Continuities: The Avengers (2012)
Genres: Drama, Romance, Slice-Of-Life
Summary: Pepper waits as Natasha broods.
Date Of Completion: June 20, 2018
Date Of Posting: December 13, 2018
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel Comics and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 873
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: The entire series can be found here.
Her eyes crinkled,
And she kissed me.
</b>Shell Ann Kepler
Pepper entered Avengers Tower gratefully. It had been a long day at Stark Enterprises, and she was glad to leave the problems of the day behind. She was looking forward to getting out of this knit dress and especially these stiletto heels. Her feet were killing her.
The heels clicked sharply on the polished parquet lobby floor. She nodded at the security guard sitting at the round desk with a monitor showing the outside of the building. Another guard sat in an office behind the desk where he watched multiple monitors.
Pepper entered an elevator and used her key card to access the upper floors where the Avengers’ living quarters were located. The ride up was smooth and quiet, just the way Pepper liked it. When the elevator stopped and she stepped out, she was met by silence.
Her heels clicked as she walked down the corridor toward her suite. There were no sounds coming from the kitchen and living room. Where was everybody?
She went into her bedroom and took off her clothes, padding to the bathroom on bare feet. What a blessed relief to take off those stilettos! She turned on the water in the shower and felt her muscles relax as the hot water cascaded over her body. She tilted her head and let the water run through her hair, every inch of her body sluiced by the magnificent water.
Yeah, I needed this.
She allowed herself a few minutes’ more indulgence before she reluctantly shut off the water. Toweling herself dry, she slipped on an old pair of dark-blue pants and a light-blue T-shirt. She put on a pair of comfortable old sandals and strolled out to the kitchen, which was empty. Not even a pot of Tony’s coffee was brewing. The living room was also empty of her friends.
Did everyone go for a Boys’ Night Out? Nat, too?
Dusk had fallen and the stars were starting to appear in the summer sky. Pepper gazed out at the city and then realized one of the stars was a glowing light. She squinted and recognized it as the top of a cigarette.
Pepper went out on deck and slowly walked toward the pool. The water shimmered in reflections from neighboring buildings’ lights as a half-moon peeked out from behind violet clouds.
There were lounge chairs and tables by the pool. In one lounge chair, a sinuous form stretched out.
She was smoking her favorite brand of Russian cigarette, staring at the sky. She didn’t acknowledge Pepper’s presence, though she was aware of it.
Pepper knew better than to speak. She sat down in the chair next to Natasha and merely waited.
When Natasha smoked her awful Russian cigarettes, she was in the grip of dark thoughts. Memories of how she got the red in her ledger or of her hideous childhood would crowd into her mind and she had to let them run their course. Cliff had once joked it was Russian Melancholy Syndrome. Pepper agreed.
Pepper would have preferred popcorn and a movie from JARVIS’s archive, but when you were in love with a woman trained from girlhood to be an assassin, you rolled with the punches, even if they were laced with execrable Russian cigarette smoke.
It was beautiful here, the rooftop cool in the night breeze and bathed in moonlight as it grew darker.
Pepper waited. She had gotten good at it.
Time passed. Pepper felt at peace, something she had rarely experienced with Tony. Peace and quiet were not his things, though now that he was hooked up with Steve, he was learning.
“You look great in that tee and sweatpants.” Natasha blew out a ring of smoke.
“I’m told it’s the height of fashion.”
A smile quirked Natasha’s lips. “You’ll give Giselle Bundchen a run for her money.”
Pepper wiggled her toes. “I hope so. I could use a Vogue cover.”
“Oh, that’ll do.” Pepper watched a moving star, the contrail revealing that it was a plane, not a celestial body.
Natasha let out another puff of smoke. “American cigarettes are much better.”
Pepper smiled. “Then why do you smoke those awful things?”
“Sometimes you just need a taste of home.”
Pepper refrained from commenting that ‘home’ meant horrific abuse in the Red Room and more as Natasha grew older. Maybe Mother Russia did have her hooks into her lover. Well, why not? Love of country was still a thing, despite what some Manhattan elites said.
Natasha gripped Pepper’s hand. “That reminds me.” She leaned over and kissed Pepper’s hand. “A taste of home.”
She released Pepper’s hand and stood up from the lounge chair, putting her cigarette butt in an ashtray. She peeled off her T-shirt and shorts and slipped into the pool, gloriously nude.
Pepper smiled. She got up off her chair and stripped, sliding over the pool rim and feeling the cool water on her bare skin. She swam after Natasha with firm, powerful strokes. What would she do when she caught her?
Laughter and splashing were the sounds of love under the moonlight.
This entry has been cross-posted from Dreamwidth. Comment on either entry as you wish. :)