Facing Your Own Demons

Or Run

Natasha moaned lightly as she began to awake. Her limbs were stiff and uncomfortable. She was wet too, more than likely from the heavy drops of rain that fell over head. Natasha found herself somewhat sheltered from the harsh, brewing storm.

Natasha's finger's twitched ever so slightly. The, what she thought was grass, felt strange. Her pale digits felt along the surface. It was skin, hair; It was a person. Natasha's eyes fluttered open. That person, was a nearly naked, Bruce Banner. Natasha jumped off of him as quick as she could and shuddered, but she couldn't deny that her eyes were slow to trail off of his exposed form. It was extremely embarrassing to wake up in an awkward position as compromising as that. Natasha figured she would just neatly file that one away to the back of her memory.

The air was brisk and cold. The winds were picking up. A light rumble could be heard not to far to the west of them. Natasha found herself in some kind of woods-y area. Maybe a reserve or trail. Or maybe they hand't even gotten close to Abaza. It would make sense since her and Bruce were dumped out of the jet and given the evidence, she didn't believe it to be an accident, but she didn't seem angry, though she was. Letting rage run rampant in a situation like this was incredibly unproductive. And in cases like this, could cost you your life. Natasha cursed a few times in Russian and left it at that. She had to formulate some kind of plan. She didn't know where she was, the sky looked as if it were about to dish out one hell of a storm and Bruce was unconscious. Given the fact that he had been laying there, barely clothed, for who knows how long couldn't be a good sign.

First thing's first. Shelter. Natasha was lucky enough to find an old, beat up cabin not to far out. It looked ragged and rustic, but it would suffice. Natasha re-traced her steps to find Banner slowly starting to stir. He groaned and coughed miserably. Natasha feared that leaving him out in the cold like that could have gotten him sick.

"Bruce. Bruce, can you hear me?" He only groaned in response.Natasha sighed. She slung one of his arms around her shoulder and hauled up his mostly unconscious form. His feet were sluggish and he seemed to wince with every step, but they made it.

Natasha laid Bruce down on a green and brown plaid couch. He moaned helplessly. You didn't have to be a genius to see that he was uncomfortable or in pain. Natasha, pleadingly, pulled her emergency SHIELD com link out of her jacket. Broken and useless. "Damn it," she muttered under her breath. Bruce moaned again, shaking her from her frustration. "What's wrong?" She asked, though she knew he really couldn't give her an answer.

Natasha walked over to him. He looked sweaty, dirty and unhealthy. She placed a hand on his forehead. "Bruce, you're burning up," she fretted. Bruce only moaned in response. Damn it! he had gotten sick and now they were stranded at god know's where! Bruce was ill and Natasha had nothing she could really give him. She took in a sharp breath. She could- No, would figure this out. She'd been in worse situation's before.

Natasha decided her two main focus' right now should be Bruce, since he had extensive knowledge of being in foreign environment's like this. Number two, scouting around trying to find a way to make contact with SHIELD. She found an old, tin bucket in one of the corner's. She left it outside on the rustic, wood porch step's to let it fill with rain water. She found a checkered towel in one of the cedar wood cupboards. She brought the bucket back inside and began to dab water onto Banner's sweltering skin. He hissed and squirmed, but only marginally. Natasha knew that he would recover quickly given his altered gene's. But until then, she would just have to wait it out.

That night Natasha ended up crashing on a dusty, brown, cushioned recliner, with a blue knitted blanket thrown over her. She woke up several times that night to attend to Bruce. Man did he owe her, he owed her before that for almost killing her. As friendly and kind as he seemed to be, Natasha couldn't disregard the murder's and injuries he had committed. It was engraved into her mind, unwilling to subside. It was good though. It was a reminder to always keep her guard up. She knew she was a fool to ever believe she could let it down in the first place.

The next morning, Banner began to mumble in his sleep. At first it was just gibberish. Electronic particle counter this and heavy ion fusion theories that, but none of it served to make much sense. Though maybe it did, and even during a dazed, imaginative fever dream she still had no idea what he was saying. "Betty...Don't he'll hurt you." That Natasha understood. Natasha plunged the rag into the bucket and pressed it against Banner's forehead.

"Betty, you'll get hurt here," he mumbled. Natasha moved the cloth down to his chest. Much to her surprised Banner lightly pushed it away. "Betty stop, I'll hurt you again!" He sounded pleading and panicked. Betty? Who the hell is Betty? Natasha wondered. She tried to recall the information from Bruce's file. She did recall reading something about Banner having a girlfriend and that she was injured during the accident.

"Go away, please! No, don't touch me!" Banner shouted, only slightly muffled from his gritted teeth. Around his eyes the skin started to tint to that of a greenish hue. Natasha jumped back.

"Okay," she said lightly, "it's okay, I'm not touching you, I'm not even near you." Of course how would that work? He was so sick he was delusional and he wouldn't let her come anywhere near him because he thought that she was his ex-girlfriend, which of whom he obviously still cared about very much, and was afraid he might hurt again.

For the next three hours, Natasha was forced to listen to Bruce going on and on about Betty and then the army. Natasha was shocked to find all of the things they tried to do to him. Obviously, she already knew that General Ross didn't have his head screwed on straight because of the whole Harlem crisis. But treating Banner like in in-human. Telling him that he thought his whole body was property of the U.S army. He was a person, despite the...Hulk. Natasha would never refer to a person as property. She knew better.

Natasha did have to admit she felt some amount of sympathy for the man. But what really hit her hard was when Bruce started talking about his Father. His alcoholic, abusive, murderous Father. It slammed Natasha in the gut. Of all the thing's she assumed about him, a poor, abused child was not one of them. Natasha couldn't even imagine what was going through his head right now. All those daunting memories and horrible images. She too knew what it was like to be beat down. She had had to live with that too. And to think this was the first thing they had in common.

She wouldn't forgive him. For anything, but maybe, just maybe, she would cut him some slack. He seemed like he had a lot to be angry for.

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