I Had A Nightmare
Agent Romanoff turned abruptly in the corridor to see Bruce Banner staring at her. He was fully dressed in his everyday clothing, despite it being the middle of night, suggesting that he had not left the laboratory since the rest of the team had retired to bed.
Natasha wasn't sure how to respond to him. She was embarrassed about being caught in this state: wandering around the Tower at a late hour, her usually smooth red hair in a slight mess, and most of all, for him to see the anxious look in her eyes that was inevitably being given away.
"Are you all right?" Bruce asked, concern evident on his face.
Feeling a bit frustrated, Natasha folded her arms, trying to restore her assertive stature that everyone was so used to seeing in her. "I'm fine," she muttered, lowering her gaze to the floor.
"You sure?" the doctor asked, a knowing look in his eyes. "I thought I heard noises coming from your room… are you not sleeping?"
Natasha rolled her eyes and huffed, not wanting to answer his questions. If she did that, she would be risking her tough and no-nonsense reputation – she didn't want anyone to see her as vulnerable in any way.
"I was just dreaming, Bruce," she replied nonchalantly.
Bruce's tone was suddenly serious. She looked up from the floor to meet his gaze, looking as though he was trying to probe her for an answer he knew she had.
"N-nothing," Natasha said with an unconcerned tone, shaking her head. Her muscles suddenly tensed when Bruce took a slow step forward.
"Was it about the Hulk?"
Her entire body froze. She wanted to form words, but somehow couldn't give an answer. He was right: her dream had indeed involved the Hulk, but she was desperate to deny that.
"No, Bruce, of course not…"
"Nat, you don't have to lie to me."
She paused again. Bruce had taken another gentle step towards her, his fingers not moving from the entwined position in front of his chest. She couldn't help noticing that that was the first time he had ever called her 'Nat'.
"I've been listening to you for the last few nights," he said calmly. "You've been screaming and shouting for help in your room, and I thought I heard you cry a couple of times. That's not like you, Natasha. You know it isn't."
She didn't reply, but only gazed at him as he spoke. His words reminded her of the many occasions she had woken up in a panic and covered in sweat. Had she really been screaming so loudly that Bruce could hear her? That was embarrassing… And did her dreams really frighten her that much? That day, when the Hulk had chased after her – that had definitely frightened her. She was never going to admit that to anyone.
But now Bruce was trying to get it out of her. She felt defenceless, as if her entire body armour had been removed and she was left exposed with her inner emotions at risk. Should she be honest with him?
Natasha let her gaze lower to the floor again, biting her lip hard as she thought of what answer she would give. Eventually, she decided to admit it.
"Yes. I have been dreaming about… that." She refrained from using the specific name of the 'Other Guy'.
"You know you can talk to me about it if you ever need to," Bruce said to her, a hint of a smile on his lips.
Natasha felt oddly comforted by the gentle look in his brown eyes. The very creature that haunted her nightmares, the thing that had attacked her so long ago – it was Bruce Banner's other half. But this half of him, his usual side, was so innocent, temperate… and kind. There was something about him that she trusted implicitly, despite the fact that the Other Guy could reveal himself at any moment like a ticking bomb.
Still trying to remain firm and keep her emotions buried, Natasha shook her head.
"I don't need to talk to anyone, Bruce," she said, making her tone polite.
"Nat, believe me, I know how people have been affected by the Other Guy," Bruce said, surprising Natasha with the assertiveness she could hear in his voice. "You do need to talk to somebody."
"Have you thought about the fact that I'm not like other people and might not need to do what they do?" she replied, trying not to sound rude.
"Yes, but the point still stands," he said, not deterred by her authority. "Anyone who has nightmares like yours deserves attention. And I've been feeling guilty over the last few days; knowing you've been having them and not doing anything about it. I should have talked to you earlier, before you got any worse."
"I haven't got any worse." Natasha said sharply.
"You sure about that?"
It was a rhetorical question, but it made Natasha's thoughts spin in her head and anxiety flood back into her chest. The nightmares had certainly got quite bad, but she was unsure if she would be able to tell Bruce that.
Before she could make up her mind, Bruce walked forward to close the gap between them, and she felt a sudden relaxation as his hands were delicately placed on her folded arms. His thumbs gently brushed against her sleeves as a form of comfort, and his eyes were scanning her face for some sort of sign.
Despite her desperate efforts to push everything down inside her, Natasha finally felt her lungs tightening and tears brimming in her eyes. Before she completely broke down, Bruce spared no hesitation and pulled her into a tight embrace – and Natasha returned it, allowing her arms to snake their way around him. She never usually wanted physical contact, since it was completely unfamiliar to her nature, as well as unneeded for that matter.
But right now, in this moment… it was important. This was what she needed.
Hi, everyone! This is a one-shot idea that I've had in my mind for a while and I decided to just go ahead and write it. :) I hope you enjoyed. I'm not actually a huge fan of Bruce/Natasha as a pairing (I prefer Clintasha and Bruce/OC), but their relationship is still something I find interesting and there are ways in which they could connect with each other.
Those of you who have seen the latest trailer for Age of Ultron will know that they're going to have a 'thing' in the next movie, which is interesting, but I'm still not TOO sure about it. But we'll see how it's portrayed when the film comes out. (Who else can't wait? It looks SO AMAZING! :D)
I personally prefer them just being friends, but a romance could happen. This fanfic mainly represents close friendship, but it could hint at romance as well. However you want to interpret it is fine. :) Anyway, I hope you liked it! PLEASE review! Let me know if characterization is any good etc. etc. And thank you for reading!