“Should we look for her?” Loki asked Clint
“No, I think it might be better if I talk to her alone first. Can you take care of Eerika?” Clint asked him in return; somehow he doubted Loki had any clue about how to take care of a baby.
“I really don´t have any experience with babies.” Loki acknowledged “But if you teach me what to do …”
“All right” Clint smirked, he knew it; he would have to explain everything to Loki. “Rule number one: Never do anything Leah wouldn´t do.”
Loki raised his eyebrows amused by Clint´s statement. “Are you serious?”
“Deadly serious, if you want to keep your head where it is you will follow that instruction to the letter at all times. Believe me, you don´t want to know what would happen if you don´t.” Clint volunteered.
“Are you talking from experience?” Loki frowned intrigued.
“Maybe” Clint responded playfully.
It took Clint half an hour to explain Loki the basics after which he directed himself to the training room, when he arrived he could see Leah furiously jabbing the punching bag. Sand was falling from it, she had managed to punch some holes through it.
“You are not practicing” Clint scolded her.
“Does it even matter? You just wanted me out of there.” Leah responded as she hit the bag one more time.
“Not really, you are right. Will you stop that? We need to talk.” He told her.
“There´s nothing to talk about” Leah snap back at him as she holds the bag in place. Clint was able to notice the bruising on her knuckles; she must had had been knocking the bag pretty hard to cause them.
“You are right, is normal for you to punch the bag until your knuckles are bleeding” He spat at her.
“They are not … bleeding” Leah raised her hands to check them, they weren´t bleeding but if she had kept at it much longer they probably would. She couldn´t deny it, she wasn´t all right. “What´s happening to me Clint? I feel like I´m losing it.” She finally acknowledged in a defeated tone.
“I know girl, sit with me.” He motioned her to the benches near the wall. “You went through a terrible ordeal yesterday, your mind is still trying to find ways to cope with it. That´s why you can´t remember everything, some details must be truly hard for you to handle so you´re blocking them. And in the process you´ve been pushing Loki away.”
“I know. I was terrible to him, wasn´t I?” Leah told him with guilt in her voice. “I just don´t know how to be around him anymore.”
“Why?” Clint asked her preoccupied. “Is it because of doom? Did he … do something to you? Did he …? – There really wasn´t an easy way to ask her.
“Rape me?” Leah finished his sentence for him. “No, he didn´t, it´s just that … I´ve been having nightmares and flashbacks of him … touching me.” Leah felt both silly and uncomfortable telling him that.
“What do you mean by touching you? For God´s sake Leah tell me what happened. “Clint questioned her anxiously while he tried to remain calmed.
As Leah remained quiet Clint sighed frustrated and told her “If you keep acting like this you´re going to lose them. And then it won´t matter if Doom is alive or death; he would´ve won.”
Leah realized that if she wanted things to get back to normal she had no choice. As she sighed he began her recollection. “When the attack began Bruce told me to hide with Eerika. I had no comlink, no weapons and no clothes; only the medical gown and hospital robe so I decided to hide with Eerika in the nursery. I thought we would be safe there but Doom found us. He tore down one of the walls to break in, a huge crack opened in the floor all through the room. I was trapped and Doom knew it, he even mocked me about it. “No one will be able to help you, my doombots will see to that.” That´s what he said. Then he told me his plans, to take Eerika as his apprentice and eventually marry her to his heir … the one he expected me to produce.” Leah said with disgust as he continued. “If I went willingly in exchange he would free Loki. He cornered me, I was trying to find a way to escape when he suddenly caressed my cheek with his metallic hand, he was so sure I couldn´t escape he even slid down the medical bathrobe from one of my shoulders.” Leah expressions changed from furious to distraught, as if she couldn´t settled in one. “I still remember his icy touch over my skin. If he hadn’t been so busy gloating … If he had decided to rape me right there I wouldn´t have been able to stop him.” Leah was looking nervously at the floor while caressing her hands anxiously; she didn´t knew when she had started trembling but she couldn´t stop. “I have never felt so vulnerable ever before in my life.” She added. “Nor that scared if I hadn´t noticed we could escape through the rift … I don´t know what could´ve happened.”
“But you did” Clint volunteered. “Even if you thought everything was lost you kept fighting. You might have felt you were at his mercy but you weren´t; not as long as you hadn´t give up.” Then he extended his hand to her, Leah looked up at him confused. “I never thought about it like that” She acknowledged as she placed her hand in his.
“I know.” He winked an eye at her as he closed his hand on hers. “You have to stop being so hard on yourself, you did the best you could under the circumstances. If I had knew Doom was going to be your first opponent I´d done things differently. But I´m afraid you´ll have to be brave for a little more.”
“I wasn´t brave, I was weak when it counted the most.” Leah grimly told him.
“Sometimes you need more courage to spare a life than to take one.” Clint volunteered. “Think Leah, what would´ve happen if you had killed Doom?”
“He wouldn´t had hurted me.” Leah plainly told him.
“He hadn’t told her.” Was Clint first thought. “No, you would be on one of SHIELD´s prisons. But Leah, Doom didn´t just hurt you … he killed you.”
“What? But I´m still here!” Leah quickly snapped, was she imagining this whole conversation? What if in fact she was really death? No, that couldn´t be, she quickly dismissed the idea.
“Thankfully Loki, Steve and Thor wouldn´t give up on you. They brought you back to life.” Clint explained to her.
“I can´t remember any of that … why can´t I remember?” Leah asked him in anguish.
“It´s not something you´d like to remember.” Clint volunteered.
“But I need to. Please tell me what happened. I need to know.” Leah pleaded.
“I wasn´t there when it happened, you´d better ask Loki to tell you.” Clint suggested, she might have questions he didn´t had the answers to.
“I can´t, Not after how I´ve been behaving. He´s probably still angry at me.” Leah replied ashamed.
“Don´t be silly, he´s worried sick about you. He´s even changing diapers for you right now.” Clint joked trying to make her smile.
“Loki?” Leah asked surprised. “You are kidding me, he wouldn´t know how to do that.”
“That´s why I taught him how” Clint answered with a smirk.
“Oh God!” Leah hid her face between her hands, now she felt even guiltier.
“What´s wrong?” Clint asked her confused. “He´s her father you know, he can handle a few dirt diapers.”
Without raising her head Leah told him. “I didn´t gave it that much thought, I think I just assumed he wouldn´t. You know Asgardian royalty and stuff. And me … I wasn´t even able to pick her up … I´m a terrible mother” She raised her gaze as she told him. “Maybe they would be better off without me.”
Without any warning Clint slapped her angered at her last remark. “Don´t you even dare to think that!”
Leah looked at him shocked, tears were running down her face while she nursed her throbbing cheek. She felt too angry to say anything, angry at herself, angry at Clint, angry at the memory the slap just triggered. Angry because she knew Clint was right if she kept acting like that Doom would´ve won.
Clint kept staring at her waiting for a response, she held his stare angrily at first but as moments elapsed her anger fade into hurt. As heart-felt tears replaced the angry ones she was unable to hold his stare any more and just broke down.
Once she did Clint hold her tight. “It´s ok Leah, let it all out.”
As her sobs quieted after a while Clint told her. “Remember the girl that stabbed Doom yesterday? We need her back, she wasn´t scared.”
“But I was.” Leah interrupted him. “I just didn´t thought I had a choice.”
“Well, sometimes being brave is doing things even if you are scared to do them.” He volunteered kindly.
A sudden flashback flooded her memory. “Steve told me something similar … on the penthouse.” She said trying to hold on to the memory that just faded away.
“You are starting to remember” Clint said cheerfully.
“Not really, just bits and pieces.” Leah told him disappointed.
“It will come back in time.” Clint reassure her. “Just be patient, and stop hiding things, That´s not helping you.”
“I know.” Leah sighed. “I should talk to Loki, right?”
“Yes, I think you should, he needs to understand what´s happening to you so he´s able to help you.” Clint agreed. “I´ll walk with you, if you feel up to it you can spend some time with Eerika, or if you two need to talk I´ll take care of her.”
“All right” Leah agreed, she did wanted to see her daughter, although the prospect of taking top Loki didn´t appealed her so much.
As they walked in they could over hear Loki talking to Eerika, he was in the rocking chair cradling her in his arms “… so you see little one mum helped us when we needed it the most and now it´s our turn to help her get better.”
Leah had frozen on the door frame as she heard his words, Clint noticed almost instantly she had stayed behind when he turned back he saw her eyes were overfilled with tears. “I … I can´t.” She said in a whisper as she ran away to the only place she knew in their new home, their room. She loudly closed the door behind her alerting Loki of their presence.
Clint watched her until she disappeared behind the door, he sighed as he walked into the nursery.
“Clint, what just happened?” Loki asked him concerned.
“Leah overheard you talking to Eerika, I guess it was just too much for her to handle, she went crying back to your room.”
“Crying? But why? Did I do something wrong?” Loki asked him confused.
“Not at all, she´s just too sensitive at the moment. You might want to go to her.” Clint suggested.
“Dis you talked? What did she said? Did Doom do something to her?” Loki asked anxiously.
“Yes, we talked. It’s not as bad as we feared but it will take her a while to get over it.” Clint explained.
“Thanks the norns!” Loki sighed in relief.
“Yes, but she´s still hurting bad, she´s been having flashbacks” Clint explained Loki everything that Leah and him have talked, though he refrain from mentioning the whole slapping incident. He didn’t´ need to worry about the reason he had slapped her.
“I see” Loki acknowledged. “She just should´ve told me.”
“She was probably too ashamed or too scared to do so.” Clint volunteered. “Go to her, I´ll take care of Eerika.”
As Loki walked into their room he could hear Leah´s muffled sobbing but he couldn’t see her anywhere. “Leah?” He asked out loud hopping to locate the source of the sobs.
Leah didn’t answered but he could hear her sobs grow louder; she was in the dressing roiom. He approache dteh door and asked “Leah, could tou come out please?”
“No!” Leah whined at the top of her lungs, she was too embarrassed to come out, she´d been crying like a child all that time.
Loki sighed. “All right. I´m coming in.” As Leah didn’t answered he thought “Well, I´m taking that as a yes.”
When he walked in he noticed the lights were out, he looked for the light switch and turned the light on; there was no sign of Leah, only some scattered shoes and clothes on the floor. “Where are you?” He asked intrigued.
“Here” Leah answered between sniffling’s, she had hidden under a rack of clothes.
As Loki knelt to look for her he told her surprised “How on earth did you got there?”
Leah bolted into his arms knocking him onto his butt. “Loki!” She whined. “I´m soo sorryy” She bawled, thick tears were running down her cheeks getting Loki´s clothing wet. “Please don´t leave me.” She shrieked out loud as she kept crying. She felt as if her heart was tearing apart.
“I would never leave you.” He reassured her.
“I don´t deserve you.” She bawled as hard as she could.
Loki was taken a back at her outburst, he hold her tight. “You are the only worthy woman in all the Nine Realms as far as I´m concerned. Would you please stop crying?”
“I can’t” Leah confessed through even more tears.
“Oh, Leah!” Loki kept holding her tight waiting for her to calm down.
When finally her crying subsided Loki noticed she had cry herself asleep.
He carefully carried her over their bed, he could still see some tears running down her cheeks; her nose was red, her eyes would probably be red also, it made her look paler than she was. His shirt was damped both by tears and snot, but she looked peaceful now. He changed his shirt and then suddenly questioned himself, had Leah eaten something yet? He walked to the nursery to ask Clint.
“No, she hasn´t ate anything while she was with me” Clint told him, as he noticed Loki´s eyebrows frowning with worry he asked him. “When was the last time she ate something?”
“I´m guessing the night before the attack.” Loki volunteered.
“That’s over 36 hours! You need to get her something to eat when she wakes up. I I can’t believe she didn’t said anything.” Clint exclaimed upset.
“She did, but then we got into a fight and …” Loki started to explain.
“And then I sent her away from the kitchen.” Clint added.
“Yes, but I have the feeling she wouldn’t have said anything if we hadn´t been fighting already.” Loki told him.
“Probably, there´s too much on her mind, I guess eating isn´t a priority.” Clint reasoned.
“Probably” Clint agreed.
“We need to keep an eye on her, make sure she doesn´t stop eating.”
“I know” Loki agreed as he volunteered. “I´ll cook her something to eat”
“All right, though you probably should stay with her until she wakes up. She might be scared if she wakes up alone.” Clint suggested.
“Are you sure?” Loki asked Clint.
“Yes” Clint smiled “Go ahead, little pumpkin and I are getting along just fine.”
“Little pumpkin?” Loki asked amused.
“It´s just a pet name. Besides once this crisis is over we´ll have other matters to worry about. Who knows how long it will be for things to settle down.” Clint told him on a serious tone.
“What do you think happened after we left?” Loki asked him.
“I don’t know. Fury really didn´t had a case against Leah, not unless Doom wanted to explain what he was doing in the Tower and press charges. So I don’t think he would accused them of aiding a criminal to escape or something like that. I just can´t believe he would invent such shady charges to get her, it doesn´t sound like him. Either way we should wait for things to cool down before finding out. They´ll be fine, don´t worry.” Clint reassured him.