The four had headed off to the mall once Peter had gotten dressed in the outfit Pepper brought with her for him and Gwen had calmed down. The boys had wisely decided not to comment on Gwen's sudden exit from the kitchen when she walked out of her room behind Natasha.
They had started with Peter, him being the easier of the two to shop for. Pepper went crazy with Tony's credit card and Gwen had winced when she'd seen the final price. New sneakers, jeans and t-shirts, a heavy winter coat and gloves and hat, everything that she had desperately wished to get him. Dressed in all new clothes, he was hardly recognizable.
Once Peter's shopping was done, Pepper took him and went off exploring the mall. Natasha could see the conflict in Gwen, torn between wanting to keep her brother at her side at all costs, and the knowledge that he was safe now.
"He won't get hurt," Natasha murmured to Gwen as they watched Pepper and Peter walk away, holding hands. "We've had bodyguards tailing us all day. If anyone comes looking for you two, he won't get hurt."
Gwen nodded as she allowed Natasha to lead her away.
It took Natasha all of two minutes to realize how hard the shopping trip was going to be. Gwen was sticking to plain clothes, scouring the sales and clearance racks for the cheapest things she could find. While Gwen was in the dressing rooms, Natasha went back to the clothes section, grabbing the items she'd seen the girl eyeing, but not pick up. She wasn't prepared for the sight that met her when Gwen stepped out of the fitting room in the first outfit.
"How old are you Gwen?" Natasha asked.
"I'll be sixteen soon," Gwen replied, looking very, very uncomfortable in her own skin.
Up until that moment, the girl had been wearing clothes that were too big for her frame. Now she was wearing close cut jeans and a shirt that formed to her body. She was skinny, unhealthily so. Her wrist was bony and Natasha could see the bottom of her ribs sticking out through the shirt.
"You guys really had it bad, didn't you?" Natasha asked quietly as she tugged at the clothes to check the fit.
"I was thin even before. Da always said I ate like a bird. I was a size six but I seemed to have shrunk."
"Try these on," Natasha said, shoving the things she had gathered into Gwen's arms. "When we're done here we have a few more places to go."
Gwen was sulking as they left the store.
"You didn't have to buy those things. We've bought so much already-"
"You looked great in it and how many times do I have to tell you that whatever we spend today is going to be a drop in the bucket compared to the money that Tony's got?"
It had been funny to see Gwen's face when they stopped in front of the next store. Natasha hadn't known humans could turn that color red.
"Do you know what size you are?" she asked Gwen as she drug her into the pink themed store.
"Not any more," Gwen said, mortified at her surroundings.
"Alright, then you'll need to be fitted." Natasha frowned, suddenly thinking of something. "Wait, what are you wearing now?"
"There was an old t-shirt that was beyond hope of being able to wear. I cut it up and used it to bind them down."
Gwen had been very happy to leave that particular store.
They got into an argument at the shoe store. Natasha had wanted to get Gwen several pairs of shoes, including some heels. Gwen had stubbornly stood her ground, saying that all she needed was a single pair of sturdy sneakers. They walked out of the store with three pairs of shoes; sneakers, boots and a pair of low heels.