This story was inspired by the song Wipe Your Eyes by Maroon 5 (you guys should totally go listen to it, you'll see what i mean.) Remember i do not own this song, nor the characters in any way, shape or form. I just write fanfic.
And as I feel your tears spilling on my shirt
Something isn't right and I don't wanna fight ya
Hey you, come over and let me embrace you
I know that I'm causing you pain too
But, remember if you need to cry
I'm here to wipe your eyes
Tonight before you fall asleep, I'll run my thumb across your cheek (across your cheek)
Cry, 'cuz I'm here to wipe your eyes
I know I made you feel this way
You gotta breathe, we'll be okay (be okay)
Cry, 'cuz I'm here to wipe your eyes
Clint prowled the darkened hallways of Stark Towers, his quiet footsteps barely making a sound as he walked through the silent floor. He found himself walking the empty corridors almost every night for the past week, every night since the Avengers thwarted Loki's invasion of Earth. The battle had shaken everyone, leaving them all broken in some way, inside and out. And true to their stubborn nature, everyone dealt with their problems on their own, silently, privately.
Clint knew what his problem was: his mind. After having Loki take control of him, after being forced to fight and kill the people he want to, Clint didn't know if he could trust himself. Every night he fought a losing battle with his body, trying to resist the pull of sleep, afraid he would wake up and be back under Loki's control. He would wake up in a cold sweat at night, his nightmares startling him awake. Once he woke up Clint refused to go back to sleep, regardless of how little sleep he got. He would make coffee, train in the weight room, sit on the rooftop and watch the bustling city below. Anything to prevent himself from falling back asleep, to prevent surrendering his mind even to himself.
He paused as he passed Natasha's door, his brow wrinkling as he tried to determine what the faint sound he heard was. Clint hesitated as he placed his hand on the doorknob, wondering if he should just walk away. He pushed the door open after a moment, slowly entering the room; you never sneak up on a trained assassin, especially if the assassin is Natasha. He stood perfectly still as Natasha spun toward him quickly, her gun trained on his head. "Nat, it's just me," Clint whispered.
Natasha lowered her gun, placing it back on her nightstand. "What are you doing awake?" she asked, getting off her bed and walking toward the window.
"Couldn't sleep," Clint replied, walking over to her. "Couldn't stay asleep."
"Nightmares? You know they're not real Clint; it's just in your head."
"But they were real, that's the problem." Clint rubbed a hand across his face, staring out at the city lights. "Why aren't you sleeping?"
"Can't sleep," Natasha said simply.
Clint looked at his partner, the one person he could trust without a doubt. Her skin was paler than normal, as if she was sick and there were dark circles under her eyes, worse than he had ever seen after any mission. She looked strung out, utterly exhausted. "When was the last time you slept?" Natasha shrugged her shoulders, ignoring his staring. "Come on, let's go to bed," Clint said softly, placing his hand on her forearm.
"I'm fine," Natasha replied, moving away from his touch.
"Nat, you look as if you haven't slept for days; have you even slept since we've been staying here?" Clint asked. "What's wrong?"
"I don't need sleep Barton; I'm perfectly fine," she said sharply.
Clint pursed his lips, his eyes narrowing. He didn't want to fight with her, just get her to sleep, but he knew it wouldn't be that easy. "Nat," he said, stretching a hand toward her.
"Don't Clint," she said, smacking his hand away. "Just don't. Leave me alone, okay?"
"No," he replied, taking a step toward her. "I'm not leaving you."
If Natasha wasn't sleep deprived, the punch she threw at Clint would have connected with his jaw, knocking him back a few steps. Luckily he saw her fist coming toward him, moving out of the way in time. He fully appreciated the few hours of sleep he managed to get as the fight continued. They hadn't fought like this since they first met and were still distrustful of each other; back then it was more about finding the other's weakness than training. Normally Clint and Natasha were evenly matched; they sometimes spent hours in the weapons room sparing, neither of them willing to give up. Natasha was still quick, her punches and kicks flying as Clint dodged her attacks, but her lack of sleep tipped the balance in Clint's favor.
Clint grabbed Natasha's hands, forcing her back against the wall. "Enough Tasha! No more fighting. Just…just tell me what's wrong," Clint said desperately. "Why are you fighting me so much, why won't you sleep?"
"Because of you!" Natasha shouted, unaware of the tears streaming down her cheeks.
"What?" Clint asked softly, taking a step back while maintaining a firm grip on her wrists. Natasha had several sayings: love is for children, sleep is only for when a mission is completed, and tears are a weakness assassins cannot afford. To see tears rolling down her cheeks was almost as shocking as hearing her say he was the reason she couldn't sleep. "How am I keeping you awake?"
Natasha took a deep breath, trying to slow the hammering of her heart. She knew she could easily shove Clint off of her, push him away and walk out of the room, but she liked the gentle pressure of his hands on her wrists; it was grounding, something real. "Because every time I fall asleep I see you still under Loki's control. And we fight, we always fight just like we did in the carrier, only this time Loki fulfills his promise of making you kill me in every way I fear."
Clint felt his heart drop into his feet, his stomach rolling in nausea. Clint knew what it was like to have a past; he shared his with Natasha and she shared hers with him. Natasha had told him about her childhood in Russia, about her training to be an assassin, about the missions that filled her ledger with red. He knew what she feared the most, what threads to pull to make her come apart at the seams. The thought that he could have used that information against her horrified him to his core. If Loki forced him, Clint would have killed her, would have used the information she told him in confidence against her.
"I could deal with you killing me though," Natasha continued. "If it was you, I could deal with it; I would find a way to. But I can't deal with watching you die over and over again Clint; I can't keep watching Loki kill you," she said, her voice catching. "You can't ask me to do that."
Clint felt as if his heart was being crushed. He was the one keeping her up at night, the reason she was afraid to close her eyes. Pain and anger flickered through his heart, warring between anguish at hurting Natasha so much, anger at himself for being weak enough to be controlled and wanting to kill Loki for putting them both through this. "I'm sorry Tasha," Clint said softly, pulling her into his arms. "I'm so sorry." Natasha was all about having her personal space so Clint was surprised as her arms immediately wrapped around him, her face buried in his chest. "I'm here Tasha; it's okay, I'm right here." He kissed the top of her head as he felt the front of his shirt grow damp with her tears, Natasha's slim frame shaking slightly from repressed sobs. "Just breathe babe, I'm right here," he murmured repeatedly, holding her tightly.
They stood still as Natasha cried herself out, clinging to each other like a lifeline. After crying herself out, Natasha pulled away from Clint slightly, her eyes rimmed red and her cheeks damp. "I-I'm sorry about that," Natasha said softly, her voice slightly rough.
"Nothing to be sorry about. You're tired, you're stressed, you're scared, your emotions are frayed," Clint replied, rubbing his thumb across her cheeks. "I'm sorry I was part of the reason you were hurting."
"It's not your fault," she murmured sleepily, leaning into his soft touch. Between not sleeping for days, the fight with Clint and the crying lag, Natasha felt dead on her feet. Clint scooped her into his arms, carrying her to the bed as a testament to her level of exhaustion. "Stay," Natasha said, grabbing his wrist as he turned to go.
"Sure," Clint replied, smiling as he climbed in next to her, pulling a blanket over both of them.
"Thanks," Natasha said softly, snuggling against Clint, her head resting on his chest.
"Anytime," he replied, pressing a soft kiss to her forehead. "We're gonna be okay you know."
"I know," Natasha whispered, nodding slowly before drifting to sleep, Clint following close behind her.
Reviews please =D