So I know I should be working on my other story, but this little drabble-stream-of-thought type thing was running through my head, so I figured I should just get it written and out there. I thought it was just some nice, kind of team bonding. I'm not really sure what this is honestly.
So, you know, read, review, and enjoy.
They have gatherings in the middle of the night, Tony, Steve, Clint, and Natasha.
It starts with Steve, camping out in the living room with his sketchbook, bundled in blankets, trying to forget the cold, the terror, the past.
Well, really it starts with Tony, but he always spent the nights in his lab before; before there was another, and another, and then another. Before there were others, others who could give him peace of mind. So when he stumbles out into the living room at one in the morning having only slept for an hour before the terrors of heat, of water, of foreign hands attached to foreign bodies with foreign languages that took away his control make their appearances again and discovers Steve in the living room, he finds one of his tablets and works from the couch next to Steve's couch. At first, they sit in silence but sometimes they turn some quiet music on, or mindless T.V. It doesn't really matter because really, the only thing they're there for is the company, to know that they aren't alone, to know that someone has their backs.
Clint joins them next, jumping down from an air vent. Steve jerks his pencil, ruining the picture of the half-asleep Tony he's been working on the last three nights, his face lit up by the arc reactor and the tablet, and Tony jerks to full awareness, hand covering his arc reactor in a gesture they're all familiar with. He does it when they startle him, or when his lips twist into a grimace, mind trailing down into a path they recognize all too well. Clint doesn't say anything, just snags a blanket from the couch, pulls out a book, and curls up on the couch with Tony. Steve flips the page and starts over as Tony calms his breathing, leaning back against the couch and touching the tablet with shaking hands.
After that, Clint uses the door.
Natasha joins them when Clint pulls her from her bed, where she was sitting and checking her guns because a jammed gun is another death on her ledger and she won't have it happening to her team. He takes the gun from her hand, tugs her arm to pull her to her feet, and leads her to the living room. The other two don't say a word, but Tony gets up and moves to the couch with Steve and Natasha takes his spot. Clint settles down and props his feet up on the coffee table. If it had been day time, if they hadn't been showing their most vulnerable sides to each other, Tony would have yelled at him, Clint would have snarked something back, and the two would have spent the rest of the day making fun of each other until it ended at the bars. Now though, Tony says nothing, barely looking up from his tablet. His feet are laid out on the couch, just barely touching where Steve sits, tablet laying in lap. After a second, Natasha let's her body relax, pulling a blanket over her body as she lays across the couch, head in Clint's lap. He has a hand on her hair, fingers absently stroking through it. She figures that if the rest of them are showing a weakness, maybe, just this once, she can do it too.
She joins them two nights later, when she can't let go of the weapons, of the memories, or all the red, red, red, in her ledger.
They're always gone in the morning, before Bruce, the earliest riser when the rest of them are finally able to get some sleep, moves downstairs. Still, he suspects. Sometimes Clint is still there, Natasha's body curled against his because Clint refuses to move if she could actually get some sleep. Sometimes it's just Tony, who blinks blearily up at him before turning back to his tablet. Bruce always brings him a cup of coffee as soon as he makes a pot and ten minutes later, Tony finally emerges and moves into the kitchen to greet Bruce and start the day. Sometimes it's just Steve, who will still be curled in his five blankets, pencil on the ground where he dropped it when he finally fell asleep. Sometimes it's just Steve in the living room, but Steve will tell him that Tony's down in the lab because he was restless all night and Steve finally got tired of it and banished him to his lab so that all the ideas that were trapped in his head could materialize from his fingers, like a piece of art.
And sometimes, it's both of them in the living room. Sometimes Steve is laying across the couch, his head resting on Tony's legs, deep asleep with one of Tony's hands resting gently on the top of his head, the other poking at equations and designs on the tablet. Sometimes it's Tony who's the one sprawled across the couch, head on Steve's lap with Steve's arm held protectively held against the arc reactor, a silent promise to guard it through the night. It doesn't matter who's awake and who's asleep—the man left awake always glares at Bruce, daring him to say something.
Bruce never does. He just wishes he could find some wayto save his teammates from themselves when their walls are down at night, when the sleep they so desperately need is just beyond their reach. Still, he thinks that until he does, this is the best solution any of them will be able to find.