Through the Perilous Fight
Notes: This is my gift to darknessfactor for the HulkWidow fandom exchange. The prompts I was given to choose from were, “This isn’t the way things were supposed to be” or “I found my heart. I think you had it all along.” In the end, I tried to incorporate both prompts into this piece, or at least their correspondent feelings. I hope you enjoy it as much as the (intense, goodness) angst will allow.
Thank you very much for the prompts, and for reading.
She wakes to the sound of a thousand distant voices raised in chorus, singing what might be the final few lines to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
(“…And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air…” they strike that high note with a hard, trembling clarity,…“gave proof through the night that our flag was still there…”)
There is a yellow, antiseptic smell to the cool air. A punctual beep from the heart monitor – her heart monitor, that is, she can feel its electrodes suckered to her skin – flares and fades like a firefly. Natasha keeps her eyes closed, floating inside the vastness of her own anesthetized pain.
But then she opens them, a moment later, because if she doesn’t she will likely have to watch everything happen all over again.
(“…Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…”)
Streetlamps and city lights outside give the darkened hospital room a faint golden tinge. All the monitors around her bed flash various numbers and vital signs, offering reassurance that she is indeed, technically speaking, still alive: all except the pulse oximeter, that is. That one seems to have been taken off its mount, and Natasha follows the wires from her index finger to a chair beside the bed.
Bruce sits there wearing a pair of shredded pants, a borrowed scrub top, his expression illumined in flash-pan white by the glowing screen on his lap. He holds one hand clamped over his mouth. A day’s-growth beard roughens his cheeks.
And there is Steve’s shield, of course, propped up in a corner with the self-contained, austere dignity of a stone obelisk – it probably weighs about the same.