The mission was harder than any other mission Eliza had been on. Everybody was drained when it was finally over. For being a new Avenger, she hadn't been on anything this tough before. There had obviously been harder ones for the rest of the team, but for Eliza, this one was probably the worst.
She sat on the floor of the quinjet, sideways, with her head leaning against the wall. She could feel her ear vibrating as the millenium falcon-like figure smoothly ran through the sky. Memories of people dying — children dying — floated through her head. She knew she should be trying to get to sleep but she couldn't, not right now.
Clint sat on the bench across from her quietly talking to Natasha, who had been nodding her head and glancing around the quinjet. Her eyes flickered across Eliza and a solemn look came over her. She continued to talk to Clint though.
Tony sat at the front with his feet on a bare spot of the control panel. Steve was standing next to him and they too were talking. Bruce was in the back, per usual, letting opera music run through the beats headphones gifted by Eliza a few months ago.
Thor sat a few feet away from Eliza, heavily asleep. Everybody could hear his snoring over the loud machine but nobody said anything; Now wasn't the time.
Eliza was trying not to cry whilst staring at the wall of the plane. She hated that mission. She hated all missions. But she went through them in fear of letting the team down, in letting her family down. She couldn't handle a sour look from Tony if she said she was too tired. And when they opted to leave her out of one she insisted she should come, trying to make them think she was capable of saving other people when she had a hard time saving herself. She knew they noticed her nonchalant stares. She knew they knew something was wrong. But they probably figured it was from the mission. As soon as they got back to the tower she would be okay. That's what they thought.
"Arriving at Avengers Tower in ten minutes." JARVIS came over the intercom and said.
"Thanks, JARVIS." Tony replied. "Make sure the gate is opening, I'm picking up speed."
"Yes sir." A sharp dispatching sound came over the speakers, making her ears hurt. Bruce pulled off his headphones and started to get things ready for landing. Eliza knew this was when she had to clean up her act.
"Okay everyone. Today was hard but we didn't fail. We can talk more about it at training tomorrow morning." A groaning sound was heard after Steve's sentence. Eliza slowly began to stand up, feeling the aching and bruising of her legs form. She slightly groaned but nobody seemed to notice. A small voice in the back of her mind made sure she knew what those pains actually were.
The quinjet flew into the landing station and everyone tumbled off without saying anything. It was relieving to be home again. Eliza made her way to her floor quickly, making sure to avoid any food requests or conversations. She sighed when she opened her door to reveal nothing but darkness and her comfortable, cozy, warm, and welcoming bed. It felt safe being here, being in a place that was familiar.
She took off her shirt and pants and threw on an old hoodie, leaving her extra weapons on the bedside table. Crawling into bed felt like heaven. She was happy to be here. It wasn't until the euphoric feeling slid away that she started to think again.
You failed miserably on that mission.
All of them were sick of you being there.
You're just added weight.
Only collateral damage they don't need.
The tears started to fall and she felt horrible again. Slowly sliding out of bed, she made her way into the bathroom.
"Another one won't hurt," Eliza said to herself. "It's not like you haven't fucked your legs over entirely already."
She reached into the basket under the sink and pulled out a slightly torn apart razor. Torn apart as in the protective plastic had been pried off with scissors and the blade was exposed. She wrapped it in paper towels to make sure it didn't get lost and she cleaned it with alcohol pads to get the blood off after each use. The last thing she needed was an infection to keep her from working as hard as she needed too. She didn't want to be weak.
Eliza wiped the tears from her eyes so she could precisely see what she was doing. She took a breath and dragged the exposed blade across her right thigh, just enough to let blood form in a bubble on her skin. She put her thumbs around the new wound and wiped the blood off, preparing for the next one. Again, she dragged the blade, harder this time, a centimeter above the new bleeding cut. She let a few tears fall down onto her leg and decided she was done. Grabbing some toilet paper and an alcohol wipe, she cleaned her new wounds and put a large bandaid over it. Then she stood up and walked out, catching her reflection in the mirror making her want to cry more. But she knew she would be okay.
The next morning Eliza rode down on the elevator in grey sweatpants and the same black hoodie from last night. She took notice of the tear stains on the sleeves and crossed her arms as she exited into the kitchen. She noticed it was empty unlike usual and then she remembered. They had training this morning. She hurriedly glanced at the clock and ran back into the elevator. It was 11:30. Training started at nine. Eliza dashed through the halls once she reached her floor and flung her door open. She threw on some grey leggings and a white t-shirt before running down the stairs, a quicker option than the elevator, and busting into the training room. Through all the stress she didn't even notice the ripping sensation in her thigh.
"Glad you decided to show up," Tony said as Eliza walked into the training room. She ignored his comment and tied her hair into a ponytail. She started to feel the tearing burn when she jogged over to Steve. It caught her by surprise and she looked down at her leggings to see if anyway was wrong. There wasn't anything visible so she ignored it and kept jogging.
"Eliza." He set down the weight he had in his hands and turned to her, wiping the sweat off of his jaw with the palm of his hand. "You're two, almost three hours late. Where have you been?"
She noticed that he didn't seem mad and that relieved her. But she did have to find an excuse that she hadn't already used before.
"I ...um ...slept in." She played with her fingers while he gave her a disappointing look. "Truly I did," she continued. "I was so tired from last night I forgot to set an alarm. I didn't even remember we had training until I realized nobody was in the kitchen." She finished her sentence by frowning a bit, to show that she was sorry.
"Okay." He nodded and looked at her again with something lingering in his eyes. She tried to study the look but it went away too quickly. "I want you to help me with these weights and then you can go for a jog. You had enough combat yesterday, you don't need anymore."
"I can do more com—."
"Eliza, it's okay. You don't have to." She slightly blushed at his comment and nodded her head.
"What did you want me to do." She asked, slowly letting down the defensive front.
"Take those," he pointed at a few fifteen pound weights, "and put them into the hall. We're getting new. Then go for a jog. We'll see you at lunch." Eliza nodded and started to stack some into her arms before walking into the hall. When she was out of sight she set the weights down and put her head in her hands, sinking down the wall.
"It's okay," she told herself, feeling the anxiety start to rush through her. At times like these she wished she could cut. Just blatantly out in the open. She needed it. It helped her cope with pain she couldn't comprehend any other way. It was a sick medicine but it was hers and it worked. There wasn't anything else that could replace it. The door to the hall opened making her jump a little and Clint walked out. He looked down at her and squinted.
"Are you good?" He asked.
"Yeah I'm just tired." Eliza replied, making sure she looked somewhat happy.
"So you slept in, I heard." He leaned against the wall and shook his head. "How many more times are you gonna do that?" He laughed and smiled at her.
"Probably a lot," She joked. She smiled like she hadn't been thinking about something detrimental three seconds before.
He laughed and walked down the hallway presumably to get water. She walked the other way, grabbing her running shoes off the shelf before opening the door to go outside.
Eliza was only halfway around the compound track when she noticed the ripping sensation burning through her leg. It wasn't a horrible pain but it was enough to make her stop jogging. She reached down and massaged her leg for a few seconds before getting ready to go again. As she was doing that, a light-weight feeling came over her and she felt herself getting dizzy.
"Oh my god," she quietly said to herself as she fell down into the track on her knees. Another pain ripped through her right thigh on the impact and she groaned slightly. Adjusting to a sitting position, Eliza rolled up her leggings as best as she could and felt a trickle of blood running down her legs.
"What the hell?" She said, this time a bit louder.
"Eliza? What's wrong?"
She looked up to where the voice came from and spotted Steve about thirty feet away from her. "Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit." Eliza mumbled. She pulled her leggings down and wiped the blood from her ankles, noticing how it was starting to seep through the leggings she was wearing.
"Eliza oh god," Steve said as he saw her leggings. "What did you do?"
She knew exactly what she had done. She hadn't bandaged her deeper cut correctly and it opened with all the running and jogging she had been doing. Usually she had an excuse on what to say but this time she only opened and closed her mouth in shock. After he had asked her what was wrong again, she finally said something.
"Trust me it's okay," she mustered, not knowing what to say. "I'm okay." She tried to reassure herself more than she was him.
"Can I see your leg?" He asked, more gently.
"No," she answered almost immediately. He looked shocked at her sudden rise in voice but then a look came over him that she didn't like.
"Show me your leg, Eliza, now." Even though his face was soft, his voice was hard, angrier than hers.
"No, Steve," She said. He noticed how her voice quieted down at the authority of his. "I can take care of it. Let me take care of it."
"What did you do?"
"I just fell. It's probably just scraped. It isn't that important anyway." She looked down at her leg and started to brush off some dirt. He grabbed her hand and she looked up at him.
"As someone who cares about you," he started, "it is important." She looked down again and huffed out a breath.
"Help me get back to my room?" she asked. He nodded knowing that this was a compromise and he would find out sooner or later what happened to her leg. He scooped Eliza into his arms and carried her back to her room. She was glad that nobody was around to see her leg on the way there.