None of the Avengers sleep very soundly. Natasha has nightmares about her past, Clint dreams of what he did while under Loki’s influence, and Steve suffers through vivid nightmares about his time in the war. Captain America often relives the final moments before he crashed into the arctic.
Dr. Bruce Banner almost always has dreams about losing control and smashing everything in his path, Thor has nightmares about his brother, Loki, and their tattered relationship, and Tony Stark is constantly haunted by the shards of sharpnal creeping towards his heart, as well as the destruction Stark Industries’ weapons wrought on the world….
It’s night. It’s always night when the nightmares come. They’ve been coming now for so long that Natasha isn’t sure anymore she remembers a time without them.
Since she can’t just not sleep, it is her habit to sleep up till the nightmares wake her. So far, since staying at Stark Tower, she has managed to wake up before the screams start.
Half sleepy, she’s not so stealthy as she usually prides herself, or maybe Clint is just more conscious of her than he usually lets on. He shifts then jolts away as soon as Natasha starts to get up from the bed they’re sharing.
"Wha…?" He blinks, then runs a hand across his eyes. Squints, swallows. Manages to say, "What time it is?"
"3am. Go back to sleep."
Clint shakes his head, waking up more as Natasha’s body language indicates she will be moving further away from the bed, not closer. “No, now’s as good a time for breakfast as any.” Clint knows himself well enough to recognise he’s awake enough now that lying back in bed will only lead to him thinking of memories of his time as Loki’s puppet rather than anything resembling rest or sleep.
Natasha shoots an apologetic expression his way, knowing that she will just need to be more stealthy the next time she leaves the bed.
"So what are we going to do for dinner?"
"We’re in Stark Tower," Clint returned. "Pretty much anything we like."
Tony is already standing in the kitchen when Clint and Natasha arrive there. The animosity between Tony and Natasha has faded since they saved the world together. Natasha has spoken to Pepper enough to know that her influence plays a part also.
"What brings you two down here?" Tony asks, as if he doesn’t know perfectly well. His own nightmares of the shrapnel creeping its way to his heart have found a second place spot to nightmares of a scenario where he doesn’t come back through the portal before Natasha sealed it off. He doesn’t wait for an answer really, before extending a drumstick out towards someone appearing behind Natasha and Clint.
Bruce stands there, his brown hair tussled from sleep in a way that’s not too different to the way his hair sits on a daily basis. “I see I wasn’t the first to have this idea.” He shakes his head, then makes his way further into the kitchen. “We really need to stop making a habit of this.”
"Says who?" Tony asks. "No rule saying heroes have to be daytime people. A lot of evidence to suggest otherwise, in fact." He takes a big bit of his drumstick with relish. Frankly, Tony was just glad to be a here on Earth type person. Even his relationship with Pepper had been influenced by this most recent near death experience.
Bruce just offers a small smile and shakes his head. Truthfully, for all his words, he’s glad that the Avengers have created this habit, rather than going their own separate ways as it looked like they were going to do. This has been the closest he has been to not being angry all of the time since his experiment had gone so horribly wrong. He thinks that even the other guy might agree. Or maybe it’s the other guy’s disagreement that sees him through largely sleepless nights, caught between memories and dreams of losing control and smashing everything in his path. Thor he knows can handle it. The others…
At first, Bruce had been happy when it looked like it was just going to be he and Tony—with Pepper, of course—sharing Stark Tower. Then, one day, Clint rocked up at the door with Natasha in tow. Steve had not been many days behind, but he at least had offered an explanation.
"Where else do I have to go?"
It brought a very sad and poignant point to the fore. Where did any of them have to go? The closest they had to acceptance was each other. No, he had anything to do with it, the other guy would never make an appearance again.
Other Avengers flash fiction posts can be found here: