PROMPT FROM MADDY: Clint and Natasha patch each other up after most big missions, each citing a dislike of doctors. But this time it's not just their physical selves that need healing.
Yeah, I went all River Tam (Firefly/Serenity) on Natasha. SORRY BUT NOT SORRY I AM A SADIST. This was both fun and painful to write, oh god. Probably best to take this as an AU; the most I know of Natasha's canon past is all secondhand knowledge.
tumblr prompt no. 2 - avengers - red (natasha-centric + clint)
She'd sing to herself in dull, note-less drones; a haunting old Russian hymn that had miraculously preserved itself in her memory, through eternities of needle prodding in The Room.
The Room. The Room, The Room, The Room. TheRoomTheRoomTheRoomTheRoom. Red.
Red like her hair, like her blood (she's spilled), like her ledger. Red and dripping and she's swimming in it now.
He finds her writhing in the red, tangled in the sheets (lifeless limbs and bodies of her own nightmares), and singing to herself the only surviving tune of her childhood; the one thing she had truly retained through the torture and the brainwashing and the red. They tried to take it out, her song, tried to torture it out of her, but she was stronger. Her voice is jagged and rough and when she wakes up - the only indication being a sharp gasp - when she comes out of the nightmares, she's still singing.
She had dug her nails into herself sometime during the night, and scratched her pale skin raw and had bled angry thin trails down her arms and legs and cheeks.
He restrains himself from moving, from touching her, because she's still shaking (that won't stop) and she's still in The Room (thankfully, that will, with time.) He knows her in this state better than anyone. Better than SHIELD doctors, and better than the psychotic bastards of The Room who were the reason for this in the first damned place.
He waits, ever and always the patient one of their partnership. He waits and waits and waits and stares at the walls and listens to her singing. He waits until she comes out of the red and the corpses and the needles. When the waiting is done, when her mind is settling, she climbs into his lap; her body is feverish and yet she's shivering, tuneless words falling from her lips. She's clinging to the song and to him, the constants in her life at that moment. They give off the image of a parent comforting a child; she's tucked neatly into his lap, leaning against his chest, with her legs folded underneath her and her arms limply hugging her own torso. He touches her with a feather-light embrace, wrapping their little package with his arms and placing the bow with his chin at the top of her head. The blood from her scratches smears on his skin, but he can worry about that later.
They've healed the other physically so, so, so many times, it's a second function of living for them. They know every blemish, every bruise, every scar on the other's body. Even if they don't know every story for every scar and every bruise and every blemish. But they know most of them, and she knows nearly all of his, and he's content with only knowing some of hers.
Rough fingers caress a scar on her bare shoulder. An injection site that was almost as old on her body as the song in her mind. It's one of the first drug injections of the beginning of the end of her life in The Room. When her breathing picks up and the words of her hymn become more frantic, he doesn't dare linger on it any longer, instead opting for the long, thin streak of indented skin on her forearm. A memory plays in his mind as he grazes the scar, and he tries to evoke it out of her, because recalling these memories will be the stitches for her invisible injuries.
More often than not, it is her that comes out of battlefields and missions and explosions with less physical injuries than mental ones. She patches up his body, and he patches up her mind.
"Do you remember Cairo, Tasha?" Cairo is their safe place. Cairo is a bullet grazing her arm and him bandaging her up, cradling her head and kissing her goodnight. Cairo is, in the first time they'd been partners, when she trusts him enough to fall asleep in his arms and know she'll wake up breathing in the morning. She doesn't dream in red in Cairo.
In fact, she doesn't dream at all that night, and it's the best sleep she's ever gotten. He wakes up in Cairo with his arms empty, and she's standing in front of a cracked mirror. There are scissors in her hand, a pool of fiery curls under her feet, and he realizes from his place at the bed that she's severed at least half of her hair. And there's a smile on her face because it is the first victory over the red she's had in her life. Cairo is their safe place and it's her victory and it's his memory of her first genuine smile.
She's smiling that same smile now, in his arms, and the singing has been reduced to humming; it's a good sign. She's a little farther away from The Room.
So he talks to her about Cairo (red: 0, Natasha: 1), murmurs about Rome (red: 1, Natasha: 1), and whispers about Singapore (red: 1, Natasha: 2). He highlights the nights she slept restfully, and intentionally ignores those where she has woken up screaming and singing in one voice.
The red will always be there; in her ledger and in her hair and in her blood (she's spilled.) Most days it will control her (that will never stop), but some days she will control the red (that always does, with time), and she'll refuse to let it take over her completely (only at night, when her guard is down, does the red ever truly win.)
And he's always there, her watchful Hawk. And he can't take away her red, but he'll damn well try, and he'll hold her hand through it all. Pushing back the nightmares and the needles and the red, and adding to her psyche with golden pure things like Singapore and Budapest and Cairo.
She patches up his body, and he patches up her mind. Sometimes, rarely, it is the other way around, but that is how they have always been.
Waaah, I'm sorry this had started out A LOT shorter but then THOUGHTS and idek CAIRO WAS REALLY RANDOM but hopefully it is pleasing to your eyes. Cairo literally came out of nowhere, as did the other mentioned places (except Budapest.) Maybe I'll write about them with proper prompts idk.
And it's probably not very River Tam-y, I just like to think that it is. River's brain is all fucked up, but it's my own personal headcanon that she and Natasha are A LOT more alike than people would think. THANK YOU, WHEDON, FOR GIVING ME THESE THOUGHTS. Oh, my babies. And also I hope this was shippery enough. I've never written for Clintasha before. Babies.
Again, let me reiterate: I've never written Clint and Natasha before, so I'd really love to have some feedback on how I did! Also this is the first time I've deviated from my usual fluff/humour genre of writing...Reviews would be lovely. :)