For the next few weeks I trained with Pietro as normal. He was getting much better at combat and for the most part, had stopped messing around. Well unless he thought it would make me laugh. Usually hilarity ensued when Clint came in to the room to observe us, Pietro loved nothing more than to annoy him. Whether he did it because liked showing off or just wanted to break through my seriousness I couldn't tell.
"I swear to god kid if you do that one more time!" shouted Clint from the floor where Pietro had tripped him up
"What will you do old man?" asked Pietro standing over him "You'll have to catch me first."
"I'll set your sister on you that's what." That wiped the smile off his face
"You wouldn't dare."
"Try me hot shot." said Clint jumping up and grinning triumphantly at him. I watched from the sidelines amused at their antics but jumped as I looked to my left and saw Wanda was standing next to me.
"What is it about this time?" she asked seeing her brothers indignant face
"The usual, they're having a testosterone fight."
"Ah." she said smiling knowingly at me
"Alright boys game over." I yelled clapping my hands together. They stopped bickering and looked over at me "Clint if you don't mind I need my student back."
"He's all yours." he replied pushing past Pietro with a smirk. I could see Pietro clench his fists and stare after him with a 'I'll get you later' look.
"You can take some of that tension out on me now." I said pulling my gloves back on.
"Hmm is that a challenge?" asked Pietro with a playful smile. I kicked myself knowing I'd walked straight into that one. Wanda laughed and waved goodbye as she followed Clint out of the room.
"No mainly an observation." I said stretching my arms and trying to tear my eyes away from his smirking face.
"You know you don't have to be so defensive, I know you like me." he said stepping in front of me so I had to look up to see his face.
His warm body was inches away from mine, one quick movement and I could have - Oh crap I thought trying to rid the fantasy from my mind. Remembering what he had said made it feel like a band had been tied tight round my chest making it harder and harder for me to breath. My throat got very dry and I was overly aware that we were completely alone.
"I don't know what you mean" I said evasively and he rolled his eyes
"We've know each other for what? More than a month now, you can drop the act."
He sighed and stared down at me with those deep blue eyes. "Pretty soon you won't be teaching me anymore. I know that is why you don't let yourself go around me, you think it is unprofessional."
"It is." I said taking a step back "Fair enough when you're on the Avengers, but right now I'm here to do a job and you're here to learn."
I didn't like to think that soon he wouldn't need me anymore, he'd be someone else's problem and part of a bigger team I couldn't hope to join.
"But people here are friends, they all train together, it shouldn't matter." he said gesturing to the door the other two had just walked out of. "You said we could be friends yes? But you don't treat me like the rest of them, why is that?"
I didn't have an answer, not one I could tell him anyway. I shook my head and he looked away from me impatiently.
"When you figure it out let me know." he said and started to walk away
"Hey wait." I said catching up to him and grabbing his arm. He looked down at me and I spotted a glimmer of something hopeful in his eyes. "It's not fair. I'm sorry I've been distant with you, it's just I don't know how to act around you sometimes."
His shoulders dropped "You think you're the only one." he said and pushed open the doors leaving me alone.
I was more confused than I'd been at the start of the conversation. I'd meant to clear things up not make them worse. A sound behind me made me jump and I spun round as someone started clapping slowly behind me. It was Nat. She'd clearly been eavesdropping from her office and I hadn't even realised she'd been in there.
"Nice one kiddo." she said walking over to me
"Nat what are you doing in here?" I asked picking up my belongings and stuffing them unceremoniously into my backpack.
"I work here." she reminded me sitting on a bench opposite. She gave me the once over and folded her arms.
"What?" I asked hitching my bag onto my shoulder "You catch the show?"
"Most of it." she replied smoothly taking in my abrasive tone
"And?" I was slightly annoyed, whether with her spying on me or my obvious failure of a conversation with Pietro I didn't know.
"You really have no idea do you?" she said with a sigh standing up
"About what?" I breathed out
"Hey you told me not to meddle." she said "But remember sweetie, when you figure it out, you know where I am." she finished walking back to her office and closing the door behind her.
What the hell did that mean? When I figured what out? I didn't have the time for this so I left in a huff letting the door swing shut loudly behind me.
I had dinner with Wanda that night, she left food out for Pietro who grabbed it without looking at me and left the kitchen before I could blink. Wanda stared after him her eyebrows knitting together.
"Are you reading him?" I asked noticing the concentration on her face
"No" she said turning back to me "I don't use my powers on Pietro."
"Even when he's being an ass?" I asked pushing the food round my plate
"I don't read his mind, the other things...well on special occasions." She replied chuckling then looked over at me "Some things I don't have to read his mind to see."
I stiffened "Like what?"
"Like he cares about you." she said taking my hand
"Ha I think you've got that backwards." I said getting up and putting my plate into the dishwasher. She looked disappointed but didn't say anything else. Why was everyone being so strange around me today?
"At least you'll have some time to yourself soon." she said passing me her plate too "Rogers can't wait to have Pietro on the team."
"Why am I sensing a hint of sarcasm missy?" I asked as she shrugged at me grinning "It'll be nice for you though, having him around more."
"Yes it will. I think I should feel better keeping an eye on him."
"I thought that was his job?" I smiled sitting down again
"He likes to think it is."
After another hour Wanda went to her room and I sat up in the lounge with a book watching the light shrink away beyond the windows. I didn't know what to feel about what had happened today. Confused? yes. Annoyed? Maybe. Upset? Well no, but I did anyway. After a while of deliberating if I had enough energy to move I curled up on the sofa and feel asleep.
As always I had the same nightmare, though you couldn't really call it that is it was a memory. I heard again the bullets pelting towards the tarmac and coughed the dust out of my lungs. When it cleared I saw Pietro fall to the ground bloody holes littering his body.
"No no no." I heard myself whimper from far away and woke with a start as someone put a hand on my shoulder.
"Blake wake up."
Pietro was crouched down next to me shaking me awake. A light breeze was wafting through the open door leading to the gardens and I noticed that he had his black exercise jacket on, maybe he'd been out running and seen me through the window. It usually made me smile when he wore it because I couldn't see past the irony of him wearing something with fast forward arrows on it.
"Are you alright?" he asked concerned taking his hand off my arm
"I guess." I said sitting up and taking in deep calming breaths, I noticed marks on my wrists from where I'd been digging my nails in and tried to rub them away.
"What were you dreaming about?"
I contemplated telling him then stopped, I didn't want to burden him with my own worries, especially when they involved him.
"Nothing. Just a nightmare." I said simply as he pulled himself onto the couch next to me. I didn't want him so close to me right now, it hurt too much.
Brushing my hair back from my face I realised my hands were shaking as well. Pietro noticed and gently put a comforting arm around my shoulders. I froze. It was the first time he'd ever done something like that and it caught me completely off guard. We touched all the time in training out of necessity but this was different. After a moment of panic I relaxed into the embrace and slowly allowed the shaking to stop. His thumb rubbed soothing circles on my arm and I tried to keep my breathing from speeding up again.
"Do you want to talk about-"
"I'll leave you alone then." he said letting go of me and making to get up, clearly he thought I was being abrasive again but really I just didn't want to talk about it. "I didn't mean to upset you."
"Pietro" I said grabbing his arm "You don't have to go." He looked back at me and then down to where my hand rested on his arm "Could you stay? Take my mind off it?" I asked releasing him. I felt half expectant half embarrassed for asking. It reminded me when he'd ask me to keep him company, because he didn't want to be alone. I'd just shrugged that off so I didn't have the right to be disappointed if he did want to leave.
"Of course." he said moving up so he could sit next to me and pulling my legs up to my chest. "Do you get nightmares often?" he asked trying to fill the silence.
I laughed without humour "More and more each week."
"Is it something someone did? Did someone hurt you?" he asked and I saw his knuckles whiten against his knee. I was seeing the protective big brother side of him raising its head.
"No, it's just in my dreams. I shouldn't let it bother me."
"You can't help it if you are asleep. I get them too." he said glaring at the ground with a dark look in his eyes "It is not your fault."
"Yeah I'm not so sure. I just wish I could make them stop you know? The less sleep I'm getting the less I feel like myself. I used to be way more fun." I said thinking of how much I used to laugh and joke around with my own sister.
"I don't believe that." he said throwing me an nervous smile and setting his feet up on the coffee table.
"Well all I'm saying is you might have liked me more before I joined Shield, its changed me." I said trying to stifle back a yawn
"I like who you are now." he said pulling the blanket off the back of the couch and standing up "But you do look like you need more sleep." I looked up at him and felt my eye lids becoming heavy.
Now when I did sleep I didn't feel like I'd rested at all. I was constantly tired so I wasn't going to disagree with him at the moment. Snuggling down again I kicked off my shoes and rested my head on my arm. Pietro laid the blanket on top of me and crouched down again. "You know, if you get nightmares again, me and Wanda are right down the hall. You are not alone." I heard him say quietly as my eyes closed.
Before I fell asleep I heard him whisper something to me in a language I couldn't understand and could have sworn I felt someone brush the hair back from my face, their fingers lingering for a long moment on my cheek.
When I woke the morning after I realised something, my feelings for Pietro weren't going away and my resolve was slipping. I'd been kidding myself if I thought we could ever just be friends. And with the way things were going if we kept this up, I'd be the first one to break and then I'd be in real trouble.