Total Eclipse of the Heart
Word Count: 1051
Tags: Fluff, Feels, Established Relationship
Natasha’s eyes flew open, darting around in darkness until she could discern some shape or another. She blinked groggily, trying to remember where she was and where she’d fallen asleep.
What country was this?
She let her head loll to the side and relaxed once she spotted the bedside table lamp. It was hideous. The base looked like a pineapple. Damn Clint for giving it to them as a housewarming gift.
The tension left her shoulders. She was home.
But she knew even before looking that she wasn’t going to like what the clock told her.
Three forty-four. A.M.
She huffed out a loud sigh and rolled over onto her stomach. Her arm brushing across the cold empty expanse of mattress to her left. Natasha wasn’t so naive to expect him to still be there.
Bucky had an even worse time sleeping than she did. And she wasn’t exactly holding a world record for consecutive nights without pacing. Ever since he’d come out of the cryo-sleep in Wakanda, he’d been on edge. His memories were coming back. And from the looks of it, not a single good one.
Swinging her legs over to the side of the bed, she hauled herself up and towards the door. A glass of water was in order.
She tried to think back to the last time she’d slept through an entire night, attempting to ignore the blaringly obvious. That she didn’t like sleeping alone. That Bucky getting up and leaving in the middle of the night was the cause of her insomnia.
But it wasn’t as if she could tell him about it. She couldn’t ask the guy to stay in bed with her at the expense of his own mental wellbeing.
Of course, she wasn’t really sure what the steps were to ensure her own, either. Mental well-being was not one of Natasha’s areas of expertise.
All she knew about self-care was how she instructed other people to indulge. She didn’t have a clue how to take her own advice. She didn’t know what her creature comforts were. She’d never been aware of any.
Steve was partial to comfort food.
Bucky liked to be active. He liked to be moving. Probably something to do with all that time he spent frozen.
Natasha let out a ragged sigh and took a sip from her water glass. When she pushed herself, she could remember her childhood before she became what she was. She was young. Very young. And she wasn’t even sure if it was a memory or just wishful thinking.
But at their core, both memories and wishful thinking were just chemical reactions in the brain. So she supposed it didn’t matter.
All she could feel was warm. A blanket being tucked around her. A toy of some kind – a doll or a stuffed animal – being pressed in beside her. And it had been nice. So nice.
One of the nicest feelings she’d ever felt.
She was still holding the glass of water when she heard his key in the door.
The hinges squealed loudly as it swung open. She never remembered to lubricate them until the door was open and she was either going somewhere in a hurry or coming home exhausted.
His gait was heavy, but familiar and calming. She immediately felt the weight in her shoulders lift.
“You awake?” he asked. Obviously a rhetorical question, but Natasha answered it anyway.
“Looks that way.” Her tone was a bit more clipped than she realized it would be. But now it was too late to take it back.
“Sorry…” he replied, tilting his head momentarily before sitting down to remove his shoes. “Tried to be quiet.”
“You were,” she reassured him. “I just…I can’t sleep when you’re gone.”
He was quiet for a moment. So quiet that any regular person might have thought he left. Or dozed off.
But Natasha wasn’t a regular person. And she was highly trained to hear the wheels turning in other people’s heads.
And the wheels in Bucky’s were turning at full tilt.
“I…” he faltered. “It’s the nightmares, Nat…I have to get up and move…and–”
“I know,” she interrupted him. “I know you do. I just…I just thought I’d be honest for once. Just trying it out, let me know how you like it.”
He stood, leaving his shoes by the couch as he crossed the floor to stand in front of her. Taking the glass first, depositing it safely on the counter beside them, he wrapped his arms around her waist, tugging her close so she fit right against him – her head cradled against his shoulder. Her arms linked behind his neck.
“I’m sorry…” he murmured, swaying her slightly. Softly. It almost wasn’t noticeabe. They could be sitting in a narrow treetop, being moved by the wind. It was hypnotic and soothing.
“No, it’s not. This isn’t just about me, doll.” His fingers dragged slowly up her spine. Her head grew heavy against him and he must have noticed, because he bent slightly and scooped her up into his arms like she weighed nothing. “We gotta take care of you, too.”
“You can wake me up when you have them, you know…” she whispered, tightening her hold around his neck. “You know I don’t mind that.”
“I dunno if you’d want to hear about my nightmares.”
She snorted. “I can guarantee some of them are mine too.”
“Right? And ya probably don’t need my mess on top of yours.”
“Bucky…” Natasha crooned softly against his throat. “Your mess. My mess. It’s just one mess now.”
“I know, but…”
“If you don’t want to tell me about them, at least let me know you’re leaving. I don’t like waking up alone and in the dark…if it wasn’t for that stupid lamp, I wouldn’t even know where I was…” She waved her hand vaguely in the direction of the bedside table.
Bucky smirked as his gaze flitted over to the lamp. “That’s why I like it, though. It’s so…mind-numbingly ugly…but it’s home.”
A smile pulled at the corners of her mouth as he deposited her gently onto the mattress. “I’m glad you’re back,” she said, stretching her legs out beneath the cool sheets.
“Me too,” he agreed.
“I don’t just mean tonight.”