One of those days
Hey y'all! I just received my first request from @thoughfulmilkshakeface, and here it is, hope you all enjoy! psa I am taking requests, mainly Natasha/Yelena/Wanda centric, and I dont do reader inserts or anything too smutty so feel free to leave smth in ma inbox ;)
Natasha has bad days. Clint knows this, and he also knows that the bad days will pass, making space for the good ones, where they can go out to the movies, or grab lunch, or take Lucky to play ball in the park without the change of routine sending her reeling.
It is these days that he treasures the most, when he can pretend, even if it is only briefly, that they are just another normal couple, with normal problems like squabbles over who’s turn it is to take out the trash or clean up after the dog.
Today is not one of those days.
Clint can tell from the moment they wake up. He cracks open an eye just in time to see the flash of metal handcuffs disappearing into Natasha’s nightstand.
The handcuffs rarely make an appearance anymore, and only on those nights where she is filled with an anxious restlessness, a sense of uneasiness that only the cool slicing of the metal can satiate.
She never talks about it, refuses to acknowledge that they still have a lingering control over her that she can’t quite shake. Clint understands what it is like to feel that lack of autonomy, and never pushes her to stop.
Lucky knows that Natasha has bad days as well. She stumbles past where he is eagerly awaiting breakfast, straight to the gym without so much as a glance in his direction. It is like she is barely even there.
Clint drags himself into the kitchen, narrowly avoiding hitting Lucky in the face as he reaches down to pat him through a haze of sleep. He fills Lucky’s bowl, and slides two pop tarts onto a plate. A smile almost reaches his face as he thinks about the plan Nat concocted to sneak them past the addicted demi-God upstairs.
And they wait for the last member of their family to return. Sometimes, an hour in the gym is enough to shake whatever demons were haunting her away and she returns more present, having slipped out of whatever funk she is in.
Today is not one of those days.
They watch the clock as the hands trail round the hour, and into the next. Lucky whines, pressing himself against Clint’s leg. He is weirdly intuitive, can always tell when something’s not right. Almost two hours have passed. Natasha’s coffee has grown cold in the pot.
“I guess you’re right, bud,” Clint sighs, rubbing Lucky behind the ears. “I’ll go check on her.”
At first, he thinks the gym is empty. Music blares out of the speakers as he scans every corner.
He finds her huddled in a crack between the wall and a punching bag. From her vantage point, she has a clear view of the entire gym, but she doesn’t even blink as he settles down in front of her.
Nat’s eyes are glassy, unfocused. Clint waves a hand in front of her face, trying to get her attention. He is wary of touching her when she’s like this, but he really needs to get her to the apartment. Clint can see the blood leaking through her pointe shoes, feet white with the ribbons tight enough to cut off her circulation. Slowly he loops one arm around her shoulders, the other under her knees, narrating as he does so.
No matter what, Clint wants her to feel at least some semblance of control.
“Alright, Tash, back to the apartment. I got you, it’s okay.”
He glances at her briefly, to see if he has gotten a response, but she has retreated so far into herself that she can’t hear him. Dissociated, the part of his mind that has attended many therapy sessions with her, supplies.
She has frozen by the time he tries to deposit her on the couch. Eventually, he just sits down with her draped over his lap, hoping that the feel of him breathing would help to ground her. He thinks back to the day before, trying to remember what could have triggered it. Nothing springs to mind, although new triggers still pop up now and then. Maybe something from a mission?
Lucky worries when he sees Natasha like this. It makes Clint sad, and then neither of them will take him to the park. He leaps onto the couch, burying his muzzle in Natasha’s face and showering her with kisses. Suddenly, she stirs, breath shuddering in her chest.
“Nat, you’re okay, you’re safe. We’re in the apartment.”
One hand comes up, shielding her face, while she desperately tries to wriggle out of Clint’s lap. Her breath is beginning to come faster as she squirms, unable to escape Lucky’s slobbery hold.
“Natasha, it’s just Lucky, you’re okay.”
“Yeah. Can you breathe with me?”
She can feel her breath whistling in her chest, coming faster and faster and despite this feel the lack of oxygen in her brain. Lightheaded. She doesn’t think her legs would support her right now if she tried to run.
Run away from all of this. All these emotions, clawing at her chest and anxiety buzzing in her brain and tingling on her skin and she can't breathe, she can’t-
One fist gripping Clint’s shirt, the soft fabric grounding, while simultaneously keeping herself as far away from him as possible, curled on the opposite side of the couch.
Through the icy panic, she tries to focus on his chest. Watching it rise and fall. She manages to take gulps of air to match, feeling the fog slowly evaporating around her.
“Idiot dog,” she mutters, pushing Lucky away from her.
The buzzing panic leaves her as quickly as it arrives, leaving her drained. The world is far too bright, too sharp, now.
Clint is watching as she tries to collect herself. Natasha feels her mask slamming into place, protecting her from the world and hiding her humiliation. She’s not sure how she got to the couch, but she can feel the concern and smothering pity rolling off of Clint in waves and she hates it.
She just wants to be alone, until she can forget again.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Clint presses his lips together. This repression shit can’t be healthy, but he knows better than anyone that there’s no point trying to make Natasha talk when she doesn't want to.
“Fine. We don’t have to talk. Can I at least look at your feet?”
Natasha glances down. Her feet are waxy, apart from the red marks made by the ribbons chafing. Blood has congealed around the box of the shoe, spattering its way up the shank.
“I can do it myself, Clint,”
“Natasha, I swear to God.” Clint pushes her back down as she tries to stand, going into the kitchen to grab the first aid box.
Carefully, he unties the ribbons, prying the shoes off her feet. The blood is sticky, and it takes a while for him to get them off without ripping the skin further.
Eventually, both shoes are discarded and he gets a proper look at her.
“Nat, what happened?”
Clint had hoped it would be an easy fix, just a couple of blisters, but apparently it wasn’t one of those days, and nothing was easy. Hundreds of shards of glass are embedded in the soles of Natasha’s feet, and when he looks back to her shoes, he can see more littering the soles.
He gets to work, painstakingly removing each shard and cleaning the cuts, before covering them in adhesive bandage. Questions can come later, when Nat is not still partially dissociated on the couch with a vase’s worth of glass in her feet. Lucky watches, resting his head on Natasha’s lap. This time, she doesn’t push him away, running her fingers through his fur.
“I needed to know that I hadn’t got soft.”
The words echo in the silence, although they were barely audible. Clint carefully schools his expression, keeping his posture open and relaxed.
“And dancing with glass in your shoes proves that how?”
“We used to do it,” Natasha pauses, staring intently at a spot on Lucky’s back, “before.”
Clint nods in understanding. It doesn’t surprise him, seems very on-brand given the sparse details she had shared over the years.
“You haven’t gotten soft, Tash. Why would you think that?”
“But I have,” she presses, leaning forward, “I see it all the time. They told me I could never form attachments, that it would make me weak. And I can’t do the missions I did before,”
“Can’t or won’t? You didn’t have any choice over taking missions, Tash. Just because SHIELD does things differently doesn’t mean you’re any less of an agent.”
“They’re in my head all the time,” Natasha admits. “I can hear them. Telling me I’m sloppy. Weak. They would be so angry if they could see me now. I just. I just needed to feel like I was,”
She breaks off, staring at her hands.
“Like what?” Clint prompts gently.
“Made of marble. That’s what they used to say to me.”
“They’re not here now, Nat. We are. Your family. You don’t need to be all perfect and tough around us.”
Nat shakes her head in exasperation, eyes roaming around the room as she searches for an explanation.
“But I still want them to be proud of me. It’s fucked up. I’m fucked up. They took everything from me and I still want to make them proud.”
“They tortured you, Natasha. They raised you, that’s not just going to go away. You’re not under their control anymore. I just want you, whatever that is.”
Suddenly, she can’t stand this conversation anymore, ignoring her protesting feet as she stalks into the kitchen. Clint follows, Lucky not far behind.
“Love is for children.”
“It doesn’t have to be.”
Natasha huffs out a laugh, turning away to reach a mug. “You’d have to be stupid to want me.”
“I guess I really am an idiot then.” Clint reaches out, tugging on her arm until she is facing him.
“Lucky too,” he adds as the dog jumps up, pawing Natasha’s legs.
“Idiot dog.” A tiny smile graces the corner of her mouth.
“You’re more than just an incredible agent, Tash. You’re my best friend, my family. I love you.”
She ducks her head, staring at their intertwined fingers.
“I love you too, idiot.”
Clint grins. It was one of those days.
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