Scarlet sky. Odd-shaped rocks. Rough ground. Desolation in the air.
What, they don't even have a sun in their world?
The west side of the sky was unbelievably beautiful. The last shade of ivory stretched over multiple skyscrapers, and the edge of the terminator line seeped into the starry night to combine with indigo and violet as if it were some kind of well-blended cocktail.
Remind me again why I ran?
The street didn't light up one by one. You blinked, and the next thing you knew, the entire city was completely drenched in warm-toned lights. From the worldwide famous billboard in Time Square to the name of the most inconspicuous convenient, all lights lit up, the cold-tuned streams of light shooting right through the vast darkness like Hawkeye’s arrows, daring any passersby to look in them.
Oh, right, perverted little green men and their perverted psychological experiment just to -
Bang. Bang. Bang.
An airplane soared across the navy-blued sky that got darker every second.
What was that? I didn’t recall that sound—
Bang. Bang. Bang.
The penthouse of the opposite building that almost as tall as this one lit up. The honey light cast two hugging shadows upon the pulled curtains.
Right. That must be little green men doing… What were they doing?
Bang. Bang. Bang.
The airplane was long gone. The room without any lights fell into dead silence again. No lights, no sound. It might be really easy to pretend that you were sitting in the middle of nothing in here.
Can’t these motherfuckers be quiet for like one second?!
"I swear to God, Morse, I will tearing this fucking door down if you don’t open it now!"
There was a familiar voice barking through the thick door. But the only thing came through that seemingly innocent yet actually impenetrable door was grunts.
It was all in my head… Nothing happened… You were back… safe…
The hammering never stopped.
"Don’t you dare to think you can fool me with all these lights out. I know you’re in there! Open it!"
She slowly raised her head buried in knees and got up beside the floor-to-ceiling windows, walking step after step to the door regardless of how urgent the sound sounded, grabbing a baton along the way.
The visitor found her throat one inch from the knife at the end of the baton after the door opened.
"Easy, little bird." the redhead grinned, slowly holding up an electronic watch showing nothing but green strips in the hostess’ suspicious look, "see? Not a Skrull. Now, can I come in?"
No movement. Not even a batting eyes. Under the dim light in the hallway, the blood-shot but still beautifully arctic-blue eyes of the blonde were sharp like a scalpel, dissecting the visitor piece by piece.
Natasha sighed, "Bobbi, the only way to prove myself to you if you don’t believe this Skrull detector of S.W.O.R.D. is to shoot myself and see if I transform. Do you want me to do that?"
Her chapped lips moved and the owner compromised at last. "No. Come in. Don’t turn on any lights."
"Excuse me? Since when?"
"Since now." Natasha dropped the duffle bag on the ground, "I’m moving in until you are able to take better care of yourself."
"You've got to be fucking kidding me." Bobbi started to rub her bridge of the nose, "What's next? You wanna sing me some lullabies and tuck me in?"
"No. Drink it. Bottoms up." Natasha headed toward the kitchen and returned with a glass of water, "Your situation looks like hell and I bet you haven’t eaten anything today."
The blonde didn’t take the glass at once. "Why are you here, Nat? Did you come here to gloat?"
"Okay, I’m gonna pretend you didn’t say those hurting words just now because I really didn’t come for a fight." Natasha insisted with a slight hint of anger, "I came because I care for you and I mean it. Hate to break it to you, but you just came back from an alien world that had been imprisoning you and whatever for three fucking years. I have every right to be here as well as Barton."
"Love to break it to you, Barton hasn’t come here even once." Bobbi replied dryly, accepting the water and finished it in a gulp anyway, "Thanks for the check-in, Romanov, but I’m fine. I can handle it on my own."
"I’m done playing nice here, Morse." Natasha growled back, forcefully shoving her toward the couch and sat her down, "You are clearly in denial and for you own good, I’m gonna point it out. You are showing typical traits of post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s totally reasonable, but you need help."
"And you think you being here can help how?" Bobbi raised an eyebrow, words dripping sarcasm.
"Jesus Christ, Bobbi, will you please quit being such a bitch and just listen to me for one second?" Natasha snapped, fingers beside her body jerking like controlling herself with greatest effort not to punch her in the face.
The silence lasted for almost two minutes. It was fine for Natasha since she was always good at being silent; she found, unsurprisingly, recently Bobbi became good at it as well.
Bobbi broke the silence first, tone softer, "Why are you really here, Tasha?"
Natasha opened her mouth but failed to deliver any sound on the first attempt. She took a deep breath and spoke at last, "Skrulls blew up my apartment… and I missed your Borscht."
"Interesting." Bobbi put the glass on the table with less frowning, "You know where the bedroom is. I’ll take the couch."
Natasha wanted to protest, wanted to point out that this was her apartment and she really shouldn't have indulged her just to punish herself or whatever weird reason she had for reaching this decision, but she saw the tired expression written clearly all over the younger woman's face and realize maybe neither of them had the strength to argue over anything right now.
"Okay." the redhead's lips twitched as if she were trying to give a friendly smile and apparently failed, "Okay."
Midnight. Ew. Worse time of the day.
With a snap, the body that possessed the same figure, clothes, and expressions fell like a puppet without strings, turning into that sickening green, the color she swore she didn’t want to see for the rest of her life, in cold stare.
This is, what, the second one in a week?
—If you count that stream of light move into the middle of the dusty sky as one day, then yes. A small voice whispered in her head in English.
Oh, and don’t forget that bitch on the earth. Maybe already convinced Clint to come around with whatever shit she threw and is cuddling beside him.
Instinctively, she wanted to scream. And punched whatever the wall was made of. But she wisely got a hold of herself at the last second. This is not a good time to lower her combat effectiveness (and most likely to expose herself) for pure venting.
So she turned and blended into darkness again like she had been doing for the past hundreds of days.
(Too bad she had been through too much to believe in karma, otherwise, it would be exciting to consider what that bitch had for them.)
But this time, the darkness was no longer her friend. There was green in black, there was always green…
"Bobbi? Bobbi?! Wake up! You’re screa—oof."
Her body reacted before her consciousness returned to it. When her eyes finally adjusted to the darkness that was hardly darkness around her, she found herself lying on her stomach on the floor near the couch without feeling its coolness, because Natasha was held facedown beneath her with arms twisted behind her back.
She was panting, a sheer layer of sweat sticking to her forehead. She released her hand and stood up as fast as possible, tugging at the hem of her tank top with lower lip between her teeth. She took a few deep breaths to calm herself, but what happened had already happened.
She seldom panted. She could run miles with a blush that was barely there, not to mention in the combat when adrenaline spiked. Years of training provided her with a built physique. Her physical state was basically at peak.
—So, of course, it was a mental problem.
"I had to defend myself, I know the consequence of waking a trained agent like you in the nightmare, but I’ve got to admit, you’re faster than I remembered." Natasha pushed herself up with her hands and got up, rubbing her forehead.
Bobby wanted to apologize, but she couldn’t find the strength to do so. She backed away from the couch and from Natasha, "I wasn’t—"
"—having a nightmare? Yeah, I'm not a Russian either. People usually don’t scream when they are having the dream of their lives, Morse." Natasha said in a matter-of-fact manner and turned around to face Bobbi. She was wearing a white nightgown, looking like a goddess in the midnight glimmer of the city.
Bobbi didn’t answer. Her head was lowered to avoid eye contact and her hands were wrung together behind her back like a kid that got into trouble.
"Do you want to talk about it, Bobbi?" Natasha switched to a less sarcastic tone and took a step closer. Bobbi shook her head and backed up again subconsciously, reaching out to wipe the sweat from her brow.
"I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I won’t hurt you." Natasha felt like she was trying to teach a first grader one plus one equals two without impatience. Or at least she felt this way.
"Of course you won’t, Natasha," Bobbi finally looked up. Her eyes were hiding in the shadows, expressions hard to read, "but I will hurt you. Actually I just did."
"Oh please, it didn’t even dislocate." Natasha meant to joke, but she wasn’t sure if she did it right. She sighed, "listen, Bobbi, I understand how you’re feeling right now. I really do. So now I’m going to bed, pretending it’s never happened. In exchange, you will get up later than me and let me make you brunch. Deal?"
Bobbi bit on the bite mark on her lower lip and nodded, but she didn’t move at all. Natasha realized she wouldn’t go to the couch when she was here, so she turned first and made way to the bedroom.
She swore she heard a barely audible sob at the very instant the bedroom door was closed.