Pairings/Characters: Bruce/Natasha, Natasha/Pepper
Continuity: The Avengers (2012) and Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron (2015)
Genres: Angst, Drama
Spoilers: For Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron (2015)
Summary: Monsters live in dreams.
Date Of Completion: June 7, 2015
Date Of Posting: June 13, 2015
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, Marvel and Paramount do, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 655
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author's Noes: A different take on a certain scene in Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron. The entire series can be found here.
I pray my soul to keep,
And for the monsters today
To be kept at bay.
Natasha blinked, the word echoing around the room. The farmhouse was charming and old-fashioned, a safe haven for weary superheroes. Her weary soul found it appealing.
The Russian peasant in me, I suppose, she thought in mild amusement.
“I’m sorry, Natasha.”
Bruce’s sadness was always a part of him. Maybe that was a part of her Russian soul, too. She was inevitably attracted to angst-ridden men.
“Bruce, don’t leave me.”
The sadness radiated out from him, and Natasha thought she could feel that sadness pushing against her body.
“I need you, Bruce.”
“I know.” Regret laced his words. “I can’t give you what you need.”
Natasha felt an emptiness deep inside of her, spreading as she felt fear creep into her heart.
Stop it. Fear is what you conquered by getting close to Bruce in the first place. You were terrified of the Hulk, so you resolved to conquer that fear. Now you sing him a lullaby, for pity’s sake.
“Please don’t leave me.”
“I have to.”
“No, you don’t.”
Bruce shook his head. “I can’t stay.”
“You know why, Natasha.”
“You’re not, you know.”
Bruce grimaced. “Tell the people of South Korea that.”
Natasha held out her hand but Bruce shrank from it. “We all have red in our ledgers, Bruce.”
“Not like mine.”
Natasha dropped her hand. “Try opening my ledger. At least your kills weren’t pre-meditated.”
Bruce looked uncomfortable. Late afternoon sunlight slanted across the hardwood floor, Bruce in his shadows and Natasha in hers.
We will never meet.
She felt the sadness envelop them both. Whether it was Bruce’s or hers hardly made a difference. She felt old, familiar loneliness wash over her as the light faded…
“Don’t leave me.”
“’Tasha, wake up. C’mon, Princess.”
Natasha’s eyes flew open as her heart pounded furiously. Darkness everywhere. She flailed blindly.
“Hey, it’s okay, honey. I’m not going anywhere.”
Natasha’s heart rate began to slow down as her eyes adjusted to the darkness and she realized that she was in the bedroom she shared with Pepper in Avengers’ Tower. Pepper was gripping her hand while supporting her back. Pepper’s hand began to massage her back.
“Man, this one must’ve been a lulu, huh?”
Natasha looked at Pepper, who was smiling slightly but there was concern in her green eyes. Natasha closed her eyes.
“By the Madonna, you have no idea.”
Pepper lowered Natasha back to the bed. “Want to tell me about it?”
There was silence for a minute, then Natasha began to talk. “I dreamed that I was in some farmhouse somewhere, and Bruce was with me.”
Pepper’s cool fingers gently massaged Natasha’s temple. “Not surprising since you’ve been working with him to conquer your fear of the Hulk.”
“Yeah.” Natasha allowed herself to relax under Pepper’s soothing touch. “It’s working, too. We’re even working on that silly lullaby as a way to calm him down when he’s the Hulk.”
Pepper’s hand slipped down to her companion’s stomach, lightly stroking. “So, what else?”
“We…we talked about monsters.”
In the silence that followed, Pepper asked quietly, “What about you?”
“What about me?” Natasha’s stomach tensed.
“Bruce is a monster. What about you?” Pepper continued stroking.
Natasha finally spoke. “Pepper…”
“You’re not responsible for what the Red Room did to you.”
“I know. I just…”
“You were taken as a child and programmed. And now you’re doing good in this world.”
“Don’t leave me.”
Pepper paused her hand, probably a little surprised at the abruptness of the entreaty. She put her other hand on Natasha’s head and kissed her hair.
Natasha’s stomach relaxed. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Pepper kissed Natasha’s hair and settled down beside her, keeping her hand on her lover’s stomach.