It’s been a long time since Natasha has had a really debilitating nightmare. Long enough that she doesn’t have any compunctions about curling up in the Barton’s bed with them. Clint has an arm around her waist and Laura is reaching over him to intertwine her fingers with Natasha’s. They’ve developed this habit of falling asleep all wrapped around each other.
It’s been so long since she woke up screaming, that Natasha hadn’t even worried about it. It isn’t an issue. Until it is.
She’s lucky that they’d had a late night, when it happens. She starts up in bed with a thin sheen of sweat on her skin, and it takes her a moment to remember why she’d in a bed and why she can hear the sounds of nature outside her window. No traffic. Just cicadas.
“Natasha?” Clint mumbles. Laura is still asleep.
“Gonna get some water,” she lies to him, and he’s too tired to hear the catch in her voice. He rolls back over to wrap his arms around Laura, and Natasha pads slowly out of the room. She’s not going to be able to get back to sleep now.
She stands in the hallway for a long time, not sure what she’s doing. It rained the night before and there roads will be too muddy for a proper run.
She wanders a few steps further and finds herself in the doorway to Lila and Cooper’s room. The two are in the dead sleep that only children seem to be able to find, and Natasha suddenly wants to cry. She wants to wrap them up in her arms and run away to someplace that has no pain. Some place they’ll never be hurt.
Because she can suddenly see their future. The tears and heart wrenching confusion that will come with their lives. Lila, especially, holds her attention this night. It’s inevitable, given the particular nightmare she’s just had.
Before she can think, she crosses the room and kneels beside to Lila’s bed. To offer up a prayer or to just feel the solidity of the floor beneath her.
“I’ll protect you,” Natasha whispers. “I’ll protect you.”
She means it, but she also knows it’s impossible.
After a few more moments, she lays down on the covers, and wraps about her arms around the small girl. It stills her crying and calms her. She can feel the quick heartbeat of youth in the child.
She takes a shaky breath, and breaths it out slowly.
Clint finds her there in the morning, and smiles softly.
“Sleep well?” he asks.
“Well enough,” Natasha answers.