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Nothing Burns Like The Cold

Chapter Text

It was a fairly uneventful day for Wanda until a blood soaked and dirty assassin stepped through the doors of the compound.

The place was nearly empty. Steve had taken Bucky around Brooklyn for the day, Vision was off helping Tony with a project, Clint was at the farm.

The only people left were Wanda and Friday. And okay, Friday might not have technically been a person but Wanda enjoyed the conversations with her nonetheless.

It was rare to have the entire compound to herself and sure, she could've gone out and done her own thing too but actually, staying in, watching TV? Yeah, that sounded pretty damn good.

She ached from her workouts, still pushing herself even though her trainer had been on mission. She didn't want Natasha to come home to find that she'd just taken the entire time off. But one day? Nat wouldn't have a problem with that.

The day had started out very chilled. She'd gotten up, done a bit of yoga, gotten ready for the day and ate breakfast overlooking the training grounds. She was about three hours deep into a documentary binge watch session when the door was slammed open.

Instantly alert, red at her fingertips, Wanda flew from the couch, ready for anything.

Instead of an attacker, the girl found Natasha leaning heavily against the door frame, blinking wearily and looking about ready to drop.

"Nat? What the hell?" Wanda cursed, the red haze disappearing as she moved towards the woman.

"I bought us a present." Natasha said thickly, her voice just slightly slurred, her normally perfectly hidden accent slipping out.

Wanda lifted her hands to help steady Natasha but the redhead veered back before she could.

"You don't want to look in my head right now, believe me." Natasha murmured, taking a few steps towards the couches, her hand slipping into her jacket to reach for something.

Wanda was expecting a weapon, she was definitely not expecting Natasha to pull out a tiny black kitten with one eye and matted fur. 

Placing the animal down on the couch, Natasha sat heavily beside it, looking decidedly worse for wear. 

The kitten clambered up onto a pillow, trampled it down, and curled up.

Natasha was trembling, shuddering really, and her eyes kept darting around the room. There wasn't just a little bit of blood on her body, she was all but coated in the stuff. Smears across her face, sticky in her hair, hands red with it.

"Are you hurt?" Wanda asked, carefully kneeling in front of the woman. She didn't touch her, she didn't want to go against what Natasha had explicitly told her not to do.

"I..." Natasha's absent gaze finally found the young woman's and she took a good while to think before answering. "I think so. But uh...most of this blood isn't mine." She murmured, frowning down at her stained hands.

It was certainly worrying to Wanda that Natasha wasn't even aware if she was hurt or not. Usually, she could catalog injuries so astutely they never needed a doctor to determine them.

Also, the woman's expression was...scary, honestly. Wanda had grown perceptive where emotions were concerned, whether it was her natural born empathy or her powers, she was adept at expressions and what people tried to hide.

The Natasha in front of her seemed...broken.

She was holding it together remarkably well but there was a restlessness bubbling under the surface, a frantic, chaotic energy. Without asking, Wanda knew the mission had been personal, had been something so personal that Natasha wasn't even really present, she was still there.

Wanda had seen the nightmares, had been told of some of the horrors when Natasha felt like divulging. She knew that this had to have had something to do with that.

The redhead seemed lost, confused, empty.

"Nat, we need to clean up some of this blood. I need to know if you're hurt, okay?" Wanda explained softly, ducking her head to get her face in the woman's gaze.

Natasha blinked at her, as if uncomprehending. Instead of answering the girl's question, she asked, "where's Clint?" And suddenly, without warning, slumped forward.

"Shit-" Wanda cursed, catching Natasha at the shoulders as the woman's eyes rolled back, much to the brunette's horror.

From her position, it was easy enough to get Natasha laying down on the couch. Unsure and close to panicking, Wanda forced herself to focus on her breathing, just like Nat had taught her.

After a few breaths, Wanda took stock of everything. Natasha had to be hurt, either that or she was exhausted but she couldn't rule out the former.

She'd been so glad to have some time to herself earlier, but now she cursed the fact she was alone. She was out of her depth, like really really out of her depth.

She'd only just begun to learn in the field medical skills and sure, she knew now how to give CPR but that was clearly not going to do any good now.

Okay, Maximoff, what first?

Hand trembling just a little, Wanda pressed two fingers against the woman's neck. She was pretty sure she would know what a bad pulse felt like. She would, right? It was kinda common sense.

Natasha's pulse seemed okay? A little fast but steady. So that was good. It meant she wasn't badly injured, yeah?

Natasha had asked for Clint and yup, Wanda could relate. She wasn't sure if she should try and clean Natasha up or even use her powers so she could see if she was hurt or if she should wait for the woman to wake up.

What if she wouldn't wake up? What if she was badly hurt and Wanda just didn't know?

Unsure which option to choose, Wanda pulled out her phone and dialed Clint.

The archer picked up after a couple of rings, much to Wanda's relief.

"Hey kid, you okay?"

"Clint-" Wanda whispered, clearing her throat, "there's a...problem and I need help. It's Nat."

Clint's tone immediately changed. "What's wrong?"

"She just got home from that mission. She...she's covered in blood and doesn't know if she's hurt and I can't tell because she just passed out."

Wanda could hear Clint's jaw locking on the other end of the phone. "Breathing?"

"Of course, I wouldn't have called if she wasn't. Her pulse seems fine to me but I don't exactly know what I'm looking for." Wanda looked over her friend, that panic in the pit of her stomach never letting up.

Now that Clint knew Natasha was alive and not dying, he seemed a little calmer. "You've been training with Nat and Steve. Tell me what you think you do next."

Blinking, Wanda suppressed a groan. Of course he would turn this into a lesson instead of telling her what to do, which was why she'd called in the first place.

"I...I don't...I called you for that. I didn't know if I should clean her up or check her out the best I can...or wait for her to wake up. But then if she is injured, it can't wait that long, so..."

"So, I think you know what the next step it." Clint murmured.

"Maybe? I uh...I think I'm going to try and check her out?"

Clint's tone told her she'd been right. "Good. You want to start at the head, as you do that, I'm going to get a jet over here. Nat coming back from Russia like that can't be good."

"She asked for you." Wanda said quietly as she placed the phone to her ear with her shoulder. She reached towards Natasha, brushing hair from her face. The moment her fingertips touched the woman's forehead, Wanda's surroundings changed.

Her throat tightened, body freezing cold, panic and pain clawing it's way under skin. She tried to take a breath but the ice had settled in her chest. She was so cold.

Her frantic gaze slid around the room but it was so dark she could barely see. Her wrists and ankles were bound and a dirty light swung overhead.

The single door opened and her head shot up. It was then she noticed there were needles in both of her arms, that the ice filling her from the inside came from them.

There was something over her mouth, wedged in between her teeth, preventing her from making a sound. Wires attached to her temples, to her forehead, collecting information for what was to come. The wipe. She'd been through it before, she knew it was coming. Her mind would be taken, her body to left to do as they saw fit.

They thought they had her trapped. They had her as they wanted her.

They were wrong.

As soon as the man entered the door, she was moving. Pulling limbs out of bonds, tearing wires from skin, she moved off the bed.

The man fired his gun but it was no use, she was on him.

With him down, she moved through the door.

Heads turned her way, guns were drawn, it didn't matter.

She struck.

Bones cracked in her hands, blood spilled and splashed over her, screams entered her mind but she saw none of it, heard none of it, felt none of it.

She was ice, as they had wanted. Except she was never to be their ice. And she would use it to end them once and for all.

She moved towards another man in a lab coat, teeth gritted. She leaped, nails clawing at his skin and-

"Wanda?!" A voice came from outside the girls consciousness and Wanda fell.

She landed on the floor, gasping and shaking, tears in her eyes.

Not for those who had died, but for Natasha, and all she had suffered through.

"Wanda, kid, you better answer me-"

Blinking, the brunette turned to the voice, shaking hands reaching for the phone she must have dropped. "Clint-" she choked out.

"What happened?" The archer demanded, the hoarseness of his voice telling her that he had tried to get her to answer many times before she had.

"I saw-" she whispered, swallowing and shaking her head.

"I saw."

Chapter Text

Before Wanda couldn't even begin to sort through what she'd just seen to try and explain to Clint, Natasha's eyes began to flutter open.

The girl breathed out a heavy sigh of relief, tucking the phone against her shoulder again. "She's waking up." She murmured, her voice still thick with emotion.

"Okay, kid, that's great." Clint's voice was infinitely reassuring.

"She can hear you." Natasha murmured, struggling to push herself up, her brows pinched and her skin pale behind the stark red blood.

Wanda moved without realising, one hand bracing the woman's shoulder as she helped her to sit mainly upright. 

"Easy," she said quietly when Natasha moved too quickly and lost even more colour from her face. Her eyelids fluttered and Wanda worried she would pass out again.

"Let me help, Natasha." Wanda's tone was just a little exasperated. "Here, let me do it."

The girl carefully curled her fingers around the back of Natasha's neck, gently guiding her head down towards her knees. Wanda had been told it was good to do that if you were dizzy, she hoped it was true.

Despite having guided Natasha to the intended position, Wanda kept her hand at the woman's neck, thumb brushing over her skin in what she hoped was a soothing gesture.

"Kid, how's our spider doing?" Clint asked.

"Hang on," Wanda murmured, sliding the phone from her shoulder and placing it on the couch beside Natasha, pressing at the screen. "You're on speakerphone now."

"Tasha?" The archer's voice was soft and a little hesitant, as if he wasn't sure who exactly he was talking to.

And that was fair, Wanda knew that Natasha could get lost in different parts of herself.

Natasha hadn't said anything else, just sat there pulling in shaky little breaths, her knuckles white as her nails dug into her palms.

"Nat, ty so mnoy?" He asked carefully.

The redhead only shuddered, a half whimper, half groan escaping her lips.

"Natasha?" Wanda asked quietly, sliding her hand from the woman's neck to the top of her back, gently rubbing up and down.

"Where am I?" Natasha asked weakly, not lifting her head from her knees.

Wanda blinked, her worry growing expenentioally. She felt helpless. She didn't know what she was doing.

"You're at the compound, Nat." Clint said softly, "Wanda's right there with you. You just got back from Russia, and I know you're confused, but you're not there anymore. You're safe."

Natasha flinched, slowly retracting her hands from the couch so she could bury her face in them instead.

"Clint?" She asked brokenly, her entire body shuddering. "I don't-"

"I know." Clint soothed, "you're okay, love."

Despite being sure she would do the wrong thing, Wanda felt compelled to help and she hoped she wasn't doing anything wrong.

The girl kept one hand on Natasha's back, her other hand moving to gently slide under the redhead's chin, tilting her head up.

Well aware she could literally be about to be stabbed or electrocuted or something, Wanda was decidedly nervous, but she felt in her bones that she was going in the right direction.

"Natasha, look at me." Wanda pitched her voice low, keeping it soft and even and nonthreatening. 

Natasha's misty green eyes slowly flicked up to meet Wanda's gaze. The woman was clearly not entirely there.

"I'm not going to hurt you, it's just me. The girl you knock on her ass just about every day." Wanda tenderly brushed sticky read strands of hair from Natasha's forehead.

Wanda had felt so alone after Sokovia, had felt like her heart would never stop hurting. And it hadn't really, stopped hurting, but it maybe hurt a little less as time went on.

Steve and Clint were such big helps, she truly loved them and believed they were family. 

But Natasha was just a little different. Family, for sure. It was probably because Natasha was female and they were the only two on the team and at the compound. But also because Wanda connected with the redhead in a way she'd never connected with anyone before.

Sisters were the word that came to Wanda as she thought of their relationship. And beyond that, kin.

Natasha had helped Wanda through a lot already, even if it had only been a couple of months and something in Wanda yearned to be able to help Natasha back. 

"I don't-" Natasha stammered, jaw locked as she shook her head.

"Natasha, look around, love, tell Wanda where you are for me." Clint's voice was soothing.

The redhead frowned, eyes slowly tracking their way around the room, settling on Wanda for a moment before moving past her.

Inhaling shakily, Natasha hesitantly replied, "home?"

Before either Clint or Wanda could affirm the question, she asked, "is this real?" In such a soft, broken tone that sounded nothing like Natasha, that Wanda felt a pain spread across her chest.

She could feel the unease, the chaos swirling around Natasha's mind. She could feel the panic that rose up in her as she asked that question. Could feel the uncertainty and the fact she absolutely did not know the answer to what she'd asked. She truly didn't know if it was real. If she was home or if this was just another cruel trick played on her as her mind got taken again.

"Natasha-" Wanda's voice was rough, heavy with emotion, with pain.

"It's real. It's so real, sestra." The word slipped out of it's own accord and Wanda found that she didn't regret saying it one little bit. It was right. 

Natasha's hazy eyes found the girl's face again, her expression so heartbreaking that Wanda knew she would do anything to anyone to wipe it from her face.

"Carry on, kid, you're doing great. Tell her what's real, what you both see and feel." Clint urging her on really did help, it helped her feel more secure in what she was doing.

Wanda shifted her position, cross legged in front of the couch. She moved her hands, taking one of Natasha's. She winced as she saw the bloody crescent moons dug into her palms.

"Here," the girl said softly, guiding the hand in her's to the couch, sliding it over the material. "The couch is real. It's soft and well worn and it's the same one we sit on to watch movies."

She moved the woman's hand to the blanket Wanda had discarded. "This is Clint's blanket. You let me borrow it when I feel sad or alone. It's purple and soft and frayed, here feel the edges." Slowly, slowly, Natasha began to move her hand herself, fingers tangling in the lilac threads that really needed to be fixed.

After a few moments of that, Wanda pointed out of the window's surrounding them. "Out there is real. That's where you make me run laps and you laugh at me when I'm a clutz and fall over my own feet. That's where I join you out in the rain sometimes because we like the feel and the peace of it."

A small smile pulled at Natasha's lips as she gazed out of the window. 

Feeling like she was really getting somewhere, Wanda trusted her instincts to get Natasha more involved. 

"Do you remember what we did out there last week? When it was really hot and I hated it?" Natasha and Wanda had both grown up in cold climates and the latter had definitely not acclimated yet to the American heat.

Another small smile and shaky breath. "We...ordered a sprinkler in the middle of the night." Natasha said quietly, voice soft. "And then we set it up the next day and..."

"Yeah? What did we do?" Wanda coaxed, squeezing the woman's hand. 

"We spent hours out there in the water. We managed to convince the boys to come out too. It was nice." Natasha murmured.

"It was. I had a very nice time. I was so grateful to you for thinking of it." Wanda hummed.

Natasha blinked a few times and turned her head back to the girl. "Real." She nodded, eyes a little firmer. 

"Real." Wanda promised, "right, Hawk-ass?"

Clint chuckled lowly, sounding proud. "Right. Though I am not happy that Nat's nickname has caught on."

Natasha smiled in the direction of the phone, though the smile quickly faded. "Clint?"

"Yeah, love?" The archer asked quietly.

"I miss you." She breathed.

"I miss you too, why d'you think I'm getting a jet over to you?" He hummed.

Natasha frowned a little, still dazed. "Why?"

"To bring you to the farm, silly. Laura reckons you could be here in time for dinner."

"I..." Natasha swallowed, looking down at Wanda, who smiled reassuringly at her.

"I think that would be great, Natasha. You would have an excellent time."

"Yeah." The woman nodded absently. "Okay. But..." She trailed off, looking infinitely more uncertain than Wanda had ever seen her before.

"What is it, Nat?" Clint asked kindly.

"Wanda would you...would you maybe like to come with me?" Natasha asked, her face open but her eyes unreadable. She didn't want Wanda to feel like she had to, or for the girl to know she really would like it.

"I..." taken aback, Wanda bit into her lower lip. "Clint, would that be okay?"

"Would that be okay? Laura would be ecstatic and the kid's are dying to meet you. We've got plenty of room."

"Okay." Wanda said immediately, nodding, a smile spreading across her face. "Absolutely."

Natasha looked relieved.

"First though, Nat, are you hurt?" Clint asked.

Natasha blinked and looked down at herself for a moment. "Not badly, no." She said quietly. "Minor stuff."

Trusting his partner, Clint hummed. "Alright then, the jet probably won't be long so you might wanna pack. And since you're in such good hands, I'll leave you to it. Let me know when the jet gets there." Clint murmured. "I'll see you soon, guys."

Once Clint had hung up, Wanda slowly stood. "You're covered in blood, you should really get cleaned up." She said softly.

Natasha hummed and nodded, cautiously pushing herself up from the couch. They both moved towards the door when a soft meowing caught their attention and a small black lump wound it's way around Natasha's feet.

The redhead closed her eyes and let out a soft groan.

"I bought a kitten home, didn't I?"

Wanda barely stifled a laugh, grinning. "Yeah, you definitely did."

Chapter Text

Wanda wasn't sure how or when her life had turned into this- a terrifying assassin, still wet from her shower, curled up with her head in the girl's lap and a kitten at her feet.

Wanda kept her gaze down on the woman, shivering weakly despite the many layers she'd pulled onto herself. 

She was happy to help and it was nice to have a distraction. She didn't do so well with heights anymore, not since Sokovia, and it was difficult to not let her eyes drift towards a window.

So Wanda focused on staying calm, on being as gentle as she could be, on being present and there for her friend.

Humming softly, the girl trailed her fingers through Natasha's hair. It may have been clean (and gods had that taken a long time) but it was still extremely tangled and proved to be quite an effective soothing technique for both women as the girl gently pulled the knots out.

Natasha wasn't asleep and she was certainly more present than she had been before, but she hadn't really spoken much at all.

Wanda could tell how exhausted she was, how it seeped into her bones and clawed at her mind with the need for sleep. But Natasha pushed it back every time, a fear well hidden but there in the back of the woman's consciousness. Scared of sleep. 

Wanda got that. After all, that was how they had began to become close. Nightmares in the dark.

The girl hoped Natasha would get some sleep once they got to the farm, it was clear she desperately needed it.

"How're we doing girls?" Clint asked as he looked over his shoulder from where he sat at the console.

Not wanting to answer for Natasha, even though it seemed clear that the woman wasn't going to answer, Wanda offered a shrug. "Does this thing have heating?"

Gaze on Natasha, the archer's eyes were decidedly pained as he smiled and nodded. "Sure thing. Anything else?"

"Music? Just quiet." Wanda suggested, gentle fingers brushing over Natasha's temple.

She missed the crooked smile on Clint's face as his gaze lingered on the pair.

A moment later, soft rock music began to play from overhead.

Wanda didn't recognise it but Natasha's tense shoulders relaxed just a little.

Clint was Clint, so he sang along under his breath.

It was nice, actually. Going to the farm, being there for Natasha, it all just felt...right.

It was how she felt with Pietro, protective and loving and like he was a part of her.

They were all part of her now.

And honestly? She couldn't have been happier about it.


Wanda was decidedly nervous as they headed up the steps to the porch. 

She'd never even met Laura and now she was going to be staying in her house for an indeterminate amount of times. She hadn't been around kids in a long time and really did not want to mess up.

And well, she was worried about scaring them. She was dangerous and kids were...extremely breakable and what if all her training with Nat fell through and she couldn't control her powers? She would never forgive herself.

Clint shot her a grin as he opened the door. "I'm home! And I have guests!" He called out.

Immediately, the sounds of two excited kids running down the stairs, as well as the babbling of a happy baby, got Wanda's attention and she carefully tucked herself behind Natasha and yeah, maybe she was hiding but oh well.

Clint had only been gone a couple of hours so the kids were far more interested in Natasha.

"Auntie Nat!" The girl, Lila, Wanda recalled, wrapped her arms around Natasha.

The redhead blinked a couple of times, letting out a shaky breath before she wrapped the girl up in her arms. "Hiya, malyshka ." She murmured, voice husky.

Cooper, not to be outdone, got his fair share of hugs in too and Wanda was pleased to see that that small smile had returned to her friend's face.

A small hand tugged at her sleeve and Wanda started. Lila had pulled away from Natasha and was staring up at her. "Hi." She said softly.

"Hello." Wanda replied, a little awkwardly. "It's nice to meet you."

The girl seemed to scrutinise her and yes, she definitely belonged to Clint. After a few moments, she smiled and her hand slid into Wanda's, taking the girl by surprise. 

Her hands were deadly, she shouldn't even be touching the kids.

But Lila was insistent, pulling her over to a table that looked like a craft monster had thrown up all over it.

"Come look." Lila insisted, rifling through the many papers scattered around, finally seeming to find what she wanted. She pressed a piece of paper to Wanda's stomach and the woman smiled politely as she dropped her gaze to it.

"Oh..." She breathed, confused at first as she took in the picture. It was her. It had to be her, the stick figure in the drawing had a pink streak in her hair and pink swirling around her.

"I got the picture online." The girl explained, pointing at the pink lines around the stick Wanda. "You can keep it." A flush had crossed the girl's cheeks. "If you wanna." She shrugged, acting nonchalant.

"Thank you, kokhana, I will treasure it." Wanda managed to get out past the lump in her throat.

Lila beamed, looking proud. "'Kay." She said softly. 

"Lila, go on upstairs with your brothers. You know they'll only make a mess without you. Wanda'll be here later." Clint hummed, squeezing the girl's shoulders.

With one last look at Wanda, Lila waved goodbye and headed up the stairs after Cooper and Nate. 

"You alright kid?" Clint asked, bumping her shoulder.

"Yes, I..." She swallowed, holding the paper so the archer could see the drawing. "I just didn't...expect. I..."

Clint hummed as he looked over the picture, slinging an arm around Wanda's shoulders. "Yeah, you're kinda her hero. She was beyond excited when we told her you were coming."

"I'm what?" Wanda asked, brows furrowed, that lump in her throat again.

"Yeah, kid, she never stops talking about you." Clint told her with an easy grin. "C'mon, Laura's just making dinner." He pulled his arm away and Wanda found she missed the warmth. 

His arm wrapped instead around Natasha, who still seemed shaky, leading the redhead into the kitchen, the woman carefully carrying the kitten in the crook of her arm.

As she heard the footsteps enter, Laura dropped whatever she was stirring immediately. 

"Oh Nat." She said softly, walking right over and pulling Natasha into a hug. One that the redhead fiercely returned, after placing the kitten on the table.

"I was so worried." Laura breathed, shaking her head.

"Sorry. 'M fine." Natasha mumbled.

Laura pulled back and raised an eyebrow. "Sure. Here, take a seat, you hungry?"

"Maybe." Natasha shrugged, dropping down into the nearest chair.

"Well I'm making you some anyway and you are going to at least try to eat it. Clint, come on man, get them a drink." She looked pointedly over at Clint who rubbed the back if his neck and grinned. "Yes ma'am."

Then Laura's attention was on Wanda and she wasn't quite sure where to look. "It's nice to meet you, thank you for letting me come. Your home is lovely." She said softly, pausing for a moment before offering a hand out to her.

Laura hummed, "we don't do that around here."

Wanda immediately dropped her hand, cheeks flushing. "S...sorry, I-" was she scared of her? That was understandable, maybe she shouldn't have even come-

Laura's arms wound around Wanda and suddenly she was in a hug so tight, she could just about breathe. 

"We're huggers." Laura murmured, squeezing for just a moment before pulling back, a wide, a genuine smile on her pretty face.

"Oh I...I um..." the girl stammered, still flushed, now wringing her hands.

"Wanda, come sit down." Natasha said quietly, placing a hand over the ones Wanda was intensely twisting around. "Let's see if Clint breaks the coffee pot again."

"Again? I did it one-" Clint paused, scratching his head, "actually yeah, probably a good point."

Natasha smiled and Wanda took a seat beside her, her hand still in the other woman's.

She looked around the kitchen, at Clint and Laura and Natasha, at the art and pictures stuck to the fridge and whatever delightfully smelling thing Laura was cooking.

Yeah, Wanda thought, she could get used to this.

Chapter Text

As dinner was finishing cooking up, Clint gestured at Wanda and the pair, along with Natasha, headed to the living room.

Clint had gotten a med kit from somewhere and Natasha reluctantly sat on the couch in front of him.

"You wanna tell me how you're hurt, love?" He asked, crouched down, hand on the woman's knee.

"I'm fine, Clint. I'm barely hurt at all." She muttered, absently scratching at the crook of her left arm.

Wanda, standing a few feet away, winced. That was where one needle had been, injecting her with God knows what.

"I don't care if you're barely hurt, you know the drill Nat, stop being so stubborn." Clint raised an eyebrow and Natasha sighed, rubbing tiredly at her face.

"Fine. Fine, alright. Pretty sure the drugs they gave me have left my system but withdrawal is just a bundle of fun." She muttered, rubbing at her arms.

Ah, that explained the tremors and why the woman was so cold, Wanda thought.

"A couple ribs are broken," Natasha murmured, tipping her head back against the couch. Her voice was a little slurred again but Wanda thought this time it was exhaustion.

"Got stabbed a few times." Natasha murmured off-handedly.

"You what?!" Wanda exclaimed, immediately moving closer to the couch. "What the hell, Nat?"

Natasha blinked one eye open to look at her before sighing and sitting up again. "Lightly. They're basically scratches." She murmured.

"Only you could call getting stabbed a scratch." Wanda muttered under her breath, causing Clint to bark out a laugh and Natasha to look witheringly at her.

"Anything else you felt like leaving out when I asked if you were hurt?" Wanda asked, staring right back at the woman, eyebrow raised.

"No." Natasha grumbled, shifting a little before groaning. She lifted her leg up and dropped her foot to the coffee table, pulling up her pant leg. "Is this relevant?" She asked innocently.

Wanda buried her face in her palm for a minute. That woman was impossible.

"Oh I don't know, Nat, you have a massive gash in your leg, why would that be relevant?"

Natasha only smirked at her.

Clint was far too used to Natasha and her injuries and how she handled them. Wanda was new blood, essentially, she was just figuring it out.

"You...are impossible." Wanda muttered, throwing her hands up in the air. "Literally Impossible."

"I think you broke her, Tash." Clint murmured, flashing Wanda a crooked smile.

"You are both assholes." The girl exclaimed, shaking her head.

Natasha snickered softly. "Alright, kid, you're going to have to get used to this because this is how it is...all the time, pretty much."

"It's a...thing she has. It's after the fact that the pain tends to hit, sometimes she genuinely doesn't realize she's hurt until someone points out she's literally bleeding out." Clint shrugged.

"Yeah, the crash is going to be a doozy this time." Natasha sighed, the smile slipping from her face.

Wanda examined her face for a moment, brows furrowed.

"You've been trying to hold it off." The girl said softly, moving even closer, tilting her head. "Why are you trying to...Natasha. Jesus."

Natasha had the grace to look at least a little chagrined.

"That's why you're extra exhausted, right? You're trying to push it back for my sake? Impossible. You are the most impossible person ever."

"I was just going to wait till you went to bed." Natasha mumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.

"What, in like another five hours? Nat, Jesus." Wanda punched the bridge of her nose and got down on the floor beside Clint.

"Listen, we've been through a lot, yeah? And you've seen me at my worst. The idea that you have to shield me from this is insane, you know that right? It's me, Natasha, you literally found me sobbing on the kitchen floor the other day. I know you probably think I'm still just a kid, but I'm not and I haven't been for a long time and even if I was, this isn't something I need protecting from. You help me and I help you. That's how this is going to work. Now stop being so stubborn and let Clint patch you up."

The archer grinned at her, "she makes many good points, Tash."

Natasha glared at him for a moment before sighing. "Yeah, I know she does." Her gaze moved to Wanda, something behind her eyes that the girl just couldn't quite work out. She saw it in the mirror sometimes, though.

"Natasha," Wanda made her voice softer now, taking one of the woman's hands, "showing me your pain, letting me know you're hurt, letting me help, that's not a weakness. You know that, right?"

Natasha's expression told her that she very much did not know that.

"That's literally one of your lessons for me, it's why I didn't run and hide when you found me on the floor dripping snot everywhere. What did you tell me?"

Natasha's tired eyes drifted up to the ceiling. "That showing emotions isn't weakness." She exhaled.

"And?" Wanda prompted, squeezing her hand.

"For the record, I'm not exactly sure when you became the teacher in all of this but..." the woman let out a shaky breath and slowly pulled her gaze back down to Wanda. "I said it was a strength. Being vulnerable with those who love you is a strength."

"What makes this any different, Nat?" Wanda asked softly.

"It doesn't. It doesn't, I just...It's different and...and probably not entirely just for your benefit." Natasha admitted, smiling weakly at Clint as he took her other hand, immediately understanding because him and Nat were literal soulmates.

Wanda wasn't quite at that stage. Yet.

"What do you mean it wasn't just for my benefit, Nat?" The girl asked softly.

"I mean that...if I let the physical stuff in, I can't stop...the other stuff flooding in too. You...You saw what happened. You saw what they were going to do. You felt it too, Wanda, they were going to..." Her breathing hitched and she screwed her eyes tightly shut. "They were going to wipe me. J...just like before and I...if I let that in then the memories will come and...and everything that happened to me will come flooding back. How could it not? They were going to do the exact same thing Madame used to do and..."

Wanda didn't exactly know what to say to that. In time, she was sure she'd learn but in the meantime, she was grateful for Clint.

"Then we deal with that." The archer murmured, pressing a kiss to the back of Natasha's hand. "But you don't deal with that alone. You know how that ends, Tash."

Wanda thought she knew how that would end too.

She'd heard many stories of the infamous Black Widow. Some she'd heard at Shield, some from the Avengers. Most she didn't know if they were true or not, but some she had a gut feeling about.

She'd heard the story of Natasha getting taken by The Red Room again. She'd heard how after months of searching, Clint had found her, broken and doing ballet in a room of mirrors.

She'd heard that he'd brought her home but that everything had changed. That she didn't eat, didn't sleep, barely moved, didn't say anything until one day she ran.

Clint had spent two weeks searching before he'd found her again, chained to a rusty old bed with handcuffs she'd stolen, covered in her own blood, staring up at the ceiling, lost.

Wanda knew, she knew how trying to deal with the horrors alone went. Her and Natasha had different beginnings but the endings often remained the same.

Wanda's arms itched with years old wounds and her eyes searched Natasha's. "You can't." She said, voice soft and strained. "Nat, you can't do that."

The woman in front of her winced and shook her head. "I know. I know I can't. I wasn't...I didn't want you to..."

"I know." Wanda said softly. "God, Natasha, you know I know. I get it. But if you're...worried about triggering me or something, you need to stop right now. I'm a big girl. I know what and how much I can handle and if I gets too much, I will let you know, I promise. But I am...I am not about to let you tread those waters without me. You have to know by now that I'm here for you. For good. Nothing is going to change that."

Then Natasha looked up at her, green eyes filled with un-shed tears as she said two words that Wanda thought she would never ever hear.

"I'm scared." The woman breathed, a single tear spilling over her cheek. "Wanda, I'm scared. I...I can't go back there, I can't."

"You won't." Wanda said fiercely. "You won't. But Nat, you have to let it in. You can't keep forcing it out, that's going to end badly."

"You're right. I...I know you're right." Natasha whispered, wiping at her eyes. "I won't let it. I just...It's going to be a mess, kid."

"There's a lot of that going around." The girl shrugged a shoulder. "Let it in, Nat."

She did.

Chapter Text

At first, Wanda didn't really notice any outward signs that Natasha was struggling anymore than before.

But as Clint began to clean to blood around the wound on her leg, the woman grit her teeth and attempted to look casual as she pressed the back of her hand to her lips.

"I know, love, I'm sorry." Clint said kindly, gently patting her knee.

"Here," Wanda said softly, sitting down besides Natasha, wrapping an arm around the woman's shoulders.

Natasha was shivering pretty badly so Wanda rubbed up at down her arm in an attempt to help the chills.

"Not long, Nat, Clint's an asshole sometimes but he knows what he's doing, huh?" Wanda hummed.

"He likes to think he does." Natasha murmured, closing her eyes.

"Hey, who's fixing you up right now? Be nice." Clint rolled his eyes.

It was strange, Wanda had to admit. She'd literally seen Natasha get slammed into a wall and get straight back up, hair coated with blood. She'd seen Natasha fight with a broken arm, still using it to kick ass.

And now, she was flinching and making soft little noises of pain as Clint cleaned the wound.

Wanda wondered if it had anything to do with The Red Room or if it was just how Natasha was made. Her mind started to kick into overdrive.

But still, even after the broken arm incident, even after Bruce had had to set it, she'd not been in as much pain as she was now. Maybe the mental exhaustion and pain were also translating into physical?

Hell, she wasn't even sure why she was trying to figure it out. You didn't figure out an enigma like Natasha Romanoff, not after the few amount of months they'd had together.

"'Kay, Nat, you know I'm going to have to stitch this. But hey, on the bright side, we actually have anaesthetic and clean needles here. Not like Budapest, huh?" Clint looked up, using the mention of an old mission to try and gauge where abouts she was.

Natasha's lips pulled up into a tiny smile. "We stole some vodka from the market. I drank half of it before you even started on the stitches. You burnt your finger trying to steralise the needle.''

"That sounds...horrifying." Wanda muttered. "And I stick with my earlier statement of you two literally being impossible."

Natasha hummed absently, tipping her head back against the couch. "Okay, better now than later, I guess." 

"I'm just gonna inject the anaesthetic and then we'll be good to go, you shouldn't feel anything." Clint murmured. "You want a countdown?"

"No I don't want a countdown, just get it...ow, fucking bastard." Natasha grunted, gritting her teeth as Clint slid the needle out from her leg. 

"You're the one who didn't want the countdown." Clint shrugged. "As that's starting to work, show me the 'scratches' or as others like to call them, honest to god stab wounds."

Natasha, face pale, winced as she shifted a little. She pulled at the neckline of the shirt, pulling it down a little so Clint could see the mark there. "See. Scratch." She told him.

"I don't know about that, Nat, it's pretty deep." Clint murmured.

"It's fine. Nothing's hit and it's not even bleeding and I don't even need stitches." She muttered defiantly.

Clint rolled his eyes again and Wanda was definitely sensing a theme. 

"And the other?" The archer asked.

Natasha lifted the hem of the shirt and okay, that one was more of a scratch but it was also a fucking big one.

As Clint examined the cut, Wanda noted the bruises peeking out from the shirt.

Natasha found her staring. "Just a few broken ribs." She told the girl. "Nothing can really be done for that apart from wrapping them up. "Just looks bad."

"Yeah, just a little." Wanda murmured.

"Alright. You promise there's nothing else I should know about?" Clint asked Natasha, eyebrow raised.

"There's nothing. Cuts and bruises, the usual stuff. I'm just...fucking itchy." Natasha muttered, scratching again at the inside of her arm.

"Go easy, Nat, you've done this before." Clint said quietly, glancing at Wanda.

Taking the hint, the girl took Natasha's hand in her own before looking away and into the kitchen.

She remembered that feeling all too well.

Locked up in her cell, fire in her veins and an itch under her skin so fierce she bloodied her nails in seconds trying to reach it. The freezing cold of her body, how violently she shook, twitching on the floor. The pain that lit her body on fire, every tiny bit of skin that brushed against anything else absolute agony.

Pietro's voice from the cell beside hers, talking to her, telling her made up stories, hours blurring into one another.

How it had gotten way worse before it got better.

Natasha had one hell of a trip in front of her.

"Wanda?" The way Clint said her name made it seem like it certainly wasn't the first time.

The girl blinked and slowly brought her gaze back, finding both Clint and Natasha watching her intently.

Wanda could feel her cheeks flaming at the scrutiny. "I just...we were tested on a lot." She shrugged. "Pietro's powers came in quicker than mine so they had to keep adjusting things and changing things until they got mine to work. And no, it's not triggering me. In fact, it probably means I'm best equipped to help."

Natasha's eyes had darkened as Wanda spoke and the grip on her hand had gotten tighter. 

"It's okay, Nat." Wanda said quietly, "I'm okay, I promise." She turned to Clint. "Can we hurry up with the patching up? Things can change fast with withdrawal, it's messy."

"Yes, ma'am." Clint hummed, slowly moving his gaze back to the stitches he must have started when Wanda zoned out.

Natasha had stopped looking at her, but not because she'd lost interest, because she looked like she could potentially throw up.

"Nat?" Wanda asked softly, resting her hand against the back of her neck.

"Hurts." The woman muttered, brows furrowed. Her arm was wrapped around her torso and she was hunched forward in on herself.

"Your leg?" Clint asked, halting immediately.

"No." Natasha shuddered, squeezing her eyes shut. "'S fine. Just get it done. Please."

"You're okay." Wanda murmured. "And you're not alone." She dared to stroke her fingers through the woman's hair again, even knowing that her hand could literally get broken in 0.2 seconds flat.

"Just a couple more, Tash, then we can bandage everything else up." Clint said quietly. "The guest room's ready."

"You'll feel better when you lay down, you don't want to curl up too much, it'll only make you sick." Wanda murmured, pressing a hand to Natasha's shoulder to ease her back up against the couch.

"We'll get some tea, lots of blankets, some meds, you'll feel better in no time." Wanda assured her, though taking a look at the woman's pain pinched and pale face, she wasn't so sure.

A thought occurred to her after a moment as a memory of a kid opposite her old cell crawled into her mind.

"Nat..." Wanda paused, knowing she was possibly about to overstep in a major way. "Is it possible...I've seen it before, I just thought that maybe...well, electrical currents can affect the brain right? Obviously. I just...when you were...wiped," she said the word hesitantly, waiting for any sign she should shut up immediately. "Maybe something happened? When...when did you notice your pain getting worse for things that didn't hurt so much before?" Realising she could be grasping at unconnected straws, Wanda sighed. "Sorry. It was idea. I don't..."

And then Natasha was looking at her, brows furrowed and misty green eyes wide.

"Sorry. That was...sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned it." The room was so quiet Wanda seriously considered running and hiding for at least five full seconds. Oh man, she really did not feel like getting punched.

"After." Natasha whispered, her lower lip trembling.

"What?" Wanda frowned, glancing at the archer, watching them with a calculated gaze.

"It was after. Holy shit, Wanda. How did you...How did you guess that? I hadn't even made the connection before. I just...I guess I assumed the training got more intense, we hit harder, drew blood, didn't hold back as we got older're right. You're fucking right. It was after the wipe."

Wanda blinked, nervous. "I am?" She asked, uncertain. "It was just...I think I've seen this happen before. Not with...a wipe, but they shocked us. ECT or whatever. It didn't really effect me but there was this boy...Thomas, he had the same sort of thing. Used to scream whenever they used needles or anything. At the time, I thought it was fear. You know, panicking, but..."

"Jesus, kid." Clint muttered, face drawn.

Wanda waved a hand nonchalantly. "It's fine. I...I know it doesn't fix it. Doesn't make it better but sometimes...having a reason, an answer, it helps."

"Yeah..." Natasha blinked, nodding her head. "I think you're right."

Wanda shrugged, a little uncomfortable with the intensity of the gazes on her.

Clint slowly returned to the last few stitches, patting Natasha's knee when done.

"Just some butterfly stitches and bandages and you're good to go." He murmured, moving closer to Natasha to start on that.

Natasha flinched as his hand gently brushed her skin, almost jumping.

Wanda hummed sympathetically, returning to gently brushing through the woman's hair.

By the time Clint had finished patching her up, Natasha looked about ready to be sick or pass out. Possibly both.

"Let's get you into bed, firebird." Clint murmured. "Can you walk?"

Natasha murmured something indecipherable, shuffling forward on the couch and slowly lowering her leg off the coffee table.

Wanda moved to stand, not wanting to force help if the woman didn't want it, but there in case she fell.

Natasha very carefully got to her feet, limping because her leg was still numb from the anaesthetic.

As she hopped over to the bottom of the stairs, Clint and Wanda shared a look.

That woman was stubborn.

Wanda stood very close behind her, able to tell when the pain and/exhaustion got too much. 

Luckily, they were almost at the top of the stairs and Wanda was there to quickly move her forward instead of backwards, so Natasha didn't go tumbling down the stairs.

Clint slid past them and stood at the top, taking Natasha's hands and helping her up the last few.

After a lot of struggle, Natasha was finally on the bed.

Wanda placed a few pillows behind the woman's head as she sank down, easily helping her get her legs up. 

Clint had disappeared for a few minutes as Wanda piled blankets from the bottom of the bed over Natasha. 

"You're going to feel cold, really cold, but you need to watch how many covers you're using because you're probably going to run a fever." Wanda murmured, brushing hair from the woman's face so she could sneakily check if a fever had already set in. It hadn't, but that didn't mean it wasn't coming.

Clint returned with a bottle of gatorade and some meds and between the three of them, they managed to get Natasha to take them with as little spillage as possible.

"Alright, Nat, I'm going to see if Laura has anything easy for you to eat." Clint said softly. "Anything else we need?" He asked Wanda, as if she was the expert in all of that.

"A trash can maybe? Just in case." Wanda winced.

Clint nodded, eyes slowly moving from Natasha as he stepped out the room.

"You want me to stay with you until you fall asleep?" Wanda asked carefully, sitting on the edge of the bed.

Natasha's hazy gaze slid up to her face and she swallowed a few times, lips twitching as if she wanted to speak.

"You don't need to say anything, Nat, it's alright. Just nod or shake your head?" Wanda said kindly.

After a second, Natasha nodded, holding out her hand.

Wanda took it, shifting up the bed to sit properly beside her, hands in her lap.

"Sleep, Nat. We've got you."

Chapter Text

After Natasha had fallen asleep, Laura had quietly stuck her head around the door to tell then that dinner was ready.

Clint carefully stood from the bottom of the bed and Wanda untangled fingers from Natasha's so she could get up too.

She paused on her way out the door, watching Natasha toss and turn restlessly.

"She'll be okay, kid, you have to eat though, it's been...a day." Clint murmured, hooking an arm around her neck. "Nat'll shout if she needs us."

When they got downstairs, Wanda saw that the two older kids were sitting on the floor in front of the TV, eating from little tables.

Laura sat with Nate on one knee and her food carefully perched on the couch arm.

There was a perfectly good dining table literally feet away but as Wanda and Clint retrieved their plates and sat down, the girl taking an armchair, she wondered if it was for her benefit.

Sitting across from one another at a table seemed so formal and honestly, super anxiety inducing, it was better this way, with the TV on for distraction.

Laura was clever.

After nervously fiddling with her fork for a few moments, Wanda began to eat. And holy shit, was it good.

"Oh wow." Wanda couldn't help but murmur as she swallowed a bite of pasta. "This is seriously good."

Laura smiled, the faintest hint on pink at her cheeks. "I'm glad you like it. You're welcome to more, I made too much."

Yeah, Wanda was definitely going to take her up on that offer.

The atmosphere as they ate was nice. Companionable, really.

But despite how calm it was downstairs, Wanda's attention kept being pulled back to upstairs, and she found she was anxious to get back up there.

Clint was better at hiding it but he had his better ear tilted towards the stairs and he kept glancing at the ceiling as if he could see through it.

Laura too, seemed to be feeling slightly unsettled and she picked at her food more than ate it.

Wanda was at once intensely interested in knowing the story there. She knew bits and pieces of how Natasha and Clint had come to be friends and she wondered if there was anything more than the obvious to the women's relationship.

The girl found that she just wanted to know more. More about Natasha, about Clint. About their lives and what made them who they were. She found that she also wouldn't say no to divulging more of her own self.

Was that what it meant to be friends with someone?

She'd had a few childhood friends but beyond that, she'd only ever had Pietro and he was her twin, her blood, not just her friend.

Could she even be a friend? Did she even know what that meant? The answer was a very uncertain maybe.

She had to face facts. Wanda Maximoff did not know how to even begin forging friendships.

Suddenly, she was pulled from her thoughts from an ear splitting scream coming from upstairs.

Wanda and Clint were both on their feet in mere milliseconds. They exchanged glances.

"I've got this." Wanda said quietly, firmly.

Clint watched her for a second before glancing towards the panicked faces of his kids as more screams came from above.

"I know you do. Go on." Clint nodded.

Wanda took off running up the stairs, pink at her fingers as she prepared herself for what she might find.

More than once, Natasha had come at her, thinking she was someone else, and Wanda refused to be caught off guard again.

However, as she pushed the door open, the pink disappeared.

No one came towards her because the woman screaming was curled up on the floor, arms entirely covering her face.

"Natasha." Wanda kept her voice even, taking small steps towards the woman.

A whimper pulled itself from Natasha and in that moment, Wanda didn't see her friend, she saw a wounded animal, in pain and afraid.

The girl knew that feeling all too well.

"Nat?" Wanda said louder, crouching down, the fear that had come with those first few times of doing this, long gone.

Wanda reached out, touching Natasha's shoulder.

The woman reacted violently, lurching up and backing up so quickly she slammed into the frame of the bed before getting very far.

She was awake though, so Wanda just moved her position, kneeling in front of Natasha.

The redhead was coated with sweat, hair sticking to her head and her breathing ragged.

Wanda could feel the frantic, tumultuous, racing thoughts in her head. They were fuzzy, hazy, kept slipping from her head to be replaced with new ones.

Withdrawal had definitely set it and the nightmare had only added fuel to the fire of Natasha's confusion and panic.

"You're okay, Nat. You're okay. You just had a night mare and you're on the floor now but I'm going to get you back to bed, okay?" Wanda said, very slowly reaching out to touch Natasha's shoulder.

Glassy green eyes rolled up to the girl's face, tear tracks making lines down flushed cheeks.

But Natasha didn't pull away so Wanda persisted, taking the woman's elbow and very carefully, beginning to pull her up.

Once Natasha was settled back into bed, Wanda's mind was already made up. She wasn't going anywhere this time.

Using the small en-suite bathroom, Wanda gathered various items.

Once back in the room, she handed Natasha a cold cloth, after trying to sneakily determine if she had a fever.

She definitely did.

Natasha hadn't said anything, but watched her carefully as she moved around.

Wanda removed all but one blanket, draping it over the woman before instructing her to rest the cloth on her forehead.

"I know you feel cold, but this is going to help." She said softly.

She set the other items in reach; a glass of water, more meds, and the kitten she'd found trying to drink from the faucet.

The kitten curled up beside Natasha's head and Wanda watched as the woman relaxed a little, fingers running through fur.

"You already know how shitty you're going to feel but I'm here to try and make it as easy as possible, okay?" Wanda asked softly.

Natasha tried to speak and failed a few times before managing to get her mouth to work. "Why?"

"Why what?" Wanda frowned, "why am I helping you?" The girl paused for a few seconds, humming.

And then she had the answer.

"Because you're my friend. And I want to help." She shrugged.

Maybe she wasn't as bad at this whole friend thing as she thought.

Chapter Text

Wanda had been hoping that Natasha would fall back asleep, she badly needed to rest up or the whole experience was going to be a lot worse.

But her friend's face was twisted with something Wanda seldom saw; pain.

A small shudder ran through the girl as she remembered the biting, stabbing pain, constantly under her skin.

"What can I do, Nat?" Wanda asked softly, absently wiping at the redhead's face with the cold cloth.

Natasha looked up at her, not saying anything for a moment. When she spoke, her voice was hoarse and quiet. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Wanda knew immediately what she meant by that and whilst months earlier, the answer to that question would have been a firm no, she found that she really did want to say yes.

She'd never shared her experiences there with anyone but Pietro, scared of the pity and just scared about divulging something so secret. But Natasha...was an enigma. Different. Wanda knew she wouldn't pity her. She would understand. And that was exactly what she needed, honestly.

"Okay." Wanda nodded, settling against the headboard.

"You don't have to." Natasha said quickly. "I understand."

"I know you do." Wanda said softly. "That's why I want to tell you." She said honestly. "You know little bits of it because I still dream about it but...there's a lot I've never spoken about. It started off with me and my brother just wanting something, anything. We wanted to help but we were just kids. Didn't know how. Weren't strong enough. We agreed to the trials without really considering what that meant. They...they made it sound like they had the answer already. They said they had something that would make us strong and quick and give us an advantage. We were desperate for that." Wanda found herself in her head, looking through the memories she'd buried deep.

Natasha said nothing but did take the girl's hand and that was enough.

"We were young and stupid. We thought it would be a quick fix, an injection and then we would be on our way turned out they didn't have the answers. They were making things up and trying them on anybody. They found homeless children on the streets and lured them in with the idea of food and being safe. We...We didn't know how many children had died in there."

Wanda could feel Natasha's own memories surface. Her too not knowing how many children had died in the very place she lived.

"Nat, if this is going to trigger you..." Wanda said quietly.

"No." Natasha said firmly, shaking her head. "No, I'm good. I promise."

Wanda took a breath and nodded. "Okay. Well...what had originally been one hour and one injection turned into...years. Years of tests and torture and...pain, I guess. I'm not sure if we ever could have escaped but honestly, we didn't try. Over the years, it became our home and even though every day was torture, we had warm food and went to sleep on a bed. We were together. You know what that's like."

Natasha nodded. She remembered how hard she fought for that soup and bread of an evening. How many people, kids, she hurt or killed just for the privilege of that meal, of that bed.

"I couldn't tell you the amount of things they gave us. Like I said, Pietro's powers came in quite quickly. But that serum didn't work for me. Pietro began to train and learn to harness his powers but I was still weak. Still didn't have anything special about me at all."

Natasha frowned. "That's not true."

"I know that now but then, I didn't. Then I was angry. Pissed that I wasn't special yet. That I was weak." Wanda shrugged. "Anyway, every day was pretty much the same. They thought they'd figured out a correlation between the drugs and trauma so after every new drug, they'd beat me and leave me on the floor. Sometimes they'd get promising results so they'd stick to the same drug for weeks on end. They were the hardest to come off of." She said quietly.

Natasha nodded as if she understood and Wanda knew she really really did know.

"Sometimes I would question why I was still there. Why I was still going through the pain. More than once I thought of ending it. You know, when they found me one morning, I'd hidden a needle from one of the sessions. I used it to cut up my arms and they laughed when they saw the blood. That night Pietro held me and told me we should leave. But I wasn't done. Isn't that fucked up? That I wanted to die but I wanted to be special even more? That I went through all of that because I wanted more."

"Not fucked up. Understandable." Natasha said quietly, the barest hint of a weak smile on her face. "Some people spend their whole lives looking for me. Did you find it?"

Wanda tilted her head, humming softly. "I think I did. Just not in the way I thought." She admitted with a small shrug.

"It often happens that way." Natasha murmured, resting her cheek against her hand as she watched the girl.

Wanda offered a smile, turning the cloth over to the cold side. "How do you feel?"

Natasha shook her head. "I don't know. Not great."

Wanda hummed, absently squeezing the hand in her's. "That makes sense. We should probably get you to eat something or there's more chance of you being sick."

Natasha pulled a face and looked away. "I'm not sure that's a good idea."

"Hey, who's in charge here?" Wanda smirked. "Trust me, Nat, it'll help. Even just a little."

With a soft groan Natasha tipped her head back and stared up at the ceiling. "Do I have to move?"

The question sounded sarcastic but Wanda knew enough now to know Natasha was earnest.

"Nope." Wanda said lightly. "We don't have to go anywhere. Laura bought some stuff up earlier." She shifted on the bed to reach for the items as Natasha half sat herself up.

"Kinda boring, I'm afraid, but that's the best thing right now. Crackers, ginger ale, some cheese and mints."

"This is the worst party food I've ever seen." Natasha murmured, smiling.

"Yeah. But hey, when you're feeling better you can have some of Laura's pasta. It's...the best pasta I've ever had?"

Natasha sighed softly. "Oh man, tell me about it. Forget the kids, I'm just here for the food.'' She teased.

"Understandable." Wanda laughed softly, handing her the ginger ale and the little plate of cheese and crackers.

"Laura's very thoughtful." The girl pointed out, taking a swig of her own can.

Natasha nodded her agreement, though she didn't touch the food. "She's the best. Always seems to know exactly what I need."

Now Wanda really wanted to know their story. Later, she promised herself.

"So..." Wanda nudged the woman. "She knows what's best for you right now. And that's to eat."

Natasha rolled her eyes and sighed. "Fine, you're probably right."

"Probably? No, I'm definitely right. I'm the boss, remember?"

"How could I forget?" Natasha shook her head and picked up a cracker very gingerly, like it was the end of the world in food form.

"If you keep that down, we can probably get you some pasta..."

"I know you're bribing me but I really don't care. Laura's food is that good." Natasha very slowly began to work her way through the plate of food.

To an untrained eye, the woman would have seemed to have been very entranced by the food but Wanda knew Natasha was getting lost in her own thoughts.

"You know you're safe now, right?" Wanda murmured quietly.

Natasha blinked and put the cracker she'd been holding back down. "Of course."

Wanda raised an eyebrow. "Really, 'cause for the world's best spy, your poker face isn't great."

Wanda knew that was a lie right away. Natasha had the best poker face she'd ever seen, hands down. This meant that Natasha wanted Wanda to see. She was letting her see.

"I just...sure, I know I'm safe now. But it doesn't mean it will stay that way. They knew me and they came after me for a reason. It had something to do with The Red Room and if I know anything, it's that they don't give up." Natasha shrugged.

"Then you should also know that we don't give up. We're not letting them get to you again, Natasha." Wanda said, voice fierce and firm.

Natasha smiled weakly, "that's what friends are for, huh?"

"You're damn right."

Chapter Text

After urging Natasha to finish at least her crackers, Wanda helped the woman lay down.

It was getting to the point where the redhead was shaking too hard to hold anything anyway but she'd at least had some food to soak up the meds they'd given her.

As Natasha lay down, her pale cheek planted against the pillow, Wanda gently pulled the blanket up over her shoulders.

The girl settled her hand on the woman's forehead before brushing back sticky red strands of hair.

"It's starting properly now, Nat, so I'm gonna need you to try and be open about what you need and if there's anything that can help." Wanda murmured, perching carefully on the edge of the bed.

Natasha shuddered, teeth biting into her lower lip. "I just...want to try and sleep through as much as I can." She whispered, even her teeth chattering and leaving marks in her lip.

Wanda hoped it was possible her friend would be able to sleep through the worst of it, but something in her thought that was very unlikely.

"Alright, well close your eyes then." Wanda hummed, brushing her thumb down the middle of Natasha's eyebrows.

The woman obediently let her eyes slip shut- yet another sign of trust that Wanda hoped she would be able to live up to.

Unfortunately as the girl had suspected would happen, Natasha tossed and turned restlessly for about half an hour before she forced her eyes open and pushed herself into a sitting position.

It was then, looking into those green orbs that Wanda knew something was about to go down.

Ah shit.

Natasha wasn't even looking at her, her eyes were glazed. Her jaw clenched so hard Wanda could see her cheek muscle twitching.

She was off the bed in seconds, pulling the door open and shouting for Clint.

He must have already been on his way up the stairs because he was there quickly and by the time the two got back into the room, Natasha was seizing.

Wanda moved the the bed, gathering her shaking friend as best as she could so she could quickly pull her down the bed to avoid smacking her head on the headboard.

Clint helped roll her onto her side, not holding onto her but his hands bracing against her back.

Wanda crouched, wincing as she saw blood on the other woman's lips. "Do you have any meds for this?" She grit out as she tried to stop Natasha shaking herself right off the bed.

"Yes." Clint murmured, his face white. "She doesn't like them, they make her fuzzy."

"If she carries on, she's going to feel ten times worse.'' Wanda said quietly, counting silently in her head. She didn't want to have to call out for help, it would make Natasha mentally worse but if the seizure didn't pass soon, they wouldn't have a choice.

Clint nodded and pulled his hands back so Wanda could hold Natasha there instead.

He took off out the room and Wanda was left to just count and try to make sure Natasha didn't hurt herself anymore.

"Alright, Nat, you're alright. You're gonna be fine." She murmured, sure she herself was shaking too.

It was one thing going through it herself and another to see it happen in front of her. She obviously hadn't been conscious for her own seizures and she'd never actually seen one.

Clint didn't waste any time when he got back, kneeling quickly and pressing the woman's leg down into the mattress.

He expertly slid the needle with the medicine into her uninjured thigh and Wanda had the suspicion it wasn't the first or even the second time he'd done that.

The girl was getting increasingly anxious as her counting began to reach danger levels.

But then, Natasha began to still. She twitched a few times before going slack.

Clint's fingers pressed against the hollow of her neck and Wanda moved her gaze to his face.

"Fast but good." The archer blew out a breath, letting his forehead fall into his hand for just a moment before he pushed himself up.

"Help me get her comfortable." He said quietly and between the two of them, they got her laying on her side under the blankets.

Wanda was relieved the see her friend's eyelids already fluttering.

"Take it easy, love." Clint murmured, calloused fingers stroking through Natasha's hair.

With a soft moan, the woman let her gaze slide open.

Her eyes were still glazed but this time Wanda knew she wasn't about to go down.

Grimacing, Natasha's tongue darted out to lick her lower lip. "Ow." She murmured hoarsely.

"Yeah, I bet." Wanda hummed sympathetically. "Once you're a little more awake, I'll help clean your mouth out. It's all bloody, huh?"

Natasha hummed, wincing again as she tried to twist her head to find Clint.

"Stay still." The archer chided softly, thumb rubbing over her cheek. "You know it takes a while before you can move properly."

"You've done this a lot, haven't you?" Wanda asked, quirking an eyebrow.

Clint nodded, eyes never once leaving Natasha. "More than I like to think about." He murmured.

"Comes with the job." Natasha mumbled thickly, lifting a trembling hand to wipe at her mouth.

"Then I stand by my earlier statement of uou both being impossible." Wanda forced a small smile.

"Mm." Natasha hummed, still looking very much out of it.

"Come on, love, have some water." Clint said softly, gently pressing the time of the cup to her lips.

After a few gulps, Natasha exhaled shakily. "Thanks."

"Course, Tash. What can I do?" He asked, back stroking through her hair.

"Don't know." The woman breathed, brows furrowed. "Man, I hate them."

Wanda wasn't sure if she was talking about seizures or the people who had taken her, but the girl knew either was fair.

"I know." Clint murmured, smiling softly. "We'll sort it."

Natasha seemed to believe him at least. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." Wanda reiterated. "We definitely do."

Or maybe they definitely did not.