away from her eyes, her hands immediately finding your fragile body on her chest. You had stayed still as a rock the entire night and slept soundly for hours which came as a shock to the redhead. She groaned quietly, glancing at your curious face.

“Good morning, stinkypants. Someone clearly needs a diaper change”, she mumbled, her voice raspy, heavy with sleep, the warmth of your diaper a bit too obvious. The way she rolled her eyes at you was funny, the corners of your lips tugging up a little, Natasha freezing at the progress she was making with you.

“Was that a smile? Did I see a smile?” She cheered quietly, her index finger tickling your cheek gently. “I’m sure I saw a tiny smile”, she cooed, watching how your lips stretched into an even wider smile. You dropped your mouth to her breast, giving her the same familiar cue of you being hungry.

“Do I really have to take care of you now? I can’t just cook you oats and call it a day?” She groaned, mentally cursing herself for not dropping you off at a fire station or something. She stared up at the ceiling, weighing her options, as she reveled in the silence of the late morning. What should she do? What could she do? She was still in Russia, but Yelena was already gone with the newly freed widows. Alexei was never going to be of any use with a child, that was for sure. Melina wasn’t great either but she would possibly know a bit more about you. Natasha hummed in thought, her hand patting your back absentmindedly as you drooled over your own fist.

One smelly diaper later you were crying in her arms again, refusing to take the bottle, no matter how much it was food. She would most likely have to give you away or you would end up dead. She spent the morning surfing through multiple search tabs, trying to figure out a way to get you to eat. She found lots of information about toys and distractions that could calm down a baby enough to feed, she found out about breastfeeding adopted babies through some sort of tube system and finally hormone induced breastfeeding. They were all great options but Natasha didn’t have months to go through hormonal therapy, she needed a solution now or you would eventually starve. Not to mention that she hated the idea of having to use her body for fueling you. It was strange and uncomfortable, something so far out of her reach that she didn’t even dare to imagine. But there you were, a tiny bundle cuddled into her, still tugging fervently on her bra strap as if she could’ve given you something better than bottled milk formula.

She would have to call Melina. She was running out of options and the highly skilled spy was probably one of the only people in the world to know what was truly going on with you. She dialed a number and waited a few seconds until Melina picked up.

“Hi”, Natasha whispered, feeling ridiculous for the sudden shyness she felt. It was like Melina’s sole presence made her regress by twenty whole years.

Ah, Natashka, what a nice surprise. You made it out okay, yeah?” Her voice sounded on the other end of the line, the heavy accent making Natasha smile.

“Yeah, I’m alive. Hey, I have a theoretical question”, she started, deciding to go straight into it.

What is it, milaya (honey)?” She inquired softly, her brows rising up as she heard the telltale sound of a baby crying.

“So, um, what did you do to babies in the Red Room?” The redhead asked a bit tentatively.

Oi”, she sighed heavily, thinking over her answer. “Uh, what do you need that for?” She asked warily, still trying to think of how to reply to the question because she knew that the answer would affect the way Natasha viewed herself.

“I’ve got one here with me”, she revealed. “And she won’t stop wailing”, Natasha moaned, bringing her finger to your mouth for you to suck on, the slimy gums in your mouth making her grimace. Next she started to look for the lone pacifier that should’ve been in the box.

Babies are not my speciality”, she mumbled, biting her lip harshly. “But… touch them as little as you can at first.” Natasha didn’t agree with that even though she had noticed your panicked reactions. It went against everything she knew about comforting babies.

“Why? Did you hit them like you used to hit us?” Natasha asked bitterly. Melina wasn’t the one who had ever laid a hand on her or Yelena but Natasha did blame her for it because in her mind she could’ve done something. She could’ve taken the girls away and given them a better life. She could’ve done so much more than just give them a mere glimpse of a normal life.

No, Natinka, they use mild electric shocks”, Melina corrected her softly as Natasha sighed heavily.

“Um, how do I undo that?” She asked desperately, realizing that any mention of what had been done to you made her nauseous.

Take them to a professional”, she said bluntly. “It’s going to be a long process and I think it would be better if you gave them up”, she suggested, sounding a little more gentle. That was the exact opposite of what Natasha wanted to do. She couldn’t think of anything more unfair than giving you up into the foster system after having been ripped away from your family.

“Are there any substances injected into the babies? Is there something else I should know? Possible addictions that could cause withdrawal?” She asked coldly, not too fond of what she was hearing.

How old is the baby?

“Maybe five or six months”, she hummed, smiling down at you as the pacifier bobbed vigorously in your mouth. You were going to be a large consumer of pacifiers.

We don’t -didn’t- start testing that early because it can do more damage than good. They do receive a special milk formula that is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, amongst other stuff”, the brunette on the line explained. So that was mildly contradicting.

“Good, thank you. I hope you’re healing well Mel”, Natasha said rather blandly, but she did mean well. “I’ll talk to you later on, bye”, she hung up the phone right after hearing Melina’s goodbye. Natasha’s fake mother made her feel conflicted. She wanted to talk to her, yet everything Melina said drove her off the edge and made her snap back at the brunette. She had gotten to play pretend for a few years and all she had made out of that was mommy issues? Natasha scoffed bitterly. “We are alone in this, aren’t we?” She cooed softly down at your sharp eyes as you simply continued on suckling the pacifier.

Natasha was not going to submit to the difficulties of taking care of you alone. She would return to America and have her other family help her. She couldn’t do it alone. You couldn’t live isolated on a field in Russia. You needed a proper life which Natasha was for some reason intent on giving you. The flight on the jet was pure hell for both her and you. She couldn’t make you stop crying again but at least that time she knew that it wasn’t her fault. The first thing back home she went to a doctor and they recommended her the very same things she had googled herself and to her utter disappointment she ended up getting hormonal treatment because the longer you spent time with her, the more Natasha became attached and as reluctant as she was to take care of you she couldn’t let you go, and it seemed that neither could you. Otherwise you were completely healthy and just like Natasha was: genetically in your prime. Mentally you might not have been in the optimal condition, your reactions to certain stimuli were a bit off, but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed. You were declared a sensitive baby by the doctor but that wasn’t anything new to Natasha. She was ever so determined to undo the past and ensure a good future for you.

Despite having arrived at the compound over a week ago none of the other residents had seen you. It was more than clear to Natasha that you weren’t ready for that and neither was she. Although she could’ve definitely used another pair of hands with you, but she just wasn’t ready. She wasn’t ready to explain to everyone who you were and where you had come from. She wasn’t ready to tell them why she had kept you and why you meant so much to her even though she borderline despised you and your crybaby ass. So she kept you to herself, crying with you in her bedroom, trying her best to take care of you.

Natasha hadn’t showered in a week. Her hair was a mess and so was the house. Her apartment was littered with anything and everything to do with babies. You had pooped all the pants you owned, burped all over every single onesie you owned and Natasha hadn’t gotten a moment to herself for long enough to even give a single thought to doing laundry. She herself was wearing a stained shirt, joggers and purple under eye bags that decorated her pale face. You were once again swaddled into the crook of her elbow, guzzling down a bottle after having starved yourself for nearly the entire day.

“Finally some quiet”, Natasha whispered to herself, wiping the tears off your cheeks with her index finger. She was downright baffled at how many tears one stinky baby could produce. “Shh, that’s it. Silence”, she mumbled. “Can you say silence for me?” She prompted. “Actually keep your mouth shut”, she added quickly, chuckling immediately after.

“I’m going crazy. Did you know you’re driving me insane, baby?” She asked you in amusem*nt. “Natty’s definitely not playing with a full deck right now”, she hummed, allowing her fingers to caress your face. She had been doing that every time you agreed to feed to try and desensitize you to her touch. She would brush her fingertips over your short hairs, cheeks, forehead and nose. You didn’t really react to it for that matter but one thing that she had noticed was that petting the slope of your nose made you relax. So once again she brought her finger to your nose and traced the curve of it in a soft, repetitive motion. Your eyes relaxed from their intense stare and soon they fluttered shut. Your body became completely limp from the slight tension you had possessed in your muscles and you eventually fell asleep, mouth still moving around the nipple of the bottle. Natasha shut her own eyes as well, her mind going fuzzy from the peace she was surrounded by. She wanted to sleep so bad her entire body was screaming for it, so it came to her as no surprise when she opened her eyes and the sun was down, the room dim and just as silent as before. She yawned heavily, eyes watering as she glanced down at you on her lap, her arms stinging from having fallen asleep in the stillness of her position. She smiled fondly, reaching for the pacifier on the nightstand with her freehand. She replaced the bottle with it, standing up and walking to the bed. She was going to take any and every chance she got to sleep so she set you down in the middle of the bed, propped a pillow behind you and scooched herself close to you to squish you into place. Natasha fell asleep in seconds, her entire body humming in pleasure at the softness of the bed she lay on.

Once Natasha had cleared up all the confusion for the rest of the team it was time to start introducing other people to you. Natasha was nervous. She was more than nervous because she didn’t know how you would react. The only other person apart from her who you had met was the doctor and you had been wailing the whole time anyway so there wasn’t much room to judge your opinion. She had decided to only invite Clint over at first because he was great with babies and she trusted him the most to see the awful mess that her apartment had become. She was also feeling quite vulnerable in her newfound chaos but she knew Clint wouldn’t judge because he had lived through it with his own children.

There was a knock at the door and your eyes widened in the sense that you were just about to start crying again. Natasha hushed you hastily, walking toward the front door. Your tiny fists gripped her shirt as you snuggled in the crook of her elbow again, mouth busy with a pacifier. Natasha opened the door, placing her index finger on her lips as soon as he came into view to keep him quiet.

“Make sure you talk very softly. She’s a sensitive one”, Natasha warned, clearly a bit on edge from the combination of being sleep deprived and nervous. Clint nodded, his hands signing the word “whisper?” to the redhead. “Not necessary”, she hummed, looking down at you. “We’ll go to the couch and we’ll take it real slow, won’t we?” She cooed to you, a soft smile breaking onto his lips at the new side of his best friend that he was witnessing. He walked to said couch and sat down, watching how Natasha followed absentmindedly in his footsteps.

“How’s it been?” Clint asked, keeping his voice low and comfortable. You seemed like you were listening intently but you didn’t seem too worried which Natasha took as a good sign. She proceeded to sit down on the cushions, a few feet from the archer.

“Oh, it’s been a lot”, she chuckled, shaking her head slightly. “I think she’s cried more than she has done anything else”, she admitted tiredly.

“Have you tried the bouncing technique?” He watched in slight amusem*nt at the way Natasha raised her brows. “Your doctor didn’t show you?”

“I’m not sure”, she mused, biting her bottom lip. “How do you do it?”

“You cross the baby’s arms over their chest and place your own hand over the arms. Then you put your other hand between their legs. Imagine the baby is now stomach to floor”, he explained as he held his own imaginary baby. “So baby is in a diagonal position, and then you just bounce gently”, he said in a wide smile, Natasha’s frown only deepening.

“And that’s supposed to work?” She asked in mild disbelief. “No amount of bouncing is gonna make her stop”, she scoffed.

“Try it next time and you’ll see”, he smirked, Natasha merely rolling her eyes. “I’m telling you”, he chuckled.

“Yeah, yeah”, she hummed, shaking her head in amusem*nt, her eyes following the way you tried to crane your neck to see who Natasha was talking to. “Clint… come a bit closer”, she prompted quietly. He did as told, slowly and carefully. A face came into your view. You stared up at it blankly. It wasn’t Natasha. It didn’t have any red around it, nor was it soft and safe. Your eyes filled with tears, a frown etching its way to your features. “Shh, sweetheart, he’s a friend”, she said in a high cooing voice. “No need to cry. We don’t need to be scared, myshka (little mouse).”

You weren’t too convinced but to both their surprise you stayed quiet, observing Clint from afar. The first visits went quite well and to Natasha’s annoyance the trick that Clint taught her actually did work at least for most of the time. During everyone’s visits she made sure none of the guests came close to you or touched you. She simply allowed you to observe them and get used to the thought of other people around you. Not everyone was vibrating from excitement to meet you but Wanda had proved to be especially curious about you and had visited the apartment more than once just to sit around in your energy. She was the first one to hold you.

“Do you know how to hold a baby?” Natasha asked warily, feeling reluctant about giving you to anyone else.

“Yeah, I do”, she hummed, a dazed smile already on her face, arms reaching for you. Natasha lifted you out of the safety of her arms and placed you into the crook of Wanda’s elbow. You didn’t seem too disturbed. You could still see Natasha but you could clearly detect the change. Wanda smelled different, she felt different.

“Hi there, baby”, she whispered, offering her finger for you to grasp. Your clammy fist wrapped tightly around her digit and you held on to it as tight as you could. You didn’t cry, you just stared up, much like you had done with Natasha in the very beginning.

The redhead was the only one who you smiled at, she was basically the only one allowed to touch you and hold you and she had no other choice but to keep you. Since the day she met you she was thrown into the deep end of motherhood in one giant hurdle and despite her having thought she never wanted to be a mother and that she wasn’t capable of it, she soon realized that she actually enjoyed taking care of you on most days. She loved waking up on those more quiet mornings when you would merely whimper a couple times to wake her. She would bring you over into her bed and cradle you in her safe arms, allowing you to feed from the bottle you had reluctantly started to trust as she spoke to you about whatever was on her mind. After eight more weeks and a green light from the doctor, it was finally time to try nursing. Natasha’s hormonal therapy had been more than effective and her doctor had marveled at the success of it which brought Natasha both pride and comfort. Maybe it really was meant to be. Maybe you were really meant to be. She was stressed. She was so nervous, but at least the disgust had been replaced by curiosity and the desire to care for you. She now knew that she wanted to do it for you, even if it made her slightly uncomfortable.

She made sure her room was quiet and dim with no distractions around as she settled down into the well-cushioned arm chair in the corner of her bedroom. She rarely used it, but the piece of furniture was quite beautiful. The dark velour welcomed her into its safe embrace as she sat down with you in her arms. You let out a coo, tugging on her hair, not really aware of what was going on, not that you really cared. Natasha’s heartbeat increased as she bit her lower lip, looking down at you. She caressed your chubby cheek, smiling widely when you immediately turned your attention to the digit, your hands reaching for her in an attempt to bring the finger into your mouth. She chuckled softly, pulling her hand away.

“Someone’s hungry”, she hummed softly, cupping your chin with her finger. She inhaled deep, pulling her tank top down. “Here we go”, she whispered, the words were followed by a shaky sigh. You seemed a bit confused at first but welcomed Natasha without hesitation. You opened your tiny mouth wide open and latched onto her. The redhead suppressed the hiss she wanted to let out at the slight sting she felt, her breast sensitive from the pumping she had done daily prior to your first nursing. The experience was completely new to her and the tight feeling in her chest from the build up of milk was more than strange. It started to tingle slightly the harder you suckled her and then she felt the warmth of it as the liquid started to pour out. It was a huge both emotional and physical relief that she felt, like the pressure was being released from her chest. She glanced down at you, smirking. You were happy as ever, your lips wrapped tightly around her, your eyes wide and focused like you couldn’t quite believe it.

“You’re mama’s snobby little princess, aren’t you?” She chuckled, feeling her chest lighten at her own words. Mama. Mother. She felt her eyes sting with tears. For the first time ever, she felt like she really was your mother, that she could actually do it. She could take care of you. She was worthy of that title.

“f*ck… oops”, she whispered, wiping her eyes and glancing down at you to check if you noticed her bad language. Naturally you didn’t. “Stupid hormones”, she sighed, not able to stop smiling. She was definitely going to blame the hormones for the fat tears cascading down her cheeks.

Natasha learned to love the connection that formed between you through natural feeding and she found comfort and safety in the way your tiny hands gripped her chest as you drank as much as your stomach could hold. You would smile and giggle at the funny faces she made, life returning to your traumatized demeanor. She prioritized your nursing, viewing it as not only meal time but also relaxation time. She valued the comfort of it and she deemed it extremely important to spend those quiet moments with you, strengthening the bond that had definitely not been there since day one.

It didn’t take long for Natasha to be positively in love with you and although you were a particularly tough nut to crack she wouldn’t have given up a second of it. Even now as she clambered up from her bed to come pick you up in the middle of the night as you bellowed and screamed your lungs out, she was more than proud of herself for making it so far with you. She rubbed her eyes tiredly, leaning over your cradle

“Shh, hey Y/N. Did my baby have a nightmare?” She inquired softly, bringing her hand to the side of your head. You cried loudly in response, your teary eyes like windows to your horrified soul. “Mama knows, angel. I get them too”, she whispered in understanding. “How about we go to mama’s bed and mama tells you a story?” She suggested with the most gentle voice she could muster, although now it came naturally to her. She pulled off her thin sleeping top and picked you up from the cradle, bringing you to her chest right after checking your diaper that to her relief was clean. You whimpered quietly, your delicate body squirming in her arms. You were so warm and soft, and you smelled like sleep, her nose sniffing the top of your head. She swayed you side to side gently as she paced the room for a while, hearing how you slowly stopped screaming.

“There we go, myschka (little mouse). You’re safe. No one is going to hurt you. No one”, she assured you, her throat closing at the rawness of her voice. “I won’t let anyone ever hurt you. As long as I’m here you will be safe. You’re always going to be safe”, she mumbled, forcing to keep her tears at bay because she knew how good you were at sensing emotions, especially hers. “You’re safe”, she whispered next to your wispy hair, breathing in the baby scent that was something she had fallen head over heels for in the past few months. Once your crying was over she deemed you calm enough for bed and so she sat down, settling you over her right arm as your lips searched for her blindly. She guided you slightly to the left so you could easily latch onto her and you stopped fussing in an instant.

In the very beginning Natasha had found the idea repulsing. The first time she did it she was incredibly uncomfortable but she knew she needed to try for you, so she did. She was pleasantly surprised by how tender the moments felt, by how much she yearned to spend that extra time with you. And in turn, you seemed to be infinitely grateful for finally having proper food that you had no problem eating and it left you less cranky and a lot more smiley. Your smile was Natasha’s favorite. Sometimes when you were feeling particularly good you would even laugh; a high, joyous giggle.

Natasha opened her mouth to tell you a story just like she had promised, only for her to realize that she had no baby appropriate stories. Her life was filled with pain and misery and every story she had included violence of every sort. The best she could do was come up with her own story.

“Once upon a time… you know what never mind”, Natasha groaned. “Maybe I’ll talk to you about something else. Do you know what fairies are? Of course you don’t”, she chuckled. “Look at you, dumb little baby”, she mused with a huge grin. “I’ll tell you all about fairies whether you care about it or not.” She found it so incredibly easy to talk to you. Maybe that was because you never replied or because she felt so relaxed around you but whatever the reason may have been she truly appreciated it.

“You poor thing were starving”, she mused out loud, watching you struggle to breathe between your feeding. She used her index finger to pull you off her breast for a moment so you could gather your breath before she brought you back in. She felt herself smile at your droopy eyes, as you fought sleep.

“Fairies are these creatures, small, so very small. Even smaller than you”, she whispered, caressing your forehead. “They have gorgeous wings to help them fly through the air and they live in the woods, and in the attic. They’re everywhere. And they have this powder, this magic powder that they sprinkle everywhere. I don’t know what they do with it, mama’s not a fairytale type. Maybe they do it to dirty up our house, who knows?” She mumbled, telling her story rather clumsily but you of course didn’t mind. Her story fell off track as she watched the automatic suckling slow down once you were fully sated and on the verge of sleep again. Natasha didn’t bother pulling you off her, she just admired your little body in her arms, the whole arrangement of being a mother suddenly feeling so right despite the pain and jealousy she felt for it. In a way you were healing her by offering her the chance to give you everything she never got herself which brought Natasha an inner peace like no other.

Notes:

Lowkey living for mama Natasha 💔

Chapter 3: Superhero

Chapter Text

Natasha liked to take you out on walks in the compound to get you more used to changes in your surroundings. She also enjoyed seeing other people and made sure you saw them as well to get you more accustomed to the idea of others. Natasha could still clearly picture each of the team members’ faces when she had delivered the news of your arrival. She had done a special appearance in the weekly team debriefing where they had been discussing upcoming changes considering the Avengers. Natasha naturally hadn’t taken part in any of the meetings at the very beginning of your social integration which had brought many of the others on edge from the lack of knowledge. That is why Fury didn’t allow the spy to make excuses and she had to tell the truth, not that she had anything against it. All she had wanted was time and she had gotten two weeks of peace and quiet with you which was enough for her.

Natasha had entered the conference room wearing casual but neat clothes just like everyone else. The only thing that had given away her exhaustion had been the fluffy curls on her shoulders.

“I’m not going to stay for the meeting but I have a quick announcement to make to clear up some confusion”, Natasha had said from her seat at the end of the table. “I know you’ve all been wondering why I’m never to be seen around anymore. And the answer to that is: I have a baby”, she had explained with a tiny smile that she so fervently had tried to hide. There had been a moment of deafening silence before Tony had spoken up.

“Oh-kay”, he had sighed and clapped his hands together once. “Anyone else got any super early April Fools Day pranks?”

Natasha could still remember each of their faces as they just blinked at her like they couldn’t quite understand what she had said so she had had to explain a bit further.

“Y/N was rescued from the Red Room and I decided that it was my job to take care of her”, she had said, all the others still just gawking at her. “Any questions?” All hands had shot up in the air. “No? Perfect. I’ll be in touch with you guys”, Natasha had smirked, not having had the energy for stupid questions, leaving the room right after. “You guys stay safe on your missions!” She had hollered down the hall right before the doors had slid shut.

You watched Natasha chuckle to herself, a slightly confused smile tugging at your lips. She could still remember the moment so vividly that it made her laugh. Tony and his huge brown eyes shining with disbelief, Clint and his frown of confusion, Wanda’s jaw on the floor, Steve’s loading screen -face, Bruce and his impressed little nod, Thor’s fist on the table and a hooray paired with “A Mighty New Avenger!” and finally Sam and his I Know Damn Well -face. She chortled a laugh again. Her idiots.

You didn’t quite recognize any of the team members yet. They were all just a big blur to you which was probably why you were still so panicked around them. Usually you just watched from afar. Mama would often grab your slimy fist and wave it in the air when you saw someone, for whatever reason. It didn’t really make sense to you.

There she went again, pulling your hand away from your itchy gums and waving it to someone ahead of you. She hushed you gently when you let out a displeased whine, squirming a bit.

“Say, hey to my favorite tincan”, Natasha cooed to you as you looked ahead with huge eyes, blinking slightly until a face with brown hair came into your view.

“Natasha”, Tony nodded, his gaze moving to you. “Y/N”, he greeted you rather professionally. “I see you’ve brought Diapers out for a walk”, he noted, offering his hand for you to shake. You blinked, clumsily tightening your fist around his forefinger, starting to tug it to your mouth. “Still no manners, I see”, he hummed.

“Oh, give it a rest. She’s like five hours old”, Natasha groaned, but she didn’t miss the smile that stretched on Tony’s lips. Just like from the very beginning he didn’t quite know how to address a baby and so he resorted to humor. Natasha didn’t mind and neither did you. She understood what it was like.

“Hey, how come I never get to hold her but Wanda does?”, he asked with a soft frown, the redhead giving him a disbelieving look.

“You wanna hold her?” She asked with a co*ck of her head.

“Yeah”, he nodded definitively, stretching his arms out. Natasha gave him a deadpan look.

“She’s not a box of hardware”, she scoffed, watching how he softened his elbows and took a more natural stance. It was much more welcoming.

“I don’t like to be handed things”, he reminded her.

“She’s not a thing”, Natasha berated harshly yet continued anyway. “There you go”, she muttered, bringing you to his chest, his large hands wrapping around you as he stood stiffly with you staring up at him. Natasha glanced past him at Pepper whose heels were clicking against the stone floor as she approached you.

“Hey, Pep. You think we should get one of these?” He asked with a wide grin, gesturing at you, Pepper nearly glaring at him and his behavior.

“Not as long as you have this job of yours”, she muttered bitterly, Tony’s attention focusing back on you. She was not in a good mood.

“She stinks”, he said.

“Oh my god”, Natasha groaned, bringing her hand up to rub her eyes, fingertips meeting to pinch the bridge of her nose. “See, this is why you don’t get to hold her.”

Tony’s arms were much more stiff and less welcoming than Wanda and Natasha’s. The witch had been easy to adjust to because she was very similar to mama, but Tony, Tony was a whole different story. You reached your hand up, your fingers brushing his goatee. It was scratchy. You hated it. You inhaled your lungs full of air and let out a wail.

“No wonders she doesn’t like you”, Natasha mused out loud, pulling you back into her arms.

“I’ll have her know that this is the most expensive goatee you can find from the entire East Coast”, he said in defense, Natasha just rolling her eyes.

“Serves you right”, Pepper scoffed with a good-natured smile, her hand brushing over Natasha’s shoulder affectionately.

“Come on, milaya (honey), let’s leave this sh*t show”, she chuckled, walking away from Tony who was left deep in thought, rubbing his beard, Pepper already pestering him about another work related issue. “He never was good at first impressions”, Natasha mumbled to you, a small smile on her lips. “You’ll get used to him”, she assured you as you sniffled softly, trying to ease the itch in your nose.

As per usual Natasha was right. You would eventually get used to his spiky chin and inappropriate humor but that would not happen overnight. Officially meeting the rest of your family seemed to go a bit better. When you found Wanda and Steve from the living room you didn’t even flinch. Actually it took you a while to even notice them because Natasha was tickling you and it felt so funny that your eyes squished shut when you smiled as wide as you could, flailing your arms

“Oh, look at her”, Wanda squealed quietly, perching slightly up from her seat on the couch. “She’s getting tickles”, she said in excitement, her hand slapping Steve to gain his attention. A smile spread on his face. He liked you but he wasn’t exactly in his element when around babies so he was a little awkward and had even refused to hold you, reasoning that he was scared of hurting you. Wanda didn’t even have to ask if she would get to hold you. She simply got up from the couch and walked to you, making sure she approached slowly and in a way that left you without any surprises.

“Hi, Y/N, little baby. Do you remember Auntie Wanda?” She cooed, waving her hand as you studied her face. You tugged on Natasha’s hair, looking around in confusion, trying to understand where you were and why Wanda was there. Natasha couldn’t help but to smile at the way the witch acted around you.

“It’s Wanwan”, Natasha crooned, smoothing the side of your head a bit. You observed Wanda curiously until you dared to lean a bit closer. Natasha took that as a good sign and brought you even closer so Wanda was able to move you from the redhead’s hip to her own.

“Look, it’s mama”, Wanda whispered softly, pointing at Natasha as she smiled down at you. That made you show them a toothless grin, legs kicking against Wanda in excitement. You felt secure in Wanda’s arms. You didn’t cry or fuss but acted normal for as long as you could see mama somewhere near you.

“How’s it going?” Steve asked Natasha, clearly wanting to know more about you because you were quite a shock to everyone.

“Better everyday”, she replied in all honesty, brushing her fingers over your hair as you craned your neck to see him. “We’re making lots of progress. Even here, right now”, she explained, nodding towards you and Wanda as she sat herself down beside Steve.

“That’s quite the mission you got for yourself”, he joked, nudging her shoulder a bit.

“I never back down, do I?” She challenged, looking up at him.

“Not to my knowledge, no”, he grinned. “And just like always, I know you’ll excel”, he assured her, watching how Natasha cheeks flushed and she looked down and away from him.

“I’ll try my best. That is for sure”, she mumbled. She was very nervous about the challenges your future would bring her but at the same time she was excited to see who you would become.

“There’s no doubt about that”, he nodded, smiling softly when she rested her head against his shoulder. Her eyes fluttered shut on their own and she stilled completely, the whole weight of her upper body now supported by the captain. There was a soft squeal as Wanda tickled your stomach. You were so thoroughly entertained by her long brown hair that you didn’t even remember to keep an eye on mama. That was the first time ever.

“Steve?” Wanda whispered rather conspiratorially.

“What?”

“Could you hold her for a second?” She asked, walking closer to him, allowing you to inspect him from up close. “I’ll tuck her in”, Wanda mused, glancing at Natasha.

“You’ll wake her up”, he chuckled.

“Believe me, she wouldn’t wake up even if the world burned down”, she joked, handing you to Steve who received you a little awkwardly but because mama and Wanda were both there you didn’t see the point in fussing, at least not yet. You observed with Steve how Wanda cupped Natasha’s cheek and guided her to the other side where the couch was completely free of occupants, lifting her feet up as well. Steve bounced you gently, soothing you just in case you decided to have a meltdown which he had only witnessed from afar and he would like to keep it that way. Then Wanda grabbed a blanket from the back of the couch and draped it over Natasha’s limp form. Her fingers automatically brushed some of her curls behind her ear in a caring gesture before she backed away, deeming her work good enough.

“Looks like it’s just us now”, Steve hummed to you, smiling as much as he could to seem more approachable. It worked quite well.

“Who-?”

“Shhh.” Clint was met with a loud hiss from both Steve and Wanda, the ruckus he was making way too loud for mama and baby. You recognized him but you were clearly wary, starting to pout a bit from the addition of another new person, your mama oddly quiet.

“Ah, hi little one”, he whispered, immediately understanding the situation. He took one good look at Natasha sprawled on the couch and then grinned.

“Did she put you on babysitter duty?” He asked, waving at you as you sat there in Steve’s arms.

“No, she was wiped out the second she sat down”, Steve explained, adjusting you a bit on his lap.

“She’s one hell of a superhero”, Clint hummed softly in admiration, walking over to her and crouching down. “Please guys, let her sleep as long as possible”, he said to the others, specifically looking at you. Then he leaned down and pressed a kiss into her hair.

You brought your fingers to your lips, sucking them into your mouth as you continued to study your surroundings. You frowned. No one was paying any specific attention to you and that just wasn’t acceptable. You swung your hand at Steve, screeching a little.

“Guys, what do I do? What do I do?” Steve asked in panic, his eyes widening. “Is she gonna cry?”

“Shh, Steve you need to calm down or she’ll definitely cry”, Clint said knowingly. “Come here”, he sighed, lifting you up into his arms. You’d never been that close to Clint. He had always stayed back bar for a lone finger you had gotten to squeeze once. None of them really thought about it but it was the first time any of them really got to meet you properly.

Clint brought you to his hip, smiling widely at the memories that flooded his mind. He had missed holding a baby. He had really missed that specific feeling it gave him.

“Who’s a good little baby?” He asked in a soft coo. “You are, yes, you are Y/N”, he continued, bouncing you softly which you seemed to really like. “Maybe I’ll show you around a bit, huh?” He suggested, seeing a bit of curiosity cross your face. “Yeah? Would Y/N like that? I think she would.” Clint walked away from the couches to give Natasha some space. Wanda was physically unable to stay away from you so she skidded after you, leaving Steve and Natasha on the couch. He had pulled one of her legs over his lap and gently massaged her calf, a slight smile on his face caused by none other than the new addition to the family.

You thought you liked Clint. You liked the way he held you and the soft tone of voice he used. He was like mama. He let you kick him and prod his nose with your fingers, just like mama did. Clint didn’t mind you pulling on his ear or studying the neckline of his shirt. You were busy with his rough chin when you heard another voice that you couldn’t recognize no matter how hard you tried.

“Is that Romanoff’s baby?” Bruce asked, Clint chuckling softly.

“Who else’s?” He asked rhetorically, the curly haired man scoffing in return. He came closer to you once he noticed you turn your head into his direction, your round eyes observing him.

“Hi, sweetie”, he hummed quietly, waving at you. Him you hadn’t met once. You had no clue who he was. Your eyes widened, brows furrowing.

“Shh, baby, let’s not cry”, Clint whispered next to your ear and started bouncing you again. “Let’s not cry. There’s no need to cry”, he assured you, turning away from Bruce because his face had clearly upset you. “Look who’s there”, he cheered quietly, rushing to Wanda who was on the other side of the room in the kitchen, leaving Bruce in his own company. You observed the soft chestnut curls and warm green eyes that appeared in front of you. Wanda. You let out a soft “baba”, reaching for the witch.

“She wants me?” Wanda asked quietly, a small frown on her face.

“I think so, yes”, Clint hummed, already moving you into Wanda’s embrace.

“Oh, who’s the cutest baby in the whole wide world?” She squealed, making you squeal as well as she welcomed you into her embrace. “I’m the baby’s favorite”, she flaunted, doing a little twirl with you in her arms, Clint rolling his eyes.

“We’ll see”, he mumbled with a grin on his face.

“We’ll see what?” Another voice asked, this time it was Sam who you had seen maybe twice. You didn’t really recognize him either but his face was much more welcoming than Bruce’s had been. “Well how about that? The little lady has finally gotten out and about”, he said, shaking his head as a smile spread on his face. “Look at those tiny feet”, he mumbled, slowly moving his hand close to your foot to give it a quick squeeze. You didn’t mind it. It was actually okay, your leg kicking the air instinctively as you returned his smile. He tickled your foot again once seeing your positive reaction and you smiled, revealing your gums to him.

“Oh, she has the prettiest smile, doesn’t she?” Wanda asked with the most enamored eyes Sam had seen in a while and he was sure he had those as well when he looked at your soft face.

“She’s so cute I could just eat her up”, he cooed, your fists flailing in the air slightly as you moved yourself around. Not quite sure what was going on but you didn’t mind, you just sat, observing, and it was okay. You didn’t feel scared, but you did already miss mama a bit, feeling a needy pull for her because Wanda didn’t possess the same comfort mama did.

You were entertained by Wanda, Sam and Clint for a good thirty minutes. They had spread your baby bag all over the living room floor, playing with your brown stuffed dog and baby blanket. You were on your stomach, kicking your legs in excitement as Wanda walked the plushie in front of you, talking in a funny voice as the men chatted over you, Clint occasionally cupping the back or your head and brushing your hair, Sam tickling your feet to make you kick them a bit more. Maybe you even had a bit of fun with them until you felt like you had been on the floor for way too long. You missed mama. You missed her so much that you suddenly just burst into tears.

“Hey, shh, what’s wrong ?” Sam asked softly, coming a bit closer to you to gain your attention.

“Look, doggie”, Wanda tried hastily, glancing at Natasha. Unfortunately you didn’t really care for Natasha’s sleeping habits, or rather lack thereof. You let out a whine, thumping the carpet with your hands. Wanda didn’t know what to do other than hush you.

“She probably misses Tasha. It’s already been a while. Believe me this is probably rare”, he chuckled, lifting you off the floor and into his arms. “There, there”, he crooned, patting your tummy as he got off the floor. “Let’s go find mommy.” He couldn’t help but to smile. Natasha was the last woman he thought he would ever be calling mommy.

To everyone’s surprise you hadn’t woken mama up yet with your mild whimpers and fussing and so he hushed you again until you at least partially listened and he brought you to the couch where she was still fast asleep with Steve at the other end of it. You babbled something incoherent, immediately perking up.

“We have to stay quiet so mommy gets to sleep”, Clint explained when you tried to reach for her, kicking your legs to get closer but when you didn’t get any nearer you whimpered.

“Is she seriously still asleep?” Steve asked in disbelief, very aware of how easily Natasha was able to pull herself out of sleep at the slightest of disturbances.

“Man, she must be tired”, Sam groaned from the fluffy carpet.

“Let her sleep, honey”, Clint tried again bringing you back to the carpet but this time close enough so you could still see mama. It was a bit better that way and then the doggie was becoming more and more distracting. However you still turned your head to the side every now and then to make sure mama was still in her spot.

Ten more minutes went by with Natasha in a deep, sweet slumber, an angry cry eventually walking her up. She blinked the sleep from her eyes to see you surrounded by her –and your– family, every one of them fussing around you to make you stop crying.

“Here, little baby, look at doggie”, Wanda tried desperately, Clint hushing you as Sam tried to soothe you by petting your head. Natasha could have honestly cried from happiness at the sight of everyone welcoming you with quite literal open arms. The sight in front of her was pure chaos but it felt like home. You filled a hole that normally left the team quite cold and formal but there you were, knitting it together with your infuriating wails. Natasha smiled softly, moving a bit to stretch her stiff body, the blanket dropping off her body, Steve’s warm hand caressing over her knee.

“When’s the last time you slept that long?” He asked jokingly, Natasha chuckling as she lengthened her entire body straight, yawning heavily.

“Can’t even remember”, she mumbled, settling back down, watching how you noted her voice and stopped crying. Then you were once again wiggling as hard as you could to get to mama.

“Where’s my little Y/N?” She asked, eyes still closed as she enjoyed the few final seconds of peace. You squealed.

“Mmma!” Was all you said when Clint set you down on her chest, Natasha’s hands holding your warm body, head lifting up just enough to press a kiss to your forehead.

“Did you get to know people?” She inquired with a higher tone than normal because you always seemed to listen to it better. Your fists scrunched up in her shirt as you tugged the fabric into your mouth to try to relieve the beginning of your teething. Plus you were probably hungry. “Could we have a moment?” She hummed, looking around at everyone, their eyes glued on you and mama as if it was the most bizarre thing they had witnessed in a while.

“Yeah, of course”, Steve replied, patting her leg before he stood up, the others agreeing as well, slowly filing out of the living room. Clint placed his hand on the side of her head smiling at her upside down from above.

“Don’t forget to take care of yourself”, he murmured, lowering down to press a kiss to her forehead. “I’m proud of you”, he whispered, Natasha forcing another lump down her throat so she wouldn’t cry.

“Thank you.” Natasha stared up at the ceiling, tears welling in her eyes. She was so overwhelmed by everything and the little amount of rest she had gotten was nowhere nearly enough. All she wanted was to shove you into someone else’s arms so that she could close her eyes for a bit longer, but at the same time she noticed that she missed you. Even in her sleep she missed you and she was worried for you. Her sleep had been decent at best because it was laced with anxiety for you. Natasha found herself to be uneasy even though you were right there and it took her a good moment to mentally talk herself down from her sudden stress. She also felt guilty for partly enjoying her time away from you. Did that make her a bad mother?

She sat up, settling comfortably into the decorative pillows, taking a deep breath before baring her chest for you. She closed her eyes, trying her best to relax for you as you brought your mouth to her breast, suckling her immediately. It was all so overwhelming, too much. She had been away from you for too long and too suddenly. You didn’t even bat an eye, mouth all too busy with your meal.

Natasha looked down at you, holding you firmly against her, left hand caressing your cheek and chin. You got no longer distracted by her touching and found it soothing, your eyes glancing up at her as if to offer comfort, at least that’s what it felt like to Natasha. She gave you a relieved smile, noticing how you got her to relax further into the couch. You were okay. Everything was okay. She felt her eyelids droop, the warmth she felt so welcoming.

“Natasha?” Wanda asked from somewhere farther away, knocking the nearest wall for a heads up.

“Hmm?” The redhead hummed, blinking her eyes open as she turned to look at where the voice had come from.

“Can I come in?” She inquired timidly, very nervous of crossing any unset boundaries.

“Come on in, darling”, Natasha replied, not really minding the intimate moment she was sharing with you. It was time to introduce other people into her daily routine or she would slowly go crazy from lack of sleep. Wanda tiptoed to the couch, sitting down, leaving a respectable amount of space between the two of them and avoiding looking directly at Natasha, just in case. “Wanda”, she called for the younger woman’s attention. “It’s okay, you can look.” The brunette gave her a shy smile, glancing down at the bundle in Natasha’s arms.

“I don’t know how you don’t combust from her cuteness”, Wanda moaned, co*cking her head a bit as she pouted down at you.

“Believe me, sometimes I do”, Natasha chuckled, her fingers trailing down your body.

“Does it feel weird?” Wanda asked in curiosity, their eyes meeting, both of the women smiling slightly.

“At first it did, but now I’m used to it”, she hummed. “Now it’s mostly comforting”, she explained.

“I want to be a mother someday”, Wanda stated in a revering tone, followed by a determined nod. “I want to get pregnant and experience it all”, she continued dreamily. “I think I would want a boy.” Natasha chuckled at that.

“I could not deal with a boy. I have enough grown men to look after”, Natasha scoffed, shaking her head gently. “They’re a handful to say the least. Us girls get along better anyway, don’t we?” Natasha crooned down at you, bouncing you a bit. “Yes we do”, she confirmed to herself, answering for you since you were still completely clueless.

“You do have a point”, Wanda giggled, inching a bit closer to get a better peek at your face. You gave her a quick glance but remained calm.

“Does she eat baby food yet?” The brunette asked in curiosity. “Maybe I could feed her sometime”, she added hopefully and it made Natasha smile, chest warming up a bit. She couldn’t blame Wanda. The redhead herself had always found you irresistible.

“Not yet. She hates the bottle”, she explained, beaming down at you when you let out a gurgle. “I doubt she would be too interested in applesauce and mashed potatoes”, she chuckled. “But once she does I’ll get back to you. I’ll never say no to help”, she assured her, Wanda smiling brightly. Natasha yawned heavily, covering her mouth with her hand as tears sprang to her eyes. She was exhausted. She barely registered your suckling slowing down, your mouth pulling back a bit.

“I can watch over her while she sleeps so you can get some more rest”, Wanda offered with a hopeful smile.

“That would be wonderful, thank you Wanda”, she mumbled sleepily, muffling a yawn into her shoulder. She handed you to the brunette who was already reaching for you and from then on she was out like a light. She didn’t even bother to move to a different spot or fix her position. She simply pulled her shirt down and closed her eyes.

Chapter 4: Sharing is caring

Notes:

This is a bit longer idk what happened hahah

Chapter Text

Slowly but surely you had learned to crawl. You were fast, really fast, which Natasha found amusing because you had the tendency to try to escape whatever spot she had set you down on. During diaper changes you tried to roll away from her and you liked to give her mild heart attacks by crawling too close to the edge of the bed or the couch you were occupying.

She had just discarded the heavy diarrhea filled diaper and cleaned the mustard yellow stickiness off your legs and butt when you rolled around again just when she was turned away from you for no more than a second. You crawled to the edge in determination, not realizing that there was no more bed left. Your balance faltered, sending you down towards the floor.

“sh*t!” Natasha yelped, grasping your onesie just in time before you hit the ground. She tumbled down onto the carpet, holding you to her chest but you only seemed to think it was funny. You giggled, when she lifted you above her at an arm’s length, kicking your naked legs in the air. “You think this is funny?” Natasha asked in a mildly berating tone. You squealed, guffawing quietly. “You think scaring mama is funny?” She asked again as you just smiled down at her, making grabby hands.

“Shi-t”, you said with the widest of smiles, Natasha’s eyes widening. She had been positively vibrating from excitement at the fact that you had started to form sounds that resembled words and she had imagined what you would sound like and what your first word was going to be. She had expected it to be mama because it was probably the word you heard the most, but this was not something she had even taken into account.

“What?” She asked as if you would’ve realized to repeat yourself. “Did you just cuss?” She asked in disbelief, sitting up and dangling you in front of her as she studied your face. You reached your hands for her nose and cheeks, prodding her a bit. “Oh, fu… Nope not saying that anymore”, she groaned in amusem*nt. You babbled something in gibberish, Natasha not able to hold in her laughter.

“Ma”, you screeched proudly at the fact that mama was laughing. “sh*t”, you repeated, lifting your fist to your mouth, chewing on your fingers.

“sh*t indeed”, Natasha mumbled, bringing you to her chest as she stood up to finish changing you. “If anybody asks, your first word was mama”, she said firmly. “Can you say mamma?” She tried, annunciating as clearly as possible.

“sh*t.”

“No, honey, let's try that again. Mama”, Natasha repeated, not able to wipe the smile off her face. It was just too damn hilarious.

“Shht”, you mumbled. She pressed her lips to your forehead, smiling against your skin as she lay you back down on the bed.

“You’re one hell of a baby”, she hummed, pausing after she realized what she had said. “Don’t say that, okay? That language is not for babies”, she reminded you. She kissed you again, peppering your face with wet smooches. “You’re so gosh darn cute”, she cooed, pressing her face into your belly as she kissed you, your hands automatically gripping the locks of red in your reach as you kicked your legs in excitement.

Even if your first word had been rather scandalous and hilarious at the same time, Natasha was still waiting for the m-word that she had been dreading her whole time as a mother. She needed to hear it. She needed the confirmation that you accepted her as your mother. Why hadn’t you said it yet? Surely “mama” was a lot easier than “sh*t” even if your first word resembled more of “shi”, the T rather silent. Sometimes you managed to include the final consonant but most times not. Ironically enough it was the only word you could say so Natasha had to submit to hearing it all day long. “sh*t, sh*t, sh*t” wherever you went.

“Put it on top, like this”, Natasha guided you, lying on her stomach on the carpet where your baby blanket was spread. You lay on your back on it in your flower pattern onesie, holding onto your feet as you watched Natasha play with the colorful blocks in front of you. “Look, it’s a tower”, she explained as you watched intently at what she was doing, the pacifier in your mouth bobbing vigorously. Sometimes, even when you were completely safe, you felt stressed and Natasha could tell it by your wide eyes and busy mouth but she did her best to seem as normal and as calm as possible to show you that nothing was out of the ordinary and you were safe with mama. She wanted you to realize that on your own because she felt like comforting you was only going to get a negative reaction when there was no actual need for it. In your distraction you grabbed your sock and pulled it off, revealing your tiny toes. You didn’t quite understand how you did what you did and it almost shocked you that suddenly you had no sock. It made Natasha smile. She grabbed the piece of fabric you chucked aside and slid it back on your foot.

“We don’t wanna catch a cold”, she hummed, caressing your leg as you swung your arms around a bit. “Here”, she said, offering you a building block. You grasped it, shaking it slightly as if to test how it felt in your hand. Natasha couldn’t resist touching you, her fingertips finding your soft belly and tickling it. You swung your hand, letting go of the block. It bounced to the edge of the carpet but you barely gave it a glance. You stared up at mama who came a bit closer to you, her face appearing above you. Her hand moved to your forehead to caress your face before she planted a kiss on your pacifier.

“My baby”, she mumbled, scooching to lie beside you, her head propped up by her elbow. She placed another kiss on your forehead. “Sweet, sweet baby.” You brought your hand to the pacifier, taking it out of your mouth and offering it to Natasha. She frowned at you when you prodded her lips with it.

“Do I seem stressed to you?” She asked in amusem*nt, dodging the pacifier. You let out a whine.

“Mama”, you screeched, Natasha pausing completely, staring down at you in awe.

“You said it”, she whispered as you offered the pacifier to her again. “Mama”, she tried to prompt you to repeat your word.

“Mama”, you squealed, nudging her cheek with the rubber again as Natasha’s eyes welled up with tears. She couldn’t believe her ears. You let out another whine, kicking your legs because she wasn’t doing what you wanted. “Ma! Mamma!” You screamed, Natasha finally giving in and parting her lips for the pacifier. She wiped her eyes dry of the tears, taking a deep breath. You could sense her distress and had offered her your source of comfort. She couldn’t have refused, not when you were so adorable.

You brought your fingers to your mouth to suckle them and Natasha couldn’t help but chuckle. She dug up a new pacifier for you, replacing the fingers in your mouth with it. Then she pulled her own pacifier out to be able to speak.

“I love you”, she whispered but you just screeched in disapproval and aimed your hand towards her mouth to try to put the pacifier back. “Okay, okay. Mama will put it back.” She said the word with such pride because now she knew you agreed with it. She sucked the rubber into her mouth, settling down onto her back, grabbing a fabric book from the floor and bringing it above you both to look at.

You were already starting to be a whole year old, or presumably. The doctors weren’t able to track your exact date of birth, but they did get pretty close. You had started to trust your new family members more. There was this funny man named Idiot or Asshole, depending on mama’s mood. He was really good with kids and he always made you laugh. You called him Cli-Cli. The rest of his real name was too difficult. Another person you had gotten more accustomed to was Dada although for some reason mama thought it was funny you called her that. But when you tried your very best to make the wa-sound it just came out as “ma” and she wasn’t mama. Natasha called her Wanda which you thought was way over your head. Third person you saw a lot was Tinman. Him you knew as Ti-ti, another one that made mama laugh so hard that you couldn’t help but to squeal loudly every time it made her laugh. Sam was somehow called Bibi and no one knew why. He just was Bibi. And lastly was Big Boy America who you called “Tsss”. He was quiet and safe, but your favorite would always be mama, no matter what.

Natasha had also introduced you to a particularly bad habit of sleeping beside her in “mama’s bed” because you had recurring nightmares and your favorite hobby after being woken up by them was to stand up and bang the bars of your crib until Natasha came and took you to sleep with her. Some days when she had been worn down by your mood swings and slight behavioral issues she just tucked you tightly beside her and called it a night. Your issues weren’t the only reason she did that, although she pretended very fervently so, but in reality she was obsessed with being woken up by you in the asscrack of dawn.

“Mmh”, Natasha moaned quietly, turning her head to the other side to avoid the disturbance that was trying to pull her away from her slumber.

“Mama!” You exclaimed, stretching the consonants, your clammy hands grasping her cheek and chin clumsily. She turned to face you, blinking her heavy eyes open to meet your goofy grin, a few teeth having already poked through your gums. Your hair had grown and you were a lot rounder than your malnourished-self had been.

“Oh, is that-? That can’t be”, Natasha gasped, feigning surprise. “Is that my little Y/N?” She cooed, turning to face you fully as you giggled in excitement, crawling over her arm to press your face into hers. You loved being close to your mama and cuddles were your absolute favorite. You babbled something incoherent, talking to Natasha, trying to explain to her what dreams you had had. She pulled you into an embrace, kissing your cheek as she made a munching sound that always made you giggle. You had recently gotten very into copying everyone around you and so it was only natural that you pulled away and slobbered all the spit in your mouth on Natasha’s cheek, doing your very best to copy the sound she had made. As disgusting as it was, Natasha’s heart melted and she pressed another kiss to your face, slyly wiping her cheek into the blanket.

“Good morning”, she greeted happily. “Can you say ‘good morning’, baby?” She inquired playfully as you just smiled, gurgling something, fists gripping the sheets.

“Ba!” Was all you could get out, Natasha’s hands coming up to your chin to tickle you. She smiled at your loud squeal and the way you keeled into her chest, your clumsy body squirming against her. She didn’t hesitate for a second to pull you into a hug, kissing your head as she cradled you to her chest. “Ba!” You exclaimed again, your tiny fingers digging into the fabric of her top, grabby hands pinching the skin of her breasts, making her wince. She eased your fists off her body, your vigil eyes following her movements as she sat up against the headboard of the bed. Your eyes slid up to meet hers as you smacked your lips, asking for food.

“You want milk? Can you say milk?” Natasha tried, knowing full well you couldn’t.

“Mmm”, you tried impatiently, yanking on the shirt. She uncurled your fingers out of the fabric yet again, pulling it up and lifting you sideways onto her lap.

“There you go”, she hummed, relaxing at the touch of your warm mouth, closing her eyes and leaning her head back. She reveled in the silence around you, an occasional squelch of your mouth the only sound in the room. She pulled the tank top completely off, sighing at your warmth. It soothed her to feel a bit of your skin against her own and ever since the first day with you she had taken it as routine just to hold you against her bare chest. It brought you an infinite amount of comfort as Natasha had figured out.

She smiled down at you, your eager mouth and tiny hands groping her sensitive skin a little too harshly. “Shh, not so roughly”, she hissed, easing you off a little. You could sense your error, pouting up at Natasha, slightly annoyed that your feeding had been interrupted. “Don’t you start with that attitude”, she berated gently, shaking her head at your protruding lip and weak frown before guiding your mouth back to her breast. It was almost as if you glared at her before focusing back on eating. Natasha only huffed at your behavior. You might’ve not been a biological daughter of hers but something about that look reminded her of herself. The comical glares, huffs and pouts were becoming nothing out of the ordinary and only increased as you started to show more and more of your developing personality.

After you were finished with your breakfast, Natasha pulled off your sleeping onesie and put you back down on her chest, both of you breathing in tandem as you lay there in complete silence. The early morning quiet moment was almost always necessary because it took you a while to wake up fully anyway so it was perfect for some mama cuddles. Natasha had also found out that without them the day usually ended in a meltdown. She didn’t know if it was a coincidence or not but it made your days easier regardless. Besides, you would never say no, that was for sure. You huffed quietly, squirming against Natasha, your face scrunching up as you let out a tiny yawn. Mama placed a hand on your back, tilting her chin down to press a kiss to your head, humming a soft tune, her nose buried into your short hairs.

Another thing Natasha had taught you was sharing. And share you did. You had a tendency to offer your food back to Natasha either because you really wanted her to have some or because you didn’t like it yourself, whatever the reason may have been you did it almost without fail.

“Open wide”, Natasha cooed, bringing a spoonful of mashed baby food to your mouth. Your lips parted in spite of how distracted you seemed, your legs kicking happily against the chair as Natasha fed you. That day was an exceptionally good feeding day apparently. You were having a new meal you hadn’t had before. It was a blend of vegetables. The taste was quite mild so Natasha figured you might agree to eat it. To her surprise you didn’t protest at all even though she had fought fifteen minutes to make you sit still in your chair. Once she realized to find you a distraction that you could focus on, you ate your food while playing with your rubber toy that you liked to chew on.

“Say ‘aa’”, she prompted again, bringing more food to your lips. She slid the spoon in with ease and pulled it back when you closed your mouth. She used the rubber spoon to scoop the excess mush off your lips and repeated the action. You swung your toy around, the slippery plastic hard to hold onto and it clattered to the ground. You let out a cry, your face morphing into a desperate frown as you tried to reach for it from your high chair.

“Mama!”

“Honey, you need to be more careful with it”, she instructed, crouching down and grabbing the toy. She gave it back to you but your attention was suddenly drawn to the bowl of food on the tray in front of you where Natasha had set it down before crouching to the floor.

You plunged your hand into the food, studying the warm texture as you spread your fingers. You brought your fist to your mouth, attempting to eat it. Natasha laughed gently, standing up and going to the sink to get a rag that she could clean your hands with.

Myshka (little mouse), why don’t you try the spoon?” She’s offered, giving you the green spoon.

“sh*t”, you replied so cleverly, Natasha shaking her head in disbelief. She still couldn’t believe that you really knew that word even if you didn’t know what it meant. You grabbed the spoon anyway, clumsily loaded it with food and chucked it across the kitchen, completely ignoring Natasha’s guiding hand. Then she watched you dirty your hands yet again to cup some food.

“Did mama tell you to make a mess?” She asked sarcastically but you just smiled, bringing the hand to her mouth where you slapped the mush on her lips.

“Mama! Fff…”, you giggled, clapping your hands together.

“That better be f as in food”, Natasha berated gently, feeling like she would rather go onto the couch to watch a movie than try to feed a mischievous baby who might f-bomb her from out of nowhere. She wiped the food from her lips into the rag, sighing heavily. “But you’re so darn cute”, she groaned. “Mama can’t lie. You just are”, she hummed, not even caring anymore that you were eating the food with your hands.

“Ew!” Your head whipped around at the sound of Wanda whining, her sock smeared in veggie mush.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, I didn’t get to clean that up yet”, Natasha chuckled, leaning against the kitchen table. The woman was basically laying on it.

“That’s alright, you look like you could use a break”, the younger woman noted, her eyes softening as she took in Natasha’s demeanor.

“Oh, just a lot of cleaning”, the redhead sighed, blinking slowly, muffling a yawn.

“How long have you been sitting here?” Wanda questioned in amusem*nt, walking to your side, her hand coming up to pet your head.

“Dada!” You exclaimed, lifting your dirty hands up. Wanda dropped a kiss to your forehead.

“You’re being a handful again, huh?” She noted gently.

“Thirty minutes or so”, Natasha answered.

“Ah, no. Go do something in the living room. I’ll take care of her”, Wanda said, shaking her head a bit in disapproval. “Up, up”, she ushered Natasha when she didn’t move first.

“You don’t have to, Wanda. She’s my responsibility”, she reminded her.

“Don’t be ridiculous. She’s family”, the witch reminded her. “Come on, off you go”, she said, nudging the redhead playfully as you kept yourself busy with the mashed vegetables. Natasha couldn’t help but surrender.

“Okay, fine.” She got up, kissing your head, Wanda’s temple next. The woman blushed slightly, ducking her head as she sat down in the redhead’s seat. “Thank you, Dada”, she added teasingly, watching how Wanda rolled her eyes in good nature.

Natasha trudged to the couches in the living room and slumped down. She had a bunch of paperwork to fill out but she just needed to lie down for a moment. She listened to Wanda entertain you through the rest of your meal, your happy squeals making her smile occasionally. It felt amazing to get rest without having to be away from you completely. She didn’t want to admit it but she was very clingy with you and she had to fight the urge to pluck you back into her arms whenever you spent a bit longer in someone else’s.

By the time Wanda and you were done, Natasha had made it to the armchairs where she went through a thick bundle of papers with a bored expression on her face, you and Wanda on the couch opposite of her.

“No, honey, that’s for you”, Wanda said softly, pushing back the hand that was offering her a pacifier. “That’s for baby.”

“Dada”, you whined, pushing your hand towards Wanda’s mouth.

“She wants you to put it in your mouth”, Natasha clarified from across the living room, going back to the papers she was skimming through.

“Y/N-darling, that’s for baby. Not for Wanda”, she tried again.

“She won’t give up. She’s headstrong”, Natasha smirked from the couch, watching how you stood on the couch cushions, face forming into a frown like you were about to burst into tears. Wanda was awfully bad with you when you cried, she often started fussing and panicking because she wasn’t used to babies, so she just leaned forward, opening her mouth only for you to first miss her mouth with the pacifier, then stick it up her nose until you finally got it between her lips. Natasha laughed at your antics, feeling a gentle warmth bloom at her chest. You let out a happy screech at Wanda and her pacifier, the poor woman looking more than confused.

“It’s something that makes her happy and she wants to share it with you”, Natasha explained, sounding rather distracted.

“You have another one?” Wanda mumbled around the rubber, after you didn’t allow her to take it out.

“Always do”, she hummed, digging for it in the baby bag, eyes still glued on the papers. Wanda’s scarlet magic floated the pacifier to her and your eyes widened, mouth gaping as you looked at the beautiful, dark light. You reached up for it but Wanda caught it instead, a slight pout forming on your face.

“Now we can both have it”, Wanda explained, offering the mouth-end of the pacifier to you, but you didn’t open your mouth. Instead you grabbed it into your hand, crawling to the edge of the couch. The brunette helped you down immediately, her magic lending a hand as you took wobbly running steps to Natasha. Your first steps had naturally been taken when Natasha wasn’t looking, sneaky as you were. And ever since then you had been like Lighting McQueen himself, spurting around the house like you got nothing but energy. Natasha had to admit that you had impeccable balance for a toddler.

She put her papers down, smiling at how you reached up for her. She lifted you easily onto her lap as she sat sideways on the comfortable armchair, legs hanging over the armrest.

“Mama!” You squealed, Natasha already opening her mouth for the pacifier. You giggled in excitement at the fact that she understood you immediately and you gave a very sloppy kiss on the pacifier that resembled a bit more of a wet breath and a brush of lips but it made Natasha melt nonetheless. Kissing the pacifier was something mama had taken as a habit and of course you had to do it too then. Natasha was already absentmindedly digging up another pacifier for you. She slid it in your mouth, thumb stroking your silky cheek affectionately. You snuggled into her chest, face buried in her breasts and Natasha was already starting to expect you to possibly go down for a nap, but when you heard some ruckus from the kitchen your head shot up.

“Ti… Ti”, you mumbled, the pacifier wobbling in your mouth as Tony walked over to the couch area.

“Ah, and the baby strikes again!” He exclaimed in excitement, Natasha already rolling you off her chest so you could run to greet him. “What’s up, poopster?” He asked, offering you a high-five but you didn’t really get what he was asking for so you ignored it, Tony resorting to grabbing your hand briefly, pressing it against his palm. You pulled out your pacifier, showing it to Tony. “What’s that? Wow, what a cool paci you got”, he marveled rather animatedly considering it was Tony you were talking to. “What? Tony doesn’t understand. Tony doesn’t like to be handed things”, he explained fruitlessly to you.

“Put it in your mouth”, Natasha grunted from behind her own.

“Okay. I don’t like to be told that”, he shot back at her, Natasha rolling her eyes.

“She’ll start crying in…” Natasha threatened as your brows furrowed. “Three, two-“

“Okay, Titi takes the paci”, Tony gave in, shoving the thing in his mouth as you giggled once again. You were a baby on a mission and so you turned around and skidded to mama to get your own pacifier. Natasha already had one ready for your opened up mouth. She pulled you back onto her lap, patting your bottom gently as you settled down in her embrace, vigil eyes observing that everyone had their respective pacifiers for afternoon nap.

You had so much love to give in you and Natasha could see it in almost everything you did. You loved to give toys and pacifiers to her. You would often offer food and different objects to mama and every single time it made Natasha’s heart explode into a million pieces. She could tell you felt safe around her and she valued that more than anything else. It was so important to her to have you trust her unconditionally and wholeheartedly. You were big on cuddles, hugs and kisses, a real ball of affection. It came to Natasha as a surprise how easy it was to love you. She didn’t expect affection to come easy to her when it had been so rare in her life, but you made it effortless. She was comfortable showing you all the love that she had and she had grown noticeably more comfortable with you.

“Can you say piggy?” Natasha asked, turning to look at you as you sat beside her on the couch, her arm wrapped around you to keep you close.

“P-p”, you mumbled, whipping your head around to see if you did well.

“Almost, honey. Try again”, she said softly, pointing at the book on her lap. “Say pi-ggy.”

“Pi”, you huffed. “Pipi!”

“Can you do a G-sound?” She prompted, repeating the sound a few times for you.

“Gaga”, you muttered, hand patting the pages of the book to make Natasha continue reading.

“Alright, myshka (little mouse)”, she chuckled, leaning down to press her lips to your warm head, her kiss lingering for a while as she brushed her fingers over your locks. “Let’s keep reading.”

“Baba”, you screeched, starting to climb up onto your feet.

“No more reading?” She asked in mild confusion when you started to climb onto her lap.

“Mama”, you whined, Natasha’s heart still not able to maintain a regular rhythm whenever you called her that.

“Yes, sweetheart?” You didn’t reply to her, just sat your little diaper butt on the book and looked up at mama. “What does my baby want?” She asked in confusion, her thumbs smoothing over your belly as her hands rested on your sides. “Do you want tickles?” She suggested, tickling you under your arms. You screeched, a smile cracking onto your lips. “Yeah? Does that tickle?” She asked, continuing to poke and prod you until you were guffawing loudly. “Oh, my sweet baby”, she hummed when you muffled your giggles into her abdomen, burying yourself as close as possible. Natasha patted your bottom rhythmically, smiling to herself.

“You’re such an angel”, she stated, crouching down a bit to kiss your head again. You looked up at her, your lips copying the movement of the kiss. “You wanna give mama a kiss?” She asked softly as you stood up to reach her better.

“Ki-ki”, you whispered in determination, your sticky hands grasping Natasha’s cheeks. She smiled at you widely as you slowly pressed your lips to hers, the redhead pecking you back. Your eyes were wide open and you found her distorted eyes so funny. You giggled loudly at the way the kiss tickled your lips, repeating the action in excitement. Natasha laughed along with you this time and she couldn’t help the tears that invaded her eyes. She wiped them off as quickly as she could so they would go unnoticed by you which she thankfully succeeded at. You continued to laugh, leaning into her for support.

“Ki-ki!” You shouted, bringing your mouth to hers again.

“Muah”, Natasha hummed, giving you the biggest kiss ever. You squealed again. She just couldn’t resist it. She pulled you close, pressing kisses all over your face. “I love you, I love you, I love you”, she said firmly, hugging you close. You cried out a giggle, clearly enjoying all the attention you were receiving. “Did you know mama loves you?” She asked brightly.

“Mama!” You shouted, recognizing one of the only words you knew how to say.

“Yes, mama”, she confirmed, smiling softly at you. “I love you more than anything in the world”, she confessed, cupping your chubby cheeks, just taking in your beautiful, soft features. She put the book aside and brought you to her chest as she stood up, your face resting on her shoulder. You slept a lot more than Natasha had ever expected you to and the second nap of the day was clearly coming when you yawned heavily, letting out a soft cry.

“Shh, baby, let’s not cry”, she whispered next to your ear, bouncing you softly as she walked around the bedroom. You whimpered again, sobbing softly as the hot tears spilled against Natasha’s neck. After refusing to take your pacifier she immediately knew what you wanted. She sat back down in the arm chair, pulling her shirt up for you. It didn’t take you long to stop fussing. It worked like magic every time. Although you still relied heavily on breast milk as a source of nutrition Natasha was relieved that you had started to accept other foods into your diet because her supplies were starting to run out and she couldn’t produce enough milk to fulfill your needs anymore, but she still had enough for comfort.

Natasha petted the slope of your nose, humming softly to you, watching how any and all stress evaporated from your still form. She curled one of her fingers around a lock of your hair, her smile widening. It was growing, had grown a lot and she couldn’t wait to figure out different hairstyles that she could do for you. She already knew how to braid so that was most likely going to be incorporated into your hairstyles. She had gone shopping for baby things a thousand times but she almost couldn’t wait to move up into the toddlers section and pick out adorable dresses and skirts and pants as well as hair ties, headbands and clips. She had already seen hair ties with fluffy pompoms on them and she could already imagine you with two piggy tails decorated with pompoms. She could barely contain her excitement at the thought as she gave you a tight squeeze.

“I can’t wait to share the rest of my life with you”, she whispered, running her fingers down your arm.

Chapter 5: Accidents happen

Notes:

I know I said no angst but just a teeny bit. I promise nothing too grave ;)

Chapter Text

“Fish!” You exclaimed, splashing around in the few inches of water, Natasha leaning her chin against the edge of the tub. You were sitting in the shallow water, giggling in excitement as you splashed your hands against the surface to create a slapping sound.

Milaya (honey), it’s a duck”, Natasha corrected you gently, nudging the rubber ducky your way from the other end of the tub.

“Fish!” You screeched again, giggling, ignoring the ducky. You leaned back a bit, just enough to kick your legs in the water to create more splashes. You loved to do that and it was the sole reason Natasha’s shirt was wet from the front.

“Alright, why don’t we get you out?” She suggested, climbing to stand up by using the tub as support. You had been soaking in the water for almost an hour and Natasha’s knees were starting to ache against the stone floor. She hoisted you up to stand as well so she could grab the shower head and hose you down with fresh water. “Stand there, baby. Don’t move”, she instructed you, turning around to grab a towel for you.

There was a splash and a clang, followed by a horrifying wail. Natasha’s heart fell into her stomach as she whipped back around to claim you from the tub, her eyes widening at the sight of crimson blood swirling in the water. You continued to scream as hard as you could, your entire body tensed by the effort in your wails.

“Shh, malyshka (baby), shh, mama budit smatrit (mama will take a look)” Natasha tried on the verge of panic, as she set you down on the bathroom floor. Your brow was bleeding, red streaming down your face, the sight enough to make the former assassin’s hands tremble.

Natasha brought the towel to your forehead, carefully wiping the blood off but it poured out of the laceration with such speed that it was wiser to give up and go seek medical attention. She was only wearing underwear and a t-shirt when she sped out of the apartment and rushed down the halls to find the compound ER that was always on call for any and all kinds of emergencies. Clint ran into her on the third floor, Natasha’s tear streaked face and the way she was clutching you to her chest enough to alarm him thoroughly so he tagged along, no questions asked.

“Please, please help”, Natasha cried, banging on one of the doors of the doctor’s offices. A brunette man slid it open a few seconds later, taking in the sight before him. “She- she fell in the tub”, she explained hastily, offering you to the young man who received you skillfully into his arms, wincing slightly at the screams you were letting out.

“When was this?” He asked, sounding very professional.

“Just now”, Natasha replied, panting gently. She walked beside you and the doctor to observe you while he took a look at you, Clint coming up behind her and wrapping his arm around her waist. Those huge green eyes turned to him, filled with desperation. “What if I killed her?” She whispered in terror, Clint shaking his head.

“No, sweetheart, she’s going to be okay”, he assured her calmly. He knew kids get hurt all the time. He knew that accidents happened but babies were resilient. They were designed to take the blow or two because life hadn’t gotten the chance to give them all the tools yet.

“I’m a murderer. I killed my own child”, she whimpered, Clint shaking his head again, an empathetic frown on his face.

“Shh, she’s alright”, he tried again, his arm pulling her into an embrace as the doctor listened to the sound of your lungs, his other hand holding a patch to your forehead.

“Lungs sound flawless”, he noted, grimacing again at your loud wail. Natasha sank into Clint’s arms, trembling slightly as she held in her cries. “I’m sure she’ll be alright”, the doctor commented. He patted the wound on your brow with an antiseptic cloth, studying the length and depth of it. “I’ll give her some medicine to ease the pain a bit and a mild sedative to make her calm down so I can glue the wound shut. It’ll leave a more inconspicuous scar”, he explained, talking softly as he tried to calm you down with gentle touches.

“Okay”, Natasha stuttered, pulling away from Clint. “Will it take long?”

“No, not at all. I’ll apply a few layers of the adhesive. It shouldn’t take more than twenty minutes”, he said, rolling away from the examination table to the side in his office chair to grab some equipment. Natasha wiped her eyes clean, seeming frustrated as she nodded her head. You had started to calm down a bit, taking labored breaths as you still fussed slightly. “I’ll go get some supplies. Comfort her. She needs it”, he instructed Natasha who nodded once again. She lifted you off the table and into her arms, humming softly.

“I did this”, she mumbled softly, looking down at you.

“No, Natasha, this isn’t on you”, Clint said immediately.

“You don’t even know what happened”, she sighed in defeat.

“Then tell me what happened”, he prompted.

“I-I turned around to grab a towel”, she explained with a teary voice. “And I didn’t even get to turn back around before she fell.” She sniffled, looking down at you, her hand caressing the side of your face. “Prosti menya, kroshenka (forgive me, little one)”, she whispered, Clint rubbing her back softly. “I shouldn’t be a mom. I’m not a mother”, Natasha blurted. “She deserves someone better.”

“Listen to me, Tash. You’re an amazing mother. Accidents happen, okay?” He started. “You have no idea how many times I dropped Cooper or left Lila unsupervised and she fell down the stairs or off a chair. Accidents happen, honey. You couldn’t have known”, he explained comfortingly.

“Yeah, yeah but I-I could’ve lifted her out of the tub before grabbing a towel”, she reasoned, sounding heartbroken.

“Shh, hey, look at me. This doesn’t make you a bad mother”, he whispered, caressing her cheek with his thumb. “This doesn’t take away from everything you’ve succeeded at”, he assured her, catching a tear that slid down the apple of her cheek. “Laura once fell down the stairs with Coop in her arms and she beat herself up for it for weeks even though nothing happened to him.” Natasha stayed silent, seeing the blurred lines of your frame as she stared down at you. “Mistakes happen. And now you know to take her out of the bath first”, he mumbled.

“Alright”, the doctor returned into the room. “Set her down for me please. Would you mind if I offered her a pacifier?” He asked politely, sitting down in his chair and rolling it close to the table.

“Oh, no, she loves those”, Natasha replied as she set you down on the thin linen. You received your pacifier and the doctor began to fix you up. She watched as he pinched the edges of your brow together, applying the adhesive with a cotton-tipped glue applicator as you soothed yourself with the rubber nipple in your mouth. He let the glue dry for a minute or so before applying another layer. After the fourth layer he applied a nonocclusive bandage and you were all patched up.

“Give her a dose –that is 2,5 milliliters– of paracetamol syrup if she seems to be in pain. If you would rather use a suppository the equivalent dose is 60 milligrams”, the doctor said as he took off his gloves and dropped them into the trash, cleaning some of the supplies out of the way. “The adhesive sloughs off on its own in 5-10 days so you don’t need a follow up appointment unless something out of the ordinary occurs”, he added, offering both Clint and Natasha a polite smile.

“Thank you, thank you so much”, Natasha nodded, gathering you into her arms, kissing your temple multiple times. She was covered in goosebumps, the freezing floors bleeding cold up her legs. She shivered.

“Will you two be okay?” Clint asked, kissing the top of your head, his hand caressing over Natasha’s hair.

“Yeah, we’re okay”, she hummed, smiling softly when your head lolled into the crook of her neck, the pacifier bobbing gently against her skin.

“You sure?”

“Uh-huh. Go to bed. You look like sh*t”, she quipped with a teasing grin.

“Yeah, yeah”, he groaned, pulling Natasha and you into a brief hug, lips pressing to her forehead. “Don’t hesitate to call me”, he added before he walked out the door.

Natasha brought you back home, placing you into your crib where she tucked you in, the pacifier from the ER still tightly in your mouth. Then she cleaned up the blood from the bathroom, emptied the tub and got herself ready for bed. When she finally crawled under the covers she burst into tears. She was a horrible, horrible mother. She was supposed to protect you. That was her only job and she had failed to do it. You got hurt, badly, more than a bump in the head and Natasha couldn’t forgive herself for it no matter what Clint had said. She clutched the sheets to her chest, occasionally wiping her snotty nose into the corner of the blanket, body jolting from the sobs that she muffled with her hand. She didn’t deserve you. She shouldn’t have done any of it. Why had she thought that she could take care of you? She was so delusional, so caught up in her dream of being a mother. She thought of giving you up. She exhausted every possible solution of how to rid you of the curse that Natasha was, how to save you from her ubiquitous destruction. Yet she couldn’t find a solution. She couldn’t stand the thought of giving you up. She was too selfish for that. She loved you too much. She had become dependent on you. A wave of shame washed over her. She wasn’t supposed to love. She wasn’t supposed to care. She was supposed to be ruthless. So what, you got hurt? She wasn’t supposed to care. She wasn’t designed to care. She wiped her tears away, took a deep breath and turned around in the sheets. She fell asleep with relative ease after filling her thoughts with old disarming tactics that she used to practice in her mind when she went to bed in the Red Room.

You woke her up with a panicked cry in the early dawn, a searing pain spreading across the front of your head. Natasha heard the difference in your tone. She knew it wasn’t hunger or a nightmare. This was pain. She had her own throbbing headache from crying and she sympathized with you as she crawled out of bed, eyes almost crusted shut but she managed to rid them of the blur with a few more blinks. She hoisted you out of the crib bringing you to her chest as you cried. She tucked your face into her neck, hushing you softly. She walked to the dresser across the room, unboxing the medicine given to her by the doctor with her free hand. It took some extra effort to get the syrup into the syringe included in the package but she just couldn’t stand the thought of setting you down. She didn’t want to let go of you.

“Shh, there there. Mommy’s right here, I’ve got you angel”, she crooned, bouncing you a bit. Then she had to figure out how to get you to actually swallow down the medicine. You had a tendency to refuse everything but milk in the mornings. Maybe it was the wisest to first offer the syrup and flush it down with breakfast. After a brief moment of consideration and a wince from a loud cry of yours she settled on her initial plan. She brought you to her bed where the pillows were perfectly arranged for the both of you and wiggled out of her shirt. She then brought the syringe to the back of your throat and squirted it in one go, hoping for the best. You couldn’t do anything but swallow the vile liquid, coughing at the taste of it, but ultimately it went down with no further complications. Natasha adjusted your position, your mouth opening up for her breast in an instant, searching for relief from the medicine. You still hurt and Natasha could tell that by the tears that continued to streak down your cheeks but at least you didn’t seem to be in unbearable pain.

“I’m so sorry, malyshka (baby)”, she whispered, feeling herself get choked up again. She couldn’t fall apart now. She couldn’t, but she felt so awful. “I won’t make a mistake like that again. I’ll do my best.” That was something she couldn’t promise, so she didn’t. But she desperately wished she could’ve guaranteed that it would never happen again. You let out a whimper, your fist gripping the flesh of her chest. Natasha didn’t mind it, even if it hurt. She focused all her energy and attention on you, caressing your features, her heart constricting with the love she felt for you.

“Did baby get an ouchie?” Wanda hummed with a huge pout when your hand patted the bandaid over your brow. The woman was basically sitting on Steve’s lap because he was holding you in his arms. You nodded blankly, the pacifier in your mouth bobbing rhythmically.

“It wasn’t your fault in any way”, Steve reminded Natasha as he bounced you in his arms, coming back to the same argument Natasha had fed everyone for the past hour.

“It was”, she replied bluntly.

“It’s not like you kicked her down”, Tony scoffed, bored of the subject and tired of Natasha’s retaliation.

“I should’ve been more careful”, she grunted.

“But you weren’t. Move on”, Tony groaned. He received an angry glare from Steve. “What I’m saying is just... Man up a little. It was just a scratch.”

“That’s rich coming from a bitch boy like you”, Natasha retorted, rolling her eyes in exhaustion. None of them were of any use to her. She was right and they were wrong. It was her fault. End of story. They were just trying to protect her feelings, but she didn’t need protection.

“You didn’t know before but now you know better. Accidents happen and all we can do is move on. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was”, Clint reasoned, resting his palm on Natasha’s shoulder. “It’s better to stop dwelling on it.” She nodded at him, thankful that he was present because Tony was impossible when it came to advice.

“Why does her hair look like that”, he suddenly commented, Natasha internally ready to burst into tears as she watched him poke the pompoms in your hair.

“Well, the tutorial looked a lot easier”, she countered bitterly, standing up and plucking you back into her arms. You squealed, your arms wrapping around her neck. She welcomed the kiss you aimed at her lips, gave everyone an unimpressed once-over and left the room.

Your hair really was a mess. It didn’t look even remotely like the hairdo in the tutorial had looked. She never realized that the specific pompom hair ties were different from normal hair ties and they were used differently. After figuring that out she no longer had the time to dig out new hair ties and she was left with the double beaded pompoms. They were definitely tied the wrong way and that’s why your hair was a bit wonky but at least the pompoms looked cute. She kissed your head, smiling softly.

“We’re gonna go do your hair again, okay?” She asked you, her tone sweet and gentle, a stark contrast to the way she was fuming in her mind. No one was going to insult her daughter’s hair and she would do her damn best to make sure of it.

Natasha gathered all of the new hair accessories on the bed, sat you down between her legs and started to unravel your hair from the hairdo. Your hand reached for one of the cute green pins on the bedding, grasping it tightly in your fist as you brought the little frog decor on it into your mouth.

“Baby, take the teddy bear instead. You’re gonna choke on that and I really don’t need that right now”, Natasha sighed, pulling the pin out of your mouth and handing you a bear the same size as you. She watched you frown and then smile when your hands felt the soft fur of the stuffed toy.

“Brr”, you said, grabbing its ear.

“Yes, bear”, she hummed, bringing a comb to your hair to help her shape it a bit to slick down the wisps for a second round of space buns that were this time hopefully gonna be better. “Honey, keep your head still for mommy, okay?”

“Ok-ay”, you hummed absentmindedly because the bear was stealing all your attention. You didn’t even notice how Natasha occasionally tugged at your hair or a pin pinched your scalp. You just kept playing with the fluffy thing.

“So…”, Natasha started slowly. “What would you say if we shaved your head?” She questioned with heavy sarcasm. “I think it would look lovely on you”, she joked, trying her very best not to tug too hard on the tangled up pompoms. “Maybe we’ll try a different hairstyle.”

When Natasha had finally gotten the hair ties out of your hair she started to look up another tutorial on her tablet, the sudden lack of attention something you didn’t like. You turned your head around aggressively, trying to see what mama was doing instead of touching your hair. You left the bear alone, crawling onto your knees to move closer to Natasha. You touched the pad, copying her and you received a slightly irritated look but you didn’t care. You wanted mama. You crawled onto her lap, pushing your face into her soft belly. You let out a laugh, completely oblivious of Natasha’s despair. Her heart softened, a slight smile spreading onto her lips. You were so pure, so innocent she couldn’t help but to forget about everything else and focus on the peace and comfort you brought.

“Kiki”, you mumbled, tugging on her shirt before moving your grabby hands up towards her. She hoisted you into her arms, hugging you tightly, feeling just a little stupid for the wide grin on her face.

“Does Y/N want a kiss? Do you want a kiss?” She asked, pulling back to look at your face. You nodded your head, smiling wide, one of your teeth peeking out. “Mama will give kisses, alright?” She hummed, pressing her lips to your forehead. She kissed your cheeks and your nose as you giggled, her mouth purposely avoiding the brow that had split open. Natasha tickled your side with her lithe fingers, enjoying the pure joy in your laughter as she kissed your cheeks again. You squirmed in her arms, your eyes squished shut from how hard you were laughing. Natasha lay back on the bed bringing you to her chest so she could just hold you, but you crawled higher because you wanted to see her face. You appeared in her line of sight and you both burst into laughter. She littered you with kisses yet again, feeling at ease in your company.

“We’ll try this again”, she hummed, getting up once the laughter had died down. “We’ll just use the tiny elastic bands. They’re probably more appropriate for your hair”, she mused out loud as she got up again and set you back down between her legs. You received one more kiss in your hair before Natasha got back to work. She ended up with decent little pigtails on either side of your head. The hairs that didn’t quite reach were pinned down with the green froggy pins.

“Look at you! So beautiful”, Natasha cheered, feeling proud of herself for once. Your hand came up to your head to feel around the hairdo but you didn’t seem too interested in it because you immediately started showing mama the toy bear you were holding. She marveled at it animatedly, cheering you on as you tried to blabber whatever story you had come up with. Then you chucked the toy across the bed, pointing at it with your finger as it tumbled over the edge.

“Brr, go-go”, you explained, Natasha chuckling softly. That was your first sentence. Naturally it was impossible for her to keep her lips to herself and she drowned you in kisses as you giggled joyously.

Chapter 6: Ups and downs

Chapter Text

You grew up fast, almost too fast. Natasha could practically see you stretch in height and her arms could clearly detect the steady weight gain. She had even asked the doctor if it was normal for you to be growing so fast but she had assured her that you were as healthy as ever. Natasha was relieved by that but she couldn’t help but to feel sorrow because her little snotball was growing up and she couldn’t slow it down. Natasha was excellent with change, she thrived in it. She was a master of adjusting but with you all those master skills were of no use. She felt like you were slipping away from her even though you were right there. You were there even more than before because your clinginess only seemed to intensify the more Natasha took you out. She was introducing you to everyone around, showing you different spaces and making you taste different foods but just like as an infant you were rather reluctant towards anything but milk. Your vocabulary expanded quite quickly, especially objects and more concrete words were the ones you used the most. Even sentences were starting to become more frequent.

Certain spaces and emotions triggered you occasionally and it always resulted in tears. If someone was angry and you were in the living room the person wasn’t allowed to express it until you had been taken elsewhere. A single angry huff from Bruce had resulted in an hour of screaming and crying and Natasha soon learned that small, quiet spaces like closets were not the best place to soothe you. However a place that you loved was the rooftop of the compound where it was light and windy, where you could breathe. You liked the view, the sky. The scenery gave you something else to focus on instead of the numbing fear that came back to you with triggers. Natasha had come to accept that it might be something that you would have to battle with for the better part of your life. Sometimes you just felt sh*tty and there was nothing anyone could do. Natasha had yet to figure out how to address you when you were cranky and sensitive. Mood swings were apparently also something that was becoming more common.

“Look, Y/N, here comes a potato plane”, Natasha cooed enthusiastically, trying to bring the plastic spoon to your pouty lips. You just stared at her pathetic attempts to feed you.

“No!” You exclaimed, slamming your hands to the table of the feeding chair.

“You need to eat, baby”, she tried to reason, the spoon hanging from her fingers as if she was just about to give up.

“No, no, no, no. No food. Milk”, you tried to argue, shaking your head. “Want milk”, you whined, banging the table. Despite your angry protest, Natasha brought the spoon to your lips and nudged it inside your mouth. You didn’t like that. Not one bit, and you were threatening to be on the verge of tears.

“My sweet angel”, she sighed heavily. “What if mama gives milk after your meal?” She suggested hopefully but you just shook your head.

“Now! Now, now, now”, you babbled, hands reaching for the bowl of food, but Natasha knew your motive was anything but to eat. She had learned that the hard way, eventually having had to clean up baby food from the fridge door. She knew she couldn’t give in because then it would become a habit and you needed to consume other foods alongside the milk that you were so incredibly fond of. ”Kiss”, you suddenly whined, hands now reaching for Natasha instead as if your anger had completely vanished, replaced by sorrowful tears. You gave her the biggest puppy eyes, pleading for mama, but she simply squinted at you in suspicion.

“Are you trying to get out of the chair?” She asked, having a strong inkling of your plan.

“Kiss, mama”, you tried again, kicking your legs, a whine escaping you.

“What if mama gives a kiss when you eat?” She suggested, once again offering the spoon. You frowned, the tears spilling over your cheeks.

“Kiss!”

“No, baby, it’s lunch time”, she replied, tired of trying, tired of having the same fight multiple times a day. “We can do kisses and cuddles after, when it’s nap time”, she said softly, propping her head on her elbow, still offering you the spoon. “Open wide, baby”, she hummed, pushing the spoon to your lips again. “Mama will give you a kiss after”, she promised you, watching how you gave her a displeased frown, vigil eyes holding Natasha’s gaze as you parted your lips for the lukewarm mashed potato. She slid it in your mouth, pulling it out, allowing your top lip to scoop the spoon clean.

You smacked your lips, swallowing down the mush as Natasha wiped the excess food off your lips. You could have eaten by yourself, you were skilled enough but Natasha could certainly not trust you with the spoon. You had a tendency to chuck it across the floor or at Natasha.

“Kiss!” You demanded loudly, reaching for mama.

“Alright, alright baby”, Natasha hummed, leaning down to peck your forehead, but you only screeched in protest. “What?” She asked in confusion, leaning closer so your hands could reach her face. You grabbed Natasha’s cheeks, squishing them a little as you brought her face to face with you, pressing your mouth on her lips and letting out a loud ‘muah’. It made you smile and giggle, hands reaching back for her cheeks. Natasha smiled at you, co*cking her head a little. “That made you smile, huh?”

“Kiss-kiss”, you repeated. You knew how to talk in sentences but you weren’t too talkative to begin with, which is why you often opted for single words.

“Do you know how to ask properly?” Natasha prompted, waiting for you to say please and a full sentence.

“Wants kiss”, you whined.

“Who wants a kiss?” She asked.

“Me!”

“And how do you say that correctly?” The redhead tried, plucky as she was.

“I want kiss… please?” You muttered with a pout, not satisfied with how long your kiss was taking.

“Good girl, you did so good for mama”, she praised, caressing your cheek as she leaned down to kiss you, but the kiss was so quick you barely had time to process it.

“No!” You screamed, trying to pull her back. “Mama didn’t ‘muah’”, you whined, gripping her shirt for dear life. “Yescho raz (again)!” That was another surprising feature Natasha had discovered. She spoke Russian to you occasionally and had done so especially in the beginning but she never intended to raise you as bilingual, yet somehow some short phrases seemed to have found their way into your vocabulary.

“No?”

“No! Mama need ‘muah’!” You whimpered.

“Okay, mama will ‘muah’”, Natasha promised. “Ready?” You nodded firmly. “Mmmmuah”,she hummed, pressing her lips to yours again. You giggled, clapping your hands in excitement, opening your mouth for the spoon that she snuck to your lips. That worked for you and the mashed potatoes were consumed in less than fifteen minutes. She cleaned you and the chair off, lifting you to the floor so you could run around. You had a lot of energy. Sometimes even too much. Your anger and frustration were nowhere to be seen and you were gladly sprinting around the kitchen as Natasha put away the dishes.

“Mama!” You screamed, running into her leg and hugging it with all your might. The top of your head reached above Natasha’s knee as you nuzzled into her, giggling. “Mamaa! No clean!” You wanted to play, not clean and mama didn’t seem to understand that.

“Baby, go see if someone else can play for a while”, she said, hoping you would soon start to become a bit more interested in other people, so you would find the courage to voluntarily interact with the rest of your family because, after all, Natasha didn’t have all the time in the world.

“Stupid mama!” You shouted, hitting her leg with your tiny fists, the redhead sighing as she closed her eyes to gather herself. “I hate mama!” You bellowed, running off into the living room where hopefully someone else was. It wasn’t the first time you had done such things and Natasha knew not to take it too seriously, although the first time she had excused herself from Wanda and gone into the bathroom to cry. But when you had later acted like nothing had ever even happened and given your normal nap cuddles and kisses, she had realized that it wasn’t that serious, but she had definitely had more than a few talks about the topic with you.

“Woah, woah, woah! What is this language that I’m hearing?” Steve scolded gently from the living room couch. “You kiss your mama with that mouth?“ He asked in disbelief. You froze at the sound of his voice, staring at him with huge, vigil eyes. You were reserved around people and it became more common the older you got. You had seen Steve a thousand times but now all of a sudden you were hesitant to interact with him.

“Mama is meanie”, you whispered, your finger in your mouth.

“No, mama wasn’t”, he said softly. “Go apologize to her”, the blond ordered, still keeping his voice as soft as ever.

“But…”

“Mama didn’t deserve that, did she?” Steve tried again, leaning closer to you as you shook your head. “Go apologize, sweetheart.” You skidded back to where Natasha was, slowing down around the table, ashamed of your actions. You built up the courage to tiptoe to her, tugging on the hem of her shirt.

“Mommy”, you whispered, barely audible. Natasha looked down at you with a feigned pout. “Are you sad?” You asked quietly, turning your gaze to your feet in shame. Natasha dried her hands and crouched down to your level.

“You did a mean thing”, she said, her index finger lifting your chin up so you could see her. Your lower lip was wobbling, eyes teary and wide. “Would you like it if mama said she hates you? If mama hit you?” She asked with a little frown. You shook your head hastily. “How would that make you feel?”

“Sad.”

“That’s right, my love. Is there something you want to say to me now?” Natasha prompted softly, rubbing your little arm.

“I’m sorry”, you sighed, tears spilling over. You thought about what you had done, imagining her doing the same to you. “Mama not gonna hit me? Like I hit?” You mumbled incoherently.

“No, god no, baby. I will never lay a hand on you. I promise”, Natasha assured you, her eyes threatening to tear up at your words, at the hesitance on your face. She knew for a fact that she had once asked that very question and received a blow to the face for speaking up. You opened your arms asking for a hug timidly, shying slightly away from Natasha. She welcomed you into her embrace as you tucked your face into her neck, letting out a sob.

“Shh, everything is okay, darling. Mommy is okay. Mommy’s not mad or sad”, she said comfortingly, lifting you off the floor and walking into the living room with the intention of sitting down on the couch or the armchair. You rested the side of your head on her chest, listening to the even beat of her heart, sniffling every now and then. She was warm, so comforting. She would keep you safe forever. Mama’s hands covered your body, rubbing you softly to soothe you until your tears had dried. She spoke to Steve occasionally and they chatted for a while. You liked the rumble of her voice against your cheek. It reminded you of her presence and made you feel at ease. You wanted closer, your little fist grasping her shirt and tugging it. Natasha knew what you wanted and automatically made your wish come true. She cradled you to her right arm, lifting her loose shirt up to bare her breast. Steve’s eyes shot up to the ceiling and he immediately became more than awkward, Natasha chuckling quietly.

“Oh, don’t be such a teenage boy”, she bemoaned. “I don’t care what you see, if you wanna see both of them all you have to do is ask”, she said teasingly, winking his way. She loved to see him flustered and red in the face. “Quick! You’re gonna miss it”, she exclaimed, pretending to flash him but she knew that he’d do anything to not look and so Steve covered his eyes and turned away. She laughed at his reaction, causing you to pull away to giggle as well because if mama was laughing then it must’ve been something funny. She turned to you at the sound of it, smiling. You giggled with a wide smile, bringing your mouth back to her breast.

“Uncle Steve is scared of boobies”, she told you animatedly, glancing Steve’s way in amusem*nt.

“Silly Tss”, you mumbled, laughing again because the idea of being afraid of mama was so ridiculous to you. Natasha cradled the back of your head, fingers playing with your thin hairs.

“That’s right. Silly Steve”, she echoed, smiling as you leaned back in to suckle her.

You were starting to like Steve. He was always so gentle and quiet that he made you feel safe. Compared to Tony he was much more level-headed and less unpredictable. Steve was also starting to get more used to you and he found himself enjoying the time he spent with you. He was still too nervous to be around you alone but with Natasha, Wanda or Clint by your side it was noticeably easier for him. And believe it or not he sometimes even sought you out to spend time with you. He was intrigued by you and the tiny little thing that you were.

“Are you helping mama workout?” Natasha asked you, laying on her back, holding you above her instead of the two heavy dumbbells on either side of her head. You let out a loud laugh as she brought you down to hover above her chest, planting a kiss on your lips. “You’re gonna make mama strong”, she hummed, doing another repetition of the move and planting yet another kiss on you. The giggle you let out made Natasha laugh herself. “How many more reps? What do you think?”

“More!” You cackled, your eyes scrunching shut, your hands reaching back for mama when she straightened her hands to bring you up.

“Five? Ten? You think I could do ten more?” She questioned, bringing you down, your hands grasping her cheeks to help you aim your kiss better.

“Ten!” You said immediately, giggling uncontrollably when she almost threw you back up, speeding up her pace. Every time you came back down she littered you with kisses.

“I see you’re getting a proper workout in”, a gentle male voice said from somewhere nearby. Both you and Natasha turned your heads to see Steve walking towards you in the gym, Natasha giving him a bright smile.

“Look who it is”, she prompted, turning you towards him slightly.

“Tss!” Was all you said before you were giggling again, lying on Natasha’s chest, getting sprinkled with kisses.

“Want me to hold her for a second so you can lift something that weighs more than a tiny sack of potatoes?” He asked in amusem*nt, now standing right beside you.

“Will the weights give me kisses?” She asked with a witty smile, tickling your sides.

“I hope not”, Steve chuckled. “Those would leave quite the bruises”, he reasoned. Natasha sighed heavily.

“Maybe I should get a couple of sets in”, she groaned, lifting you up again but this time you didn’t come back down but you went even higher. You were lifted out of Natasha’s arms and into Steve’s.

“Mama work”, you huffed with a slight pout, watching Steve pick up each dumbbell and hand them to the redhead to where you had been just a second ago before she started lifting.

“Yes, mama is working out so she can be strong… er”, he immediately corrected his words when Natasha gave him a look. “Mommy is so strong”, he assured you, crouching down so you could be closer to her. “This move is great for the chest and the arms”, he explained even though you couldn’t have cared any less about some heavy things.

“She lift… so she can..she put the, the she…she”, you explained, Steve blinking a couple of times to try to decipher what on Earth you were talking about, Natasha’s grip faltering, the weights thudding to the floor. She hid her laugh behind her arm.

“What was that, sweetie?” She asked innocently, not able to even look at Steve without bursting into laughter.

“Mama lift!” You said firmly.

“Yes, and why does mama do that?” She prompted so you could try to finish the thought you had had.

“Strong!”

“Yes, to be strong”, Natasha nodded, glancing away and biting her lip. “Mama lifts so she can be strong. Can you say that?”

“Mama lifts… strong!” You said confidently, clapping your hands. Natasha shook her head in amusem*nt, sitting up to press a kiss on your cheek before going back to lifting.

You worked out a little bit yourself, climbing up Steve’s arms, screaming and giggling when he let you hold onto his hand as he did bicep curls. You got an in-depth tour of the gym and a personalized weight lifting session from Steve where he made you shoulder press a water bottle. You did box jumps with a bit of assistance from the super soldier. Each time you jumped, aiming at the very top of the box that was at least one and a half times your height, he lifted you up by your hands to boost your jump so you could reach the top. Then you would jump down so he could catch you and you could jump again. The box kept you entertained for the better part of Natasha’s workout. Another thing you liked was running, so Steve would tag you as it and run around the gym, pretending that he couldn’t get away from you. You fell a couple of times but that wasn’t enough to dishearten you. You simply got back up and kept running. Finally you got to sit on Steve’s shoulders as he did squats. You especially enjoyed the up and down motion. It felt funny in your tummy and you would scream and clap your hands in excitement.

“Oh, baby you’ve been up there forever. Steve must be exhausted”, she teased, walking to you, her arms reaching up after noticing your grabby hands.

“Yeah, my thighs are starting to cramp”, he joked, smiling brightly. Natasha pulled you into her arms and you did your usual cuddle but halted when you found your cheek to be wet. You wiped at it with your hand, frowning in confusion. It made both of the adults chuckle.

“It’s sweat, honey”, Natasha explained but you didn’t seem to be too fond of it as you rubbed your cheek. “I’m sorry about your workout”, Natasha apologized to Steve with a slight frown. “I’m sure it wasn’t what you were looking forward to.” Steve shook his head, waving his hand dismissively.

“Don’t worry about it. I didn’t come here for a workout”, he admitted, his cheeks blushing slightly. “Felt like checking in on the little lady”, he explained, feeling rather bashful for admitting to it.

“Really?” Natasha asked in disbelief, her eyes shining with such excitement that it made Steve’s heart clench a bit. “You really came here for her?” She asked for confirmation.

“Yes, absolutely”, he nodded, not able to stop smiling. “I want to get to know her. I want her to have a family”, he said firmly, caressing your head gently. He heard a soft sniffle from Natasha, his eyes traveling to meet her slightly watery ones.

“I’m not crying, it’s the hormones”, she explained hastily but it was quite obvious to everyone that she was crying from his sentiment.

“Shush, mysh- (mouse)”, you hummed, your hand patting her cheek. It was a quite good imitation of what Natasha usually did to you when you were crying. She would hush you and stroke your face and you did your very best to do the same for her. It made her chuckle.

“Thank you, sweetie. I’m okay”, she assured you, kissing your temple before looking back at Steve again.

“And thank you. It means more than you know”, she whispered, patting his bicep.

Chapter 7: Tater tots in town

Notes:

Hope you guys are doing well! Here’s something to read for the weekend <3

Chapter Text

You had just been fed your breakfast of cinnamon oats and apple slices which surprisingly enough you seemed to enjoy. Natasha had noticed some improvement in the cleanliness of your mealtimes and she was beyond relieved. She was getting sick and tired of hairy and dusty spoons that she had to pluck from the floor after your fussy eating. Not to mention the fact that no bib in the world was enough to keep your clothes clean. But this morning you had only gotten your face, hands and the tray messy which resulted in an impressively quick clean up and for once you got to watch cartoons in peace in the living room.

You sat on the floor, playing with a stuffed toy as you observed the colorful characters on the screen while Natasha did the dishes, slurping her excessively sweet black coffee every once in a while. You had an exciting day ahead of you and Natasha was hoping and praying from the bottom of her heart that it would go well. The topic of friends and peer support had recently weaved its way into the forefront of Natasha’s mind and she had been racking her brain trying to figure out where to find age appropriate company for you. Sure she could’ve put you into daycare but she wasn’t ready to let you go and there was no real reason why you should’ve been put into kindergarten because Natasha and the rest of the team were more than capable of teaching you how to read and count, plus she was too nervous about letting you out of her sight. She knew it was an issue she needed to work on but she was aggressively overprotective of you when it came to other people. So instead of all these unappealing options Clint had come up with a better one. His kids and Laura were flying to New York to come visit the absent father himself and simultaneously come greet you as well. Even if his kids were a bit older they were kids nonetheless and would surely be good company for you. You could first get accustomed to them and later you could all go to the park to possibly meet other children. Natasha liked the first half of the plan but the second half scared her to death. Everyone’s slimy, snotty, evil kids playing with you? That was Natasha’s worst nightmare.

“Come on, baby we need to go get dressed”, the redhead called from the kitchen as she made her way into your bedroom that had previously been a guest room. Natasha wasn’t going to lie, you barely spent time there because you liked to sleep with mama and she found it nearly impossible to say no to you. For the time being, the room was just a place for your things. Natasha watched you clamber up from your spot on the floor, your tiny feet running straight into Natasha’s leg, hugging it with all your might as you let out a giggle.

“What does this little leech want?” She asked, pretending to try to shake you off.

“Up!” You shouted, your hands trying to reach up for her. You cackled loudly the more Natasha shook her leg.

“You want up?” She questioned, playing her part impeccably well.

“Up! Up! Up!” You giggled, Natasha finally grasping your arms and throwing you in the air, high enough for her to catch you down onto her hip. She bounced you there, smiling widely at your overjoyed laughter that just wouldn’t stop.

“Now, let’s get you dressed. What do you want to wear?” She asked, walking to the drawers where your clothes were.

“Tutu”, you said firmly. Tutu referred to a light turquoise shirt you owned that had a cartoon doggy in the front. Recently, it had been one of your favorite things to wear. For bottoms you chose a pair of rainbow pants that absolutely disagreed with the color scheme the shirt had set for the day.

“Honey, maybe something less colorful for the bottoms?” Natasha suggested gently, sneakily pulling out beige sweats into your line of sight so you would hopefully choose them instead. She never wanted to force you into clothes you didn’t want to wear but she also didn’t want you to look like a hurricane every time you went out so mild persuasion was most times necessary. You studied the options in front of you.

“Orange”, you said, the word so perfectly butchered that it took Natasha a good while to realize what you meant by it. Then you pointed at a pair of bright orange sweats. Natasha shook her head in mild desperation.

“But look how great the beige goes with the turquoise”, Natasha tried, but you shook your head aggressively.

“Orange.” And that was that. You wore a turquoise shirt with neon orange pants, mildly resembling a Tide pod, but Natasha didn’t feel like fighting so she let you wear exactly what you wanted and the longer she stared at the neon sweats that Tony or Clint had no-doubt gifted to you, the more she wished you had worn the rainbow ones. She had to put those away for her own sake because she had never seen pants so ugly. What crowned the awful outfit were the two ninja turtles printed to your behind, and in all honesty Natasha was praying you would poop your pants just so she could change your clothes.

After battling with the toothbrush for ten minutes you were finally ready for the day, Natasha, however, was not. Her hair was a mess, half of her breakfast was still on the table and she was wearing a slip-on nightgown covered by a wool cardigan. The bed she was sitting on was so painfully tempting that she had to stand up so she wouldn’t lay down and stay down. She yanked on the first pair of pants her hands touched and pulled on a white top with a bit of lace on the neckline before throwing the same cardigan back on. Hastily, she slicked her hair back into a frizzy bun and slapped some moisturizer on her face before you were both out the door.

She hoisted you up onto her shoulders as she got into the elevator and pressed the button for the communal living room. You stared at the reflection in the mirror, patting your hands against Natasha’s cheeks, waiting for her to make a funny face you could laugh at. She filled her cheeks with air and when you patted them again it let out a funny noise, similar to the sound of her blowing raspberries into your stomach. You threw your head back, laughing loudly, so naturally Natasha continued making funny sounds for you. The giggles just wouldn’t stop. You reached over her head, trying to peer down at her face from above, Natasha able to feel your chuckles through your whole body. She looked up at you, the momentarily eye contact making you screech in excitement as you pulled back to hide away.

The elevator doors slid open and Natasha walked you into the living room. There were your usual people like Wanda, Steve and Clint who you greeted with enthusiasm, waving your hand at them from Natasha’s shoulders, chanting a repetitive “hi-hi.” But then there were three others who you had never seen in your life. Your hand dropped down from your waving and a frown appeared on your face. Everyone kind of stilled, all eyes on you which was probably not the greatest idea so Natasha swiftly moved to Wanda’s side to distract you, the witch reaching for you so she could seat you on her lap.

While you were distracted by Wanda’s happy smile, Natasha turned to Clint’s kids with the widest of smiles.

“Auntie Nat!” Lila exclaimed, jumping up to go hug her, Nate right behind her. Natasha lifted the preteen into her arms just like she always had, Lila giggling when she let out a groan.

“Someone’s been eating their breakfast cereal”, she noted, adjusting her a bit. Lila just laughed. “What have you been up to besides growing, huh?” The redhead asked in a mild tease, poking her ribs to make her laugh just a little bit more.

“Things”, the girl replied, her smile never faltering.

“Things? How exciting!” She marveled pretentiously, kissing her forehead briefly before she felt a hug around her feet. Natasha set Lila down and picked Nathaniel up instead. “You”, she hummed mysteriously. “You look like you could use some tickles”, she murmured, her fingers attacking his armpits, loud laughter echoing in the living room. “How is my baby-Nate?” She cooed, the boy letting out a vain protest at being called a baby. That was your place. This “Nate” was in your place. You let out a helpless whine, Wanda hushing you immediately.

“It’s okay love, mama will be back soon”, she tried to assure you but you weren’t stupid. Mama was right there having fun with someone else.

“What? Is Coop too cool to give Natty a hug?” Natasha asked teasingly, encouraging the teenager to come greet her properly. He tried to fight the smile on his lips but eventually failed and trudged into Natasha’s arms. She gave him a firm hug, swaying him a bit. Then she pulled back to look at him, her eyes noting how much he had grown as well. Cooper surely didn’t appreciate the way she cupped his cheeks and planted a huge smooch on his forehead. He groaned and wiped it off as he scurried back to sit beside his father where he was safe from kisses. You cried a bit louder, immediately gaining her attention. She rushed to you with a soft smile.

“Shh, milaya (honey), I’m right here”, she whispered, picking you up into her arms to bring you to the Barton kids. “Now, I know you guys are probably wondering who this is”, she started, looking at the kids. “This is my daughter Y/N”, she introduced you with pride, kissing your head as she sat down in an armchair so you could get a bit more comfortable. “I was hoping you guys could get to know each other a bit and maybe become friends. We don’t really have you tater tots around here”, she explained, mostly looking at Nathaniel because he was closest to you in age even if he was three years older. They all seemed curious about you but a bit shy as well. Nathaniel was the first to come closer to you. “She’s quite shy and sometimes sensitive so if she gets scared don’t beat yourselves up for it, okay?” Natasha said, thinking it was better to keep talking to make the situation more comfortable.

“Hi Y/N”, he greeted you. “My name is Nate.” The entire interaction was very awkward but you didn’t seem too opposed to the newcomers. The adults got morning coffees and donuts, kids opting for orange juice instead. There was a lot of talking that took place and eventually the atmosphere became more natural. You played with your toys on the floor, Nate doing his best to be included in your playing. Lila seemed to know how to handle you a bit better since she had experience from growing up with Nathaniel. Cooper was clearly more withdrawn and Natasha could sense the moody teenage hormones from a mile away so she thought it was best to ask a few simple questions to test the waters and if he wasn’t feeling it she would leave him alone.

The late morning progressed quite nicely but you couldn’t say you exactly loved these smaller people who seemed to be keen on playing with your toys. They tried their best to entertain you but you preferred your mother’s company and often sought her out whenever she disappeared from your line of sight. You no longer panicked when you didn’t see her because now you could walk and run, and thus find her on your own. Lila soon gave up on you and pulled out her coloring book and crayons to have something more entertaining to do instead of playing with your toddler toys. But unlike she had thought, that only seemed to gain your attention. There were loads of colors and shapes and the girl could make the white paper into a different color. You forgot about your mama and slumped back down onto the floor, your hand reaching for one of Lila’s markers. She glanced at you but let you continue. When you aimed the hideous green in your grip at her image of a princess she yanked the book away. You let out a whine and you could see the panic fill the older girl’s eyes. She found the least appealing picture in the book and brought it in front of you, hushing you gently.

“Look, it's a fish. It suits perfectly for your green marker”, she explained, Natasha’s head peeking into the living room to make sure you were okay. She smiled softly at the image of Lila adjusting the marker in your grip before returning into the kitchen where the adults were.

You stared at the huge eyes of the fish, planting green squiggly lines in its eyes, or rather all over the paper. It was thrilling, it was like magic to you. The paper changed color wherever you put the stick in your hand on it. You’d never drawn before, never touched any sort of pencil before and it was all so exhilarating. You let out a laugh of excitement, yanking the marker against the paper to bring more color to it. Your work was rather abstract but you didn’t care, all you could focus on was the dark shade of green that you were able to control. It seemed to be your new favorite thing. You couldn’t let go of your marker and refused any other color Lila tried to give you. When your excitement finally died down it was renewed by the need to showcase your newfound talent. You picked up the heavy book, almost toppling over in the process but thankfully Lila was there to keep you upright.

“Mama!” You shouted, running into the kitchen with Lila on your heels, clearly watching over you to the best of her abilities which Natasha appreciated greatly.

“Y/N?” She asked, smiling softly at the gentle thud of your tiny feet.

“Mama, look!” You exclaimed, clearly unable to contain your excitement.

“Woah, did you do that all by yourself?” She asked in shock, knowing you’d never gotten the chance to tap into your artistic side. Quite frankly Natasha hadn’t trusted you enough to not eat your art mediums so she had stayed clear from them altogether. “Did you do that?” She repeated in disbelief, looking at the horrible scribbling over the fish. She glanced at Lila who nodded with a wide smile.

“I do green”, you explained, pointing at all the green on the paper, Natasha chuckling from pure disbelief and joy.

“It’s gorgeous, my love. So beautiful”, she praised softly. “Did you really do that?” She questioned teasingly. “Are you sure Lila didn’t help you?”

“No!” You giggled like it was the funniest thing ever. “Me did!” Natasha set the book on the table, pulling you onto her lap.

“Mommy’s so proud of you! So, so proud!” She assured you, kissing your cheek as you giggled. “You’re so good at coloring”, she praised, loving the glint in your eye at feeling like you had succeeded. She made a mental note to go get you some crayons and paper from the store the next time she went shopping before she grabbed a napkin and started to wipe the green off your cheeks and nose, hoping the possibly poisonous marker hadn’t visited your mouth as well.

In the evening, which came right after your nap, you got to go to the park. Natasha took you there often to get some fresh air for the both of you. She loved the light bustle of the city and the fresh greenery that surrounded the park. You got to run freely in the grass and spend all your extra energy on the playground. You played tag with the kids, excluding Cooper because he was “too cool” for it. Natasha saw that as an opportunity to try to talk to him.

“So, how are you?” Natasha asked brightly, nudging him in the shoulder.

“I’m good”, he replied, Natasha groaning in her mind.

“How’s school, friends?” She tried again, wanting more out of him than vague replies. It was also amazing practice on teenagers even if your teenage years were far, far away. “Come on, Coop. I’m no stranger”, she reminded him.

“I know you’re not”, he chuckled. He liked Natasha, always had. He had known her for as long as he could remember and she had never been anything but welcoming.

“Are you feeling okay? She asked, her initial excitement dulling down a bit, a soft frown taking over her features. “I’m not trying to pry. You’re genuinely starting to worry me here”, she hummed.

“I’m okay, Nat”, he tried to assure but Natasha wasn’t buying it.

“Cooper”, she said with a gentle emphasis. “Don’t lie to me. You can bullsh*t your parents but not me.” He seemed to hesitate for a good while before he opened his mouth to speak.

“Don’t tell dad okay? Or mom”, he started, Natasha nodding her head.

“I won’t”, she promised, offering her pinky to him. He linked it with his own, smiling softly.

“I’m really nervous, like anxious”, he revealed. “My stomach hurts all the time and being around people makes it worse”, he explained, Natasha not letting go of his hand and giving it a squeeze.

“Has this been going on for long?” She asked, glancing his way.

“I don’t know, like a year”, he shrugged.

“I know you don’t like it but I think you should tell your mom or dad”, she responded.

“No way! It’s embarrassing”, he groaned.

“Cooper, listen to me. It’s not embarrassing-“

“Yes it is! Even you make me anxious and you never used to do that.” He was clearly frustrated and Natasha felt for him so she eased up a bit.

“How are things at school? Are you able to go there normally?” She questioned, purposely evading the mild disagreement.

“Sometimes”, he replied.

“And other times?” She prompted, continuing to walk the path they were on.

“I get panic attacks”, he admitted, his head hanging low.

“Sweetie”, Natasha started quietly. “I’m really happy you told me and I’ll offer you all the support I can but I’m all the way over here in New York”, she said grimly. “I can’t look out for you, but your parents could, or someone at school.”

“I’m not telling them”, he protested firmly.

“You don’t have to. Not right now but promise me you’ll think about it”, she asked, halting to turn to look at him.

“I promise”, he grumbled, his gaze rising up to meet Natasha’s because that’s how you knew you could trust the other, by holding eye contact. She gave him a lopsided smirk, bringing him closer and planting a kiss in his hair. To her surprise he didn’t whine about how gross it was. Natasha made sure to mention to Clint and Laura that they paid a bit of extra attention to their moody teenager even if he retaliated against it.

“Mommy!” You cried, your little feet running across the grass all the way to mommy.

“What is it, sweetheart?” She asked, looking down at you with a soft smile on her face.

“Tummy does brrr”, you explained, patting your stomach, your beanie almost covering your eyes, your head tilted back dramatically in order to see Natasha’s face. She crouched down before you, fixing your hat so you could see properly, her heart warming at the sight of you clearly having enjoyed yourself.

“That means you’re hungry, baby”, she replied with a soft smile.

“I’m hungry too!” Nate announced as he caught up to you, his cheeks red from running, chest heaving with each labored breath he took. He was followed by Clint.

“I could eat something”, he hummed, shrugging his shoulders as Lila caught up with everyone.

“I’m starving!” She groaned, leaning into her father’s side as he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

“What about you, Coop?” Natasha asked, glancing up at the boy as you held onto her hand, bouncing from excitement.

“I’m always hungry for New York style pizza”, he chuckled.

“There should be a pizzeria right across the street”, Natasha said, lifting you up as she straightened herself upright. She had missed the weight of you in her arms. Nate grinned in victory; he was a true pizza lover, Lila letting out a quiet “yess!”

You were tired and Natasha could tell but you did your very best to stay up and vigil just like everyone else, even if your head did occasionally slump forward as you nearly nodded off, but once the scent of cheesy goodness hit your nose you were wide awake once again, your stomach rumbling impatiently.

“I want my own!” Lila informed immediately. “I’m not sharing with Nate because he likes pineapple!” Nate scowled at that but then smiled, realizing he would get a whole pizza for himself.

“Alright, alright”, Clint gave in before it could turn into a fight. “You think you’re big enough for your own pizza, buddy?” He asked Nate who was practically bouncing at the idea, nodding his head vigorously.

“Own”, you mumbled, pointing at the screen above the counter where the menu was displayed, a large image of a pepperoni pizza in your view.

“You want your own pizza too?” Natasha asked in mild disbelief.

“Own!” You replied, Natasha sighing. She would give in just to make the night more pleasant for everyone.

“What toppings would you like?”

“Chees’!” You cheered happily.

“Anything else?” She asked for confirmation before placing the order.

“Chees’”, you nodded seriously.

“Cheese it is then”, she hummed, turning to the woman behind the cash register. “One Margherita, please.”

Once the orders were placed, the kids found a booth from the very back of the diner next to a window. It was cozy and warm inside and Natasha found herself at peace when she finally sat down on the leather cushion of the seat. You and Nate seemed to get along quite well which gave Natasha a bit more freedom to just sit with her own thoughts. Clint didn’t start a conversation with her. He could sense that Natasha was in need of silence as she rested her chin on her hand and gazed ahead blankly. Lila and Cooper would occasionally giggle and laugh as they goofed around, everyone entertaining themselves while they all waited for the food to arrive.

“Chicken barbecue?” The stocky waiter offered, looking for the owner of the plate.

“That’s for me, thanks”, Cooper said quietly, reaching for the plate. The pizza was huge and all the kids could barely hold their mouths closed as they marveled at the dish.

“Hawaiian?”

“Mine!” Nate exclaimed, his hand shooting up.

“Pepperoni for the little lady”, he said, smiling as he set down the third one in front of Lila. He soon came back with Clint’s Meat lover and your Margherita.

“Auntie Natty, how come you don’t have any pizza?” Lila asked in puzzlement.

“You’ll see soon enough”, she replied as she separated a piece of pizza for you, watching you frown at it.

“What..?” You inquired in confusion, poking the red sauce on the hot pizza. It stuck to your finger.

“It’s tomato sauce, dorogaya (darling)”, she explained. “Taste it, it’s yummy”, she tried but to no avail. There were already tears in your eyes.

“Chees’”, you whimpered.

“There is cheese, look.” She pointed at the nicely broiled cheese on top.

“Only”, you whispered.

“You wanted cheese only?” Natasha asked in bewilderment as you nodded your confirmation. “Honey, I promise it’s delicious. Just have a taste”, she prompted, offering the slice of pizza to you but you shook your head, tears cascading freely down your cheeks.

“Only chees’”, you cried. Natasha didn’t bother to argue. She did what she knew would work and dug a baby bottle from her bag, she then lifted you into Clint’s arms before she scooched out of the booth to go prepare the milk formula.

She returned with a bottle of warm milk. You reached for her immediately, now only fussing mildly as you cried silently. Natasha welcomed you into her arms and you latched on the bottle more than eagerly. She held you against her chest, her other arm grabbing a slice of pizza for herself.

“She’s a bit silly sometimes”, Lila noted, watching you guzzle down the milk. “Pizza is supposed to have sauce”, she reasoned.

“That she is”, Natasha hummed, internally groaning at how good the pizza tasted. The crust was absolutely perfect, the sauce well-seasoned and the cheese wonderfully stretchy. She couldn’t have asked for anything better at the moment, or well, maybe toppings would’ve been nice but they weren’t necessary. “But hey, more pizza for me”, she chuckled, winking Lila’s way, the girl smiling widely before taking a huge bite of her pizza.

“Y/N is still a baby, and on top of that a tired one”, she hummed. “The sauce was just too much for today”, she explained, looking down at your relaxed features, removing the bottle from your lips. It didn’t come to anyone as a surprise that you fell asleep shortly after the milk had been consumed completely, the rest of the family enjoying their pizzas in the small corner of the diner that was filled with warmth and laughter.

Chapter 8: Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird

Notes:

TRIGGER WARNING
mentions of childhood sexual assault, doesn’t go into detail but the chapter discusses it briefly, stay safe!

Chapter Text

You were three years old and to Natasha’s disappointment and simultaneous relief almost finished with your weaning process. You had started to like cucumbers and carrots. You liked fruits and bread as well, but pasta you couldn’t stand for some reason. Any form of macaroni put in front of you would either end up on the floor or squished in your fists. Rice you ate but it was always messy. You had learned a plethora of new skills and were becoming advanced in counting and recognizing letters and shapes. You were a wild little rascal and loved running around the compound. You also loved climbing anywhere you possibly could. Steve was one of your favorites. He often stood still like a tree, allowing you to use his arm for support as your feet walked up his leg. He carried you around on his shoulders and whenever Natasha wasn’t around he would throw you up in the air so high you thought you would never come down. He always caught you and Natasha knew that, trusted that, but the idea of him missing that catch was something she wasn’t willing to even think about, which is why she had forbidden it. Wanda was allowed to float you around because Natasha knew that her powers were unlikely to malfunction or get out of control since the witch had become so much more practiced with them, but of course you had a height limit you weren’t allowed to cross. Another thing you liked to do with Wanda was to play guessing games where she used her telepathy to read your mind. She couldn’t understand why you wanted your mind to be read so badly but if it made you happy she didn’t mind.

“Guess now!” You exclaimed, bouncing on Wanda’s lap. “Guess!”

“Hmm, let me see”, she wiggled her fingers for show, pretending to dig through your mind, even though she already knew the answer. “Is it a unicorn with shoes on?” You giggled loudly, nodding your head.

“It’s so cute!” You shouted. “Guess again!”

“Huh, no definitely not a crocodile with a granny hat, no. Not that one either. Nope. Is it the yellow teletubby?” She questioned. You shook your head aggressively. “Is it… mommy?”

“Noo!”

“She’s got red hair”, Wanda mumbled, feigning her thinking face. “Who else has red hair? …me?” She raised her brows at you questioningly.

“Yes! Wanwan!” You screeched, clapping your hands in pleasure.

“You know what, baby? I think it’s time for us to go get ready for bed, yeah?” She suggested softly, knowing it was nearing eight o’clock and Natasha was probably done with her report by now.

“No! One more!” You whined.

“Okay, one more. But just this one. Make it good.” She was notorious for caving in when it came to you, and Natasha had multiple times told her not to allow you to have her wrapped around your finger but Wanda couldn’t resist you.

“Go”, you said, your next thought ready in your mind, but instead of the colorful snake you had thought about for a split second, Wanda found something else, something much darker, literally. She fell into a memory and she knew she should’ve pulled away and not disrespect you like that but she knew from the energy around her that it wasn’t from your new home, it was from the Red Room and most likely something you no longer truly remembered. It was dark around you and Wanda could feel the panic settle in your chest. There was no one else around and you were absolutely terrified. You wanted your mother, you were hungry and scared. You cried hard, continuing to scream your lungs out even though a bright screen was lit above you. It played cartoons, lots and lots of cartoons. Wanda could sense that something about them was wrong, the energy was off, suspicious. She thought over everything she knew about the Red Room, a sense of disturbance settling over her. And then it clicked for her. Mind control. Psychological conditioning. You kept on crying. You cried for a long while but eventually quietened down at the sight of a white, fluffy bunny. Wanda pulled out of your mind, her blank face forming into a slight smile, trying her best to make it convincing for you.

“Rainbow snake”, she said quietly, deep in thought. She needed to talk with Natasha as soon as possible. You shook your head. Wanda knew it was the white bunny but she didn’t dare say it.

“Guess”, you said, sounding a little disheartened. The witch hesitated. Your mind was screaming white bunny and she had no choice but to say it.

“Bunny”, she whispered, watching how your lower lip wobbled, eyes teary. You didn’t know why it made you sad. You couldn’t remember, but you felt scared, alone.

“Mama”, you whimpered, wiping your eyes slowly, looking down at your lap where your legs were bent in a kneeling position that toddlers often preferred, your feet opening slightly to the sides.

“Yes, let’s go find mama”, Wanda said hastily, picking you off the floor, terrified of you getting an outburst she couldn’t calm you down from. You sniffled in her arms, clammy hands playing with her orange locks.

“Mama”, you spluttered quietly, sounding a lot like you had just regressed by two whole years. Wanda sped down the halls all the way to your apartment, trying to make it seem at least a little bit like she wasn’t panicking herself.

“Mama? Is mama here?” Wanda shouted from the front door the second she had stepped inside, some shuffling coming from Natasha’s office.

“Mama!” You cried out as well, a head of red hair appearing in the living room in an instant.

“Hi, baby!” She cooed, hurrying over to you, arms already reaching for your wiggling body. You let out another cry, crawling closer to hide your face in her neck. Your hands gripped the skin of her neck and chest. “What happened?” Natasha asked, a worried frown on her face as she eyed Wanda carefully.

“I’m not sure. She remembered something”, the brunette said. “I’ll explain it all later once she’s in bed”, she assured her.

“So no one got hurt?”, Natasha mumbled to herself, trying to calm herself down as she bounced you in her arms. “Thank you for watching her.” She kissed your head, breathing you in. “I really needed some time off. Thank you, Wanda”, she whispered quietly over your sobs, leaning closer and pressing her lips to the younger woman’s forehead. The kiss was brief and very motherly, Wanda’s mind wandering off immediately. Oh, how she missed her mother, missed her old life. She would never admit it but Natasha felt like a big sister to her. Someone who looked out for her, at least sometimes. Someone she could lean on and vice versa. “Wait here while I put her to bed. I’ll be right back”, she said before walking into your bedroom.

“Shh, baby, you’re safe”, she cooed quietly, holding you firmly as you squirmed against her, your teary face pressing into her neck as you tugged on her hair. She sat down on your bed so you could sit on her lap. “Shh, look at me, honey, look at me”, she tried softly, pulling back a bit and cupping your face. “Deep breaths for me, baby. Deep breaths”, she instructed, inhaling deeply, her thumbs wiping the tears from your cheeks. You blinked your huge eyes open, frowning at Natasha in sorrow. ”There you go. Can you take one more big breath for mommy?” She asked, keeping her voice low and comforting. You sucked in a ragged breath that was rather rushed and shallow but it was good enough for Natasha.

“Good girl, just like that. Look at mama”, she continued soothing you as you coughed loudly. “Can you tell me how you feel?” She asked, bouncing you softly on her knee.

“Scared”, you whined, trying to go back in for a hug.

“What makes you scared?”

“Dark.”

“Baby, we’re not in the dark”, she noted, looking around the bedroom that was fully illuminated. You pouted up at her, looking around, calming down visibly as you realized that it in fact wasn’t dark around you. Natasha knew you had distant memories from the Red Room and she was desperately wishing to maybe someday get something out of you that could explain your experience but your developing brain would most likely leave those distant memories into oblivion and maybe that really was for the best.

“But… but”, you spluttered, bringing your forefinger to your mouth for you to suck on.

“You’re safe. It’s just you and mama”, she explained with a smile to express the safety and comfort that the space should bring you. She observed your blank expression as you studied the room around you and then you looked back at her, mirroring her smile, albeit a bit hesitantly. “Look at that smile”, she cooed, tickling you under the chin. Your smile widened and you crawled closer to her so you could reach her face.

“Mama”, you sighed, nuzzling your face into hers, your tiny arms going around Natasha’s neck in a hug. “I want cuddles!” You exclaimed, pulling back and pressing your nose to hers. You giggled at the way she scrunched it, your attention shifting and you went to push up her nose, laughing loudly at the funny face she made.

“It’s bedtime for baby”, she reminded you softly.

“No, it’s cuddle time!” You retorted with a firm frown.

“You will get bedtime cuddles. Do you also want a lullaby?”

“Lullaby! And kisses, lots”, you shouted, still not very good at controlling your volume. “Story!”

“Baby, you have to choose. You can’t have everything”, she said quietly, starting to pull up your long sleeve shirt to change you into your pajamas.

“And then we can- we play”, you blabbered, sounding rather confident in your plan. Natasha set you on the floor, your little legs immediately busy running.

“Don’t you dare run away!” Natasha laughed, grasping you by the back of your pants, yanking you up into her arms. She set you down onto her shoulders.

“Hold on to mama’s head”, she instructed, placing your hands on her forehead as she navigated through the bedroom to your closet drawer, pulling out a fresh pair of underwear and a nightgown. You liked to sleep in a comfortable dress and the light blue one Natasha took out was your favorite because of how pretty it was.

“Blue!” You noted happily as Natasha moved to the bed and set the clothes down onto your sheets. “Look, mama, I’m flying”, you said, lifting your hands off her head and spreading them to your sides. Natasha grabbed you and threw you over her head onto the bed.

“Enough flying for the night”, she mumbled, tickling you from under your armpits as you wiggled on your bed, still clad in your pants and socks. “Legs up!” She commanded, just like she did every night and your legs shot up so she could easily tug off your pants and socks. You loved it and you especially loved kicking your legs to help her get them off. You laughed in excitement, clapping your hands.

“Stinky baby!” You screeched because you knew it was time for a quick bath and Natasha just loved being dramatic about it. It was your favorite part of bedtime. She grabbed you by the arms and lifted you up and away from her body, holding you at an arm’s length –something she had done quite a lot when you were an infant and covered in poop or vomit.

“Stinker incoming”, she hollered, rushing to the bathroom as you cackled, dangling in the air. She set you down inside the tub and hosed you down with the shower head. You scrubbed your eyes clean, washing your body even though Natasha was doing most of the work. You were towel dried and brought back to the bed where you got to step through the leg holes in your panties and then you lifted your arms up and allowed Natasha to slide the nightgown on you. She settled down at the head of the bed, waiting for you to express what you wanted for the night. You walked to mama and sank into her chest. Cuddles were definitely something you wanted. You breathed in her scent, noticing a yawn stretch your lips. Huh, maybe you really were tired.

“Play”, you mumbled, ever so determined to have your fun but she was so comfortable. You nuzzled closer, tugging on her shirt.

Natasha wasn’t sure about continuing breast feeding you for so long but after her doctor assured her that it was more than okay as long as it worked for both mother and baby, she continued to do it whenever you asked for it. She had noticed you forget about it way more often than before but scares like the one from that day usually affected it and you wanted that specific kind of comfort that had gotten you through the worst of your trauma.

“Hold on, mama’s gonna take her shirt off”, she whispered, pulling you back gently, her fingertips caressing your chubby cheeks and chin. You were halfway asleep, swaying slightly as you tried to force your eyes open. Natasha lifted you off her lap and turned you sideways into a lying position, bringing you to her chest. Your eyes fluttered shut and you opened your mouth, pressing it to Natasha’s warm breast, automatically starting to suckle. “Baby, you’re halfway asleep”, she hummed, brushing your hair with her fingers. You were doing your best to fight back the inevitable sleep that was going to overtake you by occasionally flinching yourself awake. “Shh, mama’s right here and mama’s gonna stay right here. You’re safe.” You huffed quietly, your hand grasping the flesh as you whined a little, moving your hand to reach up for mama. Natasha offered her finger for you to hold and you quietened immediately, relaxing into her embrace as you gripped mama’s hand.

“Hush little baby don’t say a word, mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird”, Natasha started quietly, rocking you in her arms. She studied your resting features, admiring your long eyelashes, your brows, your plump cheeks and lips wrapped around her flushed nipple. ”If that mockingbird don’t sing, mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring. If that diamond ring turns brass, mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass

She felt the tears long before they clouded her vision, her breathing turning shallow as she tried to keep herself calm for you. Thankfully you were already half-unconscious and didn’t notice a thing. Natasha couldn’t quite express the ache inside her. She was so angry, so frustrated, so jealous that she never got to have it. She never got to fall asleep in her mother’s arms, instead she got cuffs around her wrists and a lumpy mattress. And no matter how much she tried not to feel it, the tears dripped onto your nightgown, leaving dark blue splotches behind but you were already asleep, not at all aware of the mood shift Natasha was going through.

She felt the incoming sobs constrict her chest, her breath catching in her throat. She pulled you off of her, slipping her breast back into her bra as she cradled you carefully in her arms, setting you down on the bed. The redhead pulled up the covers from the foot of the bed, tucking you in tightly, her forefinger wiping your mouth clean before she crouched over you and placed a kiss to your forehead.

“I love you, Y/N, good night”, she whispered, not able to resist the urge to kiss you again. “Mama’s little angel”. She hummed, placing yet another kiss on your cheek. She backed away from your bed, eyes glued to your chest that rose and fell steadily. Natasha already knew that she would return once Wanda was gone. The redhead leaned against the side of the door, reluctant to let you out of her sight but eventually after a heavy sigh, she wiped her tears away and shut the door behind her after she stepped into the hall. She left the lights on in your bedroom just in case you would wake up. Then she made her way into the living room where Wanda was reading some book that she had found from somewhere. Most of the stuff in the living room was all over the place because you took a lot of time and energy from Natasha and she just couldn’t be bothered to pick after you and herself all the time.

“She go down easy?” Wanda inquired, lifting her gaze up from the paperback.

“Yeah. She was exhausted”, Natasha mumbled, coming beside her and sitting down.

“Are you okay?” Wanda asked quietly, noticing the redness of her eyes and the distant look on her face.

“Oh, yeah”, the redhead sighed, bringing her legs up to her chest as she leaned her elbow to the backrest of the couch. “She’s just a lot sometimes. And she makes me think about my own childhood”, she explained, staring ahead at the rain that whipped into the window glass.

“You can talk to me if you ever feel like it”, Wanda offered, placing her hand on Natasha’s arm. “You don’t have to be alone in this “, she said with a soft smile, her thumb brushing over her bicep.

“I know, hon. Thank you for the support”, Natasha answered as if on autopilot before she realized to slow down her mind. She stayed silent for a second. “I wish I knew what they did to her. They probably start the pain conditioning young…” She didn’t want to imagine it, but she couldn’t force her mind to stop. “What if they…” Her voice died in her throat.

“What?” Wanda prompted softly, sensing Natasha’s distress consume the energy of the living room.

“Touched her… me?” She whispered so quietly, nearly imperceptible. Wanda knew what she meant and was truly horrified by the thought. “I know they touched me but I don’t know how young”, she added, gulping quietly as she tried to keep her emotions in check. She had never said that to anyone out loud and she trusted Wanda enough as a woman to understand a fraction of her pain. Her eyes bore into Wanda’s warm green ones, both women noting the sheen in the others’ eye.

“Do- Do you want me to… look?” The strawberry blonde woman asked quietly, clearly timid about suggesting something so drastic. Natasha paused, evidently contemplating it.

“Not with me. I don’t need to know. I don’t want to know, but her… I need to know”, she mused out loud. “I need to know that their end wasn’t too merciful. I need to know that I did enough to make them hurt”, she said in a low voice, gritting her teeth.

“Natasha…” Wanda sighed, sounding pitiful, like she was trying to placate the anger that was bubbling inside of the redhead.

“I wish I could shred his skin, and dig out his organs. I wanna make him suffer for all that he did”, she continued, Wanda squeezing her arm again to gain her attention.

“That wouldn’t make you feel any better”, Wanda said. “And it wouldn’t make you better than him.”

“I don’t care. I could be the worst person in the world. I don’t give a f*ck. If he hurt her…”

“Shh, Natasha, look at me”, the witch hushed her, grasping both Natasha’s hands. “It’s not worth it. He’s dead. What’s done is done”, she reasoned. “I shouldn’t look inside her head. It’ll ruin you and eventually it’ll ruin her. You don’t need to know.”

“No, I do, Wanda. I need to know”, Natasha said hastily.

“Tell me, what good would it do?” Wanda countered, clearly able to detect the desperation in Natasha’s demeanor. “Would you love her less? Would you treat her differently?”

“No! God, no, I would never”, she hissed, seeming mildly appalled.

“I know you like to think that, but I’m not so sure. Subconsciously it’ll always have an effect on you”, Wanda said firmly. Her face was stoic and unforgiving. Your future and childhood were at stake and Natasha wasn’t in a place to make that decision for you. The witch’s offer had been for Natasha, not for you. She wouldn’t want to violate your mind like that. Young as you were, you still deserved to be treated with respect and have your privacy, especially in a matter so personal and vulnerable. “In the best case scenario she has no clue and will never remember or know and can grow up in peace. And if she has, then you will have to carry the weight of it. You don’t need that, Natasha”, Wanda explained, her thumbs swiping softly over the backs of her hands. “You’ve been hurt enough as it is.”

“I can take it”, she mumbled.

“I know you can but it’s not about that”, Wanda tried, inwardly cursing the redhead’s stubbornness.

“What did you see in her memory?” Natasha asked, ever so determined to get some sort of information on the matter.

“Just darkness. I felt cold and scared, but there was no pain. There was a screen above me and it had a white bunny hopping”, she explained, remembering the details vividly. “I don’t know if it’s just because she’s a mere baby but there was very little pain in her mind. A couple of rough nudges maybe. But when I entered your mind I was flooded with pain, so much so that it almost made me lose focus. Natasha I know your pain because I’ve felt it. Y/N’s okay. Babies are sensitive and I think I would’ve been able to tell without even digging for anything if there was something so painful and terrifying inside her mind”, Wanda said softly, an apologetic frown on her face. She knew she had violated Natasha in a terrible manner back during Ultron and even though she said she had forgiven her, Wanda was still wary about the subject. Natasha sighed heavily, sinking into the couch as she stared ahead into the ceiling above her.

“She’s okay, right?” She whispered. “She’s safe.” Natasha shut her eyes, tears spilling from the sides and into her hair. “Nobody’s touched her”, she sobbed, covering her face with her hands to hide her face from Wanda.

“She’s okay, Natasha. You’ve got her. She couldn’t be any more safe. It’s not possible”, she chuckled quietly, inching closer to the other woman. She grasped her hands, pulling them away from her face, Natasha’s reddened eyes staring back at her.

“You’re a good mother, Natasha”, she mumbled with a soft smile. “Y/N’s in great hands”, she assured her, holding on to her hands and bringing them down to her lap. “I really want to hug you right now”, Wanda said in a teasing tone, Natasha rolling her eyes.

“You’re not getting one”, Natasha scoffed in defense.

“Please?” The younger woman pleaded, batting her eyelashes. “You need comfort.”

“I’m okay”, Natasha said in denial.

“I know you are”, Wanda quipped, not too keen on arguing. “Just a tiny hug to make you feel better”, she pestered, sensing from the tug of the corner of Natasha’s mouth that she was giving in.

“Alright, you get five seconds”, Natasha sighed, opening her arms for the witch who snuggled against her chest, her arms holding the redhead tightly. She couldn’t lie. It did feel good. And she was more than thankful for Wanda’s support. She just wasn’t sure how to express it. Maybe the hug was enough for now. “Thank you again for tonight”, she mumbled into her hair.

“Of course. It was my pleasure”, Wanda hummed, giving Natasha an extra squeeze before letting go. The girl really was a hugger.

Once she was gone, Natasha tiptoed back into your room, climbing to the edge of the bed and pulling the covers over herself. You were huffing and puffing quietly in the sheets, your arms spread on the mattress as you lay on your back. She inched as close as she dared without possibly waking you up, her lips pressing to your cheek.

And if that horse and cart fall down, you’ll still be the prettiest baby in town”, she sang the final line of the lullaby in a quiet whisper, trying not to smile like an idiot as she smelled your head again. She was so in love with you, so in awe of the tiny being that you were. “Good night, my stinkypants.”

She fell asleep to the sounds of your breathing, your little fist wrapped around her index finger.

Chapter 9: Sugar, spice and everything nice

Notes:

Please don’t roast me for the chapter name I was desperate 😖😖

Chapter Text

“Mommyyy!” You whined angrily, limping behind her, trying to drag her back by the hand you were holding. “Máma!” You screeched, on the verge of tears. You were exhausted and Natasha was still dragging you through the department store after you had expressed multiple times that you wanted to leave. You were so tired and you wanted kisses and cuddles and a huge nap, maybe even food, but you were miles away from home and mama was in a hurry to get somewhere.

“Shh, baby, please don’t yell”, Natasha tried softly, dragging you along as you tripped over your feet time and time again.

“Mamaa!” You wailed, now sobbing full force, trying to make her stop walking. Your words became incoherent and blended in with your cries, Natasha finally stopping. You didn’t have your carriage with you for some reason that you weren’t able to understand. She crouched down in front of you, wiping your tears with her thumbs.

“What is it, sweetheart?” She asked, pulling you closer to her body but she no longer needed your answer when your fists clung to her shirt and you leaned close to her chest. “Is my angel tired?” She asked quietly, hands caressing your body as you squirmed into her embrace. You nodded your head, sniffling.

“Nap”, you whimpered, feeling your mama lift you up into her arms, standing straight. Your slightly shorter sleeping hours from the night before usually resulted in excessive napping and that day seemed to be one of those days.

“We can’t do that yet, honey”, she explained, wincing at the cry you let out. “Shh, love, mommy has a couple more things to get. Then we’ll go home, yeah?” She tried to gain your attention.

“Home, now!” You bellowed, wiggling in her arms, now trying to get down, but Natasha knew if she let you down you would never get out of the flour aisle.

“Y/N, look at mama.” You held in your cries, blinking to see through your tears. “Good, just like that”, she praised, patting your back in emphasis. “Mama promises that we’ll take the biggest nap when we get home okay? Just a little while longer, okay?” She asked hopefully, smiling at you. She could tell you didn’t like it but you nodded your head regardless. “Is baby hungry?” She continued, tickling your stomach a bit but you just shook your head, bringing your thumb to your lips. Natasha dug out a pacifier from her bag, replacing your finger with the rubber, her lips pressing on the other end in a brief kiss. The pacifier bobbed in your mouth as you sucked on it fervently, calming down at the bit of comfort you had received. She didn’t put you down again but instead moved you to sit on her hip, feeling comforted herself when you relaxed into her hold, resting your head on her shoulder, fist still gripping her shirt.

“I love you, baby. Just a tiny bit longer. Mama needs to grab a couple more ingredients”, she hummed, kissing your forehead, trying to assure you that soon you would get your rest. Your heavy eyelids blinked slowly. You could smell mama’s familiar perfume and her warm skin, your mouth easing off the pacifier a little, your hand went limp on Natasha’s chest and you were dead weight in her arms but you couldn’t quite fall asleep in the midst of the bustle of the grocery store. Ten minutes later you started crying again from frustration, pressing your face into mama’s shoulder, wiping snot and tears into her shirt, the pacifier falling to the floor.

Natasha herself was getting tired as well. It wasn’t easy taking care of you while also shopping and it proved to be even more difficult the grumpier you got. Your pained face made her want to give up and go home, but instead she grabbed the pacifier off the floor and skidded through the aisles to collect butter sticks and chocolate chips, leaving the cart behind to get it over with quicker. After she had managed to get herself through the checkout, accompanied by your loud wails, she dangled a crying you to her black Corvette, and loaded everything inside. You had your baby seat at the back but Natasha took you to the front, sitting on the passenger seat with you in her arms. You noted the calmness of the car and sat on Natasha’s lap in mild confusion. It amused her how nuanced of a child you were and how easily you could go from zero to hundred and back down to zero in the span of just a few minutes. She hummed a laugh, combing her fingers through your hair, a smile spreading on her face as you studied your surroundings, deeming the place comfortable enough for a nap. You tugged her down for a kiss, laughing softly at the smile on mama’s face. She peppered your entire face with kisses until it started to tickle so much that all you could do was giggle loudly. You snuggled into her chest, your face resting on her soft breast that truly was the best pillow in the world. Her hand continued to stroke your hair and back, her calming scent allowing you to relax completely. You fell asleep in an instant, Natasha holding you for a while to ensure that you were in a deep enough slumber for her to move you into your seat so she could drive back home.

The redhead sighed from relief at seeing you rest, your quiet breaths puffing against her. She loved you so much. At times like these, she just couldn’t understand how there could be so much love in her. She had always thought she was disgusting and vile, incapable of anything good, yet there you were, a bundle of pure goodness snoozing in the safety of her arms. She herself had raised you to be the sweet little girl you were. She had raised you to not have a single bad bone in your body and she was certain that in some ways she had succeeded. She held you to her chest, changing your position to the one she used to nurse you in. Her eyes welled up with tears that she forcibly blinked away. She was tired of being emotional. She had quit her hormone therapy a while ago and she was starting to feel like blaming the hormones had been a big lie. You had grown so much and it felt like it had been just yesterday when she couldn’t get you to shut up in the safe house in Russia and she couldn’t quite grasp it. She simply stared at your peaceful form as you lay in her arms. Nothing in her life had ever made her feel as emotional as you did.

•••

“Okay, baby, now put the flour in the bowl”, Wanda instructed as you stood on a stool behind the kitchen island, fully recharged, doing your very best to do as told. You tilted the cup, watching how the flour puffed up a bit when it hit the bottom of the bowl. You turned to Wanda to see if you did a good job, the rest of the flour left in the cup sprinkling all over you and the table, the witch just huffing a laugh. She had expected a mess anyway. “Be careful, there’s still flour in there. You need to put all of it into the bowl”, she said softly as you peered into the measuring cup, noting that it did in fact still have flour inside. Clumsily you threw the whole measure into the glass bowl, Wanda shaking her head hopelessly behind you where you couldn’t see her. You grabbed the measure again.

“Let’s not throw things, okay?” She asked, prying the cup out of your iron tight grip. You screeched a bit impatiently but let her take it from you.

“Egg!” You exclaimed, wanting to crack them like you’d seen mama do multiple times before. You were dying to attempt it yourself.

“Not yet. We need to put baking soda into the flour”, she said, offering you a teaspoon. You took it and plunged it inside the baking soda container, pulling out a heaping spoonful of the white powder. “Maybe a little less. Shake it.” You shook all of it off the spoon. Baking was definitely a challenging task with you. Wanda guided your spoon back into the powder and got the correct amount out, emptying it into the bowl.

“Mixin’ time!” You squealed, grabbing the big wooden spoon and starting to poke the flour mixture. You hadn’t really gotten the handle of the mixing movement yet, your fine motor skills not refined enough. Scarlet wisps wrapped around the handle of the spoon, helping you mix the flour, although half of it still spilled over the edges. Wanda pulled the bowl away from you so you wouldn’t create a bigger mess and gave you a clean bowl and two eggs.

“Crack the eggs into the bowl”, she instructed, her magic holding the eggs in the air so you wouldn’t drop them. Your small hand wrapped around the other egg, your fist glowing red as you brought it to the edge of the bowl, Wanda’s powers assisting you to use the correct amount of pressure. You giggled when the shell cracked, the egg opening itself to let the yolk out. Without Wanda’s powers the eggs would’ve been on the floor before she had even placed them in front of you. No matter how careful she was though, the second egg you just decided to throw across the room, giggling when it smashed into the cupboard door and stained it yellow.

“Did you just throw it?” Wanda asked in amusem*nt. She had expected this exact kind of behavior from you. You were a toddler after all and she knew not to get mad at you for the things you couldn’t help.

“Yup”, you giggled.

“Honey, you know you have to clean that up, right?” She asked, offering you a damp rag.

“No”, you shook your head sternly, a slight pout on your lips.

“Baby, our actions have consequences. You made a mess so you clean the mess”, Wanda explained to you, lifting you off the chair and bringing you to the sticky door. You cleaned it off as best as you could with the wet rag Wanda gave you but she ultimately had to do a little touching up after you. Not that it was really about cleaning but more so about teaching you a lesson.

After the little incident you got to mix up the eggs and melted butter while Wanda added the rest of the ingredients. Then you watched as she whisked it all up to form a nice golden brown dough. You got to add in the chocolate chips and then it was time to put the oven on while the dough cooled in the fridge.

“How’s it going?” A deep voice asked from the living room, Steve nearing you with a wide smile on his face.

“Cookies!” You answered loudly, Steve huffing a laugh at the flour that decorated your face. You climbed off the chair, Wanda absentmindedly helping you down with her magic. “We put dough in fregator!” You explained, sprinting to him and grabbing his hand immediately.

“Refrigerator, honey”, Wanda corrected you from the kitchen, as you continued to climb up Steve’s leg. He pulled you off like you weighed nothing, because you did, and hoisted you up onto his shoulders. You laughed in excitement, kicking your legs a bit from pure happiness.

“Wada! Look!” You screamed, holding on to Steve’s hands. He was so tall, so tall you could see the entire world from up there.

“Be careful, baby, so you don’t fall”, Wanda said with a hint of worry in her voice even though she knew Steve was more than reliable. He would never let you fall. Steve bounced you a bit on his shoulders, your entire body jiggling as you laughed loudly, giggling and screeching, holding onto his jaw with your little hands. You two played for quite a while, the blond allowing you to climb all over him, letting you dangle from his arm or leg, whatever your silly little brain came up with. He was holding you upside down by your ankle when Natasha entered the living room, drawn in by your overjoyed laughter, a wide grin on her face once she finally spotted you upside down, all your clothes riding up your body, hair a wild mess as you tried to reach up to your foot that Steve was holding. Natasha snuck around the couches to the other side as you tried to reach for Steve again and when your abs finally gave in and you let yourself dangle limply in his hold Natasha’s upside down face appeared in front of you.

“Mama!” You screamed in excitement, immediately reaching for her, not minding at all that you were still in the air, upside down. Steve let go once you were safely in her hold, your face buried in her stomach, legs hanging over her shoulders as you laughed as loudly as you possibly could. “Let- go!” You cackled, kicking your legs. She flipped you around, sitting down on the couch behind her so you could sit comfortably on her lap. She kissed your forehead, cheeks and hair, your happy gurgles making her want to go on and on and on. You squirmed in her hold, her lips tickling you so much you couldn’t breathe.

“Who’s my baby?” Natasha asked, holding you closer to her body. “Who’s the babiest baby in the world?” She cooed, littering your face with kisses. You pushed her face away, still unable to stop laughing, and when she finally stilled enough, you cupped her cheeks pressing your puckered lips to hers, letting out a loud ‘muah’. You pressed another kiss to her mouth, your huge eyes staring up at Natasha’s. You kissed again, and again, giggling at each tickling kiss you got.

“I love mama!” You said firmly, squishing her cheeks.

“I love you more, my darling one”, she whispered with a soft smile, her heart aching at the pure happiness she was feeling. “I love you so much.”

“I love!” You shouted, pressing your face into hers. Natasha just gathered you in her arms, standing up from the couch, arms hugging you tightly.

“We’ve been playing for a while now and Wanda and her made the cookie dough”, Steve told her, smiling fondly.

“That sounds so fun. Was it fun, baby?” She asked you in excitement, patting your bum as you nodded your head.

“She’s one lively toddler. Never runs out of energy”, Steve noted, watching Natasha shake her head.

“Oh, you should have seen her this morning. Miss Crankypants”, Natasha grumbled playfully as she bounced you a bit, looking at you smile endearingly.

“This little angel? I don’t think so”, he countered teasingly, tickling your cheek as you turned around to look at him.

“I promise the entire store probably thought I was the worst mother ever”, she bemoaned halfheartedly, but there was just a hint of insecurity in her words that pushed through.

“Come on, that’s not true. Everyone knows toddlers are sometimes impossible”, he shrugged, a warm smile on his face. “You’re an amazing mother, Natasha”, he added solemnly, making sure she understood that he was being genuine. He had a tendency to do that.

“Thank you”, she whispered softly, sensing the emotions whirring inside her mind and body. She was insecure about being a mother. She never had one and she sure as hell never thought she was cut out to be one. But hearing people refer to her as a mother and tell her she was at it really got to her.

“I mean it, Natasha”, he repeated, as if sensing her inner quarrel about the topic. She nodded, those green eyes boring into his, holding so much love and gratitude. Neither of them said anything, however, you on the other hand never ran out of things to say.

“Mama! We bake cookies!” You reminded everyone, Natasha already more than aware of that, judging by the way she was dusting flour off your pants.

“I know, honey. Let’s go find, Wanwan”, she hummed, turning towards the kitchen area as you wiggled your legs in excitement. She set you down and watched how you ran to Wanda who was cleaning in the kitchen. She set her stuff down and crouched to the floor to welcome you in her arms. She hugged you to her chest, lifting you up into her embrace so she could set you down to stand on the chair that you had used before. She had already prepared the baking trays for you, the bowl of dough waiting to be scooped into little balls.

“Here, sweetie. You grab the spoon and scoop a bit of the dough”, Wanda instructed as Natasha leaned against the kitchen island, more than intrigued about observing your work. You did as Wanda had done, scooping an enormous glob of dough into your hand, smushing it between your palms. Natasha hid her laughter behind her arm as she watched Wanda take a deep breath before showing you how it was done again. Natasha had to praise Wanda for the infinite amount of patience she had with you. Sometimes not even Natasha herself had that much lenience and kindness in her to constantly forgive for your mistakes.

“It’s big ball”, you said in satisfaction, patting the oversized cookie as you sucked on your sweet, chocolatey finger.

“Honey, you can’t put your hands in your mouth when baking”, Natasha noted, pulling your arm back a little.

“Wada did it too!” You cried in protest, Natasha shooting a threatening look at Wanda who was frowning in apology. “It’s yummy”, you noted, bringing your entire fist to your mouth. By the time you were finished with the dough and the cookies were ready to be put in the oven, you were covered in dough. It was in your hair, on your face, stained in your clothes. Some of it was even on the floor.

“Come here, you stinky baby. We are gonna go take a bath while Wanda bakes the cookies”, Natasha said, chuckling softly at the way you were eating the dough off your hands. She hoisted you up into her arms and you made your way to your apartment. She tugged off your clothes and let you run around the apartment naked as she put the clothes and some of her own clothes into the washing machine. You had almost too much energy and she could tell that by the way you were screaming alone in the living room, saying something about ponies and race cars.

As the bath was filling with water, Natasha pulled off her own clothes and threw them in the hamper. Might as well be sustainable and bathe herself with the same water. She had a day off and she could use a relaxing bath, although with you it was probably going to be far from relaxing. She poured some soap into the water, sloshing it around a bit to even it out as the bubbles started forming. She could clearly hear your loud running steps as you returned into the bathroom to see what your mama was doing. You ran straight into her leg, your bottom thudding to the warm carpet. Natasha was expecting a loud cry and tears but you just giggled, your hands reaching up for her. She couldn’t help but to shake her head as she crouched down to pick you up. She placed you on her hip as she climbed inside the bath, seating you both down into the warm water.

She gave you a rubber ducky and watched you chuck it across the bath, the toy bouncing off her head. You both paused just staring at each other in mild confusion until you laughed mischievously. Natasha’s lips were a harsh line but she couldn’t hold her stoic demeanor for long. She was definitely going soft.

“Don’t throw things at people”, she said in a much less stern scolding than she had intended. “It can be dangerous”, she explained as you fished the ducky back into your arms. You puckered your lips in a giant pout, grabby hands reaching for her. She came closer to you, allowing you to press a kiss to her lips.

“Sorry”, you mumbled, sounding rather indifferent but it was good enough for Natasha.

“You’re forgiven, baby”, she hummed, her thumb stroking your chubby arm. You continued to splash around with the toy as Natasha turned to grab a bathing sponge and some of your baby body wash. It wasn’t scented and she had specifically bought it for your sensitive baby skin. It made bubbles and that was all that mattered to you. The foamy sponge made contact with your shoulder but you were already so used to it that you just continued to play, inching a bit closer because her touch felt nice as you sat there in the few inches of water, splashing the ducky around.

She scrubbed your body gently from everywhere, making sure all the dough was off your face and hands. Your hair she didn’t dare to touch simply because she hadn’t quite figured out what to do with it yet and she had just styled it out of your face before sending you to go bake with Wanda. The ties still held your hair together so Natasha deemed it good enough. You lost interest in the yellow squeaky toy, your finger automatically coming up to your mouth for you to chew on. You cringed at the taste, spluttering violently as you tried to get the taste off your tongue. Because it was a mild soap the taste wasn’t strong but it wasn’t great either.

“Angel, what have I told you about soap?” Natasha asked, hoisting you to her end, turning to the side a bit so she could open the faucet and flush your mouth. You washed your tongue vigorously, Natasha trying not to giggle. God, you were painfully adorable.

“Tastes bad”, you spat, making disgusted sounds, taking another handful of water from Natasha for you to spurt around in your mouth. And then you were okay again. You were giggling, trying to kick water in mama’s face as you splashed around in the bath, Natasha doing her very best to wash the rest of your body, including your teeny tiny toes. That one tickled and you couldn’t help but kick.

“Mama, my turn”, you insisted, grasping the sponge rather forcefully from her hands. You stood up, walking to stand between her legs, shoving the sponge at her chest that you could reach the easiest, sliding it up into her face, the foam coating half her face.

“Okay, woah, maybe be a bit more gentle, dear”, she suggested softly, pushing your hand back, wiping the white bubble mustache off her as you cackled again, squatting in the water. “Here, let mama show you.” She grasped your hand, bringing out her other arm for you to wash, guiding you to scrub her forearm. You found it incredibly entertaining, swishing your hand back and forth, back and forth, making sure mommy was squeaky clean, at least from that one single spot you went over at least ten times.

“Don’t you think that spot has been washed already?” Natasha prompted slyly watching you continue your work on her forearm.

“Make clean”, you mumbled to yourself, not pausing for even a second.

“Why don’t you try another spot?” She tried again, this time guiding your hand up to her bicep. “Wash under mommy’s arm”, she said, lifting her arm up so you could do something that was actually useful. You did as told, scrubbing very intently, finally realizing to move a little too. You spent a little too long on her shoulder but eventually moved to her chest but then you forgot about the sponge, getting distracted by the white foam, your hands busy lathering it all over her, excited screeches leaving your mouth as you listened to the squelch of your hands against her skin. Natasha just let you be, her hands lathering the soap suds on your skin, occasionally cupping some of the water in her hands to flush the foam off your body. It was soothing, the warmth of the water seeping into her bones. She had been freezing the entire morning because she forgot the air conditioner on for the night and the bath was just perfect. She sank a little lower into the shallow water, barely noticing how you were climbing on top of her, entertaining yourself by balancing on top of her slippery body.

The redhead had learned not to mind the way your feet dug into her belly or how your fists gripped the sensitive skin of her chest. She simply closed her eyes and focused on the water, occasionally smiling at your laugh or something you had said. There was probably no part of her body that you hadn’t already invaded with your grippy fists and tiny teeth. She was so used to it.

Once both of you had decided that the bath was getting too boring, Natasha hosed you down and lifted you out of the water, moving you onto the thick carpet, wrapping you tightly into a white towel poncho that had the yellow beak and black eyes of a duck on the hood of it. At the back the towel had a tiny tail. You eyed Natasha’s body as she dried herself, picking your nose, waiting for her to be done. You tried to copy her movements but she was so fast so you just ended up patting your body a bit, the towel doing its best to dry you with your minimal help. She dressed herself while you squirmed in the sheets of her unmade bed, doing god knows what.

Solnishka (sunshine), what are you doing?” She asked as you bounced on the bed. You never did run out of energy, or so it seemed at least.

“Bounce, bounce”, you said, throwing yourself around on the bed, giggling when your head hit the pillows. That is when a brief thought of putting you into combat fighting entered Natasha’s mind.

“Honey, you need to get dressed so we can go eat cookies. Wanda’s waiting”, she reminded you, pulling a grey hoodie over her bralette.

“Cookies!” You screamed, falling flat on your stomach in the bed. “Mama, I wan play!” You cried, tugging on her pants.

“We can play later, can’t we?” She suggested but you shook your head, pouting up at her. “Come on baby, let’s get dressed”, Natasha groaned, pulling you up into her arms, where you clung to her sweater for dear life, tears forming in your eyes. You were clearly moody that day.

“Mommy”, you sniffled, burying your face into her neck, your fingers scratching over the small arrow of the logo on her hoodie.

“What is it, milaya?” She asked in mild worry, always giving you a healthy amount of concern to assure you that she cared about even the most minuscule things on your mind.

“Mama”, you repeated, hugging her tighter.

“Mama’s here, my love. Right here”, she assured you, stroking your back softly. “Is it nap time for baby?” She asked quietly but you whined out your negative response. “No? Are you sure?” You nodded. “Then what is it?” You burst into tears.

“I- I… wan cookie”, you hiccuped, wiping your eyes with the back of your hand. Natasha was not following at all. “Mama”, you cried, slumping back into her hold. Moments like these were what confused Natasha the most. You were clearly upset and conflicted but didn’t know why or didn’t know how to say it to her. The only thing she could do was comfort you and validate your feelings. She moved to your clothing drawer, pulling out underwear, pastel pink leggings and a soft, brown hoodie that had fluffy bear ears. You liked that one a lot and you always showed everyone your little ears when you wore it.

You cried silently as Natasha dressed you rather clumsily because you wouldn’t allow her to set you down. And then you were off to the kitchen where you would get your cookies, although Natasha wasn’t sure if you really wanted them anymore or not.

“Everything alright?” Wanda asked after glancing at your teary face, her wide eyes studying Natasha’s for an explanation.

“She’s okay, nap time is definitely nearing”, she chuckled, glancing at you and pulling out the finger in your mouth, ruffling the top of your hood-covered head. Her eyes moved to the dining table where a huge plateful of cookies waited with a carton of milk beside it, some of it already poured into your sippy cup that had most likely been warmed up. “Look at that!” She cheered softly, trying to get you excited again about the cookies you worked so hard for. “It smells so good in here”, she mused out loud, encouraging you to sniff the air. It smelled heavenly in the kitchen and you felt your mouth water at the cookies that waited on the table, so once Natasha sat down at the table your hand immediately reached for one.

“What do you say, honey?” Natasha prompted.

“Please”, you whined, your hands trying to grab one.

“Here you go, dear”, Wanda hummed, nudging the plate a bit closer to you. The cookies were still warm, the chocolate chips at the top still melted. You took a big bite, the chewy goodness melting on your tongue, tasting so perfectly sweet and buttery. You offered the cookie to Natasha, prodding it against her lips until she opened her mouth.

“Mm, these are good”, she groaned, her eyes fluttering shut. “These are really good”, she moaned, licking her lips clean of the melted chocolate. “You want a bit of milk with that, myshka (little mouse)?” Natasha suggested, pulling the sippy cup a bit closer. You grasped it with both hands bringing it to your lips, your head tilting back a bit as you focused on the milk, eyelids growing heavy.

“Wanda, could you bring the cookies into the living room?” She asked, moving you to sit on her hip before standing up from her seat. The younger woman nodded, smiling down at your sleepy face. Natasha cuddled into the couch cushions, allowing you to relax in her hold as you chugged down the milk, her hand coming up to your face to caress your features. Things were changing all too fast.

“Would you mind a sitcom or two?” Wanda asked gently, Natasha immediately shaking her head.

“Not at all. I was just about to suggest”, she admitted, offering a little grin to the witch. Wanda’s smile only widened as she grasped the TV remote and turned the screen on. She lowered the volume to a comfortable level before settling beside Natasha, her elbow propped against the back of the couch. The redhead reached her hand for Wanda’s hair, brushing it behind her ear. Natasha had grown so much more affectionate with the people around her since she got you, and Wanda couldn’t help but notice how comforting it was to have someone older be there for her, almost like being on the lookout for her. She rubbed her lips together, moving her gaze to the screen. When the first episode was over, Wanda’s head was resting against the couch cushions, eyes blinking heavily. You were fast asleep and the only one who wasn’t dozing off was Natasha. She was still stroking your face every now and then, following the show whenever she was reminded of its presence.

Halfway through the second episode, Wanda’s eyes slid shut and her head fell against Natasha’s shoulder, a gentle smirk spreading on the redhead’s lips.

Chapter 10: Training wheels

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Natasha woke up to a loud scream, followed by heartfelt sobs. You had just started to use your own bedroom properly and this time Natasha was intending to stick with it, hoping to rid you of the constant habit of sleeping in her arms. She was worried that you would become completely dependent on sleeping with her and that was an issue that neither of you needed, which is why she had decided to make you sleep in your own bedroom even on the nights that you wouldn’t have wanted to. But she knew four years sleeping mostly beside your mother was not easy to undo, so she was lenient and flexible with you. She didn’t have the heart to deny you her comfort which led to an extended period of co-sleeping.

She knew that you had woken up from a nightmare but she still rushed into your bedroom as fast as she could, turning the lights on as she slipped inside the room. And there you were sitting in bed with a huge pout as you sobbed your little heart out, immediately reaching for mama.

“Oh, baby”, Natasha cooed softly, walking to your bedside, sitting down on the edge, her hands cupping your face delicately. You only continued to wail, too pained to move from your spot under the covers as Natasha hushed you softly. “Mama’s here and the lights are on”, she reminded you, her hands rubbing up and down your arms. You just leaned into her, searching for comfort that the stuffie in your arms wasn’t able to give you, Natasha lifting you eagerly into her embrace. She didn’t even want to try to put you back to bed. She knew it was selfish and probably bad in the long run but she needed to have you beside her. She wanted to know you were safe and right there by her side as you both slept peacefully. Maybe she even needed you in her arms more than you needed her.

Natasha stood up from the bed, holding you tightly against her as she whispered comforting words to you, occasionally kissing your hair. You were no longer screaming but hiccuping quietly as you listened to what mama was telling you.

“What was your dream about?” She asked in a hushed tone even though there was no one in the apartment you needed to be quiet for. You tuned in on her question, sniffling loudly.

“Big, big purple dinosaur”, you whimpered, your brows scrunching as you held in another cry.

“Barney?” Natasha asked in confusion, thinking back to the previous afternoon when you had watched cartoons and other children’s programs on TV. You nodded as an answer.

“He ch-chase me”, you mumbled. “And- and huge teeths”, you explained hastily, just the thought of it scaring you, breath picking up slightly.

“Shh, there are no purple dinosaurs here, honey”, she assured you, rubbing your back for comfort. “Remember what mama always tells you?” She asked encouragingly. You thought for a second, once again nodding your head.

“Dreams can’t hurt us. They’re not real”, you recited the lines, looking up at Natasha as she set you down on her bed in the dimly lit bedroom.

“Good girl, so what does that mean?” She asked, prompting you to realize the safety of the situation.

“No purple dinosaur here”, you said with a firm nod that made Natasha smile. You were so adorable she just wanted to squish you.

“Precisely”, she hummed, crawling into bed, pulling the covers up so she could get under them, but you didn’t follow suit, just kept sitting with your legs crossed beside Natasha. She turned to her side to face you, her hand grasping yours. “What is it, baby?”

“Will- will you kiss good night again?” You asked quietly, fiddling with your fingers.

“Oh, absolutely I will”, Natasha cooed with a bright smile which you immediately returned. You lifted the covers, wiggling into their warmth, making sure you were nuzzled as close as possible to your mama. Natasha rose up onto her elbow, looking down at you. She could see the excitement on your face before she had even started and her heart probably skipped multiple beats at how tiny and sweet you were. “Here we go”, she said softly.

Hush little baby don’t say a word, mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird”, she sang quietly, her forefinger smoothing down the bridge of your nose in a repetitive motion. You blinked your heavy eyes at the comfort of it. “And if that mockingbird don’t sing mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring”, she continued, her singing turning into melodic humming so she wouldn’t have to go through all the lines of the song. Your eyes were already closed and you were holding your stuffed bunny close to your chest. “And if that horse and cart fall down you’ll still be the prettiest baby in town”, she finished in a whisper, her hand caressing your cheek, lips planting on your forehead, then on your nose and finally your chin, but the kisser that you were you let out a whine, opening your eyes, hands reaching for Natasha’s cheeks. You squished them, pulling her close so you could reach her forehead to copy her. You pressed a tiny kiss on her forehead, another on the tip of her nose but the third you placed on her lips. It made you giggle, Natasha chuckling softly as she tapped your nose.

“Now, good night, baby”, she said in a hushed tone.

“Good night, mama”, you mumbled, sighing in comfort when she hugged you close, your stuffed bunny and mama right there.

Despite the rough start to your day, you were all better by breakfast, your colorful fruit loops entertaining you with their roundness and rainbow-ness. You fished them out of the bowl when Natasha wasn’t looking and started forming all kinds of fun things. You tested how many loops you could stack up on top of each other but you never got your score because you flinched at Natasha turning around. You were trying to be subtle after all.

“Baby, don’t tell me you’re playing with your food again”, Natasha sighed, sounding quite tired.

“No, mommy, I’m not”, you assured her, your fists gathering the fruit loops into your palms before you stuffed them in your mouth.

“You know mommy is a super spy”, she reminded you, turning to look at your stuffed cheeks and guilty smile. “We’re gonna switch back to boring old Cheerios if you keep that up”, she said pointedly, going back to her fried eggs. You were definitely going to play more with your rainbow loops once you were sure she wasn’t looking.

After breakfast came cuddles because you insisted on doing your ABCs on Natasha’s lap. Her chin rested on your shoulder as she peered down at the huge book open on your lap, hands smoothing down your arms.

“What’s that over there?” Natasha asked, pointing at a snake in a tree, drawing your focus to the green reptilian.

“Snak”, you said.

“Repeat after mama, okay? Snake”, she said, annunciating very clearly.

“Sna-ke”, you repeated, this time pronouncing the A correctly.

“And how do you spell it?” She asked, pointing at the spot where the word had been spelled with capital letters.

“S”, you started rather confidently, pointing your tiny finger at each letter as you went. “M”, you continued.

“Baby, that’s not M”, she corrected you gently. “M is like mama”, she reminded you.

“Uh, it’s ‘na’”, you mused.

“What’s the first letter of mama’s name?” She guided you. “Remember?”

“Na-ta-sha”, you nodded. “Na, na”, you made the sound a couple of times but you couldn’t remember what the letter was called.

“Yes, it’s an N”, she praised you, kissing your head. “We’ve got S and N, what’s next?”

“S, N, A”, you reviewed, pointing at each letter again. “Aaa”, you said giggling. “Aaa.”

“That’s right! Aaa, that’s what mommy tells you to say when brushing teeth”, she hummed, her fingers combing over your hair affectionately. “What’s next?”

“K”, you nodded, moving to the next yourself. “E.”

“Good girl!” Natasha praised, clapping her hands. “And what does it spell?”

“Sna-ke”, you nodded, clapping your hands at your success. “Snake, snake!”

“What about this word right here?” She pointed at another word. You studied it for a second before starting the process again.

“B-E-A-R, beer”, you nodded.

“Not quite, honey. You forgot to say the A. Be-ar”, she corrected the word for you.

“Bear”, you mused out loud.

“Just like that. Bear.”

“Bear”, you repeated. “It’s Mister Bear!” You exclaimed when you recognized the bear from the picture and the story Natasha had read to you many times.

“Do you want to try that sentence?” She suggested, pointing at a short sentence under a picture.

“H-I-S, hiss, hat”, you glanced at mama who nodded in confirmation.

“His hat. Good, go on milaya (honey)”, she prompted.

“His hat… ha-s…goon…”

“Yes, gone”, she corrected you subtly.

“Has gone…” you paused, looking at the jumble of letters in front of you. “Mmm…”

“You got it, myshka (little mouse). What’s that letter?”

“I”, you replied. “Mi…sss.” You let out a whine. “Mommy!” You whimpered, desperate for help.

“You’re almost there, solnishka (sunshine)!” She cheered you on, more than proud of you already. After all, you were much more advanced than a regular four-year-old. “It’s another I”, she offered.

“Missi”, you said, trying to decipher the word. “Mama, I don’t know”, you admitted, your features forming into a frown. You were getting tired and it was time to wrap up the practice.

“There’s an N and a G”, she said, helping you a bit.

“Missin’”, you said, struggling to include the ng-sound at the end but it was good enough for the both of you.

“Yes! You did it, baby!” Natasha exclaimed, hugging you tightly as you giggled in excitement at completing your task.

After finishing your obligatory morning studying so that you could stay home instead of going into a kindergarten, you had plans to go into the park with Clint while Natasha got a bit of work done at home. The archer had promised you to teach you the secret to riding without training wheels and, boy, were you excited, but before you could go you needed a brief nap on mommy’s chest while she read through some papers. Although, she did no more than a half a page of reading before she clocked off to the sound of your soft snoring. You had kept both of you up at night with your scary dreams and Natasha was barely hanging on to begin with.

“Wakey-wakey, Nattypoo”, someone cooed softly, brushing Natasha’s cheek. Her eyelids slid open to discover Clint way too close to her for comfort. You giggled loudly from his side where you were already donning your outside clothes.

“What?” She groaned, closing her eyes again.

“I’m gonna steal your little one over here”, he explained, lifting his hand that was holding yours up slightly to show Natasha. “You keep on snoozing. We’re gonna go have some fun”, he chuckled, a smile spreading on the redhead’s face.

“Okay, give mommy a kiss”, she mumbled, feeling Clint’s stubble brush her forehead. “No, not you!” She groaned, pushing a chuckling Clint away. “Come here, baby”, she hummed, pulling you into her embrace as you giggled loudly, kissing mama. “Go have fun, kroshka (little one), and you”, she said, pointing at Clint. “You bring her back in one piece”, she commanded.

“Will do!” He hollered from the door, watching as you skidded to him, your tiny boots thumping rapidly. “Let’s go, you little hurricane”, he said as he closed the door behind you, both of you getting out of the compound right after grabbing your bike.

“We’ll do a bit of warming up first, okay?” He suggested, his hand supporting your back as you climbed on the bike. “Try to keep yourself compact. You know what that means?”

“No.”

“Don’t lean to the sides and keep yourself centered”, he explained, letting go of you to allow you to bike around a bit.

“Am I doing it right?” You shouted from a couple feet ahead, turning your head around to look at him.

“Keep your eyes on the road, hon”, he hollered back, watching how you cringed and turned back around. Mommy was always reminding you about that. You paddled forward, doing a very wide and shaky u-turn to go back to Clint.

“Can we try with no wheels?” You asked as you almost steered into his leg.

“Sure, honey, get off the bike for me”, he instructed, helping you off so you wouldn’t shove the bike down. You watched him take off the training wheels, constantly hovering at his shoulder to see what he was doing. Finally, he pocketed his screwdriver and the wheels came loose off your shiny, bright red bike. You clapped your hands, squealing in excitement, hands already reaching for the handle bar. Clint steadied you by your shoulders a bit as you got on.

“There you go!” He praised with a wide smile on his face, looking down to the pedals that you settled your feet on, those fancy Chanel boots that you had insisted on wearing shining softly. They were a gift from Pepper and probably cost more than you did. “You ready?” Clint asked. You nodded your head enthusiastically. “Start slowly.”

You did as told, paddling how you normally would have because Clint was there to support you and it felt very similar to the training wheels. Then he lifted his hands off you but let them hover so that he could grab you if you started to sway.

“I’m doing it!” You shouted, giggling slightly as you stared ahead at the road, feeling amazing even if Clint did occasionally nudge you to be more centered so you wouldn’t fall.

“You’re doing so well, look at you!” He cheered, picking up a light jog to keep up with you, his hand moving to the center of your back.

“I can bike!” You exclaimed, laughing again as you continued to go forward. After a couple more feet you started to slow down.

“Come on, hon, slow down a bit more. You have to learn to use the brakes as well”, he suggested, drawing your attention to the hand brake on the left. You reached your fingers for it, your balance swaying quite drastically but Clint kept you upright. You squeezed the brakes and the bike came to a stop. “Now, how do you get off without falling?” You seemed to ponder his question for a second before hopping forward, your feet on either side of the bike. “Good, now lift your right leg up and over the bike and step to the side”, he instructed, helping you do so. “Excellent! You’re a natural!” He praised, squeezing your upper arm as you cheered. “Wanna try again?”

You got back on the bike, paddling away with Clint’s assistance, of course, more than excited about the new skill you had learned. You did a couple of laps around the park, until you were getting good enough that Clint only had to hold the back of your seat to assist you. He used the oldest trick in the book, letting go when you weren’t paying attention. You rode the bike all by yourself and when you finally noticed that he wasn’t there beside you anymore, you craned your neck to see where he had disappeared. You steered to the left, the bike no longer in your control as you swerved into oncoming traffic. Your weak scream couldn’t be heard over the loud honk of the car horn. There was a loud crash and nothing to be done to your bloody and broken body or the mangled bike that got caught under the car.

Natasha shot up from the couch, her body shivering from shock as she blinked the tears out of her eyes, getting accustomed to the lighting of the living room. Her chest heaved with each intake of breath as she fumbled for her cell phone. She immediately dialed Clint’s number and brought the device to her ear as she chewed on her lower lip anxiously.

Hi”, Clint’s voice came on the line.

“Is she okay? She’s okay, right?” Natasha asked immediately. He could clearly hear the panic in her voice, recognizing the tone of a frightened mother.

Completely fine. Wanna say hi to mommy?” He suggested you and after some ruckus your voice found Natasha’s ears. “Mommy, I ride a bike!” You shouted, all too loudly, but Natasha did not care. The weight lifted off her shoulders and she sighed deeply.

“You did? All by yourself?” She marveled, wiping her tears away.

I did! I did!” You yelled, clearly more than excited.

We did a couple of laps around the park, nothing too extreme and I never let go of her but don’t tell her that”, Clint added once you were off the phone. “I know how to keep her safe, Natasha”, he reminded her sincerely.

“I know you do. I just… had an awful dream”, she sighed, rubbing her eyes. She could feel a headache coming and she was completely behind on everything she was supposed to have done that day. “Tell her that mommy loves her. And to stay away from cars”, she added before bidding goodbyes and getting off the couch. She would need to do something to distract herself from the tight knot that had formed in her stomach during the dream. You would be back home in her arms in no time.

•••

“Mommy! Mommy!” You screamed, your muddy boots creating footprints on the recently cleaned floors, Natasha sighing in exhaustion before receiving you with enthusiasm.

“Hi, baby!” She squealed, lifting you into her arms for an embrace, Clint smiling softly. “How was the park?”

“Bike, bike, bike!” You shouted, bouncing in her arms, Natasha pressing a kiss to your cheek. “I ride a bike!”

“So I’ve heard”, she marveled, looking at your eyes that twinkled with excitement. “We have to go again tomorrow so you can show mommy too”, she said, holding you close, glancing at Clint who was grinning softly.

“Yes! We go again”, you stated, nodding your head, your pearly white teeth peaking through your smile, Natasha kissed your forehead.

“Yes, we will”, she affirmed, her fingers tickling you, making you giggle loudly. “Now let’s get this jacket off you and go for dinner”, she said, setting you to the floor, peeling off your jacket as you tried to kick off your boots, flailing around, nearly tripping over your own feet until Natasha finally helped you unzip the shoes and pull them off.

“What do you want for dinner, myshka (little mouse)? You staying for dinner, Clint?”, she asked, glancing up at him before standing up.

“No, thank you. I have to go-“

“‘paghetti-Ohs!” You informed her, running into the living room.

“Oh, no, milaya (honey). We’re not eating that crap”, she countered.

“Crap!” You shouted back.

“Exactly that”, Natasha hummed, Clint giving her an amused look.

“Not gonna tell her off?” He asked in mild surprise.

“Nah, why bother? She’s home anyway”, she shrugged. “She knows not to say those words when out.”

“Laura would’ve killed me for doing that”, he chuckled.

“She might’ve… just a little bit”, the redhead agreed, pinching her fingers together in emphasis.

You said goodbye to Clint, Natasha navigating her way into the kitchen to go prepare dinner. You still wanted your Spaghetti-Os that you had seen on TV once but you had never eaten them in your life, simply because Natasha wasn’t the biggest fan of American canned food. So instead, she made Spaghetti and meatballs, serving the dish without the tomato sauce because you had still not gotten quite used to it.

“Here’s your fork”, she hummed, handing you the plastic toddler fork. You grasped it in your hand, scrunching your nose at the pasta in front of you.

“Don’t give me any of that”, Natasha warned as she moved the small bowl closer to you. She went back to the stove to get herself some as well. You poked at the meatballs for a good while before spearing one of them into your fork. You brought it to your mouth, nibbling on it with your front teeth, your attention turning to Natasha as she set her plate of food on the table.

“Mama, I want…” you explained, pointing at her serving of food.

“Honey, we’re having the same thing”, Natasha replied.

“Tomato”, you mumbled, reaching for the food.

“My sweet child”, the redhead sighed. “You don’t like the sauce”, she explained, twirling her fork in the spaghetti before bringing it to her lips.

“I want tomato!” You whined in determination.

“Okay, mommy will give you sauce”, she hummed, standing up to get you a spoonful of the tomato sauce. “Open up, myshenka (little mouse).” You did as told, Natasha watching your face form a harsh grimace at the taste. She felt like saying something along the lines of “I told you so” but refrained. She offered some spaghetti first after already expecting you to refuse but you didn’t. “I guess pasta wins over tomato sauce”, she hummed to herself.

“I want mama food”, you whined again after you had recovered from the sauce.

“Baby, I’m eating the same food as you”, Natasha explained but you wouldn’t give in.

“No!”

“Just when I think I have you figured out…” she groaned, twisting some spaghetti around her fork and bringing it to your lips. You opened up, fitting the small bite in your mouth. Then you just ate it. Natasha blinked in confusion, unable to understand anything as you opened your mouth for more. “You confuse me more and more everyday”, she whispered, giving you another bite of her food.

Notes:

Hope y’all don’t find this boring, I’ll bring in more action once reader is older ;)

Chapter 11: A piece of my childhood

Notes:

A little surprise for you guys ;)

Chapter Text

“Mama! Mommy!” You screeched, banging at the bathroom door.

“Honey, sweetie, I’m on the toilet right now”, Natasha replied, covering her eyes with her hand as she shook her head in disbelief.

“Mama, look! Mommy”, you cried, starting to sound like you were preparing for your famous crying concerto so Natasha turned the doorknob that was thankfully in her reach and opened the door for you. You let out an excited laugh, skidding to her, holding a crumpled piece of paper in your hand.

“Show me what you got there”, Natasha said encouragingly, grasping the corner of the paper.

“Look! It’s me”, you explained, pointing at an odd blob with facial features resembling mildly of a smiley face. “And that’s you!” Your finger moved to the left a bit to show scribbles of red accompanied by a pair of twig legs.

“Wow!” Natasha croaked, trying not to sound like she was indeed tearing up. “Oh, it’s gorgeous!” She praised in genuine amazement over your skills. You had never really drawn anything, just scribbled, but now you were drawing figures with intent, clearly observing the world around you just like a healthy toddler should. “How did you get mama’s hair so perfect?” She asked in bewilderment, studying the mess of scribbles as you just giggled, clearly pleased by her comments, muttering a faint “I don’t know” as your face flushed with pride.

“This is so beautiful, my angel. Why don’t you go wait outside and then we’ll hang it up on the fridge?” The redhead suggested, tucking some of your hair behind your ear. You grinned, rushing out of the bathroom, leaving the door wide open. Natasha looked at you go, the tears spilling over against her will. She sniffled, wiping them off her cheeks immediately.

“Great, now I’m crying on the toilet”, she mumbled, grabbing the toilet paper.

After she had gathered herself and deemed herself ready enough to see your adorable face again she got out of the bathroom to find you in the kitchen where you were already waiting for your picture to be hung up.

“Mommy! Mommy! I want it high”, you exclaimed, jumping on your feet when she finally emerged from the living room. “Up! Up”

“Wanna do it yourself?” She suggested with a wide smile, her arms already open for you so she could lift you to her hip. You ran to her, hopping a little for her to catch you. “Which magnets do you want to use?”

“Bear and… heart”, you decided, your free hand reaching for the red heart.

“Here, let mama hold it in place”, she hummed, pressing the paper to the cool steel of the fridge as you moved the magnet into the corner of the drawing. You repeated the same with the teddy bear magnet before Natasha stepped back to admire the work, both of you sporting wide smiles. “It’s gorgeous, sweetheart”, she said into your hair before kissing your head.

“Okay… down”, you informed her, wiggling your legs a bit to make her put you down. She frowned at your sudden request but followed orders regardless. You took one more glance at the drawing, giggling almost mischievously before sprinting into the living room couches. By the time Natasha had reached you, you were knelt before the coffee table, scribbling something with a crayon. A fond smile crossed her face as she rounded the couch and crouched down to sit beside you.

You didn’t say anything, just gave her a brief glance, focusing back on your work. Natasha’s eyes raked over the table that was littered with pencils and markers of all sorts, her hand reaching for a soft pink. She pulled a blank piece of paper before her and started to draw, not having the slightest idea of what it was going to be. After noting what your mama was doing you took a quite long peek at her work. You were curious. You’d never seen her draw before. She merely colored the pages of your coloring book sometimes. You accepted her presence, focusing on your own drawing once again, occasionally peeking at hers.

Natasha wished she could dive inside your mind and see every single thought you had. She was so curious of the way your brain functioned and of the thoughts that bounced inside your head. She could see from your eyes that you were very focused and not quite present. The redhead tucked some of your baby hairs behind your ear, caressing your head gently, your gaze turning to her. After a moment of consideration, you slid the paper and crayon in front of Natasha before schooching your little butt onto her lap, going back to work. Natasha wrapped her right arm around your waist, pulling you closer just a smidge as her left arm continued to color her drawing.

“What are you drawing?” You asked, glancing up at Natasha with your huge eyes. She smiled down at you, kissing your forehead, her gaze moving to the image she had drawn.

“It’s a little piggy”, she hummed, her thumb rubbing your soft belly.

“No!” You giggled, studying the image. “It’s a big one! Big piggy!” You laughed in excitement.

“You like it?” She asked, co*cking her head to see your face.

“Yes! We put it on the fridge”, you said immediately.

“What did you draw, honeycomb?”

“This- this is… Wanwan”, you explained, pointing at the red swirls on the paper, coupled with a few black dots here and there. The image resembled a bit more of a firework than anything human.

“Wanda? Oh, it looks just like her! We’ll have to show it to her, won’t we?” She asked you brightly, watching you nod in determination. Natasha smiled softly as she brushed some of your hair back. “Sweetie?” She began, gaining your attention almost immediately. “You know how mommy has a sister?” You nodded again, going back to the crayons. “How would you feel about meeting Auntie Yelena?” She asked, co*cking her head a bit to see what your face was saying. She hadn’t told you much about Yelena, mostly things from the time spent in Ohio, the rest of her time with her sister consisting of many unpleasant memories. Although Yelena had been there when Natasha had found you, she never got to properly meet you.

“Auntie Yelna”, you stated rather solemnly, most likely trying to remember who she was and if you knew her.

“Yes, Yelena. She’s visiting New York and I asked her to come over and stay the night. Would you like to meet her?” She asked again. “She likes ponies too”, Natasha added, tickling your side a bit as a wide grin spread on your face.

“Does she like blue ponies?” You inquired as if deciding whether she was worth meeting or not.

“I’m sure she likes all kinds of ponies”, Natasha hummed, allowing her hand to caress your bicep comfortingly. It was settled and when Yelena came to visit that evening, you were clutching to Natasha’s hand, observing the blonde woman who strode in as if she owned the place.

“Natasha”, she hummed, her heavy accent shining through from the single word. Mama let go of your hand, wrapping her arms around Yelena and embracing her tightly, both of them chuckling softly. The hug was brief and suddenly all the attention was on you. “Who’s this kroshenka (little one)?” Yelena asked. You noted her voice was lower than your mother’s, she felt much less put together than mama. She felt wild and reckless. You lifted your hand up to your mouth to bite your index finger, feeling quite nervous as Yelena crouched down to your level. Natasha placed her hand on your back encouragingly, her thumb stroking over your shirt.

“Honey, why don’t you say hi to auntie Yelena”, Natasha prompted, watching how you waved your hand at her sister, uttering a brief greeting.

“Hi, Y/N. I’m Yelena. I hear you like ponies, yeah?” She said, doing her best to seem welcoming enough for you. You simply nodded your head. “Your mama told me you want your own pony.”

“Uh-huh”, you nodded, clearly shying away from her, but you were still intrigued.

“What kind of pony?”

“Blue”, you replied immediately, your smile widening.

“Wow, that is so cool!” Yelena praised, glancing up at Natasha who was unable to hide her smile. “Is your pony fast?” She inquired, noting how you were starting to warm up.

“Yes!” You exclaimed. You were very passionate about the subject, especially when it came to the speed of your pony. “Faster than race cars”, you said confidently.

“No way! Faster than a Ferrari?” Yelena marveled animatedly.

“Yes!” You giggled as if it was the most obvious question ever. You and Tony had had endless debates about the subject, your blue pony always somehow faster than any of Tony’s cars from his collection.

“What’s its name?”

“I don’t know”, you replied, scrunching your nose.

“She hasn’t decided yet. Currently we are between Princess Sparkle Pony and Pony Pony Twinkletony”, Natasha explained, her tone rather serious considering the twitch in the corners of her lips when she revealed the names that made her laugh internally every time.

“That is a tough choice!” Yelena sighed animatedly. “Why don’t we go into the living room to figure it out?” She suggested, watching how your eyes visibly brightened at the idea. You turned around sprinting into the living room where the crayons were still splayed on the table.

“You’re so good with her”, Natasha said quietly in disbelief, her face clearly displaying her surprise.

“Kids love me”, Yelena shrugged smugly, Natasha nudging her playfully as they made their way into the living room where you were already drawing.

“This is… pony”, you stated, coloring the paper blue, still hesitant about what to call your precious pony. You drew an oval for the head, a big plump body and four stumpy legs, everything colored blue, of course.

“Is it a boy or a girl?” Yelena asked, clearly intrigued.

“It’s just pony”, you replied firmly.

“So is pony a princess?” Yelena prompted. You nodded your head. “Then I think Princess Sparkle Pony would suit perfectly.” But little did Yelena know that Natasha had already gone over this with you.

“No!” You whined. “It doesn’t fit”, you complained. “Because, because there’s no sparkle”, you grumbled.

“Pony doesn’t sparkle, it twinkles”, Natasha elaborated, Yelena nodding in understanding.

“Then Pony Pony Twinkletony suits better.”

“No”, you protested again.

“The pony is a princess after all”, Natasha reminded Yelena who hummed in thought.

“What if it was called Princess Pony Pony Twinkletony?” She asked, watching how your eyes widened. You hadn’t thought of that. Your gaze turned to mama in awe, clearly over the moon with this sudden turn of events. You grabbed the piece of paper where the pony was drawn and placed it on mama’s lap alongside the blue crayon.

“Write it!” You commanded in excitement, Natasha raising her brows expectantly. “Please”, you added hastily.

“What’s the first letter of princess?” She asked, scooching off the couch and onto the floor so she could use the coffee table as a stable surface and be on your level as well.

“P!” You shouted impatiently, Yelena following you curiously.

“Next?” Natasha prompted, wanting you to use your new spelling skills.

“I!”

“Not quite, honey. You skipped a letter”, she said softly, writing the I on the paper but leaving a blank space for the overlooked letter. “What’s the letter for rrr”, Natasha rolled her R in demonstration.

“R!”

“Good girl”, she cheered, writing down the letter. You were too impatient to spell more than “princess” but Natasha deemed it good enough and wrote the rest of the name down on the paper.

“Princess Pony Pony Twinkletony!” You shouted, showing the picture to both Natasha and Yelena, unable to contain your excitement as you ran around the apartment.

“She is absolutely adorable”, Yelena stated solemnly as they both watched you go.

“Everyday I die just a little bit inside because of that”, Natasha hummed, a smile tugging at her lips. At the moment, there was nothing she wanted more than to drown you in kisses.

“I can see why”, she chuckled, glancing toward the kitchen.

“Yes, I bought you box mac and cheese”, Natasha replied before Yelena had had the chance to utter a single word.

“Coolest sister ever!” She cheered, briefly kissing Natasha’s forehead before bouncing off the couch and into the kitchen, Natasha following in her footsteps.

“Mama what is Yelna eating?” You inquired when you were all seated at the dinner table. You and Natasha were having leftovers from the day before because Natasha couldn’t stand box mac and cheese and she knew you didn’t like pasta for the most part so she played it safe with potato wedges and nuggets.

“Mac and cheese”, Yelena replied instead. “Want to taste?” You looked at Natasha for permission.

“You can have some, but not from her plate”, Natasha said, getting up and going to the stove with your plate in her hand.

“Why?” You asked in confusion.

“Because Yelena likes hot sauce. It’ll burn your mouth”, she explained, returning your plate in front of you with some of the yellow goo on it. You poked at it with your fork, a hesitant look on your face.

“Try it. You are going to love it”, Yelena assured you, encouraging you to scoop just a crumb onto the tip of your fork. Natasha seemed to have a different opinion. You brought the fork to your mouth, slurping the pasta off it. It was slimy and warm and you were quite convinced that you didn’t like it, but you ate it anyway because Yelena was eating it as well.

“It’s okay if you don’t like it. Mama doesn’t like it either”, Natasha explained, patting your back gently as you picked up a potato wedge and dipped it in ketchup before chomping a bite. You would surprise Natasha a week later by requesting mac and cheese for dinner because you wanted to be like Aunt Yelena.

Dinner time went by fairly quickly for you and once you were excused you took your dishes into the sink and skidded off, leaving Natasha and Yelena to discuss alone at the table. You weren’t really interested in their adult talk and difficult words that you didn’t understand so you kept to yourself, wandering around the house playing with whatever you came across. It didn’t take long for you to become bored. You lay on your back on the floor of your bedroom, your feet facing the ceiling. You didn’t know what you were doing but swinging your legs in the air ended up being surprisingly fun.

You heard loud laughter come from outside the room, grabbing your attention immediately. It had been a while since Natasha had had company just for herself. You always shared your company, whether it was Wanda or Clint, or someone else from the compound. You, however, did not like to share your mama. You got up from the floor, sneaking back into the living room to find out what was so funny. The women had moved to the couch, facing each other, both curled up on the cushions. They were talking quite loudly.

“Y/N? Did you know your mama is a goody-two-shoes?”, Yelena asked you, including you in the conversation despite your attempts at staying hidden. You should’ve known you could never hide from professional spies. Natasha protested immediately at Yelena’s words.

“Am not!” She butted in, clearly alarmed. “Don’t tell such lies to my daughter.”

“Oh, please”, Yelena groaned theatrically, making you giggle as you walked closer to them. “You so are”, she teased, smiling even wider when she saw Natasha take the bait “Remember that time I broke the neighbor’s bike and you tattled on me?” She inquired, watching how Natasha tried to splutter out a defense of some sorts.

“That is because…” She couldn’t come up with anything.

“Because you’re a loser”, Yelena finished for her. You giggled loudly, finding it incredibly funny that this aunt you had just met was teasing mommy. You climbed onto the couch, automatically aiming for Natasha’s lap where you knew you would be comfortable.

“You’re ruining my image as a cool mom”, Natasha mumbled, feigning her attitude. Secretly she loved to bicker with Yelena and she loved it even more now that she knew you found it funny.

“Let’s see… what else can I tell your little girl?” Yelena hummed, tapping her chin in thought.

“Did- did mama pee her pants?” You asked, clearly holding back your laughter as Natasha rolled her eyes discreetly. You were at that specific age where toilet terms somehow were the funniest thing ever.

“She did”, Yelena replied, Natasha’s jaw falling open in shock.

“No, that is not true”, she protested immediately, but you were already dying of laughter on her lap, your joyous cackles sounding in the room. “Yelka peed her pants too!” Natasha countered, her behavior a lot more childish than normal.

“I did no such thing”, Yelena retorted, her voice squeaking softly. “I have full control over my bladder.”

“That is a lie”, Natasha laughed. “Remember when dad was telling jokes at the dinner table and you laughed so hard you peed all over the chair?” She had finally gotten back at Yelena, and you were having the time of your life. Yelena, however, looked appalled.

“I was six!” She pointed out in her defense. There was another loud giggle.

“Six is too old to pee your pants, isn’t that right baby?” Natasha asked you as you nodded. “Six-year-olds are big kids already”, she added as you nodded your head, a wild grin on your face. In reality, Natasha didn’t think so but it was something she knew you would find truthful. You yourself were well potty-trained and no longer wet your bed, well, there had been a couple of accidents but Natasha wouldn’t tell that to Yelena. She held you loosely against her chest, kissing the crown of your head briefly.

“Whatever”, Yelena mumbled. “At least I didn’t sleep between mom and dad at eleven”, she murmured, Natasha flicking her forehead. “Ow! You’re giving her bad examples”, Yelena whined, rubbing over the stinging spot on her head.

“I was having nightmares”, Natasha countered, seeming slightly offended.

“What kind of bad dreams?” You inquired innocently, the women sharing a glance.

“I’ll tell you when you’re older, dorogaya (darling)”, she promised, her thumb stroking your cheek. You seemed a bit bummed out by her reply but accepted it anyway, yawning heavily. “I think it’s sleepy time for someone”, Natasha hummed, smiling down at your droopy eyelids. “You’re a big girl, go get yourself ready for bed, sweetie”, Natasha said, lifting you off her lap. “I’ll come tuck you in when you’re done, okay?” You let out a whine of protest, trying to clamber back onto her lap.

“Want me to time you?” Yelena asked in a challenge. You co*cked your head at her in confusion. “I’ll put on a timer that counts how long it takes you to get ready for bed”, she explained. You were definitely intrigued by the idea. You liked anything and everything that had to do with speed.

“Okay”, you nodded, getting off Natasha.

“One, two, three, go!” Yelena counted down the start for you, your small footsteps echoing through the apartment as you rushed into your bedroom.

“Remember to come visit the dentist!” Natasha hollered after you.

“What does that mean?” Yelena asked in confusion.

“I just check that she’s brushed her teeth correctly. I’d rather not have her get cavities”, she explained.

“I want to see this dentistry action”, Yelena mused, both of them waiting for you to return with a toothbrush clutched in your hand. It took you a whole five minutes to get changed into your pajamas because first you tried to put your head through the sleeve, but then it didn’t fit so you had to pull the garment off to find the hole for your head. But eventually you emerged from your bedroom, mouth full of white foam and your red toothbrush in your hand. You sat sideways on Natasha’s lap as she placed a hand on your back, her mouth making a whirring sound as she pretended to lower the back of your “seat” down.

“Open up for me, miss”, Natasha hummed, smiling widely when you opened your mouth as wide as it would go. She poked the brush inside, making sure to scrub each of your molars clean. “Front teeth”, she ordered and you bit down, baring your front teeth for her to clean. “Tongue.” You pushed out your tongue as far out as it would go, Natasha gently brushing over it, skillfully avoiding making you gag. “Great job, little miss! Looks like you’re done”, Natasha cheered, repeating the chair sound as she lifted you back upright. “Go flush your mouth and I’ll come say goodnight”, she ushered you, Yelena’s lips forming into a pout as the scene unfolded before her.

Yelena felt warm yet melancholy inside. She could so vividly see what Natasha and she herself had endured in their childhood reflected in the way Natasha treated you. She rarely saw parents treat their children with such adoration, such carefulness and compassion. It pained her to know that Natasha never got to have that, both of them only had gotten a glimpse of this life you were living. Yelena’s eyes felt sore, her vision blurring briefly. She recognized the strong presence of her own parental issues, the sudden yearning for someone older, someone stronger to take care of her returning at full force. Oh, how she wished her childhood had been different.

“You okay?” Natasha asked carefully, breaking Yelena out of her reverie.

“Yeah. Just… she’s one lucky child”, she mused out loud, still looking toward your bedroom door, some incoherent noise coming from your direction. Yelena sniffled softly, wiping under her nose with the sleeve of her shirt. Natasha knew what she was feeling, she had battled those emotions for months until finally having come to terms with the misfortunes of her upbringing. She slid her hand into Yelena’s, squeezing firmly.

“I’ve got you”, Natasha whispered, Yelena’s warm green eyes rising up to meet Natasha’s paler ones. She blinked away the sheen of her eyes, trying to offer a smile, but her lips barely moved. She nodded instead.

“Mama!” You shouted loudly from your bedroom, demanding for Yelena to come as well. “Yelna!”

Upon arrival in your room they found you from under the covers, your stuffed toy tightly in your embrace, an excited smile on your face.

“What’s the time?” You asked, practically vibrating on the bed. Yelena paused the stopwatch, showing the screen of her phone to you.

“Eleven minutes and forty-two seconds”, she revealed, returning your smile. “You did an amazing job”, she added.

“Yes, you did”, Natasha echoed, crouching down beside your bed. “I’m so proud of you.” She leaned over you, kissing your forehead, your nose and your lips, your eyes fluttering open once she pulled away.

“I love you, mama”, you whispered.

“I love you more, myshka (little mouse)”, Natasha replied, fingertips caressing your smooth face. “I love you so much.” She pressed one more kiss on your forehead before getting up. “Good night, baby.”

“Good night, mama. Good night, Yelna”, you mumbled quietly, waving your hand at them as they moved to the door, Natasha switching on a night light before turning off the big light.

“Sleep tight, angel”, Natasha whispered into the dim room, shutting the door behind. “She’ll crawl into bed with us somewhere after midnight”, Natasha warned her sister, Yelena just smiling softly. “She still gets scared most nights.”

And sure enough, when it finally struck half past one you scooched out of your bed and tiptoed across the hall into Natasha’s room, finding a perfectly suitable space from between mama and Yelena.

Chapter 12: And chaos ensued

Notes:

Here’s the long awaited action/angst :)

Chapter Text

“Y/N! You in here, poopster? Uncle Tony’s got a little gift for you”, Tony informed, looking for you in the living room.

“Right here!” You exclaimed running to greet him. You rarely hugged him. It just didn’t come naturally to either of you. Sometimes you were even a bit reserved around him because you never really built a bond with him like the ones you had with Wanda, Steve and Clint. Regardless of that you still trusted him and recognized him as a part of your family.

“I made you something”, he said mysteriously, pulling out a bracelet. Your eyes widened almost comically as you marveled at the rather plain piece of jewelry.

“Cool!”

“Put it on, pumpkin”, Tony prompted, helping you slide it around your wrist. It let out a sound, your mouth hardening into a line from mild fear. “It’s okay. That’s supposed to happen.” You eyed him for a second, his firm gaze assuring enough.

The small plaques of the bracelet started to multiply and spread up your arm, the quiet whirring growing a bit louder. Your wrist was suddenly wrapped in iron, the repulsor in the palm of your hand activating, glowing a faint blue. You gasped, looking at Tony who was smiling in excitement as the suit engulfed you whole. You chuckled at the way it tickled you and then finally a face plate slid down in front of you, a screen displaying all kinds of statistics that you barely knew how to read. If you had tried it would’ve taken you the entire afternoon.

“Try to walk in it”, Tony said, clearly giddy about his new invention, or rather newly adjusted gadget. You took a step forward, expecting the armor to be heavy but it wasn’t. It felt pretty good. All you could do was laugh and giggle because words weren’t enough to express your excitement.

“Can I try these?” You asked, gesturing the repulsors and copying the pose you had seen Ironman make a thousand times.

“Go ahead, buttercup. Aim at the wall, never people”, he guided you with little to no regard for the interior of the compound, nudging you to turn toward the huge wall of the living room. It took you a second to figure out how to make the repulsors work but when you finally did, it blasted energy so harshly from your hand that you flew back onto the floor, not only surprised by the power behind it but also by the fact that your fall hadn’t hurt at all. There was a loud sound, the wall in front of you tearing. The damage wasn’t irreparable, but the basketball sized hole in it was definitely not going to go unnoticed. You let out a mildly shocked cackle as you sat up onto your elbow, the repulsor of your dominant hand ready to shoot again.

And soon enough you both heard the rushed footsteps that neared the living room, Tony squinting his eyes at you in mild irritation.

“You didn’t tell me she was here”, he groaned in annoyance.

“She’s always here”, you retorted with a scoff. “It’s not like you asked”, you mumbled, already sensing the chastise you were about to receive. Your mother’s figure arrived from the kitchen, her widened eyes taking in the sight of Tony and a burning hole in the wall, an Ironman suit conveniently the same size as you right there beside him.

“Tony, what is that?” Natasha asked as she slowly walked closer to inspect the damage done to the wall, her vigil eyes making sure you weren’t going anywhere from the scene.

“It’s an Ironbaby suit”, Tony shrugged.

“It’s a what?” Natasha shrieked, whipping around to look at Tony, her fingers wrapping tightly around his earlobe as she walked him to the side to get away from your little ears because there was going to be a mouthful of curse words in a tone that she didn’t want you to hear.

“I baby proofed it”, he whined in defense, bending his neck more to avoid the sting of Natasha’s grip on his ear.

“There’s a hole in the wall”, she said bluntly as you giggled at the bit of smoke that came from the burnt edges. “Y/N, get out of that suit.”

“Mommy!” You whined, the face shield sliding up as you gave her the most pleading frown you could muster.

“Out, Y/N. I won’t tell you thrice”, she grumbled, her attention tuning back in on Tony. “What in the ever living f*ck were you thinking?” She asked, gritting her teeth as he winced at her tightening grip.

“It’s just a little prototype. It’s basically protective gear”, he tried to reason but Natasha wasn’t having any of it.

“This better be the last time I see her anywhere near that suit. Does it have jets?” She asked, her infuriated eyes boring into his. He should probably lie.

“No”, he shook his head like a school boy caught in a lie.

“Bullsh*t”, she spat.

“It has jets?” You shrieked in excitement.

“No, baby, it doesn’t”, Natasha countered, holding Tony’s gaze, lowering her voice even more. “I’m sparing you only because she likes you, got it? Let this be the last f*cking time you put my baby in danger”, she hissed, letting go of him and walking to your side, ready to help you out of the suit that was already starting to disassemble on its own.

“And you, young lady, don’t think we’re done here”, she reminded you, crouching down beside you.

“Please, don’t ground me, please”, you whined in panic. Natasha had never grounded you in her life but it was a scary thought to a five-year-old and it was something she used to scare you with if you were misbehaving.

“Hmm? Grounding? That’s a great idea”, she mused playfully.

“No!” You shrieked desperately. “Mommy!” She could see the fear flash in your eyes and it only mildly amused her. She had no intention to ground you. This was Tony’s fault.

“I’m not going to ground you, but I want you to understand that this could’ve gone seriously wrong. You could’ve hurt Tony badly, and even worse, you could’ve gotten yourself killed.

“You’re being a bit dramatic”, Tony intervened, his tone indifferent.

“Tony, out!” Natasha hissed with such venom that the man skidded out quite quickly after giving you a sly wink. It never seized to amaze you how everyone just listened to your mother. “Do you understand mommy?” She questioned firmly, her voice drastically softer when aimed at you, Natasha focusing back on lecturing you as you nodded your head. “A life is something you can’t repair, sweetheart, and that’s why we have to be careful. We only get one life”, she explained to you as you nodded your head at her words, clearly thinking over your actions, but those thoughts didn’t stick around for much longer because it only took you two days to find more trouble.

Tony could see the mischievous side to you and he loved it because he could relate to it the most. It started small and innocent with the two of you switching up the cream between Oreos into toothpaste. No one could be mad about it because you were so overjoyed by everyone’s reactions that they had simply laughed along with you. Another hit had been blasting music whenever the fridge was opened. Tony had helped you to rig the speakers to the fridge. Then you had waited in the living room for each of the Avengers to go and open the door, only for it to blast AC/DC as loud as possible.

Natasha didn’t exactly love that Tony was teaching you such things but she appreciated his effort to spend time with you especially since he hadn’t really done so in the past. The traps and gags that you built with him taught you many things and kept you entertained. As long as no one got hurt it was okay. Some of the pranks were definitely followed by a reprimand, but it just made it all the more fun because it brought a bigger risk factor into the game.

“Y/N!” Tony called to gain your attention as you were doing some morning reading at the kitchen table, a bright smile on his face.

“Anybody seen my shield?” Steve asked as he strode into the kitchen where most of the team was having breakfast. Your head shot upright, your eyes widening in guilt. You glanced at Tony who winced at the question. You had more than seen the shield. You had definitely seen it. You had definitely ridden down the snowy slopes on it with Tony. Not only had you gone sledding with the prized shield, you had hidden it in Natasha’s closet where she kept all her undercover mission dresses that she hadn’t used in God knows how long, so that you could play with the shield when pretending to be a superhero in the comfort of your own bedroom.

“No”, you replied to Steve, going back to reading, your nose theatrically close to the book as Tony patted your back.

“I’ll take care of it”, he murmured in your ear, his goatee tickling you. His hand brushed over your hair as you lifted your eyes up to him, offering him a grateful smile.

“Thanks”, you grinned, Tony’s smile only widening, his dark brown eyes holding a softness to them.

“I got it”, Tony announced. “I needed it for my lab… stuff”, he explained, Steve nodding slightly hesitantly, not sure if Tony’s explanation was all too convincing. “Where did you hide it?” He asked, crouching back down to your level.

“Mommy’s closet”, you whispered, glancing her way to where she was cutting up fruit.

“What’s in mommy’s closet?” Natasha inquired, raising a brow at you.

“Princess dresses”, you said quickly, Tony smirking at you and showing you thumbs up. You giggled, thinking Natasha had no clue what was going on but the spy saw right through you. She knew something was up with you and Tony even if she didn’t know exactly what it was.

“Hey, Y/N, you coming to watch the group training?” Clint asked, grabbing a protein shake from the fridge.

“If mommy lets me”, you sighed. Natasha wasn’t sure if she should let you watch. She wanted to protect you from violence, not that you hadn’t seen them fight before, but she still tried her best to keep you safe and away from all the combat commotion.

“Oh, come on, let her come”, Steve reasoned, Wanda appearing into the kitchen as well.

“She knows we’re not actually fighting”, Wanda noted, lingering beside Natasha so she could steal some of the fruit the woman was preparing for you.

“Yeah, mama, you have to let me come with you!” You whined. “There’s no one to babysit me”, you pointed out.

“Excellent point!” Tony chimed in.

“Fine, kroshka (little one) you can come”, Natasha relented, setting the plate of fruit in front of you.

The matter was settled and you got permission to attend the training session. You were dying to see them in action, not because they were cool but because you and Tony had something planned. You and Wanda ate your fruit snack, Natasha unable to be anything but amused by the fact that Wanda -a grown woman- was snacking on your apple wedges and peanut butter.

The afternoon ended up being a spectacle you wouldn’t have missed for anything in the world. You had switched Clint’s regular arrows into slime ones, the entire training field covered in green goo. Nearly all of them had slipped in the slime and you ended up running into the field to play in it. Natasha had had to rein in her frustration and take a deep breath as she watched you ruin your clothes and hair in the sticky, green slime. You and Tony were the only ones that saw anything fun in it, the rest of the team finding it extremely tiresome. Although they couldn’t be mad at you because they knew it was Tony who was encouraging your child-like ideas. You weren’t the one who was bringing them to life. The blame was not on you. After the very short training session Natasha got the chance to lecture both you and Tony on people safety. His version of the speech was much less toned down and included almost getting kneed in the scrotum.

“Honey, you have to slow down, okay?” Natasha stated, scrubbing your arm in the bath, trying to rid you of your green skin, your hair soaking in a thick layer of conditioner to ease the inevitable combing of your hair that was ahead of you.

“Why?” You asked, clearly upset.

“Because you’re going to get hurt”, she reasoned. “Sooner or later something will go wrong if you keep messing around like this”, she said, moving back to grab a comb off the bathroom counter. She brought it to your hair, gently starting to brush out the clumps of slime.

“Why?” You asked again, Natasha sighing heavily. What could she even begin to say to that? She was so tired of your delinquency. She was exhausted from worrying over your safety every other day. She was tired of constantly having to reprimand you for the trouble you kept finding. Despite her initial joy, she had had enough of beating Tony up for encouraging and enabling your bad behavior. It was too much stress for her. She couldn’t lose you.

“Mommy is scared for you”, she began. “I’m scared that you’ll get seriously hurt. We talked about this, didn’t we?”

“Uh-huh”, you nodded, wincing as the comb got stuck on a clump of slime in your tangled up hair.

“I know you’re not scared”, she mumbled, slightly regretting raising you to be so fearless. “But mommy is. I’m so scared of you getting injured… or dying. Do you understand what it means to die?” She had explained death to you before. You knew what it was but she wasn’t convinced enough that you actually comprehended what it entailed.

“Yes”, you whispered.

“You know that if you were to die mommy would be so, so sad?” She questioned.

“Yes, but I’m not gonna die”, you protested immediately.

Malyshka (baby)”, Natasha sighed. “No one can guarantee that.”

“I can”, you retorted. Natasha had to fight the urge to show you just how frustrated she was with you but she opted not to do so.

“Imagine mommy died. I would be gone forever. You could never see me again, never talk to me, never kiss me or hug me. I would no longer exist. How would that make you feel?” She attempted to evoke any kind of emotion in you to help you understand what she was feeling. You sat quietly in the bath, staring at the bubbles floating on the surface of the water. You glanced up at her, guilty eyes averting her gaze. “What are you feeling right now?” There was a lengthy moment of silence as you thought over your answer.

“I feel sad”, you whispered. “And scared”, you added hesitantly.

“You wouldn’t wanna make mommy feel that way, would you?” She asked softly, hoping she was getting through to you.

“No”, you admitted, shaking your head as she grabbed the head of the shower and started to rinse your hair.

“That is why you can’t put yourself in danger”, she whispered, her left hand cupping your cheek to make you look her in the eyes. She gave you an empathetic frown, kissing your forehead. “I’m not trying to scare you, angel. I just need you to understand so that we can avoid accidents”, she explained as you nodded your head again in understanding.

Among all the trouble you found yourself in, perhaps the worst of the worst was when Tony taught you how to fly a helicopter. His intentions were innocent, he merely wanted to show you how the intricate machine worked and how it was capable of carrying someone in the air. You had asked yourself, demanding to know. He never took you for a flight because he knew Natasha wouldn’t like that and you would most likely not be able to keep that to yourself. You would eventually babble, weaving Tony into a trap. So he settled for showing how the buttons worked, how to turn on the rotor at the top, and how to ignite the engine because you were clearly interested and he saw no harm in teaching you. It had been very brief but the consequences that followed were something no one could’ve seen coming.

“There’s an unauthorized helicopter take off. Who’s down there?” Steve asked, scrolling through the pad that had alerted the security breach. Tony shrugged.

“Maybe it’s Barton”, he suggested, but Steve didn’t seem convinced.

“He was in the gym with me”, he pointed out, Tony reaching for the pad. “Friday, give me an aerial view”, he commanded, a screen popping up in front of them. He used his hands to zoom in on the helicopter that was gaining altitude in an odd angle.

“That’s not… is it?” Steve mused out loud, Tony’s horror-struck face answering his question as they both stared at the zoomed-in footage of the helicopter.

“sh*t!” He hissed, having pieced the puzzle together far faster than Steve ever could have. “Find the witch for me!” He growled, rushing out to the balcony, pulling on the strings of his hoodie, activating his Ironman suit. He leapt off the railing, the suit slowing down his fall enough to avoid the ground. He soared into the air toward the wobbly helicopter, his heart beating out of his chest. “Friday, connect me to AEC-756!”

“Will do, Sir”, the feminine mechanical voice replied, followed by some static before it fully connected to your aircraft.

“Y/N”, he started, reminding himself to keep his tone down to avoid alarming you.

“Tony?” You asked in panic at hearing his voice. You knew you were so far off from behaving appropriately that you couldn’t even imagine what would happen if your mother found out. You knew you had done wrong.

“Hey, it’s me pumpkin”, he greeted you, offering a wave a few feet away from you. Tony pondered what he should do. The steering of a helicopter was too complicated for a toddler with barely any fine motor skills to understand. You wouldn’t be able to land safely even if he instructed you step by step. Opening the door was unnecessarily risky and he would rather not start off with that.

“I’m in so much trouble”, you whispered, mostly to yourself. You knew you were a goner.

“Let’s not focus on that, sweetie. Right now we’re gonna get you down”, he assured you, watching how you turned around in your seat to face Ironman, hands coming off the control panel. The helicopter plummeted, Tony swiftly sliding under the machine, blasting his jets on the highest they could handle, his heart beating in his throat.

“Stark!” Wanda’s voice echoed from down below.

“Max! I could use a little help here!” He groaned, the crushing weight of the helicopter starting to push him down toward the ground, albeit at a much slower pace than gravity would have insisted.

“What do I do?” She asked, not really sure what the best approach was.

“Get her out!” He hissed, realizing it was probably your only option. Wanda immediately flew through the air, glowing a deep red. She had no shoes or socks on and was only wearing her pajamas, damp hair flowing down her back. She attempted to wrap her magic around the helicopter to keep it in the air but she found herself struggling too much to keep it steady. Mindful of the blades above, she found her way to the door, her magic invading the lock that prevented her from getting access to you. Your face was slack with fear as you stared at a horrified Wanda who was quite literally tearing the door down to get to you. She didn’t say a word, she simply yanked you out of the aircraft, enclosing you in her embrace, making sure you were safe in her arms.

“She’s out!” Wanda informed Tony who immediately let go of the helicopter that thudded into the wilted grass in seconds, the 70 foot (21 meter) drop over in the blink of an eye. Wanda sighed heavily, her hand caressing the back of your head softly.

She brought you to the same balcony Tony had jumped down from, shivering as her cold feet touched the stone tiles. Despite saving your life, Wanda threw you straight under the bus by bringing you to your mother’s petrified presence, Natasha only having arrived in time to witness the very end of your extraction. There was a loud explosion when the helicopter blew up into smithereens, her eyes widening at the smoke that billowed into the air. You were so screwed.

Chapter 13: For I warned you a thousand times

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Y/N Romanoff!” That tone of voice you had never heard come from your mother in your five years of living. She had never raised her voice at you like that. “Let this be the last time, you hear me? The last f*cking time you ever, ever, do something this idiotic!” She shouted angrily. You flinched hard at how loud she was being, tears already brimming in your eyes. It was supposed to be a bit of fun. You didn’t mean to upset her.

“Mama-“

“No, shut up“, she commanded through gritted teeth.”You don’t get to say a single word! You’re grounded. End of story”, she ordered, voice cold as ice. “Boga radi! (For f*ck’s sake!)”, she growled, bringing her hand to her forehead as if her head was aching. She was scaring you. She had never been one to yell at you, to punish you. You didn’t recognize her and all you could do was cry. Wanda, who had been the one to finally retrieve you from the crashing helicopter, was looking from afar, worry bubbling inside of her.

“I am so disappointed in you! I thought you knew better. What the hell were you thinking, huh?” She demanded, her tone not easing up in the slightest. You couldn’t reply, frozen with fear as tears cascaded down your face, sobs that you tried to silence falling from your lips. “You could have died! You could be f*cking dead right now!” Her face was slack, too void of emotion, eyes harsh and demanding.

“I’m s-sorry”, you lamented, stuttering your way though the words. “I’m sor-ry”, you tried again but she didn’t listen to you. She was unable to react to your sobbing in any way.

“What am I going to do with you?” Natasha bemoaned, truly feeling desperate. She co*cked her head, crouching down a bit to try to gain your attention. “You want me to lock you up in your room for good? Is that it? What do I have to do to make you stop?” She bellowed helplessly, her movements abrupt and threatening. You wailed loudly, too scared to move from your spot in front of your mother. She was going too far.

“Enough, Natasha, that’s enough”, Wanda said sternly, grasping her arm only for Natasha to swing her fist at her. Wanda didn’t always present herself as someone not to be messed with. She was on the softer side and she liked that, but if anyone was going to swing fists in her face she would put a stop to it immediately. Wanda’s eyes flashed crimson, her magic wrapping around Natasha’s wrists as she pinned her into the nearest wall.

“You have made your point”, Wanda hissed, Natasha’s head thudding into the unyielding wall, the woman practically feeling her brain jolt inside her skull at the impact. “She’s sorry”, Wanda growled angrily, her forearm pressing down on Natasha’s chest to keep her flat against the wall. “Now, you’re going to go take a hike and you leave the child alone”, she muttered definitively, emphasizing the fact that you were indeed just a small child and Natasha’s behavior was more than inappropriate. Wanda’s tone was noticeably lower, much more threatening than the tone you were used to hearing from her. She was always so gentle and happy.

You looked away from the two arguing women, focusing on your ragged breath that made your chest hurt, large hands wrapping around your torso, pulling you off the floor. It was Tony. You recognized his stubble against your cheek as he picked you up into his arms, tucking your face into his neck.

“Shh, there, there”, he whispered in your ear. “Keep breathing, peanut”, he instructed gently, walking away from the scene to provide you a more comfortable environment. “Take a deep breath with me, okay?” He said quietly, trying to sound bright despite the situation you were in. You inhaled as deeply as you could, clutching onto Tony for dear life. He took you to the large windows facing the forest to where the sun was starting to set, turning his back to it so you could look outside over his shoulder and possibly find something else to think about as he bounced you repetitively in an attempt to soothe you. After a good while of Tony bouncing you, you started to grow calmer, your sobs dying down, tears beginning to dry up.

“Mommy hates me”, you whispered, staring ahead at the treetops that were starting to look two dimensional in the stark contrast of the sky.

“No, mommy does not hate you”, Tony denied immediately, pulling away from your embrace to look at your tear-stained, puffy face.

“Yes, sh-she does”, you insisted, nodding your head as tears continued to trickle down your cheeks.

“No, absolutely not. Mommy loves you so much”, he assured you. “Mommy just got scared”, he explained. “Mommy loves you so, so much and she thought you were going to die”, he continued, caressing your jaw with his free hand. Truth be told, for a second, he too had thought you were going to die and he understood the pure terror that was behind Natasha’s behavior. “Your mommy is so scared right now that she’s not herself”, he reasoned, his voice gentle. “She would never hate you.”

“But- but”, you whined, Tony interrupting you.

“No buts, pumpkin. We are all going to calm down for a while and then mama is gonna apologize and you are gonna apologize and it’ll all be okay.” Or so he hoped at least. He had never seen Natasha so livid, never mind toward a child. That kind of anger was dangerous, something you should’ve never been exposed to at such a young age, especially not by your mother.

“Okay”, you hiccuped, giving in and choosing to believe Tony.

Natasha’s unbridled anger was at its peak, her mind a dangerous mess that blinded her from seeing anything clearly. The fear that loomed in the pit of her stomach was so strong, so stagnant that it made her numb. It made her nauseous. It made her livid. Her rational mind was telling her to stop, telling her to calm down, but she couldn’t get a hold of her emotions. All of it was out of her reach. She watched herself from the outside, yelling at her child until you were too petrified to even move, terrorizing everyone around her with her fury that she couldn’t reign in. She found herself from the gym, beating herself rather than the targets. The raw power she hit the dummies with was almost agonizing, but she needed to get it out of her system. She needed to feel something other than fear.

An hour later she had gotten over her initial dread but that had been replaced by overwhelming shame over her actions. She felt guilty, which enabled her with about a thousand new reasons to loathe herself. She despised what she had done and she couldn’t believe she had taken her anger out on you first, most likely having done irreparable damage to your developing mind. The events of the night were just confirmation of what she already knew. She wasn’t a mother. She was never meant to be one, but it was too late now. You were stuck with her, stuck with the horrible monster that she had always been. Who knew, maybe she would make you into one as well.

Natasha sat in the gym for what felt like an eternity, trembling from both the cold and the fear she couldn’t seem to let go of. She thought over the words she was going to tell you, practicing her apology over and over again in her head until the words got jumbled up in her head and lost all meaning. She was afraid of facing you because she didn’t know what she would do if she was no longer welcome in your life. What if you didn’t want to see her? What if you were scared of her? What would she do then?

“Natasha? Are you in here?” Wanda’s voice echoed in the dark gym. Natasha didn’t reply, hoping from the bottom of her heart that Wanda would go away. She had humiliated herself thoroughly enough. She didn’t want to show her face anywhere. It was quite obvious that everyone was going to take your side and she would just be the awful mother who overreacted and hurt her child. “I know you’re in here”, Wanda continued, walking farther into the gym to where all the sniffling was coming from. She found Natasha from the corner of the room, sitting against a benching chair, her knees drawn to her chest, arms loosely wrapped around them in a hug. Natasha refused to look up at Wanda, staring ahead as if she hadn’t seen her at all.

“She’s asking for you”, Wanda offered, Natasha’s defensive front breaking, brows furrowing as she felt the shame swallow her whole again.

“No”, she whimpered, shaking her head, ever-so determined to keep the tears at bay. “She- shouldn’t”, she hiccuped, letting out a shaky exhale, sniffling again.

“Natasha”, Wanda hummed, her voice filled with empathy as she crouched down in front of her, searching for her eyes that were still staring fervently ahead. “You can’t hide here forever. It’s better to go and apologize sooner than later”, she reasoned, placing her hand on top of Natasha’s in a comforting gesture. “You know she will forgive you”, she tried again after a moment of silence.

“Do I?” Natasha challenged, Wanda sighing at her stubbornness.

“Yes, you do. You’re her mother. She loves you more than anything in the world. She will understand. If not now then maybe later in life”, she assured her, Natasha’s eyes finally connecting with Wanda’s.

“I should stay away from her”, she mumbled angrily.

“No, definitely not that”, Wanda argued immediately. “Sitting here while she waits for you is the worst thing you can do right now”, she said. Natasha knew Wanda was right, but she couldn’t even fathom what she would say to you. She wanted more time so she could give you the perfect apology you deserved. “You are going to get up and you are going to go take care of your little girl”, she said firmly, Natasha giving her an unimpressed look.

“Right”, she muttered, rolling her eyes as she used her arm for support, pulling herself upright, but instead of the step she was going to take to her left she found herself in Wanda’s embrace. Her arms were warm and adamant around Natasha’s upper body, a stark contrast to her own cold and shaky body. Wanda rested her cheek against the side of Natasha’s head, holding the woman with all she had.

“It’s going to be okay”, Wanda whispered, her arms squeezing Natasha closer to her. The redhead didn’t want to be hugged, initially, that is. But she would’ve been lying had she told Wanda not to touch her, to stop hugging her.

“I’m sorry I tried to hit you”, Natasha mumbled, having yet another reason to be embarrassed.

“I know”, Wanda replied softly, already having forgiven her. Natasha bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from crying, allowing herself to stay in the hug until Wanda pulled away. “You got this”, she said, cupping Natasha’s cheeks for a brief moment to make her look her in the eyes. Natasha nodded, pursing her lips in an attempt to smile, but her grimace was far from it.

When Natasha entered the common living room of the compound everyone else filed automatically out, giving you your privacy. You seemed to be doing okay, your face much less horror-stricken than before. Your lips were still a bit puffy from crying but otherwise you seemed to have calmed down. You were so small, nothing but a baby and Natasha’s heart ached at the sight of you. How could she have lost her temper like that? She approached you with what she hoped was a gentle smile on her face, kneeling on the floor in front of you to be on the same level as you. You observed her carefully, noting that she didn’t seem to be angry anymore. Natasha reached her hand for you, prompting you to come close if you so desired.

“Mama’s not angry at you”, she uttered, her voice barely above a whisper. You stayed put. “I’m so sorry, darling. I didn’t mean to take it out on you”, she explained, squeezing her other hand into a fist against her thigh in an attempt to reign in her tears. She didn’t want to cry. You stayed quiet, features blank. “I’m sorry Y/N”, Natasha tried again, feeling nauseous because you were giving her no indication of what you were feeling or thinking. What if this was irreparable?

She felt herself grow impatient, the frustration and anger starting to flood back into her veins. She wasn’t in control of her emotions, her mask slipping, eyes filling with tears. No, no. She didn’t want to guilt you into forgiveness. It was not fair that way. She knew you hated seeing her sad. Your big heart would never allow you to just watch while your mother cried. She saw the gentle tremor of your lower lip as your brows furrowed in worry, Natasha immediately wiping the tears off her face to avoid benefitting from your incredible empathizing skills.

“Mama’s not angry”, she whispered, her voice wavering slightly.

“You’re not?” You inquired softly.

“No, baby, I promise”, she hummed. You stood up from your spot on the carpet, scuttling into her arms like a frightened cub, emitting a high-pitched wail as you did. Natasha opened her arms to welcome you, relief flooding through her entire being as she tightened her hold on you, completely unable to speak or move, a fresh wave of tears cascading down her cheeks. She was so terrified of losing you, losing any part of you. She had worked so hard to build the relationship you had, sacrificed her own sanity at times to maintain your trust and love toward her. You were the one thing that she couldn’t lose and today she had come dangerously close to it both emotionally and physically.

You cried loudly, your small body jolting in her arms as you let out all the fear and shame of the day. You were completely safe there, safer than you had been in Tony’s arms. Here you were allowed to fall apart and there would never be any negative consequences. You sobbed wholeheartedly, Natasha doing her best to console you with her soothing hands and comforting words.

“I’m sorry!” You cried, your hands clutching her shirt for dear life.

“Shh, baby, shh, it’s okay. I forgive you”, she said softly, pulling away from you to look at your face. You whined out a protest, forcibly keeping yourself close to her, clinging to her as hard as you could. “Okay, okay”, she hummed into your ear. “Mommy will hold you.” She pressed her lips to your cheek, kissing your skin, breathing you in. Her lower lip trembled as her face formed into a pained grimace, forcing herself to silence her sobs. “Ya ljublju tebya, ladno? Mama tak ljubit tebya (I love you, okay? Mommy loves you so much)”, she whispered, her voice barely above a whisper. Your sobs were starting to die down as you hiccuped quietly against her, snot smearing all over her shirt. Natasha felt a tiny nod against her shoulder.

Tebya ljublju (I love you)”, you whispered, your body aching from how hard you were holding onto her. You had been so scared, practically terrified of mommy hating you, but she didn’t. She didn’t hate you. She loved you. Natasha waited for the both of you to calm down, rocking you in her arms to soothe you, her mind going over her apology time and time again, trying to choose the best words so you could understand her pain.

“I want you to look at me, malyshka (baby)”, Natasha whispered, pulling back a bit to gain your attention. You had a huge pout on your face and she could see the exhaustion of the day shine through. “I’m sorry”, she uttered, her voice breaking. “I’m sorry”, she repeated helplessly, hoping her apology would be enough. There was nothing else she could say. There was no way for her to justify her behavior. She waited for your reaction, the silence stretching on and on. Natasha’s eyes welled with tears as she held your gaze, watching you observe her as you brought your hands up to cup her cheeks, clumsily wiping her tears away. It broke her heart, yet your gesture comforted her immensely.

“Shh, mama, don’t cry”, you mumbled, wiping off her tears again, but it only made Natasha want to cry ten times harder. Your hands grew more aggressive with each new tear that trickled down her cheek, your frustration making Natasha let out a watery chuckle.

“Okay, honey. Mommy won’t cry anymore”, she whispered, forcing herself to keep the tears at bay. Her words made you smile and you fell against her chest in an embrace, Natasha’s arms tightening around you. You felt warm and safe there. Everything was going to be okay. You were sure of it. “Would you want to come sit with me on the couch?” She suggested, still feeling the need to explain her outburst to you a bit more in depth. She wanted you to understand because she couldn’t think of anything worse than your relationship faltering because she didn’t offer you an explanation.

“I wanna stay here”, you mumbled, squirming slightly to get more comfortable.

“Honey, I’m not going anywhere”, she hummed softly into your ear. “We would just move to the couch”, she clarified.

“Okay, go”, you whispered, chuckling as Natasha stood up from the floor a bit clumsily with you in her arms, carrying you to the couch. She lay down onto the cushions, keeping you secure on her chest as she faced. the ceiling, her hands rubbing your back gently.

“Do you know why mommy got so angry?” She inquired, her voice low and gentle, fingers carding through your hair.

“You’re scared”, you whispered, adjusting your head on her chest, the even thud of her heart hollow and soothing.

“That’s right, angel”, Natasha crooned, caressing your arms that were left bare by your t-shirt. “And sometimes when you’re really scared or really angry you can’t control it”, she explained to you, her eyes fixed on the ceiling above. “Have you ever felt that way?”

“I’m not sure”, you hummed, lifting your head off her chest to look at her. Natasha tilted her chin down to face you. “When I threw that Barbie at you.” Your face conveyed your puzzlement but Natasha was proud of you for trying to identify your feelings. “And I hurt you. Is it like that?” You asked hopefully, Natasha offering you a smile as she cupped your cheek.

“Yes, something like that. You didn’t mean to hit me in the face, right?” You shook your head no. “Just like I didn’t mean to yell at you”, she replied. “Sometimes we do things that we don’t mean to do when we’re hurt or scared”, she explained, observing the way your face contorted into a focused frown as you processed the information.

“So… you were hurt”, you stated, Natasha nodding her head for confirmation. “And you didn’t know what to do.”

“Yes. Mommy lost control of her emotions”, she whispered.

“Am I really grounded?” You asked suddenly, your face dropping, showing Natasha just how upset it made you.

“No, honey. You’re not grounded, but…” She inhaled deeply, briefly gathering herself. “You need to promise me something.” You seemed to perk up a little at her words, listening carefully.

“What?”

“Never do something like that again… please”, she said quietly, her voice wavering, eyes burning with tears again. “You can’t get hurt”, she whispered. “I won’t survive if you do”, she whimpered. “You have to promise me, Y/N”, she did her best to sound stern but to her own ears she only sounded like she was begging. “You have to promise mommy”, she repeated, feeling her throat close up.

“I promise.” You held her gaze, watching the tears start to brim in your mother’s eyes.

“Pinkie promise?” Natasha asked, bringing her hand between you, offering her pinkie to you. A smile spread on your face. You loved pinkie promises, immediately digging your hand up from somewhere between the couch and Natasha. Your balance faltered a bit but you were eventually able to hook your finger with hers.

“I pinkie promise”, you said firmly, nodding your head.

“Thank you”, Natasha sighed in relief, her hand stroking your body comfortingly. You dropped your head back down on her chest, your eyes automatically fluttering shut. You would need a big nap after all that chaos and what better place to do that than your mommy’s arms as she gently petted your hair or caressed your cheek. You were forgiven and you were loved regardless of your actions.

Needless to say you toned down your delinquency by a lot after the helicopter incident, deciding to be a bit more careful with your actions, not because you weren’t fearless anymore but because you saw what it did to your mother. You had also heard that Tony had found himself going one on one against the Black Widow and just for his sake you hoped it would not happen again because Natasha had quite unabashedly kicked his ass in the gym and left him with a bruised heinie.

Notes:

If anyone has any Christmas fic ideas please comment down below, I currently have nothing :D

Chapter 14: It’s a big, bad world

Notes:

TW little trigger warning for talk about consent!!!!!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

There was a knock at your door, your head turning toward the noise. “Come in”, you mumbled briefly, moving your T-Rex across the wide balcony of your princess castle, letting out a growl.

“Hi, sweetheart”, Natasha hummed softly, getting inside the room, coming to sit down next to you. You didn’t really pay any attention to her, your dinosaur pushing a Barbie off the balcony.

“Oh”, you sighed grimly. “Do you think she’s dead?” You asked her, Natasha smiling softly.

“No, honey, she’s okay”, she assured you, reaching her hand for your arm to gain your attention. “Could we talk for a moment?” You turned around properly, nodding your head. “There’s something we need to go over before your big day tomorrow”, she started, trying her best to not seem so grave, but the topic was very difficult for her for personal reasons. She hated, despised, loathed that the day had finally come but it was better to be safe than sorry.

“What?” You asked innocently, coming closer to her.

“Do you want a hug?” She asked suddenly. You could always use a hug, you were a notorious hugger and Natasha knew that. You nodded your head, walking between her legs as she sat on the floor, falling into her embrace. Natasha wanted to cave, she wanted to drop the conversation more than she wanted anything else at the moment, but she couldn’t. She pulled away from you to see your face. “Do you know why mommy is allowed to hug and kiss you?” She asked softly, her hands caressing your body in a way to soothe the both of you even if you didn’t really need it.

“No, why?” You frowned. You couldn’t really understand. You had just always hugged mommy and it was always okay. You loved her and you enjoyed her attention, unable to even fathom not wanting her touch.

“Because mommy has your permission, your consent, okay?” You nodded, seeming to follow along. “But if you don’t want a hug or a kiss from mommy you say no and push her away, got it?” You had a confused frown on your face. You couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t want a hug from mommy. “Now, let’s say you don’t want me to hug you”, Natasha started firmly. “But I do so anyway.” She tugged onto your hands, trying to go in for a hug. “What do you do?”

“No”, you said immediately, pushing her away although you seemed a bit hesitant, not truly grasping what she was saying.

“Good, good girl. That’s exactly what you need to do”, Natasha sighed, glad you seemed to at least listen to her even if you didn’t fully understand why. Then you immediately skidded back onto her lap with a smile on your face.

“Mommy, why are we doing this?” You inquired, clearly not understanding and truth be told Natasha never wanted you to understand.

“Because there are bad people in the world and you are allowed to have control over who touches you”, she whispered. “Now, if someone does this at school or anywhere for that matter, you tell a trusted adult about it. That can be a teacher or someone at home. And then you tell me. You always tell mommy”, she watched you nod your head. “Let’s go over it again, okay?” She suggested, moving you to stand on your own. “You don’t want a kiss”, she stated, her hands already tugging you close enough for her to reach. “But mommy tries to kiss you anyway. What do you do, honey?” She asked, allowing you a window to think about your answer.

“I say no”, you replied, clearly thinking over your answer. Then you pushed Natasha’s face away from you before her lips could press down on your forehead.

“Good, excellent job. Then what?” She prompted, feeling nervous. She wanted you to get it right. She needed you to get it right.

“I go tell the teacher”, you said.

“Who else?”

“Mommy. Always mommy”, you said firmly.

“It doesn’t matter who wants to hug or kiss you, you can always say no, even to mommy”, she explained, noting how her tone grew weaker, her throat feeling constricted. “And never kiss someone on the lips. Only mommy and only if you want to”, she said sternly, emphasizing her point. You nodded again. There were times when you also kissed Wanda on the mouth, or Steve but now that you were getting older it was starting to become less of a habit. It never bothered Natasha, nor would it bother her if you continued it but it was the easiest option to exclude everyone else but herself. Including others in the mix could easily confuse you and she didn’t need that. “One more thing, okay? Then I’ll let you go back to playing”, she hummed with a soft smile that you returned immediately. It broke Natasha’s heart to be even thinking about such things but she ploughed through. She took a deep breath gathering herself briefly before continuing to talk. “Do you know what your private parts are?”

“Like my butt?” You questioned, not sure if you got it right.

“Yes, sweetheart, your butt. And what do you have in the front?”

“vagin*”, you nodded. You knew that. Mommy had taught you that.

“Yes, good! And what do boys have?”

“Penis”, you nodded.

“Yes, that’s right. No one is allowed to touch your private parts, you hear me? No one. Not mama, not your friends, not the teacher. No one”, she said, her voice quivering but it didn’t seem like you really noticed it. “Do you understand me?” She asked firmly, her eyes staring right at your own. You seemed a bit flustered as you nodded. “Can you tell me that?”

“No one is allowed to touch my butt or vagin*”, you repeated.

“That’s right. And it goes for you too. You do not touch anyone’s private parts even if they ask. You do not kiss or hug anyone if they don’t want it. It doesn’t matter how much you want a hug or a kiss. If they don’t want it, you respect that, got it? Always ask for permission”, she added, her thumbs brushing over the tops of your hands as she held them in her own.

“Yes. I don’t touch private parts and I have to ask for permission when hugging and kissing”, you repeated, showing her you understood.

“Good! Amazing job, baby”, Natasha cheered quietly, welcoming you into a hug. “You’re the smartest, brightest, most excellent little girl in the world”, she praised, holding you tightly against her as you giggled. “Now you can go back to playing”, she said, patting your back gently. You pulled away, scrambling back to your toys before you paused. You turned back around and ran to Natasha again.

“Can I have a kiss?” You asked, grinning brightly. You were a quick learner, Natasha unable to hold her smile.

“Of course you can”, she mumbled, pecking your lips before you were once again off to your princess castle. With a heavy sigh Natasha stood up from the floor, walking to the door. She shut it behind her, bringing her trembling hands to cup them over her mouth. Her eyes slid shut, nausea taking over her. She felt awful and disgusting. She felt like she couldn’t breathe as she tiptoed across the hall into her own bedroom, sinking into the sheets to recover from the emotional toll the task had taken. Her hot tears decorated the pillowcase with dark blotches, her runny nose making her even more irritated. She could never truly protect you from the horrors of the world. She could never ensure that you stayed safe at all times and that was just the harsh truth of the world.

At that moment Natasha felt very lonely. She didn’t have anyone to share her struggles with. She contemplated her options, knowing she could call anyone in the compound to babysit you for a second while she went outside for some air or went to see a friend, but she knew she didn’t want that. She wanted more than a friend. She wanted someone to take care of her. She wanted someone to hold her until she felt better. However, she scratched the idea very quickly, deeming herself to be in too vulnerable of a state which elicited these pathetic thoughts in her head. She didn’t need anyone else. She was perfectly fine taking care of you alone, but she couldn’t help but to wonder who was going to take care of her?

Once the tears had dried Natasha fed you, bathed you, and dressed you for bed, kissing you good night. She did it all a bit earlier than usual because she needed more time for herself and you needed more sleep than normal to get yourself through the following day. Natasha stayed up in her bed, wallowing in her sadness, mindlessly watching a show on her computer, although she wasn’t really watching it at all. Her mind kept returning into her past, picking out the worst moments of her life, the image of them happening to you on repeat. She hated it. She hated herself for choosing to be your mother. You deserved so much better than her. You deserved a real family, not some pathetic wanna-be mother who never even got to play house as a child. Natasha slammed the laptop closed, sliding it to the foot of the bed so it was out of her way. She popped a sleeping pill into her mouth, flushing it down with some water before cuddling into her sheets. She was tired of being awake.

Few hours later Natasha heard a quiet creak at the door, soft pads of feet sounding in the dark, luring Natasha out of her light slumber. It was followed by a sniffle and a tug of her duvet. She rolled around to the side you were standing on, eyelids fluttering open.

“Mommy”, you started in a quiet whisper. “Mama, I’m scared”, you tried again, still yanking on her sheets, your other hand wiping away the tears from your cheeks. “Mama”, you spluttered quietly.

“What is it, baby?” She whispered just as softly.

“School”, you whined, trying to hold in your tears. Your voice was small, wavering. Tomorrow was going to be your very first day of school and you were more than nervous. Mama had explained it all to you many times but the idea sounded very, very scary to you. “Mama, khochy (Mama, I want)”, you whimpered, doing grabby hands for her.

Oi, solnishka (sunshine), come here.” Natasha sighed, using her arm to pull you up onto the bed. You hiccuped quietly as she lifted the duvet up to welcome you into its safety. A sad mewl left your lips as you fell into her open arms.

“Mommy”, you cried, tears streaming down your face again. “Mama”, you whimpered, ragged breath making you cough lightly.

“Shh, baby girl, shh, mommy is right here”, she said soothingly, reaching to turn on the nightstand light because she knew it brought you comfort. “It’s going to be okay, angel”, she assured you, resting her chin on top of your head as you gripped her silky nightgown, nuzzling into her chest for both warmth and safety. Natasha knew you weren’t going to stop until you found a distraction to take your mind away from the nerves and butterflies that were plaguing your little tummy, so she began to sing.

A ya igrayu na garmoshke, u prokhozhikh na vidu (And I play the accordion in front of everyone on the street).” Her voice was melodic and low, the melancholy tune one that you had heard a thousand times. It was one of Natasha’s go-to lullabies. Possibly because it was one of the only ones she had been able to remember six years ago or perhaps because it was close to her Russian origins. Nonetheless, she had always liked it. She seemed to gravitate more towards melancholy tunes and found them calming. “K sozhaleniyu, den' rozhdeniya tol'ko raz v godu. (Alas, birthdays are only once a year)”, she continued, her singing turning into humming as she filled in the instrumental part.

You didn’t even notice yourself calm down as your head rested against her upper chest where you could best hear the rumble of her voice. You no longer used pacifiers, but you wanted the comfort of it, stuffing your thumb into your mouth to suck on it. Natasha automatically thought about pulling the thumb out of your mouth like she often did but decided against it, not wanting to remove the small bit of comfort you had found. You let out a hum of contentment, closing your eyes as Natasha’s warm hands smoothed over your pink teddy bear nightie, sinking into the hairs at the back of your neck to caress your head as she continued to hum the song, mind struggling to remember the lyrics. She held you there until you fell asleep and made sure to keep holding you throughout the night. Natasha breathed in the top of your head, listening to the gentle huffs of your breath.

“I love you, my darling one”, she mumbled, her eyelids trying to fight off the sleep that was about to take her. “Mama tebya ljubit, tebya tak ljubit (Mama loves you, loves you so much)”, she whispered, brushing some of your hair behind your ear. “You’ll do great in school”, she assured herself, trying to pretend that she herself wasn’t scared of letting you go.

Morning emerged in the blink of an eye, Natasha’s alarm clock going off, effectively waking you both up. You nuzzled yourself into the pillow, refusing to wake up yet, Natasha doing the same. It was endearing how much you behaved like her sometimes.

“Come on, milaya (honey). Time for school”, she mumbled, voice heavy with sleep as she patted your back. You let out a whine of protest. “Let me see my baby”, she whispered, tickling your side a bit to get you to turn around. You had a huge pout on your lips, groggy eyes glaring up at her.

“I don’t wanna go”, you said firmly.

“I know, sweetie, but it’s going to be so much fun”, she tried encouragingly. “You’re gonna meet lots of other little girls who you can play with”, she tried again, but you didn’t seem to like the idea.

No amount of words could get you out of bed so eventually Natasha just hoisted you into her arms and carried you into the bathroom. She set you down on the toilet where you peed, wearing a grumpy frown on your face. Your hair was styled to look a bit more neat before your teeth were brushed. Your clothes you had picked out the day before and were reluctantly yanking them on as Natasha made you breakfast. You left the apartment right on time, Natasha watching you sulk the whole way to your school in the backseat of her car. She had done her research very thoroughly and ended up choosing a private elementary school from the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She had stressed herself into tears over which school to pick only to realize that she made it hard on purpose because she was so scared of letting you out into the real world. Eventually she had just chosen one that seemed like it would fit you and your needs the best.

Natasha pulled up to the curb, parking her car on the side of the street, a block away from your school. She opened the back door for you, unbuckling the straps of your car seat. You seemed very tired and overall unenthusiastic about the whole situation, but you didn’t protest when Natasha lifted you out of the seat. She picked up your small, glitter backpack, sliding it on you before she grasped your hand, closing the door as she crouched down before you.

“You’re going to be okay, darling”, she assured you once again. “Mama’s gonna come pick you up in six hours”, she reminded you. “And the teachers have mama’s number if you need to call me”, she said in a quiet whisper. You nodded your head, the slight sheen that covered your eyes tugging at Natasha’s heartstrings. She nearly teared up herself. “Let’s go take a picture for everyone at home”, she said, her voice conveying excitement to get you into a bit more of an uplifted mood. “We’ll show them what a big girl you are”, she hummed, pleased that a smile was starting to form on your lips. You nodded your head, Natasha guiding you to the front gate of the school, pulling out her phone to snap a picture of you.

“Do I say cheese?” You asked knowingly, Natasha smirking.

“You can say whatever you want”, she replied.

“Ice cream!” You exclaimed, smiling for the camera as you clutched the straps of your backpack. The flash of the camera went off and the picture was taken. “Let me see!” You rushed to Natasha’s side, watching how she pulled it up from her gallery.

“You look so beautiful”, she hummed, kissing your head as you peered down at the picture. She could tell that you were getting warmed up.

Hand in hand you made your way up the steps, entering the large building. You immediately looked around, studying your surroundings as Natasha navigated your way to the teacher in charge of the first year pupils. They spoke for a while as you observed the other kids in the lounge, clearly intrigued by the sight of so many tiny humans like yourself. But when it came time for you to say goodbye you started to panic. You held tightly onto Natasha’s leg, scared of letting go. She was going to leave you here and this time there would be no Tony, Wanda, Steve or Clint. You would be all alone with these complete strangers.

“Baby, I promise I’ll be back before you know it”, Natasha said, looking down at your eyes that were brimming with tears, her fingers brushing back some of your hair. She pried you off her leg, kneeling to the floor and bringing you into her embrace. You clung onto her like a koala bear, your face buried in her neck where you felt warm and safe. You wrapped your legs around her waist, the tears spilling over as you sobbed quietly. “Hey, no need to cry”, Natasha whispered to you. “It’s just a couple of hours.” She rubbed your back, waiting for the crying to cease. “We’ll do something fun in the evening when you come home, okay?” She suggested. “How about we make your favorite food for dinner?” You pulled back at that, your huge eyes studying her face for a second before you nodded.

“And ice cream?” You asked in a little whimper.

“You’ll get all the ice cream in the world”, she promised you, both of you smiling. “Now, give mama one more kiss.” You giggled quietly, pecking her on the lips before falling into her embrace once more. Natasha pressed her lips into your hair, kissing you a few more times.

School ended up being incredibly fun. After you had gotten over your initial temper tantrum and feelings of abandonment you were able to partially relax in the new environment. You never knew how much fun kids your age could be. At first you struggled to talk to anyone, but after a couple of games that you all played together you found it much easier. There were so many new things that you felt overwhelmed by it, but what shocked you the most was how fast the day was over. Before you knew it, just like mama had said, she came looking for you. However, you weren’t happy about it. You held a grudge toward mommy for leaving you alone, no matter how many times it had been explained to you. Upon arrival, unlike she had expected, Natasha was faced with a grumpy frown and a whole lot of sulking. She didn’t even get a greeting from you which she tried to push aside, feeling a bit rejected, but she wasn’t going to force you to give her the affection she desired. The car ride was silent and so was most of the afternoon. Natasha wasn’t really sure what to do.

“Sweetheart”, she tried, knocking on your door. You had been alone in your room for over an hour. In any other circ*mstance Natasha would have been okay with giving you your space but she was starting to get worried because you weren’t just generally upset but rather upset with her. “I made you a small snack”, she said through the door, hearing some shuffling from the other side.

“Screw your stupid snack!” You countered angrily, Natasha’s brows shooting up in surprise.

“What was that?” She asked with a lower tone. You didn’t reply to her. “Okay, I’ll be in the living room for when you’re ready to talk”, she noted, leaving you alone.

Natasha was upset. It hurt her that you were mad at her. She had never intended to offend you. If she had had things her way you would have never gone to school and you would spend your whole life in her arms where she could keep you safe and sound, but she knew she couldn’t have that and she knew it wasn’t reasonable. So she sat down on the couch, turned the TV on and opened up a bottle of wine, pouring herself half a glass. Realistically, she knew you were perfectly fine but she couldn’t help the maternal instincts that were whirring inside of her, screaming at her to do something, yet she didn’t. The teacher had told her about your day and said you did more than well for your first day away from home. Natasha would give you your time to work out your feelings. She ate your snack herself, the peanut butter sandwich exceptionally delicious, but it wasn’t enough to uplift her spirits and neither was the wildlife documentary that played on the TV.

A little over half-past six your door finally creaked open and you tiptoed into the conjoined kitchen and living room. Natasha heard you but paid you no attention. You went into the kitchen, tugging open the fridge, only to discover that there was no snack for you. In pure confusion you padded over to the couch to Natasha, frowning slightly.

“You ate my snack”, you accused immediately, Natasha’s gaze turning to you.

“I thought you didn’t want it”, she replied. Tears welled up in your eyes as you hit her leg as a way to express your anger. It didn’t hurt, but Natasha certainly didn’t appreciate the gesture. “Do not hit me. We’ve been over this”, Natasha said sternly. Your lower lip trembled dramatically as you finally broke down, the tone of her voice turning out to be your final straw.

“I wanted snack”, you cried, sinking to the floor.

“Baby, we can make you a new one”, she reasoned, scooching to the edge of the couch to get closer to you.

“No!” You sobbed loudly, now laying on your back, legs sprawled on the carpet and hands wiping the tears on your face. Your cries were loud and agonizing, but because Natasha recognized your behavior she had learned not to work herself up. You were having a meltdown over the stressful day that was starting to be behind you and you simply needed an outlet, and the outlet of your choice happened to be your vocal chords.

Myshenka (little mouse)”, Natasha whispered in a soothing tone, sliding off the cushions to the floor. You stopped wailing, your chest heaving as you paused for a moment, looking at mommy. Your brows furrowed again as you were reminded of the way she had left you all alone with the strange lady at school, a fresh wave of sobs falling from your lips. “Shh, Y/N, honey. It’s alright”, Natasha tried to assure you, but you didn’t seem to agree with her statement. She didn’t touch you, nor did she try to talk to you anymore after that. She simply sat beside you as you cried and wriggled on the floor, staying there for you in case you wanted her support and comfort.

A couple of minutes later you crawled up into a sitting position, wiping your itchy eyes fervently from the almost dried up tears. Natasha’s gaze turned to you, your eyes meeting for a moment before you ducked your head.

“You left me”, you mumbled almost incoherently. 


“I know, baby”, she whispered. “But that’s how it’s going to be from now on. I can’t be with you at school”, she explained softly, keeping her tone low and comforting.

“Why?” You asked bitterly.

“Because mama already went to school and now it’s your turn”, she said, offering a small smile to you. “You want to learn to count and write, don’t you? Do arts and crafts? Learn anything and everything about the world?” She asked, finding it difficult to look for another perspective on the situation, one that you hadn’t heard yet. You seemed hesitant at first, but after doing some thinking, you nodded “That’s the only place you’re gonna learn all that”, she reasoned. You gnawed at your lower lip, something Natasha did quite often when stressed, huffing in frustration.

“Why can’t we do that here?” You inquired persistently.

“Do you know what socializing means?” She prompted, knowing you didn’t. You shook your head. “That’s when people meet and spend time with other people. That’s how you develop important communication skills. Do you know what those are?” Once again you shook your head. “You learn to talk to people, you learn to understand others”, she explained to you, watching you focus completely on her. She knew you were an intelligent kid who thrived on knowledge. She recognized a piece of herself in you and saw the curious little child. For her, the curiosity had been snuffed out by the horrors of the world, but for you, for you it could open doors to just about anything.

“Just like you and me”, she continued. “We didn’t always know how to communicate”, she said, your brows furrowing in surprise.

“That’s just silly”, you giggled, Natasha smiling back at you.

“When you were a baby”, she hummed, demonstrating your small size with her hands. “You we’re about this small”, she chuckled. “We didn’t know how to communicate. You cried and you cried, and mama didn’t know what to do.” You seemed to find that amusing, your smile widening. “We had to learn to communicate without talking because you didn’t know how to yet.” Natasha paused, nearly falling into reverie, realizing to pull herself back from her thoughts. “But eventually we figured it out and now we do know how to talk to each other”, she concluded, her arms opening up for you as you crawled into her embrace. “Now you have to learn to do that with others”, she added in a hum, hugging you tightly to her chest.

“But you’ll always come pick me up?” You asked for confirmation.

“I’ll always come pick you up, I promise. You’ll never be left behind at school, or anywhere. I will never leave you”, she assured you, speaking softly into your hair as she rocked you gently side to side.

“Never?”

“Never”, she repeated firmly, her arms tightening around you.

“Will you make chicken nuggets and ice cream for dinner?” You asked hopefully, your ear pressed against her chest, a cheeky smile on your face.

“What? Does your tummy want dino nuggets?” She inquired playfully, poking your belly teasingly. It made you cackle loudly as you tried to avoid the tickling fingers.

“Uh-huh”, you laughed, squirming against her. “And ice cream!”

“What kind?” She asked as if it was the most important question for now, and it really was because it mattered to you.

“Cotton candy!” You squealed, Natasha’s lips blowing raspberries into your neck. She hated the flavor and couldn’t understand why you would like a sugar flavored ice cream but she always bought it for you, knowing it was your favorite.

“Well what are we sitting here for? Let’s go get dinner”, she said, helping you up from her lap. You sprinted into the kitchen, Natasha following after you, an empty wine glass and a small plate in her hand and a wide, relieved smile on her face.

Notes:

I promise I’m working on the Christmas fic😅 I’m currently knees deep in an angst phase, writing gruesome stuff left and right, but at least I finally have a plot for the Xmas fic😂

Hope you guys enjoyed the chapter!❤️

Chapter 15: Hobby-hunting

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Mama!” You shouted, running into the kitchen to find her. “Mommy, I need help”, you requested, clearly sounding agitated.

“What is it, darling?” She asked, shutting the dishwasher and turning to you.

“The teacher told us we should think about extra-curry stuff”, you explained, seeming very confused as you handed a sheet of paper to her.

“Extra-curriculum?” She asked for confirmation, biting back the smile from her face. You nodded firmly.

“She said we could play sports or something”, you mumbled. “But I don’t like ball games”, you reasoned, not knowing what other options you had.

“Let’s see”, Natasha hummed, pulling up a chair for herself, sitting down as you did the same. “There are lots of options. You said you didn’t want ball games, yeah?”

“Yeah”, you sighed, peering at the paper that had so many words that you weren’t familiar with yet.

“How about gymnastics, dance or cheerleading?” She suggested, but you didn’t seem too interested. “They also have a couple of art options. You could do fine arts, that’s painting and drawing, or maybe pick up an instrument?” Natasha skimmed through the list, looking for the options that she thought might interest you.

“Oh! Could I play a bassoon?” You asked in excitement, Natasha a bit surprised that you knew such an instrument.

“I’m sure we could find you a teacher somewhere”, she hummed, a small amused smile playing on her lips.

“Or a harp! Like in Aristocats!” You exclaimed, starting to get more excited.

“Honey, I don’t think your school provides harp lessons. You might have to choose something a bit more traditional like piano or violin”, she reasoned.

“Never mind”, you groaned. “What would you choose?” Natasha eyed the list yet again, studying the options.

“Ballet”, she uttered definitively. “I used to love ballet”, she said.

“Did you do ballet in your school?” You asked in curiosity. Natasha didn’t talk much about her childhood and when she did she only mentioned vague things like her interests or Aunt Yelena.

“Yeah, we all did. It was mandatory”, she replied, brushing her hand over your hair in an indirect way of soothing herself.

“What’s mandatory mean?”

“It means everyone has to do it”, she said.

“Even boys?” You asked in surprise.

“No, mommy went to an all-girls school.”

“Why?” There were many things you couldn’t understand but your mother was perhaps one of the biggest mysteries to you and the more you spent time at school with other kids, the more you understood that you didn’t come from a traditional family. You didn’t seem to have a father, or grandparents. Most other kids had siblings or pets, but you had none. Although what you did have were the Avengers. You had witches and gods of thunder. You had magic and science.

“I don’t know”, she hummed, her response sounding a bit too curt to you so you dropped the subject.

“Do you think I could do ballet?” You looked down at your hands on the tabletop, fiddling with your fingers as you swung your feet above the floor.

“I know you could. You can try it out with me and see if you like it. How does that sound?” Natasha sounded much brighter now, and you felt pretty excited about trying out your very first hobby. After dinner and a moment of sleepy cartoons on the couch, you got to go to the gym at the compound where Natasha often danced. There was a long floor to ceiling mirror and a barre on the left wall of the room. The space was huge and one of the walls was a single window into the woods surrounding the compound. The view would have been quite beautiful but it was getting too dark outside.

“Can you dance for me first?” You asked, letting go of Natasha’s hand.

“Sure”, she nodded, moving over to the side where she plugged her phone into the speakers. She chose a song for herself, pressing play before walking in front of you, where you were sitting against the mirror. The room was filled with soft, beautiful music, the melancholy tune all you could hear. Natasha hadn’t planned anything, simply improvising something that she thought would suit the music. She hadn’t danced properly for a good while since getting you but she was starting to find the time for it once again. Her ankles were definitely a bit rusty but she enjoyed the pain nonetheless.

You observed her every move, watching how she rose to en pointe, standing on her toes only. You noted how she could balance herself on her left toes, her other leg high up in the air. You marveled at the way her back arched, her arms elegant and delicate in every move. You watched her spin and twirl. She did a couple of jumps here and there, her feet moving so fast in entrechat that you couldn’t even process it. She did chaine turns, spinning across the floor, landing a grand jete and finishing in fifth position. She curtsied for you, turning the music off to hear you clap vigorously at her. You couldn’t believe her talent. You had never really seen her dance before because it was something Natasha preferred to do alone.

“You’re so good!” You cheered, getting up and running to hug her. Natasha wiped her tears slyly with her fingers, the dancing having stirred up an emotional response to the situation. Something that she had not expected. There was something about it, something about exposing that side of her to you that made her feel grim and dark.

“Thank you, baby. Thank you so much”, she hummed, crouching down a bit to kiss the top of your head. “Does that still seem like something you would want to try?” She inquired and you nodded your head. “We’ll start at the barre”, she said in determination.

You found it extremely difficult to stand up straight the way your mama was telling you to do. Constantly, there was something wrong in the way you were standing, whether it was your butt sticking out or your back being too hunched. You weren’t able to hold your arms the way she showed you to pose them. You didn’t like it. You didn’t like it one bit.

“Turn your toes outwards, like this”, Natasha told you, showing how she spread her feet open, purposely not going as wide as she could so she wouldn’t unnecessarily frustrate you by not being as flexible as someone who had a lifetime of training behind. You did as she had done, your knees bending as you did so. It was impossible. It was all impossible because now your butt was sticking out again and you were in an incorrect position. “Remember what mommy said about your core?” You did remember. You needed to squeeze your tummy tight, tense the muscles there to keep yourself upright but it was so, so hard.

“Mommy”, you whined, slumping to the floor, completely giving up on first position. “I hate ballet”, you admitted. “When do I get to spin? This is so boring and so hard”, you complained, not wanting to look up at her as you sat on the floor. She crouched down in front of you.

“I know, solnishka (sunshine). If you’re not interested we can just stop here. At least you know that ballet is not for you”, she said softly, silently thanking the heavens that you didn’t like it because after doing a little thinking of her own she realized that she wanted you nowhere near it.

“But what about my extra-curricu- stuff?” You asked, your huge eyes looking at her with a sad frown.

“We’ll find something else, darling. There are lots of other hobbies to try out”, she countered, offering her hand to you to pull you up from the floor.

The next thing you tried was swimming, but this time you didn’t have the choice to quit because you needed to learn how to swim so you wouldn’t drown if you fell into any amount of water. It was kind of like school except you went there once a week and you spent your time shivering by the pool, practicing how to kick your legs underwater. You did get to actually swim as well but it took you a while to figure out. Another thing that frustrated you to tears was the starfish float. Many car rides to home you cried about the stupid starfish float that had made you inhale more than a few mouthfuls of chlorine water. But by the end you had a small graduation ceremony where you got a certificate that declared you could indeed swim a couple of feet without drowning. However, the experience didn’t leave you with an intense desire to enter the pools again which meant swimming was out of the question as well. You revisited the idea of gymnastics a couple of times but it never quite seemed to peak your interests. You tried to play the recorder but that too was stupid and boring, just like nearly every other hobby you had tried.

“You know what you should do?” Clint asked you as you sat on one of the large blocks in the training gym where Natasha and Clint were sparring.

“What?” You asked grumpily, not too pleased about being bored and hobbyless.

“Martial arts”, he quipped, Natasha’s fist swinging at his head, allowing him just a fraction of a second to duck.

“No”, she grunted immediately, glaring at Clint.

“What’s that?” You asked, not really understanding what martial arts were.

“Fighting. Kind of like mommy and me right now”, he explained, a sh*t-eating grin on his face when Natasha flipped him into the mat under them, pinning him down.

“Can I try?” You asked, perking up. You slid off the block, skidding to the edge of the boxing ring. You had always looked up to the intricate choreographies that formed between whoever was fighting in the ring. You wanted to be strong and fast, take down people twice your size, your interest in the activity most likely mediated by your mother’s ability to beat someone into pulp. Not that you had seen her do so. You had only heard things. You knew Natasha’s opinion on combat training and she didn’t like to let you near it so the thought never really crossed your mind.

“No, honeycomb. You’re not getting inside the ring”, Natasha said firmly.

“Come on, let the kid try”, Clint reasoned, Natasha yet again giving him a death stare.

“No”, she said to you, turning to Clint. “You’re a dead bird chirping”, she hissed, but you were already climbing inside the ring. You marched in front of Clint, who had just stood upright, drawing your arm back before punching him square in the belly. He let out a groan, backing away a bit as a wide smirk spread on Natasha’s face. “What did I tell you?” She chuckled.

“I won!” You exclaimed, Natasha shaking her head in amusem*nt.

“Kid’s got a mean punch”, he groaned, straightening himself upright. “Why don’t we start off with the basics?” Clint suggested, crouching in front of you. “Show me your fists.” You did as told, offering both of your hands to him. “Good, never tuck your thumbs inside, keep them here on the sides”, he explained, adjusting your thumbs just a bit. “Now, punch my left hand with your right”, he instructed, gesturing the movement for you. Once again you did as told, Natasha observing you. You punched his palm as hard as you could, giggling quietly as he made a grunting sound.

“Come on, is that all you got?” He asked in a challenge. “Put your entire body weight into the punch”, he directed, the slapping of your hands echoing in the gym. Natasha could see the difference immediately. You enjoyed what you were doing. You were genuinely excited. She took a deep breath. Maybe she should have seen it coming. You grew up with the Avengers after all.

You ended up going to karate class because your school didn’t offer boxing lessons, which you would probably have preferred but Natasha didn’t tell you that. You actually liked karate. It was the perfect way for you to blow off some steam. You were a lively rascal that definitely needed a physical outlet for all that energy and what was even more fun was that you had a slew of fighting partners at home. You had loads of experience in being thrown around by super soldiers and it was something you had always enjoyed.

“Mommy! I wanna show you what we did today!” You exclaimed, still wearing your karate gear after practice as you sprinted into the living room. “Look! Look!” You shouted, Natasha smiling widely as she leaned against the wall to watch. You bounced on your feet in a defensive stance, your fists held up to your chin. “Jab, cross. Jab, jab, cross”, you muttered to yourself as you punched the air in front of you, alternating the fists you were using. Natasha found it so adorable she could’ve melted into the floor tiles right then and there. “And kick”, you huffed, doing a sidekick so wobbly that you needed to grab the coffee table for support. You finished the sequence in a traditional bow toward Natasha.

“Wow, oh my gosh!” She marveled, walking closer to you. “You’ve learned so much already!” She praised, genuinely moved by how excited you were. She felt pride bubble in her chest at how happy you looked. “Come on, let’s see those jabs again”, she hummed encouragingly as she knelt before you, holding her hands up for you to punch. You let out a completely unrestricted laugh of joy, preparing yourself for another round of jabs.

“Good, good, just like that”, she said as you jabbed and crossed, jabbed and crossed. “Remember to move your upper body with your arm to get more strength behind those punches”, she instructed. “Perfect!” She exclaimed when she felt a stronger punch against her hand. “Keep going, sweetheart”, she praised, unable to stop smiling. You hit and you hit until you were out of breath and had to stop. “Good job!” She patted your arm, watching you smile widely.

“Can we try the kick?” You asked, still out of breath.

“Of course, myshka (little mouse)”, Natasha hummed. “Come a bit closer”, she ordered. “Now, you’re going to kick this leg up and while you do so, your upper body leans to the opposite side”, she instructed. She was very familiar with the move and knew exactly how to teach you the basics. She guided the tilt of your upper body, supporting you with her hands as you kicked the air. “Remember to tense your muscles. You can’t do anything if you’re a noodle”, she said, poking your sides, making you giggle. You repeated the move a couple of times until you were noticeably less wobbly. “Don’t aim too high with your leg. We’ll start from a low target”, she instructed, watching you brace yourself in a fighting stance once again. Natasha was actually surprised by how much you had learned from a single class. You kicked her hand, unable to put much force behind your kick but at that point it was more about form than strength.

“Good! You got it”, she cheered. “Slow it down a bit, focus on the balance”, she instructed as your foot connected with her hand again. “Perfect!” You kicked once more before slumping to the floor in exhaustion. Natasha could tell you were thoroughly worn down and she had a feeling there would be no nightly energy spurts before bedtime. “Give me your hands”, she mumbled, crouching a bit closer to you. You did as told, screeching when she yanked you up into her arms in one swift motion, your legs wrapping around her waist.

“Let’s go take a bath so you’ll be all clean for bed”, she said, kissing your cheek. While Natasha set up the bath for you, you pulled off your sweaty clothes, dumping them in the hamper that was overflowing with laundry. You climbed inside the bath even though it wasn’t properly filled yet, Natasha staying with you while you bathed. You were capable of washing yourself without her help but she always stayed just to make sure you didn’t drown. It was an irrational fear because you knew how to swim but the accident from your toddler years had stuck with Natasha very personally and she would much rather sit beside you than worry about you in the kitchen or the living room when she could easily just keep an eye on you in the bathroom. Besides, you didn’t seem to mind her company as you scrubbed your body with a loofa, blabbering about your karate class.

Notes:

This was a little random but hope you enjoyed ;)

Chapter 16: Joy to the world

Notes:

Little Christmas present <3

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” You screamed at the top of your lungs as you barged through her bedroom door, jumping onto her, Natasha letting out a grunt as you crawled over her groggy body. “Let’s go open gifts!” You exclaimed, forcefully grabbing her arm and yanking on it, trying to get her out of bed as she blinked her eyes open. Your manner of waking her was way too energetic for her, Natasha whining quietly.

“Shh, angel, shh, let’s give mommy a moment”, she whispered, moving her body a bit to get it going after laying still for hours. She glanced to her side, a heap of blonde hair buried under the covers, still as a rock. Yelena had come late at night, jet lag and general exhaustion having wiped her out in an instant.

“But soon, right? We’ll open gifts?” You pressed, Natasha chuckling at your enthusiasm as she finally pried her eyes open to see your overjoyed smile. You were so excited. Every single year on Christmas Day morning you would be bursting at the seams waiting to get permission to open the gifts under the tree. Her heart melted at the toothy grin on your face, her hand brushing over your messy head of hair, absentmindedly fixing your twisted up pajamas.

“You’ll get to open the one you chose yesterday before breakfast. Just like every year”, she reminded you. It was a way of relieving the insurmountable excitement over the presents because Natasha knew if you were to first open them all she would have to physically pry the gifts out of your hands so you would have the patience for breakfast and other mundane tasks. Because of that she had let you pick out one gift the day before to open on Christmas morning.

“Okay!” You nodded as soon as the words were out of her mouth, backing off the bed to go back to the presents so you could go get your chosen gift. Natasha burrowed back into her sheets, groaning softly at the comfort of her bed as her eyes fluttered shut.

“Mommy!” Natasha’s eyes snapped open immediately, your face once again in her view. “No more sleeping!” You commanded with a firm frown that she couldn’t find to be anything but adorable. You tugged on her covers with your free hand, the other arm hugging a wrapped up gift. She must have fallen back asleep.

“I’m awake”, she mumbled, stifling a yawn as she sat up a little, patting the bed for you. “Let’s see what you got for Christmas”, she said, making sure she stayed wrapped up in her duvet to avoid the cold that she so desperately didn’t want to feel. “Who’s it from?” She inquired as you climbed onto the bed, your eyes searching for a note on the side of the medium sized box.

“Santa!” In the beginning Natasha hadn’t bothered with Santa Claus, feeling like it was unprogressive to lie to a child about a fat man who brought gifts, but she wanted you to be able to relate to the other kids who would return from the holiday break and brag about everything that Santa gave them. So eventually she had given in and started to play Santa for you, wrapping up gifts with the name of Santa Claus. She had found it to be silly and pointless at first but she could see just how much it did for the mind of a child, the whole lore bringing you so much joy that Natasha had to keep doing it. There was no denying that she actually grew to enjoy it.

“What a great choice!” She marveled, leaning closer to kiss your head. “Let’s see what Santa’s got for you”, she prompted, your hands immediately tearing the wrapping paper into shreds to reveal a toy you had been drooling after for months. There was a loud scream that made Natasha wince as your eyes spread as wide as saucers, both hands grabbing the box of legos.

“Mommy look!” You cried, showing her the box that Natasha had picked out herself a month ago after you had a meltdown over not getting it on a grocery run, Yelena finally starting to stir from all the screaming, but you couldn’t focus on her at the moment.

“Wow, no way! Honey, isn’t that exactly what you wished for?” She asked in astonishment, receiving another scream of excitement and a vigorous nod of your head.

“Yes! I want to show everyone!” You announced, Natasha shaking her head in amusem*nt as you bolted out of the room. Of course you did, but you would have to eat breakfast first.

“Go after her before she comes back”, Yelena grumbled, her foot kicking Natasha’s behind rather forcefully as she turned around to face her sister, huffing at the strand of hair that tickled her face.

“I should ask her to scream one more time for you”, Natasha chuckled, pinching Yelena’s cheek in the most annoying way possible, Yelena slapping her hand away.

After you had gotten over your initial burst of excitement, Natasha managed to make you sit still at the dining table while you ate your breakfast a bit too quickly in Natasha’s opinion, practically inhaling your oats and only nibbling half of a cinnamon roll that you had baked the day before. Once your mouth and hands were wiped clean you went back to marveling at your gift, Natasha moving to the couch to sip her coffee and eat your leftover bun as she watched some Christmas episode of a Disney Channel show, not bothering to change the channel. She decided that it was good to know what media her child consumed, but ten minutes in she was completely hooked on the shenanigans of little Timmy trying to save Christmas. The TV channel and your new Lego set kept both of you entertained for the entire morning, Natasha wrapped up in a blanket on the couch with her coffee watching TV while you tried to figure out how to build the castle according to the rules of the small instructions manual.

“Can Yelena come? And can we ask Tony to come outside too? And what about Wanda?” You asked Natasha as she was zipping up your overalls, finally having succeeded at convincing you to go outside to play so you could get some exercise and fresh air for the day.

“Why don’t you go ask? Make sure you scream in her ear”, Natasha said with a mischievous smirk, patting your bottom in encouragement. You smiled brightly, running into the bedroom where Yelena was still snoozing away. Natasha heard the scream loud and clear, followed by manic giggling and cackling that could only mean that you were being tickled. You returned with messy hair and a wide smile.

“Good job. You can call Tony while mommy ties your shoes”, she suggested as you sat back down in front of her, dialing Tony and handing you her phone. She slid your foot into one of your boots, making sure it was secure before she tightened the laces. You waited for a moment, listening to the beep of the phone, patiently waiting for a response.

“Hi Tony!” You chirped in excitement, Natasha smiling at your wide grin. “Will- will you come outside with me and mommy?” You waited for a second again. “Sledding”, you replied, Natasha slowing down your swinging foot to be able to put your other boot on. “He’s coming!” You shouted, handing the phone to Natasha who brought it to her ear.

“Uh-huh, just bring everyone else too”, she hummed. “So I don’t have to call them”, she chuckled, looking your way as you smiled brightly, pulling on your hat. She ended the call, focusing back on you.

“Everyone is coming!” You shouted. Your volume seemed to be maxed out for Christmas and Natasha was more than glad to take you outside to hopefully expend some of that energy.

You ran into the snow that was up to your waist, laughing like a maniac, Natasha following behind you, dragging a sled. You fell into the snow, swimming in the soft powder, your mother on your heels, wearing a quilted jacket and pants, doing her best to promote appropriate clothes for the weather despite not wanting to wear them. She chased after you, grabbing your waist to pull you back. You screamed loudly, giggling as you fell face first into the snow, Natasha crawling after you, making growling noises. You cackled out a laugh, throwing snow into her face to try to wiggle out of her grasp.

“Come on, let’s go mommy!” You shouted, tugging on the string of the sled to take it to the top of the small hill on the yard, Natasha following in your footsteps. She sat on the sled, welcoming you to sit between her legs, her arms tightening around you to keep you secure. She nudged the sled down the slope, gaining speed steadily, the wind blowing into your faces. You did your best to steer you into a ramp you and Tony had made out of snow, Natasha already grimacing at the painful impact from the drop that was to come. For you it was cushioned by Natasha’s thighs, your bottom avoiding all the bruises. “Again, again, again!” You cheered once the sled came to a stop and you climbed out.

“I see you’ve started without us”, Tony shouted from the yard, bringing his own sled with him that was equipped with all kinds of gadgets that added speed or functioned as brakes. Steve, Wanda and Thor who was visiting for Christmas were behind him, all tugging sleds with them, followed by Bruce and Vision who mostly seemed confused. The final one to arrive was Yelena who was shivering in her boots, her face still groggy from sleep.

“Mommy! We have to race!” You screamed, starting to run into their direction to welcome them. Natasha just smiled, scooping up some snow from the ground and forming it into a ball. She aimed it at your moving figure, chucking the ball and hitting you square in the back. She laughed unabashedly when you turned around to cast a scowl her way.

“I’ll get back at her”, Tony assured you, patting your shoulder. “I’m gonna run her to the ground”, he threatened playfully, scooping snow into his hand and throwing the ball at Natasha who dodged it.

You all lined your respective sleds on top of the hill, listening to you count down before heading down the slope. You did your best to try to push the sled forward to make it go faster but it didn’t. Everyone else was much heavier than you and sped past you without any effort, even Natasha was down before you, Thor winning with ease. That did not suit you. No one else was supposed to win the race. There was a huge pout on your lips as you sat in your sled, your arms crossed.

“Sweetie, why don’t you ride with someone so you’ll have more weight in the sled”, Wanda suggested, patting the top of your hat to comfort you.

“Thor!” You announced, hoping to be on the winning team.

“What an honor!” He announced triumphantly, smiling brightly, all of you dragging the sleds up the hill again to compete in another race. You went down the hill at least ten times until Natasha and Tony clearly got bored, wrestling in the snow, playful shouts and grunts sounding in the air.

“Watch what you say to me”, she snarled, pushing his head into fresh snow as she sat on him, Tony laughing so hard there was snow in his mouth. “Fight back, you wuss”, she chuckled, her front breaking as he laughed even harder at the way she shoved him into the ground again.

“You want me to fight back?” He asked, throwing her off him, the powdery snow puffing as she sank into it. “I’ll fight back”, he assured, grabbing snow and rubbing it in her face. Their wrestling was playful and completely void of any technique, filled with lots of childish kicking and punching, both of them oblivious to the snowball fight that the rest of you were having, your version much more child-friendly. Wanda was trying to explain to Vision everyone’s behavior, guiding him to chuck a snowball at Steve who was using his shield to protect you from all the snow flying you and Yelena’s way. Bruce and Thor were relentless with their outgoing fire, Thor’s large hands making balls twice as big as yours. Thankfully, all of them thudded either into the shield or on Steve and Yelena. The latter ended up leaving the makeshift fort to go take down Thor only to end up face first in a pile of snow.

The play date lasted until your fingers and toes were so cold they felt stiff and painful, the team taking you inside to the communal kitchen where Natasha made hot chocolate for you as you warmed up under the blanket, the rest making warm drinks for themselves as well while Wanda, Vision, Bruce and Steve started to prepare the Christmas Day dinner. You drank your hot chocolate, eating a small snack on the side as you watched some cartoons with Natasha, your head resting against her chest. You chewed on your granola bar, eyes fixed on the screen as Natasha petted your hair absentmindedly, adjusting your blanket to keep you warm. The kitchen was filled with the scent of ham, gravy and potatoes, Christmas lights twinkling in the dim living room as the sun set outside. Tony, Yelena and Thor moping around, none of them, including Natasha, wanted in the kitchen because they were all prone to disaster so you waited patiently on the couch. You showed the men your Lego set, asking their help in building it while Yelena napped on the couch, but it didn’t keep you entertained until dinner, eventually consumed by the overwhelming need to know what the rest of your gift packages contained.

“Okay, how about mommy brings you one more to open before dinner?” Natasha suggested, her hands rubbing your back as you sat on her lap with your puppy eyes, pleading for another gift even though she had told you that you would get to open them after Christmas dinner.

“Yes!” You exclaimed, jumping off her to go choose your next gift to open.

“Woah, that’s a big one”, Tony marveled as you started to tug on the largest present under the gorgeous Christmas tree. You couldn’t wait to open the package that was easily the biggest of them all. You had been ogling at it for the past two hours, already having checked that it was meant for you. Natasha watched you struggle with the gift, allowing you to bring it to the middle of the carpet where you kneeled down, tearing the paper open. There was a loud giggle and some more wrapping paper that got torn apart by your greedy hands before you revealed your gift, a large cardboard box with an image of a two-wheeled scooter on the side. Tony had gotten it for you after Natasha had forbidden him from making you one that he had called an “advanced” scooter.

“What is it, sweetheart?” She asked as if she didn’t know exactly what it was, crouching to the floor to see better.

“Scooter!” You screamed, beaming up at her, the excitement you were feeling almost too much to handle. “Mommy, I got a scooter!” You cried, running into her arms as a way of regulating your emotions and expressing your gratitude. She chuckled quietly at your behavior, embracing you tightly, moved by the joy you were experiencing. Playing Santa was definitely worth it. She pulled back, kissing your forehead, offering you a bright smile.

“Why don’t we get it out of the box?” She suggested, letting go of you so you could start to unbox the gift. With a little help from Tony and Natasha the scooter was assembled and adjusted to your height and you got to test it a little bit on the hardwood floors. Tony gave Natasha an amused glance as you spun around the living room with your scooter, some of your turns rather tight and clumsy. There was a moment when everyone, Wanda, Bruce and Steve included, thought you were going to crash into the Christmas tree, Thor’s quick reflexes stopping the scooter before it had the chance to mangle all the gifts that were still left.

“That’s enough for now”, Natasha ordered, taking the scooter from you and bringing it to the side of the couch where she could make sure you wouldn’t try to sneak it into the halls to continue racing.

“Can I try?” Yelena asked, sounding genuine as she stroked the handles of the shiny, new scooter, Natasha giving her a frown of disbelief. “What, I wasn’t serious”, Yelena grouched, crossing her arms and glaring at Natasha. Yelena was very serious indeed.

You weren’t happy about the confiscation of your gift but you were also pretty tired from wheeling around the living room and a quick break didn’t sound half bad. Despite your mild exhaustion you weren’t capable of sitting still, lingering around the kitchen in the hopes of getting something to eat, Wanda constantly shooing you out because you were in her way and there were lots of hot pans and stoves that could cause unnecessarily dangerous accidents.

“Baby, stop bothering Wanda”, Natasha hollered from the couch, bright red magic shoving you out of the kitchen again, but you only found it entertaining, trying to sneak back time and time again to steal some of the sliced ham from the kitchen island. Steve was in on the game, his expressions always letting you know when the rest of the cooks weren’t watching.

“I’m not bothering!” You countered stubbornly, looking at Steve who was whisking cranberry sauce, smiling at your mischievous attitude. He glanced at Wanda who was adding butter to the mashed potatoes, her back turned to the ham. He gave you a green light by nodding his head, receiving a grin back from you.

“I’m sure that’s not true”, Natasha chuckled, already having heard the way Wanda had scolded you for stealing a green bean.

The poor woman was stressed out of her mind with all the fussing about a Christmas meal even though it had been her idea to make everything from scratch. Natasha’s suggestion had been takeout and everyone except Clint and Wanda had agreed, but he was gone for the holidays anyway, spending it with his own family, yet somehow Wanda still got her way. Dismissing your mother’s words, you snuck back into the kitchen, eyes on Wanda as you grabbed a slice of ham from the plate, skidding back into the living room to hide your prized loot. Natasha eyed the greasy ham that was all over your hands, glancing at the kitchen in thought. She huddled close to you, gaining your attention.

“Go get mommy one of those rolls under the cloth”, she whispered, stealing the rest of your ham, but you were just happy that she was included in your misbehavior. You skidded back into the kitchen, glancing over the island to see that Wanda was still working on the potatoes, Bruce sautéing vegetables and Vision lingering by Wanda like the fool in love that he was. All Steve saw was your small hand sneaking under the cloth that covered the pile of rolls, pulling out one bun at a time. You brought them back to your mother, giggling quietly as you both bit into the warm, lush bread.

“Y/N!” Wanda’s voice sounded from the kitchen a moment later, your eyes widening as you looked at Natasha. “Did you steal my butter rolls?” She asked firmly, Natasha trying not to laugh. She pressed a finger to her lips to gesture for you to be quiet until she had swallowed her bread.

“Did you?” She asked you as if she was about to tell you off for it, but she had a wide smile on her face, putting on a show just for Wanda.

“I didn’t, I swear”, you whined.

“Well, at least one of them is missing”, Wanda argued, looking at the dent in the pile.

“Blame Tony for it, that’s what I do”, Natasha whispered to you, biting her lip to keep herself from laughing.

“It must’ve been Tony”, you stated confidently, Tony perking up at the sound of his name. He was right on the verge of falling asleep to the sound of Thor and Yelena arm wrestling, so far from looking like the culprit that it was almost comical, but Wanda decided to drop the search for a perpetrator, staring to be finished with the dinner.

You all ate together at the long dining table, candles and Christmas lights illuminating the dining area, Pepper arriving just in time for the setting. You loaded your plate with everything Wanda had cooked, Natasha constantly having to remind you that there was no way your stomach could fit all of it, but you were headstrong and ignored her warnings, Yelena doing the same. The room was filled with chatter, Thor asking how your holidays had been going which allowed you to explain all about your karate lessons and the classes you were taking at school. It had been a while since his last visit and you had more than enough to tell him. Natasha was mostly quiet, still not quite used to the serenity of the scene even though it was starting to become a tradition. She never had that growing up, she never even received a single gift as a child, but you had it all. She was able to give you all of it. The gifts, the food, the traditions and most importantly family. You had a huge family, each and every one of them always looking out for you and she couldn’t help but to feel like she had succeeded as a mother for providing you such a healthy environment to grow in. What was even better was that she had someone from her second family with her, Natasha’s eyes landing on Yelena’s face that had a wide grin on her lips as she laughed at something you had said. Natasha never was big on the holidays for obvious reasons, but as she nibbled on her ham dipped in gravy she felt like maybe she could be one of those people who had time for family and silly little traditions.

“Mama, I’m so full”, you whined, turning to her with your heaping plate, a pained frown on your features.

Milaya, ya zhe tebe govorila. (Honey, I told you so)”, Natasha countered, glancing at Yelena who seemed to be struggling just as much with her three butter rolls that she was stacking on top of each other. “What am I gonna do with you two?” She hummed to herself, shaking her head. “You’re excused, baby. Go play in the living room”, she hummed, wiping your mouth clean with a napkin. “You too, Yelka”, she ordered, both of them fleeing the dining room after thanking Wanda for the delicious meal.

It took you three different occasions of whining until the rest were finished with dinner and agreed to move into the living room to open gifts. You were very efficient in reading each of the name tags, delivering the packages to their rightful owners, your pile of presents seeming to grow in a much faster pace than everyone else’s. That was because the adults cared much less for gifts and had agreed to not make a big deal out of it, settling for the joy of watching you freak out over every single present you opened. You got a large, light brown teddy bear with a chocolate brown nose, leaving him on Natasha’s lap where he too would get to watch. The next present was a bracelet set that allowed you to design your own jewelry, multiple ideas popping into your head in an instant. You got a couple of Barbie dolls and a hot pink car for them, every single item you discovered bringing you so much joy you couldn’t even process it. You also got some regular clothes for school such as jeans with butterflies on the back pockets, an assortment of colorful T-shirts as well as a thick knit sweater. You also received a beautiful designer winter coat from Pepper who absolutely loved picking out clothes for you. Finally, the last gift in your pile ended up being a gorgeous, blue princess gown with a bow in the back, creating it that voluminous backside that you saw in all your favorite movies.

You immediately undressed yourself, throwing your clothes aside and bringing the dress to Natasha so she could help you put it on. The specific shade of blue suited you so perfectly, making you look like a real princess as you twirled in a circle, the hem of your skirt spreading beautifully around you. Natasha felt herself grow emotional but she bit back the tears that didn’t even get a change to form in her waterline. You just looked so stunning wearing that overjoyed smile on your face, the elegant dress only making you more beautiful.

The adults watched you play amidst their own conversations, everyone enjoying the relaxed atmosphere, either snacking on sweets or sipping their co*cktails. Natasha had a hot, buttered rum with a little extra rum, the warm liquid coating her throat, warming her up from the inside. She was sitting on the couch, still holding the bear as she leaned against Steve’s firm bicep, feeling warm all around, tempted to close her eyes and just let go.

“Mama, did you see the Barbie car?” You asked, coming to her for the millionth time to show a detail of one of your gifts. She nodded her head, setting her mug on the coffee table.

“I did”, she hummed, caressing your cheek as she sat upright, smiling softly, your eyes landing on the bear in her arms.

“I have to give him a name”, you stated, clearly in thought, studying the button-eyed teddy that had large fluffy ears and a big, round belly. “Booby”, you hummed, Natasha biting her tongue to keep herself from bursting into laughter. “Do you think it suits him?” You asked, looking up at her.

“I’m not sure if he looks like a Booby”, she mused, the corners of her mouth tugging downwards as she tried not to smile. “Do you have other options?”

“Brownie”, you replied, your hands playing with its round paws, fiddling with the fur. “Because of the chocolate nose”, you explained, booping its nose.

“I think that suits him very well”, she reasoned, petting its head.

“You think so? I like Booby better”, you mused, Natasha already feeling herself give in, but she decided to try one more time.

“Awkward and foolish people are called boobies, honey. Do you think he’s a dumb bear?” She asked you, watching your brows furrow as you thought it through. There was also something else that was called boobies but she didn’t have the heart to make that connection for you.

“He could be dumb”, you countered in defense, Steve muffling his chuckle as he listened to the conversation between you, Natasha sighing at the thought of having to hear you call the teddy a Booby for the following years.

“How about Tubby? Or Buttons?” Steve suggested, deciding to help Natasha out. She gave him a soft glance as a silent thank you.

“Tootsie!” You shouted like a lightning had struck you, Steve’s ideas inspiring you somehow. “Like a tootsie roll!” You explained, grabbing the bear into your arms, Natasha closing her eyes briefly in mild relief. “Tootsie’s gotta meet everyone”, you said, running to Thor who was the nearest to you.

“I’m just glad it’s not Booby”, she sighed, knowing you wouldn’t be asking for Booby-cuddles that night, taking a sip of her drink before leaning back into Steve who chuckled softly.

“Bless her heart”, he hummed, moving his arm out of the way to bring Natasha into his embrace, his hand rubbing over her bicep in a comforting gesture. Natasha was half asleep the next time you came to her with yet another comment. You were clearly not even near exhaustion which was mildly disappointing to Natasha who was hoping for a moment of silence.

“Mommy what’s that?” You asked, pointing at the mug on the table.

“It’s alcohol, baby, you can’t have it”, she mumbled, not opening her eyes, the said liquid weighing her eyelids down.

“Why not?” You inquired, peering inside the mug that only had a bit left.

“Because alcohol is bad for children”, she explained, knowing you wouldn’t give in that easily.

“Why?” You asked again.

“It’ll make you sick”, she hummed.

“Then why are you drinking it?” You questioned with a confused frown. “Are you getting sick now?”

“No, sweetie, I just like the taste”, she reasoned.

“I want some”, you uttered.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because of what I told you”, she tried, but you were intent on having your way.

“You always tell me to taste new things”, you argued, Natasha rolling her eyes.

“I knew that would come back to bite me in the ass”, she grumbled. “Fine, take a sip”, she said with a daring voice, knowing exactly how much you were going to hate it. You brought the large mug to your lips, the smell of brown sugar and spices filling your nose. Your tongue touched the liquid, a horrified grimace falling on your features as you put the mug immediately down, trying your best to keep a straight face to not let your mother get the chance to say “I told you so” again.

“See, what did I tell you?” She groaned, sitting up and grabbing a cookie from the table, offering a bite to you which you eagerly took.

“Yuck! I can’t believe you choose to drink that”, you whined, desperately munching on the cookie to erase the taste of rum from your tongue. It made Natasha smile, her lips pressing to your forehead.

“Yeah, mommy’s silly like that”, she hummed, brushing her fingers over your hair. Yelena sat down next to Natasha, groaning from exhaustion even though she had slept most of the day anyway, Natasha jabbing her with her elbow as a warning for sitting so close. Yelena gave her a grimace in return, welcoming you to sit on her lap as you climbed onto the couch. The clock was nearing midnight which was way past your bedtime, but Natasha couldn’t be bothered. There was no reason you couldn’t stay up for Christmas if you so wished. Natasha, however, was falling asleep on the spot as a result of the late night she had had with Yelena. Her eyelids drooped, Steve smiling softly as he allowed her to rest against him. Natasha’s whole body relaxed, the warmth and dimness of the living room lulling her into sleep as you introduced Tootsie to Yelena, the latter marveling at how big of a nose he had.

After what must have been at least two hours of sleeping, Natasha woke from the couch, feeling almost too hot in the excessive heat the super soldier possessed. She rubbed her eye, sitting up from the reclined position they had been laying in, her eyes scanning the room for the others. Most of them were gone, the candles blown out, only the Christmas tree lights illuminating the space. Thor was still in the room, deep in slumber on a couch, holding one of your Barbies in his hand next to the hot pink convertible, all your toys scattered on the floor. Natasha glanced to her side where she had last seen you, Yelena still slumped on the couch with you on her lap, arms locked around your waist, holding you the same way you were holding Tootsie. She smiled softly at the image, standing up so she could lift you into her arms and take you home. Yelena woke up when her hands slid off your waist, Natasha offering her an apologetic frown.

“Time for bed”, she whispered teasingly, adjusting you on her hip, fixing your princess dress and making sure you wouldn’t drop Tootsie. Yelena yawned, doing a similar scan of surroundings as her sister had, before getting up. Natasha then crouched down to face Steve, her hand first caressing his cheek then patting it enough to wake him.

“Go to bed, soldier boy. You’re gonna ruin your neck like that”, she hummed, Steve blinking up at her in confusion. “Good night, Steve, and Merry Christmas”, she whispered, offering him a smile before sneaking out of the living room with Yelena on her heels.

Notes:

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Chapter 17: Stranger danger

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Natasha turned the steering wheel, her eyes scanning the crosswalk for any possible children to avoid ending up in an accident. The surroundings of the school were littered with children of all ages and the last thing she wanted was to drive over one of them. She smiled softly, arriving at the front of the school. She was already peering through the gates to try to see if you were in the front yard waiting for her. There were a bunch of kids from your class that Natasha recognized. Some of them were definitely kids whose parents Natasha had directly –but tastefully– threatened before allowing you to go over to their house. She observed the small, black haired girl with cornrows, colorful beads decorating the tip of each braid, her two front teeth missing. She was your best friend Makena who Natasha had met many times. She was a sweet girl and you never shut up about her. So why was it that you weren’t with her?

She drove slowly forward, looking for a parking spot while simultaneously trying to find you. After a while she gave in, assuming that you were still inside, her gaze moving to the other side of the street, a glittering backpack catching her eye. The car halted in an instant in the middle of the street, the one behind her honking angrily when she shoved the door open and stepped outside. Her heels clicked rapidly against the concrete as she caught up with the man wearing a gray beanie, holding a little girl's hand in his own. Natasha grabbed his arm, yanking it off the child in one swift movement, the man letting out a surprised grunt. You whipped around at the sudden intrusion, your eyes wide and mouth agape in a silent scream that halted in your throat as your initial fear dissipated.

“Mommy!” You cheered, completely oblivious, immediately reaching for her to greet her. The man’s eyes raised to look at Natasha’s, their gazes meeting. There was a moment of impregnated stillness where none of you dared to move an inch, Natasha’s eyes cold and threatening as she deemed the man to be a stranger. Her uppercut was lightning fast, sending him tumbling to the ground, a shocked groan falling from his lips as she pushed you behind her to keep you safe. At that point your initial excitement was gone and you felt scared, recognizing an element of danger in the situation. Those who had noticed Natasha’s violent act were staring, horrified pairs of eyes looking at you, at your mother, at your new “friend”. You held onto Natasha’s thigh, your face pressed into her lower back, trying to peek past her to follow the man’s movements from your hiding place.

“Who are you?” She hissed angrily, the man frightened by the strength behind her blow, his hand rubbing his jaw. You moved swiftly from your spot, kicking him in the shin with your rainbow sneakers. He seemed very offended by your act of conformity with your mother, starting to clamber up from the ground. “I said, who are you?” She repeated, pushing you back once again before taking a step closer to his face and crouching down beside him, co*cking her head in emphasis. “Tell me your name”, she ordered with a low and even voice, bringing her hand to his throat, squeezing so hard he started to kick his feet and flail his arms in an attempt to alleviate the sudden pain.

“Gary- Wall- Wallstone”, he stuttered after briefly contemplating if he should lie, but Natasha’s stance and confidence told him that he wasn’t dealing with a regular civilian. She handled the situation with such composure he couldn’t help but to be scared. This wasn’t his first time by any means and he was familiar with the desperate screams and angry, panicked yelling that the woman in front of him hadn’t even considered.

“I’ll have you arrested… or murdered, we’ll see”, she hummed, sounding rather upbeat considering the pure rage that flooded through her. “Now, get the f*ck out of my face”, she added, roughly letting go of him, definitely leaving behind a bruise that he would remember. He wasn’t sure whether he should trust her or not, whether he was actually allowed to go, but eventually he scrambled up, running down the street to get away from her. She turned around to find you from behind her, opening her arms for you and lifting you onto her hip. She sighed in relief, hugging you tightly to her chest, relief flooding through her

“Oh baby, what were you thinking?” She asked you, pulling back to look at you.

“He said you were gonna pick me up from a different spot. He said we’re friends and that he was gonna bring me to mommy”, you explained, still not quite grasping that the man had not been there to help you but to take you.

“Why did you believe him?” She had told you about stranger danger. You knew not to trust adults you weren’t familiar with. She had explained to you a thousand times that only she or someone else from home was going to come pick you up. Natasha would never send someone you didn’t know.

“I don’t know”, you quipped, Natasha frowning at you as she got into the car, pulling the door shut.

“You never, never leave with a stranger”, she said firmly, her intense eyes boring into yours. “He was trying to kidnap you”, she explained, moving you over the console box to sit on the passenger seat while she drove the car off the middle of the street.

“What do you mean?” You asked, looking up at her as she steered the vehicle into a free parking spot.

“It means that he was trying to take you to do god knows what with you”, Natasha replied, her heart still thudding in her chest like that of a tiny bird. The school was definitely going to get a piece of her mind. You looked at her blankly, not sure how to react to her distress.

“What I mean is he could’ve killed you or assaulted you. These people are bad people. They take children and they do bad things to them”, she explained, putting the parking brake on and turning to you. “They try to lure you to them and then they take you far, far away from home.” You didn’t like the sound of that at all.

“And I wouldn’t see mommy?” You asked quietly.

“You’d never see mommy again”, Natasha whispered, the thought sending shivers down her spine, a heavy lump forming in her stomach.

“Never?”

“Not ever, honey”, she confirmed. Your face formed into a frown as the tears brimmed in your eyes. You didn’t want to be taken away from mommy. You liked your home. There was a long, high-pitched whine that Natasha always recognized without fault, leaning closer to you, cupping your face. “But you’re here with me, angel”, she reminded you. “And I’ll keep you safe.”

“What- what if…”

“No, darling. I’ve got you”, she whispered, connecting your foreheads, her nose brushing against yours. “Just remember to stay away from strangers”, she added, knowing you would listen to her from then on. You nodded vigorously, seeking to press your face into her neck. She allowed you to clamber over the console box and into her arms where you were able to calm down from your scare, Natasha holding you tightly until you were ready to be let go.

“I’ve got a surprise for you”, she whispered softly into your ear, immediately gaining your attention.

“What?” You inquired, pulling back enough to squish your face into hers. Natasha could clearly see how excited you were even if your face was practically smushed up against her own.

“Someone’s coming over”, she teased, watching your eyes spread wide.

“Who?”

“Starts with a Y”, she hummed, waiting for you to piece it together, her thumbs wiping the tears under your eyes.

“Yelena!” You exclaimed, Natasha’s smile widening into a toothy grin. She adored the relationship that had formed between you and Yelena and she was more than glad that her sister felt the same way. “When is she coming?” You asked immediately, virtually vibrating from excitement. It made Natasha chuckle, glad that you were able to move on so easily from the scary incident. Hopefully, she hadn’t traumatized you with her course of action.

“Well”, she sighed, brushing your baby hairs aside. “She’s already waiting at home”, she revealed, your mouth falling open.

“Mommy, we have to go!” You insisted hastily, starting to tug on the door handle to get you into the backseat where your car seat awaited. Natasha pulled you into her arms, smiling gently as she tugged you close enough for her to kiss your head before opening the door for you.

As soon as the front door of the apartment had been opened you barged inside, giggling from excitement, ready to go greet your aunt. Natasha followed behind you, an amused smile on her face as she watched you hurdle your backpack into your room.

“Yelena!” You screamed loudly when your eyes finally landed on her figure in the living room.

“Y/N!” She shouted just as excitedly, taking a few running steps and scooping you into her arms. Your legs swung in the air as she spun you around, loud cackles falling from your lips before she finally brought you closer to her body, your arms wrapping around her neck. It had been months since you had last seen her. “How is my favorite troublemaker?“ She asked brightly, her wide grin matching yours, Natasha going into the kitchen to make something small for you to eat while you waited for dinner.

“I’m okay!” You replied, your arms tightening around her neck as you squished your cheek against Yelena’s, trying to hug her even harder.

“Just okay?” She asked, her fingers tickling your sides.

“Yes!” You screeched, wiggling out of her hold, running into your bedroom to get something, Yelena’s eyes finding Natasha’s. There was something she was hiding, the look in her eyes too emotionless to be deciphered by Yelena, but she didn’t ask questions. “Look!” You shouted, showing Yelena a stack of papers, each displaying a beautiful artwork from you.

“Oh, wow! Come, let’s go sit on the couch so you can show me your work”, she marveled, guiding you to the living room where you could spread the drawings on the coffee table.

“This one is Tootsie”, you pointed out, the brown outlines of an obvious bear drawn into the white paper. In Yelena’s opinion it was recognizable enough, the bear’s huge brown nose a clear indicator of who it was supposed to be.

“How is he doing?” She asked, looking at you, treating Tootsie like he was actually alive, something that you appreciated a great deal. She could see the way you perked up at her question, your small feet skidding into your bedroom once again to go find your beloved bear.

“Here”, you said firmly, giving the bear to Yelena. You specifically liked it when Yelena pretended that the bear was actually talking to her, whispering things to her. It was a particularly difficult job on her part because she actually needed to know what kind of personality Tootsie had so she wouldn’t say the wrong thing.

“What’s that? You rode on the Barbie mobile?” She asked with a shocked look on her face, hearing your quiet giggle.

“He did!” You confirmed, not knowing that Natasha had sent Yelena a picture of you playing two days prior where you had been pushing around the hot pink Barbie car with Tootsie inside it, or rather hanging off it.

“And then… What? Did you really?” Yelena pretended, trying to keep the corners of her mouth down so you couldn’t tell that she was smiling.

“What?” You asked immediately, eager to know what Tootsie was saying.

“You were in a crash?“ She asked in bewilderment as you laughed loudly.

“No!” You giggled, clearly more than amused. “No, he wasn’t.”

“Your little bear is lying to me”, Yelena pointed out, handing him back to you so you could continue showing your art. You huffed a laugh, telling the bear off for misbehaving.

“This one is a spaceship”, you continued, moving one of the papers toward her. “The thingies inside are scwarps”, you explained as if it was common knowledge what these blue scwarps were. “They are from Jiggybong. It’s a planet”, you told her, Yelena listening intently to your stories. “And then this is Yabafar. The scwarps tried to live there but the quinkies didn’t like that”, you continued, showing pictures of each of the characters and places you mentioned, Yelena truly impressed by your abilities to create an entire world from your imagination. On top of that the drawings were getting increasingly better.

“So what happened to the quinkies?” She asked, still studying the images you had drawn.

“Quinkies kicked scwarpses ass”, you stated, Yelena chuckling at your enthusiasm. “And they made them leave. So scwarpses needed to find a new home. This is Irianika”, you said, sliding an image of a pink planet in front of her. “They live there now with ibbiteens”, you finished with a definitive nod.

“Wow, this is incredible. Did you come up with that all by yourself?” She asked in astonishment, fingertips caressing over the pink planet and purple aliens. You nodded your head, feeling proud of yourself for eliciting such a reaction out of your aunt.

“Do you like them? I think they’re cool”, you hummed, Yelena huffing a laugh at that.

“Are you kidding me? I love them. You’re an amazing artist!” She cheered, ruffling your hair, your smile beaming just a little brighter.

“Snack is ready!” Natasha hollered from the kitchen, both you and Yelena sharing glances, hurrying into the kitchen to see what you were having. “I’ll be in my bedroom if you need me”, Natasha said softly, fleeing the kitchen once you had sat down, Natasha’s hand smoothing over your hair. You didn’t find it that odd, but Yelena’s eyes followed her intently as she walked away.

“Mm, yummy! I love sandwiches”, you groaned, grabbing yourself a triangle from the plate and taking a huge bite. It even had all your favorite fillings. Yelena poured your cup full of apple juice, feeling a little uneasy. Something was wrong but she decided it could wait until after snack time, focusing back on you to avoid making you upset by being absent. You munched your sandwich half in record time, gulping down your juice just as fast before wiping your mouth. You were ready to go again.

“Can we play Barbies now?” You asked hopefully, waiting for Yelena to put the dishes and juice away.

“Yes, of course. Why don’t you go set it all up? I’ll be there soon”, she suggested, placing her hand on your upper back to guide you toward your room, walking past it to find Natasha’s. She placed a knock on the door, waiting for a response.

“Yeah?” Natasha’s quiet voice sounded from the other side, Yelena’s brows furrowing slightly. She knew something was wrong, sliding the door open to find Natasha who was just standing up from the bed, moving to the window where her back would be facing Yelena.

“Natasha”, she hummed, closing the door to avoid you hearing their conversation, taking a few steps closer.

“I’m okay”, she assured her immediately, her voice uneven and teary.

“No, you’re not”, Yelena countered, still walking closer in a cautious manner. Natasha was visibly uncomfortable crying in front of someone else, her eyes fixed on the view outside, body stiff. “What’s wrong?” Yelena asked, reaching her hand for Natasha’s who yanked it away hastily as if burned by her touch. “Okay, I won’t touch. Sit down with me”, she suggested, moving to the bed, patiently waiting for Natasha to turn around and join her. She hiccuped quietly, bringing her hand up to her face to wipe her tears as she reluctantly sat down, her eyes averting Yelena.

“What’s up lisichka (little fox)?” Yelena asked with a small voice, using Natasha’s nickname from decades ago that had most likely last been used in Ohio when they were nothing but children, but Yelena had held onto it, her child’s mind clinging to any piece of happiness she could.

“Nothing much, Yelka-belka (Yelka-squirrel)”, Natasha huffed teasingly, wiping her nose aggressively, trying to lighten the mood and avoid the real problem.

“Natasha”, she said firmly, giving her a stern look and a co*ck of her head. “What’s wrong?” She tried again, Natasha huffing through her nose, attempting to appear indifferent, shoving down her anguish even though she knew she couldn’t hide from Yelena and it would all eventually bubble to the surface no matter how hard she would try to resist it. There was a soft whimper, Natasha sobbing quietly, dropping her forehead onto Yelena’s shoulder, the latter taking it as a sign that she wanted comfort. Yelena wrapped her arms around her, Natasha welcoming the placating gesture and moving her head to get more comfortable. Yelena squeezed her tightly, her heart aching for her big sister who always tried to be the stronger one until the very end.

“I’m so tired”, she whispered with the softest of voices, a sob escaping her at the admission. Yelena’s hand came up to cup her head, fingers sinking into her hair.

“That’s okay”, Yelena replied just as quietly, rubbing her back. “It’s okay to be tired”, she reasoned, knowing very well that at one point in their life it hadn’t been okay to be tired, tired got you killed.

“No, I have a child”, she whimpered, clearly feeling guilty for not being able to keep herself together for you even if you weren’t physically there.

“You’re allowed to be sad, Natinka”, Yelena hummed, hoping that she was willing to listen to her. Natasha stayed silent for a moment, mild shivers racking through her body, making her tremble against Yelena.

“Someone tried to kidnap her”, she cried, another wave of sobs falling from her lips.

“What?” Yelena pulled back to see her face, fingertips wiping away the tears that cascaded down her face. “When?”

“Today”, she sighed, squeezing her eyes shut. “Some man, just outside school”, she added, knowing Yelena would ask questions.

“Did you get any identification?” She asked immediately, Natasha feeling her tense up.

“Wallstone, Gary, most likely an alias”, Natasha mumbled, wiping her eyes again, staying quiet for a while. “I was so scared”, she whimpered, covering her mouth with her hands, trying to stay quiet.

“Shh, I know, but she’s safe. She’s okay”, Yelena assured her, pulling her back into a hug. “Tell me you at least hit him”, she asked with a little chuckle, trying to lighten the mood.

“Of course”, she huffed. “Would’ve done a lot worse had Y/N not been there”, she hummed quietly, feeling a flush of anger go through her as she recalled the events.

“That must have been really scary”, Yelena mumbled, skillfully hiding the anger that seethed inside her as she continued to console Natasha. “No wonder you were scared”, she added, hands rubbing Natasha’s back. “It is completely normal. I would say it is expected”, she reasoned, earning a small hum of agreement as the door clicked.

“Mommy, what’s wrong?” You asked the second you laid your eyes on the two women hugging. You could see your mother’s reddened nose and teary eyes, your features immediately starting to mirror her.

“Shh, no honey, nothing is wrong”, Natasha soothed you, pulling away from Yelena, but you were a smart kid and you knew that something must’ve been really wrong if mommy was crying. You rarely saw her cry at all. Your eyes teared up and you let out a quiet sob, running to Natasha who welcomed you into her arms, hugging you tightly. After a moment of evening out your breathing you pulled back, your huge eyes and pouty lips facing Natasha. She offered you a smile that was meant to be comforting but you could see that it took a lot from her to smile at all.

“Why are you crying?” You asked, your voice high, resembling a whine. Natasha kissed your forehead, hugging you a little closer as she gathered herself enough to be able to answer.

“Mommy got a bit scared today. That’s all”, she assured you.

“Because I went with that man”, you said. It wasn’t a question, you already knew, but you hadn’t realized the effect it had on her. Natasha nodded, biting her lip to control her features. “Mommy, don’t cry”, you pleaded, your slightly sticky hands coming up to her face to cup her cheeks, thumbs wiping off the fresh tears.

“I won’t, myshka (little mouse)”, she whispered, her heart aching at the idea of losing you, losing this wonderful baby that she had gotten into her life by sheer luck and who had grown to be the most caring, beautiful child in the world, at least in Natasha’s opinion. It pained her that you had come so close to the face of danger somewhere as ordinary as school. She knew that she had exceptionally good odds of finding you again if that were to ever happen, but it wasn’t enough to comfort her. She needed you safe at all times.

“Promise?” You asked, fervently wiping the tears that still kept coming, a small, frustrated frown on your face.

“I promise”, she nodded, sniffling heavily, forcing herself to stop from crying even though it seemed to be the last thing her body wanted.

“Good”, you nodded with a small smile. “Do you want cuddles?” You asked, sounding so innocent and kind that Natasha had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep herself together. “Your cuddles always make me feel better”, you explained, a soft huff of a laugh coming from Yelena at the adorable offer. “I’m gonna hug you so tight”, you stated, wrapping your arms around her neck, your body pressing tightly into hers. You let out a whine of effort from how hard you squeezed her into a hug, successfully making Natasha laugh as her arms tightened around you as well.

“Wow, you’re getting quite strong, aren’t you?” Natasha chuckled, swaying you gently in her arms, appreciating the effort in your embrace. She couldn’t lie, it did feel good, especially when it assured her that you were safe and unharmed, warm against her chest.

“See? I knew it would help”, you giggled, pulling away to look at her, a wide grin on your face.

“That it did”, she hummed, kissing your forehead.

It took you quite some time to allow Natasha anywhere from your sight and you insisted that she would come play Barbies with you and Yelena because it was your idea of having fun and cheering her up. Natasha appreciated it a great deal but she didn’t have the heart to tell you that she wanted some time alone so she stuck around for the night, up until it was time for bed. She excused herself from the apartment, leaving you with Yelena to get you ready for bed, Natasha desperately needing to clear her head and she knew just where to go.

She halted in front of the glass gym doors, her eyes landing on all the equipment that lay neatly in their respective places. She was so tired. Just the thought of having to do anything physical made her irritated and frustrated. She pulled her hand away from the door handle, allowing herself to be honest with her feelings. Working herself to the brink of physical exhaustion wasn’t the way to go. It wasn’t what she needed. She didn’t want to feel the pain in her muscles and lungs when she lifted as much weight as she possibly could. She didn’t want to feel the sting in her fists and feet when she beat up the mannequins over and over again. She wasn’t angry anymore. There was no need to let that anger out. She sighed heavily, turning around and walking back to the elevator, changing her course of direction. She was crushed, emotionally burdened and she wanted company.

The door of Clint’s apartment swung open, Natasha walking inside without so much as a knock on the door as a warning, Clint waving a greeting from the couch where he was waiting for Rust Valley Restorers to start, a stupid car reality show that Natasha couldn’t stand, yet they always watched it together.

“You want a beer?” He asked her, eyes nailed on the screen even though it was only playing commercials.

“Sure”, she mumbled, heading toward the fridge.

“Nice, bring me one too”, he grunted, Natasha rolling her eyes at him, knowing full well that the only reason he had asked was because he wanted her to bring him one. She got two and slumped down next to him on the couch, Clint’s arm automatically wrapping around her shoulders. He took a look at her for the first time, her puffed up, blotchy lips and reddened eyes catching his attention. His brows furrowed into a concerned frown, Natasha’s eyes moving to the screen. She had been fighting tears all night long, pretending that she was okay in order to keep you happy and calm. Once the front door of her apartment had shut behind her, the tears had invaded her eyes in an instant.

“What are we watching?” She asked casually, trying her best to hold it together. It frustrated her that her walls seemed to come down around him on their own especially when you were removed from her surroundings and she no longer had to put on a brave face for you.

“Only the greatest reality show known to man. You came just in time for Rust Valley”, he noted, sounding amused but his eyes lingered on her cautiously.

“I don’t know about that”, she chuckled, but it was void of any real humor. There was a moment of silence, Natasha able to clearly sense the way he observed her.

“Are you okay?” He asked quietly, Natasha daring to make eye contact with him. It was evident to Clint that she wasn’t but he already knew she was going to deny it before he had even asked the question.

“I’m okay”, she mumbled, averting her gaze when she felt her eyes well up with tears. It was a new kind of low for her to even be at his apartment when feeling so vulnerable, but she didn’t know what else to do. She wanted company that was other than you or her sister. She maybe even desperately needed it. “Here to watch the show”, she added, offering him a smirk through her tears. She always hated how comforting Clint was because it made it harder for her to resist him. His presence alone was so serene and easy that it would’ve lulled Natasha immediately into a sense of safety had she allowed it.

“What’s up, sweetie?” He asked in a low, almost fatherly tone, reaching for the TV remote to turn it off. Natasha glared at him.

“Drop the endearments”, she commanded, but the corner of her mouth was already tugging up into a smile.

“Fine. What’s up Natasha?” He repeated, her smile dropping as she stared ahead, lower lip starting to tremble. She sighed, dropping her face into her hands to hide herself from him, even if it was ineffective.

“I…” She exhaled quietly, shaking her head to clear her mind and get a better grip of her emotions. She wiped her tears, blinking them away and turning to look at him. “Y/N almost got kidnapped today”, she told him, pursing her lips and shrugging, trying to rid herself of the urge to start sobbing wholeheartedly right in front of him. Clint’s eyes widened in shock as he let the new information sink in.

“At school?” He asked in bewilderment, Natasha nodding.

“After school. I went to pick her up and she wasn’t there”, she whispered, unable to speak any louder. “I then found her walking down the street with a stranger”, she explained, closing her eyes as she recalled the nauseating moment when she had recognized your glittery backpack. “He told her he was gonna take her to mommy…” There was a soft wheeze as Natasha covered her eyes with her hand, her body jolting lightly as she held in her sobs, clearly struggling to hold herself together.

“Come here, honey. Let it out”, Clint whispered, opening his arms and bringing her to his chest. She didn’t fight it, allowing him to rest his chin on top of her head as he held her. “Laura once called me from a park with Lila. She was maybe three or four. And Laura told me there was a black van nearby. They were alone at the park and she told me the van had appeared out of nowhere and that she was scared to leave because the driver was standing by the gate.” He spoke quietly, telling his story with the hopes of providing her some comfort. “They got out okay and nothing happened, but she had mentally prepared herself for everything”, he explained, his hand brushing through Natasha’s loose curls, occasionally getting caught in small knots. She sniffled again, breathing out evenly, trying to calm down. “She cried on the phone the whole night, talking about how she had planned to protect Lila and what she was going to say or do if someone attacked them. It’s a natural instinct to react like that when it comes to your baby”, he hummed, hugging her just a little tighter.

“It’s embarrassing and it’s not natural to me”, she grumbled back, wiping her tears again. “I’m a trained assassin”, she reminded him, a smile stretching onto his lips. She was so stubborn.

“That you may be, but you’re also a mother”, he replied, trying not to sound so amused. “Someone tried to take your baby. You have every right to be upset”, he assured her, feeling her adjust her head against his chest. He gave her a moment to respond but she couldn’t really get anything coherent out, only soft sniffles coming from her. “And hey”, he started again, pulling away enough to see her snotty face, his steady hands cupping her cheeks. “We’re gonna find that bastard and give him hell”, he nodded firmly, Natasha’s watery eyes wide and sad, giving her a certain kind of vulnerability and youth that he wasn’t sure he had ever seen in her before. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had seen her cry. It made his heart ache to see her in such pain, knowing the events of the afternoon had truly rattled her up. His hands brushed over her cheeks to collect the warm tears, Natasha’s pouty lips quirking up into a smile.

“I know exactly what I’m gonna do to him”, she hummed, clearly relieved by the mention of revenge, it was her speciality after all.

“That’s my Nat”, he chuckled, a grin spreading on his face. He could see the way she observed him for a moment, her lips rubbing together briefly before she leaned back into a hug, adjusting herself so her legs crossed his lap. She sank into his hold, just glad to feel physical contact and human warmth against her body.

“Turn the TV on, you’re gonna miss your Hot Wheels”, she teased, earning a laugh from Clint who reached for the remote to turn the screen back on so they could look at three men restoring cars.

“I better not have missed anything important”, he said jokingly, Natasha huffing.

“You could miss the entire series and that still wouldn’t happen”, she jeered, nuzzling closer to him, enjoying the way his hand brushed down her back. “If you mention tonight to anyone I’m going to rip your arms off”, she threatened halfheartedly, his chest rumbling as he laughed.

“I’ll use it as blackmail someday”, he mumbled, fingers brushing over her curls and down her back again, his eyes fixed on the screen. Natasha wasn’t affectionate, not ever, at least she liked to think that but it wasn’t always the truth. She had come to Clint’s apartment in the hopes of any kind of affection she could get and no matter how much she wanted to deny it she had wanted exactly this, her mind finally at ease in her best friend’s embrace. She had chosen him out of everyone else for a reason and she was more than glad to have made the right choice. Clint was always safe and he always cared no matter what the issue was. She had surprised herself by even going through with the idea of seeking for someone and despite the embarrassment she felt for it, she couldn’t help but to feel content knowing she wasn’t alone.

Notes:

Happy new year guys! I hope yours is going better than mine :D

Chapter 18: Mommy’s here

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Good morning, solnishka (sunshine)”, Natasha whispered, her hand pressing down on your duvet covered shoulder, shaking you gently. “Time to wake up, honey”, she hummed, sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning over you to kiss your forehead. You huffed quietly, wincing at the sunlight in your room. You immediately tugged on the duvet to cover your face with it. There was a quiet whine as you wiggled your body to hide under the covers, Natasha chuckling at how adorable it was. “Come on, angel. You don’t want to be late for school”, she reminded you, but all she got in return was a raspy protest.

“No, no school”, you whimpered, clutching onto the duvet as tight as you could, resisting Natasha’s hand that was trying to pull it down.

“Honey, you have to go to school”, she tried again.

“No”, you cried, trying even harder to stay hidden under the covers until Natasha finally got a good enough grip to tear the covers off from your upper body.

“No?” She asked in surprise at your defiance. “Are you sure?” She asked in a lower tone that often got you moving pretty quickly.

“No”, you repeated, pouting up at her. She could see you were very tired and that your eyes were glossed over. “I don’t feel good”, you admitted, Natasha’s brows furrowing. She placed the back of her hand on your forehead, feeling your temperature that seemed to be quite regular.

“Does your throat or tummy hurt?” She asked, her hand caressing your cheek. “What about your head?” You shook your head no. You felt physically mostly okay but you knew you didn’t want to go to school. “Are you trying to get out of going to school?” She inquired, her eyes searching your face like a scanning lie detector.

“No”, you muttered.

“Did you stay up all night playing?” Natasha asked. You felt tears well up in your eyes. No you hadn’t stayed up. You just felt awful, but mommy wasn’t going to believe you because it seemed like you were trying to get out of going to school. “Then what is it, dorogaya (darling)?”

“I don’t know”, you sobbed, tears spilling over, Natasha’s face softening immediately.

“Shh, there’s no need to cry, love”, she assured you, bringing you a bit closer to her so she could hug you. “You don’t have to go to school today, okay? We’ll stay home”, she said, smoothing your back with the palm of her hand. “Do you want to continue sleeping?” She suggested, feeling you nod against her shoulder. “Okay, you go back to sleep, sweetheart”, she whispered, lowering you back into the sheets. She kissed your forehead, brushing some of your hair aside. “I’ll be in the kitchen if you need me”, she added. You nodded your head, closing your eyes and snuggling into the sheets as Natasha left the room.

You had never tried to get out of school in the mornings so it was easy for her to believe that you really were feeling under the weather, but she did find your behavior a little odd despite it. Briefly, Natasha wondered if there was something at school that made you feel bad, if there were bullies. It felt like a bit of a reach because she had full trust that you would come to her if you needed help. In fact, she had told you multiple times to do so if someone was giving you trouble at school. Deep in her thoughts, Natasha made her way into the kitchen, deciding to surprise you with waffles for breakfast in an attempt to cheer you up. She whipped up the batter, slicing some fruit and berries for you as well before starting to fry the waffles. They smelled heavenly and Natasha was partly hoping the scent would lure you out of your bedroom eventually. To her surprise you emerged nearly three hours later from your room, your pajamas all twisted around your body, hair looking like a mess. You yawned heavily, going into the kitchen for something to drink, but before you got to the fridge you stopped by Natasha who was sitting at the kitchen table, scrolling on a tablet.

“Hey, look at you, sleepyhead”, she hummed, welcoming you into her embrace, kissing your head.

“Morning”, you groaned, your forehead resting against Natasha’s chest. You were unwilling to move, still feeling like you hadn’t quite slept enough.

“Are you thirsty?” She asked, feeling a little nod against her chest. “Sit down, baby.” You did as told, Natasha getting you a glass of water.

“Can I have warm milk?” You asked quietly, Natasha feeling your forehead again, starting to think that you really were getting sick. You grabbed the water she handed to you, guzzling it down in one go.

“Yes, but drink some more water first, okay?” She suggested, pouring you another glass. It was important to stay hydrated, especially if sick. You sipped on it much more slowly, feeling the cold liquid soothe your throat. “Would you like a waffle for breakfast? I made some earlier”, she offered. You nodded your head silently. You had a plain waffle, three strawberries and your warm milk before you left the kitchen to go use the bathroom. You used the toilet and brushed your teeth, but you didn’t bother to change out of your pajamas because they were so comfortable. Once you returned into the kitchen Natasha was no longer there.

“Mommy”, you asked quietly, peeking your head around the corner to see if she was in her bedroom. “Mommy!” You tried a bit louder when you couldn’t see her in the kitchen either.

“In the living room, honey!“ Her voice replied and you immediately bounced into that direction, your small, bare feet flapping against the stone floors. You scurried your way to the couch, crawling onto her lap a bit clumsily. She welcomed you with open arms, smiling softly when you nuzzled close to her. “Why, hello there”, she hummed in amusem*nt, your beautiful eyes taking a peek at her face.

“Hi”, you whispered quietly. You offered her a soft, slightly shy smile before you hid yourself against her chest again. Natasha’s hand scratching your scalp gently, the other stroking your back soothingly. She didn’t say anything, just smiled to herself as she enjoyed the quiet moment with you. Her chest felt light as she listened to your even breaths, mind suddenly at ease from your act of affection.

There was nothing you loved more. You felt warmth bubble inside you, your muscles relaxing even further, making you sink into her embrace. Your cheek rested against the top of her breast, Natasha’s scent filling up your nostrils with each deep inhale you took. Your eyes were shut, your small hands gripping her shirt loosely as you felt yourself rise and fall in tandem with her breathing. You needed to be close to her, needed to have her right there simply because you felt like it. You wanted attention and comfort from her and thankfully Natasha was more than happy to give it to you. She held you tightly to her chest, her lips pressing into your hair as she breathed you in, her hands roaming all over your body in the most soothing way possible. She kissed your head every now and then, completely having forgotten about the book she had been reading. Her chest rumbled slightly, a gentle melody coming from her lips as she hummed the first lullaby that popped into her head. She swayed you slightly, continuing to caress your body comfortingly. It didn’t matter that you were a bit older by then, Natasha would never stop treating you like the baby that you were to her.

“Hmm, I love you”, she whispered, kissing your head that popped up right after it. You offered a bright smile, puckering your lips for a kiss until Natasha dipped her head down to press one to your lips. “Muah”, she hummed, tucking a strand of hair behind your ear.

“More”, you chuckled, climbing closer to her. You gave her another kiss. “More, more, more”, you giggled, each little kiss paired with a long “muah”. Natasha littered your entire face with kisses, her hands holding you in a tight grip. “One more! Pleaseee!” You begged. “Just one!” You tried, although Natasha never needed much persuasion. She cupped your cheeks firmly, looking into your amused eyes, rolling her own in good nature.

“Okay, one more”, she sighed, kissing you yet again. You chuckled softly, burrowing your face into her neck as you giggled. Natasha sighed deeply, rubbing circles into your back. “What’s up?” She finally asked, feeling like there was a reason you needed a bit of loving.

“Nothing”, you mumbled. You were a big girl and it was silly anyway.

“You know ‘nothing’ is always something”, she hummed, resting her cheek on your head. You sighed, contemplating whether to tell her or not. After a moment of consideration you decided to go for it because your mother was always a safe option.

“I miss cuddles”, you admitted, Natasha understanding immediately what you were after. With school, hobbies and work there had been little time left for cuddles. You had gotten fully accustomed to sleeping the nights in your own bed and rarely wandered next to Natasha anymore. Mornings were always a hassle, the afternoon you were at practice or spent doing homework and then by evening you were so tired that you got put into bed shortly after dinner. There hadn’t been much time to just sit and cuddle. She had also been spending more time with adults only, since you had a life outside of her now.

“I miss cuddles too”, she replied, your head popping up again to look at her face.

“Really?” You asked brightly, Natasha nodding her head.

“Yes, really. Mommy loves to cuddle you”, she assured you, patting your back again. “For all I care, you could just stay here for the rest of the day”, she chuckled, squeezing you tightly. You would be staying home the whole day anyway and it suited Natasha more than well to have you in her arms for the afternoon.

“Can I nap?”

“You silly, little baby, of course you can”, she replied in amusem*nt, tickling your sides as you giggled into her chest. You relaxed fully into her hold, closing your eyes. You had slept around the clock already, getting a bit more sleep than a seven-year-old needed, yet you still felt like you could really use a nap, your eyelids weighing a ton. Up until you fell asleep Natasha just held you, smoothing her hands over your body, sometimes massaging your muscles gently. You were very warm and you felt so familiar in her arms that nothing else could have made her happier at the moment. Her heart soared at the soft huffs and snores you let out, feeling content with you in her embrace. Her body almost ached with the love she felt for you. The maternal connection she so often experienced was something words could never describe accurately enough. You carried a part of her in everything that you were. She would do anything, be anything, for you.

Eventually, Natasha went back into reading, propping the book against your lower back, diving right back into the mystery novel that she had positively already solved. It was when the main character fell into a well that Natasha noticed how warm you were getting. She pressed her lips to your forehead, the skin way too warm to her touch. You were running a fever. Natasha thought you had avoided the flu season by now but apparently her hopes had been too high and you had finally caught the flu that had been going around the elementary school. She hated that she couldn’t hold you for longer, but she had to make sure your fever wasn’t getting too high so she set you down on the couch, getting up to go find a thermometer. And sure enough, your temperature was well above average, Natasha sighing heavily. Going back to check the medicine cabinet, she discovered expired cough syrup and an empty bottle of nasal spray. She would need someone to babysit you while she went to the pharmacy and grocery store. She had been planning on going to the store with you since you were staying home but she wasn’t about to take a sick child anywhere near the public. It just wasn’t smart. Picking up her phone, she dialed Wanda’s number, closing her bedroom door behind her to make sure she wouldn’t disturb your sleep.

“Hey, you doing anything right now?” She asked once she heard her pick up the phone.

Hi! Not really, I was gonna head for lunch”, she replied brightly.

“I have to go to the store and Y/N’s sick. I was wondering if you could come babysit her for a sec so that I can get us some food. We currently only have the lightbulb in the fridge”, she explained, chuckling when she heard Wanda huff.

Oh, poor baby. Is it the flu?

“Yup, probably got it from Savannah. She was sick just a few days ago”, Natasha explained.

I’ll come, but you have to bring me donuts. I have a deficiency”, she said, the smirk audible in her voice as Natasha rolled her eyes.

“Fine. I’ll get us donuts. Now, start moving, witch girl. I don’t have all day”, she threatened teasingly, Wanda bidding goodbye before ending the call. Natasha shook her head affectionately. She would never get enough of that woman.

While she was already in her bedroom she grabbed whatever child-appropriate painkillers she had on hand just in case your flu developed any additional symptoms to the fever. She was just bringing the medicine back into the living room when the front door slid open, revealing Wanda and her soft smile.

“Hey”, Natasha whispered, walking to the entrance of the apartment to greet Wanda. “You know where everything is, there’s some meds on the table if she’s feeling worse than before. I won’t be long. And-“

“I’ll call you if anything comes up”, Wanda finished for her, knowing the speech by heart. Natasha smiled softly.

“Thank you again”, she hummed.

“Of course”, she nodded, opening the door for her. “Don’t forget my donuts.” That earned Wanda a small scoff from Natasha. Wanda chuckled, shutting the door and moving to the couch where you slept on your side, turning on the TV and lowering the volume so she wouldn’t disturb you. She pulled your leg onto her lap, gently stroking the bottom of your foot in a repetitive motion. You had such small feet. Wanda smiled to herself, looking down at you. She definitely wanted kids with Vision. She wanted a child of her own, had wanted one ever since you moved into the compound and sometimes it pained her that she couldn’t just steal you all to herself. She wanted to be a mother so bad. All these years she had been watching you run into Natasha’s arms with the biggest smile on your face, and she couldn’t lie, the relationship that had developed between you and Natasha was more than admirable. Wanda too wanted someone to call her mommy. She wanted to take care of someone small, raise a beautiful child whom she loved with all her heart. It was one of the reasons she liked to babysit you so much. She got a chance to experience what it would be like to have and take care of her own sweet, little child.

Your foot twitched, the touch of her fingers tickling you. It made her smile even wider if that was possible. She was downright obsessed with the quiet huffing you emitted as you slept, your nose clearly blocked by congestion. Oh, how she wanted to just pull you into her arms and hold you, but it wasn’t a good idea because you had fallen asleep in your mother’s arms and waking up in someone else’s embrace would only be an effective way to scare you. So, Wanda watched over you as you slept, patiently waiting for either you to wake up or Natasha to return.

On the third commercial break that was boring Wanda to death you started to stir, your eyes fluttering open. She didn’t know a sight cuter than your tired, little face, offering you a gentle smile.

“Hey, princess”, she hummed, your features forming into a frown as you looked around the room.

“Where’s mommy?” You croaked, a pout overtaking your lips.

“Mommy went to the store to get some food”, Wanda hummed. The tears were virtually instant. You wanted mommy. “Shh, honey, mommy will be back”, she assured you, watching you sit up. Your head swayed to the side slightly, the world spinning in your vision. Your head felt so full, the congestion in your nose making you feel stuffy, like you were suffocating.

“I can’t breathe”, you whined, wiping your nose aggressively into the sleeve of your pajamas.

“Use a tissue, sweetheart”, Wanda suggested, bringing one to your nose for you to blow. You mustered all your energy into the huff, the yellow snot flooding out of your nose, wetting the tissue. It alleviated your headache just a little, offering a bit of relief while Wanda cringed at the warm, damp tissue.

“My head hurts”, you whispered, looking up at her with your puppy eyes, Wanda caving immediately.

“Come here, baby”, she murmured, pulling you into her arms even though she knew you were supposed to be cooling down. You were just happy to be held and sank into her embrace without complaint. Wanda smelled like cinnamon. It was different from your mother’s scent but nearly equally comforting. You rested your chin on her shoulder, your hands fiddling with her long locks. You heard her grab medication from the table, popping out a painkiller for you. She then stood up with you in her arms to go get a cup of water to help you get the pill down. You swallowed it, feeling slightly like it stuck to your throat but you pushed through it, the water helping you a little. Wanda stroked her hands down your back comfortingly, feeling your arms tighten around her.

“I want mommy”, you whispered, your voice wavering slightly, tears wetting her neck.

“Shh, princess, I know”, she hummed, bouncing you in her arms. You were still just a little bit too warm, Wanda’s brows furrowing in worry. “Let’s take you into the bathroom”, she hummed, adjusting you to her left hip for better support.

“What’s in the bathroom?” You asked in confusion, pulling back from her neck to look at Wanda’s green eyes that held a softness to them. She cupped your cheek briefly, offering a gentle smile.

“The floor is really cold”, she whispered. “It will bring down your temperature”, she explained, lowering herself to the cool tiles of the master bathroom. “Come on, sweetie, you have to lay down”, she instructed, but you only snuggled closer to her, seeking her warmth more fervently. Wanda pried off your long sleeve shirt, goosebumps erupting over your skin at the coolness of the air as she chucked the shirt aside. She lay down with you on top of her, sighing at your stubbornness as you whined in protest. She opened a cupboard that was right in her reach, pulling out a soft towel that she placed on the floor as a makeshift pillow, patting it gently. “Put your head down”, she tried again but you didn’t move an inch, your face hidden against her chest.

“No, it’s cold”, you cried, making Wanda chuckle.

“Darling, that’s why you have to lay down”, she reasoned, receiving a huff from you as she slid you off of her and onto the tile floor. You whined angrily, the tears that had dried a while ago making a comeback. You cringed and shivered at the cold stone against your skin. “Shh, look at me baby”, she mumbled, your head turning to the side to meet her eyes. “That’s it. Take deep breaths. Don’t focus on the cold”, she guided you, watching how you sucked in a long breath, filling your cheeks with air. You trembled lightly, screwing your eyes shut as you clenched your fists to manage the change in temperature that you absolutely did not approve of. But the longer you lay on the floor the less the cold stung, the waves of shivers wracking your body less and less frequently as you cooled down.

“Your eyes are green”, you mumbled, staring intently into Wanda’s, making a rather obvious observation. She nodded in confirmation as you scooched closer to see better. “There’s stripes in your eyes”, you noted, studying the fibers in her irises, realizing there were flecks of gold and darker green in them.

“Stripes?” Wanda questioned in confusion.

“Yeah”, you nodded, bringing your hand to her face and stuffing your pointer finger up her nose. You giggled joyously, Wanda huffing out a laugh as she pulled your offending hand off her. You coughed lightly, wiping your nose into the palm of your hand. “When’s mommy coming home?” You were clearly bored of laying on the bathroom floor.

“She should be home soon enough”, Wanda reasoned, popping the thermometer she had brought with her into your armpit, making sure you were squeezing your elbow to your side to hold it in place.

“When’s that?” You inquired, your puppy eyes looking up at her.

“Honey, I don’t know”, Wanda hummed, the front door clicking conveniently right after. You bounced up from the floor, the thermometer clattering onto the tiles as you ran out of the bathroom to go greet your mother who was carrying two large grocery bags and a medium box of donuts.

“Mommy!” You screamed, your voice sounding rather hoarse. She smiled brightly at you, dropping the bags to the floor to welcome you into her arms, Wanda sneaking the donuts for herself before Natasha even had a chance to set them down anywhere.

“How’s my baby girl holding up?” She murmured into your neck, tickling your sides a bit. Her coat felt freezing cold against your naked skin, goosebumps covering your chest and arms but you were just so relieved that she was home again that you didn’t care. You giggled loudly at her poking fingers, snuggling as close as you could get, joyous screams coming from you every now and then. “You were nice to Wanda while mommy was away, weren’t you?” She asked teasingly, knowing you always behaved well with Wanda. You nodded your head, used to the way Natasha was juggling you in her arms to remove her coat and scarf without setting you down. She dropped them on the small bench in the entrance of the apartment, walking into the living room where she could properly give you the attention you clearly craved. Your usual spurt of energy was cut short by your sickness and she could visibly see how the energy was drained from you quickly after.

“Mommy, will you read me a story?” You asked quietly, slumped against her chest as you shivered from the cold, nuzzling closer to her for warmth.

Myshenka (little mouse), we have to eat first. It’s getting late for lunch”, she reasoned but you just let out an angry whine.

“I’m not hungry”, you grumbled against her shoulder, huffing forcefully as a way to fight the congestion in your nose. Natasha grabbed a tissue from the box on the coffee table and brought it to your nose, pressing your other nostril shut. You huffed with all your might, some of the snot coming out, but your nose remained blocked.

“Wanda-honey, will you bring me the nasal spray from one of the grocery bags?” She requested, glancing over at Wanda who was emptying the bags all over the kitchen, crimson light levitating the food items in the air as they floated into their rightful places.

“Coming right up”, Wanda hummed mouth full of donut, the small cardboard package flying Natasha’s way. She unboxed it, sliding the tip up your nose and spraying each nostril. You winced, feeling some of the medicine drip down your throat, the flavor worse than any other medicine you had ever taken. You coughed right in her face, offended by the ghastly taste that you tried to get rid of.

“Could you bring some water in here?” Natasha asked again, feeling bad for ordering Wanda around like that but she didn’t have the heart to set you down onto the couch when you looked so sick and worn down. She brushed her fingers over your forehead and hair, cradling you to her chest to get you more comfortable as you pushed some more air through your nose to try to get the snot moving. You turned your face into her chest, coughing loudly again, the sound starting to turn gravelly. Natasha frowned in concern, welcoming the glass of water that Wanda brought alongside a full carafe that she set down onto the table. “Thank you”, Natasha whispered, turning back to you. “How are you feeling, baby?” She asked softly when you tried to nuzzle closer to her.

“Cold. Head hurts”, you mumbled as a thermometer was stuck into your armpit by Wanda’s magic.

“We were in the middle of taking her temperature when you came home”, Wanda explained, walking into the living room with your shirt in her hands. “She got a painkiller about thirty minutes ago”, she informed, Natasha nodding in acknowledgement, a pensive look on her face.

“Would you mind staying for a bit? At least until I’ve managed to get her some lunch?” She suggested hopefully, feeling like she needed another set of hands to take care of you.

“Of course not”, Wanda chuckled as if her request was ridiculous. “I’m free until the evening. I’ve got nothing but time”, she assured Natasha, handing her your shirt, reciprocating the soft smile she received from her.

“You’re a lifesaver”, Natasha mused, Wanda grinning back at her.

“I’ll go get some of that soup you brought”, Wanda announced, turning her gaze to you, her finger tickling your cheek softly. “Would the patient like a sandwich with that?” She asked, hearing a muffled mumble come from you, Natasha’s shirt making it unintelligible.

“That would be a yes”, Natasha chuckled, her hand brushing over your head. She felt her heart ache at how adorable you looked despite your condition, her arms hugging you closer, a sudden wave of sadness washing over her when reminded of the fact that time would never stand still. She had barely even noticed how much you had grown and as she held you close she realized that your head was positioned higher than before, and your legs seemed to stretch farther than she remembered. You were growing, something that none of you could escape. She sighed heavily, her pout replaced by a smile when you rubbed your face against her, grumbling quietly.

“Mommy”, you whined, a piercing pain shooting through your head as you coughed lightly again, the thermometer letting out a quiet beep.

“What, malyshka (baby)?” She asked, removing the device from your armpit and checking the number it displayed. Your fever had thankfully lowered a good amount.

“I want a story”, you whimpered, tugging on her shirt childishly.

“Mommy will read you a story after lunch, okay?” She suggested, hearing a whine from you but you didn’t seem to protest further than that, allowing her to slide your pajama top back on.

Natasha spoon fed you your soup because you refused to do it yourself, keeping your eyes closed to avoid making your headache any worse even though it was starting to feel slightly better as the painkiller slowly kicked in. The soup was warm which you liked and it soothed your throat. It was easy to eat unlike the sandwich Wanda had made. It felt like a thick paste that stuck to the roof of your mouth, making it hard for you to swallow. You did take a couple of bites from the sandwich whenever Natasha offered it to you, but eventually she ended up finishing it off herself, your tummy filled up by the noodle soup. Once your lunchtime was over you got to choose a book that Natasha would read to you while you sat in her embrace with your eyes closed, imagining all the wild things she was reading about. You loved stories and most nights you got a bedtime story if there was time for it. On the nights when there was no time you would often resort to begging and pleading until Natasha promised to read you twice as much the following night. You had just recently finished The Jungle Book which you had adored through and through, Natasha’s colorful impressions of each character something that always drew you in without fault. You had many, many unread books lying around in your room, some for you to read and others for Natasha to read during bedtime. You had chosen the thickest book from your collection, one that you knew to be for older kids but it was just so irresistibly beautiful that you had to know what was inside it. You had already looked at the pictures and even read some of the text from the beginning, but you just wanted to hear your mother put her own twist on it.

You slammed the large book onto Natasha’s lap, its red frame decorated with gorgeous gold curves, the cover displaying a dark castle and the name Harry Potter below it. Natasha frowned at the book in front of her, giving you an amused look. She was slightly against reading a book that was definitely meant for kids a few years older than you, but she couldn’t lie, she was intrigued by the flashy yet elegant cover, curiosity bubbling inside of her. She had heard of the legendary children’s story that took the world by storm but she had never gotten the chance to read it herself, never even stumbled across the movies. All she knew was that it was about a wizard boy. Natasha felt a bit childish at the excitement that she suddenly felt and it was by no means the first time she had felt it when reading stories to you. She loved to experience all the iconic tales that had lightened up so many people’s childhoods even if she was already an adult by the time she got her hands on them. That didn’t matter to her because she could experience it all through you and connect with her own miserable childhood and maybe in some ways heal that inner child that still sometimes rose to the surface.

“Are you ready?” She asked, taking a peek at your face that rested against her shoulder, your legs lain across her lap, the book on top of them. You nodded your head, Natasha opening the cover, skipping the first few pages. “Chapter one, The Boy Who Lived”, she began, changing her voice from its mundane tone to the one she used when reading. It was a bit more formal and her annunciation was clearer, bringing a storytelling quality to her tone. You snuggled up against her, holding onto her shirt, your eyes shut as you imagined what Privet Drive and the Dursleys looked like. You giggled quietly whenever she lowered her voice to sound like Mr. Dursley or raised the pitch for Mrs. Dursley. She made them both sound annoying and tiresome which was loosely based on the character descriptions.

“Mommy, what’s a tabby cat?” You interrupted her for the third time already, eager to learn new things.

“It’s a type of cat with stripes, I think”, she hummed, frowning when she realized she wasn’t sure what defined a tabby cat.

“And what’s that peculiar-word mean?” You mumbled, squinting to see if the page had any interesting pictures for you.

“It means odd, unusual”, she replied, pressing her lips to your forehead as her eyes skimmed the page to find the spot she had been in so she could continue. You relaxed back into her body, listening to the even rumble of her voice, her accents and the different sounds she made sparking your mind with the most peculiar images, making you forget all about your sickly feeling. Slowly her voice turned into an even hum where you were no longer able to separate words, the world you had created in your imagination starting to slip away from you, fading into a ubiquitous darkness. You heard her flip the page, becoming more aware of your surroundings again, jolting slightly to prevent yourself from falling asleep.

“Wait”, you moaned, blinking your eyes open. “I have to see the pictures”, you mumbled, forcing yourself to look at the pages so you wouldn’t miss a single thing. Natasha found it beyond adorable, turning back the previous page to show you the small pictures on the margins. You studied them for a moment, nodding your head when you were done and she could flip the page again. “Mama, I wanna sleep with you tonight”, you said quietly before she had the chance to continue reading, her lips pursing at your request, chest blooming with warmth. “If I fall asleep will you take me to your bed?” You asked hopefully, glancing up at her, clearly fighting off sleep in your deeply relaxed state.

“I’ll make sure you sleep with me tonight”, she whispered, brushing her finger down the bridge of your nose a couple of times, smiling widely before going back to reading.

Notes:

Currently in a phase where everything I write is absolute, pure garbage :) so if it takes me a while to update you’ll know why

Chapter 19: Dingbat alert

Notes:

Once again excuse the chapter name😭 istg it’s the most difficult part of updating

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Y/N!” Natasha raised her voice in the kitchen, immediately gaining your attention as you sat in your room surrounded by your school work. She sounded a bit disgruntled as she stared at the laptop screen in front of her, reading an email sent from the school. You had a feeling that you knew exactly what she had discovered, slowly tiptoeing out of your room to find her, purposely lingering outside the kitchen to gain some distance to your upset mother.

“What?” You asked softly, feigning innocence, but you had a guilty look on your face. You knew what you had done.

“I got an email from your teacher telling me that you’re displaying antisocial and violent behavior at school. Come here”, she said evenly, gesturing for you to come closer with her hand. You did as told, moving to stand beside her, carrying an air of retaliation around you. “It says you punched a kid in the face so hard his nose bled”, Natasha read quietly, a hint of disappointment in her voice. “Is that true?” She asked, turning to you, her eyes scanning your face as you nodded. She sighed heavily, clearly upset by your behavior as she shook her head, reading parts of the email again. “Why would you do that?”

“He was begging for it”, you huffed, reminded of the events, an angry frown falling onto your face.

“Begging for it?” Natasha asked incredulously, shocked by your attitude. It was starting to sound like you weren’t sorry at all.

“Yes”, you nodded.

“Well, how did he beg?” She inquired, truly baffled by the situation. “Sit down”, she ordered, pulling up one of the dining table chairs for you.

“He called me a bitch”, you grumbled, the insulting word loaded with such venom Natasha was taken aback.

“And then what?” She asked, an appalled expression on her face, slightly ashamed to be intrigued by elementary school drama.

“Then I called him a dingbat”, you stated, Natasha letting out an amused scoff, bringing her hand to her mouth to keep herself from laughing. “He’s stolen Makena’s lunch a few times and he did so today too”, you explained, Natasha’s brows drawing into a frown.

“Honey, is that why you asked for bigger lunches?” She inquired softly, the pieces clicking immediately.

“Yeah. Me and Sav always share with her”, you admitted, Natasha brushing her hand over your head, petting you gently, a small pout on her lips.

“That’s very sweet of you”, she hummed, offering you a comforting smile. “So what happened today?”

“He took her lunch box and when I tried to take it back he pushed me and called me names. I told him to stop but then he pulled on my skirt so I punched him in the face”, you told her, looking down at the floor to avoid her disappointment. “I know I wasn’t supposed to”, you mumbled quietly, playing with your hands that sat on your lap, the knuckles of your dominant hand a bit bruised. Natasha’s gaze trailed down to your small and clearly capable hands, grasping the one on top. She bent the fingers carefully, testing your range of motion.

“Does that hurt?” She asked, receiving a shake of your head. “Good. It’s most likely just a little sore”, she whispered, her smile an attempt to cheer you up. “Do you want to know what mommy thinks of all this?” You nodded again.

“You did the right thing”, she hummed, your wide eyes rising up to meet her own. Her reaction was definitely unexpected, your lips parting in surprise. “You defended your friend, you told the bully to stop, and when he put his hands on you you defended yourself”, she explained, a proud smile on her face. It was all she could ever ask for. She had raised you right no matter how much the school tried to tell her that you were misbehaving. In Natasha’s opinion you were far from it which was something she was definitely going to bring up in the parent-teacher conversation the school wanted to have with the kids involved and their caretakers.

“A bleeding nose is a bit extreme for playground fights though”, she mused, earning a little smirk from you. She could tell you were nothing but happy about finally standing up for your friend. Maybe you had even thought about it before but hadn’t had the courage to go through with it. “We don’t want any real damage like a broken nose, right?” She questioned, waiting for you to agree with her.

“Right”, you nodded.

“Next time, if you have to punch someone you punch just hard enough to make them remember it”, she instructed. “Never aim in the eyes or nose because you can accidentally injure someone very severely. It’s better to target the middle of their body”, she continued, gesturing for your shoulders and abdomen. “However, if you’re in real danger you’re allowed to do whatever you can”, she reminded you, slipping in a bit of self-defense advice just in case, even if you wouldn’t be needing it on a playground. “But remember, always try to communicate first. Never lead with your fists”, she said in all seriousness. Despite being proud of your physical defense abilities she did not want the incident to become a regular in future. The kind of dedication and fire that you had inside you could easily result in trouble and as a child it was much easier to confuse the line between good and bad, to separate your emotions from your impulses. You nodded at everything she said, still seeming a bit confused by her acceptance. “Come here, baby”, she hummed, pulling you close enough to kiss your cheek. “I’ll make sure the school knows what really happened”, she assured you.

“You’re not mad? The teacher was pretty mad”, you mumbled, looking up at her with your adorable eyes, frowning sadly. “She yelled at me”, you whimpered bitterly.

“No, I’m not mad, sweetheart”, she said. “I’ll have a word with the teacher. Everything’s gonna be okay”, she assured you.

“And Makena can still sleepover tomorrow?” You inquired hopefully, nervous that your plans would have to be canceled because of your bad behavior. Maybe Makena’s mom didn’t want her hanging out with bad kids.

“Of course. She’s always welcome here”, Natasha nodded, brushing aside your hair. Makena was going to come over regardless of how you behaved because she needed a babysitter. You had invited Makena for a sleepover on the upcoming Thursday because her parents were going on a trip and the kids couldn’t stay alone at home, each of them staying somewhere else the night. It worked out perfectly for you and Makena because Natasha was able to both pick you up and drop you off at school. It was a bonus that her mother got along with Natasha and vice versa, your own mother having a tendency to black list people for the smallest of mistakes as well as what she considered “suspicious characteristics''.

“Mommy”, you whispered, gaining her attention.

“What, solnishka (sunshine)?” She inquired, co*cking her head and offering you a sweet smile.

“I need help with my Russian”, you whined, having a pile of homework on your floor that you hadn’t even touched yet because despite your language knowledge it was really intimidating and so was your teacher. Natasha had signed you up for Russian classes to attend a couple of times a week, just to ensure that you wouldn’t lose what little you had learned in your life. She also found it very useful and saw it as a way for you to connect to your roots as well as feel more included around her and Yelena. It was like your own secret language.

“Let’s go see what you’ll learn”, she said encouragingly, sliding her laptop shut and getting up from the chair. You led the way, skidding into your room, relieved you didn’t have to do it all by yourself. You knelt to the floor, searching for a couple of sheets of paper, opening up your text book that you couldn’t read at all because most of it was in Russian.

“I have to do these for Monday”, you explained, pointing at the letters that you needed to trace and practice, the other sheet displaying words you needed to translate and sort into grammatical genders. You had barely started on the letters, the first line of As neatly traced with a red marker.

“Okay, let’s start with the alphabet”, she hummed, looking over the work you had ahead. “Where’s your pencil?”

“Here”, you mumbled, crawling to the side and grabbing it from the corner of your carpet where you had thrown it in frustration, Natasha giving you a mildly confused look. You lowered yourself onto the floor, supporting your upper body on your elbows, pulling the worksheet and book under you.

“What’s the first letter?” She prompted, getting more comfortable on the fluffy carpet, her hand sliding down your back.

“I’m not sure”, you mumbled, tracing the lines of the letter Б, making sure it matched the example given.

Smotri na kartinka zdez (look at the picture here)”, she instructed, pointing at the small image of a banana. “Chto eto? (What’s this?)” You looked at the image, very aware of what it was.

“Banana”, you replied in English. “So that’s letter B”, you reasoned, tracing it a few more times.

Khorosho. Skazhi banan dlya menya. (Good. Say banana for me)”, she instructed, watching you process her words for a moment. “Ponimayesh? (Do you understand?)” You looked at her, clearly a little confused.

“Um, banana”, you replied in English again, not really understanding what she was getting at, some of her words not a part of your vocabulary.

Б kak banan (B like banana)”, she explained to you. “Skazhi po-russki (Say it in Russian)”, she asked, watching you ignore her and move onto the next letter. She shook her head gently. Maybe she should’ve put you into Russian class a little earlier when you had been less stubborn. “I’m not going to help you if you’re not going to listen to my help”, she reminded you gently, earning a glance from you. “What’s banana in Russian?” She asked again, giving you another chance to fix your attitude.

Banan”, you muttered, going back to tracing the third letter of the Cyrillic alphabet that was shaped like a B.

“Good. What’s the next letter called?” She asked.

“B”, you replied, Natasha feeling her patience get tested.

“We just had B. There’s only one B”, she reminded you, watching you work it out in your head.

“Then why can there be like a gazillion S letters but only one B?” You asked defensively, too tired to try to decipher a foreign alphabet even if you somewhat spoke it with your mother.

“I don’t know, I didn’t make it”, she countered, taking pity on you and answering her one question. “It’s a V, honey”, she revealed to you, pointing at the image of cherries on the side. “V kak vishnya (V like cherry)”, she added.

After a slew of letters your concentration started to wear off, your pencil tip wandering off to the sides, coloring the marginals with angry scribbles. The paper was slightly crumpled up, the edges abused by your fidgeting fingers. It frustrated you that there were letters like Н,В,P and C that weren’t at all what they looked like and were actually pronounced like the English N, V, R and S. You didn’t even want to try to process all the seven S-letters or the odd scribble that was the letter Д (D). Natasha could tell you were tired, deciding that it was better to take a small break or maybe even finish the homework some other night.

“They’re the same!” You cried desperately, trying to find anything that actually made Ш and Щ different. They sounded the exact same to you.

“Listen to me, solnishka (sunshine). Ш kak shapka i щ kak shchotka (Sh like hat and shch like brush)”, she tried to explain but you couldn’t listen anymore, it felt like torture to make your brain try to understand something it clearly couldn’t comprehend. Tears pricked at your eyes, your frustration bubbling to the surface, your stomach growling loudly. You were hungry and tired, and on top of it all you were incapable of understanding Russian. It upset you because you wanted to understand, you wanted to be cool like mom and Yelena, but it was just so hard.

“No! It doesn’t make sense. No!” You whimpered, hiccuping quietly, wiping your eyes rather roughly.

“Look at me, baby”, she said soothingly, her fingers caressing the underside of your chin. You blinked up at her, trying your best not to cry more. “It’s just like with З and Ж, remember? Change the position of your tongue”, she instructed, opening her mouth a little more to show you where you were supposed to place your tongue. “You know how to say zaika (bunny), right?” You nodded your head, sniffling quietly.

Zaika”, you said, Natasha’s smile brightening.

“That’s it! And you still remember how to say zhiraf (giraffe), right?” She asked encouragingly, trying to make it fun for you because you were so close to being finished with the alphabet exercise.

Zhiraf”, you nodded.

“That’s perfect! Pay attention to where your tongue is. Zaika in the front and zhiraf farther back. Got it?” She asked, her hand caressing the side of your head, trying her best to comfort you enough to get you through the exercise so you wouldn’t have to battle any longer with the single task when you had much more left to do.

“I think so”, you hummed hesitantly.

“Show me where your tongue is when you say zhiraf”, she told you, smiling softly at the way you bared your teeth for her to see the placement of your tongue. “And for zaika?” You moved your tongue to the front just a little shy from touching your teeth, letting out a buzzing sound for zaika.

“Excellent!” She cheered you on, nudging you a little, showing you just how impressed she was with you, praising you for your pluckiness. “Ready to try with shapka and shchotka?” She asked almost playfully, noticing the tone really worked wonders on you. “Say it with me”, she instructed, moving her mouth very clearly for you, purposely using an exaggerated manner of talking to help you catch onto the pronunciation better.

“Shapka”, you said with her, the s falling a bit flat.

“Very good. Try to think of a whooshing sound. You know how the wind sounds”, she continued, imitating the low whoosh of a wind with her voice, making all kinds of fun patterns, going high and low. You laughed at the funny sound, immediately trying to copy it. You found that much easier than thinking of any letters or words. It was like the wind, low and almost swishing. “And then you just say shapka.”

“Shapka!” You exclaimed, shocking yourself with how much better your pronunciation was. You sounded exactly like your mother had. “Mommy!” You squealed, overjoyed by your success.

“Yes! That’s my girl”, she exclaimed, welcoming you into the embrace you initiated. You were nearly vibrating in your boots.

“Shchotka”, you tried, pushing your tongue into the front like your mother had taught you to. “Did I get it?” You asked hopefully, pulling back to see Natasha nod.

“You got it”, she whispered, a proud smile on her face as she looked at your happy grin. You glanced at the rest of your homework that was still on the floor, your smile faltering. You weren’t done yet and you had other subjects too that you needed to work on.

“I have the other sheet still”, you mumbled, pulling away from her hug, your success long forgotten, replaced by disappointment. Natasha frowned sadly, unable to accept your sorrowful demeanor. You had succeeded and learned something new. That was enough for the night.

“Leave it, darling”, Natasha hummed, grabbing your hand to pull you back to her. “We’ll find the time to finish it later this week”, she reasoned, climbing up from the floor, her knees feeling a bit sore from being bent for so long. You looked up at her in disbelief.

“Really?”

“Do you want to do it?” She asked for confirmation, your head moving immediately in a disagreeing shake. “Then it’s settled. There’s no point in overworking you. It’ll only make you grumpy”, she said teasingly, poking you a little. “And I’d much rather eat dinner with a happy, little girl”, she mused, sliding her hands under your armpits when you reached up for her as a sign of wanting to be picked up. You still did that sometimes and Natasha was nothing but overjoyed to lift you into her arms, picking you up with ease, your legs wrapping around her waist. She found the weight of you comforting, a habit she had gotten used to during your toddler years.

“We have to be quick so I can go sleep”, you reasoned, looking at Natasha with a little grin as she walked out of the bedroom, turning off the lights.

“So early?” She asked in confusion, your nod confirming her your intentions. “Why so early?”

“So tomorrow will come quicker”, you revealed, a sense of understanding flashing across Natasha’s face. The sleepover.

You woke up before your alarm with the help of the pure excitement you were feeling that morning. You were an energized ball of lightning dragging a sleepy Natasha out of bed, bouncing around her bedroom, waiting for her to get dressed because you had had your breakfast before her alarm had even gone off and had nothing better to do. You barely even noticed how sluggish she was, her hair a frizzy, unruly mess, face pale and slightly puffy from sleep. You were too excited to function, waiting by the front door as Natasha poured her black coffee straight into a travel mug, slipping in a couple sugar cubes before grabbing a granola bar off the counter. Despite finding your excitement partly adorable she couldn’t help but to be relieved once you kissed her goodbye and ran through the school gates to meet with your friends. It was too early in the morning to hear so many children scream. Not to mention the screaming you and Makena would be doing at home in the blink of an eye, for Natasha that happened to be quite literal. She accidentally fell back asleep on the couch, spending the better half of the day snoozing away, drooling into the cushions.

•••

Natasha heard loud, joyous laughter from your room, followed by screams that could’ve shattered glass. Nevertheless she was relieved to know that you had friends at school and even more relieved to know that they and their families seemed to be decent people. You liked Makena a lot. She was your best friend, maybe even your first friend ever. You always had so much fun with her that you could barely contain your excitement. There wasn’t anything you couldn’t do with her. You liked the same games and movies. She loved the same stories and toys as you did. It was always so easy to be with her whether it was at school or at home, or at her place that you had visited a couple of times. They lived in Washington Heights, closer to the school than you did, the compound located farther in the north. Makena had an older brother Marco, two younger sisters Jackie and Alana, and a dog named Bruno. Her mother Vivienne had invited Natasha over just to show her around and assure her that you were in a safe environment with trusted people. Your mother was very cautious when it came to other people, especially when she had to trust you in the care of someone who she still considered an acquaintance which is why you had a cellphone you could use to text and call Natasha at any time, even at school if necessary. You rarely used your phone but it was something that gave your mother a feeling of security and peace.

Natasha’s grin widened as she listened to the unmistakable sound of excited little girls screaming, the piercing sound echoing throughout the entire apartment. She leaned against the frame of your bedroom door, purposely staying out of sight just so she could enjoy the happiness that billowed from your room, all sorts of toys littered across the floor where you had at least three different play sessions going on. She could clearly see the Barbies and your beloved Barbie mobile, a stuffed animal -tea party where Tootsie was wearing a princess dress and a tiara, and a third one that was clearly an imitation of house. The latest one you had only just started and you were assigning roles which Natasha found more than amusing.

“I wanna be mommy!” You whined, Makena frowning in disbelief.

“But I’m mommy!” She cried back, trying to pull on the purse that was clearly supposed to indicate who was mommy. It actually happened to be a purse stolen from Natasha’s closet, her brow arching as she recognized the piece that she thought had been lost for ages.

“I’m a girl”, you reasoned, Natasha covering her mouth at your unreasonable argument.

“I’m a girl too!” Makena pointed out, huffing in frustration. You stayed quiet for a moment, a pensive look on your face as you thought over your situation. “We can both be mommies”, you suggested, Makena looking at you like you were crazy.

“Well, then who’s gonna be daddy?” She asked, clearly puzzled, which made sense because she came from a rather traditional family, you however, did not.

“We don’t need daddy”, you scoffed. “We’ll be wives. Girls are so much cooler anyways”, you explained, clearly not too fond of the opposite sex, Makena needing a moment to process this revolutionary idea.

“But…what if we have to kiss? Girls don’t kiss like that”, she reasoned, trying to make sense of the new concept.

“Yes, they do”, you countered, Natasha unable to believe her ears, fully invested in the turn the conversation was taking. Makena seemed to ponder the idea for a while, clearly contemplating her options.

“Alright, well then we’re both mommies”, she agreed after a moment, nodding her head definitively. “We need another purse”, she mused as you handed her the one on your shoulder.

“I’ve got another one”, you announced triumphantly, pulling out yet another one of Natasha’s bags.The problem was solved and you could finally begin.

Natasha swallowed down her chuckle at the non-traditional version of playing house where you were cooking paper scraps in a bucket and Makena was bouncing Tootsie in her arms like she had seen her own mother do with her younger siblings. Natasha couldn’t help but to be amused, feeling like there was a good chance you wouldn’t be bringing home boys any time soon, if ever. She took notice of the way you stood on one foot, loosely stirring the pot, copying the stance that she often had when cooking you food, the bored look on your face really selling the imitation. Grinning widely, she returned into the hall, giving you two your privacy by going into her bedroom to go over some new mission files she got sent the day before. She was planning on returning to the field at some point, slowly including more work hours in her days to keep herself sane. She found it easy to immerse herself thoroughly in her work, her eyes scanning quickly over mission intel and reports. She worked specifically on files from any missions that the rest of the team had participated in, more than familiar with their way of operating. She was also good with planning attack strategies for certain buildings or people that needed to be approached with caution and care. She quite liked her job, especially when she could do it from the comfort of her own bedroom, knowing you were happy and safe in your own room and she was able to concentrate on work while consuming a whole bag of whole nut m&ms. Bonus points if you didn’t end up begging for a share of her candy.

In the evening you girls rushed out of your room in the middle of Natasha making dinner, both sporting disheveled appearances, one of Makena’s space buns missing a hair tie, her thick hair sticking up toward the ceiling.

“Miss Romanoff”, the little girl started, still a bit shy around Natasha. “Will you please fix my hair for me?” She asked nicely, offering a snapped hair tie to her. Natasha eyed the black rubber band, glancing at you after.

“Honey, go get a new one for Makena from the bathroom”, she instructed, turning the girl before her around to get a better angle of her head, Makena’s smile widening into a toothy grin. You bounced out of the kitchen, Natasha’s hands gathering the gelled up hair back into a tight bun, fingertips puffing up some of the hair to give it more shape as she waited for the hair tie.

“Is it true that you’re a superhero?” The girl asked, taking Natasha by surprise. Makena was often very shy and only resorted to brief greetings when around Natasha but somehow she had gathered up enough courage to ask her such an important question. “Y/N always tells people you’re gonna kick their butts”, she explained, Natasha’s eyes widening in bewilderment.

“She’s telling the kids what now?” She questioned playfully, hearing the child giggle.

“That you’re gonna beat them up”, she repeated, clearly amused by Natasha’s shock.

“I don’t know about that”, she hummed, shaking her head, a delightful smile on her face.

“Well, could you beat up bullies?” She asked, her voice much more quiet, Natasha reminded of the fact that Makena had bullies at school, or at least one particular bully. “Could you?” She repeated, turning around to see her face, Natasha’s hands slipping out of her hair. She looked at the girl for a moment, noting the sadness that shone in her eyes.

“I’ll see what I can do”, she hummed, her heart plummeting at the small, hopeful grin that spread on Makena’s lips.

“Here”, you chirped, offering the hair tie to your mother who caressed her hand down Makena’s arm, gently turning her around so she could finish doing her hair. You waited patiently so you could go back to playing again. Your hair wasn’t much better but Natasha and you were both used to it. She would fix it later. She stretched the elastic around Makena’s dark curls, wrapping the tie as many times as it would go to keep her hair secure. She flattened the bun with the palm of her hand to give it an even shape, turning the girl around again to see it from the front so she could make sure the buns were symmetrical.

“There you go”, she hummed quietly, her eyes soft and loving, her hand briefly touching the side of her head. “You look beautiful”, she praised, receiving a shy giggle before you both ran away to continue whatever it was that you were doing.

The night was filled with excited giggling all throughout bedtime, Natasha having no clue what was so funny all of the time. It also surprised her how both of you seemed to have endless energy in you, although some of that might have been her own fault for giving too much ice cream during dessert, but she just couldn’t resist watching you two pile syrup and candy over your bowls of ice cream, essentially creating heaping piles of sugar for you to consume. She just wanted you to have fun, considering your first ever sleepover a special occasion that deserved a celebratory amount of sweets. It also happened to be something she was very fond of, two big bowls of ice cream with a hefty amount of rainbow sprinkles and a caramel sauce drizzle barely enough to soothe her own sweet tooth.

The next morning Natasha got you both ready for school, making sure you were dressed up and eating breakfast on time, empathizing with your tired frowns. She knew you had stayed up all night because she too had been awake for the most of it, listening to your attempts at being quiet. Ever so often either of you would burst into giggles as you played with your dolls in the dark, giving away your little secret despite trying your best to convince Natasha that you were tucked up in bed. She hadn’t bothered to tell you to go to bed, knowing you would suffer the consequences of your own actions the next morning which Natasha couldn’t help but to be amused by as she watched you both struggle with your breakfast. Makena was leaning her face into the palm of her hand, eyes shut as she missed her mouth with the spoonful of cereal, the milk dribbling down her chin and back into her bowl. You weren’t doing much better, your face smushed up into the table, holding an apple wedge to your lips, nibbling tiny bites off the sour fruit, although Natasha had a feeling you were no longer conscious. After your incredibly slow and low-energy breakfast you were finally ready to leave the house, Natasha dropping you and Makena off at school, walking into the classroom holding both of your hands, Makena’s grip just a little tighter than yours, clearly nervous.

“Baby, why don’t you go sit at your desk?” She suggested, nudging you a little into the direction of your seat, letting go of your hand. She crouched down so that her face was level with Makena’s. “Who is it?” She asked, waiting for the anxious girl to point out the boy who was giving her trouble. Her finger rose up to gesture toward a blonde boy laughing with his friends, throwing around an eraser, the rubber hitting someone in the head, all of them bursting into loud laughter. She could see why they would be intimidating with their behavior, gently rolling her eyes at the children. “Go with Savvy and Y/N. I’ll take care of it”, she assured her, letting go of her hand, Makena unable to return the soft smile on Natasha’s face. The girl took a step toward your desk before halting, her smile brightening. She almost surged into Natasha’s arms, giving her a quick, shy hug before running off. Natasha pursed her lips, feeling a gentle tug in her heart, watching her go sit next to Savannah.

Natasha walked across the classroom to the blonde boy who was very obviously wealthy, maybe even wealthier than the rest of the private school class. He had an obnoxious dress shirt on and sharply tailored slacks with shiny black shoes. Somehow he was already painfully annoying solely based on Natasha's subtle observations. She had seen his father flaunt his shiny car that was every bit as vexatious as the father himself, Mr. Chambers. She stalked up to the kids, interrupting their clamor by her rather intimidating presence.

“You in the white shirt, come here”, she ordered, waving her hand to the side to get him farther away from his friends. He was very obviously confused by the woman he had probably never seen in his life, but oddly enough listened to her, albeit a bit reluctantly.

“What’s your name?” She asked, guiding him to stand to the side where it was more secluded from others, his blue eyes observing her, trying to find out what she wanted.

“Grayer”, he replied with a hint of arrogance in his tone.

“Uh-huh”, Natasha hummed, leaning closer to his face. “Listen up, dingbat. You lay a single finger on my daughter again and I’ll make sure that snooty, little ass of yours is gonna regret it”, she said in a restrained grumble, Grayer’s face going slack at the threatening tone. “If I ever hear that you’ve stolen Makena’s lunch again it’ll be the last time your daddy’s beloved Lamborghini goes out for a ride”, she hissed, smirking a little at the wide-eyed look on the boy’s face. She was getting through to him.

“Yeah, as if! My daddy-“ He started defensively, Natasha giving him a pitying look at the pathetic attempt to fight back.

“Once I’m done you’re not gonna have a daddy left to cry about”, she whispered back with a smile, his jaw falling open, a scared expression taking hold of his features. She knew she was being cruel to him, but if the teachers weren’t going to do it someone had to. He was clearly full of entitlement that he didn’t deserve, and Natasha certainly wasn’t going to just stand by and watch him bully her babies for the hell of it. Maybe a bit of a scare would knock some manners into him. “Now, get your ass back in your seat and behave”, she ordered, shoving him gently back to his friend group.

Who would’ve thought that she would some day come to use her superpowers to fight against schoolyard bullies. Natasha walked over to your desk, greeting your friends before kissing you goodbye. She ran into the teacher by the door, the young woman hurrying inside, carrying a pile of books. Natasha took a once-over of the classroom, her eyes landing on Grayer who was staring after her. She squinted her eyes at him, his gaze immediately turning to the teacher. Poor thing was probably scared out of his mind. She glanced at you once more, winking Makena’s way, the girl’s smile widening visibly before Natasha was out the door.

Notes:

I hope the Russian lesson made some sense 😂

Chapter 20: Peach in June

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

You woke up just a tad too warm in your bed, kicking aside the covers to cool yourself down a bit. You had slept in, the first day of summer vacation allowing you to sleep as long as you wished, Natasha also enjoying the benefits of such luxury, fast asleep in her bed. You tiptoed to her bedroom door, peeking inside to see the dim room, confirming that your mother was still in fact asleep. You made your way into the kitchen, your bare feet nearly silent against the cool stone floors, your pearl white sleeping gown flowing around your legs, the nightwear a piece of clothing that you loved a great deal because it made you feel like a princess. The apartment was silent, early morning sun shining through the blinds of the living room, giving it a yellow glow. You opened one of the kitchen cupboards, pulling out a container of chocolate puffs, making sure you were being as quiet as possible so as not to disturb your mother who was beyond sensitive to any kind of noise. You found yourself a large cereal bowl, pouring yourself a hearty amount of puffs before going to the fridge to find milk.

You carried the bowl of cereal over to the living room coffee table careful not to spill the milk onto the floors. You jumped onto the couch, smiling to yourself, grabbing the TV remote from the table, eagerly pressing the red on-button, searching for your desired channel, just in time for your favorite show. You lowered the volume immediately before reaching for the bowl, once again meticulous not to splash on the couch so you wouldn’t ruin the cushions. You felt at ease spooning the coco puffs into your mouth, huffing quietly whenever something funny happened on TV. You knew you had an exciting day ahead and you almost couldn’t wait for your mother to wake up so the day could finally start.

Natasha woke up to the quiet murmur of the TV, blinking her sleep heavy eyes a couple of times to get used to the idea of being awake again. She glanced at the screen of her phone, checking the time, mildly surprised that you hadn’t come to wake her up before 8am. She yawned, deciding to get out of bed to see what you were up to since you hadn’t come into her room to look for her. Natasha didn’t bother with pants, the apartment already warm enough as it was, definitely prompting her to take a look at the air conditioning to lower down the temperature that was starting to be too warm for comfort. She found you from the living room, the serene scene before her making the corner of her lip quirk up in a soft smile before she went into the kitchen to soothe her parched throat.

“Good morning, solnishka (sunshine)”, she hummed from the kitchen, gaining your attention for the first time that morning.

“Morning”, you chirped, scooping more cereal into your mouth, barely patient enough to glance away from the screen.

“I see you already got breakfast and everything. You’re gonna have me unemployed in no time”, she joked, walking over to you and bending over the backrest of the couch to press a kiss on the crown of your head. You beamed up at her, proud of your independence. “I’m gonna have some toast and maybe scrambled eggs. Do you want any?” She asked, her eyes moving to the screen to see what you were watching. “Mm, Kim Possible again”, she mumbled in amusem*nt, noticing that she had seen the redhead on the screen more than a handful of times that week.

“Uh-huh”, you nodded, a girl named Shego appearing on the screen. You glanced at Natasha to see her reaction, hiding into your bowl as you felt your cheeks flush. “She’s really cool”, you murmured, Natasha watching the two girls fight, plates flying everywhere, the green girl slamming Kim into a table. There was more green magic and grunts as Kim wrestled against Shego’s glowing arm.

“Did you want toast?” She asked you, amused by how engrossed you were in the show, earning a slow nod of your head, Natasha leaving you to watch your cartoons to find breakfast for herself. Her eyes spotted a pocket-sized digital camera on the kitchen island, a soft smile spreading on her lips as she grabbed it. She had charged it the night before so it wouldn’t die in the middle of your fun day, Natasha pressing the on-switch and aiming the lens at you, zooming in a bit to get less of the living room into the frame. She snapped a quick candid picture of you, the sunlight and your silky dress making you look more than beautiful. There was something so precious about your large cereal bowl and your focused eyes. You didn’t even notice her take the picture, Natasha unable to start her breakfast before she had given you another kiss.

Once the slow morning was starting to be in the wraps and your cartoon time was over you were ready to start the day. The first thing you did was get changed for your first beach trip of the summer, tugging on a new two-piece that you had gotten a week ago. It was neon green and frilled, decorated with rhinestones that would glitter in the sun. You were downright obsessed, doing a little runway performance for Natasha where you showed her how the pretty swimsuit looked on you even though you had already tried it on a bunch of times and she had seen it every single time. You covered yourself up with a loose summer dress and paired the outfit with flip flops because you loved the funny sound they made. While you were styling yourself to look like the coolest seven-year-old in New York Natasha was packing everything essential for the beach trip, folding up towels and a change of clothes, also making sure she had swimming goggles and toys for you. Finally, she grabbed some water and juice from the fridge, sliding the bottles into a thermostat bag that would keep them cold for the duration of your trip. You squinted your eyes as Natasha’s fingers spread sunscreen over your cheeks, lathering the thick, coconut-smelling lotion all over your face to avoid the harms of the sun. You weren’t exactly fond of the process, but you knew there would be no beach trip without your mother dousing you in sunscreen. Regardless of the unpleasant feeling on your skin you were beyond excited to go swim in the ocean and play outside all day. The drive to Long Beach went by surprisingly fast while listening to the happy songs that played on the car radio as you watched the scenery change. Before you even knew it you had arrived at your destination.

Natasha watched you run toward the shore, your flip flops flinging around sand as you sped by the dozens of other people who also had decided to have a beach day. She spotted a small, vacant area near enough to the water that she could keep an eye on you when you were swimming, spreading her thick blanket over the sand, setting down her bags to keep it in place. You tugged your dress off immediately, throwing your sunglasses into one of the bags, bouncing on your feet, unable to stay put.

“Can I go swim already?” You asked hastily, nearly vibrating from excitement as you waited for an answer.

“Come here, baby”, Natasha commanded, tugging you to sit down on the blanket. “Remember, no funny business. You stay where your feet touch the bottom, got it? And make sure you stay nearby”, she ordered, knowing you needed clear boundaries and rules to protect you because you had a tendency to forget all about them when you were in your own little world. You nodded your head eagerly, already standing back up so you could go into the water. “I’ll come with you later”, she promised, kicking off her sandals and opening the button of her black jean shorts, shimmying the worn denim down her thighs. Not patient enough to wait for her to undress, you bolted off into the waves, Natasha unbuttoning her loose-fit blouse to reveal her dark brown bikini that hugged her curves. The triangles of her top were made of ribbed fabric, a golden rectangle cinching it in from the middle. It was an old swimsuit she had had in her closet for ages but it never disappointed, always leaving her feeling comfortable yet just a little sexy. She left the blouse on, squirting some sunscreen into the palm of her hand, spreading it over her legs, already knowing she was going to go home sunburnt. Not really sure what to do next, she grabbed the camera from one of the bags, searching for interesting shots through the small screen, taking a couple of pictures of her surroundings and a few more of you in the water. She wasn’t exactly sure why she did it, but she grabbed the swimming goggles and put them on, the tiny sockets digging into her eyes, everything around her a hue of bright blue through the plastic. She turned the camera around, aiming it at her face and taking a picture to see how she looked before yanking the goggles off her head. There was a soft, amused scoff when she saw just how stupid she looked, giving up on the idea of photography. She scanned the shore, making sure you were in her vicinity before laying down on the blanket, basking in the warm midday sun that caressed her pale skin, an occasional, light breeze tickling her. She angled her head in a way that allowed her to keep an eye on you as she lay under the sun, feeling thoroughly relaxed knowing she wasn’t needed anywhere else.

Your concept of time was much different from Natasha’s and after you had chased the waves for a solid eternity you trudged back to the blanket in search of company, Natasha’s eyes barely even open anymore. You sat beside her in the sand, receiving a questioning arch of her brow to see what you were up to as you gathered sand into your hand and started to drizzle it into Natasha’s belly button. Neither of you said anything, Natasha allowing you to put small piles of sand over her abdomen, waiting for you to express what you wanted. While you continued to play with the sand without saying anything, she grabbed the camera from the blanket and took a picture of you, the device making a clicking sound that gained your attention immediately.

“Hey, you took a picture”, you pointed out, a shy smile on your face.

“Come on, sweetie, give me a big smile”, she prompted, building up your confidence for the picture. You did as told, offering her a toothy grin as you sat still, waiting for her to take your picture.

“Let me see”, you mumbled, Natasha turning the screen toward you, observing your reaction to the image.

“You’re such a gorgeous little princess”, she hummed, pulling the camera back to snap yet another picture of you. She smiled even wider when you giggled, trying to take the camera from her, the couple next pictures blurred by motion.

“I want to take one of you!” You exclaimed, reaching for the camera again, Natasha finally handing it to you. Instead of getting your mother’s face into the picture, you decided to photograph the piles of sand on her stomach, Natasha shaking her head in amusem*nt. “Don’t move”, you ordered, standing up and aiming the lens at her again, this time fitting most of her in the frame. Her legs were bent, the messy sand piles covering her abdomen as she looked into the camera, her hand raising up to cover her face so she wouldn’t have to squint at the bright sunlight. You snapped a picture, waiting a couple seconds to make sure the camera took it, looking at the small screen. “Look how pretty”, you said, giving the camera back to her, your focus shifting on the sand piles again. Natasha observed herself in the image, she didn’t hate the way she looked, feeling a fond smile tug at the corner of her mouth.

“Mommy, what’s that scar on your belly?” You asked suddenly, sliding your finger over the raised bump that was a couple of shades paler than her complexion. She put aside the camera, her other hand caressing your foot that was in her reach, blinking her eyes shut to avoid the blaring light of the sun.

“A bullet went through”, she mumbled, sounding indifferent, like it was just another feature on her body that you were curious about. She didn’t see the benefit of acting like it was anything special. Bodies were different, and accidents sometimes happened. The scar was no different from body hair, pores, moles or anything else you might have questioned before.

“A bullet?” You gasped in surprise. “Did it hurt?” You inquired in excitement at hearing such a wild explanation.

“Yes”, she hummed, smiling a little at the curiosity in your tone.

“How much?”

“A lot”, she whispered, cracking one of her eyes open to see your shocked expression. Your hands brushed the sand off her stomach, vigilant eyes trailing over the planes of her abdomen, suddenly noticing more than just one scar.

“What are these?” You asked, trailing your finger along small, white lines on her hip that had ragged edges. You could barely see them, the sunlight bringing out the different textures of skin. Natasha could have felt insecure with you pointing out every little detail on her body that most would’ve considered as flaws, but she didn’t have it in her to care.

“Stretch marks, honey”, she offered as an explanation. “I got those when I grew up”, she continued.

“How?” You asked in confusion, not sure what she meant.

“Sometimes your body just grows faster than your skin stretches and you end up with these tiny, tiny scars that heal over time and become almost invisible. Sometimes they’re bigger and more obvious and sometimes you can’t even see them”, she explained, knowing you were listening intently, eager to know more about the world around you. “The ones on my hip I’ve had since I was fourteen”, she added.

“You’ve been fourteen?” You asked in disbelief, unable to understand that your mother had once been a child herself.

“Yes, I have”, she chuckled, teasingly poking your side a bit.

“There’s no way!” You exclaimed, crawling above her to look down at her, your hair dripping cold water over her face. She winced, causing you to shake your head a bit more to annoy her.

“Alright, let’s go swim”, she huffed, tickling you enough to get you off her. She sat up, sliding the blouse off her shoulders before getting up and running after you. She dodged a couple of toddlers, easily catching up with you as her feet sank into the cool water, hearing your joyous laughter amidst the soft roars of the waves. It wasn’t very windy that day but the waves were a decent size, knocking you down with a single push, Natasha openly laughing with you and admittedly at you. Another large wave washed over you as you sat on the wet sand, throwing you back enough to make you tumble to the side. You wiped your eyes, screaming in excitement, the funny feeling of being knocked around making you cackle loudly. Natasha helped you up, sitting down beside you to experience it with you, the waves crashing into her chest, her arms keeping her upright. She didn’t mind the refreshingly cold water or all the sand that was wedged up every crevice of her body, she found it fun regardless, a wide grin on her face that she couldn’t seem to let go of. She huffed out a laugh when you got slammed into the sand again, very clearly enjoying the hilarious sight.

“Mommy, can we go where it’s deep?” You asked hopefully, knowing you weren’t allowed there alone, Natasha clambering up from the ground, her arm helping you to get onto your feet.

“Go ahead”, she hummed, watching you jump into the water, taking big strides to fight against the resistance of the waves. “Khoroshiy plovets (water-dog)”, she muttered to herself, following in your footsteps. It didn’t take long for the waves to lift your feet above the ground, your bodies conforming to the movement of the water. You found it incredibly fun when large waves would bounce you up and down, the feeling of weightlessness exhilarating. You laughed loudly, making all kinds of noises as you rode the steady waves for as long as they would allow, Natasha floating in the water, much less relaxed than by the shore even if you were doing just fine in the new depth that still allowed Natasha to stand with both her feet firmly in the ground.

“Look, mommy, look”, you told her, pinching your nose shut before you dove into a wave, barely going fully under the surface. You wiped your face rather aggressively to get the salt water out of your eyes before being able to open them, looking for Natasha’s reaction.

“Wow! Do you want to show me again?” She asked, feigning her excitement for your rather average skill. You nodded your head, diving again, this time deep enough that your entire body remained under the surface for a few seconds.

“Your turn!” You exclaimed, Natasha rolling her eyes in good nature as a smile spread on her lips. The waves had moved you closer to the shore, Natasha easily able to stand in the water that reached her ribs. She offered you a playful smirk, filling her cheeks with air to give her dive a bit more theatrics before sinking into the water. You could only see a bit of ivory and auburn in the distorted, slightly murky water, Natasha moving under the surface. She was under for much longer than you had been, making you wonder how she did it, suddenly feeling hands on your waist, the tickling sensation making you scream as you were tossed in the air, your uncoordinated limbs splashing in the water, your body sinking under.

“Again!” You screamed before you had properly even resurfaced, swimming back to Natasha, laughing maniacally. She grabbed you by the waist again, using her legs to spring you up enough to throw you in the air. It was the most fun game you could’ve ever thought of, repeatedly asking Natasha to throw you into the waves. She did it so many times that she was starting to think that her workout for the day was in the wraps.

“Mommy, mommy, can I sit on your shoulders?” You asked urgently, tugging on her arm to pull her lower so you could climb onto her, eager to try yet another fun trick.

“Mommy, mommy this, mommy, mommy that”, she muttered teasingly, guiding you behind her, arms yanking you up enough to help you climb onto her shoulders. You sat up comfortably, hands holding onto her head as you kicked your legs to splash water in her face, Natasha moving to the more shallow area so that your feet no longer reached the surface, her hips barely underwater.

“Hey!” You whined, the cool breeze erupting goosebumps over your skin, Natasha’s hands brushing over your shins in the front. She had to admit that she loved teasing you and often did so in a playful manner, just to see your reaction which was usually followed by uncontrollable laughter. “Go back into the water”, you ordered, trying to swing your legs to make her move. “Mommy.”

“Back into the water?” She asked, feigning the appalled tone of her voice. “Let’s get you back in the water”, she smirked, shoving your dangling legs up to drop you off, hearing a loud scream as you flipped in the air, your voice snuffed out by all the splashing. She knew you would find it funny, already smiling when you resurfaced with a bewildered grin on your face, ready to beg for more.

“I did a flip!” You announced, shocked by the experience, but more than excited to relive it. Natasha grinned down at you, briefly considering bringing Steve to the beach so he could throw you around more than you could handle. “Can I try standing?”

“Sure thing. Go ahead, love”, Natasha replied sarcastically, waiting for you to stand up in the shallow water.

“No!” You giggled, clambering up from the water. “I meant on your shoulders”, you laughed, already going around her and starting to climb up her. Natasha knew she was going to have at least five big bruises the next day, but she couldn’t say no to you. Every single giggle out of your mouth was worth any bruising she might get, her very soul at ease when you were having fun with her. She walked against the waves so that you weren’t as far away from the surface when you would inevitably fall from her shoulders. You inched up her back until your knees dug into her neck and upper back, Natasha offering her hands to you for support so you could step your foot onto her right shoulder, repeating the action on the other side until you were standing up.

“I’m doing it!” You exclaimed, gasping for air. You were so high up, feeling like the tallest person in the world, Natasha wincing when the side of your foot pressed down on her neck, knowing for certain that she would have a stiff neck for the next week or so. “I wanna try without hands”, you informed her, your entire body trembling, searching for balance on the uneven surface.

“Okay, honey, stay upright and tense your muscles”, she instructed, moving her right hand to your calf to offer some more support. You were swaying left and right, not even a little bit stable but you let go of her hand despite it, standing up straight before you wobbled forward, falling face first into the water.

You couldn’t think of anything in the world that could’ve been more fun, swishing and splashing in the water until you were exhausted and starting to get cold. You swam to Natasha, a large grin on your face, your hands wrapping around her neck as you pulled yourself into her embrace, your legs tightening around her waist. You needed a break from all the swimming, your arms and legs feeling weak as you relaxed into her, Natasha holding you close in the relatively deep water.

“Should we go get some juice in that tummy of yours?“ She suggested, hugging you softly as you nodded your head against her cheek, noticing a mark on the reddened skin of her left shoulder.

“You’ve got another scar”, you stated, feeling compelled to touch the white spot.

“Another gunshot wound”, she replied. You were still panting gently, clinging to her wet body as she walked to the shore, smiling softly, kissing your bare shoulder.

“Another?” You shrieked, pulling back to look at her in the eyes, your brows raised in surprise.

“Yes, another”, she chuckled.

“Mommy, you have to be more careful”, you whined as she set you down on the blanket, finding a fluffy towel for you from one of the bags. She wrapped you in it tightly to warm you up a bit, kissing your forehead chastely.

“I am careful, dorogaya (darling)”, she assured, knowing she was even more careful now than she had been back when she had gotten said gunshot wounds. Natasha was worlds apart from the person she had been before you. Now she had someone who needed her, someone who made her life worthy of protecting.

“Then how come you got so many scars?” You asked in puzzlement, feeling slightly upset by the clear indicator of Natasha having been hurt in the past. She had many marks on her body, most of them quite inconspicuous because they were so old, but regardless of that her story was mapped out on her body and sometimes it was too grave a burden for her.

“Mommy had a rough childhood”, she hummed, settling down on the blanket with you, pleased to feel the sun warm her up.

“Rough how?” You inquired, Natasha feeling slightly uncomfortable. You were too young.

“I’ll tell you when you’re older”, she answered, pulling out a towel to dry her hair with. “I know I have a lot of scars and you’re curious, but I’ll tell you everything when the time is right, okay?” She suggested, handing you the bottle of multifruit juice.

“Okay”, you nodded, screwing open the cork.

“Mommy doesn’t mind that you’re curious. You’re my baby after all”, she hummed in amusem*nt, pinching your toe to make you smile. “But some people who have scars might consider it rude if you ask about them, so it’s polite to not mention them at all”, she told you, feeling the need to teach you some manners as well. She didn’t mind a question here or there about her past or scars but when you tried to dig deeper it often made her defensive and irritated, knowing that if it was anyone else asking she would take offense in their behavior.

“Why?” You asked after finishing half the bottle of juice, offering it back to Natasha.

“It can be a sensitive topic and make people sad”, she replied, earning an understanding nod from you. She brought the mouth of the bottle to her lips, taking a long swig of the cold juice, feeling thoroughly refreshed by all the swimming she had done with you.

The day went by lounging around on the blanket, reading and talking. Natasha even took a small nap with you nuzzled to her side while you played with an action figure, occasionally sipping some more juice as you both dried under the sun, your skin and hair left sticky and dehydrated, but you didn’t care. When your stomach started to grumble rather loudly you finally left the beach, walking down Oceanfront to find a restaurant. You were clearly intrigued by a blue themed diner called Beach Burger, it being the first one you had even considered, Natasha noticing you become whiny and frustrated the longer you searched for a place to eat. Starving as well, she walked into the burger place, seating you down to go grab a menu. You ended up choosing an adult meal instead of anything from the kids’ menu, managing to convince Natasha that you were starving so badly that you would definitely finish the whole meal. She knew you were exaggerating, but let you have your way because she herself was feeling famished and she knew she could easily finish what you couldn’t. You tried to talk your way into ordering The Grand burger that was double beef and double cheese but that was where Natasha drew the line, knowing the meal was way too large for you and you would most likely end up with a stomach ache.

“Why don’t you take the Classic one?” She suggested, eyes scanning the menu for something she was craving.

“I want it double”, you huffed grumpily.

“Baby, it’s too big for you”, she reasoned, sensing a temper tantrum coming, so she pulled the waiter to the table and started to order. She took the Hightide burger for herself and allowed you to order your Grand burger which she later changed into the Classic one while you were under the illusion that she was going to use the restroom. You couldn’t even tell the difference, Natasha finding it more than amusing as you bragged about your not-so-giant burger. Finally, you got to split a mermaid cone with Natasha, the soft ice swirl covered in bright blue sprinkles. She made you stand your back toward the beach as you held the ice cream cone in your hand, taking a couple more pictures of you with the impossibly blue cone.

“Want me to take one for ya?” The sound of a middle aged man asked, his voice laced with a thick Southern drawl. Natasha turned around, the much taller man offering a charming smile.

“Yes, please”, Natasha almost whispered, suddenly realizing how much his offer meant to her. She really wanted a picture with you to remember the special day by, handing him the camera and walking over to you. She crouched down to your level, wrapping her arms around your waist to hold you for the picture, pressing her cheek against your own. The man snapped a picture, smiling at the scene.

“I oughta take another one. Y’all look as pretty as a peach in June”, he chuckled, readying the camera for a second shot, his silly idiom making you laugh. He took a couple more pictures, one with you both laughing, another where Natasha was kissing the top of your head and a third where the melting cone was smeared all over your face because you were too impatient to wait for the man to be finished with his pictures. Natasha licked the cone from the other side, saving your fingers from the blue that melted down the waffle, the shutter of the camera clicking again, capturing the moment where you both had your tongues on the ice cream. That one ended up being your absolute favorite and you even asked Natasha if you could get it framed to sit on your nightstand where you could look at it whenever you wanted to. It didn’t take much to persuade her to participate in such an idea.

Two hours later, Natasha parked her Range Rover in the compound garage, shutting the engine, a sudden silence engulfing you both. You shut your eyes swiftly, freezing still to make it look like you were asleep, patiently waiting for her to come get you. Natasha of course knew you weren’t asleep because you had been peeking outside no more than five minutes ago, but she had no problem with carrying you upstairs. She wanted to do it and more importantly wanted to play along with your little game. She glanced at the backseat, the activity rich day evident on your sun-kissed skin and messy hair. Your muscles ached and you were most likely a little dehydrated, but you didn’t care. How could you when you had had so much fun?

Natasha exited the car, unbuckling you from your seat and carefully moving you into her arms as if you were actually asleep. She shut the door, making her way to the trunk to get her bags before locking the car and walking toward the elevator. She hugged you to her chest, your hair carrying just a hint of the smell of salt water, your skin possessing only a ghost of the coconut sunscreen. She kissed your warm shoulder, nuzzling her nose into your neck to breathe in your scent. You moved against her, hugging her tighter, Natasha’s mouth curving into a smile as her free hand rubbed your back soothingly. An intense feeling of contentment washed over her once she opened the door to your cooled down, dim apartment, feeling more than satisfied by the successful first day of summer vacation. She dropped the bags down, but kept you in her arms, walking over to the couch where she sat down, taking advantage of the opportunity she had to hold you in her embrace for just a little longer.

Notes:

This might be a little random in the middle of winter but oh well 😂

Chapter 21: Tooth fairy

Notes:

This is in honor of my face that got busted up on three different occasions before the age of nine XD

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“My tooth is moving. Mom!” You exclaimed from the backseat of the car on your way to the mall. “Look!”

“Honey, I can’t look, I'm driving a car”, Natasha explained, hearing an annoyed huff from the backseat. “Baby, I’ll check it out the first thing when we park”, she promised you, turning to the parking lot of the mall.

You had insisted on coming with her, most likely possessing an ulterior motive of getting something special from the store. It was one of your go-to moves. Her eyes scanned for a free spot among the lines of cars, finally discovering an empty space between a black Cadillac and a blue Volkswagen, Natasha steering the wheel to the right to fit her Range Rover into the spot. You kept wiggling your loose lower incisor, a slight, metallic taste on your tongue from forcibly tugging on the tooth all day. A few of your teeth had fallen out before, including the outer incisors of your upper teeth that were already growing in, flashy and sharp, but every time you discovered a new tooth that gave in to your touch you felt a thrill of excitement for it, always too impatient to let it fall out on its own. Once the car came to a stop you started to tug on your seatbelt to get it off, but you couldn’t quite reach the buckle, patiently waiting for Natasha to come help you as you swung your legs into the back of her seat, not quite hard enough to count as kicking so Natasha wouldn’t tell you off for it.

“Let’s see that tooth”, she noted, once she opened the back door, reaching to unbuckle your seatbelt. You bared your teeth at her, pointing to the loose tooth and bleeding gums, an impressed smile falling onto Natasha’s lips. “Look at that”, she mused, helping you out of the seat to stand on the concrete. “You think it’s gonna fall off soon?” She asked, earning a confident nod. “Alright, but keep your hands out of your mouth for now, okay? They’re gonna get dirty in the store”, she reminded you, slamming the car door shut and adjusting the purse on her shoulder. You nodded again, running through the cars to get to the front doors.

“Baby, don’t run!” Natasha warned immediately, knowing that it took less than a split second to get run over at a full parking lot where it was easy to appear out of nowhere especially if you happened to be a small child. You slowed down your pace, waiting for your mother to catch up with you. Once she was close enough you sped up again, running through the doors, your sneaker getting caught in the grates at the entrance, hurdling you straight into the slow automatic doors that had yet to react to your motion. All Natasha could do was watch your face slam into the moving doors as you fell onto the entrance mat that covered the floor tiles. She ran after you immediately, hurrying to your side, her face forming a mild wince as she knelt down beside you, afraid to find out the extent of your injuries. You looked at the floor beneath you, your entire face burning from the hit you had taken, a bloody tooth laying under you as you hoisted your upper body off the floor. You spat out blood, another crimson covered tooth falling beside the first one. There was a quick pause as you processed the events before you emitted a long cry, accompanied by instant tears.

“Oh my god”, Natasha mumbled under her breath, helping you off the floor to get a better look at your bleeding mouth. “Shh, darling”, she hushed you, pulling you closer, your face pressing into her neck as you screamed your little lungs out, trembling from pain. Your knees were scraped up and ached along with your elbows, but the worst part was your mouth. Your lip felt numb, yet you knew it hurt, you could taste the blood on your tongue, your gums radiating a sharp pain throughout your head at the forced loss of your teeth. Natasha pulled back enough to see your watery eyes despite your protests, bringing her thumb to your tender lip, gently raising the bloody upper lip to see the damage done to your teeth. She spotted two dark red spots where your front teeth used to be, producing a bit more blood than a loose tooth would have since they were knocked out prematurely. She knew they were milk teeth which was a huge relief to her, her concern shifting to the split lip that dripped blood down your chin. You cried loudly when her thumb made contact with the irritated skin right by the wound.

“I know it hurts, milaya, ya znayu (honey, I know)”, she tried to console you, continuing to hush you gently. “Let mommy take a look, okay?” She said, frowning as she studied the cut to determine whether it needed acute medical attention or not. It was very clear that the wound was quite severe, maybe even deep enough to need a stitch or two, your lip slightly deformed by the injury,

Natasha picked up the two teeth from the floor, pocketing them to leave a little less frightening scene behind as she hurried back to her car with you in her arms. She put you back in your seat, pained by the agonizing cries you let out, watching you thrash around in your seat because you didn’t know what else to do. She opened up the trunk of the car, her hands hastily searching for an emergency kit among all the junk that had been left to lay around in the back of the car. She unzipped the red bag once she found it, digging out an ice pack and gauze before slamming the trunk shut. Natasha came back to you, pressing the folded up gauze to your bleeding lip.

“Hold it there, myshka (little mouse)”, she instructed, moving your hand to press over the bandage to control the bleeding as she burst the small bubble of water inside the instant ice pack, feeling it grow rapidly cold to touch. “Can you hold it in place while mommy drives to a hospital?” She asked, trying to look you in the eyes to get a better idea of how bad the situation really was. You nodded your head, a new wave of tears cascading down your cheeks as you hiccuped loudly. “That’s it. You’re a big girl”, she whispered in encouragement, squeezing your knee as a comforting gesture. She shut the car door, getting into the driver’s seat and speeding away.

To her utter relief the emergency room had staff and beds available, the nurses welcoming you inside immediately, ready to take care of you. She didn’t leave your side not once while the doctor examined your split lip. By that time you were no longer screaming from shock and pain courtesy of the nurse who had given you pain medication as soon as your situation had been explained to her, allowing you to sit still while you were getting treatment. The doctor who was sitting in front of you, stretched your top lip up with his glove-covered hands to see the condition of your bleeding gums. You glanced at Natasha, reaching for her with a sad frown on your face, your eyes glossed over. You were scared and still most likely in a small amount of pain, Natasha immediately scooching closer to you on her plastic chair and grasping your hand in her own.

“You’re such a brave girl”, she whispered, offering you an encouraging smile, her thumb rubbing circles into the smooth skin of the back of your hand.

“Your mommy’s right”, the doctor agreed, using a cotton swab to spread antiseptic over the laceration, careful to not get any of it in your mouth. “You’re doing so well”, he assured you both, turning to Natasha. “I’m going to put a single stitch on her lip to hold the edges even in order to minimize any scarring and hopefully there will barely be a mark to remember this unfortunate event by”, he explained, gesturing around your face and lips as he used his hands to demonstrate his approach on your treatment. Natasha nodded her head, not really caring what he had to do to patch you up. She just needed you to be okay. You squeezed your mother’s hand as hard as you could when the doctor pierced your skin with a syringe needle, injecting you with a dosage of lidocaine to numb your lip enough to relieve the pain of the stitching needle. After only five minutes your lip was completely numb, your round eyes turning to Natasha once again as you opened and closed your mouth, trying to feel your top lip.

“Is it moving, mommy?” You asked expectantly, Natasha leaning a bit closer to see better.

“No, honey, it’s not moving”, she replied, observing you carefully, playing along with you to make the experience a bit more pleasant. “Are you sure you’re trying to move it?” She asked, feigned skepticism in her voice.

“Yes!” You squeaked defensively, trying to bare your upper teeth, or rather gums by curling your lip up but it wouldn’t budge.

“That’s what happens when the muscles are numbed. It affects the nerves in the area and blocks the pain”, he explained, his tone of voice letting Natasha know that he was used to children. You found it amusing, giggling quietly as your hold on Natasha’s hand started to loosen. You weren’t that scared anymore, curiously following the doctor’s movements to see what he was going to do to you next. Your eyes crossed as he brought the curved needle to your lip, but you couldn’t quite see what was going on, his hands working the thread through your skin, stitching the laceration shut.

“There you go, young lady”, he stated, his work on you finished in under ten minutes. “It’s all better now”, he assured, turning to Natasha for the paperwork she needed to fill. “I’m going to prescribe her some pain medication to relieve any aches that might follow. The lidocaine will most likely be effective for the next two hours or so. You should return in five days to remove that stitch. I know she took a pretty gnarly fall so if anything out of the ordinary comes up please don’t hesitate to contact me”, he instructed, writing something down on a form in front of him before he turned to you again. “I suggest you eat lots of popsicles to ease the swelling, and you’ll have to stick to soft foods for now. That means no chips or candy”, he told you, smiling softly. You nodded your head, moving to the edge of the bed to hop off it. “After 24 hours make sure you wash around the cut with clean water at least twice a day and try to keep it clean in general. Avoid anything that might cause the wound to reopen”, he added, Natasha listening intently so she wouldn’t miss anything important, absentmindedly welcoming you into a hug, her hand caressing the side of your head as you rested your cheek against her breast. You were clearly tired, leaning heavily on Natasha, something you did very often when exhausted and in need of comfort. She dropped her lips to the crown of your head, kissing your hair as she squeezed you tightly, feeling the way your arms wrapped around her waist in a loose hug. She thanked the doctor on multiple occasions, the man gaining even more respect from her when he offered you a SpongeBob sticker for being such a good sport. You walked out of the emergency room hand in hand, Natasha watching you study the fun sticker as you made your way to the car. She buckled you in, kissing your forehead briefly.

“Are you feeling alright?” She asked quietly, observing your face for any signs of discomfort as you leaned your head into the side of the seat. You nodded your head, trying to smile but the local anesthesia was still working full force. “Will you be okay if we stop at the pharmacy and grocery store for those meds and popsicles of yours?” She inquired, offering a playful smile because she knew you were a sucker for anything sweet and cold. You nodded again, letting out a giggle that was slightly unsettling because your face didn’t match the happy sound you made. She kissed your forehead again, thumb stroking your cheek. “Okay, you just sit tight”, she hummed before getting into the driver’s seat and starting the engine, heading to the closest pharmacy she could find, making sure it was near a grocery store so she would only have to stop once.

A little over an hour later you were sitting on the couch of the communal living room, suckling on a Bomb pop, hissing quietly when the cherry flavored ice made your sensitive gums ache, Natasha turning on the TV to watch the six o’clock news. You were feeling much better with the effect of painkillers and your ice pop, following the news from the corner of your eye even if you didn’t understand most of the things they were discussing. You leaned your head against Natasha’s arm, your eyes searching for the remote so you could possibly change the channel to watch something a bit more interesting, but when your fingers grasped the remote that sat beside her she smacked your hand away. You only shot her a grumpy frown before focusing back on your popsicle, finding yourself to be bored once you ran out of your sweet treat. You tried to change the channel again to see what else was on but after your second attempt at stealing the remote Natasha grabbed it out of your reach, still sucking on her first ice pop as she followed the news anchor intently, for some reason caring about something as insignificant as stock market crashes. The second you heard someone come in you perked up, leaning over the couch backrest to see who it was.

“Guess what happened?” You asked impishly as Tony walked in, heading for the fridge, a piece of unfinished tech in his hand, a bunch of hologram screens following him around. He turned to look at you and Natasha on the couch, slightly shocked by your presence, having been too immersed in his work to even notice that anyone else was in the communal spaces. He took a double take at your busted up face that was still quite swollen, the screens shutting off as he placed the tech on the kitchen island, walking closer to you with a worried frown on his face.

“What happened to her?” He asked Natasha, clearly concerned about you, his hand cupping your chin and tilting it up enough to allow him to see the stitch on your lip.

“I fell!” You announced before Natasha got a chance to respond. “Look”, you told him, bringing your hand up and lifting your still numb upper lip to show off your bloody gums.

“What?” He asked in shock, peering at your lacking teeth. “How the hell did that happen?” He inquired, unable to fathom how you suddenly had two teeth missing.

“And look, look!” You added, moving your hand to your lower teeth, wiggling the one that was still loose and remained in your mouth.

“She slammed her face into the mall doors”, Natasha hummed, trying not to chuckle because in hindsight when everything was okay and you were safe it was kind of funny, Tony wincing as he pictured the accident.

“Owie, what are you supposed to eat with no teeth?” He marveled, tilting your chin again to see better into your mouth, a couple molars missing from you.

“Popsicles!” You giggled, pleased by the attention you were getting. It was all so exciting.

“Popsicles, of course”, he reasoned. “How didn’t I think of that”, he hummed theatrically, pulling back and patting your head. “Try to keep the rest of those intact, okay?” He said, unable to hold the smile that tugged on his lips. You nodded your head, glancing down at Natasha’s hand that caressed your leg absentmindedly.

“Do you know where Steve is? Where’s everyone?” You inquired, eager to show them what had happened to you, Natasha trying to encourage you to stay on the couch and take it easy, but you just didn’t have it in you when you had something so cool to share for once.

“Uh, I think I saw him in the east wing, doing some arts and crafts or something”, he replied, watching your eyes light up immediately as you hopped off the couch, heading for the elevator, Tony going back to his tech, screens lighting up once again.

“Y/N!” Natasha exclaimed, gaining your attention in an instant, halting you in your tracks. “No running. You saw what happens when you run where you’re not supposed to”, she reminded you, giving you a stern look. You nodded your head, waiting a second to see if she had anything else to say before speed walking out of the living room.

Once you were out of her sight you sped up your steps, running through the halls at full speed even though it made your bruised knees ache. You reached the elevator, the doors sliding open to reveal Wanda inside, her curious eyes taking a look at your flushed appearance as you panted gently.

“In a hurry?” She asked you with her calm and quiet tone, her hand hovering above the elevator buttons to silently ask you where you were headed.

“Look”, you said brightly, instead of replying to her question, the doors sliding shut. You displayed your mouth to her, Wanda’s brows furrowing in obvious concern as she crouched down to your level.

“Oh, dear, are you okay?” She asked, sounding quite alarmed, but it just made you giggle.

“Yes, I’m fine”, you chuckled. “Look I can’t move my top lip cause the doctor man put this needle into my face”, you explained, trying your best to move the muscles of your face, your top lip remaining still.

“What happened?” She inquired, feeling herself grow a bit protective over you, her maternal instincts kicking in despite recognizing that you were clearly not in danger anymore.

“I fell”, you explained, the doors to the elevator opening. “Clint!” You screamed, your pronunciation of everything slightly off due to your unmoving top lip. He looked at you for a moment, noting the stitch and your swollen lower face. He eyed Wanda, silently asking the question that was so popular that day.

“Look, look, look!” Wanda and him shared a frown, both just as puzzled by your injury and excitement, Clint taking a look at your mouth to see the damage.

“That’s quite a blow you’ve suffered”, he mused, his hand brushing down your cheek in a comforting gesture. “Where’s mommy?” He asked in confusion, Wanda clearly not accompanying you if her polished appearance was anything to go by. Clint noted her long dress and glossed lips, Wanda’s cheeks dusting a gentle pink.

“I have a date”, she whispered, Clint nodding in understanding, offering her a knowing smirk.

“You look pretty”, he offered, Wanda responding with a smile that was just a little brighter than before.

“Mommy’s in the living room”, you stated, completely missing the small conversation they were having without you. “I’m looking for Steve”, you continued, not exactly sure in which part of the East wing he was. “And I was looking for you too, and Bruce and Sam cause they haven’t seen this yet”, you explained, pointing at your mouth. “And Pepper!” You gasped, realizing you wanted to show her too.

“That I can help you with”, Clint chuckled, pressing the button for the floor where Pepper’s office was. The elevator doors slid shut, taking you a floor lower. You waved goodbye to Wanda and Clint, rushing toward Pepper’s office, already spotting her strawberry blonde hair through the glass walls.

“Peppy! Peppy!” You shouted, barging into her office where she was stacking papers and folders on top of each other, organizing the finished load of work.

“Y/N! Come in”, she said, despite you already being very much inside. “What are you doing here?” She inquired, pushing her office chair back when you rounded the table to get to her. You could once again point out the exact moment when she took in your swollen face, her lips parting in surprise. “Baby, what happened to you?”

“I knocked my teeth out”, you replied proudly, showing her your gums. She wore a shocked expression on her face, peering at your raw lip and the bloody dents that were in place of your lost teeth.

“Wow, that must have hurt a lot”, she marveled animatedly, her thumbs brushing over your cheeks affectionately.

“It wasn’t that bad”, you lied, wanting to seem tougher than you had been after your accident, your attention starting to shift to something else. You dropped your gaze down to Pepper’s stomach, reaching your hands for her bump. “You’re not supposed to be working”, you remembered suddenly, giving her an inspecting frown. “Why are you working?”

“Shh, don’t tell anyone I’m here”, she whispered secretively, pressing her finger to her lips, earning a smirk from you in return.

“Clint knows you’re here”, you told her, Pepper letting out a soft sigh.

“Well as long as Tony doesn’t”, she chuckled, shaking her head slightly.

“Can I listen for the baby?” You asked hopefully, your hands petting her belly with gentle strokes.

“Sure”, she hummed, guiding your ear to the bump. “Be careful, it might kick”, she warned halfheartedly, your eyes widening in surprise as you listened for the baby inside her. It made no noise, just like Pepper had told you before, but you still liked to try, just in case.

“Does it feel weird?” You asked, pulling away to look her in the eye.

“The kicking?” She asked for clarification, earning a nod from you.

“It did at first, but I think I’ve gotten pretty used to it by now”, she mused, caressing her belly with a small smile on her face.

“What’s it feel like?” You inquired, ever so curious about such an intriguing phenomenon.

“It’s a fluttering sensation most times. Have you ever had butterflies in your tummy?” She asked, getting an affirmative answer from you. “It feels a bit like that and then other times it feels like bubbling, almost like popcorn popping”, she explained, her smile only widening as she recalled the feeling, wistfully waiting for another kick from the baby just to feel the sensation of being connected to it. You looked at her with a hint of awe in your eyes, trying to imagine how it would feel. “What are you here for?” She finally asked after a stretched moment of silence.

“I came to show you my face”, you said brightly, Pepper shaking her head in amusem*nt. “I’m also looking for Steve”, you added, glancing up at her expectantly, hoping she could help you.

“Why don’t we ask Friday?” She suggested, your face telling her that you had completely forgotten that you could ask the all-knowing AI for just about anything.

“Yes, Mrs. Potts?” The smooth female voice of the AI asked politely, Pepper giving you a look, indicating that you should make your request.

“Miss Friday, will you please tell me where Mister Rogers is, please?” You asked, feeling a little nervous. You didn’t get to talk to Friday that often, your language sounding a bit foreign to your own ears, Pepper omitting a chuckle at your attempt at being proper.

“Mr. Rogers is painting in the gallery, Miss Romanoff”, Friday replied, her gentle voice whirring above you, Pepper watching your face light up at the important piece of information. You immediately hurried to the door, already on your way when Pepper exclaimed after you.

“Don’t tell Tony I was working!” She chuckled in amusem*nt, watching through the glass as you ran along the hallway. “That goes for you too, Friday”, she added pointedly, shooting a look at the ceiling above her.

It didn’t take you long to finally find Steve, who was completely immersed in his painting, working on a street view of New York. His work was a bit more abstract, but still distinct enough that you could tell there were buildings and cars. The background had a lot of grays and muted blues, allowing the car headlights and lit-up windows shine bright in hues of yellow, white, and orange.

“Wow”, you marveled in awe, staring at all the colors that lived on the canvas in perfect harmony, complementing each other more than well. He turned around sheepishly, giving you a shy smile. He didn’t share his art often but you were definitely one of his biggest fans. “That is so cool!” You praised, walking closer, leaning into his knee as a sign for him to lift you onto his lap where you liked to sit. You continued to look at the canvas, your eyes traveling to the side table that held all his instruments. There were tubes of paint littered on the surface, a wooden palette with multiple shades of paint mixed on it. He had a couple of paintbrushes as well as some weird metal things that reminded you of a spoon except they were flat where a spoon would be curved.

“What are those?” You asked, pointing at the tools, the tips covered in paint.

“Palette knives”, he said. “They’re used to mix and spread the paint. Like here”, he explained, pointing at the spots on the canvas that had been done by using the palette knives, making a clear distinction between a brush stroke and a knife stroke. You nodded in understanding.

“Can I try?” You asked hopefully, always eager to try new things.

“Of course. Here”, he offered, grabbing one of the palette knives and scooping some yellow on its tip. “Hold it in your hand like this”, he instructed, wrapping your fingers around the wooden handle before guiding it to the canvas. “You can do the other headlight of that car. All you have to do is tap it softly to leave a small dot behind. Be gentle with it”, he directed, supporting your hand from the elbow as you hovered the knife above the blue of the painting.

“Can I?” You asked for confirmation, quickly glancing his way to make sure.

“Go ahead, doll”, he nodded, knowing he could easily fix the painting if your result wasn’t what he was looking for, the spot he had chosen simply consisting of a couple different shades of blue and gray that were very easy to replicate and use to cover up any mistakes. You pressed the knife to the surface, leaving behind a warm yellow dot. “You can try another one there. Swipe the knife straight down, okay?” He guided you, using his hand to demonstrate the movement you should make. You repeated the action, gliding the knife down to create a fading stripe of yellow. You were surprised how nice it looked and even more surprised that you had done a decent job.

“How’s that?” You asked, turning around to look at him, his eyes finally getting a proper view at your face. He pulled back a bit to see your lip better, tilting his head as he inspected the neatly done stitch. “You did an excellent job”, he assured you, his frown not matching the praising tone of his voice. “When did this happen?” He asked, his large hand cupping the side of your head.

“Today. I fell”, you mumbled, no longer that excited about it as you felt the prominent ache slowly return to your face, your top lip feeling much warmer, like it was irritated. You lifted your top lip with your fingers, feeling a sharp sting, the effects of the lidocaine finally starting to wear off.

“Oh, wow. You must be the tooth fairy’s favorite client”, he hummed, trying to cheer you up a bit after noticing that you seemed slightly bummed out.

“The tooth fairy”, you gasped, unable to believe that you had forgotten such an important aspect of your accident. You lost two teeth. You would get double the money. “I hope mommy has my teeth”, you mumbled to yourself, setting the palette knife down on the side table. You leaned back into Steve’s chest, your head pressing to the side of his own. He could tell from your demeanor that something wasn’t quite right.

“Everything okay?” He asked in mild concern, rubbing your belly gently.

“My head hurts”, you mumbled. “I hit it pretty hard”, you reasoned, trying to massage your forehead to alleviate the pain, but it had no effect since the worst of your pain was located in the region of your mouth that you couldn’t touch because you knew it would only make it worse.

“How ‘bout we go find mommy?” He suggested, his voice low and soothing.

“Will I get a piggyback ride?” You inquired hopefully, hearing him chuckle.

“We’ll do piggyback”, he agreed, grabbing you by your waist as he stood up, hoisting you to his shoulders in one smooth movement, practically without any effort. You were still as light as a feather to him.

When you finally returned to the communal living room you found out that almost your whole family was gathered around the lounging area, Natasha in the middle of explaining something. You frowned, confused by their presence as Steve sat down on the couch, allowing you to climb down.

“Why are you all here?” You inquired, clearly puzzled.

Milaya (honey), you’ve been running around the compound showcasing your busted up face. People are gonna have questions”, she explained, hiding her amusem*nt at the tooth-debriefing she was having with the rest of the team, currently in the middle of explaining to them what had happened whilst assuring everyone that you were going to be as good as new once your lip healed.

“Okay, well, I told them I fell”, you huffed, but let the topic slide because you had something much more important on your mind. “Mommy did you get my teeth? For the tooth fairy?” You asked in visible concern, Clint smilingly widely at your hasty tone. Natasha paused for a moment, trying to recall if she did anything to the teeth or if they still sat in the pocket of her jacket.

“I’ve got them”, she promised you, earning a relieved sigh from you as you slumped into the cushions. Natasha could easily recognize the pain signals you were showing, her brows furrowing at your lethargic attitude as your eyes fluttered shut.

“Does it hurt?” She asked softly, pulling you to her side, her arms wrapping around your middle. You nodded, looking up at her with your sad eyes, a concerned pout on Natasha’s features.

“It burns”, you mumbled quietly, your eyes glinting a little more than usual, not far from shedding tears. Your head felt like it was being squished by something large and heavy, creating a feeling of pressure inside your skull, not to mention the sharp ache in your gums and the sensitivity of your top lip that you couldn’t move because you knew it would make your pain worse.

“Okay, I’ll get you some of those painkillers”, she mumbled into your hair, kissing the top of your head, her hold on you tightening. She was just so glad that your injuries weren’t any worse, feeling immense relief over the fact that she didn’t have a reason to be worried about you, although she was going to worry herself sick regardless. She already had a feeling that she wasn’t going to sleep all night because she would have the compulsive need to check in on you every other minute.

“And an ice pop?” You asked knowingly, Natasha giving you a small smirk.

“And an ice pop”, she nodded in agreement, standing up and briefly cupping your cheek before heading for the kitchen.

Notes:

This was a little all over the place and Pepper’s pregnancy is so random lmao but I guess we’ll have baby Morgan at some point <3

Chapter 22: My only sunshine

Notes:

Posting again cause I’m sick and I wanna pretend I’m being productive😩

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Hit harder”, Natasha ordered, taking languid steps as she rounded from behind you, observing your form when your hand connected with the chest of the beige mannequin again. “Don’t get sloppy on me now”, she warned, noticing your punches lose their form once you added more power to the impact. You let out a grunt, drenched in sweat, your lungs burning from effort. You really wanted to get better. You wanted to be the best. “Keep them sharp, precise- yes!” She praised, your fist connecting with the rubber, letting out a dull smack. “Take some distance. Good”, she instructed, watching you take a couple of steps back to put some more space between you and the dummy. “I want you to try the 360 kick”, she said, crossing her arms as she smirked at your slightly panicked expression. “You know the steps. Make your aim and go”, she told you, gesturing toward your target. She saw the moment you decided to go for it, gathering all your courage to include the specific move you had been practicing for weeks now.

You took a quick, shallow breath, taking a step forward into a defensive stance, turning half a circle to switch sides before alternating the leg you kept your weight on by doing a swift hop. You placed the leg that remained in the air in front of you, once again alternating the sides before twisting your torso away from the target to charge your roundhouse kick with all the energy you could possibly muster. Your bare foot smacked into the dummy, a loud grunt falling from your lips. The impact faltered your balance and you thumped onto the mat beneath you, panting heavily, your tired hands coming up to your forehead to wipe away the sweat.

“Excellent work!” Natasha cheered, coming over to you and crouching down to be able to high-five you with both hands, receiving surprisingly firm slaps despite your worn down exterior. You let out an exhausted moan, slumping to the floor, your body relaxing against the slightly cushioned surface.

“Was it good?” You asked in a hasty exhale, swallowing thickly as you tried to catch your breath.

“It was really good. Powerful and fast, but your aim was a bit off”, she answered, your face falling slightly. “You’ll get the hang of it eventually”, she said encouragingly. “It’s a difficult move.” You nodded your head, closing your eyes as you evened out your breathing, Natasha handing you a water bottle to soothe your dry throat. “You’re done for the day”, she hummed definitively, not wanting you to overwork yourself even though your enthusiasm would’ve surely allowed it.

“I wanna try one more time”, you persisted but Natasha shook her head.

“No, myshka (little mouse), you can try it next time. Now it’s time to rest”, she told you, chuckling quietly when a huge pout appeared on your face.

“Can I stay while you workout?” You asked hopefully, Natasha offering her hand to you in order to pull you up.

“Sure, I don’t see why not”, she hummed, moving to the direction of the weights section of the gym with you hot on her heels.

“Are you gonna lift today?” You asked, taking another swig of your water.

“That’s the plan”, she replied with a nod, moving her arms around to warm them up a bit more even though she had already done her warm ups with you about an hour ago.

“I bet you can’t lift me”, you smirked, Natasha giving you a look. She could most definitely lift a little delinquent like you in various different ways. Your body mass of around 60 pounds/27 kilograms was nothing for her.

“Oh, we’ll see about that”, she said playfully, knowing what you were after. She put her arms down, seizing her warm up as she walked closer to you. “Come here”, she mumbled, yanking you up into her arms with one quick scoop, your legs wrapping automatically around her waist.

“This doesn’t count!” You announced in a hasty giggle as she tickled your sides, her mouth blowing a raspberry into your neck.

“What do you want then?” She inquired, her eyes inspecting your excited face.

“Squat me”, you chirped. “I bet you can’t”, you added as if you ensure that Natasha had a reason to show you she could.

“Squat me”, she muttered in feigned annoyance as she set you back down, sliding her arm between your legs to wrap it around your thigh, her free hand grabbing your arm. You practically flew onto her shoulders, hanging there limply as you giggled. Natasha had carried full grownups out of collapsing buildings on her shoulders. To her you were nothing but a bag of sand.

“Now squat”, you commanded, Natasha’s legs bending as she lowered herself into a squat. You waited for her to come up but to your surprise she jumped, a shocked, joyous scream falling from your lips. She landed softly into another squat, jumping up again, doing five repetitions in total.

“How’s that for a squat?” She asked, hearing nothing but laughter from you as you clung to her desperately, trying your best to stay on her shoulders.

“Again”, you whined, kicking your legs a bit to ask her to move, your grip tightening to prevent yourself from sliding down her back.

“Again?” She asked teasingly, building your excitement up a bit more. You nodded your head, Natasha adjusting her grip before she jumped again, your laughter echoing in the empty gym.

You were relentless with your little bets, curiously watching as Natasha loaded a barbell with plates, prepping her equipment for deadlifts. You wanted her to pay more attention to you since you weren’t allowed to touch the weights without her supervision, doing your very best to distract her from her workout session which was exactly why she didn’t workout with you too often.

“There’s no way you can lift that”, you commented, Natasha chuckling at your behavior. “I bet you can’t even lift me”, you challenged, hearing a small scoff come from her.

“Get on the floor. I’ll use you as a warm up”, she chuckled, settling to stand beside you as you lowered yourself onto the floor. “Cross your arms and legs”, she instructed, demonstrating the movement with her own arms, a smile spreading on her lips at how happy you looked. She bent her upper body, reaching down for you, her hand clamping around your bicep, the other pressing into your inner thigh. “Tense your body. I can’t lift a squiggly worm”, she reminded you, smirking down at you as she lifted you off the floor with ease, doing so many repetitions that your limbs started to ache from how tense you were keeping yourself. But it didn’t take you too long to recover, already betting her to hip thrust you next. That one was beyond hilarious to you, reminding you of a rollercoaster. You couldn’t believe how strong she was, giggling loudly when she brought her hips up with such force that you nearly bounced off her lap completely, unsure if she was purposely trying to throw you on the floor or not. Regardless of her intentions you were more than overjoyed to get even a moment of her attention before she had to ditch you for the barbell. You couldn’t understand how she was capable of lifting her maximum weight of six plates on each side and on top of it all do repetitions with the astounding amount of weight. You watched in awe as she worked, wishing you would get the chance to try to lift it as well, but you knew she wouldn’t let you even if you asked. The very moment she was finished with her set, the weight thudding to the mat beneath her, you were ready for more, betting her to bench press you next as she moved on to set up the bench for her use.

“I bet you can’t make any more bets”, she responded, earning a laugh from you as she lay down and lifted you above her, doing her best to balance you in the air so you wouldn’t tip off her and the bench.

“Hey!” You exclaimed in offense. “Then how will I get you to lift me?” You whined, holding onto her wrist to remain steady as she slowly did a couple repetitions, your weight noticeably more on the muscles of her chest and shoulders. She let out a soft groan, tilting your body to the side so your feet hit the ground and you could stand upright again.

“By doing what I tell you”, she huffed, smirking at you. “Go stretch. I’ll finish my workout and we’ll have dinner after, okay?” She suggested, inching higher on the bench so that she was comfortably located under the bar.

“Wouldn’t it be more fun if I was your weight?” You protested, lingering beside her, Natasha letting out a quiet laugh.

“Go stretch”, she said firmly, earning a heavy sigh from you.

“Fine”, you grumbled, Natasha patting your lower back encouragingly before going back to her bench presses, clearly able to hear your little stomps as you returned to the cushioned mats and sat down to stretch. You really didn’t like stretching at all. It was your least favorite part of your training sessions whether you were with your instructor or your mother. You hated how much it hurt to stretch for the flexibility that you needed for kicks and many other stuff. You knew just how important it was, but despite its benefits you found it boring and painful.

A long, steaming hot shower later you were sitting at the dinner table with Natasha, scooping up a big forkful of creamy tortellini into your mouth, humming at the delicious taste despite being more than tired from your eventful day. You stared ahead blankly, your mind a huge mess as you recalled your day, remembering a bunch of details that flashed across your mind. You speared a piece of chicken, bringing it to your lips absentmindedly, Natasha observing you with a hint of amusem*nt. At times like these she couldn’t even comprehend how adorable you were, feeling a sudden urge to smother you with love. She smiled softly, taking another bite of her food before reaching for her glass of water.

“You’ve had a long day”, she stated, observing your slow movements and droopy eyelids, gaining your attention immediately, snapping you out of your thoughts.

“Yeah”, you mumbled, rubbing your eye a bit to fight off the exhaustion you were feeling. “We had PE at school”, you mumbled, starting to really feel the effects of all the exercise you had been doing that day.

“Would you like a bedtime story tonight?” She asked knowingly, watching a small smile spread onto your lips as you nodded.

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” You asked hopefully, Natasha’s smirk only brightening. You couldn’t wait to know what would happen now that Charlie had gotten his golden ticket.

“That would be the one”, she hummed, gathering some of her side salad onto her fork.

You couldn’t wait to get into bed under your warm and thick covers, surrounded by your stuffies as you leaned into Natasha’s thigh, listening to her soothing voice, waiting for sleep to come. You could already feel the sweet relief of your soft bed and the darkness behind your closed eyelids, quickly finishing your dinner to get to bed a bit faster. Natasha cleaned up the kitchen while you brushed your teeth, putting the dishes into the dishwasher and wiping the table clean before accompanying you in your bedroom. She sat onto your bed next to your pillow, waiting for you to cuddle into her thigh like you always did, your arms hugging her leg to your chest, face pressed into the fabric of her pajama pants. She began to read, the first twenty minutes of the story interesting until you started to feel frustrated with the sleep that didn’t seem to come. After thirty minutes Natasha’s voice finally quietened and she shut the book, marking her spot for the following day before prying you gently off her leg, thinking you had fallen asleep like normally. You didn’t dare to move, too afraid of scaring your sleep away, your mind feeling groggy and slow. You allowed Natasha to kiss you good night, her warm lips pressing to your forehead a couple of times, her hand smoothing over your hair. She brought her mouth to your ear, a nearly imperceptible whisper coming from her, the words “I love you” causing a soft smile to tug at your lips. Maybe sleep would come eventually.

You tossed and you turned, but you couldn’t sleep, something from school on repeat in your mind. You sat up against the headboard of your bed, huffing quietly, angered that you couldn’t force yourself to fall asleep whenever you so wished. You held on to Tootsie, hugging him to your chest for comfort as you tried to figure out an answer yourself. You knew you weren’t normal, you weren’t like other kids at school and it made you feel different, like you were an outcast. You loved your mother and she was very important to you, but you didn’t have a father. You knew everyone had to have a mother and father, so where was your father? How come your mother never talked about him and why didn’t you have grandparents? You had so many questions but not a single answer. There were kids at school who were missing a father or a mother but most of them seemed to at least know who they were even if some didn’t like their parents at all. It was very confusing to you and unfortunately Tootsie wasn’t of any help. You glanced at the clock on your night stand, knowing Natasha was already asleep. It was way past bedtime, even for her, but you knew you couldn’t sleep before you got some answers so you got out of bed, tucking the teddy bear under your covers and leaving the room. You tiptoed to your mother’s bedroom door, twisting the door knob open and stepping inside. You walked to her bedside, gently nudging her with both hands to wake her up, Natasha sighing softly as she started to gain consciousness.

“Mommy”, you whispered, nudging her again, feeling urgent with your dilemma. She rolled around under the covers to face you, blinking her eyes open, only able to see your outline in the dark.

“What is it, myshka (little mouse)?” She asked in a quiet murmur, finding your hand to grasp it in her own.

“I need to ask something”, you stated, Natasha automatically making room for you in her bed by scooching back enough to fit you next to her, but you didn’t move.

“Ask away”, she mumbled, her eyes closed, thumb swiping gently over the back of your hand.

“Mommy, where did I come from?” You inquired, the loaded question taking Natasha by surprise. Her eyes fluttered open to try to see your face, brain attempting to figure out an answer that was appropriate for a conversation to be had in the middle of the night.

“Um”, she started but she couldn’t come up with anything reasonable to say, always having avoided the topic because the thought of you having so-called real parents made her stomach twist in knots.

“I need to know, mommy. I can’t sleep”, you pleaded, tugging on her hand to get her out of bed, Natasha closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. The time had come. She couldn’t avoid it anymore. She shoved the covers aside, sitting up and abandoning the comfortable warmth of her bed as well as the very inviting dreamland she had just been submerged in.

“Alright, baby, we’ll talk on the couch, okay? Do you want tea or hot cocoa?” She asked, walking you into the kitchen, still holding onto your hand as she turned on the lights, making sure they were on the dimmest setting possible.

“Cocoa”, you hummed, watching her switch on the kettle before grabbing mugs from the cupboard. You helped her find the cocoa powder and milk, doing your best to be quick so you would get your answers faster.

“Are you comfy?” She asked as you both sat on the couch, wrapped up in blankets, each nursing your own steaming drinks. You nodded your head, feeling a little anxious, your feet and fingers cold as you trembled lightly.

“So…” She started, exhaling softly as she gathered her thoughts. “You know how babies are made”, she stated, knowing she had explained it to you before. Mothers gave birth to children after having sexual intercourse with fathers. “I didn’t give birth to you. I adopted you when you were around six months old”, she explained, staring ahead as she recalled the memories from eight years ago.

“I know I’m adopted”, you replied, looking down at the chocolate drink in your hands. She had explained it to you that time you had asked where babies came from. She was beating around the bush, trying to figure out anything reasonable that wouldn’t make you feel as bad as the truth would. Natasha really didn’t know how to explain anything without having to reveal parts of her past that she wanted to keep uncovered.

“You’re from Russia”, she said finally after swallowing a mouthful of tea. “I saved you from a collapsing building”, she told you, watching your eyes widen in surprise, it was definitely something you hadn’t expected. “I was on a mission. You know how mommy goes on missions for work?” She asked you, making sure you were following. You nodded again, staying silent so she would keep going. “There was this school in Russia that I went to ever since I was a baby”, she started again, her racing mind making the telling of the story advance very poorly, causing a bit of confusion for you but you pushed through. She stayed silent for a moment, taking pauses to piece together a child-appropriate version of the events, doing her best to include everything necessary without revealing anything too grave.

“It was a very scary, bad place. I was there for years, until I turned eighteen and escaped. It was so awful that I wanted to make sure the school got shut down, which is why I returned years later to do just that”, she continued, purposely leaving out Budapest and Dreykov’s daughter to avoid adding any unnecessary details to the mess that her story already was. She sniffled, looking away to avoid your innocent eyes that were loaded with curiosity.

“I went back into the Red Room –the school– to save all the other students who were going through what I had gone through”, she whispered, her voice feeling weak, the thought of you in the Red Room making her stomach plummet. You didn’t dare to let out a peep, observing your glum mother, waiting for her to keep going. “And you were there”, she revealed with a broken voice, doing her best to not sound so grave, but she found it more difficult with you looking at her like that.

“Why was I there?” You asked, opening your mouth for the first time in over ten minutes.

“Honey, you were one of the students, just like me when I was a kid”, she clarified to you.

“But I was a baby”, you protested in confusion. You had never heard of schools for babies. They were supposed to stay with their mothers until school or kindergarten.

“They started school really young there”, she explained, continuing the story to get through the worst of it as soon as possible. “I shut down the school, making sure that it would never, ever go into business again. I destroyed it with Yelena and just as I was leaving the exploding building I heard a baby cry. That was you”, she revealed, her finger pressing your nose gently like a button, a smile spreading on your face. She could see the excitement on your features, see the eagerness at finally knowing a new piece of who you were and where you were from. She knew what it was like to have someone withhold information about her past and she understood your pain. It was the sole reason why she felt the need to be completely honest with you.

“Was Yelena with you in the school?” You asked her quietly. “Is she really your sister? Maybe I could’ve had a sister there too”, you mused, Natasha feeling like she couldn’t continue the conversation anymore. It went against every single fiber of her being to keep going and break the perfect illusion you had been living in. She took another sip of tea, forcing back any negative emotions she was feeling in order to keep herself together.

“Yelena and I are sisters, but not by blood. We met in the school and we’ve known each other almost for our whole lives”, she said, earning a disappointed nod from you.

“So I don’t have siblings”, you hummed, looking away.

Milaya (honey)”, Natasha whispered, reaching her hand for your forearm to console you. “That doesn’t mean you can’t have people that you love around you”, she reasoned, trying to comfort you. “Who knows, maybe you’ll meet someone who you love so much that you feel like they’re your family. Or maybe you’ve already got someone important like that in your life”, she suggested, hinting at Makena because she knew the girl was the closest thing to a sister that you had ever experienced.

“Like Makena?” You asked immediately, cheering up a bit at the possibility.

“If you so choose.” She offered you a soft smile, your own smile widening.

“What about my real mom and dad?” You asked suddenly, the suggestion that Natasha wasn’t your real mother making her whole body ache. She knew that you were referring to your birth parents but it still hurt because she saw you as her own through and through, and nothing in the whole wide world was able to change that.

“I was just getting to that”, she said, her voice gentle as she took the empty mug from you and placed it on the coffee table alongside her own mug. You glanced at her empty hands and lap, wiggling down onto the couch so your head was resting on her thighs, facing up to have her in your line of sight. She tucked the blankets around you a little tighter, offering you a comforting smile as her hands remained on your body, caressing your head and chest absentmindedly. “Because of the school I don’t know my parents. I was so young that I don’t remember ever seeing them in my life. I was taken from my parents. I don’t even know their names. I don’t know anything”, she admitted, feeling slightly nauseous, the topic of her parents always a tough one for her.

“But who sang you lullabies and tucked you into bed every night?” You asked in confusion, not able to grasp not having someone like your mother around. “And who did you sleep next to when you had nightmares?” You continued, frowning sadly up at her, your tone tugging at her heartstrings, Natasha’s eyes shining with tears as she tried to blink them away. “And what about kisses and cuddles? Who gave you kisses and cuddles?” You asked in very visible concern, unable to imagine anything worse than not getting that kind of affection from your mother.

“No one, honey. I never had a mommy or a daddy”, she whispered, her voice breaking, conveying only a fraction of the anguish she was feeling. “That’s why you don’t have grandparents”, she lamented, refusing to include Alexei or Melina in the mix because they didn’t even deserve to know you, Natasha unable to let go of the grudge she still held against them for not fighting harder for Yelena and her. “And that is also why I don’t know who your parents are. No one knows where the girls of the Red Room come from”, she explained, feeling like her reasoning for everything was a letdown for you. She wished she could’ve given you it all: both a mother and a father, two sets of grandparents, and possibly even a couple siblings, but her non-consensual hysterectomy was not something she needed to bring to the surface at your ripe age of eight years old.

“That’s okay”, you said after a long pause of complete silence, not quite able to process what you were hearing because life outside of Natasha didn’t exist for you. It was all too far out of your reach and held very little significance to you. There were no memories of a time when you hadn’t been hers, so none of it mattered. “I don’t need them. I have you”, you reasoned in a quiet whisper, hoisting yourself up into a sitting position to hug her as tight as you could, a soft sob escaping her as she encased you in her arms, squeezing firmly. “I can be your mommy”, you suggested, Natasha’s watery chuckle making you laugh as well. The offer was beyond sweet and it made her heart ache to know how much you cared about her. “I can sing and tuck you to bed”, you continued, pulling back to bring your index finger to the slope of her nose, brushing it down the gentle curve, repeating the soothing gesture that Natasha had used on you your whole life. Her features softened visibly as she took in your beautiful face, watching a shy smile spread on your lips.

“How do you always know which lullaby to sing?” You asked suddenly after a moment of silence where you had tried to figure out something to sing for her.

“I just choose one that feels right”, she mumbled, closing her eyes when your finger brushed down her nose again, her hands caressing your waist softly. You seemed to consider your options before you readied yourself, adjusting your position on her lap to be more comfortable.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine”, you began, maybe slightly off key, your voice a bit raspy, but the tears were instant for Natasha regardless of your singing skills. She felt them slip down her cheeks from under her closed eyelids, the urge to break out into sobs squeezing her throat harshly. The lullaby you had chosen was one that Natasha had started to sing only a few years ago, but it made her heart ache worse than any other song could have. “You make me happy when skies are grey”, you continued, your voice a little squeaky on the higher notes. You frowned when you saw her cry, noticing that she was clearly struggling to hold it together.

“Mommy, it’s supposed to make you happy”, you pointed out with a huge pout on your lips, Natasha’s eyes fluttering open.

“I am happy”, she protested in a gentle chuckle.

“No, you’re not”, you countered, wiping her tears with the sleeve of your pajamas.

“Come on, what’s next?” She prompted, already seeing your eyes glint a little more than normal in the dim lighting of the living room, desperate to distract you from her own pain.

You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you”, you tried, but your lower lip started to wobble, Natasha bursting into sobs as she hid her face into her hands, the lyrics of the lullaby only seeming to make it worse for her. She held her breath, forcing back her tears, forcing herself to be quiet before it would be too late to hold anything in. She took a quick breath through her parted lips, wiping her eyes.

Please don’t…” She sang, urging you to go on despite her strong emotional reaction to the song and the situation, her fingers caressing the side of your head.

…take my sunshine away”, you finished the song together, your own tears spilling over as you looked at her with your big eyes.

“Mommy, I love you”, you whimpered, the corners of your mouth turning downwards as your features formed into a sorrowful pout.

“I love you more, baby”, she sniffled, cupping your cheeks in her hands to bring you a bit closer, her lips pressing down on your forehead.

“I don’t wanna lose you”, you cried, both the lullaby and the idea of not having a mother making you feel scared. “What if something happens?” You sobbed, your voice creaking as another wave of sobs fell from your lips. “And I don’t have my mommy”, you whimpered, Natasha biting harshly down on her lip to control her emotions.

“Listen to me, angel. You will always have me”, she said firmly, looking you in the eyes. “Always, you hear me? Always”, she promised you, earning a soft nod of your head, bringing you into her embrace where she knew you would feel safe and comforted. She swayed you a bit in her arms, hugging you tighter, allowing her tears to fall. The thought of leaving you all alone in this world was something she could’ve never forgiven herself for. You deserved the world, you deserved more than Natasha could ever give you. She knew she couldn’t give you everything, she couldn’t be everything for you no matter how much she wanted to and she hated herself for it. She could never be perfect for you. And unfortunately, she was the only person who couldn’t see just how perfect she already was. She had given you so much more than you could’ve ever even thought to ask for. She had given you a home, a huge family, by blood or not, it didn’t matter. You had everything. The whole world was wide open for you, filled with every opportunity you could think of, but more importantly, you were loved. You were loved and you knew it. Every day she made sure you knew it.

“You’re the best mommy in the world”, you mumbled into her shirt, rubbing your face against her neck affectionately.

“Thank you, malyshka (baby). That’s quite the compliment from the best daughter in the world”, she mused, pulling back to see your face, her lips finding your warm cheek, a soft smile adorning your features. You inched low enough on her body to place your head back on her lap, nuzzling your face into her abdomen, curling into a tight ball as your tears started to cease. You were exhausted and Natasha could tell, her eyes finding the clock on the wall. It was nearing four in the morning, Natasha’s own eyelids feeling heavy as well.

“Did you have any more questions?" She asked softly, brushing her knuckles down the side of your face as you fought the sleep that was trying to take you.

“What was I like when you found me?” You asked quietly.

“Oh”, Natasha chuckled fondly, wiping her tears away. “You were an infuriating, little snotball”, she teased, poking you gently to hear you giggle. “You screamed all day every day and puked and pooped on all my clothes”, she continued, feeling a smile form on her lips as she looked down to see your closed eyes and small smirk. “But you were every bit as adorable as you’re now. You had these huge, vigilant eyes that would always follow me around. You were such a beautiful baby”, she mused, reminiscing about your past, feeling a weight lift off her chest at the change in topic.

“Was I funny?” You asked, half-asleep under the blankets.

“You were a hoot”, she hummed, brushing her fingers down your nose one by one. “A real jokester”, she assured you, smiling wider. “You never failed to make me laugh. You would always chew on my fingers and tug on my hair”, she mumbled, remembering very clearly what kind of a baby you had been.

“What made you wanna keep me?” You asked tentatively, sounding a little shy. Natasha went silent, thinking over her answer. There were many reasons, but only one of them stood out to her.

“I realized… that no one in this world was going to understand you and your past as well as I would. We come from the same place and it made me want to take care of you, give you a better chance with someone who understood you.” Her tone was gentle and comforting, the low timbre of her voice what eventually lulled you into sleep. Despite knowing you were no longer conscious, Natasha continued to talk to you, telling you all about how she had felt when she was still learning to look after you. She relived a bunch of memories as tears continued to cascade down her cheeks. No matter how much she loved you and no matter what she did for you she still felt like an inadequate mother and she needed to let those feelings go in order to be better for you, finding out how much talking to you helped her, even if you were asleep.

When the clock struck five in the morning Natasha finally decided that it was time for her to hit the sheets, her arms sliding under your body to carry you into bed. She halted at your door, glancing down at your serene face, feeling a gentle pull in her chest. After a moment of consideration she walked past your door and took you into her bed, tucking you in tightly to the middle of the mattress where you would have all the space you could ever need before crawling under the covers as well. She didn’t know how long you were going to tolerate sleeping next to her and she wanted to take every chance she got before her bed would remain empty no matter what kind of dreams or issues you had at night. She rolled onto her side, pressing her nose against your shoulder, breathing in the scent of your pajamas as her hand found your forearm to caress. She could feel the waves of anxiety ebb away from her tired body, listening to the even breaths you took, her eyelids sliding shut on their own. She had never known peace like you.

Notes:

I love angst <3

Chapter 23: Morgan

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

There was a loud, horrendous scream that echoed through the apartment, Natasha grimacing when she heard something hit the wall rather forcibly. You screamed again, a high, piercing sound that was filled with rage. You clearly kicked something over, a loud rustle sounding from your room as you took your anger out on everything you owned. Natasha placed the heavy pot in her hands back into the sink, wiping soap suds off her hands before making her way into the hallway to find your room. She could already see the mess you were making of your room, careful not to step on the pile of dolls at the entrance of your room.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid”, you grumbled to yourself, throwing Tootsie across the room, the poor bear flipping in the air before smacking into your bookshelf.

“Y/N-sweetie”, Natasha started softly, calling for your attention, very displeased by your behavior, but choosing not to show it. You turned to look at her as if in defiance, sniffling loudly before kicking over your Barbie castle. “Y/N”, she repeated more firmly, adding a sense of order into her tone. You became a bit more tentative, eyeing the pink castle on the floor as tears brimmed in your eyes. “Come here”, Natasha said, waiting patiently for you to stomp over all your toys to get to her. You gave her a grumpy frown, crossing your arms rather theatrically as you pouted up at her.

“What?” You mumbled, averting your gaze because she was still your mother and you were not one to fight with her. You would always lose. You knew that.

“We should talk”, she said, seeing your frown only deepen.

“I don’t wanna talk. I’m going to move away”, you stated firmly, Natasha raising her brows in shock. “Yeah, I’m gonna move away to get away from you cause you’re so stupid!” You threatened, Natasha’s eyes landing on a backpack that sat in the middle of the room, a princess dress halfway stuffed inside it. She felt a small twinge of insecurity within her, choosing to push that feeling down, too afraid to address it. You had called her names before in the heat of the moment and they were usually very shallow, holding no real insult behind them, but you had never wanted to leave your home before. Rationally she knew you were being a normal child, but emotionally she was struggling to keep herself together and keep herself from falling into a rabbit hole of doubt.

“I know that you’re upset and that is okay, but what’s not okay is you calling me names, breaking your toys, and making an even worse mess of your room”, she chastised, crouching down to pick up a baby doll that was missing a leg and had purple and green lines decorating its bald head. She showed the doll to you, co*cking her head questioningly. “Why did you do this to poor Annabelle?”

“Cause she’s an ugly, bald bitch”, you shot back, Natasha doing a double take at your words. You could see your mistake very clearly on her face, her mouth hardening into a thin line as she looked at you with her firm eyes.

“I’m going to give you five seconds to word that better”, she stated evenly, your tears spilling.

“I hate you!” You shouted suddenly, demanding every ounce of Natasha’s patience. Your words hurt her no matter how much you didn’t actually mean them. You had still felt enough negative feelings toward her to say such a hateful thing, a flush of disappointment washing over her. She had raised you to be better.

“Hating me and being mean isn’t going to change how you feel. I didn’t deserve that”, she whispered definitively, backing away from your room, deciding that you needed some more space to sort out what you were feeling. She wasn’t going to stand around and take your bad behavior when she had done nothing to deserve it. She saw the panic settle in you, your angry frown disappearing, morphing into a scared one. “Come find me when you’re ready to apologize”, she added before she was out of your sight. Your eyes scrunched shut as a sob escaped you, resonating in your room and down the hall. You sank to the floor, your knees giving in, your body curling in on itself to seek comfort. You cried openly for the hurt you felt, unable to find the strength to go after her. You hadn’t meant it. You really hadn’t. You just didn’t know how to express the feelings you had inside you. There was so much disappointment and anger, all of it heightened by your exhaustion from the previous week of school and practice. You immediately regretted your words after seeing the hurt cross your mother’s features. It was too much for you to bear. You never wanted to hurt her, at least not as much as you had.

Natasha had heard the phrase in question from you before, having a feeling that she would hear it again in the future, but as she sat on the couch, fervently fighting back her tears, she felt nothing but despair. Every time you resorted to the thing that hurt her the most it felt like confirmation of her inability to be a mother. What kind of a mother must she be if her own child hated her enough to threaten to move away at eight years old? She felt like a failure, the intense feeling of insecurity prompting her to grab her phone from the coffee table. She opened her messages, finding Laura’s contact at the top, opening the chat. She contemplated her predicament for a moment, eventually deciding that she wanted to talk about it with someone who might be able to teach her a thing or two. Natasha typed up her message and sent it, surprised to see that Laura read it almost immediately. A few minutes later she received a long response, a small smile tugging at Natasha’s lips.

L: Oh I think every mother has heard that sentence before. Nate has told it to me the most, but he stopped once he finally grasped the true meaning behind it. They just don’t know how to express themselves. I promise you Natasha, you’re an excellent mother. She doesn’t hate you.
And what comes to moving away, Cooper loved to pull that move on me. Once he even made it to the shed where he claimed to be living, but he came running back when the temperatures dropped for the night.
Y/N is just trying to deal with her disappointment. The best you can do is talk to her later and try to help her express her feelings in another way. Try to make her understand the feelings she’s experiencing and hopefully it’ll help.

L: You got this!! Let me know how it goes <3

Laura wasn’t enough to completely throw aside all Natasha worries but she did bring her comfort, giving her just enough to keep her tears from spilling. You didn’t hate her. She wasn’t a bad mother. She should believe Laura. Laura was an excellent and experienced mother who knew what she was talking about. It would be alright, Natasha decided as she typed up a response, her attention shifting to the sniffles that grew louder, accompanied by the soft sound of your feet approaching her slowly. You appeared in front of her, your teary face pouting at her in a way that tugged at Natasha’s heartstrings.

“I’m- I’m sorry”, you wailed loudly, still unable to hold in your cries, feeling an overwhelming amount of remorse for your actions. “Mom-my, I’m sorry”, you lamented. “I didn’t- I don’t know”, you cried, sinking to the floor, unable to word your feelings. You were upset that you didn’t get to go visit Pepper who was giving birth at the hospital and when your mother had finally told you to clean your room you had simply lost it, feeling helpless in your frustration that you couldn’t handle. You were tired and sad, trying to navigate your way through the disappointment of not getting to meet the baby like you had been promised. It just didn’t feel fair. You had been waiting for months.

“It’s alright, kroshenka (little one), just let it out, okay?” Natasha whispered, crouching down to the floor beside you, grasping your hand to give you some comfort. Your temper tantrums were becoming increasingly more rare as you got older, but there were still times when you got so upset that you didn’t know how to address it. Natasha was good with you and she had learned to deal with both your emotions as well as her own over the years but on some days her patience wore thin and she was more than tempted to either put you in your place or ignore you completely, but she knew you weren’t doing it to annoy her or to be a brat. You were a child and it was completely normal for you to have outbursts when your feelings got too intense for you. It was Natasha’s job to guide you into the right direction and teach you how to deal with them in a healthy manner, something that she had had to learn later as an adult because she had been taught to shove every piece of human emotion so far down it never saw the light of day again.

“I’m sorry”, you cried, knowing you had been rude to her. “I’m sorry. I don’t hate you”, you hiccuped, wiping your tears into the sleeves of your shirt.

“I know. You’re forgiven, solnishka (sunshine)”, she assured you, brushing her hand down your arm in a soothing gesture. “You’re forgiven.” You looked up at her with your huge, sad eyes, letting out a sigh.

“I don’t hate you. I really don’t”, you whimpered. “I’m just sad”, you tried to explain, Natasha nodding her head, pulling you a bit closer to her.

“What’s got my baby so upset?” She asked, despite knowing exactly what was wrong. She just wanted you to word it out for her, prompting you to verbally express your emotions, encouraging you to communicate your issues with her.

“I wanted- I wanted to see the baby. I was so excited”, you whimpered, wiping your eyes again.

“I know, milaya (honey)”, she assured you, rubbing your back comfortingly. “But the baby needs a bit more time before she’s ready to enter the world. We can’t control when she comes out”, she explained again, despite you knowing the reason behind the postponement of the visit.

“It makes me angry”, you mumbled. “Cause I waited so long and now it’s not happening”, you explained, Natasha nodding her head in understanding.

“It’s perfectly reasonable to feel disappointed. I’m disappointed too”, she replied, offering you an encouraging smile when you looked up at her again. You averted your gaze from her, still feeling ashamed for your actions, suddenly reminded of the mess in your room that was ten times worse than it had been before. You frowned, fighting the sobs that squeezed your throat.

“And- and now”, you sobbed, kicking the couch weakly as you covered your face with your hands. “I- I have to clean”, you cried, bringing your knees to your chest to hide your face against them.

“Shh, come here”, Natasha hushed you gently, brushing her hand over your head. She pulled you up from the floor, helping you to the couch to get more comfortable, allowing you to cry out your frustration as she held your hands between her own, thumb stroking softly the side of your wrist. When you finally started to calm down, you scooched closer to her, pressing yourself against her chest in a silent plea for a hug. Natasha wrapped her arms around you, holding you tightly, making sure you felt secure in her embrace. “Is there something we could do to make the cleaning easier?” She asked softly, brushing her fingers over your hair as she felt you snuggle closer to her.

“I don’t know where to start”, you admitted, overwhelmed by the mess you had made. There were toys and books everywhere, the floor completely covered by all the crap that you had thrown around, the entire insides of your closet littered all over the room because you thought that they would somehow take away your frustration if you gave them a good chuck across the room.

“What if we go take a look at it together?” She suggested, pulling back to see your teary face, bringing her hand up to caress your damp cheek. “Would that help?” You nodded your head immediately, getting up from the couch, leading Natasha back into your chaos of a bedroom. The mess was a lot, even to Natasha, and she was definitely not looking forward to cleaning up paper scraps and underwear from every crevice of your room, but she had no choice. Despite being exhausted out of her mind, she assessed the mess carefully, deciding that your best approach was to tackle all the clothes that needed to be folded back into the closet.

“What do you think there’s most of? Clothes or toys?” She asked you, waiting for you to work out the answer for yourself. You eyed all the toys on the floor, most of them covered by some kind of article of clothing, prompting you to choose the former option. “Why don’t you pick up all the clothes you can find and bring them to the closet and I’ll fold them up?” She suggested, earning a firm nod from you. To her absolute relief you went right to work, finding all the clothes you could while Natasha knelt in front of the closet, sighing heavily as she began to fold up the first pair of jeans that her hands found.

Organizing your room took a lot longer than she had initially thought, feeling like the pens and markers in your room would never end, always finding another toy or another sock from somewhere. On top of it all, you weren’t of much help anymore, spending all your time on sorting through your stuffed animals, carefully sitting them down on your bed so that they were all happy and together on your bed. She eyed you suspiciously, knowing you were trying to avoid cleaning by pretending to do something useful, she was the master of that trick especially when someone needed her attention when she wasn’t willing to give it to them. Filled to the brim with nick nacks and toys, she kicked the last pile under your bed, making sure your bedding covered the side to hide any evidence of her cheating. There really was no point anyway, your room would be messy again by the start of the week.

“How’s Tootsie doing after his tumble into the bookshelf?” She asked conversationally, sitting down on the bed where you adjusted the stuffies again.

“I apologized to him too. He knows I didn’t mean it”, you answered, petting his head between those fluffy ears. “I told him that I was just sad”, you explained, Natasha nodding her head as she eyed the row of toys before you. She recognized them all and even knew most of their names, but there were a couple of new ones that didn’t usually sit on your bed.

“Who are these lovely, little guys?” She asked curiously, touching the tail of a bright orange tiger. You seemed to visibly brighten up at Natasha showing interest in your collection of stuffed animals, eager to introduce them all to her.

“She’s Stinky because it’s a raccoon”, you started, pointing at the stuffie nearest to Natasha. “She hasn’t been on the bed in a long time. Then this one next to Creamy Cat is called Janice”, you continued, pointing at something that at least resembled a dragon or a dinosaur.

“Janice? Why Janice?” Natasha asked in surprise, finding the rather ordinary name to be a little out of place for such an adorable toy that could’ve easily prompted something much more creative from your imaginative brain.

“Just because… And then this one between Baffie and Parsley is Tina the tiger but she’s Tit for short”, you explained, Natasha arching her brow. You definitely should have gotten some sort of guidance from someone when it came to naming things. You had a tendency to choose rather odd names for your toys and Natasha couldn’t help but to wonder what prompted you to gravitate toward these eccentric names.

“And the last one here is Miss testicl*s”, You finished, pointing at the turquoise octopus, Natasha immediately bursting into laughter, your sentence catching her completely off guard. She received an offended look from you. “What?” You squeaked, grabbing the toy into your arms defensively, Natasha doing her very best to keep her laughter down. “See? She’s got eight testicl*s”, you argued, showing her the colorful and curly tentacles to justify your name of choice. Natasha bit her tongue harshly to avoid offending you any further, sucking in a quick breath to gather herself.

“I see”, she nodded, pinching her lips shut. You could sense that she was trying really hard not to laugh, a frown falling onto your features.

“You don’t like it?”

“Oh no, honey, I like it very much. It’s very progressive”, she assured you, sliding her hand down your back encouragingly. “But myshka (little mouse), I think you mean tentacles. testicl*s are what boys have”, she corrected you tentatively, watching you work out the difference in your head. You paused for a long moment, the pieces falling into place as a horrified look formed on your face.

“But she’s always been Miss testicl*s”, you whined in disappointment. “Can she still be Miss testicl*s?” You asked quietly, Natasha chuckling softly.

“Yeah, sure. She can be whatever she wants to be”, she promised, a small smile spreading on your lips.

Your meltdown had finally been tackled and you had learned that it hadn’t been the end of the world after all, getting an invite to the Stark residence a few days later to finally meet the baby who’s delayed arrival had offended you so gravely. Natasha couldn’t deny it, it was beyond exciting to have another child in the mix, even though Tony and Pepper had been talking about moving away with the baby to provide her a better environment to grow in. You were going to have another cousin and this time someone who was younger than you for change. It was all very exciting for you despite the big age difference.

You clutched Natasha’s hand tightly, vibrating from excitement as you waited for Tony to open the door for you, holding a box against your chest that contained the baby’s Welcome into the World -gift. You only had to wait a moment longer until the door was opened, Tony’s bright smile greeting you as he guided you into the living room where the rest of the team was gathered. You spotted Pepper in the corner of the room, a tired look on her face as she held the small bundle in her arms. You placed the gift in your arms onto the kitchen table where a pile of boxes sat, glancing at Natasha tentatively.

“Alright, sweetheart, remember what I told you? Be quiet and calm. Babies don’t like a lot of noise”, she revised, letting go of your hand. You nodded your head eagerly, glancing back at Pepper again. You were dying to know what the baby looked like, excited to see if she looked more like Tony or Pepper, or perhaps a combination of the two. You didn’t really look like Natasha for obvious reasons, which is why you found the looks department very fascinating. “Let’s go”, she hummed, walking into the living room with you, briefly greeting everyone there. You gave Clint a high five, Wanda receiving a quick kiss from you before you approached Pepper who gave you a soft smile before looking down at the baby again, her smile only widening. She adjusted the baby in her arms, aiming her toward you more so you could see better as you peered at her lap from afar, feeling a little nervous.

“Come closer”, Pepper hummed, gesturing with her head for you to move a bit. You did as told, reaching the armchair and settling to stand beside its armrest where you could see the baby perfectly. Your lips parted in a silent gasp when you saw her red, wrinkly face both amazed and disgusted by her looks. You hadn’t expected babies to look so shapeless, but to be fair you had never really seen a baby up-close like that, let alone a newborn. Her face was slightly swollen and she looked almost crusty, but she had a cute button nose and a head of black hair that made up for it. You glanced back at Natasha who had a tiny pout on her lips as she looked at the baby, her hand automatically squeezing your arm.

“She’s beautiful”, Natasha hummed, offering Pepper a bright smile “Congratulations.” So that was what a beautiful baby looked like. You could’ve disagreed, but you let it go, more amazed by the baby’s existence, already brewing up some questions you had been pondering ever since you had found out about the pregnancy.

“Thank you”, Pepper replied.

“Did you really push it out of your vagin*?” You asked in a quiet whisper, Pepper huffing out a little chuckle.

“Yes, I did”, she nodded, still barely able to believe it herself, but the constant pain and ache in her body wouldn’t let her forget about it.

“How?” You whined, unable to understand how such a thing was even possible. You knew for a certain that there was no hole big enough down there. You thought newborns were much, much smaller and it was a shock to you to find out that they were the same size as some of your dolls. There was just no way.

“Do you wanna try to explain? We can have this conversation with her later”, Natasha butted in, giving Pepper an apologetic frown for your invasive questions.

“Oh, I don’t mind”, Pepper assured in amusem*nt, turning to you as she thought of a way to make the process sound less horrifying than it actually was. “The baby used to be in my belly, in my uterus, where she was nice and cozy for nine months. But when it came time for her to get out, my body started to have contractions to get the baby moving. They’re these cramps that tense up your muscles”, she explained, watching a frown form on your face as you did your best to follow along. “Slowly the opening of the cervix started to stretch, creating a way out for the baby. Then I had to push really, really hard to squeeze the baby out”, she finished, your frown having turned into a grimace, your excitement dying down.

“Wow, that’s…” You really had no words for how disturbing it sounded, starting to wonder why it was so well-accepted. To you it only sounded painful. You turned to look at Natasha’s who was expectantly waiting for your reaction to the response you had gotten. “I’m really glad you didn’t have to do that with me”, you mumbled, your words cracking a smile on her face.

“I would’ve gladly done it”, she admitted, pulling you closer to press a kiss on the crown of your head.

“As scary as it was, it was so worth it”, Pepper mused, adjusting the blanket around the baby, caressing her soft cheek with the pad of her finger.

“Do you have a name yet?” You asked eagerly, hoping that you could maybe help her with some of your own suggestions.

“I have two options but we’re not sure yet which one suits her better. Tony doesn’t like the one that I like most so we might have to compromise somehow”, she explained, first looking at you and then up at Natasha.

“You could name her Hillary”, you suggested, Pepper seeming to genuinely appreciate your effort at helping. “Or Ben”, you continued. “I used to have a girl named Ben in my class”, you mused out loud.

“Thank you for the suggestions but I think we’re going with something else”, she replied politely, earning a small nod from you, turning to Natasha. “Would you want to hold her for a moment while I run to the bathroom? Or rather crawl”, she chuckled jokingly, Natasha nodding immediately.

“I’d love to. Will you be okay or should I ask Tony for help?”

“I’ll be okay, thank you, Nat”, Pepper assured, carefully placing the baby in Natasha’s waiting arms before starting to get up from the soft armchair. Natasha took her place, holding the baby to her chest, a small smile adorning her features as she marveled at how small the tiny human was. The baby yawned softly, unclenching her fists as she let out a quiet huff, Natasha’s features softening. Oh, how she missed having a baby. As difficult and crappy as it had been, she missed the mild baby scent, the tiny fingers and toes, and the little whines and cries. There was something very specific about babies that Natasha sometimes wished to experience again, but she knew it would never happen. It just didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel like she was meant to have more than one baby in her lifetime, and even you were an exception so great that she could barely believe it at times. But it was fun to imagine going through all of it again, feeling a wave of nostalgia wash over her as she reminisced the late nights she had spent with your vomit decorating her shoulder and hair as she bounced you in her arms, desperate to get you to sleep again.

“Can I hold her?” You asked hopefully, Natasha’s attention shifting to you. “I’ll be careful. I promise.”

“Maybe later, honey”, she replied, unsure if Pepper was willing to trust a child to hold her baby. You felt a bit bummed out by her response, noticing a twinge of something in the pit of your stomach as you watched Natasha hold the baby with a giant smile on her face, hearing her coo sweet nothings to the red lump. Deciding there was nothing more to see, you found Wanda from the couch, hoping to be included in their conversation, patiently waiting for Pepper to return so you could have your mother back. You climbed onto Wanda’s lap, seating yourself down on her thighs, her arms wrapping automatically around your waist to tug your back against her chest.

“Wan”, you mumbled, tilting your head onto her shoulder to see her face.

“What, princess?” She asked softly, rubbing circles into your belly.

“Can you read the baby’s mind?” You inquired, smiling when Wanda gave you a look. “I just wanna know what she’s thinking”, you said in your defense. “Does she like looking at mommy?”

“By the looks of it, she isn’t too bothered by her face”, she mused, but she would’ve been lying had she said that she wasn’t curious herself. The baby’s gentle energy in the corner of the living room had been pulling her in every other moment with its comforting buzz, the calm purity that she emanated was definitely something that Wanda hadn’t really felt before. There was an overwhelming sense of clarity whenever she leaned into that energy, finding nothing but serenity from a mind so young. Your mind hadn’t been much older but what you had experienced and learned in your six months of living had already tarnished enough of your mind to disturb its peace.

“Will you take a look?” You asked again, ready to put on your A-game to make her cave.

“I guess a little peek won’t hurt”, she hummed, her eyes starting to glow a faint red as she pushed the edges of her mind a bit farther, tentatively feeling around for that serenity. Wanda felt warm all around, the sensation only seeming to intensify when the sound of Pepper’s voice resonated in the room. It made Wanda smile. She found it very interesting to experience the simplicity of the baby’s brain activity, intrigued by how much was going on yet everything felt like it was in harmony. She pulled back, unwilling to disturb anything inside, recognizing just how vulnerable of a place the baby’s mind was.

“What did you see?” You questioned immediately when her gaze turned back to you and the red faded away from her eyes.

“Nothing”, she replied in all honesty. “But she feels good, she feels happy, especially now that her mother is back”, she explained, earning a disappointed huff from you. How boring. The baby could’ve at least thought about something cool.

“Y/N-honey, did you want to hold the baby?” Natasha asked from the armchair, still holding the newborn in her arms. Her question seemed to brighten you up a bit as you nodded, Natasha standing up, careful not to jostle the warm bundle as she moved. “Sit down beside Wanda. Mommy will bring her to you”, she instructed, rocking the baby very gently in her arms as she hushed her, a slight frown forming on the baby’s wrinkly face. “Remember to support the neck, okay?” Natasha lowered the baby down on your lap, making sure she kept her hand behind her neck to support it, just in case you failed to do it right. You were very tense, clearly nervous, not sure how you were supposed to act, looking around timidly only to realize that all eyes were on you.

“She’s really warm”, you mumbled, looking down at the baby who had stopped fussing and was laying still with her eyes closed. It was really exciting even though she was doing absolutely nothing. “Do you think she’ll like me? Maybe we could be like sisters?” You suggested quietly, Natasha brushing her hand down the side of your face.

“Who knows, maybe you could”, she hummed, a soft smile on her face.

“Do you wanna reveal the name?” You heard Pepper ask Tony who leaned his hands against the back of the couch.

“Sure, I don’t see why not”, he hummed, a wide grin spreading on his unshaven face. Parenting was already leaving its mark on the usually very well-groomed couple.

“Alright everyone, say hello to Morgan Harley Stark”, Pepper announced, your eyes focusing back down on the chubby baby as everyone welcomed the name, letting it sink in.

“Morgan. I love it”, you whispered, smiling a little. “We’re gonna be good friends, Morgan.”

Notes:

Apparently people think Morgan’s middle name is Howard but I didn’t wanna do that to the poor girl so I just chose something lol

Chapter 24: I miss my mommy

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“Why can’t I go with you?” You whined petulantly, tugging on Natasha’s arm again, letting out a long whine. She had already denied you more than a handful of times but you were still adamant to try.

“Because I said no”, she replied sternly.

“Why?” You wailed angrily.

“I’m not bringing you to a mission with me. It’s a safety hazard”, she countered definitively, not even bothering to glance your way as you gave her another tug.

“What’s a safety hazard?” You inquired, not fully understanding the term she had used.

“You on a mission”, she replied, knowing full well that was not what you had meant.

“Mommy!” You cried in frustration.

“I’m not taking you with me no matter how much you bitch and moan”, she said, ignoring how you were bouncing on the couch beside her as she skimmed through mission intel on a tablet. She was making a slowly progressing return to the field after nearly eight years of maternal leave with only a few occasional missions here and there. She missed her job. No matter how much she loved being with you, she missed action. She wanted to be something other than a mother so she had started to go on missions again which you weren’t happy about.

“That’s not fair!” You moaned, yanking on her arm to try to gain her attention again and again.

“Mommy told you no a thousand times. No means no”, she reminded you, feeling herself teeter on the verge of annoyance, considering snapping at you a bit more harshly to make you drop the subject.

“You’re stupid”, you mumbled bitterly, sinking into the couch as you crossed your arms over your chest, sulking in the most obvious way you knew.

“You’re staying home with Vision”, Natasha added, your jaw dropping in utter offense.

“Vis? No way!” You protested. “He’s the most boring toaster ever!”

“Mind your manners”, she said firmly, glancing your way pointedly, the ice in her gaze making you hesitate using the couple more insults you had coming his way. “Don’t call him names. He’s very nice and he’s going to look after you while we’re away”, she explained, going back to her device as you pursed your lips, not daring to talk back to her.

You didn’t have another choice. It was going to be you and Vision alone at the compound for a day or two. You were more than upset by that, showing Natasha just how angry it made you by giving her the silent treatment, throwing grumpy frowns and pouty lips her way whenever you got the chance. Natasha simply ignored your behavior, unaffected by your act of defiance. Her attention needed to be earned by good manners and you knew that. No amount of misbehaving was going to give you a response on her part and she was not someone who caved easily.

Natasha pulled on her combat suit, adjusting the seams around her calves to straighten them out as you snuck into her room, lingering at the door, watching her prepare herself for the mission. Your mother leaving made your stomach twist into knots. You were so used to always having her at home. It was scary to see her leave for a longer period of time. It wasn’t the first time she had been away by any means, but it still scared you because you knew that she wasn’t going out of town to attend a conference meeting or have brunch with the team. You knew she was going away to fight off bad guys and you knew it got ugly more often than not, even if no one ever really talked to you about it. Natasha’s gaze met yours, fingers tightening the lacing of her boots as she sat at the end of her bed, her eyes observing your quiet demeanor carefully. She offered you a soft smile which you tried to return but failed. You didn’t want her to go, your face forming into a small frown as she went back to tying her shoes, Natasha waiting for you to express your wishes, but you didn’t. You just watched her as she stood up, the upper half of the suit hanging around her hips. She pulled off the top she was wearing, revealing her bra and walking into her closet to go find appropriate underwear for the suit. You just waited, feeling helpless because there was nothing you could do to make her stay.

“Did you need something, malyshka (baby)?” She inquired from the closet, yanking on a sports bra and a different top before returning to you.

“I…” you started, unable to continue, your voice dying in your throat.

“What, honey?” She prompted gently, walking to where you stood by the door, crouching down before you.

“I- I don’t w-want you to go again”, you spluttered quietly, averting your gaze and nailing it to the floor to hide your tears.

“I know, solnishka (sunshine)”, she hummed, her fingers brushing over your baby hairs. “But I’ll be back before you know it. Just like always”, she assured you, tugging you a bit closer, eyes searching for yours.

“I don’t wanna be alone”, you whispered.

“You’re not alone. You have Vision”, she reasoned, but it only made you frown.

“Why can’t he go and you stay?”

“Because Vis can’t do what mommy can”, she explained, but you weren’t having it, tears forming in your eyes and spilling down your cheeks. “Sweetheart”, she whispered, cupping your cheek, her thumb wiping off your tears. You let out a soft whine, the inevitable sobs soon sounding in the bedroom. Natasha pulled you into her arms, hugging you tightly as she stood upright, your legs wrapping around her middle. You cried into her neck quietly as she walked around the room in an effort to calm you down, her hand rubbing big circles on your back, lips pressing down on your shoulder. “You’re a big girl. You’ll be alright, honey”, she mumbled in your ear, swaying you gently in her arms.

“But what if I won’t?” You asked earnestly, a crestfallen look in your eyes. “What if I miss you so much I die?”

“Baby girl… you’re not going to die. You won’t even notice how the time flies by”, she assured you, brushing her hand over the back of your head. “You got Bun-Bun and Tootsie with you. They’ll take care of you while I’m away”, Natasha reasoned, knowing your stuffed animals were a huge comfort to you whenever she wasn’t available. Bun-Bun –a white bunny you had gotten attached to in the very early stages of your life with Natasha– meant more than any of the other toys did because you associated it with your mother and had used it as comfort throughout your entire childhood, but you were sure not even Bun-Bun was enough to make you not miss your mommy.

“I wanna come with you”, you whimpered, dropping your chin back onto her shoulder, clinging to her desperately as Natasha walked to the bed, sitting down on the edge of it.

“Listen to me, sweetheart”, she said soothingly, pulling back enough to see your teary face, her hands cupping your cheeks. “Everything is going to be okay. I know you’ll miss me and I’ll miss you too, but guess what?”

“What?” You squeaked in confusion, clearly intrigued by where she was going with her words.

“It’ll feel so good when mommy finally comes back. Think about how happy you’ll be when I scoop you into my arms and kiss your silly, little face”, she hummed, tapping your nose gently before kissing your forehead. It made you smile, the thought easing your anxiety slightly. You would be beyond happy when she would finally return and you could already practically feel the excitement in your belly, eager to have everything go back to normal as soon as possible. You smiled a bit brighter when she kissed your cheek, your fingers fiddling with her silver necklace, the arrow-shaped pendant poking the soft pad of your finger. Natasha glanced down at her chest, her eyes moving back up to you before unclasping the piece of jewelry from her neck. You looked at her in puzzlement, waiting for her to explain herself.

“Why don’t you hold onto this while I’m away”, she suggested, bringing the necklace to your chest, her deft fingers working the clasp shut to secure the chain around your neck.

“Really?” You inquired in disbelief, pulling it off your shirt to see the pendant better. For as long as you could remember she had always worn the necklace no matter what the occasion. You could most likely count on your fingers how many times she had taken it off during your lifetime, more than accustomed to seeing the piece of jewelry that always rested above her collarbones. You knew she had gotten it from Clint years and years ago, before you had even been born, but you didn’t know why it meant so much to her.

“Yes, really, milaya (honey). It’s something that brings me comfort when I’m feeling sad”, she explained softly, empathizing with your intense feeling of longing. “It reminds me of Clint”, she hummed, a small smile appearing on her lips. “And the rest of our family. It reminds me of how lucky I am to be here, to have you. It reminds me that I’m good”, she continued, her voice low and soothing.

“Do you love Clint?” You asked bluntly, Natasha’s face breaking into a wide grin.

“Yes, I love Clint”, she chuckled, feeling like that wasn’t exactly what you had in mind.

“Do you wanna kiss him?” You inquired, squinting your eyes at her, Natasha rolling her own in good nature.

“No, I don’t. He’s family”, she clarified, earning a firm nod from you. “Whenever you miss any of us, just hold onto the arrow. We’ll always come back to you, okay?” She whispered, caressing your hand that was wrapped around the pendant. You nodded again, leaning back into her embrace, searching for her warmth, a heavy sigh coming from you when her arms tightened around you, the palms of her hands rubbing your back.

You refused to let go of her until it was absolutely necessary, Natasha carrying you all the way to the landing zone where the team was already boarding the jet that was soon going to take off. She set you down, albeit a bit hesitantly, making sure everything was prepared for the mission as you bid goodbyes to everyone else.

“You’ll kick ass, right?” You asked Clint who was studying the tip of his arrows, making sure they were in perfect condition.

“Betcha, kid”, he chuckled, patting your arm. “We’ll kick all the ass we can”, he promised you, making you grin widely, Steve joining you as he walked inside the jet carrying his shield on his back.

“What is this ass kicking I’m hearing about?” He inquired, squinting your way as you giggled.

“You’re gonna take down the bad guys”, you stated confidently, Steve unable to suppress his smile.

“That’s the goal”, he nodded, crouching down to your level. You went in to hug him, Steve welcoming you into his arms. “Why don’t you show me how to do that kick again so I can use it to kick some butt?” He suggested as you pulled away, knowing that you loved to teach them the combat moves you knew, even if you were teaching them nothing new.

“You’re gonna need that one!” You noted, taking enough space for yourself to show the men how to kick correctly when fighting. “Make sure your standing leg is steady”, you instructed, leaning to the side and kicking your other leg in a controlled manner to really show them the correct form. Clint and Steve found it more than amusing but above that they found it incredibly endearing. “And then…” you let out all kinds of noises as you showed a couple of karate moves to them, pretending to fight. “Got it?”

“Absolutely”, Clint nodded, a wide grin plastered on his face.

“Clear as day”, Steve assured, offering his hand in a high-five, watching you put your whole body weight into that slap.

“Why was I not invited to the last minute combat training?” Tony inquired, marching in as you turned around, having heard most of your conversation from outside.

“Oh, I’m just saying goodbyes”, you replied, growing a bit more glum at the reminder of what was to come.

“Show me some of those moves”, Tony prompted, coming closer to you with a soft smile on his face. They all knew how much you hated to stay behind and were trying their best to cheer you up before leaving. Eventually, Wanda joined you as well, all of them chatting with you, keeping you entertained until it was time for final goodbyes.

“I’ll miss you”, you whispered to Wanda, hugging her tightly, her hand petting your head that rested against her abdomen.

“And I you. I will bring you a souvenir”, she hummed, dropping a kiss into your hair. “Just like every time”, she promised, squeezing you once more before you moved on to do your handshake greeting with Tony.

“Come on, myshka (little mouse), you have to go with Vision now”, Natasha reminded you, her hand dropping onto your shoulder to gain your attention. The light left from your eyes in an instant.

“Not yet”, you pleaded, turning around to face her.

“I’m sorry, baby. We have to go”, she hummed, caressing your jaw gently, doing her best to memorize every little detail on your face so she could remember you exactly like you were whenever she missed you.

“Mommy”, you whined, burying your face into her chest as you hugged her.

“I know, angel”, she mumbled, holding you against her, praying that you were going to be okay at home. “Ya tebya ljublju (I love you)”, she added, crouching down just enough to see your face. “Ya tak tebya ljublju (I love you so much)”, she repeated, meeting your teary eyes.

Tebya ljublju bolshe (I love you more)”, you hiccuped, going in for yet another hug. “I miss you already”, you admitted, a pout forming onto Natasha’s lips at your words. She was getting choked up and she really needed to get going so they wouldn’t fall behind on schedule and so that she wouldn’t end up staying home with you.

“I miss you too”, she mumbled, kissing your forehead, then your nose and finally pecking your lips. “Be nice to Vis, honey. I’ll be back soon”, she reminded you, guiding you to Vision who had just kissed Wanda goodbye. You grabbed his hand for emotional support before receiving one more kiss on the top of your head from Natasha and then they were gone.

Things didn’t go your way no matter how you tried. Natasha and the rest of the team left for their mission and you stayed home with Vision who dressed you up and cooked breakfast for you in the morning before taking you to school and to practice later in the afternoon. He always took good care of you and you had nothing against that, he just felt distant to you. You didn’t exactly know what to do with him. He was very technical and didn’t always see eye to eye with your imaginative mind. He wasn’t much fun when playing with toys because his idea of playing was based on a very general aspect of the concept. Thankfully, it was only going to be a few days.

You were getting ready for school on the third morning, already able to smell the breakfast Vision was making for you. He wasn’t much of a cook but Wanda had taught him a couple of things that came handy with your taste palate. His breakfasts were very simple, but you didn’t mind it, finding Vision’s toast, fruit and chocolate spread more than satisfactory, especially when mommy didn’t always let you have the yummy spread in the mornings. You were pretty excited about going to school because you and Makena were going to bring your sticker books with you so you could exchange some of the ones you didn’t like that much with the other. You scurried around your room, stuffing the notebook into your glitter backpack before zipping it up, moving on to finding clothes for yourself. Natasha had picked out a couple of outfit options for you but you decided to choose your own clothes, opting for a pair of light-wash jeans and a pink t-shirt. You were just about to get undressed when you heard the front door open and shut.

“Hey, where is she?” It was Wanda. You perked up immediately, leaving your backpack on the bed and rushing to your door.

“In her room”, you heard Vision reply, his voice very monotone, just like always. Wanda continued to talk, lowering her voice so low you couldn’t decipher a single word. You waited a while but when you still couldn’t hear enough you left your room, tiptoeing toward the front door in the hopes of being able to eavesdrop, and you could possibly try to scare Wanda after. You found the idea very amusing so you crept down the hall, but your cover was immediately blown when Wanda glanced at you. Her demeanor was grave, yet she tried to smile at you.

“Hi, honey”, she whispered, opening her arms for you as you ran into her embrace.

“You’re home!” You exclaimed, hugging her tightly, relieved that the wait was finally over. “Where’s mommy?” You asked, pulling back to look up at Wanda whose smile was too artificial, too wide.

“Uh”, she seemed like she couldn’t get any words out. She glanced at Vision, her hand rubbing your back. “Mommy… you’ll see mommy later”, she explained, your face falling at the information you received.

“Why?” You persisted, wanting to know the answer.

“Because there was a little… accident”, she revealed, trying to choose her words carefully, but that didn’t matter to you because your world was already falling apart, tears burning your eyes. “She’s okay, baby, she’s okay”, Wanda assured you immediately after realizing that she had been too vague. “Mommy’s gonna be okay”, she continued, hushing you gently, her hands cupping your cheeks.

“What- what happened?” You hiccuped, scared of the answer. You knew there were loads of things that could go wrong on missions. You knew sometimes people got cuts and bruises, and sometimes they died. The thought of anything bad happening to your mother was unbearable to you.

“Why don’t we go sit down and I’ll tell you”, she suggested as you stared at her with a pained grimace on your face, chest heaving with each breath you took.

“No”, you grumbled in protest, your hands shoving Wanda aside rather forcibly to get to the front door. You opened it, breaking into a run the second you were out of her reach, Wanda unable to do anything, shocked by your sudden reaction. You had never treated her that way.

Your lungs burned as you ran, tears cascading steadily down your cheeks as you tried to wipe them away to see better. You didn’t know where anyone was, unsure if they were still at the landing patch or if they had moved somewhere else. You navigated the compound, desperate to find anyone at all in the hopes of getting more information. You punched the buttons of the elevator, hearing Wanda finally come after you. There was no reason why you should have been mad at her but you were. You were so angry that she had delivered you such unimaginable news. It wasn’t fair, it really wasn’t.

“Y/N wait”, she tried, the elevator doors starting to close. She took a couple of running steps, her magic wedging between the doors to reopen them. She slipped inside the elevator, earning an angry glare from you, but you ultimately allowed her to ride with you. She crouched down before you, clasping your hands in her own. “I’ll take you to her”, she whispered, seeming truly sorry about the situation, her sad frown making your lower lip tremble. You were so scared. You were scared out of your mind, unable to figure out what the hell you were supposed to do.

“What if she’s not okay? What if she dies?” You asked quietly, hiccuping loudly as Wanda tugged you closer to be able to bring you into a hug.

“Shh, no. She’s not going to die”, she countered immediately. “She’s going to be okay”, she assured you again, hoping that she was telling the truth. She stood up, lifting you into her arms as she walked out of the elevator, heading for the medical wing where she knew Natasha had been taken to. You were impatient and clearly nervous, twisting your head left and right to try to see anything informative that could help you as your hands fiddled with the silver chain around your neck. Wanda brought you to the waiting room where half of the team was sitting, slouching in their chairs, quite obviously tired but still willing to be there to support Natasha. You wiggled out of Wanda’s arms, heading for Clint whose face was just a little too sad for you liking.

“Can she visit?” Wanda asked hopefully, all of the attention shifting to her. Steve shook his head discreetly, Tony giving her a look that clearly agreed with him. “Why not?”

“What, are you crazy? Absolutely not. You saw what she was like”, Tony argued, Wanda growing defensive.

“She deserves to see her”, she countered, raising her tone to match his.

“It’s not a good idea”, Steve said, chiming into the conversation to try to placate the budding conflict. Their voices only got louder as you stood there, feeling completely invisible as you tugged onto Clint’s hand to gain his attention.

“Are you hearing yourself?” Tony asked incredulously, Wanda scowling at him.

“All I’m saying is she deserves to know that her mother is okay!” She countered defensively.

“She’s not stable”, Clint reminded her, his hand brushing over your arm, yet he was still ignoring your quiet sobbing and tugging hand.

“We don’t know enough. It’s not safe. End of story”, Tony stated loudly, Wanda huffing quietly.

“Not even a small peek to see that she really is there and alive?” She asked softly, her desperate frown causing Tony’s features to soften. Wanda knew what you were feeling, she knew how scared you were. She had been in the same situation herself except she had known her mother had had no hope at all. She took it as her own responsibility to try her best to comfort you, to assure you that not all was lost.

“I really don’t think it’s smart”, he hummed, seeming apologetic as he squeezed her bicep. “It’s better to wait at least a little while”, he reasoned, Wanda nodding reluctantly, disappointed by the solution. She turned to you with the intention of explaining the situation to you, but you were nowhere to be found.

You tiptoed along the hall, reading each of the small plaques beside the doors to find Natasha’s patient room. You walked past a couple more doors before you found one that had your last name written on it. Hastily, you pushed the door open, nearly barging inside, causing the patient in the bed to flinch. Your watery eyes widened, a huge smile spreading onto your lips as you recognized her red hair that was admittedly duller than usual, but nonetheless distinct, hurrying closer to her in the hopes of greeting her. But you halted in your tracks when her eyes turned to you, a blank look on her face. She seemed disheveled, a couple of stains covering her abnormally pale skin, a thin laceration on her lip, her vigil eyes looking right at you. She looked scary, her brows drawing into a frown as she observed you carefully. You took a step forward despite the fear that you felt, inching closer to her. She dropped her gaze to your foot that took another step, her eyes too wide for your comfort.

“Get out”, she grumbled quietly, her hand tugging on the restraint that was cuffed around her wrist. She couldn’t move out of the bed, you realized, the quiet rustle of her cuffs seeming to echo in your head. You felt your heartbeat accelerate, your surroundings blurring, yet you took another step into the dim room toward Natasha’s threatening figure. “Get out”, she repeated slowly, her legs moving under the thin blanket she was under, the same telltale sound of restraints making themselves known. “I will kill you”, she said evenly as if trying to assure you that she was a woman of her word, her voice low and cold. “And I won’t hesitate for even a moment.” You stopped mid-step, staring at her. You couldn’t feel your tears or your sobs, standing still, trying to process what was going on. “Get out!” She screamed all of a sudden, your body flinching so hard you thudded to the floor, a sharp pain shooting up your tailbone. “Get the f*ck out! Now! Get out!” She continued, thrashing against the cuffs of her wrists as she tried to free herself from their tight and uncomfortable grip.

You crawled backward, your colorful sneakers pushing you toward the cracked door as you sobbed loudly, Natasha’s screams drowning out any sound you made. You felt your lower lip tremble when your head collided with the wall, heaving your lungs as full of air as possible, letting out a loud cry that was filled with terror. She wasn’t your mother, your mother would never behave that way. The door to your left slammed open, Steve first to enter, his head turning to you immediately, arms reaching down to pull you into his embrace. You cried even harder against his shoulder as he took you out of the patient room, Clint and Tony already hurrying to Natasha’s side, attempting to calm her down.

“Tash! Look at me, Nat!” Clint tried, his hands cupping her pale cheeks, forcing her to stop the aggressive shaking of her head. Her eyes looked empty, conveying just how tired she was, the color drained from her rosy lips and cheeks. Their gazes met, her features softening as if in recognition, a soft smile spreading onto his lips as his thumbs brushed over her cheeks. “That’s it”, he hummed, the grip of his hands loosening into a caress, the gentle look in her eyes disappearing, Clint too late to realize that he had fallen into a trap. He didn’t have the time to react to the movement of her head as she slammed it into his face, a grunt falling from his lips as he staggered back at the painful impact of her blow. His hand shot up to cover his bleeding nose as he backed away, Natasha offering him a rather unsettling smile as if begging him to try her again.

“Let her cool off”, Tony suggested, guiding Clint out of the room before grabbing a small package of gauze from one of the tables in the room. You watched them emerge from the hallway, Clint’s lower face painted red, your eyes widening in fear at the clear indication of him being hurt. You wailed loudly, a horrified, incoherent sound, Wanda noticing the men and your very justified reaction to the sight.

“Shh, no, mommy didn’t do that”, she assured you immediately, her hands caressing your body in an attempt to soothe you. “That wasn’t mommy”, she lied, praying that you would at least partly believe her, desperate to keep the positive, loving image of your mother intact. Tony noticed the frightened look on your face, offering you a smile.

“Clint’s a true clutz”, he chuckled, trying to cheer you up. “He ran into the door, and knocked his head right into the doorframe”, he explained animatedly, his hands imitating the supposed impact that Clint’s nose had suffered, bringing him closer so he too could assure that everything was okay.

“Look, it’s just a little blood. I’m okay”, Clint hummed through his pain, halfway convinced that his nose was actually broken. He lifted the stained gauze off his nose, showing you that there was nothing to be worried about. You weren’t sure whether to believe it or not because Clint wasn’t clumsy and had never been, but you chose to believe that your mother would never hurt him, creating a more pleasant image in your mind, one that didn’t involve your mother purposely harming your family. “It looks scary, huh?” He asked softly, earning a slow, hesitant nod from you. “I promise it doesn’t even hurt. It just looks scary”, he explained, smiling through the ache radiating through his face and head.

“Mommy would never”, Wanda whispered, brushing her fingers over your ear, something akin to a smile forming onto your lips. She held you a bit tighter, giving Tony a worried frown. “We’ll figure it out”, she hummed, standing up, your eyes widening in panic.

“Where are you going?” You asked in concern, sliding your legs off her waist, kicking until she let you down.

“Honey, we can’t stay here?” She reasoned, a stark frown overtaking your features.

“Why not?” You inquired angrily.

“We have to go get cleaned up”, she replied, gesturing toward the rest of the team. “I can’t leave you here”, she added apologetically, but you didn’t care for pleasantries, she might as well have punched you in the gut.

“I’m not leaving”, you huffed, tears glistening in your eyes as you fought to keep yourself from crying, trying to stay tough for your mother.

“Yes, you are. I can’t leave you alone”, she tried again but you yanked your hand out of her grasp, kicking her in the shin.

“No!” You cried loudly, your tears slipping down your cheeks as you tried to get away from her, writhing against her hands that grabbed you by your pajamas. “I’m not leaving her!” You wailed agonizingly, sobbing with your whole body, still fiercely trying to escape despite your very obvious disadvantage to an adult almost twice your size. “I’m not!” Your voice was filled with such anger Wanda couldn’t hold her own tears any longer, touched by your determination as her own trauma flooded her mind. She didn’t want to drag you away but there really was no one else who could take care of you. The entire team was exhausted and each one of them needed a good scrubbing in the shower. The only one left was Vision and she knew that now if ever you weren’t going to agree to hang out with him.

“Baby, baby, look at me, hey”, she whispered, crouching down to the floor, wincing slightly as your hand hit her in the face, a mild sting spreading down her temple, a shocked expression taking over her features. She grasped your forearms forcibly, holding them up to gain your attention, your crestfallen eyes finally turning to her. “I know you don’t want to go”, she said softly, her lips forming into a pout as you hiccuped roughly. “But mommy’s not going anywhere. She’ll be right here, getting some rest and waiting for you to come back”, she assured you, sniffling quietly, hoping her tears weren’t too alarming to you, although she wasn’t sure you could really process anything at all. “I’ll go clean up and we’ll get some food in that tummy of yours. You must be starving. Vis said you didn’t have any breakfast yet”, she said encouragingly, hoping she was as comforting as she was trying to be. “How does that sound? We’ll come right back after it”, she added once she noticed you hesitate.

You glanced toward the hall, the deafening silence of the ER making you feel uneasy. You didn’t want to stay there, but you didn’t want to leave your mother behind either, torn between two. You looked at Wanda’s reassuring eyes that shone with tears, her skin turning red where you had hit her. You bit down on your lower lip as you contemplated your options, your vision blurred by tears as you just stared ahead. You didn’t know what to do or who to believe. You didn’t know what to trust, a small sniffle escaping you as you grasped Wanda’s hand, allowing her to coerce you out of the hospital wing.

Notes:

I might’ve said that I wasn’t going to traumatize y/n but who am I kidding😂 I’m just giving her a little more character

Chapter 25: Time won’t move fast enough

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

You were really hungry, your stomach upset, but you weren’t sure if it was from hunger or from anxiety. However the feeling subsided the second Wanda set the bowl of cereal in front of you, your hunger evaporating to thin air, your gut churning unpleasantly. The nauseating scent of milk and overly sweet cereal making you shiver rather violently. You shoved the bowl away from you, feeling the need to gag as goosebumps erupted across your arms. You were so anxious, your body trembling lightly as you pulled your knees up to the edge of the seat, curling up into a ball. You felt your eyes burn again, your throat closing tightly as you hugged your knees. You wanted your mother. You missed her warm embrace and her never-ending kisses. You missed her scent and her voice, scared that you would lose her. What if you’d never see her again? Or worse, what if the next time you saw her she was dead? You didn’t really know what dead people looked like but you imagined it to be scary, maybe like in Hercules. You knew dead people didn’t move and they had their eyes closed, maybe some of them were pale like your mother had been in the hospital. You burst into sobs, hiding your face against your knees, crying into the flannel of your pajamas. What were you supposed to do now? You could hear the team talk in the living room behind you, but you couldn’t decipher any of the words they were saying.

“No, you don’t understand she is lethal”, Clint said quietly, purposely toning down his frustration and worry. “We don’t know what she’s seeing and feeling. We don’t know the world she’s living in currently. There’s no way anyone is freeing her”, he argued, Wanda looking ahead in thought.

“I might be able to help with that”, she hummed, Steve noting the quiet sobs coming from the kitchen. His face fell when he saw your small form, your shoulders jerking slightly as you cried. He glared at Tony’s loud protests, getting up from the couch and heading for the kitchen.

“Hey, doll”, he whispered, placing his hand gently over your back to avoid scaring you, crouching a bit closer. You lifted your head up, wiping your tears to see him better, hiccuping quietly. “What’s up, darling?” He asked quietly, his large hand cupping your cheek to wipe away the fresh tears. You took in a ragged breath, gathering the strength to produce words.

“I’m scared”, you whimpered, a pained grimace overtaking your features before you burst into another wave of sobs.

“That’s alright, honey”, he said comfortingly, stroking your arm with light pressure, his warm and steady hand contrasting nicely with your cold and shaky body. “Come here”, he hummed, sliding his hands under your arms to pick you up. You hugged his neck, his muscular arms encasing you against his abnormally warm body as you sobbed into the crook of his neck, surrounded by his sharp smelling aftershave. You recognized the scent, feeling the slightest bit of comfort at experiencing something that was familiar to you, tightening your hold on him as you sobbed louder, his hands rubbing your back.

“What if mommy dies?” You asked, hiccuping your way through the question, pulling back to see his deep blue eyes.

“Shh, she’s not going to die. We’ve got her right here at the compound and the doctors are gonna take real good care of her”, he assured you, bouncing you a bit in his arms, offering an encouraging smile. “You know how mommy is super strong?” He inquired, his voice much softer, a tone that was clearly directed at a child. You nodded your head, your hand coming up to your face to wipe your tears again. “She’s gonna make it. There’s no doubt about it”, he said confidently, knowing there was no acute threat to her life. For the moment she was mostly delirious and unpredictable, affected by the drugs that still coursed through her system. You remained quiet, trying to make sense of what was in your mind. You thought about your mother, reminded of how scary she had looked, huffing shakily as your lower lip started to tremble.

“She said- she- she was going to hurt me”, you muttered, looking away from him, trying to hold it together because you couldn’t even process how horrible the thought was. She was your mama. She loved you more than anything in the world and she had just told you that she would take your life. To Steve your words came out of nowhere, not possessing any prior knowledge of you even having spoken to her before her outburst.

“What?” He asked in shock, trying his best to control the look on his face as you sniffled again, wiping your nose into the sleeve of your shirt.

“She t-told me to get out or- or she’d kill me”, you sobbed, your ragged breathing making it hard for you to talk. Steve was appalled. He knew she would have never said such a thing if she had been aware of who she was talking to. He knew that there was nothing in the entire world that could’ve possibly made her think that, yet the thought of you hearing those words from her made him angry and frustrated. He was furious at Wanda for not looking after you better, he was furious at himself for not noticing you leave, he was furious at Natasha, at the mission, at their targets. You would probably never recover from something so traumatic and he already felt his heart break for Natasha who he knew was going to be devastated after finding out. Steve took a deep breath, forming an appropriate response for you in his mind before opening his mouth to speak.

“That wasn’t mommy”, he hummed, noticing your confused frown. You had seen her with your own eyes. You knew who it had been. “What I mean is that she wasn’t there mentally. She doesn’t know what is going on or who she’s talking to”, he explained, sitting down on the chair you had once occupied. “Do you know what drugs are?” He asked, receiving an unsure shake of your head. You might have heard of it but you definitely couldn’t define a thing about them. “Drugs are something that affects the way people’s minds work. Some are stronger than others. A small amount of a drug can make you dizzy or nauseous, but a large amount can make you see and hear things that aren’t there. It can give you delusions or paranoia”, he continued, keeping his tone low and soothing, your brows furrowing at the difficult words you couldn’t understand. “You don’t know what that means, do you?” He asked, earning a shy shake of your head.

“Delusions are false beliefs, something that go against facts. Like me saying the sun is green”, he mused, a smile cracking onto your lips at the thought of a green sun. “That is funny, isn’t it?” He chuckled, glad that there was something that could distract you from your sorrow. “Another delusion would be me thinking that you’re a dolphin”, he hummed, hearing a faint giggle from you, his own smile widening. He could see the slight relief on your face as your mind got occupied by other silly delusions you could come up with in your head. He wished he could have kept you there, distracted by silly little thoughts, but you needed to understand what was going on which is why he went on, his tone growing a bit graver. “Sometimes delusions can be scary. You might think that there are monsters or evil people after you that are out to get you.”

“Was mommy seeing delusions?” You asked quietly, looking up at him hopefully, eager to find an explanation for her behavior.

“Yes, I think mommy was having delusions. She was seeing someone else instead of you, someone that made her scared”, he hummed in thought, wondering what had happened between you before he had entered the room.

“Like who?” You asked curiously, unable to think of anything your mother would have ever been scared of.

“I don’t know, doll. Someone really scary”, he replied in a quiet murmur, his eyes moving to the cereal bowl that had been left untouched.

“Mommy wouldn’t hurt me, right?” You questioned for confirmation, still feeling a bit unsure because the drugs and delusions didn’t really make sense in your head.

“No, never. She would never hurt you”, he assured you immediately, his hands smoothing over your biceps. “She didn’t know what was going on and she probably won’t even remember what happened to her.” You nodded your head slowly at his words, seeming to accept the complicated explanation for what had happened, desperate to erase the devastating image from your mind. Steve’s gaze returned to the cereal bowl, his hand reaching for your breakfast to bring it closer to the edge of the table. You glanced back at it, your stomach rumbling loudly as if on cue.

“I tried to eat but my tummy felt all funny”, you offered as an explanation, Steve understanding completely why you would have trouble eating during such chaos.

“That’s okay. You had lots of other stuff on your mind”, he reasoned. “Wanna try again?” He asked, spooning the soggy cereal, the colorful loops having turned into wet lumps. Despite the uninviting look of the dish you agreed to try, turning around on his lap so you were sitting behind the table, your hand grasping the spoon he offered to you. His arm was wrapped loosely around your waist, occasionally rubbing small circles into your stomach with his thumb as you slid the spoon into your mouth, the sweetened wheat still just as good in your opinion. You felt much better now that you weren’t alone and knew at least a bit of what was going on with your mother. You felt hopeful, expecting to get a chance to visit her later in the day if her delusions were going away.

Regardless of your hunger you couldn’t finish the large bowl, the same flutter of anxiety returning in its place in the pit of your stomach. Your family had told you that they were considering visiting Natasha in the evening after giving her a good amount of time to rest which made you more than happy, only leaving you with the agonizing battle of killing time. There didn’t seem to be a single thing you had patience for. Everything was simply too boring or frustrating, your anxiety preventing you from starting any kind of task which only allowed you to sit on the couch and stare at the ceiling, angrily willing for time to move faster. You couldn’t eat, you couldn’t sleep, you couldn’t even think about playing or reading. You sighed heavily, lifting your hand up toward the ceiling for no particular reason, the bracelet you were wearing catching your eye, reminding you of a project that had yet to be finished.

You bounced up from the couch, Steve’s confused gaze following you out of the living room as you sprinted into your room to dig up the large box of assorted beads that you had gotten for Christmas almost two years ago. You had made many, many bracelets using fun, colorful beads of all shapes and sizes. You had made a few for your friends and a bunch for yourself, but you had never specifically made one for Natasha until she had left for the mission and the idea had struck you at school. You had given her a couple of your bracelets before but making one just for her felt much more special which is why you had chosen all your prettiest beads and lined them up, choosing colors that went well together, colors that you knew she liked. You picked up the unfinished bracelet, sliding the thread through a few more silver and dark green beads, alternating the colors. Once you were halfway through the length of the rubber band you slid a beautiful mint green heart on it, using one of your prized beads because she was special enough for it. After that you started picking out letters one by one, threading them through the holes to form the word “mama”, adding yet another mint heart after it. You really liked working on your jewelry and even pondered the idea of making a matching necklace for her as you continued adding the silver and emerald crystal beads, your mind fully focused on your work, allowing you a moment of freedom from all the fear and anxiety you were feeling.

By the time you finished up your task, sliding the bracelet on to see how it looked, your stomach was rumbling loudly again, a sharp twinge alerting you of the immediate need to pee. You needed to pee so bad that you almost peed your pants when you stood up, wobbling into the bathroom as fast as you could to avoid an accident. As you sat on the toilet, sighing from relief at your emptying bladder, you realized the apartment was rather quiet. No one had come in or gone out and as you thought about it even more, no one had spoken in hours. You wiped, flushed the toilet, and washed your hands before going into the conjoined kitchen and living room to see if Steve was still there or if you had been left alone completely. You couldn’t see anyone, a wave of sadness flushing over you. Had they forgotten you? You moved to the side, turning on the lights to see better in the dimming apartment, only a bit of red sky peeking from behind the trees outside. Still no one. You rounded the couch, unable to believe that Steve had left without saying anything, flinching wildly at the sight of him asleep on the couch, already having been fully convinced that you were alone. You observed him for a moment, studying his emotionless face that seemed sad somehow. He lacked the softness and warmth he always possessed, your hand coming up to his forearm that rested over his abdomen. You nudged him gently, hissing his name. When he didn’t move, you nudged again, his long lashes fluttering gently before his eyelids opened fully, taking in the bright living room and your concerned face.

“I’m really hungry”, you stated, tugging on his hand until he moved it to the side, leaving you enough space to cuddle next to him. You didn’t know why you wanted to be so close to him that day, but you couldn’t resist the urge to seek comfort no matter who you were with. You wanted hugs and kisses. You wanted human warmth.

“Hungry?” He mused groggily, his voice low and raspy, the sound of it resonating in his chest that your ear was pressed up against. “What time is it?” He asked in confusion, glancing outside at the setting sun.

“Like five”, you hummed, your hand fidgeting with the fabric of his shirt.

“Five? You must be starving”, he said playfully, tickling your side. “Hungry enough to eat a horse, huh?” You giggled at his silly words, writhing against him in an attempt to escape his tickling hand.

“Not a horse!” You laughed. “Maybe a burger”, you hummed, trying to figure out what you were in the mood for.

“A burger? How many burgers?” He inquired in a challenging tone, earning another giggle from you.

“Just one”, you replied, grinning widely.

“Just one? I bet you could fit another one in there”, he teased, tickling your belly to make you cackle out a laugh again.

“Well, how many are you having?” You asked, a pensive look on Steve’s face.

“Maybe six”, he hummed in thought, your eyes widening.

“Six?” You squeaked in disbelief, making him chuckle.

“I’ll have to see if the burgers got bacon or not”, he said playfully, sitting up to go find you both some food.

He didn’t end up eating more than two burgers, using the excuse that he wanted to leave some for the others as well. In your opinion he just couldn’t fit more in his tummy and had been bluffing earlier. Your burger was nothing special, a regular cheeseburger but it made you really sad regardless, your small fingers picking on the melted cheese that covered the patty. You had disassembled the burger, nibbling on small pieces but you found yourself struggling to eat it, thinking about how your mommy would make your burgers. She loved burgers, especially with bacon which was what Steve was having. He encouraged you to take another bite and you decided to try for him, bringing the lukewarm burger without the top bun to your lips, biting down. You didn’t like the scent of it at all, the cheese sticking to your palate, the bun too dry against your tongue. You chewed on the food, the flavor of meat hitting your tastebuds, a shiver running down your back. You couldn’t hold in the gag that you produced, followed by another violent churn of your stomach.

“Here, just spit it out”, Steve instructed, offering his paper towel -covered hand to you, watching you discard the food into the palm of his hand. “Take a bit of water, okay? You don’t have to eat if you don’t feel like it”, he assured you, rubbing your back as you guzzled down half of your cup of water. He noticed the moment you went quiet, your waterlines filling with tears again. You pinched your lips together, clearly trying to swallow down the sobs that were begging to be freed. “Let it out”, he whispered, rubbing your back steadily as you burst into tears, turning to his side where you could hide your face.

“Mommy likes burgers”, you cried, Steve’s face falling into a frown as he pulled you closer to him, sliding your body off the chair and onto his lap. He pressed his hand over your ear, encasing you against his chest, his mouth dropping to the crown of your head to kiss you, his eyes landing on Tony who appeared in the communal kitchen. He glanced down at your miserable form, his eyes conveying the sympathy he had for you, Steve giving him a questioning look.

“She’s awake and conscious”, he informed, your head jolting away from Steve’s chest as if burned by him, your round eyes looking at Tony with such hopefulness that his heart ached, a soft smile spreading on his lips.

“Can we- can we go see her?” You asked hastily, already sliding off Steve’s knee to head for the elevator, Steve and Tony sharing a look before agreeing to your request. You ran the whole way to the medical wing, frustrated by how slow the men were, sometimes returning back to them to tug on their hands or push them forward so they would go faster.

Once you arrived at the very same corridor you had been in that morning you felt a twist of anxiety in your stomach, reminded of what had happened the last time you tried to visit your mother. You slowed down noticeably the closer you got to her door, your hand sliding into Steve’s. The door was opened, but you were hesitant to go inside, peeking past the door frame to see if she really was inside. The lighting of the room was brighter than before but still dimmed down for Natasha’s comfort, the sound of Wanda and Clint’s voices catching your attention, encouraging you to take a better look at the room, Steve still holding onto your hand, patiently waiting for you to brace yourself. You glanced up at him warily, receiving a soft smile from him.

“It’s alright”, he hummed encouragingly. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. We’re all right here for you”, he reminded you, his hands sliding over your shoulders, his tall figure towering over you. He patted your head gently as you turned around again to take a quick peek into the room, eyes finally landing on Natasha who lay in bed just like before, propped up by two fluffy pillows, somewhat following what Wanda and Clint were saying. You sniffled quietly, everyone’s eyes turning to you, Natasha’s head popping up to see you better. She was still worryingly pale and you could see exactly how tired she was from her halfway closed eyelids that seemed a lot perkier all of a sudden, your gaze dropping to her abnormally colorless lips that were dry and cracked, the small sliver of red on her lip contrasting harshly with her fairness. You took a couple more steps forward, Steve lingering behind you because you refused to let go of his hand, the rest of the team filing out of the room to give you more privacy. Natasha’s brows furrowed at your timidness, her eyes glancing up at Steve questioningly as he tried to nudge you a bit closer by taking a small step forward.

“What is she doing here?” She asked in surprise, clearly having been unaware of your presence, having hoped that you were somewhere far away from the emergency room. She sat up, attempting to reach for you as a way to prompt you to come closer to her, a quiet rustle and a harsh tug at her wrists reminding her of the cuffs that bound her to the bed. She tugged at them as if in defiance, the corners of her mouth turning down as she frowned in misery, the sound causing you to flinch. When the cuffs didn’t yield Natasha’s attention turned back to you.

“Hi, baby”, she croaked quietly, offering you a small smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, a hint of panic behind them as she tugged on her cuffs again. She could sense something was wrong but she didn’t know what, feeling unreasonably emotional, anger and frustration flushing through her being as anxiety took over. Why were you scared?

“Hi”, you whispered, taking another step forward, trying to reason to yourself that everything was okay, but your tears had never quite seized and you could see them blur your vision again.

“I know mommy must look scary right now”, she tried softly, or as softly as her hoarse voice allowed, giving up on the restraints. You nodded your head slightly, sniffling loudly when you reached her bedside, placing your hands on the railing. You let out a long, quiet whine, unable to handle the stress any longer as you broke down, reaching for her out of habit.

“Mommy”, you cried desperately, Natasha seeming helpless, chancing a pleading look at Steve, silently asking him to release her from the restraints. Instead, he picked you up and sat you down on the bed, allowing you to sink into your mother’s embrace, loud wails coming from you as Natasha tried to hug you to the best of her abilities. You cried even louder when she pressed her head against yours, tears cascading down her cheeks as she imagined how scared you had been the whole day, how sad you had been, how much you had cried, all of it evident on your swollen eyelids and puffy face.

“I’m here, my love”, she whispered, Steve finally succeeding in undoing one of her cuffs, her left hand sliding up your back to pull you closer to her. She felt how fiercely you clung to her neck, your body trembling in her hold as you hiccuped through your sobs, nearly choking on your labored breath. “Shh, baby, I’m right here”, she continued soothingly, Steve freeing her other hand as well, Natasha letting out a muffled sob as she encased you against her body, physically relieved to know that you were there. He left the room shortly after, feeling like he was witnessing a moment that he wasn’t supposed to be a part of.

“Mama”, you whimpered, your ragged breath forcing you to cough so you wouldn’t block your airways, Natasha squeezing you tightly as she brought her nose to your hair, breathing in the delicate scent of your shampoo.

“Mommy’s right here. Mommy’s okay”, she tried to assure you, but her teary voice wasn’t very convincing to anyone. You took another ragged breath, pushing yourself away from her neck to see her face, a huge grimace on your features as you cupped her cheeks with your small hands. “I’m right here”, she whispered, tears streaming down her face in small rivers, her hands stroking over your body in an attempt to soothe you. The look in your eyes made her scared. She had never seen you so horrified and she knew instantly that she never wanted to see that look on your face ever again. “Myshka (little mouse)”, she hummed sadly when you hiccuped harshly, immediately welcoming you back into her embrace. Despite her arms feeling weak and stiff, she pulled you flush against her body, clutching you as tightly as she could, pained by the hot tears that wet her neck, your teeth pressing into the tender skin as you tried to keep yourself from sobbing.

“It’s okay, Y/N-baby”, she mumbled, rocking you in her arms as she cried silently, refusing to let out a single sob in order to calm you down. It seemed to work fairly well once you noticed that her shoulders no longer shook with cries and that you were receiving all the comfort you could have ever needed. You had her there with you and she was holding you in the most familiar way, waves of calm crashing over you as you slowly got through the initial outburst of emotions. She was okay, and you were okay. Everything was okay. You pulled back, attempting to wipe your tears into your forearms, beads scraping over your sensitive skin, shifting your attention to your wrist where the silver and green bracelet dangled loosely. You perked up a little, bringing your arm down between your bodies to take a better look at the bracelet you had made, your other hand pulling it off your wrist.

“What’s that?” She asked curiously, using the opportunity to wipe her tears to appear a little more put together for you.

“A bracelet”, you hummed, adjusting the beads enough to show her what it said. “I made it for you”, you added sheepishly, smiling softly as you looked up at her for her reaction, Natasha’s brows furrowing as she tried to make sense of everything that was going on as well as process your excruciatingly adorable gesture.

“For me?” She whimpered, looking down at the piece of jewelry, her fingertips tracing over the crystal beads.

“Yes, see? It says mama”, you pointed out. “That’s you”, you clarified brightly, Natasha unable to hold back her amused huff as she brushed her thumb over your cheek affectionately, inconspicuously trying to tug you closer to her with her left hand before offering it to you so you could slide the bracelet on her.

“Let’s see what it looks like on”, she hummed encouragingly, allowing you to stretch the rubber band enough to slide it over her hand, the jewelry hugging her wrist in a rather perfect fit.

“Wow, look at that”, she praised softly, bringing her hand out a bit so you could both take a better look at your work. “It’s beautiful”, she said, emphasizing her words, doing her best to convey just how touched she was by your infinite kindness and sweetness. “I love it. Almost as much as I love you”, she hummed as she brought her index finger to your nose, sliding the pad of it down the gentle slope. It made you grin widely, feeling more than pleased by her reaction, yet your smile faltered, the possibility of you losing her, not having her there, creeping to the back of your mind again. You couldn’t seem to shake the fear inside you no matter how much confirmation you received from your surroundings. You still felt like she was about to slip through your fingers and you would be all alone again in an infinite sea of sadness where you would float around mindlessly.

“Mommy”, you started quietly, glancing up at her, your brows knitting together once you registered the alarmingly sick look on her face. She looked awful, her eyes closing as she took in a shallow breath, pushing you away from her. You couldn’t understand why she would do that, fighting back to crawl onto her lap despite Natasha doing her best to reject you.

“Honey-“ She groaned, sounding rather unstable, nausea flashing across her face before she lurched to the side, gagging roughly as she threw up over the bed railing, vomit splattering onto the floor and the bed. This time you backed away voluntarily, kicking yourself to the end of the bed to get some distance between you, a concerned look on your face. You were frozen in place as she retched again, prompting you to leave by shooing you with her hand. “Baby, go in the waiting room”, she gasped, wincing as she felt a sharp sting in her head, triggered by the forceful hurl. She didn’t have to tell you twice, hearing you jump off the bed and head for the door, Natasha slumping down into the pillows, emitting a low whine from the back of her throat as she brought her forearm up to cover her eyes. Whatever drugs had been injected in her could kiss her ass.

Notes:

I have a writer’s block for this story cause yn still has a couple of years before she’s a teenager and that’s when all the fun stuff happens so I guess I’ll stick with angst for now😩

Chapter 26: Aftermath

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

“When will I get to go back?” You asked in a desperate whine, butting your head into Wanda as you wiggled against her, somehow trying to make her do something about the situation.

“Once the nurses have cleaned her up”, she replied patiently, grasping your arm to make you stand still beside her, instead of the odd back and forth between sitting beside her and standing in front of her. “Did you want to sit on my lap?” She inquired with a small squint, silently chastising you for your restlessness that you took out on Wanda in the most infuriating way possible, especially when she was already more than exhausted. You nodded your head, climbing onto her lap with a bit of assistance from her only for you to shift around constantly, your weight pressing harshly down on Wanda’s sore muscles, your hands and elbows abusing her abdomen and chest with small nudges and bumps as you tried to adjust yourself on her lap, but you were simply incapable of controlling your nerves.

“Oh, I almost forgot. I brought you a souvenir”, Wanda said suddenly, hoping it was enough to gain your focus and slow down your jittery mind a bit.

“Really?” You asked in surprise, having completely forgotten about Wanda’s sweet habit of bringing you little trinkets from missions.

“Yeah, I got you this little guy”, she hummed, handing you a small conch seashell that was the size of your fist, the spiraling shell decorated by various shades of brown, the inside a pale pink. Your lips parted in awe as you held the shell in your hand, studying the sharp ridges on the outside.

“Is it real?” You inquired, glancing up at Wanda with your wide eyes. She nodded, her smile brightening at your genuine reaction. You really liked the souvenir, you always liked Wanda’s souvenirs, but it wasn’t enough to distract you from your feelings, your body growing restless once again, continuously nudging Wanda in the most infuriating ways possible.

“Alright, honey, why don’t we try to sit still for a moment?” She suggested, biting the inside of her cheek to reign in her anger and frustration. You didn’t need any more stress for the night and Wanda couldn’t think of anything worse than eliciting a breakdown from you again.

“But I want to go”, you groaned, swinging your legs that dangled off the chair, your sneakers kicking her shins.

“Go ask the nurses if they’re ready”, she suggested, already pushing you off her lap to get rid of your offending limbs. You hopped off, heading straight for Natasha’s room where a nurse was changing her IV bag, Natasha laying limply on the bed, very clearly exhausted out of her mind.

“Mommy”, you whispered, her eyes blinking open at the sound of your voice, the nurse ready to usher you out immediately. You didn’t like her attitude at all, frowning angrily, when she approached you with that apologetic look on her face.

“You shouldn’t be in here”, she reasoned, but you evaded her hands by ducking under them, hurrying to the bed.

“No!” You cried, clutching onto the sheets in case the woman wanted to get handsy.

“Shh, baby, whispers only”, Natasha mumbled, wincing at the loudness of your voice. “Let her stay. She’s been through enough”, she continued, talking to the nurse, her hand finding your own. “You can sleep the night with mommy”, she promised, her voice low and slurring, her eyes remaining closed as she spoke. It scared you to see her like that, her almost lifeless demeanor and the harshness of her tone making you feel a little uncomfortable. She wasn’t the same, but you accepted her invite more than gladly because you would rather lay beside her silently than sleep at home where you would toss and turn as you tried to force yourself to sleep, wondering if your mother was breathing or not.

“Can I cuddle you?” You asked hopefully, kicking your shoes off before you climbed onto the bed, Natasha lifting the covers up rather weakly, allowing you to crawl beside her on the mattress. The bed was comfortable enough for you since you had the most important thing beside you, snuggling into Natasha’s chest as she allowed her arm to drape over your body. Her movements were slow and lethargic, clearly demanding a lot of effort from her, but she still clutched you to her chest and pressed a kiss in your hair. The nurse continued her work, finishing up the IV bag change before taking care of a couple more things that Natasha’s condition required. She exited the room soon after.

You felt safe in your mother’s embrace but it didn’t take away the fear that had been brewing inside you the entire day, tears brimming in your eyes as you nuzzled your face against her hospital gown, somehow wishing to get closer to her. You wanted to talk to her, but the timing didn’t feel right when she was so exhausted that she could barely stay awake, her body shivering against yours every now and then as if she was cold. You wished you could have found more comfort from somewhere but eventually just gave in, allowing your tears to spill as you cried silently, waiting for sleep to take you so you could get a break from everything you were feeling.

The night was long, much, much longer than you realized. You never knew nights were so long and boring, or scary for that matter. Your vigil ears listened to Natasha’s ragged breathing that was accompanied by the steady beep of her heart monitor. You hated that sound, trying to bury yourself deeper into her embrace to drown out the intrusive beeping, but nothing helped. You couldn’t find a comfortable position on the bed, feeling claustrophobic and trapped under the thin blanket that did nothing to warm you up. You didn’t want to stay there, you couldn’t stay there for any longer or you would go insane, so you hopped out of bed, sneaking into the hallways to look for anything at all to ease the discomfort you felt. You found yourself at the vending machine, wishing for a dollar so you could have something to eat, your stomach rumbling loudly, twisting with anxiety that only made the pain worse. You looked around the waiting area, shivering from the cold as your eyes roamed over the dim and empty hallways, hoping that you hadn’t been alone in such a scary place. You glanced at the snacks that were lit up by the lights of the machine, sighing in defeat when you found no way to get yourself food. If you had had powers like Wanda you could have just grabbed something for yourself without anyone ever finding out. You didn’t think you had ever felt so hungry in your life. The last time you had gone a long time without food you had been sick with the stomach flu that didn’t allow you to keep anything down. You shivered at the memory, walking back toward the room, your feet dragging behind you as you trudged forward.

You were so tired and so hungry, tears burning in your eyes as you snuck back into the room, your stomach lurching at the sight of the huge bed in the darkness of the room, your mother lying limply in the ominous silence. You sucked your lungs full of air, clenching your fists as you sprinted to the bed, terrified of the monsters that you could feel lurking in the pitch black corners. You climbed up onto the bed, only barely evading the imaginary claws that almost snatched you by your feet, wiggling into Natasha’s chest, pressing your face against her so you wouldn’t see the ogre that was surely looking at you at that very moment. You did your best to keep your sobs inside but they pushed through forcibly, your tears wetting Natasha’s hospital gown as your wails sounded in the strange room that you hated with your whole heart. You felt movement against your body, hearing a soft groan from above you as Natasha adjusted herself on the bed, disturbed by the noise you were making. You hiccuped loudly, feeling a flush of guilt for waking her up, putting more effort into staying quiet and still beside her. It was a miracle that it took so much noise to fully wake her up. Usually she would have been up before you ever got the chance to leave the bed. She was so sensitive when it came to sleep, always alert and aware of her surroundings.

“Shh, baby”, she hushed you quietly, her voice groggy and harsh. “What’s… wrong, honey?” She asked slowly, her hand finding the back of your head as she struggled to find the strength to talk and move.

“Mommy”, you cried softly, clutching her gown tightly, sniffling loudly to prevent your snot from dripping down your face.

“Shh”, she continued, finding it much easier to hush than produce any words, bending her fingers in your hair to scratch gently over your scalp. She decided to wait for you to calm down enough to be able to express yourself so that she could save some energy, her hazy brain struggling to stay focused.

“I- I’m- There’s… I’m- scared”, you uttered hastily, struggling to explain your emotions to her when you felt so helpless and horrified.

“Of what”, she sighed, sounding almost indifferent from the lack of energy in her.

“Everything”, you bewailed, loud sobs bursting from you as you clutched her waist, needing something to hold. Natasha heard the pain in your voice, her mind reacting to the way you were crying, searching for every last bit of physical strength to force herself to open her eyes, feeling nausea tug at her stomach as she started to sit up in the hopes of being able to focus on you better, to comfort you better. You refused to let go of her even a little bit as she changed her position, clinging onto her body like your life depended on it.

“Shh… malyshka (baby), you’re… okay”, she huffed, her eyes searching for the bedside table, looking for the remote that could turn the lights on for you. She reached for the white device, her thumb fumbling for the desired button in the dark, eventually bringing some light into the room. She cringed at the brightness of the fluorescent lights, her gaze shying away from the obtrusive beam.

“Mommy”, you cried again, not sure what else to say. You didn’t know how to handle your emotions, squirming against her body, completely submerged in your sorrow. Natasha closed her eyes, taking an even breath to control the nausea that stirred inside her, her stomach upset by the new position she was sitting in. She couldn’t listen to your distress any longer, her heart aching at each little whimper that fell from your lips. She needed to console you, she needed to help you no matter what was going on with her body and mind. She needed to protect you.

“Look at the lights, Y/N. It’s not- not dark anymore”, she stuttered, tugging gently on your arm to make you look around, knowing that it was most likely the infinite darkness that frightened you and if it wasn’t that, it surely didn’t help your predicament. Natasha knew that for a fact. “Look at mommy”, she instructed, a shiver going down her spine as she fought the nausea that tried to take over. You pulled away from her, hiccuping loudly, bringing your hands to your face to wipe off your tears, barely able to see a thing through the blur. “That’s- it, kroshka (little one)… good job”, she praised, her thumb brushing gently over your bicep. “Remember to breathe”, she hummed, hoping that the smile she was giving you was as encouraging as she intended it to be. You took a deep breath, the kind that you had practiced with her every time you had woken up from a nightmare or had felt such intense emotions that you needed to find a way to relax your body. You filled every square inch of your lungs with air, holding it in for five seconds before slowly exhaling, Natasha’s hands finding your cheeks to cup.

“There you go, love. Take… another breath for me”, she urged you, looking into your huge, watery eyes that tugged at her heartstrings. You did as told, finding it much easier to sort out your feelings when you were properly getting oxygen into your brain. “Ready to talk?” She asked softly, earning a firm nod from you. “What’s got my baby girl so scared?”

“You… all of it”, you admittedly shyly, casting your eyes down to avoid her gaze. “I’m scared… that you’re hurt and- and that you’re going to die”, you elaborated, Natasha nodding in understanding, her lips pursing into a small pout.

“I’m okay, darling. I’m not going anywhere”, she assured you, taking a small pause to gather more strength to talk, finding it easier by the minute. “Remember how mommy told you that you would always have her? I wasn’t lying. I’m hard to get rid of”, she chuckled, caressing her thumbs over your cheeks to comfort you.

“But- but you almost died”, you persisted because that’s how it had felt to you despite Natasha only having suffered mild physical harm.

“I know this looks scary. You shouldn’t even be seeing this, but I promise you, milaya (honey), I never came close to death”, she told you, her eyes searching for your own to truly convey to you how serious she was being. “This is no place for a child. I don’t know who let you in here, but they should’ve waited longer”, Natasha said apologetically, pulling you closer to kiss your forehead, taking a deep breath before continuing. “I know you’re confused and you probably have many, many questions, but I need you to understand that I’m safe and I’m okay. Nothing is going to happen to me. I’m right here”, she assured you, knowing that she was going to give a piece of her mind to the rest of the team for ever informing you about her accident. They should have known better.

“Promise?” You asked with a voice so quiet and soft that Natasha felt her eyes start to sting.

“I promise”, she whispered, tugging you closer to her to bring you into her embrace, feeling the need to hold you, to comfort you in every way possible. She had never seen you so shaken up in her life, the brief idea of putting you into therapy for an indefinite amount of time entering her mind. You needed to overcome the events in a healthy, progressive way that would save you from at least some of the trauma that would ensue. Unfortunately Natasha didn’t know how to help you with it. Her coping skills were nothing short of chaotic. In fact, most of her ways to deal with scary or painful events in her life should not be recommended for anybody. She needed to find help for you and help for herself so that you could avoid the possible disaster that was ahead.

Once your initial fear started to subside, you remembered the rest of your concerns that were keeping you up for the night. You wanted to talk to her about what she had said to you earlier that day when she had been having those delusions that Steve had told you about, but you were scared to say it out loud to her. You were too nervous to talk to her about it, unwilling to bring it up when it seemed like she wasn’t aware of it in the slightest, so you chose something else instead. “I’m really hungry”, you stated quietly, looking down at your cramping stomach. “It hurts so bad”, you whined, Natasha co*cking her head at your pout.

“Who’s been looking after you today?” She asked in concern, feeling a twinge of betrayal somewhere deep inside her, fearing that her family had failed to take care of you.

“Steve and Wanda mostly”, you shrugged.

“Did you get dinner?”

“Yeah, it’s just that… My stomach hurts so bad I can’t eat. I tried. Me and Steve got burgers, but I almost threw up”, you explained, a small frown on your face as you toyed with your hands.

“Oh baby, were you feeling that nervous?” She hummed softly, empathetic of your struggles as well as relieved that you hadn’t been neglected all day.

“Uh-huh, and the same happened at breakfast and I didn’t have lunch, so now I’m starving. I wanted something to eat but I didn’t have a dollar for the vending machine”, you continued, Natasha’s heart squeezing roughly at the image of your small form by the vending machine, begging for just a bite of food. She reached for the nurse call button, pressing on it swiftly. “What’s that?” You asked in confusion, a playful smile on her lips.

“We’re getting you some food”, she said in a secretive tone, the look on your face brightening at her words.

“Really? How?” You inquired eagerly, beaming up at her for the familiarity that was slowly returning to her demeanor.

“I’ll show you how”, she mused, squeezing you tightly against her, rubbing your back as the door to the patient room slid open, a nurse entering to see how Natasha was doing.

“Hi”, she greeted the on-call nurse, offering her an apologetic smile. “Everything is okay here. I’m sorry to bother you, but would you happen to have anything to eat in the cafeteria? My daughter is hungry”, she explained, her eyes following the woman who walked to the monitors that beeped steadily, checking her vitals despite Natasha’s words.

“Yes, of course”, she replied, turning to look at your teary face. “If you want to, we can go together. You could choose whatever you feel like eating”, she suggested, a grateful smile spreading on Natasha’s lips, but you felt a bit unsure, glancing up at your mother warily.

“I’ll be right here, baby”, she said encouragingly, brushing your hair behind your ear, her gaze turning to the nurse again. “I could actually use a bite as well, something very light. I can’t remember the last time I ate”, she admitted, her words causing you to perk up a bit. You wanted to help her get better, suddenly a bit more eager to go get food for the both of you.

“We have jello cups. The raspberry flavor has been a hit among the patients”, the woman explained politely, earning a pleased smile from Natasha.

“Those sound wonderful”, she hummed, still trying to see if you would be willing to go with the lovely nurse. “Would you go get jello cups for mommy?”

“Uh-huh. Can I have some too?” You asked hopefully, clearly leaning toward going.

“You can have anything you want from the cafeteria”, she promised you. “If you go with…” she glanced at the nurse, not familiar with her, waiting for her to fill in the sentence.

“Elaine”, she chimed in, offering you a soft smile that finally did it for you. Elaine was around Natasha’s age and she had thick brown hair that was tied into a tight bun at the back of her head, her narrow eyes bringing her face an almost feline quality, but the rest of her round features balanced it out, giving her a much softer look. You slid off the bed, receiving a final squeeze of Natasha’s hand as she let you go, Elaine offering her hand for you to hold.

“I’ll be right back”, you said to Natasha from the door, allowing Elaine to lead you to the cafeteria.

“I know, sweetie”, Natasha hummed, giving you one last look before you were out the door.

“You’re really pretty”, she heard you say to Elaine, your voice echoing in the hallway, an amused smirk spreading on Natasha’s lips as she closed her eyes and sank back into the pillows, relieved to have a moment of pure silence to herself.

The moment you were gone Natasha felt her condition worsen, no longer fighting to remain put together. The nausea came in waves, her eyelids rolling shut as the muscles of her abdomen constricted, tensing up to make her gag. She hadn’t felt shudders so violent in a long time, the feeling of disgust so dreadful that she could barely control the look on her face when her body tried to make her vomit again. She took deep, controlled breaths, keeping her eyes closed as she lay on her back, doing her very best to focus on anything other than her discomfort, but it seemed to be the last thing she was capable of doing, her mind analyzing everything that was wrong with her physically. She could feel the headache that throbbed in the base of her skull, the sensation not strong enough yet to spread to the front of her head, but she knew it wouldn’t take long. Her muscles ached, a constant buzz in her joints despite the position her limbs were in. On top of it all, the emotional exhaustion she felt weighed her down like a ton of bricks, her mind fighting to stay conscious until your return. Time passed by rather fast while Natasha was stuck in the depths of her mind, trying to piece together everything she could remember from the day before. She knew something had gone horribly wrong on the mission but she wasn’t sure what had led to it, or who had gotten to her. It made her uneasy to not remember large pieces of valuable information, bringing a couple of very uncomfortable memories to the forefront of her mind from similar occasions.

“We’re back!” You exclaimed from the door, the sound of your voice causing a sharp jab of pain to pierce through Natasha’s head, her face morphing into a slight wince as she gathered herself up into a sitting position again. “Elaine has a dog”, you stated in excitement as you rushed to her bedside, carrying your food on a tray.

“Wow, she does?” Natasha asked in surprise, not giving a damn about Elaine’s dog, but you seemed to be in a much better mood so she decided to engage in your conversation.

“Yeah, a wiener dog”, you chuckled, amused by such a name. “He’s three years old and his name is Peanut”, you explained, handing the tray to Natasha who received it a little poorly, but with Elaine’s help she managed to place it on the side table that was stretched over the bed to give Natasha better access to it.

“Sounds adorable”, she hummed, Elaine giving her a sympathetic look, clearly aware of Natasha’s condition.

“Do you need anything?” She asked Natasha, who shook her head immediately.

“Thank you for your help. I’ll call for you if anything comes up”, she assured her, offering the most polite smile she could muster, Elaine saying her goodbyes to you before exiting the room.

“I think we should get a dog”, you carried on, unwrapping the toastie from its paper, the scent of warm cheese hitting Natasha’s nose. She could’ve definitely gone without the stuffy smell, but she pushed through, focusing on one of the jello cups on the tray. “Do you think we should get a dog?”

“I think we should think about that tomorrow. Eat your food before it gets cold”, she countered rather obviously, shutting you up, hoping that all the adrenaline in your body would soon start to go down, eager to get you back to sleep so she could catch a break from the constant nausea.

Natasha only had a bite of the raspberry jello cup, finding that the taste of anything was enough to make her stomach churn. She grabbed the juice box on the tray, opening it for you, her hand guiding you to lean into her side as you ate your ham and cheese toastie, simply happy to have your hunger sated. She offered the juice to you, petting the top of your head gently, grateful for the food that kept you quiet. It didn’t take long for her to start zoning out, her head resting against your own as her eyes slid shut. Just a few more minutes and she could put you to bed, she reminded herself, listening to you slurp on the remains of your juice box, the bread already finished. Once you were done with your meal she pushed the table to the side, making a bit more room for you on the bed before settling down on the mattress, pulling the thin blanket up to her shoulders. You adjusted to her position, rolling closer to her to tuck your face into her neck where you felt safe and warm, Natasha wrapping her arm around your small frame.

“Try to get some sleep, sweetheart”, she whispered, pressing her lips in your hair, the kiss tickling your ear slightly.

“I’ll do my best”, you mumbled quietly, sounding tired to Natasha’s utter relief.

“Good night, myshka (little mouse). I love you”, she hummed, brushing her nose against you gently. “My sweet angel.”

“Good night. I love you”, you replied, smiling into her skin, feeling a thousand times better than in the beginning of the night.

Notes:

Nat always putting Y/N first breaks my heart :(

Chapter 27: Just like you

Notes:

Here’s something lighthearted cause I’m depressed out of my mind

Chapter Text

You dragged yourself to the living room couch, exhausted out of your mind from practice, sinking into the cushions that seemed to welcome you with open arms. You had recently switched from karate to kickboxing and your new coach had no mercy for anyone. He wasn’t going to let you quit until you got it right. He was stricter than your mother, although you had a feeling Natasha was never quite as strict as she would have been with anyone else. She always carried an air of loving care whenever you trained with her. She was rough, yet gentle, possessing a tendency to push you just enough to find the most effective method of development. Your new coach was rough around the edges and lacked the maternal care that you so loved. You couldn’t give him those huge puppy eyes and a tired, little whine to get out of conditioning circles or punch drills, although it only worked on Natasha maybe 40% of the time. It didn’t bother you though. You had a lot of respect for your coach. He was very skilled and maybe even good enough to not go down in the first two minutes if he had been set up against your mother. That was already wildly impressive.

The air around you felt warm, your eyes sliding shut as you listened to the quiet Russian music that came from the kitchen, the sizzling of a frying pan carrying through only faintly. You could smell the dinner that Natasha was cooking, her voice resonating softly in the room, but you forgot to answer as your mind slowed down and you started to drift, your surroundings morphing into one big blur, the world going dark. You found yourself in a gloomy corridor, a steady beeping sound echoing down the eerie halls. You felt scared. It was too dark around you for you to really see ahead, cold creeping up your legs as your hands grew clammy. You tried to take a deep breath to calm yourself down but there was no air. You tried again but you couldn’t seem to fill up your lungs, gasping for air that had no oxygen to give. It felt too real, too vivid, too familiar. You knew where you were and would’ve given anything in the world to get out.

“Y/N.” You flinched away rather violently, your eyes flashing open as your body jolted at the hand that touched your arm. Your eyes turning to Natasha who was crouched down beside you on the floor, her brows drawing into a mild frown. “Hey, you okay?” She asked after seeing your startled face, stroking her hand down your bicep to offer comfort. You looked at her for a moment, relief flooding you as you realized that it had only been a dream. You nodded your head slowly, clambering to sit up on the couch.

“I’m okay”, you mused, Natasha’s frown replaced by a soft smile.

“Dinner’s ready”, she told you, pinching your chin gently, standing upright to head into the kitchen with you in her footsteps. “We’ve got a big day tomorrow”, she hummed, pulling up a seat for you at the end of the table. You sat down, eyeing the plateful of your favorite food, excitement pushing aside the anxiety you had felt.

You were about to attend your very first charity event at the Avengers tower, finally old enough to accompany Natasha without possible meltdowns that could disturb the night. You were finally, finally old enough to dress up with mommy to go to high-end gala events, nine years old to be exact and you were beyond excited for the night that was ahead of you. You felt so grown up, so special, barely able to keep it together for long enough to get ready the next day. Natasha shook her head in amusem*nt as you held the dress you had picked out together against your chest, twirling around in her bedroom, too impatient to even start getting ready.

“Come here, princess”, Natasha hummed from her vanity, setting down her lipstick, her eyes turning to you. “Your turn”, she stated, pulling you down to sit sideways on her lap. You beamed up at her brightly, Natasha placing a wet smooch on your forehead, her thumb wiping away the smudge of pink she left behind on your skin. “What kind of makeup did you want?” She asked in curiosity, brushing back some of your hair that had already been done ahead of time to save the both of you from the additional pressure of getting ready on time.

“I want what you have!” You exclaimed, Natasha’s smile only widening.

“You wanna look like mommy?”

“Uh-huh. I wanna be just like you”, you nodded in determination. Well, you did have a matching dress so it was only fitting to match your makeup as well.

“Let’s see what I can do about that”, she mused, reaching behind you to grab her eyeshadow palette. Your eyes followed her movements curiously, observing carefully the way she opened up the palette filled with muted colors of multiple tones and values. You glanced up at her face, Natasha flashing you a small smile as she pressed the tip of her middle finger into the pan to pick up some pigment. She wasn’t going to do an elaborate look on you anyway, deeming you a bit too young for excessive makeup. Natasha herself was wearing a soft smokey eye that made her jade irises pop, her long lashes curled and coated with mascara, the look built on her flawless looking skin that made her glow softly. She looked beautiful, like an angel, you thought. A real life princess, or rather a queen.

“Close your eyes for me, dear”, she whispered, waiting for you to obey, but you kept squinting to see what she was doing every other second, not allowing Natasha proper access to the delicate skin of your eyelids. “Keep them closed”, she huffed in amusem*nt, earning a small look from you.

“But then I won’t see what you’re doing”, you protested, Natasha cracking a smile.

“You’re not meant to see what I’m doing. You’ll see the result in the end”, she explained, your eyes remaining closed at her words, although you did try to take a peek every time she wasn’t touching your eyes. Natasha tapped some shimmering eyeshadow on the middle of your eyelid, just like she had done on herself, adding some darker brown into the outer corners to add a bit of depth to mimic her own makeup.

“Can I wear that black stuff on my lashes?” You asked hopefully as her fingers blended the makeup into your skin, creating a smooth layer of shadow that was subtle enough for a child.

“We can put a little bit”, she agreed, her tone slightly secretive as her finger tickled the underside of your chin, a grin spreading on your lips. She hadn’t let you try on mascara before because of the difficult application process, but nine years was surely enough of life experience to manage to get some mascara on, at least with Natasha’s assistance. She placed the palette down, satisfied with your eyelids, her hand going blindly for the tube of mascara. “Look at mommy”, she instructed, tilting your head back a bit.

“Will the boys put on suits?” You asked nonchalantly, making casual conversation about whatever you had on your mind.

“That’s the plan, honey”, she replied, unscrewing the wand. “Open your eyes as wide as they’ll go”, she continued, earning a little giggle from you as you spread your eyes wide open.

“Do I look like an owl?” You inquired in amusem*nt, clearly holding back your laughter.

“You look crazy”, she quipped, a wide smile on her lips, cupping your jaw again to keep you still.

“Do I look scary? Are you scared?” You chuckled out, leaning closer to her, your nose and forehead pressing against her own, your eyes crossing as she held eye contact with you.

“Oh, I’m terrified”, she hummed, nuzzling her nose against yours before pushing you back enough to give her room to continue doing your makeup. “Look down but keep your eyes like that”, she told you, bringing the wand to you eye, brushing the bristles carefully against your lashes to coat the very tips with the product, mindful not to go too close to your lash line to avoid poking you in the eye. “You’re doing so well”, she praised in mild surprise, moving onto the other eye.

“Do I get blush too?”

“Of course, if you want.” She looked at your evenly black lashes, the corner of her mouth quirking up at her work as you nodded your confirmation, her hands starting to search for another eyeshadow palette to find an appropriate shade of blush for your skin tone. She then grabbed a fluffy brush from one of the brush holders –a part you had been waiting for very patiently. You found the silky smooth brush fun because it tickled your cheeks, another reason for your strong liking of it was the very direct symbol of doing makeup that you had seen all over fiction. Finally Natasha gave you a sheer layer of her lipstick, blending it to look more natural than her own dark-lined lips. You smacked your lips in excitement, rubbing them together to copy Natasha, whose fingers came up to your mouth to wipe the edges clean.

“There you go. We’re done”, Natasha stated animatedly, admiring the end result, her hand nudging your chin to the side to see you better. You turned to face the mirror, your leg sliding over her thighs to sit properly on her lap, gasping quietly at your own image, noting the changes that had quite a big of an impact on your appearance, shocked by the altered features on your face.

“I look beautiful now”, you mused in astonishment, Natasha shaking her head in disagreement.

“You looked beautiful even before”, she reminded you, her arms sliding around you to hold you by your waist, her lips pressing down on your cheek in a chaste kiss. You smiled at the image in the mirror, leaning further into her embrace. “You always look beautiful”, she added softly.

“Hey! You left a stain!” You exclaimed, very clearly overjoyed by such a phenomenon, turning your head to see her, giggling happily. You planted your lips on her cheek as well, rubbing your mouth on her to make sure you were leaving a lipstick stain behind. “Now you have one too”, you explained, Natasha glancing at the smudge of pink on her skin, biting the inside of her cheek to reign in the overwhelming sense of adoration. You were painfully cute, so cute that Natasha had a hard time handling it.

“Look at that, we’re practically twins”, she chuckled despite your obviously deviating appearances, but you seemed to agree regardless. “Do you want to wear any jewelry?”

“What are you wearing?” You asked immediately, Natasha giving you a sly smirk and lifting up her left wrist to show you a certain emerald and silver bracelet. She wore it most days, unless she did something that could potentially damage the piece. Your smile only seemed to brighten at what you saw.

“Do I have to take this off?” You questioned, noticing that Natasha didn’t have a necklace on but you still had the arrow pendant around your neck. You hadn’t taken it off since the unfortunate mission and your mother had never asked for it back, pleased to know that you found comfort in wearing it.

“No, darling. I will put on something similar”, she reasoned, nudging you to get off her lap. “Go get yourself a bracelet while mommy gets dressed”, she suggested, unable to help the smile that spread on her lips when you scurried out of the bedroom.

“Okay!” You yelped, heading into the hallway, going to look for something that would go well together with Natasha’s bracelet. She moved to her closet, pulling off her loose sweater and unbuttoning her jeans to change into her evening gown that she pulled off the hanger. The dress was simple, yet elegant, the skirt reaching all the way to the floor, plaiting beautifully around her torso to accentuate her waist and hips, your version of the dress lacking the skin tight fit. Your dress had a bit more flare to the skirt to give you that princess look you were after as well as bring a more child-like quality to the dress.

Natasha stepped through the dress, hiking it up her hips before discarding her bra somewhere on the bed, bringing the straps of the dress up her arms. She pulled shut the zipper on the side, making sure the dress fit right around her chest and hips. She looked at herself through the full-length mirror of her closet, running her hands down her abdomen as if smoothing out the dress. She really liked the gown, her fingertips gliding over the silky material, a small smile creeping onto her lips. She felt good, happy even, but it had nothing to do with her appearance, and everything to do with your loud, approaching footsteps that were followed by yet another exclaim.

“Mommy! Do you think this will look good?” You asked hastily, handing her one of your bead bracelets. It had the same green color as hers did, but instead of the silver that she had yours had baby pink.

“It’s perfect”, she assured you, guiding you out of the closet to get your dress from the bed as you put the bracelet on.

“You look so pretty”, you noted, reaching to brush your hand down her thigh to feel the fabric.

“Thank you, baby”, she whispered, stroking her hand over your hair affectionately.

“How long until we leave?” You asked impatiently, completely unphased as Natasha pulled your shirt off, careful not to smudge your makeup.

“Once you’re dressed we’re ready to go”, she said, offering a small smile when you beamed up at her. You stepped into the dress when she motioned for you to do so, helping your hands through the straps to get the dress on, finally zipping it up from the back. “Does it feel comfortable?” She asked, smoothing out the skirt a bit as you nodded. “Alright, mommy’s gonna take a picture of you and then we can go.” You grinned brightly at the phone she pointed at you, posing for the pictures she took of you, Natasha’s heart melting at how beautiful and confident you were.

You arrived at the Avengers gala early, Natasha having an inkling that you would also be leaving early because your inevitable bedtime usually came after ten whether you wanted it or not, your body growing tired even if your mind would have wanted to keep going. Since no one else was around yet, Natasha headed for the nearly empty bar, ordering herself a co*cktail.

“Do you want anything?” She asked, glancing down at you, a smile crossing her features when she saw the thinking face you put on.

“Can I have that co*cktail thing too?” You inquired hopefully, peering over the countertop to see the bartender make Natasha’s dark red drink. It looked so pretty.

“You can have a mocktail. Those don’t have alcohol”, she explained, grabbing a menu from the side. “What flavor would you like?” She showed you the menu so you could see the options for yourself, one of the names catching your eye.

“Cinderella!” You gasped in excitement, glancing up at Natasha before your eyes moved back down to the menu to see the ingredients listed below the name. “I want this!” You turned to the bartender, Natasha chastising you for lacking manners.

“What do you say, honey?”

“Oh, sorry. Can I have the Cinderella one, please?” You corrected yourself swiftly, the bartender offering you a gentle smile as he handed Natasha her co*cktail and grabbed another glass for your drink. You sipped causally on your drinks, the situation and surroundings promoting all kinds of questions from you that Natasha was glad to answer, your easy-going chatter interrupted by a few of the team members who had finally arrived at the scene.

“Clint!” You exclaimed, setting down your glass and hopping off your stool to go greet him, a wide smile spreading on Natasha’s lips at the sight of her best friend. She raised her glass toward him as a greeting, Clint nodding in acknowledgment.

“Hey, you! Don’t you look beautiful”, he chuckled when you ran into his arms, bringing you into a brief hug. “Wow, what a pretty necklace you got”, he said with a small, soft frown on his face, his gaze turning to Natasha who was wearing a small pout on her lips. He could see nothing but adoration on her face, his own features softening in understanding.

“Yeah, mommy gave it to me to make me feel safe”, you explained immediately, but you didn’t have much more patience to elaborate on it. “I’m having a Cinderella drink”, you announced to him in excitement, getting the most important piece of information out.

“Oh, wow! What’s it taste like?”

“Orange and stuff.” He walked toward the bar with you or rather dragged by you, standing beside Natasha. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, someone else’s voice alerting you all of their arrival.

“You found the Romanoffs”, Sam mused animatedly, offering his hand to you in a high five. You slapped his hand as hard as you could before sitting back onto the bar stool where you could continue sipping your overly sweetened drink that was surely going to give you a sugar rush at some point during the night. “Look at you, little princess. Got the dress and everything.” His compliment made you smile, reminding you of something that you had nearly forgotten.

“You guys have to check this out!” You announced, once again hopping off the stool. You seemed to have more than enough energy for the night. You started to pull up your fluffy dress, Clint frowning at the odd move, but realization soon crossed his features when he saw the water gun strapped to your thigh. Sam gave an amused look to Natasha who shrugged indifferently.

“Might as well let her have some fun”, she mused quietly, watching you grab the gun from the makeshift thigh holster, your dress flopping back down. You aimed the toy gun at Clint, flashing him a playful smirk that immediately reminded him of your mother.

“Any last words?” You asked, clearly trying to make your voice lower and more intimidating, Clint’s smile only widening. He disarmed you so fast you could barely even process it before you found yourself back to his front, his arm around your neck in a loose hold. His counterattack didn’t dishearten you, your heel stomping down on his foot before you bit his arm, yanking your gun back. He was using barely any of his strength just to allow you to have your fun. “Nice try”, you huffed, pulling the lever, the gun letting out a soft click when no water came out, the tank empty. “I could’ve let you live, but you were stupid”, you scoffed.

“Someone’s taken after her mother”, Tony’s voice mused from behind you, causing you to whip around to see him.

“You’re going down next!” You informed, Natasha’s quiet chuckle drowned out by the chatter of the crowd that had started to build up.

“I am? What did I do?” Tony whined.

“Pause! Is Morgan coming?” You inquired hopefully, Tony giving you an apologetic smile.

“No, she stayed home with Pep. She was too fussy to come here”, he explained, amused by the small frown on your face.

“Pause over. You stole the- the glowing blue cube”, you stated, hastily trying to come up with something valuable that you had heard of before.

“You better keep me alive then if the cube is what you want”, he replied, immediately adopting the role of the enemy.

“Why?” Your brows drew into a frown, a true scowl that made Natasha hide her grin behind her co*cktail glass.

“You won’t know where I’ve hidden it”, he hummed in a secretive voice that carried a condescending tone.

“I’ll get the answer out of you”, you threatened, leaning closer to him, the toy gun poking him in the stomach.

“I’m afraid not”, he smirked, the watch on his wrist letting out a whir as his Iron man suit engulfed his body, plaques of vibranium covering him from head to toe. You gasped in offense at his superior armor and weaponry, kicking him in the shin, upset that you had lost.

“Mom”, you cried in a long whine, huffing in annoyance.

“Tony, play nice. You got this, darling. Use your imagination”, Natasha encouraged you, waiting for your solution to the problem. You eyed the suit carefully, pulling your gun back, knowing it wouldn’t work on the suit. You took some distance, raising your fist in front of you as you let out shooting noise.

“Widow bite! Another one! Pew! Pew!” You giggled, shooting your imaginary widow bites at him, Natasha unable to hide the pride she felt for your actions.

“Aw no, my suit, it’s malfunctioning”, Tony groaned, moving his limbs in an uncoordinated way to mimic failing technology. You laughed rather manically, the suit disassembling as the nanotechnology made it disappear.

“Unfortunately, I’ve got to go. Fair game, agent”, he said, patting your shoulder, his eyes moving around to briefly greet the rest of the team. “Until next time, Baby Widow”, he hummed, winking at you before disappearing into the full crowd.

“I won!” You cheered, going back to Natasha, Clint and Sam. You seemed to have so much energy in you that Natasha could barely believe it. You took long gulps of your sugary drink, ready to go again. “Can we go walk around?” You asked hopefully, Natasha glancing at Clint as if pleading that she wouldn’t have to break up the conversation they were having.

“You can go by yourself. Just don’t talk to strangers and be polite. No running around”, she stated firmly, earning a big nod from you. “We’re gonna be right here if you need us, okay? Don’t stay for too long”, she reminded you as if on autopilot, the rules billowing out of her mouth as if it was second nature to her.

You bolted into the crowd despite your mother’s words, Natasha sighing heavily before she took a swig of her drink, Clint laughing quietly. You decided to go on a scavenger hunt for anything you could find. You wanted to bring something back to your family from your righteous and courageous quest for… well you weren’t sure what you were after, but you were on the lookout for something impressive. You couldn’t see many people that you recognized, most of them at least in their fifties or sixties, busboys holding up trays of champagne glasses, some of them seeming to hold up food. You halted immediately, walking over to a slightly younger boy with a huge plate of small pies. He looked at you in surprise, most likely not expecting to see a child at such an event.

“Hi, what are those?” You asked in curiosity, trying to see the small appetizers a bit better by standing up on your toes.

“They’re beef and Italian Gorgonzola tartalettes”, he answered curtly, the final word sounding very French to you. “Would you like one?” You knew you weren’t supposed to take anything from strangers but those little pies were so cute and they sounded delicious even though you didn’t know what the second ingredient was.

“Can I have them all?” You inquired, a wide smile spreading onto your lips. The boy looked at you in confusion, not expecting such a request from you, or anyone to be honest.

“I’m sorry, little girl. I cannot do that”, he said, not sounding apologetic at all. You frowned, how stupid was he?

“They’re for the Avengers”, you countered brightly, immediately seeing the boy’s decision waver. Surely he couldn’t say no to the Avengers.

“Oh, my apologies. Will you be able to carry the tray by yourself or shall I bring it to them?” You liked what you were hearing, bringing your arms out to accept the tray of food from him. It was rather heavy but people seemed to make way for you whenever they noticed your small frame and the large tray wade through the crowd, some looking amused by the sight, others displeased to see their favorite appetizers be stolen. You didn’t mind them, finding your way back to the bar where everyone was still gathered, a couple new additions having joined as well.

“Mommy, look!” You shouted, nearly running toward them with your tray of food, Natasha’s initial reaction nearly alarmed by the sight of food, hoping that you hadn’t stolen it from someplace you weren’t supposed to be in.

“Where did you get these?” She gasped in surprise, helping you place the tray onto the bar counter to prevent it from flopping over.

“One of the servers”, you replied, pleased to see Clint’s hand steal one of the pies. You tried to climb onto Natasha’s lap but the stool was too tall and you didn’t have decent footing to bring yourself up, Natasha’s hands automatically going under your arms to hoist you onto her lap. “He said they’re tartalettes”, you explained, butchering the French pronunciation so royally that Sam had to hide the face he made so you wouldn’t get offended and think he was making fun of you. “Beef and Gorgonzola. I wanna taste one.” You picked up one of the miniature pies from the tray, careful not to drop it, Natasha taking one for herself as well. You raised it toward her own pie as if making a toast, bumping the tartalettes together. “Cheers.”

“Cheers”, Natasha repeated in amusem*nt, sliding the whole pie into her mouth in one big bite, knowing exactly how good the pies were. You on the other hand took a slightly apprehensive bite of the meat on top, finding the smell a bit off-putting. It was a bit funky. Sam grabbed at least five pies for himself, Clint and him laughing about something as he helped himself to his second pie.

“Mommy, it’s blue”, you whined suddenly, noticing that the white cheese had a blue spot on it. You pointed at it, Natasha frowning.

“Honey, it’s the Gorgonzola”, she explained, starting to feel like you had no idea what it meant.

“Why is it blue?”

“It’s blue cheese. The molding process turns the cheese blue”, she elaborated, your body halting mid-bite. You gave her a horrified look, scared to move at all. You swore you could taste the mold in your mouth at least tenfold, getting the urge to gag. An amused smile on Natasha’s face, she reached across the counter for a napkin, bringing it to your mouth. You spat out the food discreetly, seeming rather upset.

“Why would you eat mold?” You asked, clearly appalled by the idea that went heavily against anything that you knew about food.

“It’s completely safe to eat and people like the taste”, Natasha hummed, eating yet another pie.

“What people?” You scoffed, eyeing the tartalettes like they had just personally offended you.

“Adults, malyshka (baby)”, she replied but you were already sliding off her lap.

“I’m gonna look for pizza bites”, you huffed.”

“I don’t…” Natasha started but you were already gone, on a quest to find something without mold in it. “…think they’re gonna have pizza bites”, she reasoned, her tone turning into a quiet mumble, a small smile appearing on her lips.

“Think she’s gonna find any?” Clint asked, a slight grin on his face, his eyes rather playful.

“Poor thing is gonna have to run to the streets to find the closest thing to a pizza”, Sam chuckled, grasping his drink as the bartender set down beers for him and Clint.

“We’ll see what she brings next. I hope she finds those crab cakes”, she mused, craving the most popular snack at the venue.

“Oh! I’d love those”, Clint groaned, taking another pie, the three dozen tartalettes waning in a steady pace.

It didn’t take too long for you to come back with yet another tray, this time bringing them round, thick slices of baguette topped with tomato.

“Did you find your pizza bites?” Natasha asked, making more room for the next dish that you set down, eyeing the bread that she already knew would taste heavenly.

“No, I found brus- bruschetta.” You struggled with the name of the appetizer, trying to say it the same way the waiter had. “But”, you exclaimed all of a sudden, looking up at everyone on their stools. “I’m gonna get some! At first the lady said no, but then when she asked who I was with I told her that my mommy’s an Avenger. Then she said she would bring me something from the kitchen”, you recalled the events, clearly excited that you were getting your deeply desired pizza bites.

“She’s discovered nepotism”, Sam quipped slyly to Clint who huffed out a laugh, Natasha biting back her own chuckle.

“Wow, isn’t that sweet of her”, she mused, helping you up to sit with her so you could taste the bruschetta you had bought. You nodded your head, grabbing a slice of baguette for yourself. You bit into it, half of the tomato cubes sliding onto the table, but you didn’t dislike the taste. At least it was better than mold.

“You like that one?” Natasha asked, biting into her own piece of bread, humming softly at how fresh it was. You let out a noise of agreement, taking another bite.

“It’s not moldy”, you quipped, Natasha rolling her eyes gently.

Getting food for the team ended up being your favorite pastime for the night, the large trays piling up on the bar counter whenever you brought a new dish you had found from the venue. You also got a small order of steaming hot cheese buns that you got to dip into a small bowl of marinara sauce, the lady who brought it to you eyeing the team rather intensively, especially the men, a soft blush on her cheeks whenever any of them looked directly at her. Eventually Wanda joined you as well, lured in by the small crème brûlées that you had discovered from a more secluded corner of the hall. She ate at least seven of the tiny cups, silently sitting beside Natasha as she spooned the sweet treats into her mouth. You couldn’t lie, you had had too many of them, the cream starting to taste a bit too rich and sweet to you, but that was fixed by consuming at least ten chocolate covered strawberries that revived your taste buds back to life. The waiters simply couldn’t say no to you whenever you batted your eyelashes and told them how your mommy –the almighty Black Widow– and the other team members were hoping to have a taste of whatever dish they were serving. It worked every single time.

By eleven o’clock at night you were deep in a sugar rush, running in circles around Steve, giggling loudly. He was completely unbothered by you as he continued his conversation with Natasha, occasionally offering his hand to you in a high-five as you sped by him. You were fully capable of entertaining yourself, cackling loudly when you grabbed Steve’s hand instead of slapping it. Your hair was a mess, the dress was all ruffled up, barely anything left of your minimal makeup. You attempted to climb up Steve’s body, hanging onto his arm with all the strength you had, treating him like a monkey bar until Natasha finally stepped in, feeling sorry for Steve’s fancy suit.

“Shh, slow down baby. I think it’s time for us to go home”, she mused softly, knowing very well that you were soon bound to crash, hard. You laughed at her despite following her orders, going to sit with her for a moment to calm yourself down.

“Not yet”, you whined, poking her just to annoy her. Natasha gave you a look which you completely ignored, poking her again. You attempted to tickle her, suddenly finding your hand trapped between her bicep and side. “Mommy”, you giggled, tugging your hand, but you failed to free it. You snuck your other hand to her waist, trying to tickle her again, the corner of Natasha’s mouth rising up into a smirk that she failed to hold back. Her hands attacked you out of nowhere, tickling you ruthlessly until you were laughing so hard that no sound came out. She loved to see you so beyond happy, prolonging the night just to keep that smile on your face for a little longer.

Chapter 28: The monsters are gone

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

You waited in the hallway, sitting tightly on your seat, just like you had been doing every other week for six months in a row, waiting for your therapist to call you in. You knew her very well at that point and didn’t mind talking to her regularly. She was a lovely woman and she had helped you a lot with unpacking the feelings that Natasha’s accident had left you with, even if you couldn’t truly understand it yet. You were aware of the concept of therapy and you knew what it entailed, and had even gotten familiar with the process in the past few months. The work she did with you was rather subtle, sometimes so subtle that you didn’t even realize what was going on. You spent a large part of your sessions talking about your days: school, hobbies, friends. Sometimes you talked about less fun stuff like nightmares or fears that you might have had. You had talked about anxiety and gone over many different emotions that you had felt after the accident. You had even talked about that which you could never talk to anyone else about, especially not Natasha. You were scared of causing her any harm, desperately trying not to give her any reason to be sad, which resulted in you paying the price for it.

Your nightmares were getting worse, sometimes keeping you up half the night. Normally you would have gone to sleep next to Natasha if you had trouble falling or staying asleep, but you didn’t want her to ask about your nightmares. You didn’t want her to know what you dreamt about at nights despite knowing it was wrong of you to shut her out like that. You knew she would be nothing but accepting of anything you were to tell her, but you couldn’t help but to feel like she didn’t have to know about what she had said to you in the hospital, so you kept it to yourself, reading in the darkness of your bedroom until you physically couldn’t stay awake anymore. However, if the fear you felt became unbearably strong you usually ended up going to sleep next to your mother.

“Y/N, come in!” Your therapist exclaimed happily, opening the door for you. A smile spread on your face as you stood up and hurried inside, taking your jacket and shoes off before climbing onto her comfortable couch. “How are you today?“

“I’m okay I think. You?”

“You think?” She gave you an inspecting look, silently asking you to elaborate on your response.

“I’m really tired. I couldn’t sleep last night”, you admitted immediately, finding it easy to tell her the truth because there never were any consequences.

“Did you have nightmares?” She inquired knowingly, taking a seat opposite of you, an empathetic pout on her lips. You nodded your head, very clearly becoming a bit more reserved as you thought over your scary dreams. “Was it the same one?” You nodded again, looking away. “Would you want to tell me about it, dear?” She prompted gently, hoping for you to find relief from voicing out the things you feared. You had told the dream to her countless of times with a few changes in details, but overall it was always the same. You are in a dark hallway, monsters lurking in the corners, watching your every move as you finally reach the door of Natasha’s hospital room where the loud beeping is coming from. She sees you and threatens to hurt you. Sometimes she yells, sometimes she’s too calm and quiet, but you’re always scared.

“I was in the dark hallway again and there’s that beeping; the machine that tells mommy’s heartbeat. I was really cold and scared”, you mumbled, fidgeting with your fingers as you went on. “I can’t see into the corners because they’re completely black, but I know something is there. And- and it’s looking at me.” You felt yourself start to tear up as you recalled the feeling you had woken up with, the anxiety constricting in your chest. “I’m too scared to move in my dream because it’s gonna get me. Last night… I think it got mommy”, you whispered nearly imperceptibly, your therapist’s brows furrowing.

“Why do you think that?”

“The beeping stopped”, you hiccuped, wiping your eyes into your forearms. “And- and when- when I finally woke up it was dark in my bedroom, just like in the dream.” You whimpered loudly, sniffling to keep the snot from running down your nose. “I thought I was stuck there, but… I found my bedside lamp. I swear the monsters were in my room. I swear they were there.”

“I know it feels that way, but remember what I told you? There’s no one there physically. It’s all in your head”, she said gently. You didn’t seem to know how to respond because you were convinced that someone was in your room at night. “It can feel very real, and sometimes our brains are so creative that they start to play tricks on us.”

“But what happened was real. Mommy told me she was gonna h-hurt me and a-at night when I was alone there was beeping and monsters”, you countered hastily, trying to make your therapist understand what you had experienced.

“I know, hon.” You had gone over the incident dozens of times but you refused to believe that the monsters that you were so adamant about were really just a byproduct of your fear and anxiety, a way for you to conceptualize the terror you had felt. It didn’t make enough sense to you so you refused to believe it altogether. “I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve been having that awful dream again. You are so brave for telling me about it. Did you know that?” She whispered encouragingly, offering you a warm smile when your eyes met. “You’re doing an amazing job here. The more you talk about it the less scary it will eventually be”, she explained, her voice holding that specific tone that was uplifting and comforting at the same time. “Have you tried to talk to your mother about this? Or maybe someone else at home?”

“I told Steve about it the same day the accident happened and then later you.”

“Could you consider talking to mommy about it?” She prompted again, knowing it was likely going to be the most beneficial solution to the problem. “How does the idea make you feel?”

“I don’t wanna hurt her”, you admitted quietly, letting out a small huff to release stress. “She didn’t mean what she said”, you reasoned to yourself, repeating the sentence that had gotten you through the past couple of months.

“But, honey, what about you? You’re hurting now. You need her comfort and help”, she countered in a gentle reminder.

“I don’t think I should.”

“Does the thought scare you?” You thought over the question, looking for an answer until you concluded that it did scare you, at least to some extent. You nodded your head. “Do you know why?”

“What if she did mean it?” You exhaled, voicing your doubts for the first time ever. They were the reason why you had nightmares because you were still holding onto that tiny bit of doubt that was cemented into the back of your mind. What if she did want to hurt you? What if she didn’t want you as her own? Rationally, none of it made sense because you knew that Natasha wanted you around and she had never given you any other reason to think that she didn’t, yet the emotional side of you was unable to trust the evidence that was right before your eyes. You had already lost one pair of parents, who was to say that you wouldn’t lose Natasha as well.

“What do you think would happen then?”

“She would leave and I would be sad. Maybe I would live with the others then. Maybe someone else would want to… adopt me. Or then I… would just be alone.” You had thought about it before, just in case.

“Has she ever done anything that made you scared that she would leave or made you feel unwanted?” There were so many questions, your processing time seeming to double the more tired you grew. You tried to think of a time when Natasha had rejected you or perhaps ignored you, but you couldn’t remember her ever doing so. She always had time for you, even on her worst days, she was always able to give you room in her life. You shook your head definitively.

“No, she’s never made me feel that way”, you admitted, your therapist cracking a small smile. It was refreshing to hear that from her younger patients when most of them were troubled kids that came from broken or toxic households.

“I want you to remember that whenever you feel doubtful, okay? Think about that. Mommy’s never made you feel unwanted. Can you say that for me?” She prompted gently, encouraging you to engage in the affirmation.

“Mommy’s never made me feel unwanted”, you repeated, hugging your knees to your chest. It made you miss Natasha, wishing to have her comfort with you even though your tears had already seized.

“Good, perfect!”

“But what if she doesn’t leave but dies? What if the monster really does get her?” It was your biggest fear, even greater than Natasha leaving or abandoning you because it was far too realistic. Everyone was going to die and you couldn’t know when that fate would fall upon your mother, her line of work only intensifying your constant fear.

“Death can feel very scary because you don’t know what you’re dealing with”, she nodded, her face telling you that she was searching for the right words to answer your question. “But it doesn’t have to be scary. It can be something neutral, something that we will all experience eventually. I know it can be hard not to worry about it before anything even happens.” You nodded your head immediately, her words resonating strongly with you. “But it’s more important to focus on the present, focus on what you have right now. What’s something that you like about your mother?”

“I like…” You hummed in thought, trying to think of the very best things about her, the things that made you the happiest. “I like her hugs and kisses. I like to go into her bed in the morning so she can cuddle me”, you explained, smiling brightly. “I also like how much fun we have together. She’s really good at playing stuff like hide and seek or swords”, you continued.

“Those seem like very positive things, wouldn’t you say?” You nodded. “You have all of that with her. You have it, and I want you to focus on that. Focus on how happy it makes you, focus on the fact that you have that, you have her, here and now. Don’t give room to the scary thoughts. They don’t deserve your attention.” You took a moment to process her words, feeling like there was something there. What your therapist was saying made sense. You wanted to do exactly as she had told you, but it felt like a huge change that you didn’t know how to make.

“How do I do that?”

“I’m glad you asked. Keep reminding yourself of what you have and emphasize the good and the positive. It’s okay if the thoughts enter your mind sometimes. It’s completely normal to be afraid of death, but if you let them take over –that’s when it becomes a problem.” She explained, trying her best to make you understand what she was telling you. “It won’t happen overnight, but if you keep affirming these positive thoughts whenever you feel scared of death it will eventually pay off. It is very important to realize that death is nothing to be scared of.”

“Got it”, you huffed quietly, feeling like there was too much information, too much emotions and too much of everything. Your eyes started to drift around the room, finding the glasses of water on the table right next to a stack of copy papers and crayons. You wanted to go home, starting to lose your focus. She was talking again but you weren’t hearing a word she was saying, a sudden silence taking over, your eyes finding the small bowl of sweets that always sat on her side table.

“Alright. You can take one. Why don’t we continue from here in two weeks?” She suggested gently, sensing that the session was over on your part. Your eyes shifted to her, your face unable to hide your relief. You took one of the wrapped pieces of candy and opened it up to pop the caramel into your mouth, the perfectly sweet and salty treat melting on your tongue.

“Thank you.” Your words came across a bit shy as you stood up from the couch, sliding your shoes and jacket back on.

“You’re welcome, dear.” She gave you a soft, genuine smile as you headed for the door.

“Thank you, Miss Elsher. Bye!”

“Bye Y/N!” The door slammed shut behind you, a very specific weight lifting off your shoulders when you were finally able to find your mother who was waiting for you in the hallway. She pocketed her phone when her eyes landed on you, a bright smile taking over her features when you hurried toward her, sinking into her arms as a greeting.

“Hi, dorogaya (darling), how was therapy?” She asked softly, resting her chin on the crown of your head as she squeezed you tightly.

“It was okay”, you mumbled into her chest, your eyes remaining closed as you felt her warmth against you, clinging onto her all of a sudden.

“Are you okay?” Natasha tried to pull back to see your face better but you refused to let go of her, nuzzling even closer to her. You didn’t reply to her question, taking a moment to just focus on her embrace. She let you be, holding you until you were ready to pull away and keep going. Natasha scanned your face very thoroughly once you finally allowed her to see you, glad to find that you weren’t crying, her hands cupping your cheeks to caress your face gently. “I was thinking we should go do some grocery shopping and then…” she paused for a brief moment to build up excitement, a smile tugging at her lips. “I thought we could pass by the food court”, she mused, watching how your face lit up with vivacity. “You wanna go?” She asked for confirmation, earning an enthusiastic nod from you, her own smile only brightening.

You loved to go grocery shopping with Natasha, especially when you would get to have food from the food court, and of course no grocery run was fully completed without checking if the toy aisles were still filled with about a thousand things you would have wanted Natasha to buy for you. She grabbed a shopping cart for herself, glancing down at the handwritten grocery list that had been scribbled onto a random post-it. You watched her skim over the list, Miss Elsher’s words on repeat in your mind. You felt a desperate sense of longing for your mother, craving her undivided attention, your mind and body searching for comfort and reassurance from her. You wanted Natasha to pick you up into her arms, but after a moment of consideration you felt like you were too old to be carried around like a toddler, resorting to holding her hand instead. You reached for her hand that rested against the bar of the shopping cart, a mere brush of your fingers enough to alert her. She offered her hand to you, giving you a firm squeeze once your hand was snuggly in hers.

You didn’t want to let go of her whenever she stepped to the side to pick up a food item, but you let her go anyway, trying not to make the trip difficult for her, although Natasha would probably not have minded at all. You always grabbed her hand back whenever she returned, Natasha picking up on it rather fast, from then on making sure your hand remained in hers even if she wanted to check out a product, simply dragging you along with her to take a look at the variety of food options on the shelves. Later on she walked down the toy aisles with you, marveling at all the cool toys there, despite both of you knowing you weren’t going to get anything that day. Next was the bakery section where you somehow convinced Natasha to buy a box of red velvet cupcakes for the evening, imploring her to think of how delicious the lush cake would be and how creamy the frosting had to be based on how fluffy it looked and how loaded the cupcakes were. In all honesty Natasha didn’t even want to deny you because she herself had noticed the appetizing cupcakes before you had even pointed them out.

As you held Natasha’s hand, watching it swing back and forth gently between you, you considered telling her about your nightmare. The urge was constant. You just felt like you needed to get it out of you all of a sudden. You could feel the words on the tip of your tongue, begging to be said. You knew if you just opened your mouth you would spew all the secrets you had kept from her, but you didn’t. Your mouth remained shut. You couldn’t do it, finally giving up completely when you deemed that it wasn’t an appropriate conversation topic for the grocery store. Thankfully enough, the food court was nearing, working as a perfect distraction from your inner conflict. You knew you would get to choose one savory item and one sweet item to have for dinner, the scent of pizza dough and grease hitting your nose as you were already starting to ponder your options.

“What are you getting?” You asked Natasha, glancing up at her as she scanned the menu of a pizza place.

“I think I wanna get a hot dog. What about you, milaya (honey)?” Her hand found the back of your head, petting your hair gently as she pulled you a bit closer to her for no particular reason.

“I was thinking fried chicken and then caramel sundae for dessert”, you replied, Natasha’s brow arching at the mention of soft serve.

“Mm, that sounds perfect. I’m definitely having the strawberry sundae”, she mumbled against the top of your head before placing a kiss there.

You ordered your food to-go as a way to save some time since it was a school night, Natasha finding it odd that the only thing you wanted was the chicken. No fries or dips, but she did get you a soda because she knew you would be thirsty before you had even left the parking lot. She handed you a stack of napkins just in case, finishing the last of her hot dog before turning on the engine and heading home. The whole duration of the ride you couldn’t stop thinking about your nightmare, silently eating only the crispy coating off your chicken, turning your fingers into a greasy mess. Natasha did chat with you every once in a while, but after noticing how focused you seemed to be on your chicken she let you be.

It bothered you that you couldn’t seem to get the words out, feeling conflicted again. You wanted to tell her and felt a strong need to tell her about what was bothering you, so why couldn’t you? What were you so afraid of? It was mommy, just mommy. She wouldn’t mind. Yet no matter how many times you built your courage up you couldn’t get the words out. Not at home, not when watching soap operas on TV with your cupcakes, not when brushing your teeth, not when she read you a bedtime story. You couldn’t do it, laying alone in bed, surrounded by darkness until it got far too intimidating and you turned your bedside lamp back on to dispel the monsters in the corners. You were disappointed in yourself for not being able to speak up when you needed to, picking up a book from your nightstand despite not feeling like reading at all. You simply needed a distraction from everything and were hoping to find it within the hardback covers of a book you had recently started. Somewhere along your attempts to keep your eyes on the lines of text you fell asleep, the book flopping off the bed as your hands finally went limp and you fell asleep.

•••

“Mommy!” Natasha’s eyes flashed open, the sound loud enough to wake her despite it being barely above the loudness of a normal conversation. It was just loud enough for her to hear in the dead silence of the night, Natasha pulling off her covers to come check in on you. She could tell you had had a lot on your mind that day and she had almost expected something along the lines of a nightmare occurring. She slid on a cardigan from the back of a chair to fight off the chilliness of the night, quietly slipping out of her bedroom to find you. She spotted you in the corner of your bed, without your duvet, still fast asleep as you shivered lightly, a permanent frown etched onto your face. You moved your hands slightly, your body squirming on the bed as if not quite sure which way to go. Natasha walked to your bedside, noting the light that was on, her eyes landing briefly on the picture from your beach day that was framed and facing the bed. She felt the empathetic pout that appeared on her lips, her attention turning back to you.

“Hey, baby”, she whispered gently, carefully placing her hand on your trembling shoulder to wake you up, a slight shake from her enough to make your body jolt upright, the cry you let out something mixed between a shriek and a croak as if you couldn’t properly scream. You whipped your head around to see Natasha, your wide eyes filling with tears in an instant. Your breathing was shallow, armpits sticky with cold sweat as you just stared ahead, not sure if you could even move. “Shh, it’s alright kroshka (little one), mommy’s here. You’re safe. Mommy’s right here”, she assured you immediately, pulling you closer to her to bring you into her embrace as quiet sobs started to fall from your lips. Natasha wrapped your arms around her neck, standing up from the bed with you in her embrace, securing your legs around her waist as she hushed you again.

“Everything’s okay”, she reminded you again, walking back and forth in the room, her hand brushing long strokes up and down your back as you cried out your initial terror. You clung to her neck, taking deep breaths to calm yourself down, comforted by the way she was moving around the room, clearly heading for the door. “Let’s go get you some water, okay?” You nodded your confirmation against her, relaxing a bit further into her hold. She poured you a glass of water in the kitchen, bringing it to your lips so you could take a sip, gently hushing you when you hiccuped again.

“Did you have a nightmare?” She asked softly, her lips pressing to the side of your head in a small kiss.

“Yes”, you whimpered, wiping your mouth into your shirt. “Mommy, it was so scary”, you cried, bursting into fresh sobs all of a sudden. “The- the monsters g-got you”, you explained hastily as if Natasha had any previous knowledge of your nightmares, but you just had to tell her, it was too much for you to bear alone. “And y-you were so mean to- to me”, you explained, a frown forming on Natasha’s face as she tried to understand what you were saying. “I thought- I thought you were… I thought you were gonna hurt me”, you spluttered helplessly, not sure if you were making sense, you just needed to get rid of the awful feeling inside you.

“Hurt you?” Natasha inquired, a sense of worry stirring up inside her. Where would you have gotten such a horrible idea?

“Yes”, you lamented, pressing your face into the crook of her neck to hide from the disappointment you were going to bring her. “You s-said you’d kill me… in the hospital”, you continued, the worry that Natasha felt growing tenfold. She knew that she had given Clint a good smack in the nose while unaware of her surroundings in the hospital, but no one had mentioned anything about you. Had you been there with everyone?

“I said that?”

“Uh-huh, you were so mad a-and scary.” Your voice was small, so delicate as if you were still afraid.

“No, honey, I mean in real life not dreams”, she clarified, pulling back a bit to see your face. You looked like you didn’t want to say it, the sorrowful frown on your face giving away the answer.

“You did. It wasn’t a dream. It was in the hospital”, you mumbled so softly it was hard to hear. Natasha didn’t know what to feel, she didn’t know how to process what she had done. She was too overwhelmed and felt the daunting need to escape, wishing she didn’t have to remain put-together and comforting for you. She desperately wanted to shut you out, shut everyone out until she had figured it out herself, but she knew she couldn’t do that. She wouldn’t do that because you needed her and you were far more important than she could ever be. Despite the sudden stiffness of her body she continued to bounce and rock you gently, her free hand brushing down your arm, lips finding your forehead. She needed to answer quickly. She needed to reassure you that you were doing the right thing by telling her, but Natasha felt like no words were coming out. All these weeks when she had heard you stay up at night were the result of something she had said. She was at fault for your constant nightmares. She didn’t know what to say or do. What on Earth could she possibly say to take back something so awful?

“Mommy?” You asked quietly after a long moment of silence that was accompanied by your soft sniffles.

“Yeah, sweetie?” She tried to hide the pain in her voice but you could hear it very clearly, her tone much heavier than normally.

“I shouldn’t have-”

“Oh no, baby. Thank you so much for telling me. You did the right thing, my darling. Would you want to talk about it more?” She suggested hastily, almost hoping that you didn’t because she felt like she couldn’t stomach hearing how horrible she had made you feel.

“Miss Elsher says I should”, you mumbled vaguely, not sure what was supposed to happen next.

“What do you want? Do you feel like talking about it?” Natasha carried you down the hall, back toward your bedroom, but your hand clung to the doorframe all of a sudden, halting her in her tracks.

“I wanna sleep in your bed”, you told her, pulling on the wall to make her turn around, Natasha offering you a small smile.

“Then mommy’s bed it is”, she mused, taking you into her room. You lay down on the bed, cuddling close to her for protection from the monsters that usually returned whenever you closed your eyes, comforted by the weight of her arms around you. There was a moment of pure silence as you went over your thoughts and feelings, suddenly opening your mouth to speak.

“Why did you say it?“ Your voice was small, the vulnerability that you felt evident in your tone. “Steve said you were seeing delusions”, you added, hoping for her answer to be something similar. So, Steve had known, yet he never brought it up with her.

“Honey, I don’t remember anything. I-I don’t have an answer for you”, she sighed, still in disbelief over the entire situation. “I didn’t even know I had spoken to you. I nearly broke Clint’s nose and I had no idea he had even visited me”, she explained to you, finding it difficult to talk about something she had no real input on.

“They said he ran into the door”, you replied bluntly, Natasha pausing for a moment. Oops.

“Oh.” You both stayed silent for a moment, struggling to move on with the conversation.
“I need you to know that I didn’t mean it. I would never want you any harm, ever”, Natasha started again after a while. “You hear me? Never.” The anguish that she was experiencing shone clearly through her tone, her voice cracking lightly as she tried to hold back her tears. “You’re my baby and you’re the most important thing to me in this whole wide world”, she whispered, hugging you tighter, the pressure of her arms conveying her despair. You could physically feel the emotions that coursed through her when you were pressed up so closely to her body, amplifying your own emotional distress. “If anything ever happened to you I wouldn’t be able to move on. I love you far too much”, she explained, rubbing your back softly, her touch turning a bit more gentle so she wouldn’t squeeze you too hard. Although she wished she could have squished you as tight as she possibly could to show you just how much she cared for you.

“I would do anything to keep you safe, and when I say anything, I mean it. There are things that I’ve done, things that I’m certainly not proud of, but I would do them again in a heartbeat if that meant you would be safe.” Her words were genuine, filled with emotion and you believed her because you knew her. She didn’t want to harm you and her words only confirmed what you had wished to hear from her. “You know that right?” She asked after not receiving any kind of response from you. “Y/N? It is important to me that you know that.” You nodded your head weakly against her chest.

“I know”, you whispered, Natasha’s eyes sliding shut in relief as she tried to control her breathing. She didn’t want to burst into sobs. It would have been too much for you to witness.

“Good”, she hummed, cupping the back of your head with her hand, smoothing it over the curve of your skull, recognizing its round shape. It never failed to amaze her to find comfort in such tiny details, reminded of the many, many times she had held you in her arms with her hand in that very spot.

“I’m so proud of you for bringing this up. It’s important that we share things like this even if it might feel uncomfortable or scary at the moment. You were so brave today”, she mumbled into your hair, breathing in your scent. “And if you ever need confirmation of how much I love you, please don’t be afraid to ask for it. I’ll be more than happy to tell you over and over again.” You nodded your head, unable to speak, unable to really process everything, but you felt relieved regardless. You felt safe and wanted, her words driving away your doubts and filling your mind with reassurance. It warmed up your chest, allowing your muscles to finally relax. She loved you. She would never hurt you. You were safe.

Notes:

My writing phases are so random😫 I barely touched this fic for over a month but wrote my other Nat fic 24/7. Then suddenly I whipped up like five chapters of this fic and abandoned the other one😂

Chapter 29: Teatime

Notes:

I’m so sick of naming chapters omg

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Natasha’s fist connected with the boxing bag, her bare fists straining the harder she hit. She was angry, beyond angry, all that pent up rage and frustration going right into the leather surface of her opponent. She let out a grunt, a particularly harsh jab of her hand making her knuckles ache. She pulled back, taking a look at her red hands, each knuckle painted a few shades darker than was considered normal. Her skin looked irritated, frail, like it was just about to peel back enough to let a little bit of blood seep through. They felt sore, a gentle ache radiating through her hands and up her wrists, but she couldn’t stop. It was the only thing that kept her occupied from the emotions that stirred inside her, that and lifting weights, but she had already exhausted herself to the point of putting herself in danger at the weight racks. She couldn’t afford a real injury, only something small, like the knuckles that were already begging for mercy. As if angered by the very thought of being tired Natasha landed another punch into the bag, grunting quietly, the pain intensified by the absence of the constant burn that had started to slowly ebb away during her short break. You were lounging around in the living room, having a tea party with Wanda which gave Natasha a good amount of time to get an intense workout in for the day, although the intensity of it was starting to get out of hand.

Upon entering the gym, Steve heard the soft, repetitive grunts that came from the far left corner of the gym. He recognized her voice, a small smile appearing on his lips as he walked farther inside to greet her. He came a bit closer to the boxing bag to see Natasha on the other side of it, her harsh, vigil eyes landing on him as if he had just intruded on a very personal moment, but he figured that it was just caused by her workout.

“Hey, Nat.” He waved his hand up casually, Natasha halting abruptly, turning to him instead of the bag that swung gently as it hung from the hook above.

“You.” She grumbled as if offended by his sole presence, her attack faster than he could process when it came so unexpectedly. Natasha smacked him in the face with the back of her hand, her left fist connecting with his rock-solid chest as she drove her knee up, ready to kick him.

“Natasha!” Steve exclaimed in shock, his large hands wrapping tightly around both of her wrists, iron-tight grip not allowing her to move an inch. “What the hell?” She struggled against his overpowering strength, doing her best to try to tug her hands free, but he didn’t allow it.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She demanded loudly, her voice failing to hide the despair that bled through.

“What? Tell you what?” He asked hastily, thoroughly confused by the sudden ire she felt for him.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked again, a sob falling from her lips despite her eyes remaining dry. “I threatened to hurt my own child and you knew!” She cried, realization crossing his features. Steve’s gaze landed on her thrashing hands for long enough to notice the developing blisters on her knuckles, his hands pulling her closer to him, slowly wrapping his arms around her in a hug. Natasha tried to fight back, but her shoves and jabs were merely a ghost of what she was capable of, soon giving into the affectionate gesture.

“I’m sorry”, he whispered into her hair that was pulled back into a loose ponytail, his beard scratching her forehead gently. He heard her sniffle, a brief and quiet sound that let him know she was crying. Natasha didn’t speak out of the fear of sounding like she was about to burst into sobs, her lips parting enough to allow her to breathe through them as a way for her to calm herself down. “I thought she would have brought it up herself”, he offered as an explanation. “I didn’t think it was any of my business”, he lamented, squeezing her tighter when he felt her shudder as if suppressing a cry.

Natasha had felt awful ever since she had found out about those terrible words she had said to you, her shame and guilt having accumulated into rage over the past couple of days. She was livid with herself for once again f*cking things up. She didn’t feel qualified enough to be your mother despite doing her very best and it felt like no matter how hard she tried she could never be that perfect mother she had envisioned for you. Of course rationally she knew that no mother was perfect, but for some reason she had convinced herself that maybe she could be. She knew exactly what to do in order to ruin a child the way she had been ruined which had led her to believe that she automatically knew at least how to not behave with you, but nothing had ever prepared her for the emotional distress of motherhood, and it seemed like it only got worse every year as new challenges of raising a child introduced themselves to her. She had always sworn to herself that she would never do anything to hurt you. She had made a promise to that abandoned little girl inside of her to never cause you any harm, no matter what kind, and she had failed. She had broken that promise, that one single promise that meant more than any of the other ones did.

She felt like a failure, but she deserved to feel that way because she was the reason you cried at night, she was the reason you feared to close your eyes at bedtime. There was nothing she could do or say to take back the words that had ruined you. There was no one and nothing that could undo her mistake. In her swarm of intense emotions, Natasha saw no way out from the consequences of her own actions. She had failed and it was the end of the world. She despised herself for it. She hated every cell of her being for not being more careful on that mission. She felt a crippling wave of anger flush through her before it turned into sadness, her eyelids sliding shut as she hid her face against Steve’s chest.

“I told her you didn’t mean it”, he whispered, the wide palm of his hand pressing against the back of her head to pull her closer to him. “I explained it all to her and I tried my best”, he said softly, sounding apologetic. She remained quiet for a while, struggling to open her mouth before having confirmed that her voice was going to be even.

“Thank you”, she whispered almost imperceptibly, her freed hands smoothing past his waist to hook behind his back in a hug. She gave him a slight squeeze, starting to pull away from him. Natasha kept her gaze down, doing her best to hide her reddened eyes, but Steve’s warm hands found her cheeks, cupping them softly to tilt her chin up to make her face him.

“She’s alright, isn’t she? She’s just fine, Natasha. This isn’t the end of the world”, he assured her, his thumbs swiping the fresh tears that spilled down her cheeks. She felt ashamed for letting him see her like that but decided to sit in that shame out of spite toward herself. She was tired of trying to always act so tough while constantly preaching you to be open with your emotions. She needed to stop being a hypocrite and actually practice what she preached.

“Feels like it”, she mumbled defensively, a small, grumpy pout appearing on her lips when she saw the slight smile he gave her. She started to pull away, feeling a bit awkward, but Steve didn’t move an inch.

“Where you goin’? The hug was just getting good”, he complained teasingly, his grin widening when Natasha allowed him to pull her back into his embrace, a watery chuckle coming from her. It wasn’t so bad to be hugged by him. She let out a heavy sigh, closing her eyes when his hand started to rub up and down her back in slow strokes.

“It was our fault, not yours”, he stated solemnly after a moment of silently going over the events again. “No one can blame you when you weren’t even conscious. You didn’t know and you weren’t in control”, he continued, Natasha stilling completely, desperately trying not to break down at the bit of assurance she was receiving. “We should have made sure that she was taken care of. We should have all looked after her better.”

“Yeah”, she hummed sadly, accepting his words.

“You haven’t failed as a mother. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t hurt her on purpose”, he went on, but Natasha couldn’t help but to feel astonished by what he was saying. She pulled back enough to see his face, those sad, jade eyes wide and watery as she looked up at him, searching for an explanation. How did he know exactly what to say?

“I think you’ve always struggled with that”, he hummed almost conversationally, keeping up his casual and comforting demeanor. “You make one little mistake and suddenly you’re a crappy mom. But let me tell you something. I had a wonderful mother. We didn’t always have it easy, but she remained sweet and kind through it all, but never perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect mother. We’re all human –well at least most of us here. We make mistakes, we hurt the people we love, but what we do after is what counts.”

“Wow, you really have an inspirational speech for every occasion”, Natasha huffed in amusem*nt, but deep down she was touched by his attempts at comforting her.

“It comes with the job”, he chuckled, shrugging lightly. “I see a lot of my ma in you and I can promise you right here and now that Y/N adores you, through and through. She might not realize it yet, but in a few years’ time she’s going to find out just how crappy the world is, how cruel, and she’ll be infinitely grateful for the way you’ve treated her.” Natasha could hear it in his voice that he was talking from experience, mirroring his own life and relationship with his mother to you and her situation. She had always liked how much he appreciated his mother, warmed by the fondness behind his words. “You’ve given her something far too many people don’t get in their lifetime.”

“Which is…?” She prompted softly.

“The unconditional love of a parent”, he replied, Natasha’s face forming into a mild grimace.

“I’m the epitome of someone like that”, she huffed almost bitterly despite trying to add some humor into her tone.

“Like I said: far too many”, he mused, his hands smoothing down her biceps before his right hand found its way to her face. His thumb caressed tenderly up her jaw as he offered her a lopsided smile. “But you turned out decent”, he said playfully. “A little rough around the edges but- ow!” Natasha smacked him in the head, eliciting a laugh from him, his hand coming up to shelter him from any possible punches she was going to aim at him.

“Thanks for the pep talk, old man”, she retorted, pulling away from him completely to escape the situation, sensing that their moment had come to an end. His beard brushed against her cheek, lips pressing briefly down on her warm skin, Natasha giving him a shy smile.

“Anytime.”

“You’re welcome for the sweat stains by the way”, she quipped brightly, a wide grin on her face as she tried to slyly wipe away the remnants of her tears. She gestured at his chest, the dark blue shirt partially damp, but his smile only seemed to widen.

“I was thinking this shirt could use a little bedazzle.” Natasha raised her brow at him questioningly, unable to believe the term he had used. “Y/N taught me that”, he chuckled, moving toward the weights as Natasha backed away to the women’s dressing room.

“Figures.” Speaking of you, she missed her little girl. “I’ll see you later, bye!”

“See ya!”

She hurried through her shower routine, her stomach rumbling loudly, clearly ready for lunch, Natasha briefly wondering if you had baked those muffins with Wanda for tea time. Just like she had expected she found you and Wanda from the communal living room where the coffee table was covered by a fancy tablecloth that draped over the side and bunched up on the carpet but it didn’t seem to bother you. However, what she hadn’t expected was Tony sitting at the end of the table, wearing a tiara far too small for his big head. Natasha smirked at him, studying his princess get-up and the way he was holding the tiny espresso cup in his hand.

“Tony! You’re forgetting the pinkie!” You whined, placing your cup down to fix the position of his hand, gently prying his pinkie finger up, the rest remaining on the handle.

“Silly me”, he huffed, sounding maybe slightly irritated, but Natasha could tell there was fondness in his tone. “How impolite of me”, he mumbled apologetically, purposely putting on a fancier style of speech.

“We just went over this”, Wanda reminded him, giving him a stern look that made him roll his eyes.

“It’s okay, he’ll learn”, you mused, sitting back down on your spot on the floor, picking up your mug of tea, the cup filled to the brim with overly sugary milk tea. Tootsie was having his tea with honey, Wanda had hers black, and Tony had gotten a special permission to drink a shot of espresso. He knocked it back, your brows drawing into a frown of disapproval for his hastiness.

“Natasha”, he said as if in relief. “You’re right in time for tea!” He exclaimed in feigned excitement, getting up from the floor. He must have had something better to do based on his sudden need to exit the living room. Your head turned to see Natasha as he placed the tiara over her damp hair.

“Wow, look at that, so pretty”, Tony mused teasingly, his fingertips sliding down the sides of her face to cup her cheeks briefly. “A true princess. Now, go take my spot”, he whispered almost pleadingly, nudging a smiling Natasha toward you.

“Hi, mom! You can take his place”, you offered immediately, but instead of sitting down to where Tony had been she walked behind you, crouching down enough to reach your forehead with her lips. You tilted your head back, accepting her greeting, a small smile appearing on your face. Natasha brushed her fingers down your hairline as if swiping aside some of your baby hairs that had escaped from one of your favorite hairdos. She held your face between her hands, smiling down at you, the adoring look never leaving her eyes.

Ya tebya ljublju, dushenka (I love you, sweetheart)”, she hummed, bringing the tip of her forefinger to your nose to smooth it down the bridge of it a couple of times before tapping your nose like a button.

Tebya ljublju tozhe (I love you too)”, you replied immediately, a sense of excitement in your tone whether it was from her or the tea party. She reached down again to place another kiss on your forehead, your smile widening even further. “We’re both upside down”, you mused, clearly finding the idea funny.

“Yeah, we are”, Natasha nodded fondly before letting go of you and taking a seat at the end of the table.

“Me and Wanda made chocolate muffins!” You announced proudly, offering the small platter of muffins to Natasha whose smile only brightened at the sight of something to eat. She grabbed one of the decadent pastries, Wanda’s eyes flicking down to her knuckles and then right back up to her face. Natasha noticed the small, worried frown that crossed Wanda’s features. “Mom, what happened to your hand?” Natasha’s gaze turned to you as she placed the muffin on Tony’s plate.

“Oh, it’s just from training. Don’t worry about it”, she hummed casually, her eyes looking for the teapot, but before she could reach for it you grabbed her hand. It took everything in her not to wince at your touch, the tenderness of her knuckles making her hands stiff from the ache. You studied the reddened skin that was slowly turning darker, a deep frown falling on your features, but you were still young and naive enough to believe her so you didn’t question her explanation. Wanda on the other hand knew for a fact that everything wasn’t okay by the looks of those bruised knuckles.

“Does it hurt?” You asked in mild concern.

“Not at all, honey, but you’re very sweet for asking”, she assured you gently as you grabbed her hand, bringing it up to your lips. You blew some air on her knuckles, placing a tiny kiss on the back of her hand where the skin was completely healthy.

“It should heal soon”, you said knowingly, mimicking what Natasha usually did with whatever small wounds you managed to get while playing.

“Thank you, myshka (little mouse). It already feels so much better”, she assured you, a small pout of adoration on her lips as she withdrew her hand. Your worry dissipated in an instant as you submerged yourself back into your tea party.

“Would you like tea?” You suggested hopefully, grabbing the round porcelain pot that was decorated with beautiful, delicate flowers. “It’s lavender tea.”

“Oh, yes please, madam”, Natasha replied, offering you the unused mug that Tony had left behind, adopting the role of a tea party guest to please you even further. Your smile seemed to widen as you poured her a large mugful of tea, filling it to the very brim for her.

“Would you pour me some as well?” Wanda offered her mug to you, asking for a refill. You complied happily, finally grabbing yourself another muffin to eat while you talked.

“Anything new going on with you guys?” You asked conversationally, your attempt at a proper speech style raising up the corners of Natasha’s mouth. You were painfully adorable.

“Hmm, let me think”, Wanda hummed softly, bringing the cup of tea to her lips.

“I passed my math exam”, you stated, licking chocolate crumbs off your lips.

“You did? That’s amazing!” Natasha praised enthusiastically, although it came to her as no surprise because you had practiced for it quite thoroughly the night before.

“Uh-huh, I got a B”, you said brightly, digging something out of the basket that sat beside you, handing Natasha the slip of paper that was your exam.

“Was it difficult?” Wanda asked in curiosity, earning a firm shake of your head.

“No, it was really easy”, you replied, but as Natasha’s eyes skimmed over the scribbles on the paper she could tell that some of them had been less than easy, but you had managed just fine.

“What a smart, little girl you are”, Natasha mused with a wide smile on her face, handing the exam to Wanda.

“Big girl!” You corrected her, Natasha’s face softening. Oh, how she wished you could stay little for just a bit longer.

“My apologies, big girl it is”, she huffed in amusem*nt, watching how you grinned back at her.

“Look at that, you got so many of them correct”, Wanda marveled, pretending to be quite invested in the fourth grade math problems. “You should be proud of yourself, sweet pea”, she praised, handing the exam back to you.

“Thank you!“

“You should also be proud of these muffins. Good god, what did you put in them?” Natasha asked in shock, mouth full of muffin. It made you giggle, your cheeks heating up gently from all the compliments you were receiving.

“Chocolate, sugar, and butter”, you listed the ingredients you could remember off the top of your head.

“She got the measurements wrong. They have double the sugar”, Wanda explained with an endearingly soft tone, unable to keep the smile off her face as you laughed at your small mishap.

“Well, now they taste even better”, Natasha assured, taking another huge bite of the decadent treat.

“I thought I’d just spice it up a bit”, you chuckled, clearly proud of yourself for the happy, little mistake you had made, beaming at Natasha in the hopes of receiving more praise.

“Mmh, we have to save a few of these for the evening. Have you considered becoming a baker when you grow up?” She asked encouragingly, your smile widening if I was even possible.

“I don’t know, I thought ice cream taster would be cooler”, you reasoned in all seriousness, Natasha’s glancing at Wanda. “Did you know it’s a real job?” You asked enthusiastically, sharing the new bit of knowledge you had acquired that day.

“I think I have heard of that, yes”, she nodded, Wanda chuckling softly.

“We are going to send an application tomorrow”, she informed, Natasha’s face seeming to brighten at the amusing plans you had made.

“Fingers crossed you get the position”, Natasha hummed around another bite of the muffin, some ruckus from the kitchen alerting you of someone’s presence.

“Hey, Nat! The new mission intel just arrived”, Clint’s voice announced as he headed straight for someone’s leftovers in the fridge. He was very obviously about to hit the gym if his clothes were anything to go by. “I’d like to go over it with you.” Your face fell at his words, your eyes moving to Natasha’s hands that she was wiping into a napkin. She was soon going to leave for a mission again. You glanced at the basket you had brought with you, turning to dig through it, your hand groping for something.

“Don’t worry mom, I’ll take care of it”, you huffed in annoyance, pulling out what looked like the hilt of a sword. You stood up, pressing a button on the side, igniting the toy lightsaber. Natasha merely let out a chuckle as she watched you attack Clint with the plastic sword that let out all kinds of noises and flashes of light to match your moves.

“Ow! Hey! Woah”, Clint groaned, using a pizza box to counter your attacks with.

“You’re not taking my mommy anywhere!” You exclaimed, swatting him with the sword again.

“Sweetheart, leave the poor man alone”, Natasha chuckled, standing up to come into the kitchen with you.

“No! We’re having teatime!” You grumbled, attempting to stab him with the plastic.

“Baby”, Natasha huffed, pulling you away from Clint who was only pretending to struggle under your attack. “He’s not taking me anywhere”, she assured you, turning you around to face her.

“I wanna have tea with you. No work stuff or adult stuff that I don’t understand”, you pleaded quietly, frowning up at her.

“Honey, I’m just checking out the documents”, she said softly, squeezing your shoulder. Oh.

“Will you come right back?” You asked carefully, Natasha frowning at the doubt on your face.

“Yes, kroshka (little one). I’m just exchanging a quick word with him. I’ll be right back to eat all those delicious muffins you made.” She brushed her hand down your cheek soothingly, feeling a sense of concern in the back of her mind for your intense reaction to her work.

“Okay.” You nodded firmly and turned off your sword, leaving the kitchen. “Don’t forget to hurry up!” You exclaimed as you sat yourself down next to Wanda, leaving her in the kitchen with Clint.

“Do you want to guess what I’m thinking?” You suggested suddenly, already thinking of the wildest things that you possibly could.

“Sure, why not”, Wanda hummed, setting down her tea mug, welcoming you into her embrace when you lifted her arm out of the way so you could lean into her side. She could tell you were upset. She could have sensed the shift in your energy from miles away.

“You’re never gonna guess this one”, you said in determination, although you both knew there was no guessing for Wanda. She would see whatever you were thinking in your mind as clear as day, but at that point it was just more of an inside joke and the fun of the game relied on how well you managed to surprise or confuse Wanda with your imaginative concepts.

“Do your worst”, she chuckled, squeezing you tighter against her to offer you more comfort. She entered your mind a bit tentatively due to the anxious haze that was surrounding it, always making sure to include a little bit of dramatic hand movements to make it more fun for you. She saw what you were trying to think of but you were fighting tooth and nail to keep your focus on the lava monster with a burning party hat on. A small smile made the corner of her mouth quirk up at the image, but it was soon wiped away by a wave of your anxiety.

“Guess”, you said hastily, glancing at your mother in the kitchen as if making sure she was still there.

“Hmm, I’m getting something with lava”, she mused, brushing her hand over your hair. It made you smile, although the gesture lacked enthusiasm. “There’s a party hat”, she stated, your nod confirming her words. “Is it on fire?” She asked in shock, playing it up for you.

“Yes”, you chuckled, crawling closer to her, finding yourself on her lap as you cuddled close to her, the mind game losing your attention rather fast.

“Wanda?” You asked quietly, your ear pressed against the top of her chest as she leaned back against the couch to make you more comfortable.

“Yes, honey?”

“Will you do that thing that makes me calm?” Your tone was hopeful, a soft frown appearing on Wanda’s features.

“You want me to tell you a story?” She asked knowingly, wanting to confirm what you were requesting. She sometimes told you stories telepathically, showing you colorful imagery as her voice told you a fairytale of some sorts inside your head.

“Yes, something fun”, you mumbled, followed by a heavy sigh. You breathed in Wanda’s perfume, pleased to feel her warmth against you as she wrapped her arms loosely around you, a colorful garden appearing in your mind, accompanied by birds chirping and a gentle gust of wind that you swore you could feel on your skin. Wanda could hear the thoughts that raced through your head and she could feel the worry that you felt for your mother, having to fight her instincts so that her focus wouldn’t stray from the story she was creating, but she did note that you felt very protective over Natasha when it came to her work life and she could understand very well why that was. Despite your mind being an open book for her to read as she pleased, she did her best to ignore anything that was unrelated to the garden and its gorgeous flowers, focusing on emitting waves of calm energy that would hopefully soothe you. It didn’t take more than roughly ten minutes for Natasha to come back and by that time Wanda had calmed down the spike of anxiety you had felt for Clint’s request. She frowned down at you and Wanda, a questioning look on her face at the sudden lack of excitement on your part.

“What happened to teatime?” She asked in confusion. “Are we napping?”

“No, we’re cuddling”, you replied, turning your head around to see her as she lowered herself down onto the floor.

“Cuddling? Can I join you?” She asked softly, sensing the mood change that had taken place.

“Yes”, you nodded, a smile appearing on your face when she placed her hand on your back to pet you. “What did Clint say?”

“They don’t need me on the mission. I’m staying home”, she hummed, watching your smile brighten into a happy, little grin. In reality they could have used her, but because they were planning on leaving that night Natasha had chosen to stay home with you to have the tea party she had promised to attend. She wanted to spend the Saturday with you, not only because she had promised to have a tea party and a movie night with you, but also because she genuinely did not want to cancel the plans. “Honey, I would never cancel our plans, you know that right?” You nodded your head. You did know that, but it wasn’t too far-fetched to assume that an emergency mission could ruin your plans for the day. She leaned closer to you, pressing a kiss on your forehead before reaching for her cup of tea.

“Your tea is gonna get cold”, Natasha reminded you, taking a sip of the lukewarm beverage. That seemed to bring back your initial excitement and you jumped up from Wanda’s lap to go find your own cup of tea before it had the chance to run cold. You also grabbed yourself yet another muffin just to test if they were as good as the previous two had been. Before you sat down to eat you rounded the table to get to Natasha, sinking into her arms in the biggest hug you could possibly give her. She let out a soft chuckle of surprise when your arms wrapped around her neck, her own copying the gesture around your waist. You didn’t say anything, simply pulled away and went back to your place on the other side of the table, but to Natasha it was an obvious thank you for staying.

The movie night that you had planned for the evening was as well thought-out as possible. You gathered all your favorite blankets and pillows on the couch after dinner time to make the living room as comfortable as possible. You had already chosen a movie beforehand based on what you and Natasha wanted to watch, choosing a blockbuster family movie that you had missed in theaters and it had finally been released on a streaming platform. Anyone who felt like joining you was welcome to use the blankets you had arranged and eat the snacks that you, Natasha, and Wanda had prepared, but it seemed like most of them were off on that mission Clint and Natasha had discussed. You were already munching on the still warm popcorn, patiently waiting in the corner of the couch for Natasha to press play and join you and Wanda who snuck a handful of popcorn from the bowl without you noticing.

“You ready?” Natasha asked expectantly, pointing the remote at the screen.

“Yup!” You exclaimed, shoveling more popcorn into your mouth.

“Alright, here we go”, she hummed, plopping down onto the couch and pressing play. She remained seated on the middle cushions, your brows drawing into a displeased frown.

“Mom, you have to come closer. I want a cuddle sandwich”, you whined, reaching to the side to tug on her arm.

“A cuddle sandwich?” She asked in feigned astonishment, her tone playfully teasing as she scooched closer, pulling the bowl of popcorn off your lap to save it from tipping over. You giggled, leaning into her side once she was close enough, your other hand trying to pull Wanda closer to you as well. Natasha’s fingers found your side, tickling you suddenly to make you laugh and squirm, peals of genuine laughter falling from your lips.

“Mom!” You screeched, not even trying to escape her hands. You nuzzled your face against her, laughing into her sweater until she eased her fingers off you, hugging you tightly, listening to your giggles start to die down.

“Come on, you’re gonna miss the whole movie”, she warned you teasingly. You pulled your face away from her, turning around enough to see the screen. “Better not forget about that cuddle sandwich”, she mumbled, before kissing the top of your head, her free hand reaching for Wanda, tucking some of her hair behind her ear affectionately. Wanda let out a small huff of a laugh before coming close enough to be pressed up against you, her hand finding your arm to stroke absentmindedly as her eyes focused on the screen.

“Mommy, the popcorn”, you reminded her, pointing at the bowl that had been extracted from the danger zone of your flailing limbs. Natasha handed the glass bowl back to you, snatching a couple pieces for herself. Her left hand found your hair, brushing her fingers over it, gently playing with it as she leaned her cheek against the top of your head. She breathed you in, listening in on the conversation that was going on in the movie but her attention was far from the screen.

You felt warm between your mother and Wanda, warm enough to kick your blanket off so that you wouldn’t have to move away from your spot in their loving embrace. You swore the movie was much more entertaining with Natasha’s hand in your hair and Wanda’s arm around your waist. Your mother made sure you were snuggly tucked into her side as she placed gentle kisses in your hair and on your forehead every now and then as if to remind herself that you were right there beside her. Additionally it was a way for her to show the love that she felt so heavily in her chest for you. No kind of work could have ever come even close to replacing the joy that she felt for spending time with you. There was nothing more important in the world for her and she knew that you felt the same way because once the movie was over you remained cuddled up between them, beyond excited to discuss the movie with both of them. And when Wanda eventually had to leave you didn’t even consider that you could have moved away from her. You simply adjusted your position, accommodating to the lack of support behind you, Natasha pulling you tighter against her chest, never taking a single second of your time for granted, fearing that there would be a day when you no longer wanted her cuddles.

It was easy to be like that in the silence of the living room, the TV turned off and the lights dimmed down as you talked, Natasha answering any questions that you might have had concerning the silly animated characters or the plot. She smelled your hair, her hands smoothing up and down your back, her eyelids fluttering shut. She could tell that you were getting sleepy, your voice fading into low mumbling, but your excitement over the movie you had watched spurred you on and kept you talking, Natasha responding mostly with quiet hums, grunts, and chuckles.

“Mommy, it was a question”, you giggled, turning your face into her chest to muffle your laugh. You pulled away, climbing onto her lap to see her face better. “You’re getting sleepy”, you accused in amusem*nt, finding the fact funny for whatever reason. Natasha tore her eyes open, forcing herself to become more alert so she wouldn’t indeed fall asleep.

“Huh? What? I’m not sleepy”, she protested, making you laugh even harder.

“Yes, you are!” You giggled. “You look like this”, you stated, closing your eyes and parting your lips to copy the look that she had had on her face. It made Natasha let out a genuine laugh, hearing your voice join in.

“I did not”, she countered playfully, poking your side a bit to make you screech. You tried to escape her touch, tipping over to the side, slumping down onto the cushions. Natasha leaned closer to you, her hand looming over your ribs, ready to tickle you again. You grabbed her hand, already giggling uncontrollably because you knew she was going to tickle the living daylights out of you and there was nothing better in the world. All you could hear was your loud guffaws when her fingers finally found your sides, your small body squirming from the intense tickling sensation. When she finally offered you some relief and a chance to catch your breath, she leaned down to press a kiss on your forehead, peppering tiny, little pecks all over your face before gathering you into her arms to hoist you off the couch. “It’s sleepy time for you, young lady”, she hummed, receiving more peals of laughter from you as she dangled you in her arms, purposely holding you a bit poorly to make it more fun for you.

“You just wanna sleep”, you chuckled, gripping onto her shoulder so you wouldn’t slide off her body.

“Mommy’s had a long day”, she protested. “Aren’t you tired?”

“No!” You exclaimed, starting to laugh again, the sounds you were making becoming more and more unhinged by the minute.

“I think you had one too many cupcakes”, Natasha huffed, pretending that her arm was giving in as she walked down the hall, heading for the elevator. You screamed, doing your best to climb up her body to avoid falling down, reaching your arm to the side to push the correct elevator button for your floor.

“No, I should have had more, but Tony came over and ate like five”, you lamented, but you didn’t get to feel upset by the fact, Natasha’s hand tickling you again, your laughter lasting all the way to the outside of the apartment.

“Maybe it’s a good thing or you would be hurling your guts into the toilet by now”, she teased.

“Noo!” You chuckled, finally managing to bring yourself into a vertical position, your arms locking around her neck, legs finding her waist as Natasha opened the door to your home. “I could eat like a thousand-million-trillion muffins”, you announced, the front door sliding shut behind you.

Notes:

This ended up taking a while cause I decided to add a whole other chapter here lol but I felt like Natasha needed to get some of her feelings out, also fluff is always nice <3

Chapter 30: Just the way you are

Notes:

TRIGGER WARNING: talk about weight/body image (nothing drastic by any means but I’d rather be safe than sorry)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

You had just come home from school and you were sitting on your bed, your shirt pulled up as you studied your bare stomach. You poked and prodded it with your fingers, not really sure how to feel about the soft layer of tissue you felt on your body. Lately you weren’t sure how to feel about anything going on with your body. There were a couple mild changes like your height and a bit of added weight, but nothing out of the ordinary. You were a healthy nine-year-old, or so you had thought, but the more you listened to the girls in your class you were starting to feel like maybe you weren’t what you thought you were, at least not according to your classmates. You heard a knock at the door, your head shooting up at the sound, a jolt of surprise going through you.

“Yes?” You asked quietly, pulling your shirt down swiftly, feeling a bit embarrassed for what you were doing.

“Hi, baby, can I come in?”

“Yeah”, you replied, loud enough for her to hear, the door creaking open and Natasha sneaking inside with a soft smile on her face. You watched as she walked to your side, sitting down on the bed as well. She could tell you were feeling down, your quietness and lack of smiles enough to raise her concerns.

“Is everything okay? You didn’t eat your snack”, she questioned softly, co*cking her head at you encouragingly, hoping you would feel safe enough to express your thoughts to her.

“Thinking.”

“About?”

“These girls in my class”, you started slowly, Natasha’s chest constricting as she thought of the biggest fear she had had since you had started school. She knew you could hold off your own when it came to bullies, but kids could be ruthless, and Natasha knew that. She had grown up among ruthless girls. She had been a ruthless girl, although she had been a different kind of ruthless than what you would hopefully ever encounter in a classroom. “They were talking about their bodies”, you explained, trying to figure out a way to put it. You looked up at Natasha with a soft frown. “Do you think I should lose weight?” You asked timidly, Natasha’s stomach dropping at your words.

“Oh, no, honey. Absolutely not”, she said immediately, making sure you were looking her in the eyes. Her response was automatic and held no hesitation behind it, conveying just how ridiculous she thought the statement was. “You’re perfect, baby”, she said with a knowing smile, her hand cupping your jaw briefly. “You’re so beautiful and I don’t want you to change anything about yourself.”

“But what if I’m not?” You mumbled, trying to hold in your tears. It wasn’t the first time you had thought about it, but you had noticed it take up more space in your mind the more the girls in your class talked about skinny, blonde supermodels. Natasha opened her arms, gently, prompting for you to come sit on her lap, a small smile flashing across your features as you accepted her invite with great relief.

“You are. And no one can change that”, Natasha said, holding you close to her chest as she petted your hair.

“But the girls… They said we need to have a flat stomach and bigger boobs. I don’t know if mine is flat enough”, you whimpered, your face pressing into Natasha’s neck.

“Look at me, Y/N”, she said sternly, causing you to pull away to meet her green eyes. “You’re nothing but a baby. Boobs are not something you need to worry about yet and being skinny does not make you any more valuable than if you were heavier. We’re all worth the same, no matter what our bodies look like. Besides, you’re just the right size for mama to hold, flat stomach or not”, she noted, hugging you tighter as you chuckled. She pulled back a bit, smiling at you warmly, before she looked down to her lap and pulled up her shirt to open the button of her jeans, revealing the gentle bump of her belly. “My stomach isn’t flat. I’ve got a little belly and that’s completely okay. Every belly is just the perfect size”, she explained as you put your hand on her lower stomach, caressing the warm skin. “Do you think that makes me uglier?” Natasha asked, immediately earning a firm shake of your head.

“You’re the most beautiful person in the world”, you said firmly, Natasha’s smile widening.

“No, you are the most beautiful person in the world”, Natasha said, tapping your nose, making you giggle. She leaned close, pressing her lips to your forehead. “Mama’s little baby”, she mumbled, hugging you tightly, closing her eyes as she swayed you a bit. “The most perfect little princess”, she hummed, feeling you sigh and sink into her embrace.

“I’m not that little”, you protested in a slight giggle.

“To mommy you are”, she mumbled, kissing the side of your head. “Can I ask you something?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Is this why you didn’t finish your snack?” She asked, her tone turning more serious, causing you to drop your head down in shame. You could tell from her voice that you weren’t supposed to do something like that.

“Yeah. Lucy said white bread makes you fat”, you explained, keeping your eyes down. You felt bad about not finishing the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that Natasha had made for you, especially when it was one of your favorite after-school snacks.

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. None of you do. You’re children and you’re not even supposed to know about this stuff. No food makes you fat, okay?”

“Okay”, you nodded firmly, listening intently to her advice.

“As long as you eat a healthy, balanced diet you’ve got nothing to worry about. You just make sure you eat your fruits and veggies, and get enough nutritious food into your belly”, she continued, tickling your abdomen softly. “And you can’t forget about those sweets and treats. They’re all very important for your well-being. Besides, it’s my job to make sure you’re eating the right things. You don’t have to worry your pretty, little head about it. Eat what makes you happy”, she instructed, smiling down at you. “You’re a highly active, growing child. You need fuel in your body so your bones can grow and your muscles can become stronger. You wanna train like mommy, right?” You nodded your head eagerly. You really wanted to be strong like her, a deep sense of admiration shining in your eyes whenever you watched her train with the rest of the team. There was something about being a strong woman, or in your case, a girl, that you felt a pull toward.

“You can’t be like that if you don’t eat enough.” As if on cue your stomach grumbled, Natasha giving you a slight arch of her brow, her hands brushing down your arms. “Alright, let’s go finish that pb&j. I’ve gotta get dinner started”, she hummed, sliding you off her lap, a bright smile overtaking your features. You hurried to the door, Natasha in your footsteps, buttoning up her jeans.

“What are we having for dinner?” You asked in excitement, a soft smile spreading onto Natasha’s lips as she walked past you, her hand brushing down your back to guide you toward the kitchen.

“I was planning on making teriyaki chicken with rice and veggies”, she replied, going to the cabinets to find pots and pans she would need to make the dish. “And Y/N?”

“What?” You climbed onto the stool behind the kitchen island, grabbing the peanut butter sandwich off the plate where you had left it, taking a big bite out of the bread that you had previously only nibbled.

“I want you to stop hanging out with Lucy and her friends. Or at the very least stop participating in their conversations about appearances.” She turned to look at you, making sure she was getting through to you.

“Why?”

“Because the kind of things they’re saying are only gonna cause you trouble. I will bring it up with the teachers to make sure Lucy is doing alright at home, but for now I want you to focus on yourself. Don’t listen to what they say about bodies or weight, or whatever. You are exactly the way you’re supposed to be”, she emphasized, finding it crucial that you believed her word. You were not going to grow up insecure if Natasha had any say in it. She wanted you to be confident and know your worth because you were definitely going to need it in the future when living in a world so cruel.

“Got it”, you mumbled around a bite of your sandwich, Natasha giving you a chastising look.

“Don’t chew with your mouth open”, she reminded you gently as you looked around the kitchen for the glass that you had used when you had come home from school. Natasha picked it up from the counter by the sink, placing it in front of you. “Juice or milk?” She saw the moment you put your famous puppy eyes on display, an amused smirk finding its way on her lips.

“Can I have chocolate milk?” You asked pleadingly, Natasha letting out a small chuckle. Your house was very open with sweets and fast food, but Natasha still had to occasionally limit certain foods to avoid over consumption on your part because had you been given the chance you wouldn’t have drunk anything but chocolate milk. However, Natasha still did her best not to lift any specific foods onto a pedestal and wanted you to have access to almost anything at all times because it worked for her the best, and it seemed to have worked very well for you as well. You rarely craved for large amounts of sweets or baked goods and were often satiated by small amounts of whatever you might have been craving.

“Do you want it cold or warm?”

“Cold”, you replied, taking another bite of the second triangle of your sandwich, slightly bummed out that it was disappearing so fast. You felt like you were starving and Natasha had barely gotten the produce out of the fridge. She poured you a glass, taking a long sip of the beverage before handing it to you.

“Can I help you with the cooking?” You asked before taking a gulp from the tall glass of chocolate milk.

“You wanna help?” Her smile brightened just a little, hopeful eyes turning to you. She loved it when you wanted to participate in daily chores, feeling like she had done right by you when it came to teaching you responsibilities and basic house skills. Sometimes she even made you cook with her just to have you learn how to make food for yourself, but it was always ten times more fun when you volunteered to take part in cooking. Natasha had never been the best cook in the world and she had really had to work on it during your toddler years because she didn’t want you to grow up with microwave meals and takeout. Through her own little cooking journey she had found joy in making food from scratch and wished to share and pass that joy down to you.

“Yeah”, you chirped, wiping your milk mustache into the sleeve of your shirt.

“Go get cleaned up and I’ll show you how to wash the veggies.” You did as told, tidying up the kitchen island from your dishes before washing your hands with soap, Natasha bringing the vegetables to the sink where you could wash and peel them for the side dish.

“Hold it like this”, Natasha instructed, adjusting the peeler in your hand, your other hand holding onto a long carrot. “Never peel toward your hand, always use an outward motion. And watch your fingers”, she reminded you, even though you had peeled carrots before, but sometimes you tended to forget about the instructions she had previously given you. She made sure you got the hang of it before moving on to cut up the chicken pieces and boil water for the rice.

“Look how perfectly straight this carrot is”, you noted, showing the vegetable to Natasha with a bright smile on your face. “It’s almost like a cartoon carrot”, you giggled. “Those that Bugs Bunny eats!”

“Look at that”, she mused, shaking her head slightly as if in disbelief. You giggled again, continuing to peel the carrots.

“Can I cut these up?” You asked but your face suddenly contorted into a displeased frown when you saw Natasha unwrap a head of broccoli. “Mommm”, you whined desperately. “I don’t want broccoli.”

“But you’re gonna have it”, she chuckled, bringing it to the sink to rinse off any dirt it might have had on it.

“Why?” You groaned in annoyance, absentmindedly banging one of the carrots against the edge of the sink.

“Honey, don’t abuse the carrots. Because it’s got loads of vitamins and health benefits to help you grow big and strong”, she said, pinching your cheek a bit teasingly. You scrunched your nose at her, annoyed by the gesture. “Don’t worry, baby, you’ll only have to taste a little bit. You can have the carrots and peppers.”

“But I already know what it tastes like”, you reasoned, frowning up at her.

“Yes, I know, but I want you to give it another chance. You don’t have to like it but you’ll have to try it”, she countered. “Wash the peppers for me, dorogaya (darling).” You grabbed the large red bell pepper, bringing it under the faucet, the water pressure a bit too high, a big squirt of water landing on your shirt and over the back wall. You squinted your eyes, Natasha moving swiftly to adjust the faucet, omitting her chuckle at the small accident.

“Oops.”

“It’s alright, sweetie. Here, let me wipe your face dry”, she offered, bringing the kitchen towel to your face to dry the worst of it. “Make sure you scrub the peppers clean. We don’t want to eat any dirt”, she reminded you.

Once you had all your produce washed and dried, Natasha brought you behind the cutting board, handing you a large knife. You had cut fruit before because it was softer and easier to handle than root vegetables, but Natasha thought you were starting to be old enough to participate with other foods as well. She stepped behind you, both her hands covering your own to guide you in the cutting process. She placed one of the carrots horizontally onto the wooden cutting board, bringing the hand that was holding the knife to the end.

“Now we have to be extra careful, okay? Hold the carrot still with this hand, just like with fruit, but you’re gonna need much more pressure on that knife.” She cut a thin slice off the end to get rid of the stump, your small hand beneath hers, automatically following the movement of her hand. “Keep the tip of the knife down against the board. Just like this”, she continued, cutting another slice as a demonstration. “Think you got it?” You nodded your head, carefully lifting the knife up, Natasha’s hand freeing yours. You made sure that the tip remained against the wood, slowly pressing the handle down. Your mother was right, it did require more pressure to cut through the hard vegetable but you thought you did okay, repeating the action to cut out unevenly thick slices.

“Good job!” Natasha praised you immediately, kissing the top of your head. “I think you’ve got it”, she hummed in amazement over your skills. “Leave the ends for me to cut if it feels too difficult with shorter pieces. I’ll cut up the broccoli while you do that.”

“Are these good?” You asked, seeking for validation as you showed her the slices of varying sizes.

“Yes, they’re very good. Try to keep the thickness consistent”, she instructed gently, grabbing another large knife to slice through the broccoli, before pouring washed rice into the boiling water, adding a bit of salt to go with it.

Cooking with you took a lot longer than if Natasha had whipped up the meal alone, but no amount of hunger was enough to make her give up the experience of teaching you how to feed yourself. She valued the time spent with you more than anything, proud of herself for raising a child who was pleasant to be around and whose company she genuinely enjoyed. She found so much joy in showing you how things were done, especially when she could clearly see how eager you were to learn the magic behind your favorite foods.

“Do you want to make the sauce? I’ve got all the ingredients lined up on the counter”, she suggested, moving the chicken pieces into an oiled pan, a loud sizzle filling the kitchen. You nodded immediately, moving to the countertop where a small glass bowl sat with different measuring tools and ingredients. “Take the soy sauce.”

“Is it this one?” You asked for confirmation, showing her the large bottle of dark liquid. Natasha nodded, her hand continuing to stir the chicken in the pan. “How much of it?”

“Third of a cup”, she replied, having spread the cups onto the counter just so you could figure it all out by yourself.

“This is a full cup, right? So this is half of that.” You sounded very unsure as you compared the different sized measures, trying to see which one of them was third of a cup. “Is it this?” You showed Natasha the smallest of the measures, receiving a small shake of her head.

“Check the handle. What does it say?”

“One slash four.”

“That would be a fourth of a cup.” She informed you, lowering the heat on the chicken and coming closer to you.

“So then it’s this one”, you announced, showing the correct measuring cup to her. She smiled brightly.

“I can hold it still while you pour”, she offered, grasping the cup from you as you grabbed the large bottle of soy sauce, opening the cork. You did a very good job with getting accurate amounts of each ingredient into the bowl, finally whisking the sauce up with a mini whisk that you absolutely adored because of how small it was. Next you got to pour the mixture over the chicken, a sharp scent of hot soy invading your nose. You had a lot of fun in the kitchen but by the time the food was on the table you were exhausted.

“Why does it have to take so long when I’ll finish my plate in ten minutes?” You moaned, Natasha spooning some chicken onto your plate before sliding it in front of you.

“I ask myself that every day”, she chuckled, her hand moving to grab her own plate to load it up with all the food you had made.

“Wouldn’t it be cool to have a personal chef”, you mused, stabbing a tenderly cooked carrot into your fork. Natasha gave you a look.

“You already have one”, she retorted, sounding mildly unimpressed.

“Yeah, but so that you wouldn’t have to cook”, you specified.

“It would be so cool”, Natasha agreed, blowing gently onto the steaming piece of carrot before sliding the fork into her mouth. “I should make you my personal chef”, she teased, spearing more of the carrots onto her fork. “These honey carrots are amazing”, she praised genuinely, loving the shy, little smile on your face whenever you got compliments for your work. She would never get tired of seeing that look on your face.

“But then you would only have to eat carrots cause I don’t know how to cook anything else”,
you laughed. You knew you could complete various steps of different tasks in the kitchen but had you been expected to make an entire meal by yourself you would have been lost.

“These are so good I could eat them for every meal”, Natasha assured, smiling at you softly. “What would you say if we started cooking more? I could show you how to make easier things like oatmeal or eggs.”

“That sounds like fun”, you nodded immediately, scooping a big clump of chicken and rice into your mouth. “As long as we make yummy food like this”, you hummed. “Except for the broccoli”, you added in a quiet huff that spread a smile on Natasha’s face.

“Just let me know what foods you want to cook and we’ll make them together”, she replied, moving the glass of water in her hand to her lips.

“Will do. Has Wanda replied to you yet?” You inquired suddenly, Natasha frowning slightly, her eyes moving to the phone that sat at the other end of the table, tapping the screen to see her notifications.

“Yeah, she wants to go for coffee”, she hummed, going back to eating.

“Can I come? I can come, right?” You inquired hastily, clearly very excited to go into the city for the evening, pleased to also spend time with Wanda who had been rather busy lately.

“Yes, of course. I don’t think she’ll mind”, Natasha mused, a playful smirk on her lips. Everyone and their cousin knew how much Wanda loved you.

“Where are we gonna g-“ The sharp sound of the door bell interrupted your words, your eyes widening in surprise, Natasha offering you a knowing smile. You rushed out of the kitchen to open the door, immediately met with Wanda’s gentle smile. “Hi!”

“Hey, princess”, she chuckled, lifting you right into her arms, not caring in the slightest that you were getting too old for it. You let out a joyous laugh as you hugged her tightly, Wanda kicking the door shut behind her, taking a couple of steps toward the kitchen before allowing you to slide back down.

“Hi, Wanda!” Natasha hollered from the kitchen where she was still eating, unbothered by her friend’s arrival when she saw her almost daily. “Baby, come finish your food!” She added in a tone that was clearly aimed at you.

You bounced back into the kitchen, inhaled your food and then complained about how slow Natasha was being while she was too busy offering Wanda a dinner as well, to your utter demise. It wasn’t that you didn’t want her to taste your cooking but you just really wanted to leave already and Wanda having dinner with you was going to delay that. Thankfully, she had already had dinner at home and you managed to get out the door before you completely lost your patience.

Notes:

I know the topic is a bit serious but unfortunately it’s relatable to far too many and a lot of us probably wish they would’ve had someone like Natasha when they faced these problems :/ so this one’s for you guys <3

Chapter 31: Magic Kingdom

Notes:

This chapter ended up being so long omg

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

You woke up at six o’clock sharp as if struck by lightning, sitting up in the large twin bed you had crawled into the night before, a bit of sunlight peeking from behind the curtains. You blinked the sleep from your eyes, getting accustomed to the furnishing of the Polynesian themed hotel room, although the room decor wasn’t enough to hold your attention for much longer, your focus shifting onto Natasha who slept beside you, curled up into a tight ball, her hair a mess and face tucked into the white duvet.

“Mommy”, you hissed, poking her arm, letting go of Bun-Bun that you had taken with you to Florida. “Mom”, you tried again, shaking her even harder, Natasha refusing to wake up so unbearably early, burying herself deeper into the sheets to hide from you and the sunlight. “Guess what day it is today?” You asked in excitement even though you didn’t have to ask at all. Natasha knew very well what day it was, in fact she could never forget the date even if she would have tried to.

“Hmm, what?” She groaned quietly, making no effort to open her eyes.

“Guess!”

“Independence Day”, she offered, hearing a giggle from you.

“No, mom, guess again!” Wow, your volume really would’ve needed some adjusting.

“I don’t know. What is it?” She asked groggily, albeit there was a hint of tease.

“Someone’s birthday”, you whispered theatrically as if giving her a hint.

“Birthday? I don’t remember anything about a birthday”, she frowned, squinting her aching eyes open. It was a shame that you were up so early even after the flight and all the traveling you had done, although it had been far more relaxing on Tony’s jet than on any commercial plane she could have chosen instead.

“Mom”, you whined desperately.

“Wait, there was something special today…” She mused as if trying to remember what it was, your vibrating form sitting tightly beside her, patiently waiting for her to say it. “My baby is turning nine years old”, Natasha stated confidently.

“No”, you whined again. “Mommy, I’m ten years old.”

“Ten? That can’t be. Look at you, so tiny. You’re still nothing but a baby”, she mumbled playfully, her eyes finally fully open, looking at your beautiful face. Ten years you had been in her life. Ten whole years since she had rescued you from the exploding building. Natasha already knew that she was going to cry about it late at night after you had been tucked away in bed.

“But I’m ten already. I’m a big girl”, you argued, a smile spreading on Natasha’s lips.

“Ten”, she huffed in a teasing tone, a yearning look in her eyes. You had long ago decided to celebrate your birthday on the date that Natasha had found you because your real birthday still remained unknown, but neither of you minded because that day felt far more significant than the day you had been born. “You’re practically an adult now”, she chuckled, her fingers attacking your middle to tickle you, a sharp shriek coming from you as you threw yourself into the sheets to escape her, but you only managed to wriggle yourself around as you laughed loudly. You crawled into her arms, allowing her to wrap you into her embrace where you stayed for a while, her soothing hands on your body easing some of the almost painful excitement you were feeling, the quiet moment allowing Natasha to properly wake up. It was around half past six in the morning when you could no longer take it, starting to get ready for the day, Natasha following in your footsteps after making sure via text message that the others were up to speed and getting ready for breakfast as well.

You had chosen your clothes the night before, settling on wearing an easily removable skirt instead of a fully equipped Princess Tiana dress because Natasha had insisted on practicality and comfortability for the long day you had ahead. She knew dresses could be dangerous and messy in a busy theme park which is why she had held her ground until you had finally relented. No outfit was complete without mandatory Minnie ears that you had bought upon your arrival to the resort. You had chosen the design you liked the most out of the dozen different pairs and had also forced Natasha to buy ones as well so you could match, not that it had required a lot of persuasion because secretly your mother was beyond excited to take part in all the activities possible. You had also convinced the rest of the adults to get Mickey ears as well, simply because in your opinion they were more than necessary.

Natasha got dressed into comfortable and casual clothes, unwilling to spend the day with a wedgie or a pair of pants that were too tight, but she still figured out a fashionable get up for herself before putting on light makeup and smothering her and your faces in sunscreen to protect you from the deceptive Floridian sun. When you were finally finished with getting ready, you got out the door and into the hallway, finding Tony and Morgan there, the latter being chased down the hall by her father. You smiled at the sight, crouching down to welcome Morgan into your arms as she sped toward you on the carpet-cushioned floor. She was in her toddler years, or what everyone else liked to call the terrible twos, but in your opinion she wasn’t much of a bother to anyone. Morgan was reserved and quiet for most of the time, but especially around her parents and family she could be rather bubbly and bright.

“Hi, Morgan!” You greeted her brightly, having adopted that gentle tone that all the adults used with babies, the light, airy talk rolling off your tongue naturally. You lifted her into your arms, Tony slowing down once he finally reached you, Pepper exiting the hotel room right as the door to the Barton room slid open, Nathaniel walking out.

“Sam and I are gonna go already. It’s better if we go in smaller groups so we won’t attract unnecessary attention”, Steve informed, but the amused smile on Sam’s face told you that they were starving and too impatient to wait. You turned around to see them, slightly startled to hear Steve’s voice from behind you, his eyes meeting yours, a wide smile spreading on his lips as he took a few steps closer to you. “Happy birthday, doll”, he hummed, his hands sliding under your arms to pick you up into a huge hug that made you giggle, your legs dangling in the air.

“Thanks”, you huffed, squeezing him tightly before he set you down, giving Sam an opportunity to congratulate you as well.

“We’ll see you at breakfast”, Steve reminded you, but you were too busy receiving birthday wishes from Clint’s kids and Tony and Pepper to register what he was saying. You got a big, wet kiss on your forehead from Tony, his beard pricking your skin, his affectionate manners followed by a bunch of teasing comments. Pepper stole you away from him and brought you into a tight hug as she whispered her congratulations in your ear, telling you how amazing and beautiful you were. Finally, you were crushed by both Laura and Clint in yet another hug, the kids opting to only use their words to congratulate you. The Barton family was next to head for breakfast since they were quite unrecognizable, you and Natasha waiting patiently for Yelena and Wanda to come out of their room. Thankfully it didn’t take them long, otherwise Natasha would have delivered them a smack in the face for breakfast.

You were led to a group of tables in a secluded corner of the dining hall, Sam and Steve already elbows deep in pineapple-coconut bread and fresh Pog juice that the restaurant served to the guests beforehand. You could already see Stitch walking around in the other end of the dining hall, your entire body filled with jitters as you tried to keep yourself calm. You all filled your bellies with the delicious breakfast food that was brought out to you on skillets, the meal consisting of typical breakfast foods like eggs, sausage and bacon, but naturally your absolute favorite were the Mickey Mouse pancakes that you doused in so much syrup that they eventually turned into a soggy mess that you ate regardless because it just tasted that good. Morgan too seemed to really like the pancakes, those and the fried potato the only things that didn’t fly off her plate. Natasha really enjoyed the selection of fruits, as well as the biscuits and the ham topped with pineapple compote, her food paired with refreshing mimosas that she and Wanda ordered despite the hour of the day. Steve and Sam definitely had at least three skillets of bacon just for themselves, Steve making sure he ate for everyone else as well, truly getting his money’s worth. It never failed to amaze you just how much food he was capable of consuming. You ate far too much in the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy breakfast selection but in your opinion a full belly was just the perfect way to start your adventure-filled day. You waved goodbye to the different characters that were lounging around with the guests, heading back into your hotel rooms to grab anything you might need for the theme park before leaving. You were only going to visit the Magic Kingdom that was close to the Polynesian resort you were staying at because everyone knew that there wasn’t enough time for the other parks, but Natasha was sure that it was more than enough for the time being.

The entrance to Magic Kingdom was gorgeous and it was almost impossible for you to process the beautiful castle that could already be seen as you walked down Main Street that was filled with people, colors, lights, and scents that tried to steal your attention every other moment. There was so much to look at that you struggled to look anywhere at all, your small body unequipped to handle so much excitement. Even Clint’s kids seemed to be impressed by the surroundings despite being too old to be considered kids, excluding Nathaniel who was just a couple years older than you. Lila and Cooper got along very well and often went off to the side to look at things or excluded themselves to go to different stores they had spotted because they were old enough to go anywhere they pleased. They were adults after all. The rest of you remained more or less as one big group, but it turned out to be difficult at times because everyone seemed to have their own interests that they tended to gravitate toward. It didn’t take long for Natasha to spot a place for drinks, Sam smirking at her knowingly, both of them sneaking to the side to get themselves something refreshing since it was already starting to get rather warm outside, Yelena joining their secret circle. Wanda snuck off to the side to find something sweet for herself to snack on, discovering far too many options, wanting to taste each of them which left her with the struggle of having to make a decision between the large variety of options. Natasha chose a pink, Mickey-shaped macaron for a snack that she didn’t need, and another large, fruity drink that would last her a while as you strolled around the park mostly looking at the views and visiting shops to get over the initial excitement that barely allowed you to function properly. Wanda eventually chose a large chocolate chip cookie and a couple cake pops to try out. Sam got a cold beer and Yelena found herself a non-alcoholic, overly sweet fizzy drink, the three of them staying slightly behind so they could enjoy their beverages in peace while the others looked after the kids. It was slightly too early for Natasha to be surrounded by children charged with that much energy, but that’s what Sam, Yelena, and the drinks were for, so that Natasha could evade the initial shouting and screaming, although she loved to see the way Lila and Cooper regressed into the same kids she had watched Clint raise.

After a good hour of walking you were finally calm enough to not sprint to every single thing you found interesting or beautiful and started to be more interested in the rides now that you could finally focus on such a thing. Despite the fact that you had other children to spend your time with you seemed to gravitate toward Natasha more often than not, diverging from the Bartons to come hold Natasha’s hand and show her anything you might have spotted in the park or to ask her to buy you something overpriced and ridiculously dumb.

“Mommy”, you whispered quietly, pulling her closer to you as you walked down the street toward Tomorrowland, Natasha’s arm wrapping around your shoulders, lips finding your forehead.

“What, baby?”

“This is the coolest present ever”, you admitted, smiling happily up at her, Natasha’s features softening.

“I’m glad to hear that”, she mused, offering you a bright smirk. You had no idea how amazing the day was going to be.

“Will you go on Space Mountain with me? Coop said it’s crazy fast!” You asked, glancing at the huge white building that had a futuristic design to it.

“You don’t even have to ask. Of course I will”, Natasha hummed, allowing you to pull her into the Fast Pass lane, leaving her drink with Clint who was currently her designated drink holder because he was too much of a wuss to go on rides, claiming that he would get nauseous if he went on too many in a row. Your birthday was thankfully in the middle of the week that year, your entire family grateful for the lack of people in the Fast Pass lanes. You navigated through the entrance into the darkness of the building that was illuminated by neon lights. You barely had any patience to look at the decorations inside, your main focus being the ride. You pulled Natasha after you, running to the small gates where you only had to wait one shuttle before it was your turn. You sat in front of Natasha on the very first seat, Cooper and Lila fighting over who got to sit in the last seat for a reason you couldn’t understand. Lila said it feels more fun in the last seat but you thought the first one was obviously the best, Yelena settling for the seat behind Natasha. She was simply just happy to be there with no specific interest in which seat she occupied.

“Give me your Minnie ears, myshka (little mouse), so they don’t fall off”, Natasha reminded you, removing her own so she could hold onto them while on the ride. “Are you nervous?” She asked quietly with a small smile on her face. You gave her a shy nod, unwilling to show the others that you were a little scared. “You’ll be alright. Just hold onto the safety bar. I’m right here behind you”, she hummed, squeezing your hand encouragingly before she sat down in her own wagon where she could no longer reach you from.

“This is going to be crazy!” Yelena exclaimed with her thick accent, her words making you laugh. Natasha glanced back at her little sister, pursing her lips slightly as she noted the gentle blush of excitement on Yelena’s round cheeks. That was truly a sight she had never even dared to dream of. The shuttle moved slowly forward, one of the workers testing the safety bars to make sure they were locked before the ride moved forward again. You glanced back at Natasha, a nervous, yet excited grin on your face.

You went through a small tunnel, the blue and white lights flashing in your face, accompanied by an odd sound. The train took a sudden turn to the right and started slowly climbing uphill, giving you a good opportunity to look at the space themed displays around you. Your stomach lurched violently once your surroundings turned dark with only occasional small lights and stars around you, the ride gaining sudden speed, throwing you around as it followed the tracks in the dark. You screamed so loud that Natasha could clearly hear you over all the other ruckus the ride was making, not sure if they were screams of joy or horror. It was possible that the darkness scared you, but Natasha was hoping you were able to find the fun in it. The ride seemed to go on into infinity, the bumpy road jostling you around more than you had expected, a bright red tunnel giving you a brief break from the ubiquitous darkness that was starting to scare you more than you wanted to admit, but thankfully you found light again soon after, a male voice announcing the shuttle’s arrival. Natasha heard the sigh that left from you, a pitying smile spreading on her lips. You poor thing.

The safety bars came up and you were freed from the ride, Cooper, Lila, Nathaniel, and Yelena laughing loudly as they climbed out, excited comments flying in the air as they all tried to talk at the same time. Natasha helped you out of the wagon, smiling softly as she placed your Minnie ears back on.

“I’m okay”, you announced, sounding slightly like you had peed your pants, the grip you had on Natasha’s hand telling her that your words might not have been as true as you wished them to be.

“That was pretty scary, wasn’t it?” She agreed, hoping to comfort you a little. You nodded, refusing to let go of her hand as you walked toward the exit.

“That was awesome!” Yelena groaned, walking past you with a huge grin on her face. It made you smile. You loved how she was so comfortable being childish and open like that. It made you forget that you were mostly surrounded by adults.

To lift your spirits up again Natasha found Mickey beignets to get you thoroughly excited again because how could you not be excited to taste those wonderfully delicious-looking beignets that Tiana made in Princess and the Frog. Wanda found herself yet another spot for baked goods, her hands seemingly never empty from a greasy and sugary treat. Every time Natasha saw her she had a different cake, churro, pie, or ice cream in her hand and was silently eating it as she observed her joy-filled surroundings. Natasha found it rather endearing, but she found it even more endearing whenever Wanda would offer her a bite or ask her or Steve to finish something she didn’t enjoy. It was ridiculously adorable how Wanda would rate each treat she got for herself, her style of enjoying the park rather reserved and peaceful, unlike you and Yelena’s.

Once charged up with sugar it was time to find more exhilarating rides for the day, your group breaking off into smaller groups according to everyone’s needs. The Barton kids were mostly in their own world, Laura and Clint utilizing their time by finding some of the more romantic spots, Tony and Pepper taking Morgan into the toddler-appropriate areas of the park while you stayed with Natasha, Wanda and Yelena who you forced into the rides with you, each taking turns. Steve and Sam disappeared into oblivion somehow at some point, probably going to look for things they found a bit more entertaining. You, Wanda, and Yelena were currently on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland, Natasha waiting patiently for your return beside a small food cart outside.

“Mommy! Look, it’s Natasha!” Natasha’s head whipped around to see where the sharp, little girl’s shout had come from, spotting a girl no more than five running toward her with an obvious plastic wig and a black bodysuit. She could do nothing but watch when the girl ran straight into her leg, hugging her tightly, Natasha feeling slightly confused.

“I am so sorry! Samara, get off the poor woman”, a young woman with two more kids commanded, hurrying up to her, looking thoroughly apologetic. “I’m so, so sorry. She’s obsessed with Black Widow. She’s been all over the place the whole day looking for her”, the woman explained, Natasha’s face softening.

“Don’t worry about it. I don’t mind. I can play along”, she assured her, gently prying the girl off her leg so she could crouch down before her.

“Oh, you don’t have to”, the woman countered immediately, clearly embarrassed by the interaction.

“It’s okay. I’ve got a little girl of my own”, Natasha explained, taking a look at Samara’s wild face that had a permanent grin plastered on it. She reminded Natasha of you, a fierce girl filled with light. She couldn’t help but to smile at her. “I love your costume. For a second I thought you were me”, she hummed playfully, Samara giggling shyly. “Look at those batons”, she marveled quietly, prompting her to turn around to show them to her.

“Wanna see how I beat up all the bad guys?” She inquired in excitement, pulling one of the weapons from her back with mild struggle because of the cheap material of the suit.

“Oh, absolutely”, Natasha nodded, pulling back to give Samara enough room to show her moves. She swung the baton like a sword, letting out a small grunt as she hit the air, aiming at an imaginary threat that was supposedly right in front of her. Natasha glanced at the mother, amused by the embarrassed look on her face before focusing back on Samara who was doing her very best to impress Natasha.

“Those were just a warm up”, she huffed.

“I can see that. You’re very skilled, agent. Good job”, Natasha praised with a small smile. Samara was very clearly a piece of work and Natasha could practically see how much havoc she wreaked at home and most likely at school as well.

“Thank you, Agent Romanoff”, Samara chirped, saluting Natasha. “Where are your weapons?”

“I’m undercover”, Natasha whispered secretively, bringing her forefinger to her lips. “Don’t tell anyone I’m here.” She winked at her, Samara giggling out of excitement.

“Alright, baby girl, Miss Romanoff has a mission to complete”, her mother stepped in, slyly stealing the girl’s attention.

“Shh, mommy it’s a secret”, Samara hissed angrily, making Natasha hide her chuckle.

“Once again, I’m so sorry”, the woman apologized, Natasha shaking her head to assure the woman once again that it was no problem for her.

“It was my pleasure.”

“You do share quite the resemblance to Romanoff”, the woman said, eyeing Natasha’s face carefully, her gaze moving to her vibrant hair.

“I’ll take that as a compliment”, she smirked in response, glancing at the exit of the ride after hearing some ruckus. “Oh, there comes my little rascal. It was nice meeting you. I hope you have a magical day”, Natasha said brightly, waving at the kids before moving toward the exit of the ride where you came from, running at full speed.

“Bye!” They both said in unison, Samara waving her hand aggressively at her.

“Mommy, I have to get one of those big drum sticks everyone’s got!” You announced immediately, Wanda and Yelena following you out. Natasha arched her brow.

“Turkey leg? Honey, I don’t think you’re gonna like it”, she reasoned but she could see from your face that you were more than determined to try.

“But everyone’s got one! Please, mommy, I promise I’ll eat every last crumb”, you whined, crossing your hands in a very typical manner of pleading.

“Every last crumb you say?” She gave you an inspecting look, knowing it was most likely not happening but she was curious about those giant turkey legs as well, choosing to give in to your request. It was a special day after all.

You moved on into Liberty Square where you rode a riverboat and went into the Haunted Mansion before finding your way into Frontierland that was decorated to resemble the Wild West. Your absolute favorites were the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as well as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure that left you speechless with references to your favorite characters and music. Next up was Adventureland where you explored the Swiss Family Treehouse and rode The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, followed by a Pirates of the Caribbean -themed ride. By the time you had scoured through the entirety of Adventureland you were starting to get tired, the late afternoon sun wearing you down. You stopped at Sunshine Tree Terrace to take a small break from all the walking, Natasha ordering herself an I Lava You -float that had passion fruit and strawberry paired with Dole whip and popping candy on top. You chose an orange and vanilla swirl cup while Yelena found herself a pineapple upside down cake from another small restaurant nearby, the delicious cake served with pineapple whip. Natasha ate at least half of the dessert, fighting with Yelena over who deserved more of the treat after Yelena had slurped up the top of Natasha’s soft serve. Wanda settled for a regular pineapple whip that she couldn’t get enough of, ordering another one to-go while you and her watched the two grown sisters argue over ice cream.

After your small break at the terrace you started to look for a restaurant to have lunch at, Natasha trying to figure out what you were craving as you attempted to continue nibbling on the turkey leg to convince her that you liked it. You had barely made a dent in it, the biggest bite marks left by Natasha when she had tasted some of the rich meat. You walked around, stopping by restaurants to see what they were serving and if everyone found something they liked on the menu, but most places seemed to be either smaller places for snacks or restaurants that simply didn’t interest you. After a while of looking you got distracted by the shops on Main Street, insisting on going to look at everything that they were selling for the second time that day. Somehow half of the day was already over, yet there was still an infinite amount of things to do and places to be. You found the idea distressing because you simply couldn’t be everywhere all at once, starting to feel upset by the exhausting excitement that you were constantly trying to contain.

“Do you think we could buy something to take home?” You asked hopefully, not expecting Natasha to agree at all because she had shot down most of your shopping suggestions from that day. Her gaze turned to you before glancing down at the glass statues you were looking at.

“I don’t see why not. It could be a fun, little memory alongside all the pictures we’ve taken”, she mused, walking closer to see if there was something specific on the shelf that you had been looking at.

“I think this is cool”, you hummed, pointing at one of the crystal princesses on the shelf, your smile fading rather quickly despite Natasha’s positive reaction to the beautiful sculpture.

“What is it, myshka (little mouse)?” She asked, pinching your Minnie ears playfully, immediately noticing the sorrowful look on your face.

“I don’t wanna go home”, you muttered quietly, looking away. You hadn’t had such fun probably ever in your life before and it made you sad to know that it would eventually have to come to an end. The fairs and carnivals you had been to didn’t even come close in comparison to the enormous theme park. Natasha offered you a small pout, empathizing with your feelings.

Solnishka (sunshine), we still have about seven hours left in the park. It’s not time to worry about leaving yet. We’ve got so much to do”, she reminded you, smiling softly, pulling you into her arms when she noticed the slight wobble of your lower lip. “Oh, baby”, she sighed quietly, squeezing you as tightly as she could. You were clearly tired, the long, emotion-filled day finally catching up to you. “This won’t be your last time. I promise we’ll come here again, and next time we can book an even longer vacation so we have time to visit the other parks as well”, she suggested, already having thought of doing that for your birthday but she couldn’t match everyone’s schedules for a longer trip and she had another mission coming up that week, so she had settled for a day-trip.

“Really?” You asked, immediately a little less upset, aggressively blinking back your tears so you wouldn’t cry in the middle of the shop.

“Yes, really. We can come here so often you never wanna see Main Street and that pink castle at the end of it ever again”, she teased, coaxing out a laugh from you as you leaned back into her embrace. “Now, why don’t you choose yourself a sculpture to bring home with us and we’ll go find the boys? They said they’ve found a good place for lunch”, she encouraged you, kissing your forehead before letting you go back to the beautiful pieces of art.

Finally, after you were about to dramatically collapse on the streets from exhaustion Yelena picked you up to carry you on her back, bringing you to the restaurant the boys had praised in the group chat, Friar’s Nook located all the way back in Fantasyland where apparently Tony and Pepper also were. You didn’t bother to find them, your rumbling stomach too acute to waste your time on searching for them on the busy streets, Natasha making the call to find you all a place to sit and relax in while you recharged yourselves. She ordered you Creamy Bacon and Mac & Cheese Tots after getting the thumbs up from you, Yelena ordering the same after hearing the words Mac & Cheese, Wanda getting herself The Wild Toad Brat Burger. Natasha decided not to order anything for herself because she was still holding the turkey leg in her hand and she wasn’t that hungry to begin with. Instead, she took a French toasted cold brew to cool herself down with, planning on stealing some of your tots.

You spent over an hour in the restaurant, lounging around and talking about your day with Steve and Sam while you and Yelena stuffed your faces with the Mac & Cheese tots, Wanda and Natasha watching it unfold with great amusem*nt. It came to Natasha as no surprise that Wanda struggled to finish her burger, Wanda sheepishly offering it to Natasha after she had eaten half of the burger and nibbled on some fries. Natasha had been right not to order anything for herself, the turkey leg and the remains of Wanda’s meal enough to satisfy the inkling of hunger inside her. After lunch you all decided to go find the Starks since they were exploring what the Alice in Wonderland -themed section of the park had to offer. Tony suggested that you would go on Mad Tea Party with Morgan and him, Wanda off to find what kind of treats Cheshire Café sold.

“Oh, the cups, they spin!” You exclaimed in excitement, your hands moving the middle piece inside the teacup. You and Yelena’s gazes met, her hands finding the wheel as well. The ride hadn’t started yet, your cup slowly gaining more speed as you and Yelena did your very best to make it go as fast as possible.

“Go faster!” Yelena whined, Morgan giggling uncontrollably at the funny feeling, Tony unable to tear his eyes off her. An airy, female voice gave some final instructions for the guests before music started playing and the cups began to move. “Go, go, go!”

“I’m going!” You giggled back as you both continued to spin the wheel, the movement of the carousel increasing in speed, the cups moving in various different directions. There was a lot of laughing and screaming, the teacup finally reaching its speed limit, all of you unable to see anything but each other in the intense blur that the motion of the cup created. It was beyond fun to be thrown around by the ride, even Morgan seeming enamored by the speed as Tony held her tightly in his arms making sure she was safe and secure. He had a wide grin on his face, his eyes not moving away from his daughter’s overjoyed smile once during the ride.

When you finally exited the teacups the world spun in your vision so harshly that you were stumbling forward on the concrete to find your way back to Natasha, Yelena recovering much better than you were.

“Woah, that’s a pole!” Yelena shouted suddenly, yanking you away from a street sign before you had the chance to walk right into it. You couldn’t help but to giggle along with her, grabbing her hand for support.

“Mommy, you have to go on the cups too!” You exclaimed, thinking you had seen Natasha somewhere ahead of you, but when Yelena yanked you to the right you realized that you had yelled at someone else. You felt Natasha’s hands on your cheeks, her face appearing in your line of sight as your eyes slowly adjusted back to normal. You were practically able to feel the way they rolled back into place like in cartoons.

“Are you sure you can handle it?” Natasha asked in amusem*nt, unable to hold back her smile at seeing your face.

“Yes!”

The ride was just as fun the second time around, Natasha’s added strength allowing the cup to spin even faster, your body squished up against hers as gravity pulled you tightly into the back of the seat. You wanted to go one more time before the lunch that sat in your stomach started to churn as a sign for you to slow down.

“Guys, you have to try this”, Wanda insisted the second you had rejoined her, Tony, Pepper and Morgan. You eyed the pastry in Wanda’s hand curiously as she split it into bite-sized pieces, each piece floating in the air around her. She wasn’t supposed to use magic in public like that unless she wanted a herd of kids and weirdos after her, but she was too excited and her hands were too full.

“You don’t want any?” Natasha asked, welcoming her own sample of the treat, confused about Wanda giving the whole pastry to the others to share.

“No, that’s the fourth one I’ve bought. You can have it all”, she chuckled, holding a Merry Unbirthtday Cupcake in her hand, a hot tea floating beside the other to at least make it look like she might have been holding it if someone saw her from afar.

“Fourth? You’re really going to town on these things”, Natasha chuckled, bringing the flaky pastry with colorful icing on top to her lips, taking a bite.

“Where did you get these?” Yelena asked immediately around the bite of food, Natasha shooting her a look for speaking with her mouth full.

“Mommy, I want my own”, you said in excitement, the vanilla creme decorating the corners of your mouth.

“Then we better get you your own”, she hummed, licking the crumbs of puff pastry off her lips. You continued to explore Fantasyland with the bigger group, finding your way back to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

“Honey, don’t run”, Natasha reminded you but her words held no weight when Yelena sprinted past you faster than on a battlefield.

“Last one in the line is an egghead!” She exclaimed, Natasha shaking her head in disbelief, watching you sprint after Yelena whilst giggling loudly.

“Oh, look, they have hot fudge sundaes!” Natasha heard Wanda cheer quietly, turning around to see her heading for yet another snack restaurant.

“How have you not thrown up yet?” Natasha inquired in shock, taking a bite of the turkey leg that she was still carrying.

“I have no clue, but I’m hoping for the best”, she chuckled. “I’ve gotta taste that sundae”, she mused, walking closer to the small line the place had as if in a trance to get there.

“Get me a spoon, I’m stealing some”, Natasha hummed, dropping her bag to the ground so she could wait for you and Yelena to return, switching the turkey leg for Morgan who had been in Tony’s arms, hugging the child tightly.

“Hi, baby”, she cooed, kissing Morgan’s cheek. “What have you been up to, little stinker?” She asked quietly, Morgan giggling as she grasped Natasha’s shirt.

“Pooh”, she mumbled.

“You saw Winnie the Pooh?”

“We saw Pooh. And- and Tigger!” Morgan continued.

“We met them near Crystal Palace and she got scared. She cried”, Tony elaborated in amusem*nt, Morgan simply laughing for no reason at all.

“Well, they can be pretty scary. They’re so big next to a little squirt like you”, Natasha reasoned, tickling her under the chin to hear that chortle of a laugh that was so typical for toddlers.

“Yelena!” Your sharp voice sounded from the gates of the ride, everyone’s attention turning toward you. “Wait for me!” You cried, running after her through the entrance gates for a second round of the Mine Train.

“She really is one with the children”, Pepper mused with a slight smirk on her face, Natasha rolling her eyes in good nature.

“Comes in handy with Y/N. That girl’s got energy for days”, she chuckled, watching Tony take a bite of the turkey leg.

“How long have you had this?” He asked in mild confusion, his brow arching at the cold, dry meat.

“We bought it hours ago from somewhere around here”, she admitted, making Tony cringe.

You and Yelena went on the Mine Train so many times in a row that you lost count, eventually demanding Natasha to come with you to enjoy the fun and fast ride that you couldn’t get enough of. There were a couple of other rides you went on and a parade that you got to watch together. You loved all the music and dancing, mesmerized by the beautiful costumes and wagons that slowly moved forward on the streets. Donald Duck, who was walking between the cars, came to greet you, ruffling your hair before giving Natasha a high five. Morgan seemed rather scared, hiding her face into Pepper’s neck to avoid seeing the white fluffy duck that was twice the size of a regular human being.

The sun started to lower down from the sky, functioning as a cue for you to head to the restaurant Natasha had reserved for the night. She had chosen Be Our Guest in the hopes of fine dining in the main ballroom, the entire family needing a moment to rest before watching the nightly fireworks. The restaurant was absolutely gorgeous and beautifully decorated to match the theme of Beauty and the Beast, a giant chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the dim ballroom that had a very inviting atmosphere to it. The ceiling had a large mural on it, tall windows displaying a dark and snowy scenery outside, Beast himself coming to greet the guests during the dinner. The pre-fixed three course meals were much fancier than what you were accustomed to, consisting of things like Charcuterie board, French onion soup, Escargot de Bourgogne, Trout Amandine, Filet Mignon, and cake with lemon curd on it. Half of the menu items you couldn’t even pronounce, or at least not before you had read them over and over again, making sure you were reading them correctly. You didn’t dislike the food at all but it was definitely filled to the brim with new. You could have chosen from the kids’ menu, but you wanted to feel like you were older, desperately wanting to fit in with everyone else, Morgan and Nathaniel the only ones who got the kids’ menu.

You noticed that the adults seemed to enjoy everything quite thoroughly, the special meats and fancy sauces receiving a lot of praise from everyone except Tony and Pepper who were the experts of fine-dining and had somehow eaten even better food in other even more expensive places. Natasha asked you how you were liking the food because she could tell you were pretending to enjoy the smoked tomato Bernaise sauce on your plate and trying to convince everyone that you weren’t put off by the medium rare filet mignon. You told her that you liked it regardless, not wanting to hurt her feelings even though you had chosen the food for yourself. Uninterested in your meal and unable to follow the adult conversation, you struggled to remain up to speed with the things they were discussing, your attention shifting to Beast who was walking around a few tables from you. He eventually came to greet you, offering to shake your hand. He didn’t speak, but did a small bow before continuing his walk around the dining hall. Thankfully, dessert didn’t disappoint you, the macaron, Grey Stuff, truffle, and cake enough to make you forget about your upsetting entrée.

By the time you got out of the restaurant all you needed to do was find a proper place to see the fireworks from. The square in front of the castle was already packed with people waiting for the fireworks to begin, twinkling lights everywhere illuminating your surroundings, the sky having turned a deep navy blue during your time dining. The fireworks were the perfect way to end your night, the gorgeous lightshow the most impressive firework show you had seen in your life, every single New Years’ show coming second compared to the impressive display of lights of multiple colors.

“That was insane! Mommy, did you see?” You cried in excitement as you were walking down Main Street to exit the park. “Oh my gosh!”

“Yes, honey, I was right behind you”, she chuckled, brushing her hand down your back affectionately.

“How did they do that? How do they know when to light them up?” You asked, your voice hasty, struggling to conceal your amazement over the show.

“Hmm, I’m not sure. They probably have some sort of mechanism that allows them to time each launch”, she mused, pulling you a bit closer to squeeze you both through a group of people standing around on the street.

“Imagine if there was just one guy running around lighting them up as fast as possible”, you giggled, turning to Tony when he started speaking, sharing his thoughts on how they had organized the fireworks.

“Nat, are you still carrying the turkey leg?” Yelena asked in disbelief, glancing down at the half-eaten drumstick.

“Oh, yeah”, she huffed in amusem*nt, waving the meat toward her. “It’s yours if you want it. Y/N’s certainly not eating it.” Yelena grabbed the turkey leg from Natasha, the latter giving her an appalled look. “Don’t eat it.” She said in a warning tone, Yelena just smirking as she bit into the turkey. “Well, it’s your food positing”, Natasha sighed, Yelena laughing quietly.

“If it just had some more sauce this would be great”, she reasoned, Natasha shaking her head slightly before shoving Yelena playfully.

Durak (idiot).”

“Mom, wait!” Natasha halted at your voice, turning around to see that Clint and Nathaniel had stopped by the corner of a large building decorated with lights, Starks, Sam and Steve, Laura, Cooper, and Lila walking past you, wearing tired looks on their faces. Natasha gave them an empathetic frown.

“We’ll see you at the hotel. Go get some rest”, she suggested, brushing her hand over Lila’s cheek. “I hope you had fun”, she hummed, ruffling Cooper's hair affectionately, Laura offering a smile to her.

“See you at the hotel, unless we pass out in our beds”, Laura chuckled, waving goodbye as she followed the stream of people out of the park, Morgan looking over Pepper’s shoulder, waving at Natasha who couldn’t help but wave back.

“What did you find this time?” Natasha asked you teasingly, poking your sides to make you squeal.

“Clint promised to get Nate custom candy popcorn and I want some too”, you explained, glancing at the Main Street Confectionery that was flooded with people buying last minute treats to take home.

“Custom candy popcorn”, Natasha repeated evenly. “Haven’t you had enough treats today, young lady?” She inquired, shooting you an inspecting look, receiving a sheepish grin from you.

“Yes, but this is custom made!” You reasoned brightly. “Yelka will buy me if you won’t”, you countered hastily. “Won’t you, Yelena? Coolest aunt ever”, you pleaded, giving her your puppy eyes to really put a show on.

“You are impossible”, Natasha scoffed in amusem*nt, but you both knew you were getting away with it because of the special day.

“Hear that? Coolest aunt ever”, Yelena flaunted, walking past Natasha to grab your hand. “We’re going to make custom popcorn”, she informed, heading for the door of the shop, Clint and Natasha sharing looks before following in your footsteps.

“Is that Wanda?” Nathaniel asked suddenly, peering inside through the windows.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it was”, Natasha laughed, knowing that if any one of them was going to be in a confectionery it was going to be Wanda with her incessant sweet-tooth and search for new flavor experiences.

You got your candy popcorn, adding all the toppings and sauces you were craving for onto the buttery popcorn, Wanda exiting the shop with a large box of treats to take to the hotel. Your feet ached, your lower back screaming for mercy from all the walking. Your head hurt and you felt like crying upon exiting through the gates when you realized that you would have to make it to the hotel in order to get to bed. You were far too tired and so was Nathaniel, both of you stumbling slowly forward, Clint and Natasha trying to encourage you to walk a bit faster, both of them thoroughly worn down as well, yet somehow Wanda and Yelena were still standing straight, laughing together as they ate Yelena’s caramel and white chocolate popcorn that was topped with M&Ms, crushed Oreos, and chopped Twix bars.

There was no better feeling than when you were finally able to collapse into bed, Natasha carefully removing your skirt, Minnie ears and pants so that you wouldn’t have to sleep in the dirty clothes, receiving a quiet whine from you when she went to remove your grimy shirt, but once it was off you, you were out like a light, Natasha showering in peace before climbing into bed with you. She didn’t go to sleep right away, staying up beside you as if watching over you, tears filling her eyes when she thought about the day that was now behind you. She couldn’t believe the things she had managed to do with you that day, unable to imagine what it was like to be so lucky to have a childhood like yours. She was proud of herself for being able to provide for you in such quantity and quality, feeling like a part of herself was healing as she brushed her hand over your hair, subtly trying to untangle some of the strands. You were the luckiest baby on earth and she had made sure of that. She was always going to make sure that you had it all, for as long as life allowed it she was going to give you all.

Notes:

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, including Natasha <3

Chapter 32: Into the woods

Notes:

This chapter is based on a prompt from @macaronitaco , thank you so much for the inspiration!

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

“Hey, have you seen Y/N?” Natasha asked Wanda, entering the communal spaces to find her and Clint in the living room.

“Uh, she was in the kitchen a while back, but she got what she needed and left”, Wanda replied from the couch, curled up into a ball under a blanket, a book in her hands.

“Hm, she must’ve gone back to the apartment then”, Natasha mused, clearly deep in thought. “Let me know if you run into her”, she added, Clint and Wanda nodding in unison.

Natasha knew you had left the apartment after asking if there was an extra jar of peanut butter in the pantry, but you were low on groceries so Natasha had told you to check the communal kitchen. It had been an hour since you left but you hadn’t come back yet. Natasha wasn’t worried about you by any means, you walked around the compound as you pleased all the time. The only places you weren’t allowed were the ones that had anything to do with weaponry. You knew not to enter those spaces without adult supervision and Natasha had full trust that you wouldn’t go against her word because she had made it very clear to you just how horrible the consequences could be. She headed back home, deciding to get some chores done while you were out of the way. Maybe she could even have some alone time on the living room couch.

Natasha started off with laundry, tackling the huge mountain of clothes that had piled up over time, changing all the bed sheets before turning on the vacuum to get rid of all the dust bunnies that lurked in the corners of the apartment. She even tidied up your room a bit so it would look less like a hurricane had torn everything up. Once she got into the flow of it she no longer minded the small additional tasks that she picked up on during her cleaning process. She finished the list of chores with cleaning the bathrooms, leaving a couple windows open to ventilate the apartment while she headed for the kitchen to find herself a snack. When her hand reached for the cabin with an empty jar of peanut butter on the lowest shelf she realized to look at the clock. You had been gone for nearly three hours, having disappeared without saying a word. Natasha frowned, tossing the bread back into its basket, deciding that maybe knowing her child’s whereabouts was more important than the snack she was craving.

“Friday? Where’s Y/N?”

“Miss Romanoff left the building two and a half hours ago”, the mechanical voice announced, Natasha’s brows shooting up into her hairline.

“She what? Is she outside in the yard?”

“No, it seems that she’s left the premises”, Friday responded, Natasha standing still for a moment, trying to process the information.

“Do you know where she’s gone? Why would she leave without saying anything? She knows she’s not supposed to leave without informing me”, she rambled on, her question turning into her pondering the situation out loud, Friday forgotten.

“My apologies, I do not have that information”, the AI lamented as Natasha headed out the door. Where could you have gone? It wasn’t unusual for you to go outside to play, but it was unusual for you to not say anything about it. Deciding that it was too early to freak out, Natasha exited the back entrance of the compound, finding the vast field of grass where you had all the room to play around with whatever you came up with. She did an overall scan of the yard, unable to detect anything that would have indicated that you were present. There were toys littered around, but none of them looked like they had been used in the past couple days.

“Y/N?” She shouted, cupping her hands over her mouth to make her voice carry better. There was a slight echo, but no response. She waited for a good while, shouting your name again in the hopes of coaxing you out from whatever hiding place you had found. She walked around the compound, going over the entire area you had permission to access despite Friday’s words. She refused to believe that you had willingly gone against her word and entered the large gravel road that led to the compound or, god forbid, entered the infinite woods around it.

Natasha could feel herself grow restless the longer she looked for you, fighting her maternal urge to avoid making it into a big deal, but her child was missing and she had not the slightest clue to where you could have gone. She was meant to be level headed, calculated and smart, but all that flew out the window when she felt the worry flood her chest. Natasha dug up her phone from the back pocket of her jeans, calling the entire team through the family group chat to reach as many of them as possible. Steve was the first to pick up.

“Hey, Nat”, he greeted her, squinting at the screen. He was outside, the sun that was starting to get low, peeking from behind his head.

“Hi, have you seen Y/N?” She asked immediately, Wanda joining the call with a frown, knowing Natasha never called the group chat because she thought it was sappy and stupid.

“What’s wrong?” Wanda asked hesitantly.

“Have you seen Y/N?” Natasha repeated, a slight frown on her face despite her attempts at hiding it.

“No… is everything okay?”

“She didn’t say anything to you, didn’t mention going somewhere?” Natasha continued, Wanda arching her brow.

“She’s ten. Where would she be going?” She asked in genuine confusion.

“I’ve been gone all day. I have no idea. I’m sorry”, Steve hummed, looking away from the camera as if trying to think of anything that could help.

“I can’t find her and Friday said she’s left the premises”, Natasha explained just as Clint joined on the call.

“Left premises? Why would she leave the premises?” He asked in confusion, having caught the last of her words.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out”, Steve replied, his gaze turning back to the screen. Wanda’s camera was shaky as she left her apartment, presumably yanking on her shoes by the sound of it.

“Who’s left the premises?” Tony’s voice sounded, his face popping onto the screen.

“Y/N”, they all replied in unison, Natasha’s hand coming up to her forehead in frustration.

“Can you guys come look for her? I’m starting to get worried. It’s been hours”, she sighed heavily, walking back toward one of the entrances of the building, not knowing what else to do.

“I’m on my way”, Wanda huffed, clearly hurrying down a flight of stairs. “I’ll be right there”, she added before she ended the call.

“Me too. I’ll send drones into the woods, okay?” Tony said, sounding rather hopeful that he was going to find you.

“I can’t make it. I’m in Brooklyn, but please keep me posted”, Steve informed, Natasha nodding in understanding.

“Hopefully we won’t need your help”, she mused quietly, desperately praying that you were right around the corner somewhere.

“Hey, what’s up guys? What are we doing?” Sam asked brightly, completely clueless, his smile wiped away by the grim looks on everyone’s faces.

“Just come outside, we’ll explain there”, Clint said, earning a nod from Natasha.

“Bye”, she mumbled, ending the call as she bit down on her lip, searching for a way to ease her anxiety. You were just fine. She could feel it in her gut. You were safe and okay, and she was just overreacting. It wasn’t like you were three years old anymore. You could spend a few hours alone, unsupervised, and in the woods. Natasha fought the uneasiness that twisted in her stomach, her frown only deepening. No, you could not do that because what if a bear ate you, or you ran into some crazy person living in the woods, or fell into a creek, or stepped onto a snake who would swallow you whole in revenge.

“I can’t feel her mind around here”, Wanda said softly, Natasha turning to look at her, letting out a heavy sigh at the news. “But that doesn’t mean much. I’m sure she’s somewhere near”, she assured Natasha, brushing her hand down her shoulder. “She’s a smart girl.” Natasha knew that, but it was very much possible that someone smarter than you was lurking in the woods and was out to get you, at least in her mind.

They all headed into the woods, shouting your name, doing their best to cover as much ground as possible, Tony’s drones scanning the area for any heat waves that could reveal your location. Wanda listened actively for your mind, her telekinesis poking around, trying to find something other than the active minds of birds, squirrels, and mice. Sam and Clint stuck to more traditional ways of searching, shouting your name as they ploughed through the shrubs looking for any signs of you. Had you been anywhere nearby, you should have been able to hear their voices and Wanda should have been able to locate your mind, but every single asset they had came up short. You were nowhere to be found and the farther Natasha walked into the woods the more afraid she became. It wasn’t normal, it wasn’t okay, and she sure as hell wasn’t overreacting anymore.

“Something’s wrong”, she mumbled in a breathy voice, Clint turning to look at her, the others farther away from them.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because we should have found her by now”, she replied grimly, halting in her steps to take a look at the beautiful woods that shone a light green and yellow where the setting sun peeked through the trees. “Maybe she’s not here at all. Maybe she’s home. I hope she’s home, looking for us”, she mused quietly, her chest feeling heavy from anxiety.

“I’ll call Steve to see if he’s back yet. Keep looking. She’ll turn up from somewhere”, Clint said encouragingly, patting Natasha’s back as he dug up his phone to dial Steve’s number.

“Y/N!” She shouted again, the woods repeating her words in a faint echo, her voice wavering at the end. She was starting to lose hope, the very worst outcomes popping into her head every time she looked behind a tree stump, a rock, or under a bush, the visual of finding your dead body from somewhere, whether it was mauled by an animal or injured by nature, making her shiver. She shook her head abruptly, doing her best to rid herself of the gruesome images, focusing back on scouring through the grounds.

“She’s not home, Steve’s gonna come search for her as well”, Clint informed, his gaze rising up from his phone to see Natasha’s frown of anguish. “Look”, he started softly, taking a couple of steps to get closer to her. “It’s gonna be alright. Kid’s probably playing in a bush or something, completely in her own world. It happens sometimes”, he reasoned, but he could see from Natasha’s defensive stance that she was not buying a single word.

“So do kidnappings. It wouldn’t be the first time”, she countered bitterly, staring ahead to avoid what she was feeling, not allowing Clint’s face to elicit a single emotion in her.

“Natasha, you’re being unreasonable. No one is coming to get her. It’s been years since the incident. Who would come after her?”

“Not her, me”, she corrected in a quiet grunt, giving him a look. “There’s plenty of people who have unfinished business with me.”

“How many?” He asked in slight disbelief.

“Enough.” She looked away from him again, pursing her lips as she cast her eyes down. “The widows can’t be freed. There’s always someone who wants a piece of you, someone who wants to claim you”, she explained, her voice low, reserved.

“Even outside the Red Room?”

“Especially outside”, she confirmed, their eyes meeting for a moment. Clint looked apologetic, unsure of how to respond, but it seemed like she was starting to convince him as well. Feeling slightly uncomfortable, Natasha took a few steps back, turning away to shout your name again. It echoed in the woods, followed by another echo from elsewhere, the lower voice register suggesting it to be Steve’s. She tried again, and so did Clint, the infinite forest seeming to swallow down any attempt at being loud. Natasha sighed again, closing her eyes to reign in her emotions. What if you were lost? She felt lost, even though she knew exactly where she was and how to get back. She couldn’t even imagine how it felt to you.

“Y/N!”

“Mom?”

Natasha’s eyes flashed open, her face turning to Clint as if to confirm that she had really heard right. He didn’t seem fazed by anything, frowning softly, looking for an explanation to Natasha’s shocked expression. He was about to open his mouth when she brought her finger to her lips, telling him to remain quiet. Her hands moved in a quick sign to ask him if he had heard anything. Clint shook his head. They both stood still, waiting patiently for the sound to come again. He tapped her shoulder gently to gain her attention, the movement of his hands flowing naturally as he signed her a question, asking what she had heard, Natasha responding with what she knew. He suggested that she should try again, nudging his head as a way to gesture to her to go for it.

“Y/N! Where are you?”

“Mom?”

Those same wide eyes turned to Clint again, this time receiving a confirming nod from him. He had heard your voice as well. Natasha started to move toward the sound as if drawn in by a siren, Clint following suit as he brought his hand to his ear, switching on the comm that was almost always in his ear.

“I think we found her”, he informed the others triumphantly, hastening his pace to keep up with Natasha.

“About time”, Tony groaned.

“Oh, thank god. I was getting worried”, Wanda moaned in relief.

“Y/N-honey, can you shout again?” Natasha asked loudly, impatiently waiting for your voice to sound again to determine which direction to head to.

“I see her. Nat, go a bit more to the left”, Tony instructed, Natasha nearly breaking into a run.

“Mom, what are you doing here?” You asked in confusion when she appeared from behind a large rock, finally discovering your hiding place. She wore a worried frown on her face, having convinced herself that you sounded scared or otherwise disturbed but you were completely fine. She studied the set up you had, a large blanket spread over the moss of the forest floor beneath a sturdy oak tree, Tootsie sitting beside you with a tea cup filled to the brim with juice. You sat there with your legs crossed, your fingers covered in the jam that was oozing out of your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a bewildered look on your face, unable to understand what all the fuss was about.

“Hey, there you are”, Clint huffed in relief, a smile spreading on his lips at the sight of the interrupted tea party.

“No, what the hell are you doing here?” Natasha asked angrily, a small frown etching its way onto your features as you lowered down the sandwich in your hands. “We’ve been looking for you for god knows how long!” She chimed, but all you could do was look at her as you thought about the way you had left the building, slowly realizing you hadn’t told anyone anything.

“Oh, why were we not invited”, Sam lamented as he and Tony entered the scene, Wanda floating down from the treetops.

“She’s okay”, Wanda hummed quietly, a soft smile on her face as she placed a gentle hand on Natasha’s rigid shoulder. “She’s okay”, she whispered in emphasis, sensing very strongly the trepidation that beamed from Natasha’s demeanor. Wanda squeezed her bicep firmly, Natasha’s head turning to face her, her brows softening at the little tilt of Wanda’s head. “Now is not the time to be angry”, she whispered in empathy, reminding her to focus on the good.

“You’re all here”, you stated in confusion, watching Steve emerge from behind the trees.

“We thought you were lost”, Clint explained, unable to wipe the small smirk off his face. He was just too relieved by the sight of your little picnic.

“Oh, no. I wasn’t lost. I marked the trees so I could find my way back”, you explained, digging up blue chalk from your backpack, showing the pale colored piece to everyone.

“No one thought to check the tree trunks?” Sam asked in disbelief, Tony wiping a hand down his face in mild annoyance at the slip up, Wanda attempting to bite back her smile because there really wasn’t anything funny about it. You could have been lost or seriously hurt, but she was more than glad to know you were completely okay.

“It’s not my fault you’re all dumb”, you huffed, starting to feel embarrassed for the scene you had caused, your cheeks heating up in shame as you set the bread down and licked your fingers clean before pulling Tootsie into your arms for comfort.

“We’ll talk about this later, okay baby?” Natasha hummed, walking closer to you, kneeling down to the blanket. “Thank you everyone for the help.” She turned to look at the others, offering them a slight nod of her head. She was truly more than grateful for the way they had instantly jumped into action and started looking for you, deeming that she should find a proper way to truly show them how much it meant to her.

“We’ll see you at dinner, right doll?” Steve asked knowingly, earning a firm nod from you. It felt a bit awkward to watch everyone slowly retreat from your cozy playing spot, knowing that you had bothered all of them with your little trick. You offered them a small wave of your hand, your eyes turning to your mother, shame swallowing you whole.

“I’m sorry”, you whispered, casting your eyes down to look at the grass. “Please don’t be mad. I didn’t mean to. I just forgot”, you explained hastily, hoping for Natasha to understand that you hadn’t disappeared on purpose.

Malyshka (baby)…” She sighed heavily.

“Mommy, I know”, you whined desperately.

“Do you? You did both of the things I tell you every day not to do. Do you even realize how far away we are from the compound?” Her tone was berating, filled with frustration.

“I don’t know, like a mile”, you huffed in annoyance, not really comprehending how much a mile was supposed to be. It was just a unit that was commonly used when describing distance.

“We’re three miles away (5km)”, Natasha retorted.

“Well…”

“Have you been here before?” She asked, your face giving away nothing for a brief moment, Natasha arching her brow. She recognized that blank look from her own face, slightly impressed by how well you did it. “Y/N”, she said pointedly, a hint of warning in her voice.

“No!” You huffed in defense, Natasha co*cking her head, her eyes finding your own.

“Don’t try to lie to me.”

“Not here”, you mumbled, accepting your fate and telling her the truth. You didn’t exactly dare to lie to her, not seriously at least.

“You’ve been going out into the woods?” She inquired, doing her best to keep her voice even and to reign in the fear that often tried to come out in flashes of anger.

“Sometimes… yeah”, you admitted hesitantly. “I just wanted an adventure”, you murmured, pulling out a book that was on Tootsie’s side of the blanket, Natasha’s eyes landing on a book of fairytales. “I thought I could find something cool here”, you added quietly, clearly embarrassed for the way you had behaved. Natasha remained quiet for a moment, calming down her mind before opening her mouth to speak.

“Did you find anything cool?” She asked with a small smirk, your surprised eyes turning to her. You seemed to pause for a moment as if making sure she was being serious, but when you saw her soft smile and curious eyes you felt the nerves start to ebb away.

“Yeah, I found loads of stuff”, you said in sudden excitement, discarding Tootsie to the side to pull up your backpack. You dug a large stone from its depths, handing the perfectly round, gray rock to her. It was the size of the palm of her hand, Natasha testing its weight as she studied the dirty surface.

“That’s quite something”, she mused, doing her best to look impressed by your findings, a wide grin forming on your lips.

“I don’t know how it’s so round. Do you?”

“No, honey I’m not sure. Could be the result of erosion”, she replied, receiving the second piece of treasure you had collected. It was a huge pine cone that had spread its scales as wide as they would go.

“What’s erosion? Isn’t it cool?” You asked right after, making sure Natasha was really taking a good look at the pine cone.

“Didn’t I just help you with your geography homework about erosion?”

“Oh, that, yeah”, you mumbled, immediately losing interest in the phenomenon, continuing to empty the backpack.

“Woah, back up. What was that?” Natasha asked suddenly, her eyes focused on your hand that had pulled out a pocket knife that looked awfully familiar. You handed the hunting knife to Natasha with a sheepish look on your face.

“It’s for defense”, you quipped, Natasha giving you a sly look, impressed by your concern for safety.

“You stole this from my room?”

“Well, cause you never use it”, you started defensively, doing your best to avoid any more chastising for the day, but Natasha didn’t seem angry with you, a small smile on her face.

“You know how to use it?”

“Yeah, I cut a twig in half”, you announced proudly, pulling out said stick from your backpack.

“And cut your finger in the process?” She asked in mild amusem*nt, noticing a thin red line on your forefinger. It wasn’t deep, a mere scratch.

“No”, you giggled, hiding the hand from her, Natasha giving you a knowing look.

“I won’t let you carry it if you don’t know how to use it”, she said softly. “Show me how you would attack.” You looked at her, slightly appalled by her request, but you showed her regardless, holding the knife in your hand, the sharp end pointing down to the ground, the blade toward your forearm. You brought the hand up, swinging it forward gently, not really putting much effort into it because you were just demonstrating. “Very good. Efficient”, she praised, nodding along as you stabbed the air again. “Come here, myshka”, she beckoned, pulling you a bit closer, her hand pushing down on the dull side of the blade, gently pressing it back until the blade rested against your bare wrist. “See that? You could really hurt yourself. How do you fix that?” She asked with a certain softness in her voice to avoid sounding like there was something incorrect in what you were doing.

You seemed to ponder her question for quite a while, not really knowing what the right answer was despite knowing that there was one. You changed the way you were holding the knife, flipping the hilt around to bring the blade up and away from your wrist, mimicking a typical slicing movement, holding the knife like you were about to cut vegetables.

“Another good choice, but not quite as sturdy as the one you had before”, Natasha noted, using her hand to gently knock the knife out of your grip. “You want to keep the support of your arm behind that blade.” She brought the knife back to its starting position, prompting you to try again. “How would you hurt me when the knife is positioned like that?” That’s when it clicked for you, a smile cracking onto your lips as you spun the blade around, the sharp edge toward Natasha. “Excellent. Most times this one is the best way to hold a knife to both get more strength in your attack as well as to protect yourself better”, she explained in excitement, always happy to share self-defense skills with you, although that wasn’t the only reason she liked to teach you to fight. She had always been good at fighting. It was something she thrived at, and she truly appreciated it whenever you showed even an ounce of interest in her skills, glad to pass down any knowledge she had gained during her lifetime.

“We should train with knives sometimes”, you mused, studying the range of motion you had with your new grip on the knife. Natasha was slightly surprised, but more than adamant to make it happen. You were starting to be old enough for more than just combat.

“Do you really want to?” She asked, carefully taking the knife from you and folding the blade back in.

“Yeah, I wanna use all the weapons”, you chuckled, Natasha’s laugh echoing yours as she pulled you in to kiss the top of your head.

“I’m really glad you’re okay”, she said suddenly, refusing to pull away from the side hug you had found yourself in. You moved your arm across her abdomen, allowing her to hug you better.

“Of course I’m okay”, you huffed, clearly unaware of every single possibility Natasha had imagined while searching for you. She rolled her eyes in good nature.

“I know you think you’re old enough, Little Miss Independent, but you’re not. You need to tell me where you’re going and what you’re doing so that I can keep you safe, understand?” She began, her tone growing more serious. She felt your head move against her shoulder as you nodded slowly. “Look at me, honey”, she ordered softly, prompting you to look up to face her. “You really scared me today”, she admitted quietly, giving herself some room to actually feel the fear that had nearly taken control of her during your search.

“I’m sorry”, you whispered, a slight pout appearing on your lips. “I didn’t mean to.”

“I know, angel, I know. I just… you’re my baby”, she sighed heavily, squeezing you tighter. “And I worry for you”, she hummed, her lips finding your forehead to kiss. “There’s a lot of bad people in this world and I would hate for you to have to run into them because I wasn’t careful enough”, she whispered, brushing back some of your hair. “You can play in the woods, but not without my permission and not without your cell phone. We can even come here together if that’s what you’d like, but safety comes first, okay?” She peered down at your face to see if her message had gone through, a firm nod from you confirming her that you understood.

“Okay”, you echoed evenly, nuzzling a little closer to her for more comfort.

“Don’t ever pull a stunt like this again. You need to tell me, or Steve, or Wanda, anyone at home, if you decide to leave the premises of the compound. Even Friday will do if you’re in that much of a hurry, but I would really prefer it if you informed me, so that I know what to expect.” You could only nod in agreement. “Promise me that you won’t do this again”, she added, pulling back properly to see you fully.

“I promise”, you whispered, clearly ashamed of your actions. “I’m sorry, mom”, you lamented, Natasha’s lips cracking into a comforting smile.

“You’re forgiven, dorogaya”, she assured you encouragingly, pulling you back into her warm embrace, squeezing you until you let out a theatrical groan, pretending that she was crushing you with her incredible strength. It made her laugh, the sound of her chuckle tickling your ear as she only hugged you tighter, peppering little kisses in your hair.

“We don’t have to go home yet, right?” You asked hopefully, pulling back to see her face again, Natasha’s brow arching slightly. She looked around her in the glowing forest, the color of the leaves only emphasized by the intensity of the setting sun. It was silent around you, excluding the rustle of the wind and the lively birds that wouldn’t stop singing. It was perfectly serene and Natasha didn’t have to guess twice why you liked to spend your time in the silence of the forest.

“You got another one of those sandwiches for mama?” She inquired playfully, a huge grin spreading on your lips as you turned to your backpack again, pulling out a triangle wrapped in aluminum foil, one of the sides sticky from leaking jam. Natasha accepted the suspicious lump that you had made all by yourself, scooching back enough to lean against the majestic oak tree, making herself comfortable on the blanket. You picked up your half-eaten sandwich as well, deciding to sit yourself down between Natasha’s legs so you could lean against her like she was your personal recliner. Her hand found your abdomen, gently stroking over your belly as you ate your sandwiches in silence, your head resting against her shoulder, giving you a really good view at the canopy above.

Notes:

I’m having awful writer's block again😒 I’m ready to quit altogether

Chapter 33: Downtown

Notes:

Here’s something fun and light to read :)

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Natasha felt movement in the sheets, something tugging her duvet aside, a flush of cold dusting over her skin, erupting goosebumps over the surface, but she was too groggy to do anything about it, already aware of who was causing it. A hint of a smile crossed her features when she felt you wiggle yourself against her back to cuddle her, your hand sliding over her waist in a hug. It was early in the morning, Natasha could tell from the atmosphere and the lighting of the room. It was also very typical of you to find your way beside her for morning cuddles any time you both had a day off. It was a comforting way to bond and something that came very naturally to you, especially since you were such an affectionate child who didn’t seem to be anywhere near growing out of cuddles. It suited your mother more than well even on those days when she would have rather been alone because knowing that you always had the option to crawl into her arms was something she was very proud of. She was glad to have taught you that there was never a time when you weren’t welcome in her presence or a time when you couldn’t search for comfort in her embrace. She truly valued that very fact because she knew that had you not been comfortable with her or trusted her, you wouldn’t have set foot in her bedroom.

“Mom”, you whispered after ten dreadful minutes that had only been dreadful to you because you found yourself impatient to start the day and cuddles were only fun when Natasha was awake as well. “Mom!” You whisper-yelled again, nudging her a little, only to receive a quiet grunt. She didn’t move, so painfully groggy from sleep, her heavy limbs refusing to move an inch, the muscle ache that she had been left with after her training session from the day before convincing her to remain still. “Mommy”, you whined, sitting up on the bed to find a better position to shake her shoulder. “Mommy, mommy, mommy.” You climbed over her, Natasha wincing at the harshness of your movements as you dug your way beneath her arm so she could hug you to her chest, every nudge, tug, and pull you caused sending a spark of slight irritation through her, but once you were fully situated against her it evaporated into thin air, replaced by a sudden wave of comfort from the scent of sleep you carried.

“Mom, mom. You have to wake up”, you whined again, poking her stomach.

“Why?” She groaned, her voice low and heavy with sleep.

“Because”, you giggled, not really having a proper reason for it. You just wanted her to get up already so you could start the day. “It’s Saturday”, you reasoned. “And we have plans.”

“Shouldn’t you let mommy sleep a little more then?” She challenged, causing you to frown.

“No.”

“What if I want to sleep all day?” She asked in amusem*nt, unable to hide the smile that stretched onto her face as she tightened her arms around you, resting her chin on your head, eyes remaining closed to hold onto the very last bit of sleep.

“You can’t sleep all day”, you chuckled.

“Why not?”

“Because I don’t want you to”, you offered cheekily.

“What about what I want?” You let out a long sigh at that, having been driven into a corner. She should also have a say in what she wanted to do for the day.

“Who’ll make me breakfast then?” You mumbled. “If you sleep all day?”

“You’re a big girl, you know how to cook”, she countered playfully, earning a giggle from you.

“Mommm, I’m serious”, you whined, moving your chin up to see her face, Natasha pulling back slightly to meet your gaze through her halfway closed eyelids.

“Well, what do you want? Let’s start with that”, she hummed, turning onto her back to stretch out her whole body, her joints letting out a bunch of cracks and pops.

“Cinnamon pancakes”, you replied definitively, hearing a hum come from her.

“Mm, those sound really good”, she agreed, bringing her head down from the stretch to look at your face that was still slightly puffy from sleep and your absolute mess of a hair. She let out a gentle chuckle at your appearance, combing her fingers over your tangled locks.

“See? You can’t sleep all day. You have to make us pancakes!” You reasoned, Natasha rolling her eyes in good nature.

“What if I just have you make the pancakes and bring them into bed for me?” She questioned.

“I’d just burn them and you would send them back into the kitchen”, you chuckled, Natasha joining in on the laughter.

“Alright, I won’t sleep all day”, she relented, bringing her head up from the pillow to kiss your forehead as a beaming smile creeped up onto your features. “Give me fifteen more minutes to wake up, okay? You can already go look for ingredients and find me a bowl and a whisk”, she instructed, noticing the way you seemed to brighten up at receiving a task for yourself. Natasha pulled you closer once more to kiss your cheek before letting go of you. “Okay, go. I’ll come check in a bit to see how well you did”, she added encouragingly. You crawled off the bed, running out of the bedroom to go complete her request.

Natasha let out a long sigh, her eyelids drooping down on their own. She had no energy to fight against it, succumbing to the immediate need to relax every muscle in her body in order to prolong the feeling of relaxation and peace for just a few seconds longer. She could hear you make ruckus in the kitchen, the sound of music carrying through the air. You must’ve turned on the speakers, one of your favorite songs blasting from the living room. It made her smile. You had good taste in music and she couldn’t lie, she didn’t mind it at all. She arched her back once again, stretching herself thoroughly before rolling onto her stomach to find a more upright position that could possibly wake her up a little more. She had slept the whole night through and probably gotten more than nine hours of sleep, but the sleep debt she had acquired from the past week was definitely leaving its mark on her.

She rolled out of bed, pulled on a giant sweater that she had stolen from someone in the tower, and headed into the kitchen where you were trying to decide between a huge glass bowl and a slightly smaller plastic bowl, a bunch of the cabinet doors wide open as a result of your searching. It spread a smile on Natasha’s face as she entered the kitchen, pressing a brief kiss in your hair before walking past you to the sink to get some water.

“Which bowl is the right one?”

“Whichever you choose”, she replied between gulps.

“No, but the one you always use”, you clarified, turning around to look at her expectantly.

“I like the glass bowl. It’s pretty”, she hummed, refilling her cup of water before starting to help you with the preparation for breakfast. She found herself a pan and started frying a couple slices of bacon in it since she was craving something along the lines of an American breakfast. It didn’t take you long to become uninterested by the cooking, your energy too much for the kitchen to handle, but Natasha didn’t mind watching you goof around in the living room while she cooked. She actually preferred it because you weren’t in her way and she could whip up the breakfast much faster than if you were helping her. She could hear you running around the apartment, singing along to the songs that came from the speakers that were playing a playlist you had made a few weeks ago titled “Fun times” which Natasha found beyond adorable. Once the bacon was fried she cracked a few eggs into the pan and started to scramble them on low heat so she could simultaneously measure the ingredients for the pancake batter as well as mix up the cinnamon paste that would go into the middle during the frying process. The song changed on the speakers, an excited shout sounding from your room.

“I love this one!” You informed her, running back into the kitchen just to let her know that you liked the song, Natasha taking advantage of the opportunity.

“This is such a good song, honey. You’re absolutely right”, she agreed, nodding along to the rhythm of the song. “Would you mind setting the table for me?” She added right after to get you to at least participate a little on making breakfast. You headed straight for the cupboards to find you plates and cutlery as you sang along to the lyrics of the song that admittedly weren’t exactly child-appropriate, but Natasha had heard worse in her lifetime so she didn’t have the energy to care.

Natasha stacked up the pancakes as she was frying them, cutting up some strawberries, kiwis, and bananas on the side, choosing whatever fruit she could find from the fridge, the song changing once again. Your music taste seemed to vary in the strangest ways, some songs belonging to the typical pop music genre, and others deviating rather strongly from that same category, the classical piece by Sergei Prokofiev catching her completely off guard. She was definitely surprised by having left an imprint on your music taste but proud nonetheless, your dramatic enactment of a knight fight only feeding into her sense of pride. She followed you around the living room with her gaze as the grandiloquent orchestra billowed from the speakers, a giant smile on her face. You battled with the couch, somehow having acquired a sword from somewhere at some point. You would have fought Natasha instead but you knew not to play in the kitchen when there were knives and hot pans around. Once the more intense part of the song was over you tossed the sword aside and came running back to her, out of breath and very clearly hungry, your little fingers snatching a steaming hot pancake from the top of the stack.

“Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch”, you whimpered, shoving the whole thing in your mouth to avoid it burning your fingertips but what you had failed to realize was that it was going to burn your tongue next. You let out a little exclamation of pain, spitting the pancake on the kitchen island to escape the burn, heading for the fridge to find milk to soothe your pain. It was all rather comedic with the background music of your choice, Natasha watching the scene unfold as she flipped the pair of pancakes over, her other hand bringing a plump strawberry to her lips. It served you right for stealing her pancakes like that.

Malyshka (baby), will you turn down the music while we eat?” She asked as she was plating the eggs, bacon, and pancakes for you. She couldn’t hear a response from you, but the volume went down several notches a few seconds later, leaving it low enough to be ambient music.

“Can we have a dance party after breakfast?” You asked hopefully as you took a seat at the table. You were full of energy, so excited for the day that was ahead of you most likely because you were going to meet up with Makena and her mother Vivienne to spend a day in the big city since Natasha had other plans for the day.

“Dance party so early in the morning?“ She questioned, only receiving a bright grin from you. “I don’t see why not”, she chuckled, pouring a good amount of maple syrup over her pancakes, gesturing the bottle toward you to silently ask if you wanted any. You nodded immediately, watching her pour some of the golden brown liquid over your pancakes.

You could barely find the patience to chew your food, humming along to the melody of the quiet music that could be heard in the kitchen as you swung your legs back and forth under the table, happily stabbing the cinnamon pancakes onto your fork, topping it off with a piece of strawberry before sliding it into your mouth. Natasha wasn’t one to brag about her cooking skills, but she couldn’t lie that over the years she had mastered some dishes and said breakfast was definitely one of them. She took a sip of her black coffee, washing down the taste of cinnamon before taking a bit of fresh fruit, the combination of flavors matching perfectly with the serene Saturday morning.

It was during moments like these when she felt truly happy and content, realizing that she was living the life she had envisioned for herself as a silly, little girl that had only dared to dream under the lousy blanket of her lumpy bunk. She might not have had a suburban house with a white picket fence or the love of her life, her princess charming or anyone else to fill in that position but she had something far greater than what she had been capable of imagining. She had freedom. She had a family. Natasha had given up on the dream of finding love, deeming her family to be plenty of love for her lifetime. The last time she had even dared to imagine such a thing she must have had less than ten years of age. She never managed to shake off the ideology that the Red Room had instilled in her. Love was still for children and it was forever going to be for children, at least when it came to romantic love in her life. She couldn’t imagine anything more insufferable than spending time with someone who she was supposed to love and find attractive. She couldn’t think of anything worse than coexisting with another adult. She was comfortable alone and she didn’t want to introduce anyone to you in order to keep you safe. It suited her more than well because it shut people out in a very concrete way that allowed her to keep her distance from anyone but her family. She didn’t feel the need to rely on anyone else but herself for her happiness.

“I’m done!” You announced, gathering your dishes and sliding off the seat to take your plate into the sink. “Thank you, mom. It was super yummy.”

“You’re welcome, dear”, she hummed, taking a bite of bacon. You hurried into the living room, turning the music back up while you waited for Natasha to join your dance party. By the time she found her way to you she was welcomed with loud singing into the bristles of your hairbrush that functioned as a microphone for your on-stage performance. It spread a wide smile onto Natasha’s face, her eyes searching for a makeshift microphone for herself as well. She ended up grabbing the TV remote just in time for the next line of Heads Will Roll for her to sing. Your entire face seemed to brighten up at her willingness to fall into the moment and the role of a performing singer. She pulled her hair loose from the low, messy bun she had worn, shaking her head a bit to give it an even messier look that made you laugh as you jumped up and down on the couch, so out of breath you could barely keep up with the singing but you tried nonetheless.

“Your turn, rockstar”, Natasha said, nudging you a bit, continuing to show you some of the most embarrassing dance moves you had witnessed in your life. You brought the hairbrush to your lips, singing along to the simple lyrics while engaging in the dancing with her, copying some of her movements to feel as cool as she looked.

The men cried out, the girls cried out. The men cried out, the girls cried out. The men cried out, oh no!” You sang at the top of your lungs, not caring how you sounded, too focused on having fun while Natasha filled in the ‘oh’s for you, possessing the ability to make them sound less flat than your attempts. You admired her singing skills and the way she was able to change the style and the sound of her voice to match the singer. She wasn’t an exceptional singer by any means, but to you she was the best of them all because she excelled at adopting different roles for herself. Whether she was singing rock, pop, or ballads, she was always giving it her all. She was a true performer, at least within the four walls of your living room. You sang the final lines together, finishing off the song with as much energy as you had started it with. All you could do was smile, your body already moving to the rhythm of the next song that was once again a complete one-eighty from the previous song in every way possible. It was a slower, Russian ballad, sung by an old man with a deep, grave voice, but that didn’t stop you or Natasha, not in the slightest, the living room filled by your deepened voices.

Ne vstrechal by vas, ya by znal pokoy (If I hadn’t met you I would have known peace).” Natasha and you sang in the most dramatic way possible, really playing into the depth of his voice paired with all sorts of hand gestures as you acted out the song. You didn’t understand all the lyrics or what they meant but you knew they needed to be sung with all the passion you could muster and it never failed to make Natasha laugh, a part of her somewhere deep within so very pleased that you had adopted some of her culture and carried it with pride.

The dramatic performance eventually came to an end, your feet carrying you into the kitchen to steal a leftover pancake for yourself as a halftime snack before you returned to the couch. The third song was bound to give you whiplash, the living room once again filled with so much energy it was about to spill out the windows. It was your favorite dance song at the moment, prompting you to jump on the couch as hard as you possibly could, your hair and pajamas a mess, but you wouldn’t have had it any other way. Natasha joined you on the cushions, jumping a little lighter because of the obvious size difference and because she had a suspicion the couch could not handle her using it as a trampoline.

“Oh, yeah!” You exclaimed into your hairbrush, doing a couple more jumps, a loud snap sounding from the springs of the couch beneath you, causing you to halt abruptly. Natasha’s head turned to you as your gazes met, both sharing the same look of surprise on your faces. You did your very best not to burst into laughter, wanting to see how Natasha was going to react to it first. The corners of her mouth turned up in amusem*nt as she continued to bounce on the cushions.

“Oopsie”, she chuckled, dismissing the little incident completely, not really caring that much whether you broke a spring or not.

The dance party lasted the whole morning until it was time to start getting ready for the city, yet somehow all the singing had only drained a fraction of your energy. You were abnormally active and all up in Natasha’s business which had not happened in a good while, but she didn’t really mind it, how could she when you functioned as her personal stylist by digging through her closet and suggesting the most horrendous outfits imaginable.

“Will you let me do your makeup too?” You asked hopefully, emerging from between the racks of clothing.

“Pick an outfit for me first and we’ll see then”, she hummed, pulling off her sweater.

“Oh, oh! Look at these!” You yelped, running back into the bedroom to show her a pair of perfectly ordinary pants that Natasha was very well aware of because she had used them quite often at one point of her life.

“Those are very stylish”, she noted, but you had disappeared back into the closet before you had even given her the chance to respond. Natasha shook her head in amusem*nt, patiently waiting for your next suggestion.

“You should definitely wear this”, you stated, dragging a ball gown behind you, a green blazer having appeared on you from somewhere. “Do you think this suits me?” You asked in all seriousness, doing a little twirl for her to showcase the dress jacket.

“It’s a little big”, she huffed, eyeing the very oversized jacket on you. “But I’m sure you’ll grow into it. We’ll see in a couple of years”, she hummed, her questioning gaze moving to the ball gown. “I can’t wear that to the city, dummy”, she reasoned apologetically.

“No, it’s for me”, you explained, pulling off your clothes and discarding them to the floor to be able to slide into the dress that was incredibly loose on you. “Do you think I look like a princess?”

“You do, sweetheart. You’re such a beautiful princess”, she mused, heading for the closet. You nearly stumbled over the skirt of the dress in your process of making her stop in her tracks.

“Don’t you wanna watch my runway show first?” You asked pleadingly. “I promise I’ll pick an outfit for you after”, you added, Natasha giving you an amused smile, knowing the outfit was going to be something she was definitely going to have to turn down.

“Alright, you get fifteen minutes, but then we really need to start getting ready. I can’t be late”, she reminded you, taking a seat on the edge of the bed.

“Thank you!“ You exclaimed, heading back inside the closet to form your outfits of choice for the show. It didn’t take you too long because everything you could find in her spacious closet was worth your attention, the racks of clothing that you had never seen Natasha wear seeming to be endless. Your ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s sounded into the bedroom very clearly as you made all kinds of combinations.

“Come on, baby. Let me see the first one!” Natasha exclaimed, clapping her hands to gain your attention, very aware of the time that was constantly ticking.

“Here comes!” You replied, emerging from the closet with a skirt Natasha hadn’t seen in twenty years paired with an old, frumpy blouse that didn’t match in any way with the pattern of the skirt. You had on a scarf and a hat as accessories, none of the colors matching exceptionally well with each other. You stumbled forward a bit in your knee-high boots, the laces still undone because you didn’t have the time to deal with them.

“Oh, wow! That is definitely something. Let me take a picture”, Natasha marveled, finding her phone from the bed to capture the moment. She knew that in a few years you would have a good laugh together over the pictures, but she also found you incredibly adorable and she needed to be able to relive the moment again whenever needed. “Pose for me, kroshka (little one)”, she said encouragingly, aiming the camera at you as you gave her a couple very typical poses like hands on your hips and a look over your shoulder, exhibiting immense confidence for a child so small. “That’s it. What a model you are”, she praised, snapping a few more pictures before it was time for an outfit change.

“This one is my favorite”, you announced, walking across the bedroom to really show her all the angles where the new set of clothes fit too loose on you. You had pulled on another skirt that was far too short on Natasha but seemed to fit you rather well at least length-wise, and paired it with long, flared jeans from nearly a decade ago, the pant legs so long you were bound to fall on your face. On the top half you had a lacy top that Natasha had most definitely stolen from a mission, having no recollection of even owning a shirt so risqué. You had added a simple black purse to go with it, giving Natasha a proper runway walk past her before blowing her a kiss.

“Jeans and a skirt, incredibly bold of you”, she mused, nodding in approval of the awfully ill-fitting get-up.

“Take a picture!” You ordered, already posing for her, patiently waiting for her to whip out her phone.

“Alright, baby. You get to show me one more outfit. Make it good!” She added as you hurried back into the closet for one more round. The third one consisted of a long, beige peacoat, a pair of sleek sunglasses, and a disgustingly pink shirt that Natasha had probably never worn because the bright pink shade didn’t go well with her complexion. You hadn’t had time for pants so you were just in your underwear, but had still managed to find yourself a pair of sneakers from the depths of her closet.

“Hmm, public indecency. That’s exactly what I’m looking for”, she said sarcastically, making you laugh.

“Wouldn’t this be cute?” You asked hopefully, turning around to show her the full outfit.

“Yes, it would be so cute if you had some pants on you”, she noted teasingly, getting up from the bed, her hands finding your shoulders, kissing your head briefly. “I have absolutely loved this show and we can continue this another time, but I need you to complete this mission for me, agent”, she stated suddenly, gaining your attention by making the task into a game.

“Yes, ma’am”, you saluted her, nodding firmly. “I will find an outfit. What do you want to wear?”

“Something neutral. Choose me something you think is lame and boring”, she instructed, hoping her plan was going to work.

“Yes, ma’am”, you nodded again, but before you could run off, Natasha’s hands grabbed the coat, holding you back.

“Let me hold onto this”, she hummed, peeling the coat off you. Thankfully your sense of lameness was exactly what Natasha had been looking for, pleased to find out that you had chosen a casual black dress for her to wear that went well with the peacoat. You helped her find a pair of shoes and you were finally ready to leave the house after you had pulled your clothes back on. Natasha made sure you had your phone with you so that you could call her at any point if necessary and it also allowed her to track where you were moving, just in case. You could never be too careful when it came to Manhattan and Natasha’s past experiences only confirmed that. She trusted Vivienne as much as she was capable of trusting someone outside of family and Natasha had no doubt that she would return you in the same condition as you had left her. It just gave her that additional sense of peace that she needed to feel more relaxed. The drive into the city was spent by playing any car games that popped into your mind from counting cars to finding interesting license plate combinations.

“That’s a Volkswagen, right?” You inquired hopefully, staring intently at the car that was beside you. Natasha glanced to the side over your head to see the car in question.

“I think it’s a Ford”, she mused, focusing her gaze back on the road.

“How can you tell? Last time the red car was a Volkswagen”, you argued.

“You have to look at the brand logo in the front and back”, she explained, switching lanes to pass the car in the front that was going too slow for the highway.

Upon entering the streets of Manhattan Natasha found a good parking lot on Fifth Avenue near the American Girl Place where you had agreed to meet up with the Davies for your day in the city. You couldn’t wait to see Makena despite having spent the entire week with her at school, but it was different in your free time because there was no stupid, boring school work to do and you would get to go shopping and have lunch at a restaurant of your choice. You hopped out of the car, making sure you had your fancy, little purse that you had picked out for yourself to have something to carry your phone and wallet in. It also happened to compliment your outfit very well and it made you feel like a real grownup, kind of like your mother who had also brought a purse with her.

“Hi, Makena!” You yelled from nearly ten yards away, waving enthusiastically, Makena’s face brightening up at the sight of you.

“Hi, Y/N!” She ran toward you, engulfing you in a huge hug once she was close enough. The giggles were immediate, the sound of overjoyed laughter reaching all the way to Vivienne’s ears as she slowly walked toward you to greet Natasha before she would have to leave.

“Natasha”, she nodded firmly, a small smirk playing on her lips. Vivienne was a very elegant, proper woman, her pristine manners often coming off as uptight, but once she opened her mouth her sweet voice disproved any prejudices one might have made about her.

“Viv”, Natasha hummed back, leaning a bit closer to press her cheek against Vivienne’s in a brief kiss as a greeting. “And you”, she chuckled, welcoming Makena into a hug. They exchanged a couple words while you and Makena goofed around by the front door until you got permission to enter the store, leaving the adults outside to discuss the essentials.

“I’ll text you if there’s any change in plans”, Natasha assured, glancing at the watch around her wrist. Vivienne gave her a knowing smile.

“Go have your fun. I’ll take care of the youth”, she said in a tone that Natasha recognized as teasing. She rolled her eyes in response.

“I gave her some cash to have her own money, but if she runs out you’re only allowed to buy her food with it. I’m trying to teach her some finances. I’ll pay you back though”, Natasha assured even though neither of them had a problem with spoiling the children, both of them wealthy enough to spare a couple bucks for fun experiences.

“Nonsense, you paid last time when the girls were out. It’s my turn”, she countered, a sweet smile on her lips, her hand reaching for her bicep. “Enjoy your day off. Take all the time you need”, she mused knowingly, Natasha offering her a genuine smile.

“Thank you. Have fun with the girls. Y/N is packed with energy today, but she might crash in a few hours, probably just in time for lunch”, Natasha chuckled, already taking a few steps back so she wouldn’t make herself late by getting stuck with Vivienne.

“We’ll figure it out. Get going now”, Vivienne huffed, nearly having to usher Natasha into the streets to get rid of her. She then turned on her heels and followed you and Makena into the store.

Anytime you were in the big city you absolutely had to go check out the American Girl Doll store no matter how you weren’t getting any toys, but that day was different. You and Makena would get to pick out whatever accessories you could find that were within budget, at least for you. Natasha and you had been practicing smart ways to use money for a good while now and you would finally get to put all that important knowledge to use. So not only were you getting a new accessory for your gorgeous doll that you had gotten as a special little treat a few years back, you were also buying it with your very own money from your savings. You didn’t have any impressive amounts of money in your wallet, a couple ten dollars bills in your purse. You had counted your money before leaving to get an idea of how much you actually had which would then help you in the store when choosing what you could afford. It was kind of fun, but it never saved you from disappointment because there were always things that you would have rather had that were outside of your budget. But you had figured that that’s where the lesson lay: you couldn’t have anything you wanted. Additionally, Natasha had taught you to really think about how much you wanted something before you bought it and you had learned the hard way that impulse shopping was never as fun as it felt in the moment, always reminded of the time you had bought a crappy but huge lollipop instead of a soft serve cone on a hot Summer’s day.

You and Makena browsed the store together, not really paying attention to Vivienne who was just trying to make time pass by judging the architectural decisions made in the interior of the building, making observations as a habit from her line of work. She looked rather bored but it didn’t bother you and Makena at all, much more interesting things occupying your minds.

“Y/N! You have to see this”, Makena exclaimed from somewhere amongst the other excited, little girls who were drooling after the expensive toys. Her shoulder-length coil twists appeared in your line of sight, a huge smile on her face as she grasped your hand in her own to tug you through the group of girls to the other side where a beautiful kitchen set up was presented. Your jaw fell open, Makena giggling knowingly. “It’s so cool”, she said in awe, your widened eyes turning to her.

“It’s got everything!” You cheered in excitement, getting closer to the display to see all the gorgeous details that you could have studied for hours, your hand still holding onto Makena’s, prompting her to follow suit.

“We have to buy it”, Makena stated firmly. “How much is it?”

“Um, I think it says $275.00”, you muttered, peering at the price tag.

“And how much do you have?”

“Thirty-three dollars and five cents”, you sighed, casting a longing look at the stocked up fridge and pie-filled oven.

“I have a fifty, but I can ask if mama would give me more”, she suggested, the look on your face brightening up.

Vivienne said no and you had to move on from the incredibly tempting kitchen set up to find something that was more in the price range of your budget. It proved to be much more difficult than you had initially thought, the store filled with the priciest things the company had to offer, your hopes of finding something cheaper starting to die down. Somehow every single vehicle, diner, and boutique set cost well over a hundred dollars. You nearly lost your mind when you found a baking set with trays, cookie cutters, a stand mixer, and a rolling pin, upset that you wouldn’t get to buy the sixty-dollar set so you could showcase it to Wanda who you knew would absolutely love it. There were far too many things that you would have wanted, yet so little money, Makena seeming to have the same problem as you.

“Have you found anything?” You asked hopefully, Makena shaking her head.

“No, most stuff I found was boring. I don’t want a pet for Kiki. She already has two dogs”, she explained, coming to stand beside you.

“Yeah, all the super cool stuff is so expensive”, you lamented, looking around the store wistfully. “I did see a breakfast set for $48 if you’re interested. You could afford it.”

“Really? Where?”

And so the search for the affordable accessories continued, Vivienne counting the floor tiles in the shop to make the time pass faster. She could’ve done work on her phone but she had decided to take a proper break for the day, wanting to actually enjoy her rare day off, but suddenly a couple calls considering the newest design for Manhattan wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world. But she let you have your fun, recognizing that it was an important and crucial part of your exciting day. An hour and forty-five minutes later you all left the store, carrying your small, red paper bags out of the store. You had decided on a breakfast tray for bed with waffles and tea, Makena having bought a different breakfast set with pans and a stove. You walked down to Fifth Avenue, intending to continue your shopping spree but a good twenty minutes later Makena was complaining about a blister on her foot and you were whining about a rumbling stomach. You stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for a moment to nurse Makena’s foot, Vivienne adjusting the heel of her sneaker to ease some of the discomfort Makena was feeling while you marveled at the tall, white towers of the cathedral, in awe of the detail in its decorative outside. You had been inside the building with Natasha a while back and you knew it was just as gorgeous from the inside as well.

The restaurant of your choice ended up being Rockefeller Potbelly because it was easy and quick, and the nearest restaurant that wouldn’t cause anyone a headache. It was perfectly casual and getting to admire the Rockefeller center on your way in was a positive addition. You got yourself a pizza melt sandwich, Makena got a Mama’s meatball one, and Vivienne chose an Avo Turkey. For dessert you and Makena shared a chocolate brownie cookie the size of your hand.

Time just seemed to fly by, the day passing in a blur no matter how much you wished to prolong it, but eventually all things had to come to an end and so your fun day in the city was over and you were headed right back to where you had met the Davies in front of the American Girl Place. You crossed the street, you and Makena’s joint hands swinging between you, Vivienne following closely behind to keep an eye on you during rush hour, making sure you didn’t get mangled by anyone. You had spotted your mother from the other side of the street, noticing her red hair with ease, but what really caught your attention was the fact that she wasn’t alone like you had expected her to be. Your brows drew into a frown as you watched the pair walk slowly to the store front, the woman accompanying Natasha receiving a kiss on her cheek, just like Vivienne had, before she continued her way down the street, leaving Natasha behind to wait for you.

“There you are”, she cheered softly once you were close enough Natasha’s hands reaching for you to tug you into her embrace, a waft of someone else’s perfume intruding your nose, but you didn’t really think much of it.

“Hi, mom”, you chuckled when she kissed your cheek repeatedly, forcing her to stop by pulling away. “Who was that?” You asked in curiosity, glancing down the street to where the woman had disappeared.

“Just someone from work”, she hummed, her fingertips brushing over some of your hair. She was in a really good mood, better mood than she had been in the car, her cheeks tinted a gentle rose, a permanent smile on her face.

“I have to show you what I bought!” You stated in excitement, moving on without so much as a thought for the mystery woman.

“Why don’t you show me at home, dorogaya (darling)?” Natasha suggested, knowing that it was better to get home first and then open up the package so you wouldn’t lose any of the pieces to the streets or into the car.

“Fine”, you sighed dramatically, your attention shifting back to Makena so you could spend the very last minutes of your city date with her while Vivienne and Natasha talked.

Notes:

The dance party was inspired by one of you readers but I couldn’t find the comment, but thank you to the person who suggested it many, many weeks ago 😂 I hope you liked it <3

Chapter 34: Show and Tell

Notes:

For non-Americans, sixth graders are 11 years old :)

Also this is another chapter inspired by @ Macaronitaco’s prompts!!! <3

(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)

Chapter Text

Everyone in the classroom started clapping unanimously as Thomas gave them one more look at the beautiful rock that he had found from the Appalachian mountains on his summer vacation. The class seemed rather bored by something as mundane as a rock but it held significance to Thomas and that was all that mattered. The teacher looked very pleased by his small presentation for Show and Tell as she approached him, her hand patting his shoulder briefly, a string of praises falling from her lips. You observed her rather intensely, still getting used to the person who was going to be your new class teacher for middle school. It was your second day of sixth grade and the class was filled with new faces, people you had never seen in your life, people you hadn’t known existed. The only person who you did recognize was Makena who was seated all the way on the other side of class as far away from you as the room allowed. Savannah had gone into a different middle school, one that was more prestigious and high-class, but Natasha and Vivienne had thankfully agreed to put you into the same school after figuring out how to make it work for both families.

Your eyes followed the teacher as she called another student to the front to present. She was older than your mother and had a rounder figure with her hair in a loose braid that gave her a very casual look. She wore neat clothes, but had clearly added some color to make it more fun either for the class or for herself. You couldn’t tell yet because you had only seen her twice. You watched the way her hands moved, followed her mannerisms carefully, noting anything that felt significant to her character. You didn’t know why you did it. Maybe you were just that bored, but it also came very naturally to you. It was comforting to be fully aware of everyone and everything, your observant eyes darting around the class to find the next victim of your scrutinizing gaze, although you did do your best to go unnoticed, knowing it was impolite to stare. You seemed to fall into a daze of some sort, far too focused on the students around you as they listened to whoever was speaking. You didn’t care who it was or what they were saying because it held no significance to you. There had been a time when you had felt excited for middle school, but once you realized that everything had to change in order for you to be there, you had decided that it wasn’t as fun as you had thought. Although it might have been too early to say.

The intrusively loud clapping drew you back into the moment, your eyes snapping to the girl who had just finished presenting, holding an arts project of some sorts in her hands. It was kind of mediocre but you figured you couldn’t have done any better so you brought your hands together, joining the clapping. You glanced at Makena on the other side of the class, receiving a longing look from her. You knew that look. She would’ve wanted to say something to you. Her brows drew into a frown and she gave you a small pout right as the teacher called her name. You saw the strike of panic in her, the tips of her fingers playing with the paper in her hands, the corners of it slightly crumpled up. All you could do was offer her an encouraging smile and a small thumbs up. She tried to smile back at you but she was too nervous to smile properly, giving you a small grimace instead as she reluctantly slid out of her seat and went into the front. She looked awfully scared, downright terrified, her small hands trembling like leaves in the wind. You caught her gaze, trying to smile at her but you felt yourself grow increasingly more worried the longer she remained quiet. You waved your hand just enough to catch her attention, pointing at yourself, hoping she would understand what you were trying to say to her. Look at me, you mouthed, the teacher glancing your way. Makena nodded nearly imperceptibly, glancing down at the paper in her hands.

“I’m gonna read a p-poem that my grandma loves. It’s called, um.” She glanced down at the paper to confirm what she was going to say, her eyes returning to you. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and- and it’s by Robert Frost.” Her voice was fairly even as spoke, but you could sense the distress from a mile away. “Whose woods are these I think I know”, she began, gaining some confidence in her words. You knew she wouldn’t have needed the paper at all because she knew the poem by heart. Her grandma had read it to her almost every night up until her death a couple years before. Makena carried on, reciting the lines, pronouncing every word carefully in the fear of messing up.

Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year
” She was halfway through the poem, her words coming out at a faster pace. She wanted it to be over already. For a moment you thought she was going to burst into tears, your mind suddenly flooded with the memories regarding her grandma’s passing, but she kept going in determination.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
” She let out a small sigh, putting the sheet of paper down, waiting for the students to start their clapping, seeing nothing, hearing nothing. A smile spread on your face as you joined the applause.

“Very well done, Makena!” The teacher stated encouragingly, clearly thoroughly pleased by her performance. You felt a surge of excitement and relief on Makena’s behalf, a sense of pride taking over you. She returned into her seat, smiling from across the room to you, aching to leave her desk to come sit next to you instead, but she was too timid in nature to do such a thing, especially in a classroom so unfamiliar. You found it hard to focus on the upcoming presentations when you frankly had no interest in most of the kids from you class, finding them rather insignificant when you would have wanted to talk to Makena and tell her how well she had succeeded in her poetry reading, besides it would have been so much more fun to make comments about everyone else’s presentation to her. Your turn came toward the end of the class. You were used to being at the tail end of every alphabetical list because of your last name, but your turn did finally come.

You hopped off your stool, feeling slightly nervous and aware of the fact that you were introducing yourself to a whole new set of people who you were going to be stuck with for the next three years, but you were also relatively confident for your age, finding the task rather simple. You were going to show them your object and tell them what it was and why you had chosen it. That was all. You took your backpack with you, standing in front of the class as you pulled out the pair of batons that peeked from the opening of your backpack, showing the weapon to the class, joining the two sticks to form one long electroshock weapon.

“My mom is a superhero”, you started, hearing someone chuckle in the back of the class but you tried not to let it bother you. “And these are her batons.” You announced, feeling your pride start to waver in front of the couple dozen kids who all looked as uninterested as you had a few minutes ago. There were a couple girls in the front who seemed overly interested, like they were pretending. “If you guys have ever heard of the Avengers you might know what I’m talking about. These were used in the battle of Sokovia against Ultron”, you explained, standing slightly awkwardly in front of everyone, not sure what to say about the weapon because you hadn’t practiced at all and had barely even planned what you wanted to say. You just assumed you would know.

“These were used by the real Black Widow and they can be very powerful if you know how to use them right. They can be extended 1.5 times their length and locked together from the ends like this.” You demonstrated the move, twisting the two pieces apart from each other, giving the one in your dominant hand a little spin to show off just a tiny bit. “But they can also be folded down so that they’re easier to carry and they can be attached to the Black Widow’s belt at the back.” You folded them up as small as they would go. “My favorite part is this…” You ignited the batons, stark blue electricity lighting up the room as the loud crackle of it alerted every single kid in the glass, a good chunk of the boys suddenly much more interested. A pleased smile spread on your face as you swung the sticks slightly to enhance the effect and of course to show off but never too much to avoid coming off as co*cky. “These can take down robots and aliens, whatever you need”, you assured, turning the electricity off once you noticed the wary look on your teacher’s face, a slight smirk still lingering on your lips.

“I chose this object ‘cause I think my mom is super cool and she means the world to me”, you concluded with a slight nod, the students starting their automatic clapping.

“Alright! Now we know not to mess with you”, the teacher said jokingly but she did seem a bit distraught with your object of choice as she neared you by the desk. “Any questions? Comments?” She asked turning to the class to observe their reaction as well, a couple hands rising up instantly. “Go ahead, dear. What’s your name?”

“I’m Laurie. So are you saying your mother is the Black Widow?” He asked in a slightly condescending tone, eyeing you intensely, clearly not believing you.

“Yes”, you nodded, a couple more hands shooting up, someone scoffing “Yeah, right” from the back of the class.

“Go ahead. State your name first”, the teacher said, pointing to a girl in the front.

“Mary-Ann. Why would she have a child?” She asked in genuine confusion but it still hurt nonetheless.

“Why not?” You shrugged.

“Isn’t she still doing superhero stuff?” She continued.

“Yeah, on and off.” Mary-Ann nodded hesitantly, not seeming convinced but the teacher moved on to other awaiting questions.

“I’m Carlos and I wanna know where you got your cosplay. Those are so cool!” You frowned at his words.

“No, they’re real.”

“How much were they?” Another kid asked, opening his mouth without permission, the teacher giving him a pointed look. “I’m Josh”, he smirked.

“I don’t know. I didn’t buy them. Tony Stark made them”, you explained, a bunch of teasing chuckles and giggles erupting from various parts of the classroom.

“You know Tony Stark?” Someone scoffed in disbelief.

“Alright, thank you so much Y/N. Very impressive presentation. You can go back to your seat”, the teacher intervened, noticing that the tone of the questions was rapidly turning disparaging. She rubbed her hand over your upper back to guide you into the direction of your desk, already calling for the next student to present. You were more annoyed than offended by the comments from your classmates. How could they be so dumb? It was very obvious that you weren’t faking anything. The costume stores that sold batons of any kind didn’t sell anything with real electroshock waves, you would know because you had wanted to dress up as your mother when you were nine and had insisted on having a costume as accurate as possible. One of the kids continued to stare at you even though you had already sat down. He had a blank face and spikey hair that had been styled with too much gel. You looked back at him, holding his gaze until he caved and focused his attention back to the front of the class. You glanced at Makena who gave you a slightly apologetic frown. Thankfully, the everlasting lesson finally came to an end and you were allowed to go outside for recess, a flush of relief going through you as you breathed in the late summer air.

“Hey Pinocchio!” Someone shouted, very obviously calling for your attention despite your lack of connection with the moniker he had used. You spun around to see a boy who you didn’t know, but had seen in your class, his friends following a couple steps behind him. You frowned, glancing at Makena who just shrugged, clearly growing agitated by the hostility that they exuded with their infuriating smirks.

“What do you want?” You asked bluntly, not caring for any kind of pleasantries when you could already tell they had nothing nice to say to you.

“You seriously think your mom is Black Widow, don’t you?” He asked in a demeaning manner, wanting to see if you were really going to stand behind your lie.

“I don’t think so. It’s a fact”, you huffed.

“You’re full of sh*t.” You raised your brows at his words.

“What more proof do you need?”

“I want you to admit you’re lying. The Avengers don’t have kids.”

“What do you know? You’ve never even met them”, you chuckled.

“Neither have you.”

“How would you know that?” You challenged, your tone turning annoyed.

“Oh, come on. There’s no way”, one of the boys groaned.

“You’re crazy. Your real parents must really suck for you to be so delusional”, the first boy continued.

“She’s telling the truth. I’ve met her many times”, Makena spoke up, taking a step closer to you, receiving doubtful looks.

“Right.” He said blankly. “And why would you want a murderer as your mother?” You felt Makena tense beside you. She knew you were about to lose your patience.

“She’s not a murderer”, you grumbled, your brows drawing into a frown, fingers tightening into a fist.

“A killer then. Potato, potato”, he mumbled indifferently. “You can’t deny it.”

“Maybe not but what do you care?“ He really had no other intention than to tease you and you could tell.

“Or are you a killer too?”

“You wanna find out for yourself?” You shot back, Makena’s fingers wrapping around your wrist as if to hold you back.

“Miss Romanoff!” Your head whipped to the side to see who had called your name, your teacher approaching you, carrying your backpack. “I’d like to have a word with you.” She announced, the group of kids in front of you casually leaving you alone as if they hadn’t just been harassing you.

“About what?”

“I’m sending you home”, she said apologetically, your jaw going slack.

“What? Why?”

“Come on, I’ll walk you out”, she hummed, nodding toward the school gates. You turned to look at Makena, giving her an annoyed sneer.

“I’ll see you tomorrow”, you mumbled, earning a nod in response before you went after the teacher who was already slowly heading for the gates.

“See ya”, she whispered, her face falling at the fact that she would have to spend the rest of the day alone. Your teacher turned to look at you, handing you your backpack, the batons poking out from the top.

“I’m sending you home because you brought a taser to school”, she stated evenly.

“Batons”, you corrected. “Were you even listening during my presentation?” You asked with a hint of snark in your tone, starting to really get annoyed by everyone’s attitude.

“We have a strict no-weapons policy where not even scissors are allowed on the premises unless provided by the teacher and staff”, she continued without reacting to your comment, keeping up her professional tone. “Do you understand?”

“Yeah”, you muttered, staring ahead angrily, a black car pulling up at the front. Great.

“Good. Now the year has just begun so I won’t suspend you, and I believe you didn’t have any ill intentions. Just… don’t let it happen again”, she concluded, opening the gate for you and ushering you to the street, the passenger side window rolling down, Natasha’s stern face appearing in your line of sight. She nodded a greeting to the teacher but by the looks of it they had already spoken on the phone and there was nothing to add. You yanked the car door open, not giving your teacher a single glance as you slumped into your seat, tugging the seatbelt across your middle. You didn’t dare to look at Natasha either, your gaze fixed ahead.

“Goodbye, I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you talk about this at home”, the teacher said encouragingly, clearly sensing the tension in the car.

“Oh, we’ll talk. Thank you for everything”, Natasha stated, giving her another look before rolling up the window. You played with your fingertips, looking down at your hands, waiting for the scolding that was bound to come your way.

“Y/N Romanoff.” She called your attention, raising her voice a bit to really let you hear the disappointment in her tone. You didn’t look at her, too nervous to do so. “Look at me”, she ordered, your gaze snapping up at her in an instant. “What were you thinking?” She asked, her eyes moving down to the backpack between your feet. She grabbed the batons, yanking them roughly out of the bag to get a better look at the weapon of your choice. She ran her hand over the stick, studying the surface, recognizing the older version of her batons, mind flooded with a couple not-so-pleasant memories. “So, let me get this straight. You brought unpredictable, out-of-use, war weaponry to your class Show and Tell?” She asked, really emphasizing her words to make you realize just how unhinged it sounded. “Only for me to receive a call during a meeting to get informed that you brought a taser to school and demonstrated its use in front of the whole class.” She definitely didn’t sound appreciative of your actions, your eyes moving away from her and back to your hands.

“Do you realize how powerful those electroshocks are? Any one of you little fools could’ve been dead in seconds.” Yes, you did know that but you knew how to use them well enough to not kill yourself or anyone else. How dumb did she think you were?

“Why didn’t you ask me first?” Her eyes turned to you, head co*cking to the side a bit to try to gain your attention back.

“Because you would’ve said no.”

“Exactly.” She hummed quietly, her hand finding the engine button to start the car, a soft whir informing you that the car was on. She steered the vehicle onto the street, driving off, your eyes catching a glimpse of Makena who was still standing in the same spot, talking to some girl you didn’t know, an additional rush of anger going through you. What a stupid day.

Natasha remained silent for most of the ride. The radio wasn’t on and neither was the air conditioning, only leaving the silence to be filled by the loud cars outside and the hum of the highway. You thought about the day and the presentations, cursing the teacher for many, many things, looking for more reasons to curse her in your head. Not only was your teacher a killjoy and a loser, she had also sat you so far away from Makena that she might as well have put an entire ocean between you to keep you apart. You briefly wondered if she knew that you were friends and had done it on purpose, considering adding evil to the list of adjectives you could use for your new teacher. You would have to come up with something because you were damned if you were going to sit the whole semester away from her.

“Mom, can you teach me sign language?” You asked suddenly, Natasha giving you a look of disbelief for even daring to ask.

“No”, she countered bluntly.

“Why not?” You groaned in annoyance, giving her a rather murderous glare.

“You brought a lethal weapon to school!” She reminded you curtly.

“Yeah, well…” You really didn’t have much to say for yourself. She had every right to shove that in your face. “I wanna learn. You wouldn’t deny a poor child the right to learn, would you?” You reasoned, batting your eyelashes at her, trying your best to guilt her into teaching you. She scoffed in amusem*nt, the sound coming out condescending. She knew where you got that from and as adorable as it was to have you try to manipulate her, she was not having it.

“Cut the sh*t, Y/N.” She gave you a pointed look that made you roll your eyes. “What do you need it for?” She asked despite her denying, curious about what your intentions were.

“There’s a deaf kid in my class”, you lied, attempting a different approach. Natasha chuckled.

“I bet there is.” She knew you were lying. She could tell and it was painfully obvious to her. “And does her name happen to be Makena?” You remained quiet, your face forming into a displeased sulk as you crossed your hands over your chest, staring at the car you were passing by.

“No”, you grumbled, Natasha’s smile only widening. It angered you that she was so observant and able to read you like an open book no matter how you tried to manipulate what she was seeing. You decided to give her the silent treatment to hopefully make her feel as bad as you were feeling, but it vexed you that you didn’t know how she was able to do it because it seemed that no matter what you said or how you said it she always knew if you were not telling the truth.

“How can you tell?” You asked suddenly after a long moment of you sulking in silence, curiosity eventually getting the best of you.

“Tell what?”

“That I’m lying.”

“I can just tell”, she hummed, the car slowing down as she stopped at a red light.

“Yeah, but from what?” You groaned, unsatisfied by her answer.

“From that guilty little face of yours”, she chuckled, turning to look at you, pinching your chin with her thumb and forefinger, a small smirk on her lips. You pushed her hand away, letting out an annoyed whine.

“What is it? Why don’t you believe it?” She laughed again, rolling her eyes in good nature.

“I’m not teaching you to become a better liar”, she countered, pressing her foot down on the gas pedal just as the light switched to green.

“You’re so against education today”, you muttered bitterly.

“And whose fault is that?” She challenged, glancing your way only to receive a sneer from you in return.

“It was so stupid anyway. They didn’t even believe me, called me a liar. I bet they’re making fun of me as we speak”, you huffed, finally allowing yourself to feel the disappointment and slight embarrassment for your actions. You should’ve just gone with boring rocks and ugly art projects like the other kids had.

“Didn’t believe what?” Natasha asked, a hint of concern in the frown that appeared on her face at the change in your tone. You were lowering your defense, getting warmed up to the trusting bond you shared despite Natasha’s initial anger with you.

“These were for Show and Tell”, you hummed, kicking the backpack where the batons sat.

“Yeah, the teacher mentioned”, she nodded evenly.

“The reason I chose them was ‘cause we were supposed to bring something meaningful to us and…” You paused, feeling a gentle ache in your chest, the upset that you were feeling really starting to kick in. You hadn’t meant any harm, you just wanted people to know how much you adored your mother.

“What, honey?” She asked carefully, prompting you to continue.

“I just wanted to show them how cool you are”, you huffed, staring intently at the batons by your feet. “They laughed. And this one boy called me Pinocchio, then crazy, and then delusional.” You let out a sigh, recalling the conversation. “Then he said you’re a murderer.” The silence hung heavy after that, Natasha’s hands tightening around the steering wheel as she reigned in her initial spark of anger and swallowed it down. You didn’t deserve to witness the rage she felt for the actions of someone else.

“I’m sorry they were so mean to you”, she lamented, offering her hand across the console box for you to hold.

“I told him you’re not… a murderer”, you assured quietly.

“Thank you, baby”, she whispered, despite disagreeing with your response. She was what she was and no one could change her past no matter how she would have wanted to. She just wished you wouldn’t have to deal with the skeletons in her closet that had been revealed to the entire world. “I really appreciate the gesture, but you should have asked first. We could have figured out something else, something much safer, for you to bring to class”, she reasoned, her thumb stroking the side of your hand.

“I know. I’m sorry”, you hummed, impatiently waiting for her to park the car inside the garage so you could finally get out and hopefully find your room to sulk in for the rest of the day.

“You’re forgiven, malyshka (baby), but don’t touch my weapons, or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s not safe for you nor for the people around you. It’s just not smart, okay?” She concluded, earning a mere nod from you, but she could tell you were listening. “Do you understand the kind of damage you could have caused?” She asked firmly, looking at you with demanding eyes. “I need you to understand how badly this could’ve gone.”

“I know, mommy”, you whispered apologetically, looking up at her with sad eyes.

“Good.” Natasha offered you a small smile, her hand coming up to stroke your cheek softly. She could tell you were upset and ashamed, and despite her frustration with your actions she felt empathy for you, feeling the need to offer you some comfort. “It’ll be alright, sweetheart. You’ll know better in the future”, she assured you, kissing your forehead before allowing you to exit the car.

You spent the rest of the day in your room, wanting to be alone. You didn’t do much, your eyes fixed on the TV screen in your room, following remotely what was going on in the reality show that was on. It was kind of funny to watch their messy lives unfold, a hint of a smile appearing on your face every now and then even if you were actively trying to prolong your sulking. You texted Makena every recess to keep her company, wanting to know if people were still making fun of you or not, but other than that you were glad to be home instead of math class, although you knew you were going to have to do all the exercises at some point in order to catch up with the others. You sighed, rolling onto your stomach to hide your face in a pillow. Somewhere between your racing thoughts you lost consciousness, falling asleep, the early morning alarm finally catching up to you, causing you to sleep through dinner and well into the evening until Natasha finally woke you up to get some food into you around eight o’clock. She had checked up on you at six but when she had found you asleep she had decided to let you sleep off the frustration and disappointment that she knew you were experiencing.

You weren’t exactly excited for the next school day, but you had no other choice but to attend your classes. No one spoke to you when you entered the classroom, but you did receive a couple vapid looks that made you feel slightly uneasy, like they were silently judging you. Determined not to let their opinions affect you, you carried on with your day as you would have normally. No one said anything to you, no one really tried to talk to you, other than Makena of course. You had almost expected people to tease you or ask more questions but nobody really seemed to care, or then they just found you so weird that they would’ve rather stayed away from you. Whatever the case was, you felt excluded and different, a wave of jealousy flushing through you every once in a while when you would see one of the girls from your class talk to Makena. Why did nobody want to talk to you?

Your day was frustrating and lonely, especially because you had to sit so far away from Makena who was making new friends with the two girls who sat in front of her, causing your mood to plummet in record time as you imagined how she would build an amazing friend group in middle school and you would eventually be left alone. By the time holidays came around you would probably just see her in the hallway and be lucky if she even greeted you when surrounded with her cool, popular friends. You allowed your imagination to race because the final class of the day was geography and you could not have cared any less about what the teacher was explaining. You drew circles into your notebook, alternating between that and coloring in the blocks created by the lines of the paper. Maybe you would become the class freak, one of those weird kids that sat alone at lunch, like in all the movies you had seen. Although you weren’t that weird, at least not in your opinion. Sure, you were different in some ways, but so were other people. Everyone was different, so why should you be any weirder than the other kids? You sighed, actively trying to think louder so you couldn’t hear the teacher, although you weren’t that pleased with your own thoughts either but it was better than rocks and foliage.

You had zoned out completely, the sound of the school bell snapping you back to reality rather harshly. You looked around the classroom, kids stuffing their backpacks as fast as possible as the teacher did her best to inform everyone about the homework she hadn’t had the time to properly assign. The door to the class room opened as you started to collect the items on your desk to shove into your bag, listening to the teacher greet someone, the loud chatter of your classmates drowning out her words. You minded your business, zipped your backpack, shoving your chair under the desk, before turning around to head to the door. You halted in your tracks when you saw her easily recognizable red hair, an incredulous smile appearing on your face. Natasha’s gaze turned to you briefly as she spoke to the teacher, a hint of a smile on her face as she slowly excused herself from the conversation, making her way to you, a couple hushed comments sounding from some of the kids who had slowed down as well at the presence of an unexpected visitor.

“No way. Is it really her?” You heard someone hiss, a couple more comments being whispered into the sudden silence of the classroom. “She wasn’t lying.”

“Wait, oh my god.” Another girl gasped.

“What the f-“

“Language, Jordan”, the teacher reminded him before he could quite get out what he was trying to say.

“Yo, Max, am I trippin’?” One of the kids asked, turning to his friend.

“Bro, ain’t no way”, the other boy beside him countered, clearly flabbergasted out of his mind.

Natasha approached you casually, just like any other day, swinging her hand over your shoulders to pull you into a brief side-hug, her lips pressing down on your forehead.

“How was your day?“ She asked nonchalantly, not paying mind to anyone else as she slowly walked you out of the classroom, a slight smirk on her face.

“sh*t”, you admitted, her brows furrowing.

“sh*t? How could that be?“ She inquired in disbelief, her arm tightening around your shoulders in a comforting squeeze as you walked down the hall.

“My classmates are assholes”, you moaned, leaning more into her touch.

“You just need to get warmed up to them”, she said encouragingly, knowing you weren’t the most extroverted person out there, just like her. “Take your time. It’s only the first week of school”, she reminded you, kissing the top of your head.

“They think I’m weird”, you stated, having come to the very conclusion during your geography class.

“Let them think you’re weird. Makes you all the more interesting”, she huffed. “I’ll be damned if I raised you to be boring”, she added teasingly, making you chuckle, her lips pressing down on your forehead repeatedly.

Notes:

I’d really wanna start posting my new book but I’m nervous😫

Chapter 35: The Davieses

Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter Text

Your heart hacked in your chest, you couldn’t see nor hear properly as you tried to fervently follow your mother’s movements around the apartment, watching her dress up and gather her things. You sat still, forcing yourself to be still to avoid causing any disturbances in her schedule. Your hands were on your lap as you sat in an armchair in the corner of the living room, fingers fidgeting with each other to calm your nerves but you could feel yourself lose control, lose the battle to your anxiety. The next time Natasha walked into the kitchen for whatever she was looking for, your heart sank at the sight of her black suit and the sound of her heavy boots. Your chest hurt, your lower lip trembling violently as you stared ahead, trying not to let your tears fall.

“Y/N-baby?” Her voice came from somewhere a bit closer, shattering the dam that you had so carefully crafted to try to keep yourself together.

“Mommy”, you cried suddenly, forceful sobs coming from you in a rushed pace as you started to clamber up from the chair to get to her. “Mommy!” Natasha’s brows knitted together in a worried frown as she approached you, pulling you right into her arms, holding you so very tightly as you screamed and cried right in her ear.

“Shh, solnishka (sunshine), everything’s okay”, she whispered softly, petting the back of your head in gentle strokes, her arm tightening around your waist.

“Mommy, don’t go!” You wailed in very obvious despair. “Mommy!” You continued, ragged exhales and labored gasps making it difficult for you to communicate your issue to her.

“Honey, look at me, baby. Look at mommy”, she instructed, trying to pull back enough to see your face but your arms that were wrapped around her neck didn’t yield one bit.

“No!” You cried in horror, trying to hold onto her even tighter. Your sobs were excruciating, the kind she was only used to hearing from toddlers who couldn’t regulate their emotions in any way. The power behind your wails was so raw that you couldn’t do anything but cry in the only way you knew how, seemingly having regressed a good few years as you let out long screams that could be heard throughout the entire apartment.

“What if we breathe together? Let’s take a big breath”, she suggested softly, her soothing voice a stark contrast to the loudness of your yells. Her hand found your upper back, her fingers splaying out to cover as much of the area she could, pressing you down against her chest so that you were flush against her body. She took a deep breath, exaggerating the movement of her lungs to hopefully gain your attention. She exhaled deeply, allowing her lungs to compress the air out before inhaling again. “Mommy’s right here, angel”, she reminded you, continuing to breathe in a controlled and even manner as you hiccuped loudly.

“Mom-my”, you whined, much more quietly, tears still streaming down your face at a rather rapid pace, wetting her neck and leather suit.

“Shh, don’t try to talk yet”, she said, swaying you from side to side as she waited for the worst of it to pass, her hands offering you irreplaceable comfort by holding you close to the most important thing to you in the world. “Let’s wait for the feeling to ease up a little”, she hummed, stroking your hair, her lips kissing your shoulder as she continued to rock you. “It’s okay to just feel what you feel. I know it sucks, but it won’t be forever”, she assured you, the hand on your back moving slightly as she rubbed along your spine.

“Mommy”, you whimpered as if unable to say anything else at all. There were no words for the way you felt and mommy was the only thing that could soothe you and provide you comfort. “Mommy.”

“I know, kroshka (little one), mommy knows”, she lamented quietly, still holding you as tight as ever. She breathed in your scent, feeling your warmth against her as she tried to keep up the calm atmosphere. She knew why you were crying and she knew exactly what had led to your breakdown. She didn’t need you to tell her, or explain anything, she already knew. You were scared, terrified that she was going to leave and never come back. She could see it on your face every time she left the compound for work. She could feel it in the way you hugged and kissed her goodbye, unwilling to let go of her every single time. She could see it in the way you nearly cried from joy when she came back, sometimes you did cry, overwhelmingly relieved by her return. She could sense it in the way you never left her side afterwards, the way you followed her around like a lost puppy until you finally settled down into bed beside her, tucked tightly into her side. She knew that every time she set foot on a jet without you, you felt immense emotional distress, and lately it seemed to have only gotten worse.

“Stay”, you croaked suddenly after a moment of silence, your voice a bit more even since the sobs had nearly died down completely, Natasha sighing softly. She couldn’t stay. She had already promised to go on the mission and unfortunately it happened to be an important one that she couldn’t skip or find anyone to cover for her. She closed her eyes, wincing softly for what she was about to say, the brief idea of quitting her work flashing across her mind.

“Mommy can’t stay”, she whispered apologetically, brushing her other hand over your hair, carefully pulling you back to see her face. Your eyes were pooling with tears, lips swollen and glistening from snot that had dribbled down your nose.

“Please”, you whimpered nearly imperceptibly, your fists clutching onto the collar of her suit.

“Baby, I can’t. I made a promise”, she tried again, hoping you could understand that she had no choice but to go.

“Unmake it”, you grouched, looking up at her with the most heartbreaking puppy eyes that made Natasha’s whole body ache.

“Baby girl, I can’t break my promise”, she countered, her hand cupping your damp cheek, thumb smoothing over the tender skin.

“Why not?” You huffed angrily, your brows pulling into a frustrated frown.

“Because they need me. They need mommy’s help”, she explained, leaning closer to kiss your forehead.

“No”, you protested weakly. “I need you”, you reasoned desperately, gripping her so tightly it almost hurt.

“My sweet baby, mommy has to go to work”, she tried again, her fingers tucking your hair behind your ear.

“No”, you whimpered, leaning your head onto her shoulder, a couple more sobs falling from your lips.

“Nothing is gonna happen to me. I’ll be safe the whole time. The whole time. I promise, milaya (honey)”, she whispered, brushing her hand down your arm.

“Are you sure?” You asked again, pulling back, finding it hard to trust her because your anxiety and fear were so strong.

“I’m a thousand percent sure, darling”, she assured you with all the confidence she had in herself.

“Can you promise?”

“I can pinky promise, baby”, she hummed quietly, offering her pinkie finger to you, seeing the way you seemed to brighten up at the offer, both of you knowing that a pinky promise could never be broken, not ever.

“Yeah?” You asked, excitement flooding your tone, your other hand wiping off your tears as you hooked your pinkie finger with hers.

“Yes”, she nodded definitively. “Do you think you could be brave for mommy? Just for one day?” You eyed her for a moment, looking for the bravery that you so needed. You weren’t sure if you had it in you, but you definitely wished you did. You wished you could be brave for mommy, but you knew you couldn’t promise it.

“I can try”, you whispered in disappointment upon coming to the realization that you couldn’t control your emotions.

“That’s my girl”, Natasha said in encouragement. “Who do you want me to call in to babysit you? I’ll try to get you anyone you want. Whoever makes you feel the safest”, she suggested, seeing you frown as you put on your thinking face. It made her mouth quirk up in a smile. “Who would you want here?” She repeated, her hand brushing over your hair affectionately.

“Wanda, she’s like a backup mom”, you chuckled, making Natasha smile. It was very much true, especially with the way Wanda had always been there whenever Natasha couldn’t.

“We could also ask Viv and Makena if you could go over to their house. How does that sound? It could make you feel better to be away from home as well, or do you think it would make you more anxious?” She asked gently, trying to make the situation as comfortable and as easy for you as possible.

“We could have a sleepover!” You gasped in excitement.

“Yeah, give you something else to think about”, she hummed, caressing your tear-stained cheeks. “Do you want me to call Viv?” You nodded your head immediately, finding her suggestion very clever because if you weren’t at home waiting for her to come back you would be reminded less of the one time when she came back in worse shape than she had left. You would get to leave as well and you would both be gone for a day. You could be apart from your mother for a good while with no complications now that you were starting to be older, at least as long as you knew that Natasha wasn’t fighting aliens or evil men while she was away, which was why the arrangement had a really good chance of working out for you. It would save you from the agonizing waiting where the only distractions you would have were school and whoever babysat you. But at the Davies household you would have Makena and her siblings, loving Vivienne, and the ever-so-happy Doberman named Bruno.

And so Natasha called Vivienne and sent you over to their house with the help of Wanda. You packed your backpack quickly while Natasha gathered the last of what she needed for her mission. You said goodbye to her, clinging to Natasha as tight as you had in the living room during your anxiety attack, you even shed a few more tears before you were willing to let her go. She kissed and hugged you many, many times before her departure. She even kissed your arrow necklace, a habit she had gotten into over the years as a way to soothe you. She would kiss the necklace that rested over your upper chest as a way for you to carry her kiss with you wherever you went, and if you needed any additional comfort you could hold onto it, fidget with it, kiss it, anything that would bring you more comfort. You held the arrow in your fist the whole way to the Davieses’ house, quietly playing with it as Wanda tried her best to talk to you about something that could potentially ease your stress. It didn’t really work that well because all you could do was sit, but when the car finally pulled up to the suburban driveway and you got moving, you found it much easier to get out of your head and focus on something else.

“Bruno!” You giggled in excitement, the huge dog barking loudly as he ran to you in big strides across the lawn. He jumped up against you which he wasn’t allowed to do but you sometimes let him because it was extremely fun to fall down on the yard as he licked your face clean with his wet tongue.

“Bruno, no!” Makena snickered, running after him. “Bruno”, she cried, pushing him off you so you wouldn’t get trampled by his huge paws. His attention got stolen by Wanda who emerged from the car and he bounced off with his lanky frame to go greet the second guest while Makena helped you up onto your feet, pulling you into her embrace.

“What a lovely little boy you are”, Wanda crooned at the whimsical dog that clearly had a very puppy-like personality as he bounced and bounced, unable to settle properly beside her.

“Hello, dear”, Vivienne’s voice sounded from the porch. “Why don’t you get your stuff inside and wash your hands so you can come help Makena and me in the kitchen?” She ordered politely, prompting you to get inside as she waved Wanda a small greeting. They had never met each other and were clearly not intending to get acquainted more than that because all the essentials had been communicated through Natasha, but they did exchange numbers just in case of any emergency. You said goodbye to Wanda and headed inside with Makena, Bruno following in an instant when he saw anyone do anything along the lines of running.

“Ay, Y/N!” Marco, Makena’s teenage brother cheered as you ran past him, raising up his hand for a high five just in time for you to slap it before you had already sped past him.

“Y/N!” You heard Makena’s father Theodore, or Ted, exclaim upon seeing you two race past him on the living room arm chair where he was sitting with the newspaper.

“Hi, Mister Davies!” You shouted as you ran up the stairs, hot on Makena’s heels, some more barking coming from Bruno who couldn’t handle the excitement in the house.

“I’m so happy you came! Ah, I was so bored you have no idea!” Makena shouted with a bright smile on her face, struggling to keep her voice down when she was so happy to see you. “I was in the kitchen helping mom cook dinner cause I was so bored”, she bemoaned, making you giggle loudly.

“Now we can have the best sleepover ever”, you reasoned, tossing your backpack to the end of Makena’s large bed.

“What do you wanna do after dinner? I think we can take Bruno out if Marco or dad comes with us, and go to the park. Or then we can play with dolls. Did you bring Bonnie?” Makena blabbered her mouth off, very obviously unable to decide what exactly would be the most fun activity to do with you.

“Of course I did”, you nodded, pulling your American Girl doll out of your backpack.

“We’re definitely gonna have to play at some point”, she cheered, getting another nod of agreement from you.

“Oh, and maybe we can watch a movie tonight. Maybe mama will make us popcorn”, she mused out loud, weighing all the options you had for the night.

The Davies household was always packed with so much energy you forgot all about your home and the mission Natasha had ventured on. There was so much action, so much love, so much life that you didn’t have the time to worry about death and severe injuries when you were so thoroughly engaged in everything you did. You had a casual and comfortable dinner of lamb stew and tiny roast potatoes with the whole family, followed by a long walk to the park accompanied by Bruno and Ted. Finally toward the end of the night you two convinced Vivienne to make you some popcorn and put on a movie for you in the living room where eventually the whole family ended up lounging around for the evening until bedtime finally rolled around and Vivienne ushered Jackie and Alana to bed since they were the youngest and needed the most sleep. You and Makena were the next to go right after the end credits came on. Marco didn’t stay for too long after and Vivienne fell asleep on the couch while Ted made sure everyone had brushed their teeth and were tucked away in bed before 11pm which was definitely later than usual, but by no means abnormal.

You lay in the dark of Makena’s bedroom, chatting away as quietly as possible so you wouldn’t get told off for staying up so late. You were both in the same bed because it was far too big for Makena in the first place, but additionally you found immense comfort in the fact that you wouldn’t have to sleep alone on the floor for the night. You covered your mouth with the duvet as you giggled quietly, trying to muffle any sound you were making as Makena did the same, nothing but the burgundy of her bonnet visible in the dark as she hid her face into the pillow her head lay on. You always had something to talk about and especially recently with your new middle school friend group forming around you, you found yourselves often amidst gossip and drama that made you feel so grown up, like those girls you saw in high school movies.

“Then… then”, Makena giggled loudly, your hand flying in her face.

“Shh, shut up”, you snigg*red, trying to keep quiet yourself as Makena laughed silently, her mouth agape as her whole body ached from how much fun she was having.

“Trinity said- she said…”

“What?” You moaned impatiently as she burst into yet another fit of laughter.

“She said Darren has a crush on me”, she revealed in very obvious excitement. You blanked completely at such unexpected news, feeling your insides twist into knots, thankful that the darkness around you concealed the look on your face. You had seen Darren once or twice and he was nothing special, a very average 11-year-old boy who seemed at least nice. Looks-wise he wasn’t… well much of a looker. He had big ears and a goofy grin, but the way Makena was speaking about him told you that it didn’t bother her in the slightest. “Can you believe it? He has a crush on me!” She hissed, clearly ecstatic.

“What?” You gasped in feigned excitement because suddenly you noticed that all the enthusiasm you had earlier possessed had disappeared into thin air. “Do you like him like that?”

“Yes! Oh, yes! He is so adorable”, she squealed, staring at the ceiling with a giant grin on her lips. “And cool, and funny”, she continued, a pang of upset flushing through you. No, he wasn’t. He was boring. “Ah, don’t tell anyone I said this but I’d wanna kiss him. He makes my belly flutter”, she explained, knowing you’d never tell her business to anyone who it didn’t concern. You could barely hear what she was saying. It felt so absurd. You had never even thought about boys or thought about that moment when you would finally find yourselves boyfriends. It never crossed your mind, yet there Makena was gossiping about boys.

“What do you mean flutter?” You asked in confusion, turning your head to face her.

“You know, like butterflies”, she clarified, but you didn’t know, you didn’t know at all. “It tickles and it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy”, she continued. “Ugh, I just wish I knew how to kiss”, she lamented, letting out a long sigh. Kiss? She was moving so fast you were getting whiplash. Although Makena had always been a few steps ahead of you with things like that. She had even gotten her period already. She was so much more grown than you.

“Don’t you think you should talk to him first?” You countered carefully.

“We’ve talked”, she reasoned, earning a look from you.

“Maybe twice, dummy”, you laughed, shoving her gently.

“Well, it’s something!” She giggled, going quiet for a moment, the pure silence that followed making you realize that you were probably being much louder than you realized. “Look, you can say no, but could we kiss, for practice?” She asked suddenly, turning onto her side on the bed so she could see you better in the dark. Your eyes widened as you looked at her with a shocked expression, trying to process if you had heard her correctly.

“Um, yeah, I think so”, you responded without even realizing that you had made such a decision. “Right now?” Your heart hacked in your chest from excitement.

“Yeah”, she whispered, crawling closer to you, so close that your noses brushed together. It made you let out a nervous giggle, Makena doing the same.

“On three”, you suggested, Makena nodding firmly.

“One.”

“Two”, you counted.

“Three”, she mumbled, both of you leaning forward, your noses poking each other in the face as your lips connected for no more than a second. You never realized you could feel so much in a single second. Her lips were soft, so incredibly soft and warm that it took all your attention, your mind zeroing in on the gentle touch of her lips that suddenly made you so warm you were burning up under the covers. Makena giggled out of nerves, both happy and proud of your little achievement. “Now I know how to do it”, she whispered, but you couldn’t really process her excitement, just a little left behind in the moment.

The conversation died down slowly after, both of you yawning between every other word as the clock ticked quietly on Makena’s nightstand, the time already well past midnight. You were too exhausted from the emotional day to continue the conversation any longer, your eyelids drooping shut as you cuddled one of Makena’s squishmallows in your arms, your hand holding onto the arrow around your neck. The following morning when you woke up to the ruckus Alana and Jackie were making it was like nothing had ever happened in the darkness of her bedroom. Neither of you addressed the kiss, nor Darren, and you both just carried on with your day, going downstairs for breakfast. You had been over at Makena’s at least a thousand and one times and were more than used to the culture and customs of their household. You had scrambled eggs with tomato and onion paired with buttered toast for breakfast and that day it happened to be one of your lucky days because Vivienne had made Tom Brown which was a porridge-like dish that especially Jackie ate as the youngest of the family. She had found a strong liking to it during her weaning phase as a baby, although the entire family enjoyed the dish and ate it rather regularly. You had been introduced to it early on in your visits and you understood very well why they all liked it.

“Natasha called”, Vivienne began as you sat at the breakfast table, her hand sliding down your back in a gentle caress before she slid some eggs onto your plate, next to your toast that you had already nibbled on a bit. “She’s coming to pick you up in the afternoon”, she informed you, briefly kissing the top of your head before moving onto Makena who sat beside you.

“Did she sound okay?” You asked immediately, your question coming off strange to Vivienne because it sounded like you felt the need to take care of your mother.

“Yes, dear, she’s perfectly fine”, she assured you, knowing that you had intense anxiety at times regarding your mother’s line of work.

“Okay, good”, you hummed softly, turning around to see the kitchen counter, your eyes searching for a pot. “Vivienne, could I have some more Tom Brown, please?” You asked politely, offering your bowl to the woman who exuded luxury even on a casual Saturday morning in her emerald green, satin morning robe that was draped over her slim figure, her curls a bit more tousled than normally as a result of the long week she had had. Her face broke into a knowing grin as she took the bowl from you, scooping you some more of the light brown porridge, topping it off with evaporated milk while Makena and Alana were trying to sneak bites of buttered bread to Bruno who wasn’t supposed to be in the kitchen during mealtimes.

“Girls”, she said in a warning tone that you recognized from both her and Natasha, the sisters turning around to look at her with slightly widened eyes as they hid the tiny pieces of bread behind their backs. You glanced at Bruno who waited patiently by the kitchen entrance so that the girls would throw him more treats, saliva dripping down his snout and onto the floor. You felt slightly bad for him, but you would never want to anger Vivienne because quite frankly when she snapped she could be rather intense. Makena was used to her mother’s temper, but you would have never dared to test it, especially since you were not very familiar with harsh orders and comments, Natasha rarely even raising her voice at you.

You had spoken about it with Makena one time and you had learned that she found it weird that Natasha was always so calm and gentle with you. Vivienne was never loud, she didn’t yell orders at the top of her lungs, but she had a coldness to her tone whenever the kids misbehaved. It was harsh and definitive, and never in a million years would you have tried to retaliate against her, but Makena did not care about such a thing. The second Vivienne had turned around, the piece of bread in Makena’s hand flew across the kitchen for Bruno to catch right from the air, the loud smack of his mouth sounding in the kitchen. Vivienne turned around slowly, Alana already staring intensely at the eggs on her plate so that her mother wouldn’t think it was her who had misbehaved.

“Makena, let that be the last one”, she said coolly, clearly remaining a bit more gentle than what her kids were used to as a way to respect you and your presence. You were probably the reason they even dared to mess around in the first place. You found it rather comedic.

After breakfast you played outside in the crisp fall weather, the leaves slowly starting to change colors and fall to the groun