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Spinning Arrows

By dreamscaper1675

Romance / Drama

Chapter 1

"Natasha," Listening to his concerned and unimposing voice echo through the walls, Natasha felt for the first time her heart shutter, breaking her out of the conflicting void.

Stubbornly, the scarlet haired spy made no effort to turn around; and she looked into the smoldering azure of his benevolent eyes; she was teetering closer to the tipping edge of the jagged knife that pierced many hearts of her lifetime; reaching the defining moment of exposing everything to him—all of her scarred and raw emotions that had clawed many of times against the torn layers of her damaged heart—violation.

Collectively, Natasha summoned the restrictions of noxious Black Widow from the core—putting on the act of being defiant in front of the super-soldier. 

Deep inside, she wanted to bury everything beyond the marrow of her bones and shove way the chance of release. She had refused to invite him into her unpredictable world of moral compromise and betrayal. 

Though, she felt the twisting weaves of merciless guilt unfurl in the gray shades of her tampered soul-the damming reproach of utmost regret.

"What do you want, Steve?"

Engrossed about her new coarse of life to take felt like twisting knife of agony, silting into every layer of her heart; reminding Natasha that she was overburdened from the absent choices she had made when she craved a taste of freedom, a surge of happiness that didn't result in misery. 

Natasha betrayed the entity of the Black Widow-diminished the unbreakable apathy and venom that polluted her veins. She'd allowed herself to accept a sour of taste of what it felt like to feel mortal in loving arms of man, but the spitefulness of her altered nature made that world crash and burn. 

Now, she wanted to become numb and kill that mere glimpse of hope; to be realistic with her disobedient soul: she wasn't in love with Steve Rogers.

Love was complicated—no strings could ever be attached to the leaden interior of her guarded heart.

Taking a deep, unsettling breath, Natasha unceremoniously revolved gracefully around and found his tall, statuesque body, standing in front of the huge windows. 

He wasn't dressed in his Avenger's dark navy blue uniform with the red and white stripes, he looked vaguely different wearing a tailored black suit and tie. His blond hair was spiked and unkempt, but his chiseled and angular face was downcast as he clutched a fresh red petaled rose in his large hand, a symbol of affection and acceptance. It was clear to her, that Steve was fighting against an inward struggle of uncertainty between ties and freedom.

Natasha knew him too well—and always in some ways displayed a hint of affection of his noble witless heart much like a good friend. She was neither. She was his lethal protector in the ambiance of shadow, and also the missing piece that completed his wounded heart. 

She would never admit that secured truth and convince herself that much like her diversity of identities that love didn't exist in her grim and implacable world.

...Love is for children...

Keeping his distance, Steve feeling disconnected with his heart, leaned his muscular body causally against the railing; his open and searing blue eyes , intently observed her disposition of fighting the tempest of choice. 

A part of him wanted to embrace her into his arms, feel the softness of her lips melding with his into a feverish kiss of reserved passion, that came alive when raving fire of her lips melted the ice that was still encased over his broken and distant heart.

Natasha didn't love him, she always ran when he tried to shield her when vulnerability set a rancid recourse in her.

There was something more existent behind the walls they had built, not an illusion or glimpse, but a real and transparent connection that they shared whenever their hearts were parallel. 

She had walked away and allowed that dream to fade when she told him '...goodbye...' and it was over before it could even begin to morph into something indestructible when the oceans of lies and darkness threatened to drown them.

When Steve dared himself to look at her, he became a captive in her intent greenish-blue eyes, obscured by the defeat of uncertainty. 

At one time, the captain thought he'd found another dream to chase after—another to reason to believe in love. Regardless, he could never say those three honest and meaningful words: I love you. Not without the soldier inside of him steering him onward to another mission away from home. He was still undeniably in love with her, but he had to sacrifice his own heart to give her a chance to feel the utmost of happiness without him.

He had to let her go... Just like he did with Peggy when the radio faded out and he was alone drifting into the icy abyss.

'Stop running after an old dream. Chase after a new one, Captain.'

Steve had dropped his helmet, laid down his shield and retreated back into the past when he was hexed with a spell, pulling him onto a dream that never ended in the recesses of his mind. 

Scarlet Witch had given him a taste of false delirium; tangling his utmost desires and made the pain tie into a knot. He shut down his reservations, and forced himself to slip through the red weaves of the sorcery.

The resilient soldier in him had given up the fight; surrendering his most vulnerable pieces of his heart, and falling into ripples of regret. The glimpses of the dark spell, locked him into the gray area of indecision and desperation.

 He was bound with the remorse of never dancing with a young and vibrant Peggy Carter at the Stork Club, never feeling her cherry red lips melt melting into his own deep, loving; feeling their adjoined bodies swaying to the gentle tempo of the music that replayed in the background.

It was just morbid vision.

His heart ached. Steve felt the sickness of regret crawl through his bones. Everything drained from his body, all his reservations diminished in that one thought of releasing the woman he loved to another reputable man: Doctor Bruce Banner. 

Feeling utterly crestfallen by his painful choice, Steve knew that it defined the purest measures of his devoted love to Natasha.

 'Don't give up the fight, Rogers.'

"So did you receive a post card from Banner yet?" he asked, wearing a frail hint of a smile over his lips. He held her wary stare. He saw the warring desperation in her teal eyes, the undeniable need for stability from the recurring nightmares of the Red Room.

 Natasha deserved a life without the shackles of the past binding her to the darkness. Her world was falling apart, and she couldn't trade in her sins anymore. Everything she had done was now exposed and all her confessions were no longer falsehoods of truth. She was on the tipping point of entering despair.

"He can't run forever." He took another step closer, not closing the gap between them. "You'll see Banner again, when he feels it's the right time to return to us."

"I'm fine, Steve," Natasha issued with a biting retort, holding her cool, restrictive poise."You know I really don't understand why I keep on looking back, the past can't be changed and I can't run anymore," she whispered, with a hint of nonchalance in her raspy voice. She curved the fullness of her coaxing lips into a shadow of a rueful smirk, disallowing the intrusions of pain to avail. "How's the dating game going with Sharon? Have you been practicing?"

Inside it felt like her soul was being chipped away once her eyes glanced back at the wall, Natasha couldn't muster up the energy to avert her eyes away from the structure obstructing her gaze from the world. 

It was becoming a distraction for her to use against the constant pulses of pain. She refused to become defeat and corroded with ugliness of the wasted moment, she spent chasing after Banner, her heart wasn't intact. She dared herself not to trust, to remain undaunted by the forsaken clashes of choice and emotions.

Hearing the measure of snark in her low deceptive voice, Steve absently squared his broad jaw into a hard clench, and set his glacial azure eyes upon her. 

He observed the differences; they came from different worlds, he believed in righteous ideals and fought to preserve the liberties of justice and freedom. She fought to save her own skin when dire circumstances threatened to chase her down.

It had became clear to him, like many of times that she was trying to bury away her grievances, concealing the tainted emotions back into the dark threads of her soul. 

She was searching for something that would help her figure out that behind the brazen exterior of seduction of the Black Widow was purity and undamaged reserves of trust and possibly...Love.

Instead of breaching the the proximity between them, Steve folded his arms securely over the vigorous expanse of his solid chest, wrinkling his black suit.

"Stop being concerned about my life, you told me that what had was over..." he shot back, glaring intensely at her with stormy blue eyes. He took up a defense posture, refusing to expose the sourness consuming his veins and ignoring the dull shock of pain that merely threatened to rip open his heart. "Don't you remember, unless that was a lie?"

Natasha parted her lips, having doubt thrusting upon her."I never meant hurt to you, Steve," she returned, with shaky edge in her voice."It's just that we're too different."

"Natasha, stop bringing up the past, " he grounded out, driving his infuriated gaze at the window, his eyes filled with disturbance, heaviness and cogitation.

 He mentally assessed the new female recruits training with Sam Wilson on the field's track. Sam was presently working up a sweat as he harshly sprinted another lap with Wanda running on his right and Agent Sharon Carter on his left. 

"They're still not ready. We need to show them how to push their limits, without being rough around the edges. We're still not a team...Everyone needs to learn how to trust each other and overcome their differences. It's the only we can fight together."

"How come your being so damned concern about everybody else, but not yourself, Steve?" Natasha pried indignantly, sensing his evasiveness to her questioning. She looked affronted by the slightest regard of his despondence.

She managed to invade when his guard was down, using a simple and effective question, "So I guess things are going strong with you and Sharon?"

It was obvious that the super-soldier was still uneasy about the whole dating game. If it wasn't Sharon...Maria would be the next choice for America's most eligible and modern-day hybrid of Athena's wisdom and war torn spirit and Adonis' sculpted physique of perfection. It unnerved her that Steve was so stubborn and naive when it came to confronting a beautiful and strong woman. 

It was like something was holding him back. A lifetime promise that permeated encased over his virtuous heart. He still belonged to her.

Natasha sensed his whilst struggle to grasp onto reality. "Sharon is a good match for you. She's nice, tough and knows how to fire a gun well," she teased darkly. "I suppose you already knew that, since she watched you closely as your neighbor while pretending to be a nurse."

"Yeah," Steve responded in a short hitch of breath, narrowing his dismal blue eyes to the floor. "Sharon is a very nice dame for conversation..."

His wavering voice trailed, almost like he was avoiding to complete his answer. "I'm not ready to settle down yet. We both know that relationships can tie you down if you're not with the right partner..."

Steve regarded his transfixed eyes on her; urgency welled in the storms of cerulean and turquoise rims of his irises. Surges of indomitable trust and sealed devotion that made the irreversible damaged layers of her heart skip a few beats. She forced a smile, conveying all her masks to hide the fragile threads of emotion. "I guess it all depends where you're standing..."

"Where do you stand, Steve?" she queried, stepping an inch away from the platform and sauntering closer to him. She refused to profess her sins. "In the shadows where demons hide or in the light where angels get broken wings?"

"I haven't figured that out yet," he admitted in low compressed breath, honesty shimmering in his eyes. "I guess it all depends on who takes a stand with me."

Natasha lowered her eyes, and nodded. "I'm guessing that you just want Sharon to be a friend?" she inquired seriously, catching on to his disquiet expression.

There was an aching sense of incompleteness arising within her. Natasha allowed herself to become disarmed and act like a love sick puppy, chasing after a man who shared the same form of rejection, doubts and condemning truths as she did. It wasn't the recalibrated woman they had butchered to feel no apathy, hollow to the suffering and wear a murderous charade of a weapon who condemned not to resist the urges of succession when the blade caught the congealment of blood of her prey.

Her body was used as tool for felicitating possession and dominance. She was unmade to feel to humanity, just the relentlessness bite of coldness. Her soul had been replaced by a dark flame, and her body perfected to become utilized as sleek and lethal as a gun.

Natasha had power to control and to take away life...The corrupted part of her damaged heart sought Banner as escape from the torment. 

Bruce knew what it felt like to be a monster and to have no chance of living in the normal world. She had clung onto the rational pain, using him as an anchor to save her from the guilt that never ceased to spread through her veins.

She couldn't tame her demons.

Somewhere, deep in the recesses of her mind, Natasha knew it was fantasy to fall in love with a beast and to just run away with him. That left her soul dormant and trapped in the evident disbelief that she was meant to stray far from the unfeigned hope of holding someone else's heart, when their world was swallowed by the darkness. 

She felt disgusted, in every sense. Her vulnerably had been exploited, like she was made of glass, cracked and scattered in all directions. She was becoming aware of those unruly emotions, and grasped onto Steve's pain. "What do you really want, Steve?"

"I don't know anymore..." The broken words rolled off his tongue heavy with uncertainly and hesitation. What did he want? He'd never pondered on it so much before; he bought other's lives before his own. 

All Steve knew was that he needed to regain something that he had lost. He looked at her with distantly. A sheen of a tear brimmed in his eye that he quickly blinked away. He was completely and irreversibly in love with her.

He raked his finger through his blond hair nervously, trying to recollect, his mind was being overwhelmed with feelings of disarray guilt and desolation. He looked up at her and felt his heart clench in his chest. 

"I want to have stability back in my life," he whispered out a confession, folding his lips into a taunt grimace. 

His eyes glimmered, a nonchalant breath ghosted from his lips. 

He was tired of feeling emptiness, of being haunted every night by plagues of his grief, burdens and his utmost failure to save his best friend. 

A part of him wanted to reverse time and fix everything that had been done, and grow old watching the eclipses of chaos and order merge into one shadow over the world. He couldn't fathom the dream of spending his days surrendering to time, loving his wife and protecting his children.

'You can't live forever, Rogers, but then again who does...'

Steve had evolved and broke those strings, leaving that man in the ice and never looking back into those delusions.

"That's never gonna happen." He settled his steely resolve even at the wall, imagining every name of his friends fading within the cracks of time. 

He was displaced, his existence had forever been mounted on a brick that had scattered from the hammer of fate—crushing him in that daring moment of making the choice to go down in ice. It was brutal to admit that he had to let go of who he had once been and who he wanted to become. 

"Things have changed and it's time to move on and find another war to fight. It's all I'm meant to do, Nat. All I'll ever be is a soldier."

"So you're really going through with this...Entering the battlefield with a trash can lid?" Bucky whispered with strained inflection arising in his tone. He kept on glancing at his left hand, absently clenching and unclenching it into a fist.

 His full lips slanted into a despondent frown and he narrowed his pale blue eyes; looking at the half-emptied glass of whiskey set in front of him. It took a brief moment for him to absorb the detailed changes of his life. Steve was no longer that scrawny sack of bones he used to lug around on the main streets of Brooklyn.

His best friend...His little brother had grown and transformed into an enhanced super-soldier, and he was caught in the divisions of disbelief.

"Don't tell me you're doing it to impress the dames, Stevie?"

"I could ask you the same question, Buck..." Steve took a sip of whiskey, leveling his unvaried stare on his friend's disquiet. He felt so much ease with Bucky at his side. A cold and shuttering reminder managed to pierce through his bones, and he had believe that no enhanced serum or indomitable will could bring a fallen shoulder back. It's what haunted the most, above anything else.

It was a fool's chance that guided him to Zola's laboratory, and made him free his best friend out of the restraints.

Bucky looked utterly exhausted. His chiseled slacked, face was gaunt and blemished with reminders of his struggle to fight against Zola's experiments. There were smears of dried maroon on his broad jawline, and his rakish brown hair was unkempt. He didn't wear the visage of his dapper and cocky self; instead he had the semblance of a lost soldier, trapped in a delusion that his defiant spirit was no longer alive.

"Just tell me that you're not really thinking about going back out there?" Bucky asked, holding Steve's unyielding and very stubborn expression. "C'mon, Steve, you know that it's risk...I've seen what their weapons can do to men in matter of seconds," he warned, with omission held in his gruff tone. "It's not pretty."

"It's something I've gotta to do, Buck. One man can make a difference..." Steve returned admirably; the fullness of his lips tugged into a weak confident smile. He grasped Bucky's hand firmly, wrinkling the frayed muted green material with a brotherly squeeze of assurance. "...even if he's a punk from Brooklyn," he jabbed, with glint of honesty shimmering in his eyes.

Inside, Steve felt his heart had been reclaimed to numbness, wounded by testaments of strength and mortal failures. Each memory felt like a piercing knife carving his noble spirit into splinters; fragments of unfurling doubt and unsettling grief. It was a sickness that the serum couldn't flush out—a dire need of direction that made him stand on the arrow of a broken compass; spinning and never reaching the point of home's return.


"I can't go through with this anymore," he said incertitude, with a weak, cracked voice. He had reached the crossroads. Frustrated, he threw down the rose, letting the petals detach and scattered across the floor. He looked -really looked —at her. There was a semblance of desperation veiling over his blue eyes; he was haunted with abatement. His soul internally cringed at the very thought of her running off with Banner. He calmly vented any misplaced hard feelings against the good doctor, even though he knew Natasha deserved happiness—she deserved more than that. Her connection with Banner seemed ominous—he was a destructive being of mutated rage with an internal struggle to remain human.

Steve was hanging onto reason; fighting the trepidation coiling in his stomach that outmatched the powerful impulse of choice surging through him.

 Some of the dark edges of jealously fell away as he regained his stalwart composer and held back the agonizing unrequited urge to kiss her. 

He couldn't process those feelings. Not when he was too absorbed in his mind that he forgotten about her dilemma.

Swallowing down a tight knot in his throat, Steve's demeanor morphed into an envious mask. Banner didn't see the real Natasha. 

He didn't know about the scars she carried, the horrors she suppressed, the remnant of betrayal etched on her ivory skin across her bikini line; he didn't know the woman underneath the complexities, the raw defenses and resistance. Steve saw right through the darkness shrouding her face.

He pierced each mask and held onto her as though her heart was his own hands. He wasn't unstable like the Hulk; he was an avenging soldier of truth and freedom who carried every burden, and who shielded her with his grace when she was being chased by dark memories and merciless demons.

Taking an involuntarily step back, Steve reformed a barrier of tension between them. Natasha shook her head, disappointed in his hesitation until it was warranted. She had to take charge of the situation.

 Steve couldn't abort—not this time. He released an even breath. Everything was starting to unravel. "It's not because I don't like Sharon...I just feel that she's the right one. I thought I could force myself and pretend to be happy and live. It's just that everything is different and I have to make some sacrifices."

Natasha stiffened her lips into a flat line. He was being unbelievable. She was trying to help grasp a new perspective on life, but he was stubborn.

 She had to take a stand. 

"Stop gambling with your heart, Steve," she said with a bitter edge rising in her low tone. "Give Sharon a chance. If you can't do it for yourself than do it for me..." 

Her voice dipped into a soft utterance. Something compelled her to add no matter how much it stung, "I want to see you finally live. Stop pretending that you're brave and willing to face the future alone. Go back to Sharon...Have something that I can't, Captain America."

Steve felt those words scrape against his heart, and he was staring at her: trying to remove the impulses as his chiseled face became more lax. Steve knew he was pushing himself closer to that line, breaking through his limits and trying to reach for her. He didn't want to break their trust. 

When he subdued his emotions, Steve chanced his eyes to fall directly onto her beautiful face. He was caught in an illusion of the woman he loved, standing near the railing, lost and silent in world that took everything away from her. Natasha almost looked lifeless—a ghost fading in her regrets. She kept everything locked within herself, pretending that she was fine. He knew her too well to believe that.

"You mean like you did with Banner," Steve finally released an unruly disheartened sigh; he felt another wielding knife twist in his heart.

 Natasha fixed her eyes back onto the slate wall, staring absently at the cool reflections of the day trapped in the pure blackness. She was cheating out her dreams, barely holding onto her undamaged mortality that she had managed to salvage from the tortures and experiments. 

The captain in him warned himself not to approach her, to keep his guard up and stand his ground against the envious streak that sliced through him. 'Banner doesn't like to be pressured into something he can't keep...'He thought with an inkling of jealously.

Revulsion flooded in his veins in that devolving moment he realized that he wasn't the compassionate and benevolent soldier. That man was turning into a cold, hardened person and before he suffered another attack of erosion against his soul in the wake of desperation, Steve tore his eyes away from her.

 He withdrew a step back for recollection, and the corrupted part  of his heart wondered what she really saw in Banner. 

"Ask yourself this one question, Natasha, does Banner make you     happy or are you using him like you did with me?"

"I think you're entering a dangerous territory, Steve," Natasha warned, with clear intent. She leaned up against the railing, her tone arms crossing over her chest while her expression grew stony against the sense of the urgency that wavered in the flummoxed tone in his voice.

 She stared back at him, knowingly. "Bruce is finally someone I can trust with my hellish past." There was abate struggle of truth and deception. 

She tipped her head down and drew out a calm breath, then added with the ease of a whisper, "I'm no longer ashamed to reveal those dark secrets; even the ones that aren't kept on file for HYDRA data mining. He makes me feel comfortable and relatable, instead of being on the edge with someone who doesn't have a dim in their lightened soul."

Steve was taken aback. His eyes narrowed, somberly. "Do you trust him enough to put your life into his hands?"

Natasha didn't responded to the agonizing questioned that seemed to resurface from his heart. Her eyebrows furrowed when she regarded him with an unsettling gaze: searched for the uncompromising truth welled in his sky blue eyes. Her lips unsealed enough for breath and her heartbeat steadied even with the disruptions of guilt. Every nerve seemed to fray, while her emotions felt defective. She could tell that she was torturing him, allowing him to feel pain that made the blood drain from his heart.

She had to restore their bond.

"When the walls were coming down, it was his big green hands that kept me safe during an explosion," Natasha spoke softer, more truthful. "I remember him placing me down on the flight deck. He saved my life because he knew that I trusted the monster." Steve became impassive with concern, he leveled his searing blue eyes at her, trying to grasp onto her words as she added, "I know that you think Bruce is not the right one for me, but you need to understand that our worlds are the same. We can try to live without the nightmares. We can find a safe place. We can belong somewhere that will give us freedom."

Steve dreaded the possibility of Natasha spending a life with a man who didn't know the real woman beyond the tangled weaves of the Black Widow. 

His mind was in turmoil. His heart pounding with irregular beats. He felt like a fool to believe that he had a chance with her. He was acting selfish to his own needs, that he didn't allow himself to show a piece of happiness for her. He was too late. 

He didn't make the move. 

They had drifted apart when SHIELD collapsed and the sordid truth of his best friend was unraveled. He had allowed her to come into his world, throwing down his shield and gave her a glimpse of the man underneath the uniform.

After he recovered from his injuries, Steve had taken the Soviet file on the Winter Soldier from her hands; the foundation of their partnership crumbled and she slipped away back into the shadows, leaving him behind to mend his internal and external wounds without her to bandage them up.

That was when Steve realized the cold and twisted truth; that Natasha had been playing him with false securities of their uncertain friendship.

 She would never let him invade her dark world of fundamental lies and self-preservation. And yet, she revealed everything to Banner about the enduring severe traumatic experiences she experienced in the Red Room. It was a process of dehumanization and rebirth.

They had infused her with mixtures of serums and made her hollow so that she would feel nothing—only detachment. She was unmade and forced to have her emotions reset into a balance of dormant power and carnal nature. 

When they were hiding in Sam's house, she allowed Banner to receive her deep sealed confessions about her existence, her choices and her vulnerability.

"What will you pay to have that freedom, Nat?" he returned, the absence of discomfort allowed him to breathe. His stare became parallel to her scolding teal eyes. "Banner will always run. He's not stable enough to share a life with you. You may see him different than what he sees every day, but in the end he can never give you what you want."

She stared at him darkly, a threatening edge crept up her throat. "How the hell do you know what I want?" she snapped, pain evident in her eyes. "We're not the same."

 Tears were already beginning to gather in her eyes. She felt abraded, raw and trapped; she knew Steve would chase her if she ran.

 "Tell me what I want, Rogers?" she prodded, with hate rising in her voice. "You think I believe in love? That is for children. Nothing else. In my world, it becomes used against you, scar that burns deep when your heart gets betrayed and everything that you were, becomes erased until you feel just a scrape of regret cross over those wounds."

"I can't tell you, Natasha. I tried being a friend and a partner when you needed me. I put my own life at risk to make sure you were safe, and you sometimes pretend that I don't even exist." His stomach roiled with sickening tension, and his skin became slackened with feverish heat.

 He couldn't even consider letting her chase after Banner without the truth being rectified between them. "You shut me out, every time I want see the real you. The woman I've gotten to know through our failure and victories. Now, you're trying to push me way because you only see yourself as a monster who doesn't deserve a home."

Natasha shook her head. The ire in her eyes made his vindicated heart tremble. She curled her fingers into a effectual fist; clasping the railing, feeling ashamed that her choices and scars won't bare the exposure of light.

She stared back at the wall and wanted to use Thor's hammer to break through the slate, and recall the desperate urge to run away: to hide where Steve couldn't track her down. She suffered too much guilt to give him a reason to follow her back into the shadows.

"You don't understand what I've done, Steve. You think that I can change and be the good girl like Peggy Carter. I can't hide from the past. It will always find me, and if someone I care about dies because I failed to push them away..." She glanced back at him, looking deeply into the fathoms of pain swirling around the sharpness of his focused blue irises. Her body titled against the railing.

She couldn't face him, not disarmed and unable to resist the urge to melt into the firmness of his chest. She wanted to think about him living again. No more being called into battle and fighting for people who didn't deserve his shield.

 He needed to live and recollect the years that he had lost. Sharon Carter was someone that could give him back a good life and family. 

At first, it seemed inexplicable for her to reveal so much in a short amount of time.

 It was a paradox.

 "If one of my friends becomes a victim of my past, then I will know that I'm a monster," she revealed, her voice disguised by remorse. "That's why I'll keep on running."

Steve screwed his eyes shut. He took a slow, long breath and regathered his composure. "Stop believing yourself to be one, Nat," he spoke in a gravelly pained voice, opening his eyes and watching her expression morph into an unreadable semblance. 

She was tugging on his heart strings—again. There was a lurid coldness encasing over his skin, almost like another crashing wave of sickness. He needed to tell her. 'I'm the one who cares and understands you. Not Banner. It's me, Natasha. It's always been me waiting to take you dancing.'

"I don't know what else to believe in, Steve," Natasha replied coldly, her scarlet curls fell against her pale cheeks. It hurt to lose him. To trade him away for a chance to redeem her sins.

She had used him as a pawn to cheat her way back to freedom. She was a prisoner until she looked into the clear truth residing in his blue eyes. She was caught in the middle of a punishing impasse, frozen and unsure what to expect if she changed direction and searched for home. She couldn't bring herself to live in someone else's shadow. Before Natasha steeled herself to back away from the wall, Steve strode forwards in thundering fervent steps, and seized her wrist. "Let go of me, Steve," she growled, eyes flared with anger. His hold had secured her body against him. "What are you doing—"

"What I meant to do, Natasha," he proclaimed with the adamant edge of Captain America. He held her lithe body firmly against his the coiling muscles of his sculpted chest, the broad skin rippled with electrical currents of acceptance. She felt the tendrils of heat waver from his soft lips as they brushed against her rigid jaw. Despite any reservations, he wanted to relinquish control of the pain and believe in trust again—in their love.

He tried pretending that he was strong enough to overcome the grief of losing Bucky to the will of HYDRA, and act like he was hellbent on fighting any war. He couldn't live without the desire to save people from the destruction of humanity's corruption and error, or other—worldly threats that were out there. It was ingrained in his blood, his heart and his soul. Now, he wanted a calm against the storm, to take a leap of faith and relive the forgotten dreams.

Steve wanted to free himself from the empty, hollow void of penitence. A dull throb vaguely entered his heart as he stared at her for a moment. Unblinking. Searching. He gazed into her teal eyes, still and reticent while the constant urge to kiss her became a surge of fire within him. He wasn't submitting to defeat. He wasn't letting her go. 

When he found his mind to be coherent, more in his control without resentment towards Banner, he spun Natasha around with a possessive grapple in his large coarse hands. Her face buried into his dense planes of his chest muscles, and he breathed, making no attempt to drown his resolve without being irrational, but conscious with a determined optimism for a real future with her. "I'm saving you."

"Steve, don't do this...I know..." she managed, sounding distant. She had to run. The agony wasn't assailing from her.

 The moments crawled into icy and shattered confessions. The world was crumbling beneath her feet, everything tilted and she latched her arms around the back of his neck, using him as an anchor to pull her out from the darkness. "You deserve more..." Her voice cracked. She kept on falling and sinking into a deep, cold chasm in the depths of her past.

"So do you..." he said, holding her close.

Her soul flinched as she felt the thermal heat of his palms envelope, jolting over her skin. If she believed in love, she would have pursed Banner. It was horrid to feel him shielding her, disallowing doubt and giving her a chance to breathe again with condemning thoughts.

She needed him to tell her that everything would be fine, to tell her that she was safe, and the monsters no longer existed in her reflections. Bruce was gone. He left her side, but Steve was there, holding her in the wrenched moment where she needed someone more than a friend. She needed redemption, a compass and an angel to guide her back into the light. Steve was all those things. She was struggling to grasp onto veracity of that understanding which had always been latent.

When she pulled away, she caught the sheen of tears brimming in his blue orbs. "I guess you've got nowhere to go tonight?" She felt a weak smile etch over her lips, with a behest residing in her eyes.

Steve squared his jaw, his eyebrows creased and the azure of his eyes held the speckle of assurance that they were going to make it out of the storms—together.

Natasha lightly traced her finger over the smooth arch of his lips as he angled his head, tilting it slowly to shadow her skin with a flush of heat. 

He was holding her, seemingly relaxed; less defeated. His balmy lips hovered over her mouth, the point of his masculine nose pierced into her cheek, and the power of his eyes ignited into embers of fire—bolts of blue energy and clashes of light and shadow.

 The remnants of Captain America and the strength of a timeless soldier who fought amorphous demons wearing the flesh of humanity, and who battled with his own heart to hold onto his friend's drifting spirit. He was back—Steven Grant Rogers had returned from the gray abyss of war, and he was ready to live without the restraints of irresolution.

Home was close...He had to choose which road to take. He loved her. Inside, Steve knew that he to prove it.

It was a moment of disarmament. Emboldened, Steve fiercely tilted her, head back crashing her full and pliant lips into a ravenous kiss, sealing the wet heat of his hunger onto her bottom lip, holding firm and bruising pressure as he felt her mouth quiver. He was pouring everything into her, tasting the ridges of her mouth, and stealing the air out of her lungs. It wasn't like the kiss that he shared with Peggy on the runaway back in 1944. This kiss was pure, indomitable, and filled with laving passion.

He just took her away with him; his broad, stabilizing arm fell idly over the planes of her lower back and his lips devoured her as he embarked a sensuous journey, relishing the explosive, deepening kiss that overwhelmed their firm interlocking, dueling bodies. In the mere seconds of merging heat and flesh, they had felt breathless—complete.

After a silent protest escaping from her throat, Steve detached his lips from hers. The bruised arch of his mouth curled against the slather of moistened lips, and he looked into her eyes; hazed and trusting. He felt everything dissolve away.

Natasha fingers slid over his shoulders and her copper locks caressed his chin. She tilted and he stroked his thumb along her jaw, wiping away the tears that she released, and ending her pain with a heady and needing kiss that melded the shared heat into a promise—I will love you—when he rested his sweat dotted forehead against hers.

He eyelids closed, and he kissed her, deeper and fathomless, before he took a step back and looked down at the aglow of devotion in her eyes.

He smiled at her, genuine and loving. He lifted his hand and threaded his fingers through her copper strands. His touch mended the broken and marred bits that stirred in her.

 "What do you see when you look at me, Nat?" he whispered, tentatively, feeling her body relax into the warmth and security that resided within him. It was real and filled with acceptance.

Staring into his blue eyes, Natasha felt the walls between them crumble into dust, everything that made them Captain America and the Black Widow merged together into a complete foundation of trust. 

It would grow stronger until finally they claim it as a home.

Tracing her thumb gently over his lips, Natasha smiled, free and restored. She knew where she belonged. With that, she wrapped her arms around him and answered, with all the honestly she could muster up, "Lyubov."

                                                   The End

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