Title: "The Blanket"
Fandom: The Avengers
Characters: Clint Barton, Natasha Romanoff
Length: ca. 800 words
Warnings: some language, mention of injuries
Summary: Prequel to "Breathe" – Natasha is hurt and Clint gives her something he once had…
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the story, though I would like to appreciate a Clint of my own, thank you!
Author's notes: Lots of love to my beta anuna_81 for pointing out what I could do to make this ficlet better :D
Written as a fill for crazy4orcas' prompt at the fluff micro promptathon at be_compromised :)
Hugs and kisses to everyone who favorited or commented on any of my previous fics. Please know that your time is appreciated and I love you all for it.
Clint watches her hand twitch on the coarse blue blanket. He knows those blankets well, having spent more than his share of time in one of the narrow beds in SHIELD's infirmary. It's one of those blankets that has stiffened with age and repeated washing, it's itching and too light, not providing real warmth or comfort and they always make him long for his own bed. And now it's Nat in here, a white bandage covering her head. It was a solo mission gone wrong, Clint on the other end of the world when SHIELD agents had retrieved her more dead than alive. And since he's come back to headquarters he hasn't left her side for more than three minute showers and grabbing a sandwich from the cafeteria, watching over her like his namesake.
He has a hard time projecting a calm and collected expression, his sniper training almost failing him. He wanted to tear the fucker who put her in the infirmary limb from limb, but she's already taken care of that before her injuries got the better of her. He wants to punch the op leader into next week, but thinks that Nat would surely take offense at that. She's no damsel and he's certainly not a white knight, that's for sure. But he can already see the guy cowering in the sparring ring when Nat will have a go with him and the thought makes him smirk. He'd pay good money to see that. So instead of going berserk he remembers his breathing exercises from the circus, regaining his composure little by little. SHIELD's head medic has told him that they expect her to make a full recovery, but she has yet to regain consciousness for longer than a few seconds at a time.
He watches her for hours, the minute shivers running through her body, her stiff posture, her fingers twitching on the blanket and suddenly other pictures of her hands come unbidden to his mind. The safehouse in Buenos Aires, her hands running over the blankets in the bedroom they shared, the corners of her lips turning up in a small smile. The mission in Bucharest, her nose twitching with distaste at the scratchy sheets. One by one he remembers her fingering the blankets in all the safe houses and hotels they've been in these past few months. And suddenly he knows what he has to do. He gets Phil to take over his vigil when he drops in the next time and hurries into the closest shopping center.
He slips back into her room, his package in hand, his stomach twisting with nerves. She's still asleep, still hasn't moved, and he crosses the distance with a few hasty steps. Phil looks at him with a brow raised questioningly towards his parcel, but he takes a step towards the door as soon as Clint passes him.
"Do you need anything?" Phil asks, but Clint just shakes his head no.
He hears the door close as Phil leaves and removes the blanket covering Nat, placing it on the chair he's been living in these past few days. She looks fragile and he sucks in a breath as she shivers but doesn't move. He dives into his bag and retrieves the blanket he bought. It's green like her eyes, fluffy and big enough for two. It speaks of comfort, of home, and distant memories of his mother bundling him up in a ratty blanket after he fell into the lake and singing sweet nothings to him flood his mind. He felt loved then, for once in his life, and his heart is heavy as he wonders if Nat ever had someone care for her like that when she was a little girl. She probably can't remember, but it doesn't matter now. He drapes the fluffy cloth over her, her skin soft and warm where he brushes it as he tucks her in and resumes his vigil in the chair he's sure is wearing his butt imprint by now.
The room is still again, no movement, no sounds except their breaths. Until hazy green eyes find his, and an arm sluggishly unfolds from the blanket covering it.
"Clint?" she asks, sounding weary and tired.
He takes her hand in his and smiles minutely, rubbing his thumb across her knuckles before settling her hand on the blanket.
"I'm here, not going anywhere," he says and watches her lips curl up in a ghost of a smile.
"Good," she whispers as she turns onto her side and pulls the blanket up to her ear, a contented sigh leaving her lips as she snuggles into the soft warmth covering her.
Clint settles back into his chair, watching over Nat as she sleeps, finally just sleeps. He takes a deep breath and releases it in a slow, steady stream, feeling lighter already.