Author's note: Just a short angsty chapter, with some Pepper Potts, because I haven't written her before and wanted to try!
More action in the next chapter! (sorry in advance for the wait, but it's coming!)
THANK YOU SO MUCH to all the Guests who reviewed, this chapter is for you! You have no idea how happy reviews make me :D
"Why did you have to tell me that? Why Steve? Why couldn't you let me think he was off recovering with his family or something? His FAMILY!" she yelled at Steve, "Why do you have to be so cruel? Doing the right thing all the time? It didn't save Clint, did it? USELESS!"
She screamed this last word, tears dripping down her cheeks, as Steve sat, petrified on the sofa opposite hers, frozen. She grabbed her crutches and attempted to leave the living room. In all her fury, she didn't see the leg of the coffee table, and tripped over it, flying onto the floor.
"Wanda!" Steve leapt up to help her, but she was gone, propelled away in a haze of red smoke.
Wanda's Room - Avenger's Compound
Wanda's anger evaporated as soon as she sank onto her bed, and it was replaced with sobs that wracked her body.
The tears began to cascade down her face, and soon she was crying so hard she couldn't breathe. She tried to inhale but everything was wet and snotty and her face was leaving a wet print on the duvet cover, and her ears were blocked and she couldn't even think.
Eventually the tears ran out, and the just lay, face down, stiff and trembling, utterly exhausted. And then came the thoughts.
Natasha training her.
Clint telling her she was an Avenger.
Clint and his bow.
Clint and his family.
She rolled over, and off her bed, landing with a thud on the carpet, and just stared at the ceiling, let the memory of the last time Natasha was in her room wash over her.
It wasn't a good day. She had been crying (again), when Natasha came into her room.
"Natasha! I thought you-" Wanda stuttered, utterly shocked to see the spy sitting next to her. Wasn't she meant to be on a mission?
Natasha had a look of concern on her face. Wanda was confused and then realised it was probably because of her red and puffy eyes and snot-covered face. She opened her mouth ready to tell Natasha I'm fine really and what happened on your mission? but Natasha got in there before she could.
"I thought we could have some fun since I'm back early from my mission," she said, a mysterious glint in her eyes, answering one of Wanda's unanswered questions and completely ignoring her downtrodden state.
Wanda noticed something strange in Natasha's own eyes. A haunted look. Something had happened.
"Fun?" she asked. "I thought you didn't do fun."
Natasha grinned, a crooked smile that didn't reach her eyes.
"I'm plenty fun, when I feel like it. What about you?" She asked Wanda, her question a dare.
Wanda didn't back from a dare. She was going to play this game.
"I like to fly," she said, swinging her wrist and levitating the contents of her desk a couple feet into the air. Let's see what Natasha said to that. Natasha who hated her powers.
"Let me try."
"You heard me Maximoff."
Five minutes later, and Natasha was flopping around in the air, finally getting into an upright position. Her usually quick and calculated movements were completely replaced with flailing limbs and breathless giggles.
"You look like a fish," laughed Wanda, holding her hands steady, Natasha suspended in her cloud of red haze.
"Wait, what?" snorted Natasha, "I do not!" she flipped in the air, her head skimming the ceiling, long red curls falling all around her face.
"Really?" laughed the younger girl, observing the now red-faced, upside down assassin.
"You kinda look like a fish," quipped Clint, shocking both of the girls. Wanda whipped her head around, losing concentration, and Natasha landed on the bed with a thump.
*end of flashback*
His laugh echoed in Wanda's head now. She realised Nat had just been trying to distract her from her feelings. And maybe from her own too. And now Natasha and Clint were the cause of Wanda's feelings.
Rage, and Guilt.
Guilt settled like a familiar friend onto her chest. She'd shouted at Steve. It wasn't his fault. He was trying his best to keep them all together.
And guilt for not being able to save Clint. Failing as an Avenger.
Guilt for not catching Natasha.
But Exhaustion was winning, and it was dragging Wanda down, down, into the realm of nightmares.
She closed her eyes and let them take her.
Workshop #5 - Avenger's Compound
"Tony?" Pepper's voice carried through the workshop, over scraps of metal, over the wires crawling on the floor like snakes, over the desk swamped in papers. She could have sworn it was clean in here yesterday.
"I'm going to visit Natasha, but before I go, I need to tell you something..." she trailed off.
"Pep?" Tony appeared from what looked like a pile of solar panelled chairs. "Did you say something?"
"Tony." Pepper sighed, taking in his dishevelled appearance. She knew he hadn't slept next to her last night, but she also knew that the last three weeks had been spent drinking to excess and working non-stop.
"Okay, before you say anything, I've finally cracked this fossil fuel alternative I was playing around with, and I think some glasses that fit under my Iron Man helmet and a -"
"Tony, stop. Please, just stop tinkering for a second."
Tony dropped the wrench he was holding with a clatter and looked up, meeting Pepper's gaze.
"Honey. I can't. I can't because shit happens when I stop. I can't make it right, so I have to make it right. You know?" He took a shuddering breath.
Pepper crossed in room in two strides, and caught Tony by the shoulders, enveloping him in a hug, breathing in the oily, sweaty, strangely sweet smell of his t-shirt. He melted into her embrace, hands gripping onto her back like she was her life-ring.
"You need to shower. Sleep. Eat. In that order. And then come and see Nat with me. Okay?" she said into his shoulder.
"I really thought Clint was going to live to be a 100. Have great-grandchildren. Fix up that barn. Teach me how to shoot. He said he would. I thought the Avengers were forever."
He whispered it rapidly into Pepper's hair, like he was afraid he wouldn't be able to start if he stopped.
"I froze Pepper. I saw the water tower falling, and I was back in Tennessee and I was in New York, and god I thought I was over the whole PTSD thing, and you know what I thought of? You. And I got so scared." He paused to suck in a breath.
"And then Clint died."
"Tony, look at me."
He lifted his head and something twisted in Pepper's eyes at the sight of his watery brown eyes, ringed in violet. She cupped his face in her hands, smoothing a smudge of dirt on his cheek. His eyes closed.
"It is not your fault, okay? It. Is. Not. Your. Fault."
A tear escaped, and she kissed it gently.
"I love you."