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Standing on the Edge

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   “How much farther?” Yelena whined unceremoniously, and Natasha just smirked a little in reply to her, looking back at her from where she was hiking ahead of her a small distance. Her eyes were sparkling, and Yelena felt her heart swelling at how happy her big sister was.

   “Not too far now. Just stick with me,” Natasha told her, and Yelena just grumbled. However, she felt a softness and a warmth blossoming through her chest despite the chill in the air around them.

   The both of them had headed out to go hiking, and Natasha had insisted on going up to some cliffside since the view was supposedly so wonderfully great. Yelena personally would have liked to have just stayed in and cuddled all day because that was always her most favorite thing in the world to do with her favorite person.

   However, Natasha had wanted to do this so much, and since Natasha so often did things for her, Yelena begrudgingly went along with this, knowing it would make Natasha happy. And Yelena was willing to do anything if it would make Natasha happy.

   But it did not stop her from complaining about it a little.

   “Y’know, we could have been inside today. Happily cuddled together on the couch and watching the movie of our choice. But you just had to be in one of those moods,” Yelena grumbled aloud, raising her voice a little to be heard over the wind that was blowing around them.

   The higher they went up, the more the wind had a tendency to blow. It was not unbearable, but it made the air somewhat cold and it made Yelena truly wish that they were at their house and contentedly snuggled together in the warmth underneath the blankets.

   “And miss the wondrous experience of nature? Rooskaya, I’m disappointed,” Natasha teased, and Yelena just rolled her eyes heavily as she trudged after the redhead. Natasha was far too energetic about this, but Yelena found that it was good to see Natasha so happy and excited for something like this even if it was relatively simple. Sometimes the small pleasures in life were the best ones.

   They suddenly reached a rather steep hill, and Natasha climbed up it carefully. When she was at the top, she opened her hand to Yelena to help her up. Yelena easily reached out to take her sister’s hand, locking her fingers around her tightly as Natasha hoisted her up.

   To Yelena’s surprise, there was a small clearing at the top, and it opened up to show a large expanse of sky and clouds. There was also a cliffside exposed that surprisingly had no little to no fencing at the edge of it.

   Natasha kept a hold on Yelena’s hand as they both just stared, and Natasha finally looked over at Yelena with a slight grin. Yelena found herself a little breathless as she took in the view.

   “Told you it was worth it,” Natasha told her, so much love and affection in her voice as she eyed Yelena. Yelena just rolled her eyes a little as she grabbed her backpack from around her shoulders.

   “Whatever… I’m going to get the food out. I’m starving,” Yelena informed her, already feeling her stomach starting to rumble at the thought of the food awaiting them in her bag. Natasha chuckled warmly behind her, but the sound was almost taken away by the wind.

   “You just ate before we left.”

   “I am a growing girl!” Yelena defended as she sat down in the grass near the trees lining part of the clearing. She directed her attention to the food there in the backpack as she pulled out the thermoses and started to open her own as she took in the positively delectable scent of macaroni and cheese. She then looked up at Natasha, fully intending to call her over and say something snarky in the process to try to hurry her up some.

   However, to her shock, Natasha was approaching the ledge as she stood there with her braid flowing along behind her as she looked out over the horizon.

   Yelena immediately felt a paralyzing fear, and all she could think of was Natasha and how she had died on a cliff not so terribly long ago. The wound was still very much fresh within Yelena even though it had been over a year ago, and the sight of Natasha standing there like that at the edge was almost enough to send her into a full-on panic.

   She started to get up, but as she stood up, she was able to get more of a look at just how far down the ledge was and just how far Natasha could fall. Yelena’s eyes went wide, and she froze in place, unable to move.

   As she stood there agonizingly, she attempted desperately to muster some manner of words to speak to the redhead and draw her back over away from the cliff’s edge.

   “Natashka… Please… Don’t,” Yelena breathed out, barely able to make her voice move above a breath. They would hardly form, and she was standing at enough distance from Natasha that the redhead could not hear her. The wind was blowing around her as well and carrying her voice away so that Natasha was not able to pick up the sound.

   Natasha stood there at the ledge, just looking over at the horizon peacefully in a manner that haunted Yelena. However, she was so frozen with fear at this point that she could not move to even begin to try to pull Natasha away from it.

   The flashbacks of a piece of herself dying with Natasha ran through her, and the remembrance of those many days that she spent without her and crying herself to sleep every night were all she could think of. That hurt that had felt as if she had been stabbed in the gut repetitively was freshly within her at this very moment as if it had been only yesterday despite the fact that Natasha was standing right there not too far from her, very evidently alive and well.

   “One could die happy with a view like this, huh?” Natasha called out, raising her voice a little to be heard. Yelena felt her heart palpitating to the point of pain in her chest as she took in Natasha’s words that were meant so innocently but carried such a deep meaning.

   Natasha then turned back around to look at her with a soft grin and a raise of her eyebrow, obviously having been waiting on a response from her. It was such a painfully familiar expression, and Yelena felt her chest aching with the pain and fear as she thought of how her sister died in a way just like this. Natasha never discussed it with her, but knowing her sister and how frustrating that she could be, she knew Natasha probably died with a smile on her face just like that.

   Yelena almost felt like puking at the thought.

   Natasha must have seen the distress on her face, because almost as soon as they had made eye contact, her eyes grew ridiculously concerned and she lost all semblances of a smile. She moved away from the ledge, coming over to Yelena swiftly as she grabbed her face gently between her hands. The smallest hint of roughness from her callouses were rubbing against Yelena’s cheeks, and the blonde found herself endlessly thankful to feel their reassuring realness.

   “Hey, hey, you okay?” Natasha asked her, her voice present and so alive with concern as it soothingly ran through Yelena’s ears.

   Yelena was struggling to breathe around the stifling terror that was still coursing through her, and Natasha quickly started to reach over into Yelena’s pocket of her cargo pants. Yelena shook her head, knowing what Natasha thought was going on and trying her best to tell her otherwise despite the fact that her voice had locked up on her by now.

   “Sunshine, hey, you need your inhaler?” Natasha offered immediately, her voice washing over Yelena calmly, and Yelena shook her head as she swallowed hard. They almost always made a point to bring Yelena’s inhaler with them just in case she needed it.

   “No, no… ‘M fine,” Yelena insisted despite the fact that her voice was not terribly strong at the moment, and it no doubt looked as if she were in the throes of an attack. Natasha stared at her for a long moment before finally deciding to believe Yelena’s words as she gripped Yelena’s head in her hands firmly to keep her grounded.

   “Breathe… Breathe, sweet baby girl,” Natasha told her gently, her words quiet but holding so much power as she pressed her forehead to Yelena’s. Yelena reached out, grabbing at Natasha’s arms and body and anywhere that she could gain purchase.

   Natasha gave easily to Yelena’s touches, allowing her to do all that she wanted. Yelena ran her hands along Natasha’s sides as she squeezed just a little to feel Natasha actually alive under her. Natasha shifted her hands down to Yelena’s neck as she stroked her thumbs along Yelena’s skin softly.

   Outside of the wind, there was dead silence where they were, and it allowed the both of them to remain in their own little world with one another. Yelena closed her eyes, losing herself in Natasha as she grasped softly at her back and her shoulders. She let herself simply feel her muscles and the life thrumming within her as she took in the fact that her big sister was here and with her.

   “Do you want to talk about it, detka?” Natasha gently offered.

   Yelena just let out a long, shuddering breath as she shifted her hand from where it was resting on Natasha’s shoulder to press into her chest over Natasha’s heart. Natasha remained still, not questioning her. Yelena just needed to feel undeniable physical proof of Natasha’s life, and she was immediately reassured by the heartbeat thumping along underneath her hand.

   Yelena finally met Natasha’s eyes, letting out a small breath as she looked at her.

   “The cliff… Reminded me,” Yelena explained to her simply, hoping that Natasha would catch on.

   Natasha fortunately immediately seemed to understand, and she moved in closer to Yelena, taking the side of her head in her hand as she softly started to tug Yelena’s head down to her chest. Yelena followed along, her ear pressed to Natasha’s heart, and she let out a deep breath as she listened to the steady drum.

   “I’m here… I’m alive. And every single day, this beats just for you,” Natasha told her gently, and Yelena swallowed hard, nodding as she pressed her ear harder against Natasha’s chest with her nose nuzzling into Natasha’s shirt.

   “I love you, Natashka,” Yelena expressed, feeling the need to scream it to the heavens if only to communicate to Natasha precisely how much she meant it.

   Natasha pulled her closer, her lips softly grazing Yelena’s head near her temple.

   “And I love you, little one. With everything I have.”