After Andrew left Tony walked right back to be with Leah. “So? What did he say? Are you in trouble?”
“Umm … actually … no.” Leah answered shrugging her shoulders; she hardly could believe it herself.
“You are kidding me! For a moment I thought he would send you to the looney bin.” He confessed with irony.
“I´m not crazy!” Leah adamantly defended herself; then she looked at her injured hands. “Even if …” She didn´t knew how to end her sentence; even if she understood her reasons they didn´t seemed to justify her actions.
“What´s wrong?” Tony asked concerned by her change in demeanor. “I was just messing with you. I didn´t meant anything by it. I really don´t think that …”
Leah interrupted him. “No, it´s not that.” She sighed. “It´s just … can we just stay in my room for the rest of the day?”
“Sure, we could. But why?” Tony asked baffled by her request.
“I just … I´ve had enough for a day.” She answered in a gloomy voice.
“Enough of what?” Tony asked her out loud; suddenly he realized what she had meant. “You don´t want to face everybody else, am I right?”
“They´ll find out soon enough anyway; I just … I can´t do it, not twice in a day …” She didn´t knew how to explain it to him.
Tony looked at her confused. “Ok. You know what? We can´t keep doing this. I need you to tell me what´s going on. Exactly what is it that you can´t do twice?”
Leah looked at him nervously; he was right, she needed to tell him. “It´s just that … every time.” She sighed disquiet.
“Leah you can tell me anything. What´s bothering you?” Tony tried to comfort her as he held her hands gently.
Leah bit her lower lip as she nodded her head in agreement. “Every time I screw up since … since Doom … most of the time … most of you don´t get angry at me any more … you just give me this look. I can´t stand that look, so full of pity. At first it just bothered me but lately …” She stopped for a moment as she sighed again, why was it so hard? “Lately I´ve been feeling that … that maybe you are right to look at me that way. That it doesn´t matter what I do or how hard I try I´ll always be a screw up, that I´ll always be the damaged one, that I do deserve your pity cause I´m never going to get any better.” She kept her gaze to the ground.
“Leah …” Tony was speechless, he had no idea. “I … I don´t know what to say. Why didn´t you told us you felt like that?”
“I didn´t wanted … I´ve caused enough trouble already … I know you didn´t … I didn´t wanted to hurt your feelings.” She looked at him apologetically; it sounded worse than how it had sounded in her mind.
“Instead you just let us hurt yours.” Tony motioned her disaprovingly.
“I know; it sounds really bad said like that.” Leah acknowledged. “I´m sorry; I just didn´t knew how to tell you. And every time it happened I just felt angrier at myself and … Tony I’m so sorry I snapped at you in the morning.” Leah apologized heartily.
“And I´m sorry I overcrowded you.” He scratched his nape, it hadn´t been her fault alone. “It´s just that … you´ve been through so much I just wish … I don’t want … it´s just that … I want you to be safe and happy. Seeing you having a nightmare; it just drove me crazy because I can´t protect you from that, none of us can. I don´t want anything happening to you anymore.”
“I know Tony. But you can´t protect me from everything. And I need to know you have faith in me; I need to know you trust me, maybe then I will be able to do it myself. I just want to know I´m not completely useless.” Leah admitted.
“You are not completely useless” Tony responded adamantly. “And I´m sorry if we ever made you feel that way.”
“It´s not your fault; I should´ve said something sooner.” Leah told him with sincerity. Maybe if she had she wouldn´t … she looked at her hands worriedly.
Tony looked at her hands too. “I know you don´t want to, but I really think you need to talk to everyone and let them know how you feel.”
“Maybe.” Leah agreed reluctantly. “But I´d much rather get scolded by Bruce again than facing that look.” She dreaded to think about the look in their eyes when they finally saw her injured hands.
Tony hugged her. “Forget about that, just tell them how you feel. And when Loki gets back make sure to tell him too.”
Leah closed her eyes as she let Tony´s warmth comfort her; suddenly she asked gingerly. “Can’t you tell them for me?”
Tony scolded her immediately. “Leah!”
“All right. I´ll tell them myself.” Leah pouted as she reluctantly agreed.
“Tony is right. If it bothered, you so much you should´ve said something sooner.” Bruce suddenly told her; he was about to enter the room when he overheard them talking.
“Bruce … you heard everything?” Leah asked embarrassed.
“Yes. I´m sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop. I didn´t wanted to interrupt you either so …” He apologized while running his hand over his hair nervously.
“It´s all right Bruce. Tony is right I should talk to all of you about it.” She shrugged her shoulders. She didn´t wanted to do it, but knew she had to.
“Stop worrying, they will understand.” Tony reassured her. “Now let´s grab lunch. I´m quite sure you missed breakfast too.”
Bruce immediately scolded her. “Tell me you didn´t.”
Leah pouted slightly. “I´m sorry?” She didn’t knew what else to tell him.
Bruce nodded his head negatively as he sighed loudly next he rubbed his forehead with his palm. “Stop skipping meals Leah! You aren´t invulnerable you know?”
Leah bowed her head down while he scolded her. “I know Bruce. I´m sorry. It won´t happen again. I know I keep saying it every time this happens but I really am. And there´s something different this time, I don´t feel so scared any more. I …I” She frowned uncertain. “I don´t know how to explain this.” They had always been there at her side, but somehow she had felt alone; not anymore.
“You don’t have to.” Bruce volunteered, he and Andrew had talked for a good while. Even if he hadn´t told him anything specific he had been rather optimistic about Leah´s recovery. “Andrew told me he believes you will get better and I want to believe him.” Bruce acknowledged. “Now, don´t disappoint us.”
“I won´t.” Leah promised.
As the tree of them walked into the dining room Clint spat shocked. “What the hell happened now?” He had noticed Leah´s splinters the second she walked in.
“I … I …” Leah stammered taken by surprise as she instinctively took a step back.
Bruce intervened. “She broke two fingers on each hand; but If you let her explain. We have much to talk about.” Next she gave Leah a small push as he invited her to sit.
Leah sat nervously rubbing her palms. “First of all I want to apologize to all of you about this morning; I know I screw up.” She frowned abashed by the memories. “I … I´m really sorry. I shouldn’t had said any of those things. It´s just that …” Next she explained them what had happened that morning leaving bits and pieces out of her recollection. The last thing she needed was making them worry.
Everyone listened attentively. One by one they became self-aware about how they looked at her.
“Why didn´t you said something before?” Clint asked her bemused.
“I´m not sure … at first I thought it would pass. That if I somehow got better you wouldn’t have a reason to look at me like that anymore but things just got worse. I don´t know, I felt foolish.” She lowered her gaze discomforted.
“There’s no point on dwelling on that.” Steve told them. “What´s important is that now we can do something about it.” They all agreed with him. “Leah …” Once she looked up he continued. “We have to reach an agreement so that this kind of thing does not happen again. I think I can speak for all of us when I tell you we only want to do what´s best for you. But if you don´t tell us how you feel or what you need we can´t help you. “
“I know Steve. I´ve been so wrapped on sorting things out by myself I forgot I didn´t had to. And I just made an even bigger mess.” She sighed as she looked at her splinters.
“What happened?” Natasha asked calmly.
Leah sighed again before telling them. “Tony and I got into a big fight earlier, and I kind of lashed out at the punching bag.”
“Leah!” Natasha scolded her while giving Tony a disapproving look.
“I know.” Leah whined. “I just was so angry I couldn´t help myself. If Tony hadn´t found me when he did …”
“But I did.” Tony interrupted her. “We both said things we shouldn´t have but we worked it out.”
“All right.” Steve acknowledged, seemed neither Tony or Leah felt especially talkative about their fight. “Does Andrew know?”
“Yes, he does.” Bruce asseverated. “Curiously he thinks that lashing out was good for her. He even said it might have been worth some broken bones.” He ended with irony while looking at Leah.
They all looked surprised by his last statement. Leah knew he was still angry at her for being so careless and shyly volunteered. “I´m sorry.”
“All right.” Tony told them chirpily. “Now that we all know what happened can we eat? I´m famished! “ He had skipped breakfast too, but mostly he was eager to change the subject.
When Clint served Leah her plate she looked worryingly at it “How am I supposed to…” was her thoughts when Tony interrupted them.
“Do you need any help?” He animatedly offered.
Leah looked at him and then again at her plate. “I don´t know.” She answered doubtfully; she had broken her middle and ring finger of her right hand and her ring and baby finger of her left. “Let me give it a try.” She finally answered.
“All right.” Tony agreed.
After a couple of minutes fidgeting with her cutlery Leah gave up. “All right.” She sighed displeased by her defeat. “I might need some help.”
Tony quickly snatched her plate before she could change her mind and started cutting her food into small pieces. She wouldn´t have much trouble just to pinch them. “Leah, I´m afraid you are going to need help with tons of other things, like bathing for example.”
Leah ducked into the table; she knew he was right but she hated it. She mumbled something beneath her breath, she hadn´t expected anyone to hear it except she had forgotten about Steve who suddenly busted laughing.
“What?” Tony asked intrigued.
“Ahh, nothing.” Steve answered trying not to laugh.
“She said something, didn’t she?” Tony asked again.
“I don´t think she would like me to repeat her words. “Steve volunteered.
“What did she said?” Clint asked too.
“Leah?” Steve asked politely.
Leah suddenly answered their question without raising from the table. “I´m not bathing until Loki gets back.”
Everyone busted laughing.
“It´s not funny.” Leah complained without moving.
“I´m sorry. I know it´s not funny to you, but it’s hilarious for us.” Tony admitted still laughing.
Leah raised her head giving Tony a dirty look that clearly spelled I hate you. “At least can you tell me if you can build some nanobots?”
Tony ignored her stare and plainly told her. “I´m afraid no. We simply don´t have the materials necessary.”
“Can´t you just go out and get them?” Leah asked frustrated.
“And risk Loki´s anger?” Tony asked surprised. “No, he left clear instructions about not leaving the mansion unless there was an emergency. And I´m sorry baby but that …” He pointed to her hands. “… that doesn´t qualifies as one.”
Leah sank her head into the table again. “I’m so death.” She exclaimed disheartened.
“Come on it´s not that bad.” Tony tried to reassure her.
“Really? You don´t think Loki is going to freak when he sees this?” Leah raised her hands as he gave Tony an annoyed look.
“Don´t worry Leah” Thor intervened. “He might beb very upset at first but i´m sure he will understand.”
“You really think so?” Leah asked in hope.
“Yes, I do.” Thor volunteered. “And look at the bright side, he´ll certainly heal them for you.”
“Either way.” Tony interrupted them. “I was going to suggest Natasha helped you. You´ll be more comfortable.”
“All right.” Leah sighed, it didn´t seemed like she had much of a choice.