I'm so sorry this letter wasn't ready when assignments went out! It's been a crazy week. Hopefully, you weren't too stressed waiting.
I feel like I should also apologize for the length of this letter! I tried to provide as much detail as possible, in case you want it. But optional details are optional; if my prompts don't work for you, that's fine. Interpret the AUs AND the pairings however you want. You don't have to use my prompts, and I'm always happy to see someone else's perspective on a pairing.
Thank you! You can't possibly know how excited I am for this fest!
I love AUs. I like familiar characters in unfamiliar settings. What traits bleed over from the original setting to the alternate one? How are the relationships affected? Canon divergencies are great as well; tweak one or two, see how the universe rearranges itself around those changes. Do events unfold differently? How have those changes affected the characters?
I also love these pairings, and I'll talk about those a little more in a bit, but first, some general information about me.
Should a little stalking become necessary, I go by galfridian everywhere: AO3, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. weasleytook can answer any questions you might have.
General likes: age differences, apocalypses, crossovers, fake relationships, forced proximity, found families, hurt/comfort, isolated/trapped, mind-meld, reincarnation, road trips, secret identies, time travel
General dislikes: a/b/o, abuse, bestiality, dub-con/non-con, genderswap, gore, incest, knotting, mpreg, pair the spare, tentacles, vampires/werewolves, voyeurism
My favorite stories focus on the characters and the way their relationships evolve and change, so I read more stories in the PG to R range than NC-17. For me, sex is secondary to character and relationship development. If it's included, that's great, but I prefer sex not be the focus.
I like a balance of angst and humor (if it needs to lean toward one or the other, I prefer angst). I read more romance than gen, but I love gen if it focuses on a character's development or relationships (because non-romantic relationships are important too).
Feel free to combine any of these AUs, by the way! A Star Trek fusion is already a space AU; if Bruce Banner is imprisoned by the military, he's already meeting Natasha Romanoff a different way; so you may as well have fun combining them, if you want.
I loved Bruce and Natasha in The Avengers. Their first meeting sold me on them. They were tense and guarded, but honest enough to build a little trust, and I think that was sustained throughout the movie. I liked that although Natasha feared the Hulk, she didn't shy away from Bruce, that she tried to keep him calm when Loki's team attacked. She understands that Bruce has as much to fear from the Hulk as anyone else does.
I think Natasha and Bruce understand some basic but fundamental facets of one another: his literal monster versus her figurative one; histories teeming with red; the instinct to survive, no matter what, even if isolation is the cost; the need for a measure of control. Bruce and Natasha work as a couple because they don't just accept one another's brokenness, but they've experienced it themselves, and they embrace those things in each other.
AU - Alternate Superheroes/Superpowers: Maybe Natasha has powers, something she can't control, and Bruce helps her learn to control them. Maybe Bruce has different powers as a result of the experiments? Maybe he was able to replicate the results achieved with Captain America?
AU – Dystopia: Pick a dystopia, any dystopia, or create your own! Bruce and Natasha join whatever underground rebellion is building. (Bonus points for incorporating the Hulk and/or Black Widow.)
AU – Ghosts: Interpret this one as loosely as you want. Maybe one of them dies in battle and "haunts" the other one. Maybe they both die and "haunt" the rest of the team because it's hilarious to screw with Tony. Maybe it's just an AU where ghosts run amuck, so Bruce has to deal with the ghosts of his parents, and Natasha has to deal with the ghosts of all the people she's killed.
AU – Post-Apocalypse: Any type of apocalypse will work, so long as Bruce and Natasha are braving it together. (I'm partial to alien invasions, pandemics, and cataclysms though.)
AU – Space: Whatever you want with this one. I love space, so as long as Bruce and Natasha are there, I'm good. Maybe they're on a colony ship headed for the great unknown. Maybe they're fighting an intergalactic war. Maybe they're accidentally transported across the universe and have to find their way home.
AU - Star Trek fusion: Obviously, Bruce would be a science officer. Maybe a cross between Bones and Scotty (heavy on Bones' sarcasm, but with Scotty's science). Natasha would be a reluctant recruit, probably given a chance to enlist in Starfleet rather than being sent to jail, but she quickly rises in the ranks. Eventually, she's a captain.
Canon AU - Bruce Banner Imprisoned by Military: Maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. hears about Bruce and sends Natasha to rescue and relocate him? She's undercover at first, learning how the facility he's imprisoned in runs, and they get to know each other. He's probably reluctant at first, and maybe she's trying to gain his trust so he cooperates when it's time to move but she comes to actually care about him, and there's conflict when he realizes she wants to move him to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Or maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. sends her to try to kill him, but she decides to rescue him instead. (So maybe a few years down the road, Bruce Banner stands across from Loki and says, "Love is for children. I owe her a debt.")
Canon AU - Characters Met Differently: Maybe they meet while they're both on the run, both living their lives as far off the grid as they can. They run into each other several times before deciding to stick together. Or maybe she's part of a response team called right after his accident.
Canon AU - Extremis Causes Pandemic: Interpret this one however you want. My only thought is that it would be interesting if Bruce is immune.
Canon AU - Grew Up Together: Maybe the Banners are in Russia – some conference or another – and Bruce's parents are killed? Somehow, he slips through the embassy's fingers and ends up in a program with Natasha. Or maybe Natasha is rescued by S.H.I.E.L.D. as a child and ends up in a foster home in America. The Banners, of course, are her neighbors.
Canon AU - Time Travel: Maybe something similar to Days of Future Past, where Bruce and/or Natasha have to work with younger versions of themselves? Or maybe Bruce and Natasha get thrown back in time and have to try to stay hidden until they can return home (or catch up to their own timeline)?
(Okay, this letter has gotten out of control, so I'm trying to reign it in. So if I write less about Clint/Natasha and Steve/Natasha, please don't think I love them less than Bruce/Natasha and only requested them because I had to request three pairings.)
I wish I could say what I love best about Clint and Natasha, but I can't. I love so much about them and their rich and complicated history. I love that he was sent to kill her, but he disobeyed the order because he saw the potential for good in her. When Natasha says that she owes Clint a debt, I don't think it's because he spared her life. I think she feels she owes him because he gave her a choice, because he gave her the opportunity to change her life.
I love that they have a history. I love that after he gave her that choice, they started fighting together. We may never know what happened in Budapest, but whatever it was, it's probably just one of many missions.
AU - Alternate Superheroes/Superpowers: Maybe Natasha is an archer as well? Maybe she's the archer and he's the spy? Maybe they both have completely different powers? Anything goes with this AU and this pairing.
AU – Assassins: Maybe Clint and Natasha are assassins for rival organizations who meet when they're sent to kill each other? Maybe Natasha is an assassin who recruits and treats Clint? Anything you want here, writer!
AU – Dystopia: Pick a dystopia, any dystopia, or create your own! Clint and Natasha join whatever underground rebellion is building. (Bonus points for incorporating Hawkeye and/or Black Widow.)
AU – Ghosts: Interpret this one as loosely as you want. Maybe one of them dies in battle and "haunts" the other one. Maybe they both die and "haunt" the rest of the team because it's hilarious to screw with Tony. Maybe it's just an AU where ghosts run amuck, so Bruce is haunted by his parents and brother, and Natasha is haunted by the people she's killed.
AU - Inception fusion: This one can go a couple ways. Maybe it's a straight-up fusion: The Avengers are a team performing an inception. If so, I think Clint would be the point man, and Natasha would be the forger. Or maybe Natasha and the rest of the Avengers have to go into Clint's head Inception-style to undo Loki's brainwashing.
AU – Post-Apocalypse: Any type of apocalypse will work, so long as Clint and Natasha are braving it together. (I'm partial to alien invasions, pandemics, and cataclysms though.)
AU – Soulmates: I prefer this in a less literal sense – some type of lab experiment or alien device temporarily soulbonds or mind-melds Clint and Natasha – but if you want to write it literally, that'd be great too. I'd love to see some science behind the idea of soulmates though.
AU – Space: Whatever you want with this one. I love space, so as long as Clint and Natasha are there, I'm good. Maybe they're on a colony ship headed for the great unknown. Maybe they're fighting an intergalactic war. Maybe they're accidentally transported across the universe and have to find their way home.
AU - Stargate Fusion: Maybe Clint and Natasha work for Stargate Command? Maybe one or both of them is host to a Goa'uld or Tok'ra? Are they a little like Carter and O'Neill? Or are they more like Daniel and Vala? You decide, writer!
Canon AU - Characters Met Differently: Maybe they encounter each other on opposites sides of a mission? Maybe they meet when they're much younger? Maybe someone else recruits her, but it's his job to train her? Or maybe she's sent to take him out, but she decides to spare him, and he recruits her?
Canon AU - Extremis Causes Pandemic: Extremis becomes a pandemic. All across the world, people are developing extreme powers or dying from the virus. It's chaos, and Clint and Natasha are thrust in the middle of it, helping the Avengers handle the outbreak of superpowered humans as best they can...until one of them comes down with the virus.
Canon AU - Time Travel: Whatever you want with this one, writer. I'd love to see Clint and Natasha in just about any setting, particularly any significant moments in Marvel's history.
Although I love Natasha and Bruce for their similarities and parallels, I love Steve and Natasha for their differences. They're probably the Avengers pair most different from each other. Born in different times, instilled with different values and beliefs, taught to fight for different things. Steve regrets lives he couldn't save; Natasha regrets lives she took. Steve understands how to work as part of a team; Natasha understands how to work alone.
But Steve and Natasha have one thing in common, one goal: to do what's right, to build toward the common good. With that one thing in common, all those differences become strengths. Together, there probably isn't much Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff couldn't handle, and I think that the ability to rely on their differences would give them a great advantage as a couple.
And ultimately, I think those differences would draw them to each other. Steve's regrets are nothing like Natasha's regrets. She tells Loki that she wants to wipe her ledger clean. Her ledger can never be as clean as Steve's, but I think that he intrigues her as an example of what she wishes she could be. I think Steve would be drawn to Natasha's self-reliance, that he would see her as a partner, and that he would feel she could handle his darker days.
AU - Alternate Superheroes/Superpowers: Use this AU however you want. I'm not picky with this one. Maybe Natasha is a super soldier (that'd be awesome, right?). Maybe Steve's has the super soldier powers, but they're gradually wearing off? Maybe the experiment gave him slightly different powers?
AU - Fairy Tale fusion: You know how Steve Rogers was asleep for almost seventy years? Well, maybe he wasn't literally frozen, and maybe it took something more like an assassin-spy slaying a few metaphorical (or literal, if you want) dragons and kissing him to wake him up.
AU – Ghosts: Interpret this one as loosely as you want. Maybe one of them dies in battle and "haunts" the other one. Maybe they both die and can't "move on," for whatever reason, without each other's help. Maybe it's just an AU where ghosts run amuck, so Steve has to deal with the ghosts from the war, and Natasha has to deal with the ghosts of all the people she's killed.
AU – Post-Apocalypse: Any type of apocalypse will work, so long as Steve and Natasha are braving it together. (I'm partial to alien invasions, pandemics, and cataclysms though.)
AU - Star Trek fusion: I think you could incorporate a good bit of MCU canon into this fusion. Maybe Steve is a commander from the early days of Starfleet who was thought dead but found frozen on some alien planet; maybe Natasha is a former spy and assassin recruited by the Hawkeye of this fusion, or maybe Steve recruits her the way Pike recruits Kirk in the rebooted Star Trek.
Canon AU - Cap Unfrozen Differently: If my fairy tale suggestion above doesn't work for you, maybe Steve is found earlier on by the people who trained Natasha? Maybe they thaw him and try brainwash him, but he's having none of it, and he gives Natasha another choice? Your call, writer.
Canon AU - Characters Met Differently: Again, maybe Steve is thawed by the people who trained the Widow, and that's how they meet? Or maybe they meet after Steve is thawed, maybe he's sent to capture her, but he convinces Fury to recruit her? Or anything, really. I'm not picky here.
Canon AU - Extremis Causes Pandemic: So there's a pandemic, right? And people across the world are either dying or developing weird powers? Then it turns out that Steve is immune, which paints a giant target on him, so he and Natasha reluctantly go on the run while S.H.I.E.L.D. uses his blood to try to figure out a cure. (That's just a thought. You can do whatever you want with this one because the pandemic trope is a great one.)
Canon AU - Time Travel: Maybe Steve and Natasha accidentally time travel to a period between when he was frozen and when he was found, maybe sometime in her childhood? Or maybe they travel back to WW2? Or maybe just Natasha travels back to WW2 and meets Steve?
Canon AU - Use of Comics Canon: I would love a bit of Earth-555326, where Natasha and Steve have a son named James together, but maybe without them dying? Or at least with James discovering details about his parents in their relationship as his story progresses. But I'll also happily take any comics canon that gives Natasha and Steve time together, romantically or not.