As Andrew Garner arrived to the mansion he set up a schedule to talk to all of the Avengers; he wanted their input about Leah before talking to her. He had read her file and watched SHIELD´s footage of her fight with Doom; but that didn´t told him much about her.
“So, how would you describe Leah in one word?” Was his first question.
“Passionate.” Loki volunteered after much self-debate.
“Stubborn.” Clint answered without much thought.
“Brave.” Was Steve’s answer.
“Complicated.” Bruce suggested
“Beautiful.” Thor told him without much thought.
“Determined.” Natasha volunteered, she had considered her answer for a good while.
“Had you talked to her about her panic attack?” Was the next question.
“Not exactly.” Loki admitted. “I´ve been more concerned with how to avoid it from happening again.”
“Do you think it was your fault?” Andrew asked next.
“She wouldn´t had snapped if I hadn’t gone to Fury.” Loki acknowledged.
“You shouldn´t blame yourself; for what I read you only precipitate things, it really was just a matter of time. She should´ve got counselling since her family died. She can´t take refuge on alcohol as before; she has a new family now; it forces her to face her fears, she´s simply unprepared for that.” Andrew explained sympathetically.
“And even so, she picked up a fight with Fury yesterday.” Loki bitterly admitted.
“I know, Fury told me about that. Have you talked with her about it?”
“Not yet, Bruce had already scolded her earlier and … in her words Fury has a very mean swing. Fortunately her healing factor took care of that. I mean to talk to her after this.” Loki answered sternly.
“Don´t be so hard on her. Fury provoked her on purpose.” Andrew volunteered.
“What? Why would he do that?” Loki asked bewildered.
“Tell me, did she had a chance to vent her anger after her incident with Doom?”
“There was an incident with a punching bag and we kind of fight a lot, but probably not, why?” Loki realised, she had just bottled all that anger down.
“Fury noticed that, he thought she might need to … get it out of her system.” Andrew revealed. “It´s not an appropriate course of action by my standards, but I´d have to admit that sometimes it can be very effective. My methods are less … controversial”
“And you will help her?” Loki asked in hope.
“I will do my best.” Andrew offered sincerely.
“Actually we did, she asked how I overcome the incident with the terrorists.” Tony told him; he´d much rather not discuss the matter at all but Leah´s welfare might depend on the smallest detail.
“And what did you told her?” Andrew asked interested.
“The truth, that I took on the role of super-hero so I wouldn´t have to think too much about it, or go through something like that again.” Tony volunteered before adding. “But I might have an idea of what´s she´s really scared off, and why …”
Andrew listened attentively as Tony told him about everything that happened that didn´t appeared on SHIELD´s tapes as well as his talks with Leah.
“I see.” Andrew acknowledged. “Things are more complicated that what I thought initially.”
“You have no idea.” Tony answered in a tone between irony and concern.
“At first we did.” Clint volunteered. “To say the truth we mostly talk about Eerika and my kids now.”
“Right, how are they?” Andrew asked politely.
“Getting bigger as always.” Clint answered with a half-smile, he missed them. “She had a hard time at first, she didn´t felt fit to be a mother; I’m glad she gave herself a chance. I was beginning to worry she wouldn´t; now I think Eerika is who´s keeping her together most of the time.”
“Not more than necessary.” Bruce confessed. “Neither of us is very good at that sort of thing, unless … she´s having a panic attack, or an existential crisis or …” Bruce stop at the middle of his sentence and smiled while realising that his previous statement wasn´t quite truth. “On second thought, we do seem to talk a lot …” Then he proceeded to retell Andrew of all the times he and Leah had talked.
“Yes, we´ve talked about it, only girls on the team. There are lots of things that the guys’ wouldn´t understand.” Natasha volunteered.
“Like what?” Andrew asked very interested in her answer.
“You already know what kind of things I mean Andrew, are you going to play coy on me now?” Natasha smirked.
“I might have an idea, but it would be better if you told me.” He volunteered with a half-smile; it wasn´t the first time they had met.
Natasha sighed annoyed before telling him. “Like how even the slightest touch can make you feel violated, and how you try to convince yourself that you are just overreacting, that nothing happened. But somehow your brain doesn´t seem to register it.” She answered sternly.
“That bad, huh?” Andrew questioned her.
“That bad.” Natasha replied. “And also we talk a lot about Loki, do you already know how they met?”
“I read the file but I have the feeling you can fill me in better.” Andrew acknowledged.
“Yes, even when we were still at the Tower we talked about it.” Steve told Andrew. “She felt guilty for not killing Doom when she had the chance.”
“What did you told her.” Andrew asked as he leaned interested on his answer.
“That sometimes it takes more courage to spare a life than to take one.” Steve volunteered.
“Are you close Steve?” Andrew suddenly asked.
“I guess so, I was the only one who understood what she went through when her abilities appeared …. And I kind of feel responsible for her.”
“You know that if she didn´t had your abilities she might not survived, right?” Andrew questioned him.
“I know.” Steve agreed. “You know I was the one who found her when she nearly had a miscarriage. I´ve been in combat and I don´t think I ever felt more scared for someone ever before. Your body just betraying you like that, how do you even fight it?” Steve confessed while remembering the events that happened that day.
“No, I can´t say we have.” Thor volunteered.
“What do you talk about then?” Andrew asked trying to make sense of Thor´s previous answer.
“We actually don´t talk much.” Thor confessed.
“Why is that?” Andres asked intrigued.
“I … we kind of fell apart. I´m not even sure on who´s account.” Thor told Andrew.
“Do you still love her?” Andrew asked him cautiously.
“How do you know? Is that obvious?” Thor asked concerned.
“You defined her as beautiful, I’m afraid that´s very obvious.” Andrew volunteered.
Thor smiled sadly as he bit his lips. “I should have chosen another word. But that was my first thought.”
“Does she knows?” Andrew asked concerned.
“Probably.” Thor volunteered. “I don´t think she would keep her distance otherwise.”
“Why do you think she does that?” Andrew asked interested.
“She doesn’t wants to hurt me.” Thor suggested. “Nor damage my relationship with Loki.”
“Does he know?” Andrew asked even more interested.
“He´s always been the smart one.” Thor volunteered. “I would say it is likely he does.”
“Have you talked with her about this?” Andrew asked trying to figure out the dynamics of this love triangle.
“No, she choose him. There´s nothing else to talk about. I promised I would help her to keep her child safe and that´s a promise I intend to keep. Both her and my brother have suffered a lot, I’m glad they found happiness.”
“Are they really happy Thor?”
“Probably not that much right now, but you should´ve seen the way they looked at each other when Loki was our prisoner. Or how crushed Loki was when he thought she had died. If that´s not love I don´t know what it is.”
“What do you think will help her get better?” Was Andrew’s final question.
“I sincerely don´t know. Even If I sat this mission out I sense that it wouldn´t make her … problems disappear. She needs security probably, but we would be lying if we promised she´ll be safe indefinitely. Maybe her confidence back, I really don´t know.” Loki confessed, if he knew he would´ve already provided it. “She´s lost so much and she´s so afraid of losing me is baffling.”
“How so?” Andrew asked intrigued by Loki´s comment.
Loki frowned pondering his words before answering. “This is the first time anyone has … needed me so openly. I´m not used to that.”
“I see.” Andrew acknowledged.
“You´re really asking the wrong person.” Tony wryly told him. “Technology comes easy to me, people … not so much.”
“That´s weird, for what I’ve heard you have taken the role of an older brother regarding Leah. I would assume that you would have an opinion about it.” Andrew volunteered.
“That kind of just happened, she´s fun to be with and …”Tony admitted.
“She has the same kind of wry humor you have.” Andrew ended his sentence for him.
“Yes.” Tony smiled remembering something. “There´s that.”
“Back to my question, what do you think might help her?” Andrew questioned Tony again.
“To get some control back.” Tony volunteered, that´s what would´ve bother him if he were on her place.
“What would help her?” Steve asked himself out loud. “I´m not sure, you might think you have everything figured out and the world just changes on you on an instant.”
“Like it happened to you.” Andrew suggested.
“Getting caught in a block of ice for 70 years doesn´t happen every day fortunately. “ Steve acknowledged. “But yes, she already had her life changing forever in an instant, she knows there are no guarantees.”
“Then what do you think is bothering her if she already knows that?” Andrew questioned Steve.
“That she feels unprepared for facing any more changes. I don´t blame her, at least everything changed for me in a blink of an eye; she have had to face changes on almost weakly bases for over seven months now. She must be exhausted.”
“So, you think she needs stability?” Andrew suggested.
“I know it sounds contradictory after what I said, but… yes I do.” Steve agreed.
“If I said some peace and quiet would it sound like a cliché?” Clint jokingly suggested.
Andrew just gave him a disapproving look.
“All right. Can´t you take a joke? You´re so serious Andrew.” Clint complained.
“You know this is a serious matter Clint.” Andrew told him with a stern look.
“I know, but I think it is your job to figure that out, not mine.” Clint volunteered.
“It is but you all have been around her for months, you know her; I don´t. I need all the input I can get; you know I can´t get that from a file or some tapes.” Andrew told him. “And the clock is ticking, making a breakpoint before Loki´s departure is essential.”
“I guessed that much, this is Fury´s idea to appease Loki´s mind and make him to concentrate on the mission, right?” Clint inquired as Andrew nodded affirmatively.
“Does she knows that?” Clint asked again.
“Yes, she does. According to Fury she called herself a liability.” Andrew volunteered.
“I wished she stopped doing that.” Clint spat angered.
“Putting herself down, you mean?” Andrew suggested.
“Yes, I know she doesn´t have our background or experience but for a housewife she had done it extraordinary well. It makes me so angry she can´t see that.” Clint buffed. “Only Loki and I know this but the first day after doom´s intrusion we had an argument … I kind of slapped her.”
“You did what? Why?” Andrew asked surprised.
“Basically she suggested Loki and eerika would be better off without her.” Clint confessed.
“Dis she ever tried to hurt herself?” Andrew asked concerned.
“No, she didn´t, at least not intentionally.” Clint retold andrew the whole incident so he wouldn´t get the wrong idea.
“How did Loki reacted to that?” Andrew asked intrigued.
“They got into a very bad argument …” Clint told Andrew everything Loki had told him about the incident that ended with Leah getting her memories back.
“That was a lucky turn of events.” Andrew suggested.
“You have no idea. I thought she was getting better after that until Tony came in with news from SHIELD. Everything went south again after that.” Clint confessed annoyed. “She´s brave but she has barely recovered from one blow when another comes. No one can withstand that pace.” Clint ended.
“Well Andrew, I know for a fact that she’s not waiting for the white picket fence, nor she expects his prince to be charming all the time.” Natasha volunteered. “She knows what comes with the territory, though she´s not as all right with it as she thinks. If you really want to know I think she needs a break from al this madness her life has become. She should be concerned with changing diapers and sleepless nights not with under covered missions.”
“Seems you have given this quite some thought Natasha.” Andrew suggested.
“I hate unsolved problems, you know that Andrew. Besides she´s my friend I want her to be happy.”
“This really isn´t my area of expertise you know that right?” Bruce answered Andrew´s question.
“Make a guess.” Andrew suggested.
“Loki and Eerika safe and sound would be my guess; she´s scared of losing them as she lost her first child and husband.” Bruce volunteered.
“You know that´s not very realistic?” Andrew questioned him.
“Yes, situations change even if we don´t want them to do so.” Bruce bitterly added.
“Are you thinking of herself or you Bruce?” Andrew asked.
“Maybe both, we are very similar in some aspects. We both tend to self-neglect on behalf of others, and we hate to be a burden, we simply refuse to be even if we´re hurting.” Bruce explained Andrew.
“Those are not very healthy ways to handle things.” Andrew scolded Bruce.
“I know; sometimes you have to keep your mind occupied with something, if it´s pain sometimes it doesn’t even matter as long as you don´t break down. I can´t afford that to happen, you know? In a way she´s help me realise many attitudes I tend to do that aren´t … the best course of action.” Bruce added shrugging his shoulders.
“Have you told her that? Andrew asked.
“Not directly, maybe I should´ve.” Bruce suggested.
“Yes, I think that would be a great idea. It might help her if she understands where your advices are coming from.” Andrew agreed.
“So … Thor, you still haven´t given mem your answer.” Andrew interrupted Thor´s thoughts.
“I really don´t know what to say.” Thor confessed. “Besides the obvious I´m not sure what could help her get better.”
“Let´s start with the obvious, shall we?” Andrew suggested.
“Loki and Eerika safe.” Thor volunteered.
“Yes, but you can´t really assure her that nothing will happen to them. She need to get better even with that uncertainty.” Andrew told Thor.
“None of this would´ve happened if I had noticed her on the bridge that day.” Thor spat angered at himself.
“Do you think she would´ve fall in love with you if you had saved her instead of Loki?” Andrew asked interested in his answer.
“How dare you suggest such thing? I never said anything like that!” Thor snapped annoyed.
“I never said you did Thor, I just wondered if you ever thought about that. I apologise if I have offended you. But it would help me to know your thoughts about it.” Andrew quickly apologised, he had obviously stroked a nerve.
“I didn´t meant anything like that, I just wished she was safe even if it meant she wouldn´t be here.” Thor confessed.
“For what I been told if she hadn´t started her quest to find Loki to provide her with some answers … there´s no telling what she would´ve done. She was left alone Thor, everyone in her family death. The chase gave her a purpose, maybe even saved her life.” Andrew explained calmly.