I Feel Alright - Steve Earle
[His lips twitch. He’s amused, truly.]
I never claimed to be sane, Barton.
[He pauses, uncertainty flickering across his face for a fraction of a moment before its covered with a neutral calm.]
Is the why so important? The reasoning behind my asking for this will hardly change any opinions of me.
[He tilts his head, studying Barton for a long moment.]
…I chose it because it was…necessary.
Necessary? Necessary for what?
You think a little down time is going to make you feel better? If this is about what happened in the elevator…
[He cuts himself off with a scoff and a scowl.]
Taken. Removed from you. I am no healer, Barton. My…skill…leans heavily towards illusion and destruction, but I have some small ability to transfer injury. A thing I would rather you not mention.
[He pauses, holding the looser shirt in his hands, brows furrowed as he considers how to phrase his words.]
The injury caused to you by my…hmm…lack of control…was not intentional. It was not intended for you.
[His lips twitch with a half smile as he pulls the shirt over his head.]
[He’s silent, staring for a moment, not sure what to make of what’s been said.] That’s a real pretty way of saying you’re going crazy, Loki.
Honestly? I don’t care what happened so much as what didn’t. I didn’t die and you didn’t get sent back to Asgard so it hardly matters. You did lock yourself down here though, from what Tony says anyway. Why?
About Sophie - Keaton Henson
She’s an unwelcome shudder on the worst of her days
And despite the bad moods, she won’t go away
She’s as stubborn as winter and as kind as the sun
And she won’t freeze or burn anyone
On most days she drives me home, out of her way
And when I say “Drive safe” I mean it, today
Because I’m a tough luck friend
I’ll reckon she’ll stay with me, til the end
And it means more than I pretend
Her car’s like a sauna made mostly of smoke
And it glides back to hers, most late nights like a ghost
And nothing is said unless it needs to be
I’ll watch a movie, she’ll fall asleep
She’s one of those who when you’re talking, you’ll see
She’s really listening to someone like me
Why was she listening to someone like me?
Because I’m a tough shit friend
And I’ll reckon she’ll stay with me til the end
And it means more than I pretend
And I know I’m awful, I can’t even cry
It’s about time I told her and looked in her eyes
“You’re my best friend, I’ll love you til one of us dies
You’re my best friend, I’ll love you til one of us dies
You’re my best friend, I’ll love you til one of us dies”
Natasha sensed things had changed between them in the time she had been away, an electricity that was in the air. Just as she was about to pull her hand her away, Clint put his hand on hers, the rough skin making her breathe deeply. Turning to look at her, she pulled his hand down closer towards her, her thumb stroking the back of his thumb, sensing his need for touch, support, though she did not know what he was about to say.
“I’m an idiot, Nat. Half the time. No, most of the time,” Instead of smiling at his words as she would normally, she tilted her head to one side, frowning a little. Blue eyes meeting hers, she swallowed a sip of vodka, surmising that maybe she was hiding behind the glass at his serious tone. He was her partner. It was rare he said this much without cracking a joke or trying to make her smile.
“And this is late and probably a mistake because love is for children like you always say, and we can’t afford to be children, right? But neither of us ever were, really and maybe that’s the whole point…” Natasha blinked in amazement as he talked, not missing the L word that he dropped in there. Part of her wanted to put her feet on the floor and run back out of the apartment and Stark Tower as quick as she could. And yet she had run from emotions for so long. Just how much longer was she going to run?
Clint was more than her partner. For so long, they had been skirting round this thing that other people commented and watched. Only they had not talked about it. It was just part of who they were, silent yet deadly… Perhaps they needed to talk, but right now, Nat was not sure what to say, not if Clint was going where she thought he was. She watching him rub his hands through his hair and removing her feet from his lap, she curled them up next to her.
“But I love you, Tasha. Should have said it a while ago, ‘cause it’s true. It’s the truest thing in the damn world.”
Natasha bit her lower lip at his words. There was a whole world of difference in suspecting someone loved you and actually hearing them say that. A stinging behind her eyes suddenly made her realise that his words were making her tearful. Nat could not remember the last time she cried. No, no crying, no matter what he says.
“Just thought you should know sometime.” He let go of her hand and in doing that, she realised he knew the turmoil of emotions that was twisting in her gut. Clint Barton knows you so well, she thought, don’t walk away from him. Her inner voice scared her and she had to ask.
“How … how long have you known?” Hugging her knees, she looked at him, wanting to know…
He looked away from her, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. Already he was regretting this. The reason he’d waited so long to say anything was because he was worried that she didn’t feel the same way. He knew that she had a hard life, that her childhood had been more pain and suffering and control than anyone should ever have to endure, that it had made things hard for her even now. He supposed that the Russians had won in some ways with her, she was still a deadly weapon, she still knew how to keep her emotions out of the way. Hell, the only person who could compromise Nat was… Well, him.
But he knew that emotions had been considered a weakness in her life for so long that she still had trouble with them. Love is for children, Clint. It was a mantra she had used to keep him out, or so he’d thought. Maybe it was just something she told herself to get to sleep at night. He wasn’t sure. He didn’t even need her to return the words, he just needed for her to stay. To let him have this, to keep her in his life for a while longer.
“For a while I guess. It kinda snuck up on me, you know?” He picked up his abandoned glass of vodka and downed the rest of the liquid in one go. “I’ve been trying to put it off, because it’s dangerous as hell, but… I’ve always done things the hard way.”
When he met her gaze there was an edge of pleading in his voice. “Just tell me I’m crazy or something, and we’ll forget it. You had news for me anyway, something you couldn’t tell me by text?”
Almost as soon as Bucky heard Natasha’s voice, he was pulling away from Barton’s bruised body. He let her pull his arm away, her touch on him enough to break through the cloud of rage and anger that had flooded his body. Flopping back on his ass, Bucky found a wall to lean against, breathing heavily. There was a bruise forming on the side of his face, from one of Barton’s glancing punches, but otherwise, he wasn’t any worse for wear.
Bucky blinked, looking across the room as Barton, blood dripping down into a ruined shirt. Shit, he thought. It looked pretty bad, the blood on his hands was tangible, lines of warm, sticky red across them and then Barnes was standing over a broken and beaten form blood pooling on the ground as the last breath rattled from punctured lungs before he was watching from across a field the comfortable weight of gun in his hands his target miles away watching the spill of blood soak into concrete the feel of barn skin under his hands the pressure of a heartbeat jumping in throat as the life was crushed out of them—
In the here and now, Bucky’s breathing came in short gasps, his pupils dilating, looking somewhere beyond the crowd in forming in the room. He dug his nails into this thighs, trying to focus, to see Natasha standing in front of him, focus on the look on her face, the anger in her voice. She was here, it was 2012 and he wasn’t the merchant of death anymore.
Natasha saw a beaten Clint hobble out from Bucky’s grip. The blood was still thundering in her ears, sheer frustration at the two of them acting like idiots. Seeing the state of his already swelling eyes from the broken nose, she stomped over to Clint’s fridge and got a tray of ice out, looking round for a towel or something to wrap it up in. Steak would have been better but sure enough, there was no meat to be found. Dumping the ice in the towel, she tied it and walked back over to him, holding his hand out as he made his excuses.
“Tasha this isn’t… We…” Natasha raised an eyebrow as she pressed the ice into his hand.
“Here. Put this on your nose.” His pitiable excuses could wait for now, Nat just didn’t want to hear it.
Turning to Bucky, she was just about to ask what he was doing there and why did he chose to come into the building the way he had – when she saw him staring at hands that were covered in stickied blood. Her anger faded to be replaced with cold fear. Natasha recognised the blank stare, the heavy breathing as he appeared to either be having a flashback or a panic attack. She watched him dig his nails into his thighs and she reach across to squeeze his hand.
“James?” Tasha squeezed his hand to get his attention. “James. Come back, please.” She had a terrible feeling that his mind was in Russia or during World War II – both bloody era’s. No-one needs to relive those times.
Clint took the offered towel with a frown, her bad mood rubbing against his like salt on a wound. He knew she would react like this, he knew that the last thing she wanted was for him to act like an idiot about this whole thing. He’d let his feelings in the spur of the moment get the better of him, and here he was with a broken nose and rattled teeth to show for it. A pretty red mark on the floor to match the one on his shirt. He felt sick and his nose had begun to throb painfully by the time he placed the ice on it, his scowl turning quickly to a wince of pain.
He had promised her that she wouldn’t lose him and he’d meant it. She was his best friend, his partner his… his… She was more than he had words for, and seeing her so genuinely angry because of his actions was more than he could take.
Clint stood with a final backwards glance towards Bucky and Natasha. It didn’t take eyes like his to see what was going on. To see what kind of relationship those two had shared once upon a time, maybe even still shared. They were so similar in so many ways, years of shared experiences bringing them together in a shower of blood and bonds that transcended friendship. Clint had always been sure that he and Natasha had a bond like that, but he saw it now. He saw how wrong he had been.
He spat on the floor, adding another red smear to the already ruined carpet, and stood up, walking towards the door and Tony all at once. He gave the other man a look that read most like a warning. He didn’t want to talk about what had happened.
“I’m out of here. You coming or should I get you some carpet shampoo?”
[text] It’s the good stuff. If you do make cupcakes, I like vanilla icing best :)
[text] I’m always game for toaster snacks. Something tells me that if I answer this you’ll get mad at me so I’m just going to offer half a bottle of tequila and a Golden Girls marathon next weekend.
[text] Remember, if there’s ever too much food or coffee down there you know who to call, right? But really, are you buying a dress or something? ‘Cause you’d look better in red.