Natasha doesn’t tell anyone, but as soon as she’s recruited Bruce Banner – the man who is more threatening than she could ever dream of – she rushes back to her base, to her home, to the one who makes her feel safe and warm.
If he doesn’t know how she feels about him yet, he probably does after that. And, truth be told, he seems fine with it. Natasha feels like a child, though.
She’s in his bed that same night, curled into a ball, shaking through another of the visions Dr. Banner has unknowingly planted into her mind. She feels weak even though Steve tells her how strong she is. She keeps shaking for a couple of minutes, and Steve pulls her in, plasters himself to her back, and combs through her dampened hair until she finally finds some semblance of sleep.
He hardly sleeps. He says he doesn’t need as much as Natasha. She thinks he’s just being nice.
During the day, Steve doesn’t talk about it; won’t let the others know what happened. He doesn’t even hint at how Natasha broke down and crashed against him, wave after wave of fear, trying to drown him like a waterfall, just to be evaporated each time by the warmth of his perseverance.
She’s thankful for that – for him .
The next time Natasha has nightmares, it’s only a week later.
Steve is in her bedroom before she can even start to picture Dr. Banner’s shirt tearing apart with his change from human to thing . He coos, whispers that everything will be all right, eases her back into sleep, and curls up next to her without any sexual intent someone like Tony or Thor would have hidden.
She’s drifting away happily this time. She keeps an ear open for his murmurs, his words, his soft expressions. He reminds her of family, of her father. She really likes Steve – more than she thought she would.
When she turns to capture his lips in a kiss, he just melts into it like he expected it all along, like he’d been hoping for this.
Banner is responsible for her night terrors, and he’s the one who’s been keeping his future teammates up at night, but he’s also the one who’s pushed her in the right direction, and made her find a shining light.