“No.” Leah whispered agitated in her dream waking up Tony who drowsily complained. “What …?”
“Shh…” Thor shushed him, he had noticed her restlessness too. “she´s dreaming.”
Tony looked at Leah´s concerned expression and replied quietly with a frown. “No, she’s´ having a nightmare.”
Leah whined softly as she tossed in her dream.
“Shouldn´t we wake her up?” Tony asked anxiously.
“I don´t think so.” Thor volunteered in a low tone.
Tony pouted slightly unconvinced of letting the nightmare to continue and turned left to gently shook Bruce who was still asleep.
“Mmm? What…?” Bruce frowned about being abruptly woken up.
“Bruce, should you wake up someone who´s having a nightmare?” Tony asked without waiting for Bruce to be fully awaken.
“Should you … what?” Bruce asked as he yawned.
“Leah´s having a nightmare.” Thor explained. “should we wake her up?”
Bruce sat up as he took a glimpse at Leah who had curled up while mumbling something he couldn´t quiet discern. He scratched his head for a moment before answering. “No, not unless it gets worst.”
“Worst how?” Tony asked impatiently.
“Only if she starts screaming or if there was a risk of her hurting herself or any of you.” Bruce elaborated.
“so we just watch and do nothing?” Tony angrily huffed.
“It might fade by itself.” Bruce suggested in hope.
“what´s happening?” Steve drowsily asked as he stretched beside Thor; he had heard something going on.
“Leah´s havinga nightmare.” Thor explained again.
“Is it bad?” Steve asked concerned.
“Do you know any good nightmares?” Tony asked in irony.
“No.” Leah said softly.
“Did she just answered us?” Bruce asked intrigued.
“I don´t know; she might have.” Tony answered confused. “Are you sure we can´t wake her up?”
“No, Tony; we shouldn´t. You would startle her.” Bruce asseverated.
“I´m sure that´s not a good idea.” Natasha volunteered, both her and Clint had also woken up at the sound of their voices.
“Go back to sleep.” Clint complained while hoping the nightmare would stop by itself.
Suddenly Leah sat up startled by something im her dream, her breathing was ragged, her eyes were unfocused and misty.
Tony leaned to hold her shoulder as he asked. “Leah, are you ok?”
Leah looked at him confused for a moment, suddenly she noticed everyone staring at her; with a big frustrated sigh she buried her head between her hands, her long hair hid the rest of her face. “It´s just a nightmare.” She plainly told them. “Why now? Couldn´t it waited until I was alone? The look on their faces …” She complained mentally. “They think … I´m broken, and why shouldn´t they? Maybe I need to accept I’m never going to be all right ever again.” Regardless of her thoughts she told them. “I´m fine.”
“Are you sure?” Tony asked again as he gently placed his hand over her back.
His touch made Leah snap annoyed. “I said I was fine.” For a second he glared at him angrily before closing her eyes as she sighed with frustration. “I´m sorry. I´m fine.” The moment she opened her eyes she asked. “What time is it?”
“Around eight.” Clint answered drowsily; he had turned his back to the whole scene and was lazily hugging the pillow.
“I´d better take a shower before Eerika wakes up.” She volunteered; without giving them any time she jumped out of the bed and walked to the dressing room. No one spoke again until they heard the sound of running water.
“She´s … angry.” Tony told them bemused.
“Of course she is, you all just had to stare at her.” Clint complained angrily.
“And you weren´t?” Tony asked incredulous.
“Of course I was, I just wasn´t that obvious.” He answered as he sat up. “How would you feel if you were in her place?”
“Angry.” Bruce suggested. “Clint is right; we all need to stop treating her as an accident waiting to happen.”
“But …” Tony began to say when Bruce interrupted him.
“Just think about it Tony; we all have been treating her as you treated me the first time we met on board of the hellicarrier. Take my word on it, it´s frustarting.” Bruce confessed.
“I guess you are right.” Steve volunteered next. “We need to start trusting she will get through this.”
“It’s hard to trust yourself when no one else does.” Natasha added in a pensive tone.
Tony huffed, he knew they were all right but he didn’t felt comfortable with the idea. “so what? We leave her alone?” He asked vexed.
“No.” Thor answered. “We just give her some space. She will ask for our help should she need it.”
As they kept discussing the matter a complete different scene was taking place in the bathroom.
Leah had turned on the shower and crumbled under it; she hadn´t even bothered on removing her clothes.
“I´m never going to make it.” She repeated to herself mentally as she silently cried under the spray of the shower; the cold water hit her merciless but she didn´t cared. She just sat there shivering; at least the cold distracted her from the pain she felt in her chest. After a while of debating with herself she whispered. “They can´t know.” Trembling she closed the shower faucet. “Maybe If I´m convincing enough I can fool myself.” She wryly reasoned as she removed her clothes.
“Do you think she´s all right?” Tony asked worryingly. “She´s been there for a while.”
“Tony … for love´s sake; let her be!” Natasha admonished harshly.
“But …” Tony started to complain when Leah walked out of the dressing room; she had changed into a pullover and jeans. She hadn´t even dried her hair in her hurry to get out; despite her best efforts to hide it the redness in her eyes betrayed her; she had been crying.
“I´m going to check on Eerika.” She informed them sternly before walking out of the room. She felt too angry and embarrassed to be amongst them.
Thor sighed concerned, but knew she would need some space before calming down. He already had made the mistake of overburden her once.
Before anyone could prevent it Tony rushed out to follow her; she was a couple of steps from the nursery when he managed to grab her arm. “Wait! Leah!”
“What, Tony?! What?!” She asked trying unsuccessfully to hide her anger.
“Are you all right?” He asked again ignoring her tone.
“I already told you I am. What else do you want from me? Why won´t you leave me alone?” She growled defiantly. “I don’t need you to watch over me, I don´t need any of you to watch over me. We are not related; we are not family, you are not my brother; stop acting as you fucking were. “
Tony was unprepared for her reaction; as he opened his mouth to say something Leah just snapped. “You know what? I don´t have time for this. Stop following me! And get this through that thick skull of yours I want you to leave me alone!” With that she rushed into the nursery leaving tony alone in the hallway.
“I´m sure she didn´t meant any of that.” Steve said to Tony trying to comfort him. “Just let her calm down.”
Tony expression changed from hurt to angry. “She´s right! Why should I care? After all we are not family, she´s not my sister.” He huffed angrily before turning walking back to his room.
Steve watched him with a concern look on his face before walking back to Leah´s room. Everyone had overheard Leah´s and Tony´s argument and were lost in their own thoughts.
Steve sighed before telling them. “I think we should fix her room up before we leave. And … we should give her some space; at least for a while.”
They all agreed quietly.
When Leah closed the nursery door behind her she leaned her back into it as ash let herself slide down. “What´s wrong with me?” She asked herself before answering with irony. “As if you didn’t know …” Eerika´s cry pull her out of her thoughts; as she cleaned her tears with her sleeve she answered in a soft voice “I´m here.”
She stayed in the nursery until it was time for her session with Andrew; she really didn’t wanted to see anyone but knew that if she skipped a session Fury may had left instructions to leave her out of the rescue mission; and she couldn’t let that happen. Clint would surely check on Eerika as he did every time she went to her sessions. Unwillingly she walked into the studio where Andrew was already waiting for her.
Andrew watched her attentively as she sat in; it was obvious something was wrong. “How are we doing this morning?” He asked in a casual tone.
Leah looked at him annoyed. “As fine as I can be.” She spat angrily.
“That´s not true.” Andrew volunteered.
“So?” Leah answered back irritated.
“I thought we had already agreed that you wouldn’t lie to me.” Andrew admonished her.
“What does it matter? I´m never going to get any better than this. I might as well accept it” Leah huffed vexed.
“What happened?” Andrew asked her calmly.
“I decided I should just accept it; everyone keeps looking at me as if I were broken. They can´t all be wrong, then why keep on trying?” She volunteered as angry tears threatened to pour out.
“What happened?” Andrew asked again in a firmer tone.
“What do you think?” Leah wryly asked. “I did what I do best, a mess.”
“Ok, tell me …” Andrew told her sternly.
Reluctantly Leah told him about the incident; as she ended she added. “See? I´m hopeless; you should all just stop wasting your time. It´s pointless.”
Andrew frowned while watching her attentively; she had hit rock bottom; either she snapped out of it or she would drown in self-pity.
“I see.” He told her calmly. “It´s a good thing then that Fury let to me the final decision about you joining the rescue team.”
Leah looked at him panicky. “No, you can’t. I have to be on it.”
“Why? According to what you have just told me, you wouldn´t bring anything positive to the team. Loki will be better off without you.” He told her harshly.
“No, please! You can´t! Fury promised …” Leah pleaded anguished.
“You really don´t think I would let you lead a team, do you? You would most probably get everyone killed including Loki.” Andrew told her slyly.
“I …” Leah didn´t knew what to answer to that; thick tears rolled from her eyes. What if he was right? She thought before breaking down crying; what if he was right?
“He´s not.” A small voice in her interior told her but she refused to believe it.
“I´m sorry Leah.” Andrew added. “But there´s no way that I can in good conscious let you participate even less lead the rescue mission. I think you are right; you were broken even before Doom crushed you. For a moment I too deceived myself thinking you might pull through but as you so clearly pointed out there´s no hope you will. If I were you I might even consider leaving Loki in case he does comes back. You will only be a burden to him; to him and to your child.” With that last comment he stood up. As he was walking to the door a voice stopped him.
“Excuse me?” Andrew asked as if he hadn’t heard her; all the time hoping that all that reverse psychology act had finally got through her.
“I said no.” She replied in a more confident tone.
“No … what?” Andrew asked as he turned to face her.
“I´m not a burden.” She told him sternly; she had stood up and was staring at him with her fists clenched. “I´m not a burden.” She repeated. “It doesn´t matter if you add me or not to the rescue team. Loki is smart, he will succeed and in the rare case he doesn´t I have friends that will help me get him back. Even if I´ve been horrible to them I know they will forgive me and they will help me.” Tears kept flowing from her eyes as she told him. “I´m not broken. I will pull myself together one way or the other, they need me … and I won´t let them down. Not any more … I won´t.
Andrew walked back to her with a serious expression on his face, Leah looked at him intrigued; unexpectedly he hugged her. “I believe you, I always did. I´m glad you finally were able to figure it out.”
Leah looked at him confused. “But …” She started to say when Andrew interrupted her. “You didn´t gave me much choice, did you?”
Leah realised what he had done. “You didn’t mean any of it.”
“Not a word.” Andrew confessed with a smirk.
“You tricked me!” Leah complained.
“That, I did.” Andrew acknowledged. “Sometimes the end does justify the means.”
“But … but …” Leah studded uncertain if what to say. “What now?” she finally asked.
“I would suggest you to go look for Tony and apologise.” He offered with a smile. “I think we can call it a day; it was a good session. We can continue this tomorrow.”
“Ok.” Leah agreed a bit unsure; he was right she needed to find Tony and somehow apologize for all the stupid things she had said.