Bruce couldn't help but smile. A daughter. He could envision her with long red curls and Natasha's green eyes, toddling after him in the lab, twirling in a little pink princess dress and crown, and yes, even learning to kick ass, she'd be Natasha's daughter after all.
Natasha had a different reaction. She had been so sure it'd be a boy, though she hadn't said so to anyone. Raising a girl scared her like nothing else, the only sort of raising girls she knew was the Red Room, and that certainly wouldn't do. A boy would've been different, a boy would've been a clean slate, there'd been no boys in the Red Room. She looked up at Bruce and found nothing but happiness in his eyes.
"What, were you expecting me to say something different? A girl will be great." Bruce was a little confused in her reaction.
"Yes. I guess I was expecting you to say boy. I don't know what to do with girls." Natasha paused. "Or really any kids."
"Now, that's not true. I've seen you with Clint's kids, you're great with them and they adore you."
"I can give them back. This will be different, there's no handing the baby back."
Bruce laughed. "Nat, I doubt we'll ever be completely on our own with the baby. We've got built in baby sitters. Sure, at the end of the day, this little girl is ours to take care of, because they'll hopefully give her back, but you're not doing this alone. I wouldn't want you to. Besides, what do I know about babies either? " In fact, Bruce could not remember the last time he'd actually been in charge of a child, the five minutes in the Barton living room not really counting.
" Guess it's a mission we'll have to figure out together, huh? " Natasha leaned into him." You know that Laura and Pepper are going to go crazy now planning pink everything? They'll want to know our every plan before we even know what we're doing."
"We'll manage it. Somehow. Maybe she'll prefer purple."
"Or green." she couldn't help but joke.
Bruce shuddered at the thought of his little girl, whom he was already fiercely protective of, wanting or being green. "I told you, just a baby. The Hulk has been quiet for a while now. Maybe she'll have your strength instead." He sincerely hoped so. The Hulk still worried him, but the tests had been conclusive, just a normal baby girl. Hulk himself was another story.
"I suppose we should start planning things like nurseries and names before the team does it for us." Natasha remarked.
"Yes. I think I'll talk to Tony or Pepper tomorrow." Bruce replied. "We could either have bigger combined quarters, build a place of our own, or move off the compound entirely."
She looked around her quarters. It wasn't huge, but there was certainly room for a crib, maybe even space to block off like a small nursery. "How much room does a baby need anyway? Crib, perhaps a changing table, little dresser, none of those take up a lot of room."
"I don't actually know." Bruce was mystified by the whole idea of a nursery. He had never thought it would be something that he'd have to think about.
Natasha laughed. "Mr 7 PhDs actually doesn't know something?"
"You do know none of those about babies? Except maybe the medical doctorate." He was fairly sure none of them involved parenting either. Briefly he wondered if he could get another in parenting, did such a thing exist?
"None of my training involves babies. The only training about babies was how not to get pregnant and then the ceremony to make sure you didn't." she was somber for a moment. "I'm sure I'm the only one it failed for."
"It'll be our own mission together then."
Clint whistled as he landed the quinjet onto the landing pad atop the compound. He and the family had been invited to a party. He was fairly sure Natasha had figured a way to use this get together as a way to get out of having an official baby shower.
"Did Auntie Nat have the baby yet?" Lila leaned forward.
"No, not yet, four more months." Laura explained for what was the thousandth time.
"Does she know if it's a boy or a girl? I hope it's a girl, we have too many boys already." Lila persisted.
"If she does, she hasn't told anyone. Natasha is very good at keeping secrets." Clint told her.
Laura snorted. "You mean the way she had an entire relationship right under your nose and you never noticed, Hawkeye?"
"I am never going to live that down." He groaned, helping unstrap Lila and Nathaniel from their seats.
"Bruce is cool." Cooper shrugged, he didn't need help getting out his flight seat.
"That's Dr Banner to you." Laura said, gathering up some of the multiple bags.
"He said we could call him Bruce if we wanted." he protested. "Auntie Nat agreed."
"Well, we'll see." Clint let it slide,taking a few bags from Laura as the kids ran ahead.
"If she's Auntie Nat I guess he's Uncle Bruce." Laura mused as they walked down the ramp. "That could work."
Clint didn't say anything. He didn't hate Bruce but considering him a bona-fide family member was an entirely different mind set then he could imagine. He still didn't see whatever it was Natasha saw in the guy, but she was happy and really, that's all Clint had ever wanted for her. _
Natasha was in her quarters surrounded by boxes. If the shower wasnt bad enough, they'd also decided that it was moving weekend, the thinking being everyone would be there to help out. Tony had hired contractors and decorators and all sorts of people and had a small place built in a matter of days for her and Bruce. Tony refused to take any sort of payment for it, calling it a baby shower gift /wedding gift if they also decided to marry.
Nobody could accuse her or Bruce of being traditional, that was for sure. Baby, house, no real mention of marriage from either of them although she was fairly sure Bruce would go for it, he did like traditional ways more then she did. She had begun to wonder again what the hell they had been thinking.
"Boxes don't pack themselves." Steve normally would have knocked but the door was open and he'd noticed Natasha just standing in the middle of the room, staring at a blank wall.
He startled her. "Anyone ever tell you not to sneak up on a pregnant woman, Rogers?" she said,annoyed.
"You. Yesterday." he strolled into the room, hands in his pockets. "But I come in peace." he pulled a candy bar out of his pocket as his peace offering. "I bring you chocolate and a set of hands to help out."
She sighed. "Why is it I can never remain annoyed at you very long?" she took the chocolate, and brushed a pile of jackets off a nearby chair so she could sit and eat it.
"That's because we're basically family. Family accepts annoyances and forgives them." Steve told her, matter of fact, putting the tossed aside jackets in a box. "There, you've got something packed."
"Now do that times one hundred and we'll be done." she looked around the room. It was the first home she remembered truly having a family in, the first place she'd truly been a part of something, and she was rather reluctant to leave it. It wasn't like they couldn't have crammed baby stuff in somewhere.
"You're not really leaving, Nat. It's only a few minutes down the road, the three of you will be here constantly anyway."
Damn Rogers and how he could always read her mind. "You'd have made a good spy."
"Wrong kind of business for me." Steve shook his head. He pulled another box off a chair. "These are the tiniest clothes I've ever seen." he said, holding up a tiny onesie.
"Those came from Pepper. Laura is bringing some hand me downs today." Natasha had to admit they were awfully tiny, tinier then she'd realized newborns were.
"I saw their jet coming in not long ago, so expect them anytime." he folded the tiny outfit and put in back in the box. "No pink or blue? Like everyone else in the compound, he'd been trying to find out." I find it fascinating the gender can be known before birth. "
" We're telling everyone today. " she reminded him.
" But Tony knows. "
" He does. And I have to admit, he has surprised me, I didn't know he could keep a secret." It had been Tony's idea to keep the secret til Bruce and Natasha wanted to tell.
" Either way, you know that kid is going to be both smart and powerful, has to be with you two as parents. "
" And spoiled rotten by Uncle Steve? " she asked, dryly.
" Hey, now, I've never had a niece or nephew, I will admit to being excited." he closed up a third box of bedding, he'd been working while they'd chatted.
" Hmm. I have it on good authority you're hiding a box of toys in your quarters." she asked him, already knowing the answer.
" And I will admit to that. I had no idea children's toys could be so interesting." Steve didn't even bother to hide it.
"You do realize that the kid won't even be able to hold up their head for at least a few months, right?" Natasha said, amused by the thought of Steve in a modern toy store.
"Don't ruin my fun."
Bruce was hiding in his lab. He wouldn't have admitted it to anyone, not even Natasha, but he was hiding. The baby shower and moving day all at once was getting to him. The stress of being an expectant father, who was absolutely terrified that his lab work was going to be wrong and it'd really be a baby Hulk, was getting to him. He remembered once he'd told Natasha they should run and now he was thinking maybe he should've taken his own advice. What kind of father could he possibly be, how could he risk Natasha and this baby with the uncertainty of the Hulk?
"You know, I'm not the best at relationships, in fact I'm really not sure how I've held onto Pepper for so long, but talking to Romanoff probably would be better then hiding in your lab." Tony strolled in. "Also, guests are arriving. The Bartons landed moments ago."
"There's nothing wrong in our relationship." Bruce told him.
"I didn't say there was. Babies can bring out the best and the worst in people." Tony shrugged. It was one of the few things he didn't know much about, he was merely quoting one of Pepper's magazines. He could say, privately, in his mind, that he wouldn't mind having a kid or two with Pepper. He'd never admitted it out loud, even to Pepper. "You know, no matter what might happen out there, in the real world, that baby girl will always be taken care of here. She's got family."
For Tony, that was uncharacteristically caring. Bruce was impressed. "Nat and I know that. And we both thank you all for it." he sighed. "It's going to be a wild ride in a few months."
"Our science is right. You know it, I know it, I've got Pepper on media control, all you gotta do is move into that nice big place I had built for you and settle into your new life." Tony was confident as always.
Bruce winced inwardly a bit. Tony had not seemed to listen, as usual, to any sort of suggestions about the house and he wasn't quite sure what they'd be walking into later that afternoon." It was very kind of you to offer the place. I'm sure Natasha and I will enjoy it."
"No worries, it's been baby proofed. I hope." Tony was pretty happy with how the house how turned out.
A/n I did not mean to abandon this story as long as I did. Holidays and pandemics will do that, especially since I am an essential worker. I have published a couple one shots and started a podcast in the time being :) enjoy and stay safe!