out of the wreckage, into the light (avengers x reader)
anon requested: I'm always a fan of angst with *happy* ending but something about the concept of being mistreated by the avengers and then dying after saving them and them feeling terrible afterwards just speaks to me
warnings: violence, stabbing, blood, death, AND LOTS OF ANGST. you know. the usual <3
anon: THIS IS OVER 7K WORDS I GOT REALLY INTO IT. if you liked this fic, please consider reblogging, i would really appreciate it :)
"How many times do I have to tell you? I don't care."
Your blood was boiling, fists clenched, jaw set. You were intimidating when you were like this, and the team couldn't help but put their guard up in case you got out of control.
"You need to care," demanded Steve in a soft but authoritative voice. "We have innocent people's lives on the line here, and you don't care?"
"What have the people ever done for me?" you spat. "I've been mocked and ridiculed for my mistakes by the same people we're supposed to protect. They don't care about me. They just see me as the weak link, the fuckup."
Steve flinched when you swore. You refrained from smiling smugly.
Tony stepped forward. "That doesn't excuse your selfishness, y/n. No matter how many times you've been hurt, you still need to fight for what's right. That's what being a hero is all about."
"'Seventy-times-seven times,'" Steve assented.
You rolled your eyes. Typical of Steve to quote the motherfucking Bible at a time like this, when the team's attitude toward you was anything but Godly.
"Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools you'll ever learn as an avenger," Natasha added. She sipped her drink. "You can't let things like this get to you. You gotta prove you're stronger than that."
"'Things like this'?" you cried. "What, you mean the entirety of the nation hating you because you're not as strong as all the other avengers?" You scoffed. "Please. You don't know what it's like to be the the third wheel of the group. The odd one out. Face it. I don't belong here."
Tony ground his teeth together, sick of your attitude. He had tried to maintain his composure, but he was never really one for patience.
There was a brief, heavy silence that clung to the air like static.
"If you want to go, then go."
The entire team looked at Tony, the one who had spoken. But his face was set on you, regarding you with a disgusted expression. There was no denying the surprise on the heroes' faces at Tony's comment.
"Really," you deadpanned, crossing your arms. "You're willing to let me go. Just like that."
Tony challenged you. "You want the truth, y/n? You want the whole damn truth?"
You raised an eyebrow, daring him.
"I'll give you the truth," he seethed. "You weigh us down. You're inconsiderate, reckless, and absentminded. Somebody puts you in your place and you run away with your tail between your legs because you're too much of a coward to do anything else. In battle, you make every excuse to try and show off but every single time you fail. Your mistakes have gotten innocent people killed, yet it's such a mystery as to why the whole nation despises you. You don't train, you don't even act like an avenger."
He inhaled sharply, ready to deliver the final blow.
"You're a joke, y/n. And it was a mistake letting you on the team."
The silence that followed reminded you of the deathly quiet that hangs over the scene of a crime just after it's been committed. It was a steely sort of silence, a silence into which you found yourself sinking. Your heart followed shortly after, wounded and mourning the loss of the only people you had the chance of really calling family.
But surprisingly, you didn't cry. Tony's words were like novocaine, numbing your senses and stifling your emotions. Your face was a mask, your body on autopilot.
It would be a lie to say you weren't surprised. You knew the team had some ill-will toward you for one reason or another, but for some reason you couldn't process the fact that the team didn't think you were worthy of being an avenger.
You're a joke, Tony had said.
Maybe he was right.
You glanced around at the team's faces and found that they were looking everywhere but at you.
"You all feel the same way, then?" you said in a dead voice.
No one answered. Natasha coughed and sipped her drink. Clint tapped his fingers on the table anxiously, and Bruce was fiddling with his hands in his lap.
The silence was suffice enough. You nodded, set your jaw, and stalked out of the room. Though it was immature, you slammed the door to your compound bedroom shut, hoping it would signify the indignation that swelled in your heart.
You began packing up your things as soon as you slammed the bedroom door shut, throwing clothes and personal belongings into your bags and zipping them up tightly. You were so angry you couldn't even think straight. All you knew was that you needed to get your ass out of there and put some space in between you and the so-called "heroes."
You scoffed at the word. Heroes. The avengers were anything but. Where was the mercy, the kindness, the forgiveness in Tony's words? In the team's silence? If you were such a burden to the team, why weren't they merciful enough to at least work with you? Help you become a better fighter? Put the time and effort into training you so that you wouldn't make those fatal mistakes?
It wasn't fair that you were basically thrown to the wolves when you were accepted onto the team. Nobody trained you. Nobody worked with you. You taught yourself all the moves you knew, all the morals you were supposed to uphold as an avenger. You had to teach yourself everything, because the avengers sure as hell didn't put the time in to make sure you were avengers material. They just needed someone to fill Peter's shoes when he went away to college. They didn't care who it was.
Well, if you weighed down the team so much, then you assumed they wouldn't miss you when you were gone. Because that's what you were going to do: go. You weren't wanted here. You weren't needed here. It would be better for everyone if you just left and pursued your heroism on your own. You didn't need to be a part of a team, like the avengers. You could get by just fine on your own.
Once you'd taken down all the pictures on your wall and removed all the clothes from your dresser, you slung your bags over your shoulder and headed out the door to leave the compound.
You passed the avengers in the living room on your way out.
"Where do you think you're going?" Steve ordered.
"I quit," you stated evenly. You made sure to look everyone in the eye as you said the words. "If you wanted me gone so badly, all you had to do was say so."
And with that, you turned in the direction of the front doors without so much as a glance behind you.
No one stopped you. And no one came to call you back.
The first two hours on your own were the best and worst two hours of your life.
The best because finally, you didn't feel heavy under the weight of the avengers' judgement.
The worst because you realized you had nowhere to go.
You checked into a hotel nearby and settled down for the night, ordering food from your room where you could wallow in your misery in peace.
Yes, you were miserable. There was no denying it. Even amidst your anger, there was a deep pit of despair growing inside your chest, expanding with each passing second.
You tried to block out the pain by watching some TV, but the happy comedy shows and animated movies that were playing seemed to mock your despondency. Eventually, you shut off the TV and all the lights and curled up under the blankets, wishing you could melt right into the sheets and never wake up.
Was it your fault that you failed at being a hero? Was it your fault you, a human being, had faults and flaws? How could the avengers expect you to be perfect when they themselves were not even perfect?
It just wasn't fair.
You remained in a miserable state for the rest of the night, until your sobs lulled you to sleep around one a.m. You dreamed of nothing, and you woke the next morning feeling as if you'd gotten hit by a truck.
After a continental breakfast provided by the hotel, you returned back to your room and took a shower, hoping to wash off all the bad feelings as if they were dirt on your skin. The shower refreshed you slightly, even though your eyes were still swollen from crying.
The person staring back at you in the mirror was recognizable despite your inward turmoil. It took you a moment, but you figured out why: because the avengers didn't own you. They didn't make you; you made yourself. You were still whole without the avengers, still a hero despite not being on a team. Despite being hated by pretty much everyone.
Your mind flashed back to that fateful day in Washington D.C., when you and the team were warding off an invasion of international spies who were planning to steal top-secret government information. That day, Steve had been wounded, Natasha passed out from a blow to the head, and Tony struggling to hold off three spies all at once. Clint was inside the Capitol and Bruce was out of commission, trying not to let the Hulk emerge. And Thor, unfortunately, was on Asgard taking care of personal affairs.
And there were bodies. Everywhere.
Bodies of innocent civilians and tourists. Men, women, and children who never knew that on that day they would be taking their last breath. The spies did not care about who they harmed in order to get achieve their goal. They slaughtered anyone who crossed their path, and yet somehow, the avengers managed to blame all those deaths on you.
It was true, you probably could've done more to prevent the deaths. But you'd taken a bullet wound to the thigh and your hands were shaking so bad you could barely hold a weapon. It was only your fourth mission with the team. With the little training that you were provided, how could you be expected to do well? When Earth's mightiest heroes were incapacitated, why were you, the newest recruit, expected to hold the whole team up on your inexperienced shoulders?
Eventually, with some help from the Hulk, all the spies were either killed or immobilized enough so that they could be arrested immediately. But when you and the team returned back to the compound to recuperate, Tony had chewed you out for "not taking initiative" and for "not being strong enough." You thought that was utter bullshit, but you were too tired to put up a fight.
Remembering that horrible time and events similar to it from the past, you were suddenly overcome with a sense of relief that you had finally left that environment. It was toxic, the way that Tony and Steve told you constantly that you weren't good enough, that you were weak, that all the team's failures were your fault.
But for now, you needed to create a plan for yourself. You took out the hotel's notepad and a pen from the drawer of the desk and sat on your bed. You turned on the TV to the news and began scribbling down possible ways to help get yourself on your feet.
Except you didn't get very far in your planning, for the events on the news stole your attention.
"... avengers have just announced the resignation of y/n y/l/n, the newest and most controversial member of the team," said one of the news reporters.
Your mouth dropped open and the pen fell out of your hands, rolling onto the floor.
"Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, has assented to be interviewed regarding the causes for y/n's leaving."
Tony then appeared on the screen. He was wearing his trademark glasses and spoke with an air of certainty and importance. You noticed he was strictly formal, and there was no hint of regret in his voice.
"Y/n was a fill-in for our beloved Spiderman, who had to leave the avengers for personal reasons. We needed the extra strength on the team, but we soon found out that y/n and the rest of us were separated by creative differences. It was a necessary decision that benefited everyone involved."
"Can you further explain what you mean by 'creative differences?'" asked the reporter.
Tony sighed. "Y/n was always dear to us, but there comes a point in a hero's life when they need to figure out what their priorities are. As a hero, you can't let personal things get in the way of your work; you need to be selfless. And I guess y/n struggled with that." He fixed his glasses and answered a few more questions that the reporter asked him, but you tuned him out.
Blood roared in your ears. You couldn't believe what you had just heard.
That snake. Making you seem like you were some devil-spawn, unworthy of even being a hero. As if it wasn't bad enough that the entire public hated you, Tony Stark himself just ruined your shot at ever redeeming yourself.
You sank against the pillows and shut off the TV, feeling your entire body sink.
What were you going to do? Now that Tony had publicly announced your flaws to the entire nation, no agency would consider taking you for employment. You were fucked.
You considered calling Tony up just to give him a piece of your mind, but decided against it, not wishing to hear his voice. It was crazy to think that at one point in your life, you idolized the infamous Tony Stark; and now the idea of even talking to him made your fists clench in anger.
So you just sat back and seethed by yourself. Room service came but you had lost your appetite, thinking about the little smirk on Tony's face after he'd finished talking. That fucker knew exactly what he was doing when he said those things and he seemed to have enjoyed himself.
Why did they have to hate you so much? Sure, you'd made your mistakes, but weren't they the ones who'd preached about forgiveness? Why couldn't they forgive you?
Were you really that bad of a person?
It'd been nearly a week since the incident on the news when Natasha came knocking at your hotel door.
To say you were depressed was an understatement. You whole career, your whole life, really, had been taken away in the matter of a few words. Of course, you had been the one to officially leave the avengers, but that was a necessary thing to do. That was one thing you and Tony could both agree on.
When you heard the knock on the door, you assumed it was housekeeping. You were buried under the covers, overthinking while the TV played Spongebob Squarepants on mute, and hoping the cleaner would see the Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the doorknob.
Then the knocks came again, somewhat more demanding this time. It took a minute to peel yourself off the bed to stalk over to the door.
"I thought I put the sign on the doo —"
But when you swung open the door, you saw the familiar redhead standing there, all suited up for battle. There was a gun strapped to her belt and a neutral expression on her face.
Your senses shut down when you saw her. A mixture of anger, sadness, and a tinge of relief swelled in your chest. It took you a moment to remember how to speak.
"Nat," you said evenly. At least it wasn't Tony.
"Y/n," she greeted using the same tone. "I need to talk to you."
You didn't invite her in. You didn't say anything for a few moments, just staring her dead in the eyes with an expression of apprehension, communicating, why should I trust you?
"Please," she begged. "It's — it's important."
"Why should I even be talking to you right now?" you spat. "Don't you have a new recruit to dehumanize or something?"
She rolled her eyes, but she brushed off the comment. "Look, I wouldn't be coming here unless it was an emergency. There's been a breakthrough on HYDRA's whereabouts."
That certainly perked up your ears. You raised your eyebrows and looked down each end of the hallway to see if anyone was listening. Nobody was there.
With a frustrated sigh, you said, "Fine," and let Nat into your hotel room.
"Damn, y/n, you live like this?" she said somewhat disgustedly, kicking aside an empty takeout box.
You didn't say anything and turned off the television. Natasha sat in the armchair in the corner while you sat on your bed. It was a little awkward, having her here. Especially when both of you knew that the other knew about what Tony said on the news.
"Right," said Nat. "Like I told you, we've finally been able to decode HYDRA's location. The team and I are ready to fly there and take them out."
"And what does this have to do with me, again?"
Nat inhaled and exhaled slowly. "We need your help."
You choked on your saliva and erupted into a coughing fit that had Natasha mildly amused.
"Sorry," you said once you'd composed yourself. "Did you just say you need my help?"
"I wouldn't be here unless it was crucial. I know you and the team have had a bit of a rocky relationship, but —"
"'A bit' is an understatement," you grumbled.
"— this is so important, y/n. We can't lose this mission, and we don't have a whole lot of time. I need an answer from you: are you in?"
"Give me one good reason why I should go," you demanded. "Other than 'being noble' and all that, because apparently I'm selfish or whatever."
Nat rolled her eyes. "Really, y/n? You need a reason to fight HYDRA?"
You shrugged. "If I'm working with you guys, I need a valid reason."
Nat sighed and thought. "Well, you know all about their current mission to test the mind control serum. I mean, I can't speak for you, but being mind controlled by HYDRA doesn't sound too appealing."
"Fair," you considered.
"Plus, I can convince Tony and Steve to let you back on the team if you do well on this mission."
"What do you say?"
You had to admit, you were not expecting her to say that. Was it possible that you could get back on the team? Would that be something you would even want? You wondered if things would be different if you did get accepted back on the team — wait a minute, were you seriously considering this? Had you forgotten the torturous words Tony had spat at you? How the team backed up those words with their silence?
No, you weren't going to let yourself be swayed by Nat's unlikely promises. You were smarter than that.
"I don't think so, Nat."
Her face fell. "What?"
"I'm not going with you guys. I don't wanna be in a place where I'm not wanted."
"Y/n it's not like that."
"Are you sure, Nat?" you challenged. "Have you forgotten all the shit Tony said to me on my last day at the compound? How none of you stood up for me?" You scoffed. "Face it. I simply don't belong with the avengers. Plus, what would the public say when they saw me with you guys?"
Nat couldn't argue with you, because every word you spoke was the truth. Nobody did stand up to defend you against Tony. Everyone pretended like nothing had happened, including Nat.
"You're — you're sure, then, about your decision?"
You analyzed the defeat on her face and tried to stifle the feelings of remorse that you were battling. You shouldn't feel bad for somebody who wronged you so badly like the avengers did.
"Yes," you said with feigned confidence. "I'm sure. You guys'll do fine without me. It's what Tony wants anyway."
Nat sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "I guess... that's it then, huh."
"Guess so." There was no emotion in your voice. You tried to ignore the way your heart shattered.
Nat stood up dejectedly and made her way to the door. You didn't follow.
She opened the door and was just about to walk out before she looked over her shoulder at you.
"You remember what I said about forgiveness?" she asked quietly. "How it's is one of the most powerful tools you'll ever learn as an avenger?"
You didn't respond. You couldn't make yourself look at her.
"Well, I'm still trying to learn that myself. We avengers, we're not perfect people. You know that. We fuck up sometimes, y/n. I'm not saying you need to forget what happened to you, but you need to forgive. Or else, it's going to eat you alive." She looked down at the floor, then met your eyes briefly. "I of all people would know."
Natasha snatched the hotel pen and notepad and scribbled something on it. When she was finished, she placed the notepad down on the desk and closed the door with a soft, firm snap. Her absence in the room weighed on you.
You knew as soon as she left that she was right. The guilt was already eating away at your conscience, leaving you with a dark, ugly feeling inside. Even though you were the one who'd been wronged, the least you could've done was leave the team professionally. Talk to Tony one-on-one, maybe, and sort things out like adults.
Once you were left alone, you were 99% sure you had just made a horrible, horrible decision by refusing Nat's offer.
But there was still a nagging voice in your head, reminding you of the shit the avengers put you through, especially how unwelcome you felt there. Were you willing to forgive them for all they'd done?
And what Nat said, about her knowing firsthand what it's like to be consumed by guilt? That could only pertain to you and your situation. She must have felt bad for not making you feel like a part of the team, when you had given everything for the sake of the avengers.
This new perspective was certainly not what you were expecting, but it was refreshing. To know at least one person understood that their actions had hurt you.
The look on Natasha's face just before she left was ingrained in your brain. You couldn't escape it. But you also didn't want to act too quickly. What if you decided to go with them on the mission last-minute and they treated you like shit? What if Natasha's wisdom was wrong, and forgiveness didn't work? There were so many questions that grounded you to your bed, refusing to let you go on the mission.
Eventually, you got up to lock the door and that's when you saw the message Nat left on the notepad just before she walked out. You stared at the notepad in disbelief, your internal compass going haywire. It was like she knew you were going to second-guess your decision.
For on the notepad, scribbled in barely-legible handwriting, was an address. The address to HYDRA'S base.
It wasn't until two hours later that you finally gained the courage to pack your bags, Nat's paper clutched tightly in your hand.
The HYDRA base was smaller than you'd expected, probably because it wasn't their main headquarters. It was an experimental laboratory, made up only of a couple of gray buildings settled virtually in the middle of nowhere. There was no sign of the avengers, so you assumed they were already inside taking out the enemy.
It was about six p.m. and the sky was a golden canvas of pink and blue. You would've stopped to admire the vast expanse of the sky, but you were too focused on landing the plane you were piloting. You'd stolen it from Tony's hangar at the Tower, knowing the avengers wouldn't be there to catch you.
You landed the plane a hundred yards away from the eastern building, thankful that Stark's tech was silent enough that you wouldn't be heard.
You retrieved your pack which held your gun, extra ammunition, and a couple of knives for backup in case your gun was stolen or inaccessible during battle. Slinging your pack over your shoulder, you hurried to the main building and threw open the doors ceremoniously, as if you were making a grand entrance.
The inside of the HYDRA facility was chaotic. Bodies were laying everywhere, dozens of them, and dozens more were fighting the heroes who seemed to be slowing down by the minute. Nobody heard you come in, which, you guessed, you could use to your advantage.
"Tell me where the serums are!" yelled Natasha, throwing a punch to one of the agents' faces. Her own face was battered, littered with scratches, and her cheeks were red with exhaustion.
"In your dreams," replied the HYDRA agent, spitting blood onto the floor and smiling wickedly. He feigned to the right and caught Nat off guard, holding her in a headlock that seemed to be cutting off her breath.
You raced over to the struggling woman, pulled out your gun, and held it to the back of the agent's head.
"Let her go," you said calmly.
The man froze, letting Nat breathe for a moment. Her eyes flickered to yours in surprise and a strangled gasp left her mouth.
"Y/n," she breathed.
You looked at her and smiled fondly. "Hey, Nat."
She smiled back and you pushed the gun harder against the man's skull. "I said let her go."
The man raised his hands up in surrender, letting Nat fall with a thump onto the floor. He slowly turned around to face you, hands shaking.
"Thanks," you said, lowering the gun. "I gotta tell you, I was pretty close to shooting you, you pig."
The man mumbled something under his breath and smiled wickedly.
And the next events seemed to move in slow motion.
The man grabbed the gun on his belt with one hand and reached for your neck with the other. You were quick to react, having expected him to target you after letting Nat go. You raised your gun and shot him with expert accuracy in the palm of his hand, the hand that was aching to choke you out.
The man's cry of pain echoed in sync with the sound of the bullet leaving your gun. He fell to the floor, totally incapacitated, and clutched his hand, fully covered in blood, to his chest.
You stepped over his body and helped from the floor an astounded Natasha, who was trying to catch her breath.
"Glad you finally came to your senses," she said.
You shrugged nonchalantly. "Didn't wanna miss the action."
Nat rolled her eyes but led you to the thick of the fight, where Steve, Tony, and the other heroes were taking on a swarm of agents dressed in HYDRA uniforms.
Steve was still going strong, moving with agility and defending himself with his shield and his fists. Tony was deflecting bullets, Clint shooting down rambunctious agents. Thor wasn't there (you assumed he was still occupied with Asgardian affairs). Bruce was nowhere to be found, but you were excited to see Bucky there, taking on three agents with ease. His metal arm glowed under the white lights of the laboratory, and you smiled despite yourself.
You'd missed it. The fighting, the teamwork, the way the heroes moved as one unit. It was exhilarating to be a part of it all.
"Where's Bruce?" you asked. "And Wanda?"
"They're deeper in the facility trying to find the serums," she replied. "We need to keep the agents here in the lobby so they don't go after Bruce and Wanda. Got it?"
You nodded. Detecting noise behind you, you whirled around and met another agent charging in your direction. You landed a firm punch to his jaw and another to his crotch, watching him crumple to the ground with a cry of pain.
But the HYDRA agent's cry of pain was not the only one that echoed off the walls of the lobby. Clint was wounded, falling to the ground while an agent hovered over him and delivered punch after punch to the archer's gut.
Nat left you behind to go help him, and you surveyed the fight around you, trying to figure out where you were needed the most. You were thinking about helping out Bucky when you caught a glimpse of a rogue agent hurrying down the hallway to the laboratories, probably to protect the vials of serum.
You chased after him, hopping over a couple of unconscious bodies that were decorating your path.
"What in the hell..." Bruce held up a vial of green liquid to the light and saw small clots of gelatinous material floating inside.
Wanda gaped. "They want to inject people with that?"
She had sealed the door to the laboratory shut with her magic, but she still stood guard by it in case someone tried to get in. Bruce analyzed the vials for a few more moments before tossing them into a bag. There had to be at least four dozen vials in this one room; Bruce had no idea how many there could be in the other labs.
He collected all the vials while Wanda used her magic to protect the door.
"Wait, stop," she said abruptly. She pressed her ear against the door while Bruce froze, vials in hand.
"What do you hear?"
"There is somebody coming," Wanda warned. "I can't tell if it is HYDRA or one of our own."
Bruce swore under his breath and began throwing the vials into the bag with urgency.
You stalked the agent who was rushing toward one of the labs on the western wing of the facility. He was mumbling something breathlessly, nearly tripping over himself on his way to his destination. Hand on your gun, you followed him to brightly lit, white room. There were metal boxes stacked against every wall, each labeled with a different date.
When the agent flung the door open, you waited just outside and peeked through the doorway to spy on his movements. He was struggling to find something, still mumbling to himself with a finger pressed against his ear. It took you a moment to realize that he was talking to someone in a little speaker in his ear, probably communicating with his leader.
"Can't ... find it ..."
What was he trying to find? His actions were frantic, like there wasn't much time.
Just then, the agent pulled something out of a box and held it up triumphantly. "Got it, boss," he said.
It seemed to be a little rectangular device with a screen and a few buttons. There were digits on the screen, but you were too far away to see them clearly.
The agent fiddled with the gadget, pressing all kinds of buttons before clutching it in one hand and rising from the floor. He made his way out of the room but you blocked the doorway. When he saw you, he nearly dropped the device in his hand, stunned.
You pointed your gun right at his face. "Tell me what you're holding or I'll shoot."
Sweat glistened across the man's forehead. He was clearly a weaker agent, for he didn't have a weapon on him and he didn't try to hide his fear and surprise. You raised your eyebrow, urging him to speak.
"Please..." begged the man. "Don't shoot. It'll end horribly for the both of us."
"What are you holding?" you commanded brusquely.
The man just put a finger to the device in his ear and whispered, "We've got a situation in room B-26. Bring backup."
A muffled voice replied through the speaker.
"Yeah, I got it. Activated and everything. Just gotta put it in the right place."
You adjusted your grip on the gun. "You've got three seconds."
"Okay, boss, got it."
"Room B-3? You sure?"
"Boss, you crack me up. I'll make sure everything works out."
The agent looked at you and smirked. "You really think I'm gonna give you what you want so easily? Well, you're gonna have to get through me first."
"Should be a piece of cake," you growled and advanced like a predator on prey.
You and the agent wrestled. He tried to steal your gun but you smacked the barrel against his temple and watched him crumple to the ground. You put a foot on his chest, preventing him from sitting up and aimed your gun at his forehead.
"Tell me what that device is," you said, eyeing the gadget still clutched in his hand.
The man scoffed.
"So you want to do it the hard way, then, huh? That's cool. Doesn't matter to me."
You forcefully pried open the man's hand so you could take the device, but he seemed to have a backup plan. He kicked up and planted his foot in your lower stomach, making you groan.
And then you dropped your gun.
The man, still holding the device, snatched the gun. You stared down the barrel of it, feeling your throat close up.
"These white walls are gonna look so pretty with your brains splattered all over it."
"Nice threat," you laughed. "Lucky for you, I've got plenty of toys to play with."
You slung your pack off your shoulder and fished out two knives, brandishing them with a smirk.
The HYDRA agent's face fell.
You'd spent countless hours in the training room throwing knives at targets, sharpening your aim to be as precise as possible. This man was no more than a target to you.
You threw the knives so fast you could almost hear them whistle in the wind on their way to the man's throat. In the matter of a few seconds, that's where they ended up.
He dropped the gun and the device, letting out a choked sort of gargle as blood dripped down his chest and soaked into the tough, black material of his uniform.
You yanked the knives out so he'd bleed freely and strapped the gun to your belt. The device, now yours, was cold and heavy in your hands, way heavier than you'd expected. While the man was dying, you examined the device, careful not to press any buttons.
The screen displayed digital numbers seemed to be counting the seconds that passed. The numbers read "15:25" then "15:24," and so on.
It wasn't just a timer.
The realization sent chills down your spine, and you nearly dropped the device in shock.
It was a bomb.
You were rushing to the lobby before your brain could think of a plan. You held the bomb in your hands, and it felt sinful, so sinful to be in possession of something so powerful that it could destroy the entire facility and all the people inside of it. It was one thing to hold a gun, to fire it at a person's appendage to incapacitate them; at least with a gun, you had control over when it was fired and who it was fired at. You had no control over this bomb, no control over how many people it killed.
Your breathing became labored as you ran briskly through the halls of the facility. When you arrived at the laboratory, you saw that the avengers were still handling quite a few advancing agents who, unlike the one you'd just dealt with, were wielding weapons. The avengers held their own, but none of them looked good. Bruce and Natasha were somewhere deep inside those winding hallways, completely oblivious to the fact that in now ten minutes, the entire place was going to blow.
But you didn't have time to search the entire facility for them. You needed to warn the others first.
"Nat!" you screamed, catching her attention. Her head whipped over to you and you held up the bomb so she could see. Simultaneously she fought off her opponent and peered at the device. Her face came to an understanding.
She delivered a final blow to the agent pursuing her and placed a finger to her earpiece.
"Bruce, Wanda, get out of there now."
You couldn't hear their responses, but Natasha began fighting with them. Clearly, they weren't finished scoping the facility for vials of serum, and they didn't want to leave any behind.
"Don't you understand!?" Nat yelled. "Those vials are going to blow up along with this whole place! Listen to me and get the hell out of there."
Steve was currently getting pummeled by a feisty male agent, using Steve's face as a punching bag. You ran over to him and firmly planted a knife in his back, making the agent cry out of shock and pain. His back arched and he fell off of Steve and curled up onto the floor.
"Thanks, y/n," Steve said, not without a little awkwardness. "Um, this probably isn't the best time, but I just want you to know that I'm sor—"
"Save it," you interrupted him. "All is forgiven. We have more pressing matters to deal with."
Steve opened his mouth to protest, but thought better of it. He nodded and you briefly told him about the bomb.
"We need to get out of here."
"We can't just leave the serum," Steve argued.
"It's just going to be destroyed either way! What's the difference?"
"We need samples to bring back to the lab at the compound —"
"Steve look at this thing." You held the bomb up to his face. "Do you want to be killed by this thing?"
His eyes bulged. "Why are you holding that?"
"What else am I going to do with it? Just leave it there?"
He reached for the bomb, but you held it out of the way. "We don't have time for this. Round up the others and let's get out of here."
"But I can defuse it, y/n!"
"I've already tried, Steve. Don't you think I know how to defuse a bomb? It's advanced technology I've never even seen before."
Steve sighed but nodded. "Okay. Let's get everyone together."
He set off to tear Bucky and away from the fight. By the time you and he were finished talking, there was only seven minutes left on the bomb. You held kept it on your person so the HYDRA agents couldn't get their filthy hands on it.
Nearly tripping over the bodies on the floor, you wrestled with the agent terrorizing Clint and drove your knife into his side. You helped each individual hero fend off their opponents, until there were only two left. And those agents were not particularly spring chickens at this point in the fight.
"Where are Wanda and Bruce?" shouted Tony.
"I told them to come out, but I think Bruce wanted to get more samples," worried Nat. "If we survive this, I'm gonna kill him."
You glanced at the bomb. There were three minutes left.
The heroes debated possible plans of action but in your own mind, you already knew what you were going to do.
"I'm going to get them," you said boldly, interrupting the heroes' chatter.
They all stared at you as if you'd grown three heads.
"I parked Stark's jet near the eastern entrance. If you guys come with me, we'll stop off at their room, get Bruce and Wanda's asses, and escape to the jet."
"You used my jet?" Tony screeched.
"We don't have time for this," you said with a roll of your eyes. "Let's go."
The avengers followed you down the hallways. Wanda could sense that you all were coming and let her guard down. She and Bruce burst out of the door carrying bags of vials that clinked with every swift step they took. With only about fifty seconds remaining, you arrived at the eastern doors and ushered everyone through. Tony went first so he could pilot the jet.
Everything was going according to plan. You actually had hope that you and everyone would make it out safely.
You took the bomb from your belt and looked at it for a millisecond, ready to toss it into the hallway and haul ass out the door.
Ten seconds remaining and suddenly there came a crescendo of footsteps coming toward you. You didn't have time to even process who was pursuing you or the fact that you seemed to be their target before a large body tackled you to the ground. The bomb fell out of your hands and landed about a yard away from your bodies.
"What the h—"
Your voice was cut off by a punch to your punch. You bit your tongue and your lip swelled almost instantly. It was the agent you had stabbed in the neck, the one without a weapon.
He'd come back for revenge.
"You're gonna get us killed!" you screamed.
Somewhere far away, Natasha's voice yelled your name in horror.
"Don't care," he seethed. The blood from his wound was still fresh and dripped onto your face. It was warm and tasted like metal.
Five seconds and Natasha had thrown open the doors, screaming for you.
Three seconds and you managed a glimpse of her copper-colored hair. You looked at her with pleading eyes, begging her to get to safety. To leave you.
Time stopped at the moment just for you. You nodded ever so slightly. Natasha shook her head.
"It's okay," you said calmly. The tranquility coursed throughout your body, shutting down your senses, preparing you for what was going to come.
Her eyes glistened like precious diamonds. Through quivering lips she said to you, "We forgive you."
That was enough to let the peace consume you.
And time picked back up.
One second left and Natasha was gone and there was a rumbling like the ignition of a jet engine. The man was still attacking every inch of your body, leaving bruises that only God would see when you were gone.
No seconds left and a warm feeling enveloped your body. You latched onto the feeling, your heart soaring from Nat's words, and followed it out of the immediate fire and heat.
There was no white light like they said. Your life didn't flash before your eyes and you didn't even cry.
There was just peace.
a/n: IF YOU MADE IT TO THE END I LOVE YOU !!! PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK <333
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Heart Of Stone; Ch. 2
Summary: After decades of being HYDRA’s most prized possession, you’re finally free and find yourself under the protective eye of the Avengers. But with a piece of one of the Infinity Stones embedded into your heart, you’re never truly safe…
Pairing: Wanda x Reader
Warnings: blood, death, panic/anxiety attacks, isolation, very slow burn romance
Shoutout to @tquick99 for being my soundboard. I really appreciate your help, tape dispenser.
@lezzztalkwithmera @ateliefloresdaprimavera @tomhollandsslilslut @worstendingever @ineffable-labryinthofmarvel @srhxpci
@diaryoflife @cantcontroltheirfear @women-am-i-right @catching-up-with-kayla @obsessed-with-wandamaximoff @beforeoursecrets @invictusbabey @olsensnpm
@myfavoriteficss @pinkytoecrust @cyncity32 @ironscarletwidowsoilder @peachbear88 @magicallymaximoff @therealmeari @peggycarter-steverogers @theperfectlovestory @sushi0989 @ba-romanoff @daniescady└─────────────∞─────────────┘
It was times like these you wished you stayed in your room, but when given the opportunity to prove yourself to Natasha and Wanda, you jumped with little hesitation. You felt ready, at the time. You felt like you had some sort of control over your powers; hell, it's been three years since Wanda offered to train you. Yet, here you were, sitting on the ground outside the conference room like a student waiting to be called into the principal's office. Only they didn't know you were there, hiding behind a desk and listening to their loud argument disguised as a civil conversation, hugging your knees to your chest, your chin resting between your legs, as they debated a verdict.
"What happened yesterday can't happen again." You've never heard Tony sound so stern before, his carefree and overly confident attitude was dropped, replaced with concern and strain. You sensed disappointment in his voice, and that only added more weight pressing against your chest. "You knew she wasn't ready."
"She said she was ready and I believed her." Natasha wasn't afraid to bite back, you knew that. Her instinct to protect you was strong, like a mother to a child of her own. But this was something she shouldn't be protecting you on, this was something that had to result in a serious punishment.
"We're going to look into it, try to extinguish these PR flames, but these Accords will stop something like this from happening again. All you have to do is sign."
"What's going to happen to her?" Natasha's voice was normal now, skeptical, a bit softer than it was a moment ago.
"We get her to sign. Wanda, too. And then the heavy paperwork comes in, it might take a while to process." He sighed, taking a moment to add a dramatic pause to his statement. "Until then, they're both going to be confined to the compound." With his tone, he made sure they knew his decision was final. And though you knew this was something you deserved, having preferred staying inside than being amongst civilians, it was the idea that you were capable of leaving the compound at any time that gave you a sense of safety. Freedom was in your reach, you could've grabbed onto it whenever, and now it was being ripped away from you… again.
"You're keeping her locked up?" You were surprised to hear the anger in Steve's voice, knowing he wasn't exactly as welcoming towards you as everybody else was in the beginning. He seems to have warmed up to you throughout the years, considering you a part of the team, maybe even a part of the family.
"That's the worst thing you can do," Natasha declared.
"She destroyed a building and it cost people their lives. This is the best thing I can do for her. It's the only way to protect-"
"Protection?" Steve scoffed.
"She’s been presumed dead for twenty years. She doesn't exist."
"Come on, Tony." Natasha was always capable of hiding her emotions, but you had learned how to read her feelings through her voice. Though, right now, she was clearly angry, she was just pointing that anger towards the wrong person.
"They're not going to reinstate citizenship to a weapon of mass destruction, Romanoff!"
"This is internment! She's a kid, Tony." Steve, on the other hand, held all his emotions in his eyes. You could tell when he was proud, or when he was disappointed. It was easy for him to lie to you to save your feelings, it was harder for his eyes to portray that same deceit. You didn't need to look into his eyes to know how angry he was at the moment, his loud and strained voice was evident enough of that emotion.
"They didn't give me much of a choice here. It was either this or a Wakandan prison."
"You're treating her just like-"
"HYDRA?" The silence in the room threatened you and you weren't even in there, the one word Tony said triggering fuming anger that went beyond what words could express amongst Steve and Natasha. You were wondering what their expressions were, though you feel as if you could hear Tony rolling his eyes. "Maybe they had the right idea in keeping her locked up."
"How could you even say that?" Natasha demanded.
"They haven't had any issues with her for two decades. They clearly did something right. We should take some notes." With your thumb and index finger pinched together, you drew over the scar on your palm absentmindedly, too focused on the conversation than anything else. You knew he wasn't serious, that's just how Tony is… right? "Why are you against me, Rogers? You didn't even want her here in the first place."
"Give me a break, Tony, that was years ago."
"And you were right," Tony stated, firm and confident. "She's still dangerous. She's still a threat. A tool for destruction. She clearly can't be controlled."
"That's not true."
"She's not fit to be out on the field if she can't--"
"I was with her the entire time, Tony, I wasn't going to let--"
Tony interrupted her with anger, clearly getting annoyed with their weak arguments, but what he said caught you off guard, "You're not always going to be there, Romanoff."
You lifted your head off of your knees at his words as your stomach twisted uncomfortably, realization dawning on you that he was right. Natasha wasn't always going to be there. The thought of that alone pulled you away from their conversation, your eyebrows pinching together. How stupid can you be that you've gone all these years with Natasha by your side without even thinking about the possibility that she just won't be there anymore? One of the few people in this world you felt the safest around, the only one in this universe you figured will always be there for you… won't be.
You could feel your heart squeeze in agony, your eyes burned with tears that begged to be released, and a scream built up in your throat. You tried to tune back in to their conversation, but you couldn't think of anything else now. Because, one day, you're going to be alone.
And there's really nothing you'd be able to do about that.
You stood up quickly, turning around to see the three of them through the windows surrounding the conference room, immediately making eye contact with Natasha. She raised her hand, slapping Tony's shoulder to cut off whatever was spewing out of his mouth, and now all eyes were on you. But you couldn't break eye contact between you and her.
You could figure out what you looked like, you didn't need the reflection of the glass between you and them to tell you. Your eyes were burnt from the unshed tears, your nose red, your bottom lip trembling, and your pupils wide. Their hard, angry faces softened when they saw you, Steve saying something under his breath towards Natasha mere seconds before she quickly started towards the door, but you were already turning around, leaving her behind as she called out for you.
Your feet moved fast, your walking quick as you tried to desperately get as far from them as you possibly could. You didn't turn around to see if she was chasing after you, her calls no longer reaching your ears. You had assumed she stopped, letting you go to give you some space, though you're not quite sure that's what you needed right now.
You found yourself nervously lingering a few feet away from Wanda's bedroom, the muffled noises of the TV passing through the opened door told you that there was a high chance she was in there. You drew over the scar on your palm with your fingers, looking down at your hands as they slightly shook. You had considered resorting to your bedroom - though it hasn't happened in a couple of years, the chance of an overload was still there and your room was the safest place to be at a time like this - but you wanted to see her. Her smile could calm you down within seconds, and she was always so patient with you, much like Natasha.
You sucked in a deep breath and inched closer to the door, the incoherent babbling from the TV becoming more comprehensible, and you felt yourself freeze at the doorway when you heard the mention of Lagos.
You knew what you did - the weight of all those people's deaths were on your shoulders, their screams of terror replaying in your head like a broken record - but it was so much different seeing it from another perspective. Your eyes were glued to the TV screen as it played the moment you see on the back of your eyelids when you closed your eyes. Your stomach twisted uncomfortably, your heart burning in your chest. Pain soared through your body, but you didn't seem to be reacting to it as your eyes remained glued to the screen.
It wasn't until the TV went black that you snapped out of your daze, your eyes flickering over to Wanda, who was sitting on the edge of her bed, cautious eyes on you. You didn't need to look down to know your arms were glowing - the power that radiates from the stone attached to your heart mixing in with your blood, overwhelming it as it colored the veins in your arms yellow - but meeting the calm, green irises behind her eyelashes immediately diminished the feeling of panic. She sent you a soft smile as the glow faded away from your arms, casting your eyes down to look at the ground beneath your feet. You were ashamed, embarrassed. You had been full of confidence when you were assisting Natasha in flying the Quinjet on the way to the mission, finding yourself always looking towards Wanda whenever the confidence started to waver. Because she would smile at you, silently telling you that she had enough faith in you for the both of you.
And you had let her down.
"It's… my fault… isn't it?"
The silence made you pick your head up to look at her, her lips pursed together as she patted the spot on the bed next to her gently. You stared at it for a moment, hesitant. It wouldn't be the first time you sat next to her on that bed; the weekly marathons of her favorite sitcoms were something you always looked forward to.
Her smile grew as you walked deeper into the room, slowly settling down in your designated spot as she drew her hand away. She breathed in slowly, trying to decide which angle she wanted to attack this at, and you waited patiently, anxiously. Was she going to scold you? Agree with Tony? Call you a weapon of mass destruction?
"I don't blame you for anything." She smiled gently at you, the recollection of your instant forgiveness for her all those years ago coming back to you at her words.
“You… should blame me. Everybody else… they do.” You looked down at your hands, your thumb rubbing against your palm gently, the smooth bump on your hand bringing a sense of serenity over you, but it clearly wasn’t enough. Your mind raced as your heart climbed into your throat. You replayed the clip from the news in your head, watching the fear grow on people’s faces as they watched you…
“Hey.” Wanda’s voice was quiet, nearly a whisper, as she placed a warm hand over the top of yours when she saw you starting to push roughly against your scar. Your shoulders immediately relaxed under her touch, your heart slowing down, and the only thing you could think about now is how soft and comforting her hand is. She didn’t need to be a mind reader to see how much you’re killing yourself, the recent events being way too much for your kind soul. “People need somebody to blame, so they go for the easiest solution.”
“I…” You breathed out, incapable of tearing your eyes away from her hand on top of yours. “People died… I didn’t mean to…" You sucked in a deep breath, your eyes fluttering close for a brief moment before continuing, "I just… didn't want anybody to get hurt."
"I know," she said softly, squeezing your hands soothingly. "It's one of the things I love about you."
You picked your head up to look at her, and you felt your heart stop beating when you realized just how close she truly is. You could feel her breath fan across your face, and your heart lodged in your throat prevented you from saying anything.
The feeling was new to you, but you wanted to lean forward to connect her lips to yours. You see it a lot in the sitcoms you watch with her, learning that kissing was a way to show love and affection for another person. And ever since you had learned that, you couldn't stop imagining doing it to her. You wanted to show her your affection, like take her on a date just like the ones you saw in the sitcoms. A picnic or a carriage ride, stargazing or a stroll through the woods. You would love nothing more than to be able to watch Wanda smile and admire the stars, but there was one obstacle that seemed to always intervene.
You were the one to pull away when you felt an ache in your heart, her eyes casting over your shoulder as her hand fell away from yours, the brightness in her eyes sparkling brighter than a thousand stars. You didn't need to, but you looked over anyway, making brief eye contact with Vision, before he put his attention to Wanda. You stared at the stone embedded in his forehead, the missing half to the one implanted in your heart. You had learned that when you met him. He has half of the stone in his head, you have the other half in your heart. You always knew when he was around as the stone in your heart ached to be put back together with the stone in his head.
"Vis…" Wanda's sentence trailed off into a sigh, looking at the android with a look you couldn't really read when you glanced at her.
"I was sent to find you." He was addressing Wanda, your chin tilting down to watch your fingers draw small shapes across the scar on your palm. You could feel Wanda's eyes on you, watching you as if she feared your reaction. You wondered if she knew what was keeping your heart beating. She had to know, right? She reads minds, but does she read yours all the time? Is she reading it now? You wouldn’t be able to tell either way… but you didn't have anything to worry about. You had nothing to hide.
Wanda noted your far look, no longer concerning yourself with whatever Vision was saying. You were lost in your thoughts, evident by your distant eyes and pursed lips, and she wanted to know what you were thinking about, but she refrained. She smiled softly at you, a twitch of her lips, before her eyes flashed towards Vision. "Can it wait?"
You didn't catch his response, realizing that if Natasha was capable of leaving you… There was nothing holding Wanda here.
When you looked up to meet Vision's gaze, you got off the bed and stepped away from it. You turned to send a look towards Wanda, meeting her curious eyes as you took another step back from the two. She sighed softly as you tried to work out an excuse for leaving in your head, but you couldn't seem to find one. And it wasn't long before you simply walked out of the room, leaving the two of them to talk. Though curiosity did sink into you, you continued walking anyway.
You had made a home in the room supplied to you. You even moved the mattress back onto the bed, feeling more comfortable in a bigger room. And ever since officially meeting Wanda, your motivation to draw came back and it came back strong. You had taken to painting the bare walls, giving them a story as you had painted whatever transpired in you whenever you looked at her. Her emerald irises that brought you down to the Earth's greenest land or the wide smile that often seemed brighter than the sun itself. Her touch that was as calming as the blue atmosphere on a sunny day, or the sparkle in her eyes when she laughed that the stars in the night sky resented her for.
Wanda Maximoff was your own personal window to the outside world, but there was a storm amongst the bright sunshine. And you just couldn't seem to prevent it.
When you entered the room, your footsteps faltered upon spotting a certain redhead admiring the art like she was strolling through a museum. You closed the door with a soft click and she didn't turn to look at you. She stopped walking, her arms crossing her chest as her eyes marveled at the intricate strokes you had painted on the walls to form the beautiful scenery, corrupted with dark stormy clouds tinted red, green and yellow lightning striking the calm nature. You watched her with wary eyes as she nodded in what seems to be approval. And when her mouth opened to say something, you felt your muscles tense up with anticipation.
"It's beautiful, Y/N." Her words caused your muscles to relax as you stepped further into the room, one of her hands uncurling out from being crossed so she could point at the lightning bolts. "Why green?"
"What?" Your voice was soft, a whisper in the silent room, but she glanced at you over her shoulder with the gentlest of smiles. She heard you.
"Yellow is the default color of lightning, but you added green." She took a step back as you nervously rubbed your hands together. "And the red clouds? It's plaguing the gorgeous landscape you created."
You looked down to avoid eye contact when she turned to you, your cheeks coloring red with embarrassment as she worked it out in her mind. The colors of the lightning held some significance, you wouldn't be acting so shy all of the sudden if not, and it didn't take her much longer than that to connect the colors together. Yellow and green streaks of electricity connected to the red clouds, all the colors pointed back towards Vision, the storm corrupting your perfect view of the outside.
"Why don't you tell her how you feel?" You picked your head up at her question, eyebrows furrowed slightly as you thought about the appropriate answer.
"I-- He makes her… happy." Your tongue flicked out to lick your lips, giving you something to do while your brain worked through your reasoning. You see her with him, the way she smiles, the way she lights up whenever he enters the room. She loves him. "I have no right to… to take that away. She… deserves the world. And I-- I can’t give that to her." You sent her a smile, though it was clear it didn't reach your eyes.
Natasha sighed softly as she saw the sorrow in your irises, the sadness through the smile tugging your lips. “But you can give her your world.”
You pursed your lips together tightly, the sad smile evaporating as you looked down to drag your thumb against your palm nervously. "Love… It's for children anyway… right?" She couldn't help but chuckle lightly at your statement, shaking her head subtly as her hands gripped her hips.
"Right," she agreed.
You breathed out deeply, shaking your head as you took a moment to calm yourself. Your voice would come out shaky and weak, and the last thing you wanted was to make yourself seem smaller than you feel. You spoke anyway, "Is that why you're… leaving?"
The small smile wiped out of existence as her face bunched into pure confusion. She took a step towards you, but froze when you automatically took a step back in unison with her movement. She was hurt by the motion, but she knew you were much more wounded by the thought of being alone.
"I didn't mean to-- to kill those people. They… weren't supposed to die." You were scared to look up at her, to see her expression in fear that it wasn't a good one. But she could see the tears slowly creeping down your cheeks, conjoining as one at the bottom of your chin. "I was just-- I was trying to help. I'm sorry."
She risked another step towards you, but you were too frozen to move away this time. "Y/N-"
"I don't… want you to leave." Her breath hitched in her throat as she watched your arms glow brighter than she's ever seen, illuminating the room in a yellow gleam. "Please, Nat… Please... don't leave me." She closed the distance without another wasted second, wrapping her arms around you and bringing you tightly into her. Your head automatically buried itself into her shoulder, sobs racking your chest as she held onto you as hard as she could. You couldn't breathe with the amount of crying, but the light faded away in your arms.
She held you until your weeping turned to soft hiccups, her arms unwrapping from around you to rest on your shoulders as you pulled away from her. You sniffled as she smiled at you, her knuckle swiping up your cheek to wipe away the tears. "Y/N, I will never leave you. I'll always be around."
"But... Mr. Stark-"
"Doesn't know what's coming out of his own mouth half the time," she stated firmly, her hands squeezing your shoulders gently when she saw your lips twitch up in a smile briefly before the frown returned.
"He-- He's right." Her eyes looked deeply into yours, searching for something that she clearly didn't find by the way her shoulders slumped. She didn't know how much of their conversation you had heard, but she had a pretty good idea that you probably heard most of it. And the sigh that caused the small part in her lips was gentle.
And you didn't need to say anything else as you stepped away from her, her hands falling down to her sides as realization dawned on her.
You heard their whole conversation.
"You're not a monster-"
"Tell that to all the people I-- I killed yesterday!" She straightened her form at the rise of your voice. Three years you've been here and she rarely heard you speak above a whisper, always shy and quiet. Hearing you shout at her, though odd, she felt a sense of… pride. She managed to keep a straight face as she watched you display anger, a more strong, negative emotion than what you're usually showing, your eyebrows knitted tightly together as your nose scrunched, your hands clenched into tight fists by your sides with your jaw locked. But there was also a sense of sadness hidden amongst the wrath with the way your bottom lip trembled, the unshed tears glossing over your eyes. "I-- I… I can't close my eyes without... reliving it!"
It took her three years of patience, but you were finally sticking up for yourself. You were finally growing out of your shell, inch by inch. And she couldn't wait to see the day you were fully comfortable with being yourself.
"I don't… want to go." Your broken voice wasn't loud anymore, but it wasn't as soft as it always was either. It was a normal level of volume, inside voice. And she could hear the fear in your words as you turned away from her.
"You're not going anywhere," Natasha stated.
"They want to send me to a… a Wakandan prison." You don't even know what that is, but they wouldn't put you somewhere that's worse than HYDRA… right?
She shook her head, crossing her arms over her chest tightly. "I'm not going to let them. I'm on your side, Y/N. If they try to take you, I'll kill them. Steve and I aren't going to sign the Accords."
"What..." You turned back to her, eyebrows furrowed. "Mr. Stark said that it can prevent something like… this again."
"It gives up your freedom, Y/N," she expressed, taking a step towards you.
“Will it… stop me?” She watched the anger on your face fully evaporate to sadness, the way your eyes bored into hers with desperation tugged at her heartstrings. You wanted to be good, to be better than what happened yesterday. And she knew that if you had to give up all your rights to achieve that, you would do it in a heartbeat. "Is it going to... save people?"
"It's supposed to," she answered, crossing her arms over her chest. You slightly turned away to ponder, and she found herself wondering what the hell was going on in your mind right now. Your hand rested gently over your heart, feeling the mild burn of the stone in your chest as you pursed your lips together. She furrowed her eyebrows in question. "There are other ways, Y/N."
"Like what?" You turned back to look at her, your hands resting on your hips as she sighed softly. "I don't… I don't want to be locked up anymore." You had a taste of freedom, though you didn't take advantage of it. "I want... to go outside."
You want to take Wanda on a date, but that would never happen anyway. She's too enthralled with Vision to notice you like that. Your heart will always belong to her, but her heart will always belong to Vision.
You took Natasha's silence as an answer, nodding your head as you moved to cross your arms over your chest. "Can I-- I want to sign it."
With a slow incline of her head, she placed a gentle hand on your shoulder and smiled warmly at you, though her eyes were tight with questions. "Are you sure?" You nodded confidently, sure of your answer, and she breathed out as her hand fell away from you. "Okay, Y/N. I'll let Tony know."
But as she walked away, leaving you alone in your room, you felt your confidence begin to waver.
"What are you looking for?" Your muscles tensed at the voice as a gasp constricted your throat, immediately standing up straight and turning towards the sound to see Wanda right next to you, sending you a kind, gentle smile. She laughed softly as you slowly closed the cabinet you were searching through.
You gestured towards a plate of fries sitting on the counter. "I was just… looking for the ketchup." You smiled sheepishly as you turned away from her, clearing your throat as you hid the sudden heat overwhelming your cheeks at her closeness. You stepped to the side, settling in front of the next cabinet as you opened the doors. Your eyes scanned the shelves briefly before you sighed in defeat at the lack of ketchup, closing the doors once more.
"I can help you." You turned to look at her as she opened the cupboard in front of her and you didn't have the heart to tell her that you had already searched that one. You watched her for a moment, admiring the small smile resting on her lips as she searched the cupboard thoroughly, her hands moving the items around with rushed care.
"Are… Are you afraid of me?" She looked at you with confusion for a brief moment before her hands pulled out of the cupboard, your eyes landing on the bottle of ketchup. She laughed lightly as you eagerly accepted the bottle, turning to your plate to squirt a small pile onto the side. You smiled softly at her as you gestured towards the fries, feeling relaxed when she reached out to grab one.
"You sure do love fries," she commented before popping the fried stick into her mouth. You looked away from her when her eyes flashed to you, her avoiding the question told you exactly what you needed to know. She didn't want to lie to you, and she didn't want to hurt your feelings. Changing the subject was a good way to avoid doing those.
"They were the… first real food I had." You snatch a couple of fries off of the plate and dipped them into the ketchup, shoveling them into your mouth and letting the saltiness settle on your tongue as you chewed.
She hummed thoughtfully, absentmindedly grabbing another fry. "I'm not scared of you." You glanced at her as she leaned against the counter next to you, the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention when her arm rubbed against yours. "And whoever is doesn't see the real you."
The real you. You were three years of being HYDRA-free and, yet… you didn't even know who the real you was.
“I don’t… want to be imprisoned anymore.”
She turned to look at you, her face soft as she swallowed the food. “What do you want then?”
You looked down at the counter below you, your fingernail nervously tracing shapes along the surface. What do you want? You couldn’t help but think about the sitcoms you watch with Wanda, how their lives seem perfect compared to yours. Living in a town with friendly neighbors, where everybody knows everybody, where there’s no hate, only love and kindness. Maybe in a place where they don’t know what you’re capable of, no fear in their eyes when they look at you. But you knew that it was never going to happen, that your powers were way too unstable to live in a nice house in a small borough in your own little world.
"My… powers…" You turned to face her, pressing the tips of your fingers over the top of your heart gently. "I can’t-- The stone in Vision's forehead…" You huffed looking down at where your hand was against your chest, your heart picking up speed at the idea that you were going to say it out loud for the first time in your life. "It…"
Your heart slowed down when she placed her hand over yours, picking your head up to look at her. You met her gaze, the green eyes that took you on a grassy adventure, the sparkles that made the stars paler in comparison. Your voice was instantly stuck in your throat when she smirked at you.
"I know," she assured quietly.
You immediately thought of your first encounter with her, the spark in your heart as if it were being jump-started. She did feel it, too; it was undeniable. And she was good at playing it off, better than you were. You wonder what else she knows.
She was gentle with you, stepping a bit closer so she could move your hand away from your chest to place her own over it, and you could feel the warm burn forming in your heart prospering to fill your body, the stone reacting in a way you have never felt before. Goosebumps covered your physique, the feeling of electricity flowing through your veins. It brought a sense of pleasure building up in your chest, instinctively covering her hand with yours. Your brain formed incoherent thoughts, wondering what she was doing to you that made you experience whatever this new feeling was, and why it felt so good.
"What do you feel?" Her voice was a whisper, a breath of air in the space between you and her. And you worked with your brain to convince your tongue to form coherent words rather than let your thoughts be a blubbering mess of questions. But as you managed to finally think within reason, you found yourself feeling just one thing…
"I feel you, Wanda." Her eyes met yours at your answer, the first time hearing you say something without hesitation. Your words were confident, speaking exactly what you were thinking and not afraid of being judged for turning your thoughts into words. Your heart felt full, the veins in your arms gradually glowing yellow as your hand squeezed hers, not wanting her to stop.
She held no fear on her face, the love and warmth filling her eyes the longer she looked at you. It was at this moment that you knew she was telling the truth; she wasn’t afraid of you. And you could feel yourself getting closer to her, your feelings for her growing stronger the longer she held her hand against your throbbing heart.
The electrifying feeling overwhelmed the twinge that pulled at your heart, not knowing that Vision had entered the room until he cleared his throat to announce his presence. Wanda’s hand escaped your grip and the satisfaction that had built up in your chest slowly dissolved into nothing. You wanted her to do it again in hedonism, but she had turned away from you to face Vision with wide eyes as your hand remained over your heart, the tingling sensation vibrating the muscle inside of you, shaking your bones. How long has passed since she started that? Your sense of time at the moment was blurred out by the essence of equanimity.
You couldn’t find yourself to be interested in their conversation, returning your attention to the plate of fries that had been neglected, but the discussion didn’t last long before the kitchen was lit up by an explosion in the distance. Wanda left your side to join Vision at the window, and you watched him gesture for her to stay before he phased out of the building. Her eyes were too busy being glued on whatever was happening outside for her to notice Clint walking into the room, the retired SHIELD agent sending you a smile in greeting, but he was forced to a stop when a knife appeared in between his eyes.
“Clint?” The knife clattered to the ground as Wanda left the window, glancing at you briefly before returning her attention to the man. “What are you doing?”
“A favor,” he replied. “I’m here to get you two. We have to go, Cap needs our help.”
Wanda looked over at you, meeting your gaze to see the fear hiding in your eyes. She knew the situation, knowing that Tony was keeping both you and her confined to the compound until further notice, and she wasn’t the biggest fan of the idea. But looking at you right now, she knew she had to fight these Accords. She knew she had to fight for your freedom. She wanted you to have that little home you thought about earlier, to live a normal life without the constant terror that you were going to hurt someone. So she easily agreed with Clint, stepping towards him with a nod.
But when you saw her join Clint’s side, you felt the confidence in signing the Accords completely crumble away. Seeing Wanda go against the documents brought you a new sense of direction, Natasha being right. You’ll be signing away your freedom if you go along with it. And how were you supposed to live out your fantasy if you didn't have your freedom?
Yet you were frozen in your spot, watching Wanda watch you with concerned eyes. And, for a brief moment, you thought she had stepped towards you, her hand twitching by her side towards you, but you knew it was just in your head. Clint reached to you instead, your eyes flickering to his open palm briefly, and the subtle fear that was showing in your eyes managed to take over your entire body. You shook your head, your heart squeezing tightly in your chest when he opened his mouth to say something, but Vision was already back in the room before he managed to get a word out.
"You shouldn't be here, Clint." The android slowly made his way to the duo, his eyes glancing quickly at Wanda. "Your actions are going to have severe consequences."
"I'll consider them." Clint flicked out a baton in preparation to defend himself, but that didn't deter Vision, his steps towards the duo remaining confident, like a predator stalking its prey. You knew he wasn't going to let them just walk away, not eager to go against Tony's orders like the good soldier he is. You wondered if he was willing to get physical, putting Wanda at risk. And just the thought of Vision harming Wanda in any way caused anger to course through your body, washing out the fear that possessed you.
You stepped in between Wanda and Vision, causing the robot to stop walking when he made eye contact with you. Vision furrowed his eyebrows for a brief moment, questioning why you were rebelling against him when you had originally claimed to be with the Accords, but then he looked at Wanda over your shoulder and he seemed to understand why you had suddenly flipped.
"Don't do this," Vision advised you in a calm voice. When he took a step towards you, your arms were colored in a glowing yellow as a warning, your hands clenched into tight fists by your side. Your jaw was locked in determination as you stood your ground against the vibranium-synthezoid, preparing to fight back if he invoked it.
"Let's go," Clint stated under his breath as the stone in Vision's forehead illuminated brightly in retaliation to you. And when you saw that it was about to shoot a beam at you, you threw your arms up.
The two beams met in the middle, pushing against each other to form a bright star. You couldn't turn to see if Wanda hesitated to leave, but you could hear their faint footsteps fading away.
Vision clearly has more resilience than you, you just had to hold on a bit longer to give Wanda enough time to escape. But you've never held onto a beam for long, becoming too painful for you to continue on. And the orb that was formed in the middle started to slowly move closer to you as you began to lose the energy to keep this battle going. When he took a confident step towards you, you were forced to take a shaky step back.
Tears pricked your eyes as your arms burned, your teeth grinding together harshly as you used every ounce of strength in you... but you couldn't do it. You could feel yourself giving up, exhaustion quickly replacing that anger you had been feeling earlier. Your arms relaxed as your shoulders slumped, preparing to accept your fate from the storm.
"Take a deep breath." Your breath caught in your throat when you heard Wanda's voice in your ear, practically feeling her breath against your neck, but you knew she wasn't here. "Try one more time."
You remember the moment she had said those words to you, one of the first training sessions you had with her years ago. You weren't even thinking about giving up at the time, but she saw it written on your face. Just like how you're seeing the anger written on Vision's face.
The star in the middle of your beams moved closer to you, a tear slowly rolling down your face. "I… I can't," you whispered under your breath, shaking your head as you watched Vision's beam overpower yours inch by inch. "It's… hard." You slid back against the floor from the sudden burst of strength Vision sent into his ray.
"Nobody said it was going to be easy, so don't give up when it gets hard." Your eyes fluttered closed, blocking the rest of the tears from spilling over your eyes as you slowly sucked in a deep breath. "You can do this, Y/N."
You feel your arms burn as you tense your muscles, planting your feet on the ground with determination as you pushed. Your eyes flew open as a scream escaped the cage that was your chest as it tore your throat raw, yellow veins crawled up your neck as you strained against him. The beam radiating from your arms building brighter than Vision's as you started to overpower him.
The more you heard Wanda's encouraging words being whispered by a ghost in your ear, the harder you pushed against the resistance of Vision's power. And when your beam broke through his, pushing into his chest, you fell to your knees as he flew backwards, smashing into the wall behind him. You were vaguely aware of the footsteps running into the room, heavy breaths escaping the small space between your parted lips. Sweat dripped down your temple as you kept a close eye on Vision, watching as he slowly climbed to his feet. You found yourself being thankful that he consisted mostly of vibranium, not knowing what you would've done if he had seriously gotten hurt, but the scorch mark the size of a softball burned into his chest did bring a sense of guilt washing over you.
However, it didn't make you regret your actions.
"Y/N?" Your eyes focused on Natasha's face as she kneeled in front of you, your breathing slowing as the yellow coloring your veins faded away at the sight of her worried expression. "What did you do?"
"She aided in Clint and Wanda's escape," Vision announced as he made his way towards you, but you couldn't take your eyes off of Natasha as she cupped your cheeks for a brief moment before she pressed the back of one of her hands gently against your forehead.
"That makes them fugitives now," Tony stated and you had no reaction to his sudden voice.
"I…" You grabbed onto Natasha's wrists to tug her hands away from your face gently.
Everybody's eyes were on you, waiting for you to continue. You tilted your head, trying to decide on whether or not this was what you actually wanted. You knew Natasha would be on whatever side you chose, and if you were willing to help Clint and Wanda get out of the building to fight against these documents, you were already on the resisting side of things.
"I don't want to sign anymore."
The look on Natasha's face when you told her you had changed your mind, that you didn't want to sign the Sokovia Accords after all, you couldn't tell if she was proud or disappointed. Either way, she had already signed them at that point. And your new refusal to do so forced Tony's hand. You didn't fight it at the time, your body was too exhausted after fighting Vision to protect Wanda, so you went to your room willingly, quietly, as Tony made Natasha stay back to talk.
You knew you were going to be the topic.
You sat in the middle of your bed, legs crossed and hands in your lap. You could stop the never-ending thoughts from racing in your head, wondering what Natasha was thinking, what Tony was going to do now that you aided and abetted Wanda and Clint, who are now fugitives in America's eyes. And you couldn't stop thinking about Wanda, the way she looked at you when joining Clint. Like she wanted you to come. Like she couldn't leave unless you were with her…
Rather than fighting it, you started letting your mind wander. Maybe she did take that half-step towards you. Maybe she did want to reach out for you. You knew that if she did, you wouldn't have hesitated. You wouldn't be locked up in your room right now. You would be right next to her, sticking to her side as you rebelled against the Accords. Fighting side by side with the woman who has your heart against the one who has hers.
And now you don't even know if you'll ever see her again. You don't know when you'll see your window to the world, and it was then that your thoughts turned south.
Eventually there was a soft knock on your door and you made no attempt to answer it. They let themselves in, eyeing you sitting on the bed as you stared at the fake window on the other side of the room. You didn't need to look at the visitor to know it was Natasha, closing the door behind her before making her way to you. You just didn't know if you wanted to hear what she had to say, the tension that was in the room from your thoughts only became thicker when you looked at her to see her pensive expression.
And then she relaxed, a small smile tugging at her lips. “Glad to see you’re putting the bed to use,” she commented, laughing lightly.
"I'm sorry," you whispered as she joined you on the bed, settling onto the mattress next to you, your stare turning away from her. "I didn't want her getting hurt."
"You're in love with her." She smiled, nodding her head. You furrowed your eyebrows, tilting your head slightly, only for her to roll her eyes. "You can't sit there and tell me you didn't know."
"This is what love feels like?" You huffed, looking at her.
She moved to sit fully on the bed, bumping into you as she repositioned herself. "What do you feel when you look at her?"
You looked away from her, your eyes darting to the fake window on the wall farthest from you. What do you see when you look at her? "I see why the stars would be jealous because they'll never be able to shine as bright as her when she smiles."
Natasha smirked, watching you as you continued to think about Wanda Maximoff; the way all your burdens seemed to evaporate at just the thought of her, the way your eyes sparkled and the way you couldn't fight back the smile attacking your lips. This was rare, the way you were confident and standing tall with your head up, this was the side of you she wanted to see all the time.
"I look at her and I see the world, Nat." You scoffed, giving in to the smile as you shook your head. "I wouldn't be able to love anybody else because they don't know my heart."
"Tell her." She nudged against you softly, laughing lightly. "You might be surprised."
"I may never see her again." You quickly shook your head, looking down at your hands.
"When you do," she offered, releasing a soft sigh, "don't be afraid to tell her how you feel."
You couldn't necessarily agree to that, but you did anyway with a quick nod of your head. It wasn't as easy as she was saying, the love you held in your heart for Wanda was strong, but you didn't want to ruin the rare relationship you had with her. A teacher, a mentor, a friend. Would it be worth losing just to express something you didn't deem necessary? The happy couples you see in the sitcoms she has taken the time to share with you, they resembled Wanda and Vision.
Who were you to ruin something like that for her?
But you were agreeing. You had to tell Wanda how you felt, ignore the fear of losing her, the fear of being rejected. If you were to ever get out of this, it would be the first thing you say to her.
You let the silence wrap around the two of you like a scarf, comfortable, safe, like everything else when Natasha's around. And it was clear to her that you were done with the topic, not wanting to think about it anymore.
"I have to go to Germany for a few days," she said and you turned your head to look at her. Her eyes were glued to the wall as she sighed. "Steve's there... and we're going to stop them."
You wondered if this was her extending out the invitation. Sign the Accords, join her on the plane to Germany - maybe she'll even let you be the head pilot this time - and fight against the team Steve managed to recruit. The team Wanda was no doubt on. "I don't want to sign."
"I know," she assured. "I have to do this, but when I come back, you and I are leaving."
You furrowed your eyebrows, hugging your knees to your chest tightly. "Where are we going?"
"Wherever you want," she answered. "I just want you to be safe, Y/N." She finally looked at you, sending you a soft smile. But she saw the hesitation on your face, the one person that's making you want to stay in case she returned.
"Don't let them capture her," you whispered.
"She's going to be on the run, too."
"She'll still have her freedom." That’s more than you can say about yourself at the moment. Being locked in your room once again, not finding any freedom in these four walls anymore. It was the cage and you were the dog. “Can we see the world?”
She chuckled. “We can see everything,” she told you. “The Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall, Taj Mahal.” She felt her face crack into a smile at the way your face grew brighter in these dark times, bumping her shoulder against yours lightly as she added, “I’m coming back, I promise. Despite what Tony said, I’m not leaving you behind.”
You purse your lips together for a moment before she held up her pinky towards you, causing you to furrow your eyebrows at the gesture. You stared at her hand, confused, and the light laugh that came from her made you meet her gaze.
“It’s a pinky promise,” she explained softly. “The most sacred vow anyone can swear to.” She breathed out, smiling at you as she watched your face brighten with eagerness. “If broken, you must suffer serious consequences.”
You didn’t plan on breaking a promise with Natasha, and you were eager to hold her to this “pinky promise” she was offering. So, when you held your pinky up to mirror hers, she gently took your wrist and pulled your hand closer. She wrapped her pinky around yours tightly and it didn’t take you much longer to figure it out, curling your finger as well.
“I promise to never abandon you, Y/N,” she stated softly, your eyes tearing themselves away from your combined pinkies to look at her. “I promise I’ll come back for you. And I promise I’ll show you the world.”
Your eyes flickered back to the locked pinkies, a warm feeling flowing through your blood...
…but that moment was days ago. Natasha wasn’t specific on when she was coming back, just that she would be gone for a few days. And you were waiting for her return ever since, staying true to Tony’s orders and keeping yourself in your room. The urge to go outside was strong, but Natasha’s promise to see the world was the only thing keeping you inside. And as the hours continued to tick on with no Natasha in sight, you were beginning to get worried.
You looked up from your notebook when your bedroom door opened, Tony stepping into view with a man you’ve never met before on his heels. A bad feeling twisted your stomach as you closed your notebook and placed it on top of the nightstand before slowly sliding off the bed, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
“Y/N, this is General Ross,” Tony said. You stared at the older man’s hand when he offered it out to you, not moving to shake it. “She doesn’t do the touching thing.” Tony swatted his hand away, forcing the General to return it to his side. “He’s going to keep you safe.”
Safe? The safest place you were was here, waiting for Natasha. But if Tony’s here, then where was she? Why wasn’t she here? She had gone to Germany with Tony, it’s safe to assume she’d return with him. “Where’s Nat?”
“We can’t find her,” General Ross answered, cutting off whatever Tony was about to say. He sent a smile to you, but it was a smile that did not reach his eyes. It seemed forced, just like how straight his posture was. “I think we could find her a lot faster if you and I worked together. Like… like a team.”
You felt your heart pick up speed in your chest at his words, your fists clenching tightly by your sides. You glanced towards Tony to meet his eyes briefly before he quickly turned his head away from you, but you saw it. The sadness behind them, something was going on. And you didn’t like it. “I want to stay here.”
“Nat’s going to come back for me. She pinky promised.”
General Ross rolled his eyes. “A pinky promise?” He scoffed, laughing mockingly. “What are you? A child?”
Tony eyed you carefully, watching you shrink back against the General’s shouts, your shoulders rising rapidly as your breathing increased. He saw the signs, having worked closely with you to know them to a T. He had to pull back. “Ross-”
“Look, I tried doing this his way, now we’re going to do it my way,” he declared, ignoring Tony. You turned to watch the small group of soldiers march into the room, automatically taking a step back, but you quickly realized you were trapped in a corner when the back of your legs bumped into the nightstand behind you. “You can come willingly, or we will force you out of here.”
“Mr. Stark?” Your voice was tiny as you took a step away from the man’s angry stare, his eyes hard and cold. Your chest burned, your stomach twisted, and your arms glowed a bright yellow the longer he was a threat to you. “Please don’t let them take me.” You were trying everything in your power to not panic, but the hesitation on Tony's face made that restraint waver.
The billionaire sighed as you made eye contact with him, his hand barely twitching out towards you, but you felt your heart sink when you watched his eyes turned to match General Ross's coldness before he looked away instead. “It’s out of my hands, kid.”
The burning in your chest intensified, your veins shining yellow with a light that was almost as bright as the sun… well, it would’ve been if you hadn’t been distracted by something pricking your neck. Dizziness overcame the power emitting from the stone, using the bed to keep yourself on your feet, though it soon became too much to keep yourself up as you fell to your knees.
“There’s a helicopter with a course set to the Raft waiting for you.” Tony’s voice was a distant echo, traveling down a tunnel that was slowly becoming darker.
“No, not the Raft,” General Ross retorted, staring down at you as you laid on the floor as if you were nothing but a pathetic insect.
You fought against the urge to close your eyes, desperate to stay awake, to fight, but you couldn’t get to your feet. You couldn’t even move your tongue to form words, your mind begging for Tony’s sympathy. Your thoughts yearning for Natasha’s help. Your heart craving for Wanda’s gentle touch.
“We have somewhere more… secure in mind.”
Electricity jolted through you like a tidal wave, a gasp escaping the back of your throat as your eyes flew open, your body sitting straight up as your befuddled brain tried to process where you were exactly. But the room you seemed to be trapped in was new to you, you were no longer surrounded by the familiar art you had colored along your walls at the compound. The room was colorless, and it brought a sense of panic through you as you climbed to your feet.
You knew how to get out of this. All you had to do was force an overload, something you haven’t experienced in a long time since Wanda started training you on how to control it, but the second you started to feel the burn in your heart, the twist in your stomach, and the veins in your arms being colored a brilliant yellow, you were sent to the ground by a wave of electrical shock coursing through you. You sucked in sharply, instinctively flying to your neck to feel some sort of metallic collar locked tightly around your throat. When you managed to get your fingers in behind the metal choker, the shock function triggered once again as you convulsed in pain, your hands instantly leaving your throat to prevent it from going off anymore.
Your head snapped towards the sound of a door opening, eyebrows furrowing as you watched a masked man slowly make his way towards you, the handle of a whip gripped tightly in his hand. Your arm went up in preparation to defend yourself, but the current that soared through your body caused you to bring your arm back to your body tightly.
The voice that echoed throughout the room was enough to make your entire body freeze, your eyes widening as you felt your heart drop to your stomach. The voice was unmistakable as he laughed with vigor, “Welcome back, Subject 13.”
The tip of the whip cut through your shirt to meet your skin in a sickening snap, followed by the electrical shock coursing through your body when your veins instinctively glowed yellow.
You don’t know how much time has passed, but it was long enough to know that nobody was going to come for you. Your moments with the Avengers were fading away with every day that went by. Forgotten memories, lost time. You had built another shell around you, much more indestructible than the first. You were in too much pain when you had realized that Natasha had broken her pinky promises, when you had realized that you were never going to see Wanda ever again. And it was somehow even worse when you realized that Tony Stark had sent you back to HYDRA, back to Dr. Zola… You didn’t want to experience that kind of emotional pain again.
You had stopped believing that there was going to be a rescue. You had stopped hoping that Natasha - maybe even Wanda - would barge into the room to save you. You had stopped thinking that you were going to get out of here. You had come to terms with your life back at HYDRA. Locked in a drab room made of vibranium - you had harshly learned - to prevent your escape with a collar locked tightly around your neck for security as they had once more begun to mold you into their own personal tool for destruction. They used the shocking function to keep you on your best behavior, but you had soon figured out that they’ll sometimes shock you when they were bored.
You hugged your knees to your chest tightly, your forehead resting against them as you waited. Your body was weak, exhausted, and in pain, much like your soul. You wanted to close your eyes, but you knew they wouldn’t let you do that. They had learned their lesson from last time, thanks to Dr. Zola informing them on everything he claimed to do wrong - who was still alive thanks to modern technology. The man in the computer, you found out.
They weren’t going to be so “lenient” as they were before. So, when the door opened behind you with a swoosh, you hugged your knees tighter against yourself as you prepared for the leather cord to make contact with your back once again, pain soaring through your bone as you tensed in anticipation. Your eyes squeezed shut on instinct, your bottom lip trembling in fear, and you felt yourself stop breathing.
“Y/N?” Your eyes flew open as you picked your head up at the familiar voice, eyebrows furrowed deeply with an emotion you couldn’t decipher - anger? Relief? It was impossible to tell.
Natasha appeared in front of you, kneeling down to eye level, and you could see the sadness drawn on her features. You couldn’t deduce whether or not this was a dream, the way her eyes softened as she recognized the despondency on you. This was a rescue, you were being saved from this horrible place, but you weren’t relieved. You weren’t even angry, you had come to realize.
You were more exhausted than anything. The hope that had drained out of you, you couldn't see coming back any time soon. Even with Natasha here, right in front of you, in touching distance. The will to do anything, really, just didn't seem to be there anymore.
“Come on, Y/N.” She rested a hand on your arm, but immediately brought her hands back to herself when you flinched away from her. You saw the hurt flash across her face briefly before she nodded in understanding. She couldn't hold you responsible for your desolation; two years is a long time for you to soak in the idea that you've been abandoned, seemingly forgotten. “It’s okay. You’re safe. I’m getting you out of here.”
She stood up as you climbed to your feet slowly, turning around to face the door and pausing when you made eye contact with Steve. The patriot sent you a small smile as he backed out of the room. And, as you walked away from her, Natasha couldn’t stop the tears that clung to her skin as they slithered down her cheeks. She had you becoming the person you truly were outside of the shell HYDRA forced you to form, and with one silly, stupid little decision she had made, you were right back to where you started.
And she blamed herself.
Her eyes were on you the entire ride back to the compound; the way you kept to yourself as far away from her and Steve as the Quinjet would allow you. If not letting her touch you wasn’t the indication that you weren’t okay, it was the fact that you denied her offer to let you drive the jet yourself that signified you were broken once again. What used to put a smile on your face no longer brought that same feeling to you as you ignored the outside world flying by you, sitting in the darkest corner, away from the window.
You walked behind her back to your room when the Quinjet landed, setting a fresh set of clothes on the edge of your bed for you as you stood in the middle, staring at the painted walls. The room was basically untouched since you’ve been gone, everything left how you had left it before you were forced away, but she could see the sense of unease resting beneath your eyes as those memories replayed in your mind. How Tony had just turned the other cheek, letting the General take you away without a fight. He had to have known where they were taking you, right?
"Tony--" She cut herself off when you flinched at the name, her lips pursing together tightly at your reaction. She sucked in a deep breath as she stepped towards you, reaching into her back pocket slowly as she noticed you watching her carefully out of the corner of your eye. "He calls this a screwdriver. Can basically unlock almost anything." She gestured towards the metallic collar around your neck, "We can try it on that thing." You turned away when she reached for it.
She nodded solemnly, tapping the device against her palm a few times before moving to place it onto the nightstand. That's when you noticed the missing notebook; the last thing you did here mere seconds before Tony introduced you to General Ross was unforgettable.
“I’ll leave you to change.” You barely acknowledged Natasha’s words as she walked away, closing the door softly behind her.
And it took you a moment to move, tearing your eyes away from the painted scene on your wall to make your way to the clothes she had laid out for you neatly on the bed. Taking your shirt off was hard, putting on the new shirt was even harder. The way your back stretched tautly against the healing wounds HYDRA inflicted made it difficult to move a certain way, it made you want to cry and scream out in agony, but you clenched your jaw tight as a shaky whimper managed to escape your throat.
You were oblivious to the bedroom door sliding open behind you, but you knew who it was by the way your heart leapt at her presence. Wanda peeked her head into your room moments before you finally managed to pull your shirt down all the way. She had seen only an inch of the scars, but it was enough to make her stomach twist in anger and sadness all at once. She cleared her throat loudly and watched the way your muscles froze at the sound.
She pursed her lips together for a moment before stepping into the room, closing the door behind her. You didn’t turn to look at her, you didn’t see that the reason she didn’t say anything yet was because her voice got caught in her throat at the sight of your walls. You breathed out slowly, your eyes closing tightly. You let the tears crawl down your cheeks, knowing she wouldn’t see them with your back to her.
“I’m sorry.” She sighed as she looked at the back of your head, hoping that you would turn around to face her. “If I had known…” Her voice trailed off when your chin fell to your chest, your shoulders slumping in defeat. And you didn’t hear her cross the room, but you tensed when you felt her lifting up the back of your shirt to get a better view of the damage dealt by HYDRA’s hand, your arms glowing a dangerous yellow in warning. But when her other hand gently traced her fingers around the scars and eyeing the more fresher ones, the brightness in your veins soon dimmed underneath her touch. “I’m… sorry.”
You turned around to face her, pulling your shirt down to cover your back once again, and you breathed out when you met her green gaze. You could already feel the indestructible shell you had formed around you cracking, invulnerable to her as she stared at you. And despite how harshly you were screaming at yourself, you couldn't stop the trickle of hope slipping back into you underneath her stare.
You knew where she had been the past two years, you heard Natasha and Steve talking about it in the Quinjet on the way back to the compound, and you knew you already forgave her. She didn’t make any promises, she didn’t send you away. She had nothing to do with anything because she was with Vision and you couldn’t hold her to that. She didn't know. And knowing her location deterred you from confessing your feelings, swallowing the giant lump in your throat and biting back the words you wanted so desperately to say.
Picturing her and Vision out on the town together, holding hands and laughing all while he did the stuff with her you could only ever dream of doing, it was enough for you to know that she was truly happy with him.
You could see the panic in her eyes, the way her face held regret despite your silent forgiveness. The same look Natasha's face held when she had found you, the same way she still feels, no doubt. And though you wanted to hold her against her broken promises… she didn't know, either. And it wasn't fair for you to blame her for anything that had happened the last two years.
One of the only people responsible was stuck in space at the moment. And you couldn't decide if it was a good thing or a bad thing knowing you'd never be able to look at him the same way ever again. Who was once someone you had considered a close friend was now the person who had ignored your pleas for help before being subjected back to HYDRA's hand.
Wanda eyed the electrifying necklace around your neck, how your skin must be yearning to be released from it's captivity. With a casual flick of her wrist, Tony's screwdriver appeared in her hand. You could feel your heart beating in your throat as she inserted the device into the keyhole, your chin instinctively tilting up to give her a better view, and you couldn't stop the smirk tugging your lips at her bewildered expression.
"How does…" She trailed off in a confused huff and a laugh escaped through your nostrils. "How does this thing even work?" She twisted and turned her wrist as if it were an actual key, but it only spun in useless circles. She smiled widely when laughter escaped your throat at her confusion, laughing along with you briefly as she continued to struggle. She pulled the screwdriver away from you, examining the sides closely.
Her hands fiddled nervously with the device, your mind racing back to all the times she had calmed you down with a simple touch. Your movements were hesitant, slow as your hand made its way to her fidgeting fingers, but there was a fleeting thought in the back of your mind that made your hand redirect its course. It was too late for you to second guess yourself, your palm resting gently against her cheek and you felt your face burn up in embarrassment when her hands stopped twirling Tony's device. This was crossing a line in your friendship that you wouldn't be able to uncross, already beginning to feel the awkwardness in the air between you. But when she leaned into your hand, breathing out a soft, heavy sigh as her eyes fluttered closed underneath your touch, you had corrected yourself.
Maybe… Just maybe there is a world out there where she returns the feelings you hold. Maybe in a world where Vision doesn't exist, or in a world where a stone wasn't the reason you were still breathing. You could always dream, your heartbeat becoming an unsteady drum when her hand rested over yours, keeping it against her cheek. It was as if she needed this moment just as much as you did.
"I'm so sorry," she barely whispered, breathless, a tear sliding down her cheek and you instinctively moved your thumb up to catch it.
The thought of her happily ever after with Vision seemed to have disappeared in your mind, the feeling of her warmth engulfing your hand was enough for you to muster up the courage to tell her the truth. How after all these years, you had loved her ever since you met her.
"I don't--" You cleared your throat softly, shaking your head subtly as you stared at her through teary eyes. Your second hand came up to rest on her other cheek, smiling lightly when she covered that hand as well. "I don't… blame you for anything. Wanda, I…" Her eyes slowly opened, the green irises almost immediately making contact with you caused your voice to get caught in your throat, and the tug in your heart was unmistakable…
You pulled away a split second before there was a light knock, turning your back on Wanda as the door opened shortly after. Vision stepped into the room, watching you sit down on the edge of the bed. You leaned your elbows against your knees, your thumb digging nervously against your scarred palm as you immediately threw your plan out the window.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything," Vision said, his voice even and calm. "They're requesting your presence."
Wanda nodded, seemingly incapable of tearing her eyes away from you as she said, "I'll be there in a moment."
"Not just you," Vision clarified and your hands froze as you slowly picked your head up, your eyes briefly landing on the scorch mark against the android's chest, being reminded of your last true encounter with him. "Both of you. It's all hands on deck."
You froze when you felt her hand grip your jaw softly, forcing you to sit up straight as you tried to keep your breathing steady. She inserted the screwdriver into the keyhole of the collar a bit more confidently and pressed a button. You could feel the vibrations of the device, the whirring as it worked to free you from the choker. And you breathed out in relief when it popped off, Wanda immediately removing it and setting it onto the nightstand. You smiled softly at her, and your insides warmed up when she returned the smile.
You walked down the hall behind Vision, Wanda matching your stride next to you and you could feel her eyes looking towards you every now and again. You still felt the heat on your palms from having it against her face, a small smile twitching your lips at the realization that she leaned into your touch. She didn't pull away, she didn't remove your hand, she didn't tell you she didn't want it… she leaned into it. The smile that was teasing your lips won as your face broke out into brightness, the first warm feeling you're displaying since your relapse into the life of HYDRA.
But the warmth didn't last long. When you looked up, you made eye contact with a man that haunts your nightmares, the smile fading away from your face as you felt your steps falter to a stop. Wanda paused as well, eyebrows furrowed in confusion at you as you watched General Ross walk by without a second glance in your direction. Your heart burned hot in your chest as your stomach twisted as tight as someone wringing a wet towel. You could hear Wanda's faint calls for you, muffled against your heavy breathing as your arms glowed a bright yellow defensively.
You were angry at him, not even remembering who you were, what he did to you, what he took from you. And you were incapable of keeping your mind free from the memory, watching Tony's sad expression form on his face as he turned away from your limp body, as the soldiers reached out for you to drag your unconscious form out of a room you used to find a sense of safety in. You could picture yourself doing it, lifting your arm up at his retreating form and blasting him with a beam that could possibly match the heat of the sun, melting his skin and bones. But the hands resting gently on your shoulders pulled you out of your daydream, your stomach threatening sickness as you realized you had imagined killing someone purposely.
"I didn't mean--"
"I know," Wanda assured softly, her hands moving down your shoulders as she pulled you away. As she turned you around, her eyes lingered on the General's fading figure, her eyes blazing a brilliant red that you didn't notice as he disappeared around the corner.
"He doesn't deserve--" You shook your head as you continued walking, Wanda following close behind you. "I don't… want him dead," you whispered, but she heard you loud and clear.
She loved how big your heart was, how kind you were, because if it were up to her, she wouldn't have stopped at imagining killing General Ross. She would've acted it out. And now that she knows what he did to you, she wasn't going to be able to relax until he was dealt with. For now, however, she was willing to stuff down the anger towards him so she can be with you.
You noticed the careful eyes when you walked into the room several feet behind Vision, how they all glanced at you once before averting their gaze as the conversation droned on. You settled on a couch in the farthest corner of the room, watching Vision stay next to Wanda closely, and you couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy in your soul when his arm hung loosely around her shoulders.
You picked your legs up onto the cushion, crossing them and making yourself smaller as Natasha took a seat next to you, leaning forward on her knees so to look like she was paying attention to the conversation the rest of the team was having, but you knew she wasn't. You looked down at your hands resting in your lap as she breathed out a heavy breath softly.
"I broke my promises," she stated quietly, not wanting to draw attention away from the meeting. You looked at her, watching as she stared at her own hands as she nervously rubbed them together. "I'm sorry."
Your lips pinched together to form a tight, thin line for a moment before you asked, "Did you… see the world?" She turned her head to look at you, her nervous fidgeting halting. Your eyes watched her expression curiously as one side of her lips twitched up into a small smirk, the smallest hint of relief portrayed on her face. The first words she hears you say to her after reuniting and she wasn't disappointed.
"I did," she answered, nodding, "but I didn't get a chance to stop and admire it." You wanted to ask why, but the way her smirk faded as she looked away from you gave you the answer to your unspoken question. She was too busy looking for you while trying to avoid the law, among other things she might have found herself in along the way. You don't know exactly what she's been up to, but you knew she never stopped searching for you. "When I found out that To-" She cut herself off, clearing her throat as you unfolded your legs to plant your feet on the floor. "When I found out that General Ross took you, I…" Her head fell solemnly and you reached over to place a hand over hers, looking up to make eye contact as you smiled at her. The warmth you felt flow through you at her touch, it wasn't the same as when you were given the chance to touch Wanda, but it was a different kind of warmth. It was comforting and safe, something you'd always feel around Natasha despite the past circumstances. You were home now, and she was going to keep you in her eyesight for as long as she lives.
"I… I forgive you." She turned her hands so she could grip yours, squeezing it tightly as the smile returned to her face. "Can I-- Can you tell me about your… adventures?"
She laughed lightly as she moved to wrap an arm around you, bringing you tightly into her side. "Of course, Y/N," she answered, your shoulders lifting as you looked at her from underneath her arm. "We'll have all the time in the world to make our own, as well." You hummed when she placed a kiss on the top of your head, rubbing your shoulder with her hand as she rested her cheek against you. And as the conversation with her dwindled down, you found the discussion amongst the team trickling into your brain
"...we destroy the stone." You perked up at Vision's voice, furrowing your eyebrows when you met Wanda's eyes across the room briefly before you looked down. Despite the confusion you were feeling, it was nearly impossible for you to overpower whatever you felt when you looked at Wanda. "It's the only way to prevent-"
"You'll be destroyed, too," Wanda expressed.
"We only have half the stone," Steve announced, Vision and Wanda briefly glancing at you when you picked your head up once more. "As long as he doesn't find the other half, we should be good."
"It's been missing for decades," Bruce announced, "but that's not going to stop Thanos from using Vision's stone to find it."
"Can he do that?" Wanda questioned, tearing her eyes away from you to look at Bruce. "He can use one stone to find the other?"
"They belong together," Bruce explained. "Things that belong together will fight to be together."
You turned to look at Natasha, eyebrows pinched together. You lowered your voice to a soft whisper, scared to disturb the tense discussion, "I… Nat, I have the--"
"Is there a way you can take the stone out of Vision and then destroy it?" You turned away from Natasha when she asked the question, her arm falling off of your shoulders casually. Wanda and Vision eyed you carefully as your thumb dug into your palm.
"Not me, not here." Bruce shook his head.
“But it’s possible?” Steve questioned.
Bruce pondered the question for a moment, his lips pursed together to form a thin line. "Vision is more than just the stone."
You huffed quietly underneath your breath, not being able to contain the strong jealousy you were feeling now, and it wasn't because of how closely he was standing to Wanda, though that did play a fair part. He could be free from the stone, the thing that's controlling him and you. You, on the other hand, didn't have a choice in the matter. You weren't more than just the stone. The stone was a part of you that you couldn’t get rid of, entangled so deep in your heart that it’ll tear it apart if you tried to take it out.
And though everything inside of you was screaming to ask Natasha if you could go on your adventures now, to get away from the threat that is Thanos, you made eye contact with Wanda once more and instantly knew that you wanted to stay by her side. So, when the team agreed to travel to Wakanda in the morning, you kept your mouth shut.
If everything went according to plan, if they managed to get the stone out of Vision’s head and destroy it, there would be nothing to worry about. The world would be safe, and so would your secret, but that didn’t stop you from tossing and turning in your bed. You were certain the Avengers would win this, they always do. That's how all the stories go, the hero saves the world… but the recent events of HYDRA seemed to clash with the future events of Thanos, the possibility that he would win, that he would take the stone out of your heart… and you’d never see Wanda again.
You tried everything to get yourself to fall asleep, even having resorted to pulling your mattress back to confine yourself in a small box in front of your fake window, but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t stop the memories of the stinging force from the whip against your back, or the faceless, mysterious Thanos from approaching you with the other half of the stone gripped tightly in his ruling fist, even the reminder of Lagos came back to hit you, and the moment Tony stabbed you in the back less than five feet away from where you were laying. It was never-ending torment whenever you tried to close your eyes, causing you to shake and sweat underneath the covers until you finally decided to give in to the need to get out of the windowless room.
The halls of the compound were nearly empty at this time of night, something you’ve always enjoyed. Walking around without the not-so-secret glances from lingering agents, enjoying the silence, it brought a sense of comfort to be able to walk around the building and explore it. Though you never get far, always appearing in front of Natasha’s door. Whether it was closed or not, she had always accepted your visits with a wide smile and opened arms, but there were other times you would find yourself in front of Wanda’s door… like now. Your breath was caught in your throat as you looked down at your bare feet, your arms wrapped around each other in a tight hug as you chewed on your bottom lip. Whenever you end up here, you never find the courage to knock on her door.
So, when you turned to walk away, you had finally thought your traumatizing past had caught up to you to make you crazy enough to hear your name being said, muffled behind her closed door. You faced the wood once more, eyebrows furrowed in confusion as you leaned closer to it, holding your breath to hear more clearly… and you leaped back in fear when the door slowly pulled open.
Her soft laughter made its way to your ears, causing you to peek your head into her room just as the lamp next to her flickered on. She sent you a kind smile from her spot on the bed, gesturing for you to come further into the room. You weren’t as crazy as you thought, she did say your name.
“Can’t sleep?” The door closed softly behind you after stepping into the room, your arms instinctively wrapping around yourself once more as you looked away from her and at the blank TV. She sighed before she said, “I’m having trouble sleeping, too.”
This is just as hard for her as it was for you, you realized. She’ll be losing Vision - the one who has her heart - if this all went south. You don’t want to see her in pain, you’d do anything to prevent her heart from being destroyed. “I…” You purse your lips together in thought, trying to calm your racing heart. “It’s hard for me to… close my eyes.”
“They--" You chewed the inside of your cheek as you thought, wondering if it was worth placing your problem onto her shoulders, rubbing your hands up and down your arms nervously. Though it didn't matter whether or not you announced it, curiosity dug into her hard, making her creep into your mind. She watched your thoughts travel to the past, the echoing snap of the whip against your back made her flinch, the electrocution coming from the collar at seemingly random moments made her stomach twist with sickness. The anger was clear on her face by the clench of her jaw and the narrowed eyes. Her nose scrunched in disgust at the thought of letting whoever did this to you go unpunished.
She sighed softly when you decided to keep your mouth shut about your relapse into HYDRA and you feel as if she can hear how loud your heart is beating in your throat from where she was.
You looked towards her with furrowed eyebrows, though you couldn’t bring yourself to look at her. “Why didn’t you… tell them? About the… stone. Why didn’t you--”
“It’s not my secret to tell.”
You finally looked at her, making eye contact with her warm eyes. “I’m not as… lucky as he is.” You continued to rub your arms nervously, shaking your head. “The stone-- It’s the only reason why I’m… alive. If it gets taken out…”
“I won’t let that happen, Y/N.” The confidence in her words, it brought a sensation of calmness through you. If she believes she can protect you, then you believe that, too. You trusted her with everything you got.
You looked down at your hand, tracing your index fingers in seemingly intricate patterns against your palm as you stood in the middle of her room, completely aware of her eyes burning holes in you. However, you were oblivious to her climbing out from underneath the covers to sit on the bed, crossing her legs. You looked towards her in time to catch her smiling softly at you, a friendly smile, kind and warm. And you found yourself getting lost in her sparkling eyes once again, your finger drawing coming to a halt as you felt your muscles relax, swimming in the endless depths of her emerald green irises.
"Come here." She patted the spot in front of her and your breath hitched in your throat. There would've been a time where you wouldn't have hesitated to join her on the bed, eager to sit next to her though your movements never showed it, but you felt as if it were different now. And, as she continued to smile warmly at you, you couldn't help but wonder how it was possible for her eyes to shine brighter than the lamp's dim light next to her.
You slowly inched your way towards her, climbing into the spot she had offered up for you. You could feel your heart calm down at the proximity of her, crossing your legs as you settled down. You looked down at your hands laying in your lap, unconsciously dragging your fingers across your palm, nervous for what's to come.
The feeling twisting your stomach, it was too much for you to handle. And it was an emotion you easily placed, though stronger than you've ever felt before. The fear wringed your chest like a wet towel, seeming as if your heart had jumped into your throat. You didn't know what was coming, the faith you held in the Avengers faltering unsteadily as you contemplated the upcoming events.
"I'm scared, Wanda," you whispered softly, vaguely aware of her eyes on you, the soft smile still etched on her face as she stared at your oblivious self. It brought a sensation across you to confess it out loud, stress slowly crumbling away from your shoulders in the tiniest amount. It wasn't enough to completely erase your fears, but it was enough to sate them for now. And the tears came out of nowhere, burning your eyes as they slid down your cheeks, your chin still against your chest as you watched your finger trace random patterns on your palm with a nervousness you couldn't hide. "I don't want to die." You breathed out slowly, trying to calm yourself as the next words came pouring out of your mouth, "There's so many things I haven't done."
"Like what?" Her question was quiet, though it was loud in your head as your eyes remained glued to your moving finger.
"I want to learn how to ride a bike." You released a laugh disguised as a breath, shaking your head as you chewed the inside of your cheek. Clint had always teased you about knowing how to fly a Quinjet like a masterful pilot and didn't know the simple mechanics of riding a bicycle. "I want to go on a date. Dress up in silly matching costumes for Halloween and go trick-or-treating." There was a whole list of things you wanted to do, things you wanted to experience. And one of those things was kissing the woman right in front of you, dying to know just how soft her lips feel compared to how they look. Your first kiss was something you never forgot ever since finding out what it meant, and you wanted to share that moment with Wanda.
She remained silent, casting her eyes down to trail after your tracing finger as well, her lips pursed together in thought. You looked up at her when you realized she wasn't going to answer, not that you could blame her for her silence. There wasn't really anything to be said to make you relax, but when her eyes fluttered up to look at you, her tongue flicking out to wetten her lips, you knew she didn't really need to say anything anyway.
With a twist of her hand, a pen appeared in her fingers, and you couldn't stop the rise of your eyebrow as confusion crossed your features. She only smiled at you softly, pointing the pen for you to grab it. And, slowly, hesitantly, you took the pen into your hand, looking down at it with the smallest of smiles tugging against your lips.
The click of the pen disturbed the comforting silence for a moment, dragging it against your palm in complex lines, swirling and twirling to form a design that pleased you. The middle of your palm was untouched as you avoided the scarred tissue.
And Wanda watched your face as you drew, marveling at the concentration etched on your features as you focused on covering your palm in lines. She breathed out softly, smiling when you took your bottom lip in between your teeth, feeling her stomach flip at the tiny indent in between your eyebrows. She wanted to reach out, to smooth out the crease, but she was too busy admiring it to destroy it.
"You're more than just the stone, too, Y/N." The interruption of the silence caused you to slow your strokes for a moment, processing her words in your mind as you finally picked your head up to look at her. She took the opportunity to immediately look into your curious eyes, looking everywhere but at her, a small smile tugging her lips as she watched you contemplate a comment to her statement.
"How can you be more than the thing keeping you alive?"
She gently took her bottom lip between her teeth, feeling herself relax when you met her gaze. And then she smiled softly, the warmth flooding through you like the sun on a hot day. You wanted to touch her again, to bring your hand against her cheek and have her lean into you, but you refrained. Keeping your hands to yourself, you awaited the answer to your question.
"The stone doesn't force you to make decisions," she said. "That's your soul. And you have a beautiful soul, Y/N. One of the kindest I've ever seen." She laughed softly, her form straightening as her face brightened with joy. And though you were blind to see what was so funny, you weren't complaining about hearing her laughter. "Vision actually looks up to you." She grinned, looking up at the ceiling as she continued to chuckle. "Yeah, he said… What did he say?"
The random burst of giddy laughter cut you off as she lowered her head back down, looking at you. "He said you were someone to look up to for inspiration when in a situation between life and death because, despite everything, you wouldn't hesitate to choose death if it meant saving even a single soul. And he was right."
"You've had that stone in your heart ever since I've known you, Y/N, and I have yet to see you make a selfish decision." She smiled softly at you, taking a deep breath to calm herself down, and there was nothing you could do to block the forming grin on your face to mirror hers. "I don't ever want you to change who you are, heart of stone or otherwise.
You pursed your lips together, looking back down at your hand. "Heart of stone." You grinned, picking your head up and meeting her gaze once more. "That's a bit off the nose, don't you think?"
She searched your eyes for a moment before her smile somehow brightened, laughing as she tucked her hands into her lap. "You're right. You're beating the stereotype," she expressed, nodding. Faint laughter filled the room as you returned to your hand, dragging the pen across your skin as Wanda remained watching you, her eyes soft and gentle as she noticed the smile on your face not washing away anytime soon. The crease of concentration between your eyebrows returned as you focused and she remained silent and to study your features, a face she never wants to forget.
But when she watched your shoulders slouch in disappointment, the concentrated indentation in between your eyebrows deepened with sorrow, her mouth automatically closed as she glanced down at your hand, mesmerized by the design scrawled out on your palm for a brief moment until she realized why your face fell into sadness. You ran out of room on your hand.
Slowly, she placed her hand into yours, palm up, and your eyes lifted to look at her. The depression was no longer on your face when you had realized what she was indicating, and the silence warmed both of you as you started a new doodle on her wrist, gently pulling her hand closer to you. She felt the pressure of the pen dig into her skin, sending a wave of relaxation through her. And though she was curious as to what you were drawing on her, she couldn't seem to take her eyes off of you.
"I used to draw a lot when I was younger," you said softly, picking up the pen off her wrist to look at the small art, pausing to contemplate for a moment before continuing. "Dr. Bakshi would bring me paper and utensils and I… used to always draw what I thought the outside looked like."
Wanda pursed her lips together, diving into your mind for a brief moment before she quickly pulled out. As curious as she was to know more about your past, she'd rather hear it come from the sound of your voice in her ears. "You don't really talk about your childhood." Her voice was kind, gentle, as if she didn't want to scare you.
You shrugged casually, too distracted by your drawing to look up at her. "It wasn't much of a childhood." You smiled softly, dragging the pen across her skin smoothly.
She recalled the memory she had conjured up in your mind when she first met you, the brief game of tag, how bright your face was all those years ago, feeling a sense of hope in a world that was never going to provide it. And when you were forced to eliminate the only thing that seemed to make you forget your new life, she watched the moment the five year old you had lost that spark.
"Tell me more about her."
You furrowed your eyebrows briefly before smiling lightly, sighing out. "Dr. Bakshi was kind. She was the heart that fought against Dr. Zola's iron fist." You swallowed thickly, chewing on the inside of your cheek for a moment. You refused to look at her, focused on drawing your little doodle on her wrist, and she has yet to take her eyes off of you to see what you were drawing.
If it wasn't for Dr. Bakshi, you knew for a fact that your most recent experience with HYDRA would've just been the usual. She was the only reason he didn't hit you, why he didn't resort to physical violence unless you broke his strict rules, which is something you were too scared to do. And with her gone, he no longer bit his tongue. The angel on his shoulder had vanished right along with her and he made sure you knew that.
"She was always there whenever I needed her in the beginning, but it wasn't long afterwards that she wasn't around as much." Your lips formed a tight, thin line as your mind raced back to all the time you had silently begged for Bakshi and only received emptiness in return. You paused for a moment, looking up at Wanda. "What were your parents like?"
She tilted her head to the side for a moment, contemplating the question. And the smile that had been on her face grew a tad bit smaller, yet lighting up with a memory that'll forever live in her head. "My love for sitcoms comes from an early age," she confessed quietly and you listened, focused on her words as your drawing slowed to a stop. "My father would bring home American shows to help us with our English. And one day… it just all came to an end." Her smile weakened at the memory, traumatized by the past just as much as you were. "Pietro and I waited for the missile to go off, but it just never did. It was faulty. But I remember the name on the missile to this day."
She nodded, a soft smile now lifting the corner of her lips. "Forever burned into my memory as the reason we became orphans."
"Tell me about him." She furrowed her eyebrows at your quiet command, confusion crossing her features. "Your brother."
The corner of her lips tugged up into a brief smirk as she looked down at her lap, chewing the inside of her cheek as she contemplated the question. It was only fair, you had told her of your past. It was her turn.
"He was cocky and arrogant. Very impatient, quick-tempered." Her lips formed a wide smile, brightening the room, shaking her head softly as she breathed out slowly. "But he had a heart of gold. He was kind and loyal and he would do anything for the ones he loved."
"I wish I met him."
Wanda looked at you, smiling softly as you looked back down to her wrist. "He would've loved you, I have no doubt about that."
You chewed your bottom lip for a moment, contemplating, watching the pen create intricate lines on her skin. You let the silence between the two of you settle, warm and comfortable. It was a moment like this - not having to fill the quietness and just enjoying the company - that made you realize your feelings for Wanda. It was a moment like this that made Natasha realize your feelings for Wanda. Yet those moments seemed forever ago, lost in the back of everybody's minds as if they never happened. But, to you, it happened just yesterday because every time you look at her, it's like you're falling for her all over again.
"I don't remember my parents," you stated quietly, breathing out slowly. "I clung to Bakshi because she showed me a bit of kindness in a dark place, and I thought that was motherly material, but Nat has taught me that being a mother is a lot more than showing kindness." You released another breath, a light one, pulling the pen away from her wrist and down in your lap as you finally looked up at her, but neither of you moved to break the gentle hold you have on her hand. "Being a mother means being there for you unconditionally despite your shortcomings." You hummed softly, smiling. "Being a mother means you'll have someone to love you for the rest of your life. It means to protect you no matter what and… Dr. Bakshi didn’t protect me… not like Nat would."
She looked at you softly, watching you smile at your own thoughts for a moment before deciding to give in, sneaking into your mind to take a peek into your thinking. She watched as you replayed some moments with Natasha that made you feel safe, as a mother should. She couldn't pull away from your mind, smiling lightly as she saw the truth behind your words, but you didn't just stop at Natasha. You viewed the whole team as your family, the closest thing you’ve come to know in the small amount of time spent with them. It was hard for you to comprehend that Tony - the man who had went against Steve to give you a safe, reliable place to stay, the man who was dead set on protecting you throughout the years, having taken the role of a father figure in your eyes - was the reason you were forced to succumb back to HYDRA’s control.
“Do you forgive him?” The question told you she was reading your thoughts, having just thought about the man in question. And she wished you were looking at her so she could see your eyes, the way they’d sparkle as you lost yourself in your thoughts, searching for the answer that pleased you the most. For now, she’d have to watch as you chewed on your bottom lip at her question, your shoulders slumping slightly as you ran it around in your head. The pen fell away from her wrist and your grip on her hand loosened very slightly, but neither of you moved apart from each other.
Do you forgive him? You had forgiven Natasha and Wanda pretty easily, but Tony was a whole different story. Yet, you didn’t know the answer to the question that was settling in between the two of you. You’d like to believe that Tony didn’t know of the situation that was going to happen. He seemed surprised, at the time, to learn that General Ross had no intentions of taking you to the Raft, but he didn’t seem at all concerned enough to question the general any further. Maybe if he had pushed, he would’ve found out the real plan. You couldn't necessarily blame him, he was only following orders, yet… Tony wasn't one to follow.
“I do.” It was two words, spoken quietly in the silence that had covered the two of you in a blanket. Wanda didn’t seem at all surprised when you finally looked up at her, the softest of smiles resting on her face as she tilted her head at you. You breathed out slowly, spinning the pen in between your thumb and index finger, and furrowing your eyebrows as you convinced yourself that she was silently asking why. "It's easier for me to move on from the past by doing impossible tasks, like forgiving. And Tony just so happens to be on the list of people I need to forgive."
She watched you carefully as you moved the pen to continue doodling on her wrist, the calming sensation from your touch should have been a clear indication to her about how she feels for you, the lingering stares when you looked away, the absolute pure joy she felt when she saw your face brighten with excitement when you learned something new. She'll never forget the time she had taken a day off of being a superhero to take you to your first art museum, the way your face broke out into the widest smile she had ever seen, the joy that made your heartbeat pick up speed, the excitement that gave you the incapability to sit still long enough to actually take a moment to enjoy the art. It should've been obvious to her at the time, how she would look at you as if you were worth much more than the millions of dollars worth of paintings.
It was that day she had decided to be that reason of excitement as much as she possibly can. To one day be that one thing that will return that spark in your eye. That she'll be your sun on a cloudy day. To keep you laughing, the one thing that'll make you happy. That's what she wanted. She wanted to take you into the sunlight and watch your smile make the brightest, biggest star in the sky dull in comparison.
And the desire to be that thing for you brought her to the realization that she wanted to be more. More than a teacher, more than a friend, more than someone who you watch sitcoms with. And she opened her mouth once again, her thoughts forming words on the tip of her tongue, but she found herself freezing when she felt you pulling away, releasing her hand as you grinned at the doodle with satisfaction before picking your head up to look at her, breathing out as you fiddled with the pen in your hands for a moment.
You handed her the utensil, smiling warmly as her eyes casted down to the work you created on her skin, feeling her breath hitch in her throat at the anatomically correct heart drawn in the black ink, though the middle was missing, cut out like a puzzle piece. "They showed me an x-ray of my heart when I was a kid," you explained quietly, smiling softly as you watched Wanda. She couldn't seem to tear her eyes away from the drawing, the small perfection causing a swell in her own heart to form.
"It's beautiful." She finally tore her eyes away from her wrist, looking up at you to match your smile, but it was quick to fade in sync with yours. Her eyebrow arched in question as you looked down at your own hand, her eyes tracing the abstract lines you had drawn, following it down to your wrist where a puzzle piece had resided. It was a perfect match to finish her drawing, and Wanda could picture the piece fitting. The last piece to the puzzle, your piece holding the stone that was embedded in your heart.
She leaned forward to gently take your hand, slowly intertwining her fingers through yours to hold onto you, connecting the pieces as she pressed her wrist against yours. She felt you relax, smiling widely as she looked up from your connected hands to watch your expression. And when you looked up at her, she heard the moment your breath caught in your throat, that's how close she was to you.
You cleared your throat, her smile softening as she watched your cheeks glow red with embarrassment, but… unlike all the other times, you didn't look away. You maintained eye contact, and she wouldn't think you were breathing if it weren't for the slow, subtle rise and fall of your shoulders.
You caught her eyes flickering towards your lips, excitement filling your lungs every time you breathed her in, having imagined this moment many times. Your mind raced to try and remember all the kissing scenes in the shows you watch with her, how it should go. Should you lean in? Do you wait for her to lean in? What if she didn't like it? What if you were bad at it?
The questions overflowed your mind, creating more panic than excitement. It caused you to pull your hand away from hers, bringing it back to yourself as you breathed out slowly. "I should get back to my room," you whispered, your voice low in fear that she'd hear the panic cracking your voice. "We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow." You moved off the bed, getting to your feet. And as you turned to leave, Wanda found herself doing everything possible to make you…
"Stay." It was one word that caused you to freeze, though in hindsight, you knew she could've said anything and you'd still stop to listen. You turned back to search her emerald irises, seeing that she didn't mean to say it out loud by the way they widened, but there was also the hidden truth behind those dilated pupils that she truly wanted you to stay with her. Because before you had any chance of saying anything, barely even moving an inch, you watched as she quietly got back underneath the blankets, tossing them to the side to open a space for you next to her. "Please."
With a silent, stiff nod, you climbed back into the bed next to her, pulling the blankets over you as you both settled. You both laid in silence, your eyes glued to the ceiling as you were absolutely obvious to the lingering gaze of Wanda to your side, her eyes studying your features once more.
The longer the quiet air remained in the room, the more you lost the war against your thoughts. You resisted the urge to toss and turn - not wanting to disturb the woman next to you - as your eyes burned at the replays of the past. You found yourself rolling over, keeping your back to Wanda, tears silently hugging your cheek as they rolled down towards your chin. The desire to release a sob built up in your chest, fear fighting its way through you as your muscles tensed up. You couldn't stop yourself from sniffling, wiping the back of your hand under your nose on instinct.
You didn’t have much of a reaction when you felt Wanda scoot closer to you, pressing herself against your back as her arms wrapped around you tightly to bring you against her tighter. It was a different feeling from when Natasha holds you, a warmer feeling. A feeling that sparked in your heart and instantly calmed you enough to completely let go. The sob that was building in your chest managed to escape, scratching your throat as she buried her face in your hair, breathing you in slowly as her eyes fluttered close.
You don’t know how long she was willing to hold you this way for, and you didn’t move to break the hold any time soon, but you didn't feel the fear that had been digging under your skin for the past few years anymore. All you felt at this moment in time was her. That's all you wanted to feel, with her arms engulfed around you tightly. The comfort, the coziness, the affection.
And as your crying slowly came to an end, you had eventually closed your eyes, welcoming the dreamless sleep that carried you through the night.
And Wanda refused to let you go.
Everybody on the Quinjet saw the child come out of you as they flew over Wakanda, the way your smile widened as you looked out over the city, your eyes tracing the path of the river. You even tried to count the trees in your head as the jet soared past them. The excitement twisting in your stomach was temporary, knowing why exactly you were being brought here, but this was the start of your chance to see the world. Surely it must get better from here.
The moment you stepped off of the Quinjet as close on Natasha’s heels as she would let you be was the moment everything seemed so real. You weren’t looking at the world through a window, you were looking at the world with your own eyes. You weren’t capable of standing still, bouncing back and forth on your feet as you marveled at your new surroundings. And nobody thought the smile on your face could get even wider, but you managed to prove them wrong.
Their conversation became a muffled buzz in your ears as you turned away from them, looking out at the natural settings around you, something that was similar to your painted walls back at home. Except there was no storm shadowing the beauty of it, just peace and solitude. And you welcomed it as it settled in your heart.
You were too distracted by your surroundings to realize that everybody started to walk away, your eyes glued to the calm river that mirrored the sunny sky. You stepped forward, wanting to get a better view of the reflective, shiny water, but you felt that peacefulness in your heart leap out of your chest when a hand gripped your elbow tightly. Your jaw immediately clenched as tight as your fists, looking out of the corner of your eye to see a guard holding strong against you. Your veins glowed a bright yellow in warning, and the excitement that twisted your stomach earlier was immediately replaced with unease, matching the painful burn the stone was bringing to your heart.
Your shoulders tensed uncomfortably, your eyes narrowing as you looked back at the river in front of you. You didn’t want to cause an issue, but the longer he held onto you, the more anxious you felt. And the more anxious you felt, the more you panicked. All you had to do was to tell him to let go, all you had to do was to push him away, but… you couldn’t move. You couldn’t unhinge your jaw to find your voice. You were frozen in a tense situation with one of Wakanda’s guards and it could only get worse from here.
You could hear someone running to you, Natasha’s voice cutting through the thick air for a moment before she quickly cut in between you and the guard. She pushed him back, getting him as far away from you as she possibly could.
“She was straying,” the guard declared defensively.
“She was looking,” Natasha bit back coldly, protectively, her hands resting on your shoulders. You felt yourself breathe out slowly, looking over to see Wanda’s worried look before you quickly turned away in shame. Your face flushed with embarrassment, letting Natasha turn you towards everybody. You casted your eyes down to avoid all of their stares.
Your voice was low as Natasha guided you away from the guard and back on track, “I didn’t mean to.”
“I know,” she assured gently, her hands squeezing your shoulders hearteningly.
“I just wanted to--”
“It’s okay, Y/N,” she said. “It’s not your fault.”
You looked up as everybody began to make their way into the building, turning their backs onto you. You stopped walking, causing Natasha to bump into you at the sudden pause. Wanda watched you carefully for a brief moment, sending you a nod when you looked at her before she, too, joined the rest of the team.
"Nat," you whispered, watching as she moved to stand in front of you. She furrowed her eyebrows warily, her head tilting slightly as she watched fear swim in your eyes. "Can we… Can we go see the world now?"
She searched your face, seeking the answer to her voiceless question: Why? But she couldn't seem to find it, putting the word out into the air between you and her and you breathed out heavily. You rubbed your hands nervously as you looked away from her curious eyes.
"The stone…" Your lips pursed together anxiously, shaking your head slightly. You pressed a hand against your chest, feeling your rhythmic heartbeat underneath your palm. It was steady despite being anxious, and you could only assume that it was because she has yet to look at you with anything but love. "It's here."
She stared at you for a bit, processing your statement as she looked over her shoulder to where the team had disappeared. Her lips formed a thin, tight line as your words repeated themselves in her head over and over again. "Why didn't you tell me before?" She turned back to you and you could sense the disappointment in her voice.
"I… didn't think--" Your chin fell to your chest in shame, your eyes bouncing back and forth between your feet. Your hands formed tight fists by your sides and Natasha released a heavy breath, a breath that could be annoyance or thoughtfulness.
"They can take the stone out of Vision's forehead, maybe they can take it-"
"If the stone is removed, I die," you stated.
Her breath hitched in her throat as she rubbed her forehead, turning away and walking a few feet as you picked your head up. You knew she was conflicted - she wanted to help the team fight Thanos, but at the same time she wanted to do whatever it took to keep you safe. Over three years with her and you have not once mentioned what the source to your powers were, and you didn't think it was a necessary thing to share. How were you to know how vitally important a small stone was?
Though now it made sense, why HYDRA had you hidden for decades, why they spent decades patiently waiting for you to master your powers, why they were so hellbent on getting you back. The significance of the rock, the power it wielded, it could’ve been a powerful weapon if you had fully learned how to control it. And now she understood why you were so quick to agree with Tony, they had molded you to be a tool for their plans. They just didn’t expect you to take so long to hone the power, the stone itself was hard to control. HYDRA knew you needed more time to learn the powers, to find out what the stone can truly do other than fire energy blasts, they just never expected to be stabbed in the back by one of their own before you became the master of the stone.
The thought of Natasha’s disappointment built uncomfortable pressure in your chest. You never wanted to disappoint anybody, but Natasha? She was the last person you wanted to let down. Seeing that look in her eye did more damage to you than anything before, and you don't understand why. "I'm sorry," you whispered.
She turned back to face you, running a hand through her hair as she released a heavy breath before saying, "They have the technology here to take the stone out of Vision's head." She paused to think for a moment, contemplating whether or not it was a good idea, and you saw where her thought process was going. If they have the technology to harmlessly take the stone out of Vision's head, maybe they have something here to help take the stone out of your heart. She didn’t seem to understand the situation, though you knew she did, she was just frantic to find a way around it.
It was highly unlikely, but she seemed so desperate for it to be true. You saw now that she didn't care about the fight, she didn't seem to really care about the universe, she cared more about your safety than anything else. She needed you to be okay, and having possession of a stone that is targeted by a mad titan, that's far from being okay. You wanted nothing more than to please her. You'd be willing to undergo tests to see if the technology at Wakanda can actually remove the stone safely, but you knew it was a dream. And you knew you didn't have any time.
You wanted to see the world.
But then you remembered Wanda, the silent promise you made yourself to save her from the heartbreak of losing Vision, and you found yourself nodding slightly to Natasha’s proposal. Let them work their tests, search for a way to get the stone out safely, a way you knew they were never going to find.
"Whatever it takes," you told her, nodding, and the way her face went from dark with sorrow to bright with hope was enough to put a smile on your lips
"Whatever it takes." She sent you a soft smile, though the sadness in her eyes was unmistakable. She knew this wasn't going to work, but she was desperate to hold onto hope.
The moment you and Natasha caught up with the others was the moment you seemed to be the center of attention. Vision was already on the table, no time to waste. And with a whispered conversation between Natasha, Steve, and T’Challa, it wasn’t long after that the hushed discussion became announced and all eyes were on you almost instantly. The stares made you shift uncomfortably, digging your thumb into your palm as you casted your eyes away from them, looking down at the space in between your feet. You could feel the judgment radiating throughout the room, the questioning eyes silently asking you why. Why did you keep it a secret? Why didn't you tell anybody? This would've been a lot easier if you hadn't kept your mouth shut. Letting them know would've given them the chance to form a better plan. One where they would've put you as far as humanly possible away from Vision. Because, to them, putting as much distance between the stones was the best plan.
Your muscles locked underneath their stares, the silence in the room suffocating you, feeling as if they were waiting for you to answer a question you didn't hear. Your vision was blurred out of focus in a desperate attempt to avoid the watchful eyes, your nails digging into your palms as your fists clenched by your sides. What were they waiting for?
Someone stepped up to you, blocking everybody's gaze, and you blinked to refocus. Your muscles relaxed when you met Wanda's calm green eyes as Natasha's voice cut through the air, declaring that there wasn't enough time for whatever they wanted to do, and it gave you the chance to...
"Breathe, Y/N." Wanda's voice was soothing, and it definitely did a small role in managing to calm you down, but when she reached up to bring your face in between her hands, you were instantly relaxed. Your fists unclenched, your nails prying themselves out of your skin as you continued to calm your heart.
You leaned into her touch, your eyes falling into the endless depths of her pine forest eyes. The whole room evaporated into black around you, the only thing that mattered right now was directly in front of you. The way your heart was slowly picking up speed the longer she held onto you, the way your breathing remained calm and even. You could feel it, the stone igniting a raging inferno in your heart, coloring your veins a dim yellow that only grew brighter in the passing seconds. You didn't want this moment to end, the red-hot burning sensation in your veins. You wanted to stay like this, to forget the rest of the world and just focus on her.
But she pulled away at the sound of Steve's voice directly next to you, bringing the room around you out of the darkness as you saw a new person next to the patriot, a smile brightly lighting up her young features.
"I'm Shuri." Your eyes wandered down to the small device in her hands, to which she raised her arms up to show how innocent she was. "This is a portable x-ray. I'm just going to scan your heart to see what we're dealing with."
"It won't hurt you." Steve's voice was smooth and gentle, but it did you no good when she stepped towards you, separating you and Wanda.
She slowly brought her arm up, bringing the device towards as you felt your chest squeeze with panic, but somebody else's hand instantly gripped your own and you turned your head to look at Wanda, meeting her soft gaze as she held onto you tightly. You breathed out slowly, knowing that if somebody were to ever ask you how many times you got lost in the eyes that symbolized the fresh leaves beginning to bloom in the spring, you wouldn't be able to give them an accurate answer.
"Done." You blinked yourself out of Wanda's eyes, looking towards Shuri to see her holding a holographic diagram of your heart in her hand. Your eyes widened as you stepped closer to her, trying to get a good view of the stone embedded deep into your heart.
You weren't aware of the mood dip in the room, too mesmerized and awestruck by the view of your heart in the palm of her hand. Now that you weren't a kid, viewing the way the stone made its home in your heart as an adult, you understood it. It was like your heart had a cut on it and the stone was the bandage keeping it from bleeding. The chances of taking it out was impossible, not without killing you in the process.
When the diagram vanished with a flick of her wrist, you were pulled back to the reality of the situation by the look on her face, pinched in distress as she, too, realized the truth. Your eyes found Natasha across the room almost immediately, your heartstrings tugging strongly at the show of her shoulders slumping as what little hope she held slowly faded from her eyes.
"Can you do it?" She seemed to be refusing the truth, watching the redhead step forward in the hopes that the young scientist had something to help this situation. But, with Shuri facing you and not the former assassin, you saw in the young one's face that Natasha was not going to like the answer. "Shuri."
"Nothing can be done." It was four words that absolutely shredded Natasha's heart, somehow dropping her shoulders even more than they had previously. "The stone carved its way into her heart. It's… It's magnificent but at the same time horrifying." Shuri turned around, making eye contact with T'Challa. "I can't remove the stone, brother. Not without killing her."
"Then we leave." Natasha took another step forward, her face giving away the fear she was feeling. "We… I can take Y/N and we can get as far from Vision as--"
"Something just entered the atmosphere." Natasha's face fell at the announcement, knowing now it was too late to take you and run. You could see it, the way it was briefly written on her face. You already knew it was going to happen, seeing the blame she was putting on herself. She knew she should’ve agreed with you, to take you away the second you had asked, to take the Quinjet and just keep flying, but her stubbornness was going to bite her in the ass.
"Steve… we have to do something." Natasha was desperate, she didn't seem to be afraid to show it this time.
"We can protect her," Steve declared as the king stepped forward. "Keep her in here with Wanda and Vision and we can-"
"I'm not leaving--"
"There isn't much of a choice, Romanoff," Steve declared. "The plan has to change."
"We will hold them off," T'Challa announced, turning to point at Steve. "Somebody get this man a shield."
You watched quietly as the king left the room, his guards following close behind him. You felt your chest tighten as Natasha looked at you, her eyes flickering down very briefly and it was then that you had realized… Wanda was still holding your hand.
Your conversation with her last night came to your mind as Steve and Natasha discussed the new plan being formed right before you. You've had that stone in your heart ever since I've known you and I have yet to see you make a selfish decision. It was time to realize that you were making a selfish decision at this moment, having had the opportunity to get far from Vision, to make this war easier on the team, but you had chosen to stay. You didn't want to leave Wanda again, not if there was the high chance that you'd never see her after this. And that selfishness caused you to speak up in hope to correct yourself, to prove to Wanda that you are selfless… To prove to her that you are more than just the stone in your heart.
"I want to fight."
Steve turned to look at you, his arms crossed taut over his chest with his eyebrows pinched together. His face was stoic, but his eyes showed you that he, too, feared for your life. "Y/N, you can't--"
Your hand instinctively squeezed Wanda's before releasing her, stepping forward with more confidence than you've ever felt. "Let me fight."
"No." His voice was stern, having given you an order and expecting you to follow it as you always do, but he saw it just as everybody else saw it. The disobedience in your eyes. The urge to fix your selfish mistake was stronger than the urge to please everybody.
You looked at Natasha, knowing that she was always on your side despite not deserving it, but when you met her sad gaze, you instantly knew that this will be the first time in your life with her that she would be against you. "I'm sorry, Y/N," she expressed, knowing exactly what you saw, "but Steve is right. You're more safe here, with Wanda, than you would be out there." She stepped towards you, her head shaking subtly. "You need to be protected."
"I need to help."
Natasha looked to Wanda for help, knowing you'd do anything the witch asked of you, but when she averted her eyes from the redhead's pleading stare, you knew then you had at least someone in your corner at the moment.
"We don't have time to argue about this," Steve declared.
"Enough, Y/N," he snapped. "Wanda, when they get that stone out, you blast it to hell. Y/N, you're going to stay here and stay safe." He held up a hand when you opened your mouth to argue. "This is the plan." He gestured for Natasha to follow him as he walked away, but she quickly made her way to you instead, her hands resting on your shoulders.
"We can do this," she expressed, nodding enthusiastically. Her lips pursed together tightly, her eyes boring into yours, but you heard it. The slight waver in her voice, the hesitance that maybe, just maybe, this wasn't enough.
"I want to help." Your voice felt small as it came out of your throat, your eyes warming to appeal to Natasha's soft side, feeling the puppy dog look begin to form on your face. Though she has never said no to the look before, she quickly shook her head to reject your request.
"I need you to be safe." Your shoulders slumped against her hold, a small nod moving your head as you accepted your role in this game. There weren't a lot of things in this world that Natasha truly cared about, and you were at the top of the list of things she loves.
"Okay." You continued to nod shallowly as she removed one of her hands from your shoulders to wrap it around the back of your neck, pulling you towards her to rest her forehead against yours, your eyes automatically closing tightly at her touch. "I'll stay here."
Her grip was tight on your shoulder, and you had a sense that she really didn't want to let go. But with a deep breath, she finally pulled away from you upon hearing her name being called in the distance, sending you half a smile as she cupped your cheek. "I'll be back," she whispered, running her thumb over your skin as your eyes fluttered open. She took a step back, sniffling deeply as she held up her hand, pinky up. "I promise."
You slowly wrapped your pinky around hers, a smile crossing your features for a brief moment before the connection between your hand and hers broke at the sound of Steve's distant voice calling out for her impatiently. You stared at the empty spot in front of you after she walked away, blinking slowly as your eyes lifted to meet Wanda's a few feet away from you.
"They're right, you know." Wanda moved to step in front of you, watching the way your eyes blinked rapidly to refocus on her. She smiled softly at you despite the slight slouch in your shoulders at her words, her head tilting just slightly as she watched you with a warm expression. She saw that look in your eyes before, mere seconds before the Lagos incident, and she cleared her throat prior to saying, "You need to go out there."
Your face pinched into confusion, looking away briefly to become oblivious to the small step she took towards you. "They want me to stay here." You looked back at her, immediately finding her green gaze, causing your mind to race, finding the green of Wakanda becoming dull compared to her. "They say it's too dangerous--"
"It's even more dangerous for you to be here." She turned her head, looking at Vision's still body as lasers worked on his forehead. And, normally, you would've followed her stare with curiosity, but you couldn't seem to tear your eyes away from her, studying her as if this was the last time you'd ever see her.
There was a part of you that wanted to argue, not wanting to leave her in fear that you wouldn't make it out alive. You wanted to stay right here, right in front of her, but you knew you couldn't. So, when she turned back around to face you, you nodded. "Okay. I'll go." And even as you said it, you didn't move. You waited.
You waited for her to whisper the same word she had uttered last night... Stay.
"Go." It was one word that caused you to unfreeze as she slowly shook her head, her lips pinched together to form a thin line as if she were biting back the words that'll make you stay. She, too, can be selfish.
With one stiff nod, you took a step back, memorizing the expression of hope and confidence on her face as you turned away, but you didn't get far before a hand caught your wrist. You were being pulled back, your body spinning as you faced Wanda once again with wide eyes. The movement caused you to fall forward, but her hands were fast to catch you by cupping your face, guiding you forward for your lips to meet hers. It all happened fast, having caught you off guard, but the second her lips were pressed against yours, you didn't hesitate to melt into her, your mind befuddled as your hands rested gently on her hips.
The electricity that started at your lips and swam through your body like a roaring river was stronger than a lightning storm, your chest burning as the stone's lemon-colored power coursed through your veins, glowing radiantly as she pulled you impossibly closer against her. She could feel the slight heat underneath her palms as the yellow lines chased up your neck and teased your jawline. Your lips moved in sync with hers, and it wasn't much longer that your lungs yearned for fresh oxygen. And, as she leaned deeper into you, humming with relief against you, you could've swore you heard your soul whisper ever so quietly… welcome home.
Though it seemed like you've been here for hours, it still felt way too soon when she finally pulled back away from you. Your eyes slowly opened to meet her gaze, a small smile on her face as you both breathed out breathlessly.
"That crosses off one thing on your list, right?" Her smile grew in size, brightening her features as her thumbs traced soft circles on your cheeks. "Go, Y/N… and come back to me." She slowly took her hands away from you, not being able to break eye contact to watch the brilliant glow of your veins fade. "We can cross off other things."
With an eager nod, you slowly turned and left the room, feeling Wanda's eyes on you as you walked away.
Natasha was positioned to be on the front lines when a section of the barrier was taken down, finding herself in the thick of the war to defend the stone. Fighting alongside the warriors facing off against the alien army, risking their lives for this world. But when she ended up on the ground, desperately trying to stop the wrong end of a spear from going through her neck, she saw that there was nothing she could do to get out of this situation. Looking into the cold, dead eyes of her attacker, showing no mercy as the tip of the spear pressing against her throat, she couldn't help but have your face flash before her.
She felt a sudden swell of hope build in her chest when the pressure of the spear evaporate into nothing, blinking her eyes as a yellow beam soared through the air to push the warrior off of the redhead and into an incoming thresher, flinching when a few drops of alien's blue blood splattered onto her face. She groaned in disgust, climbing her feet and turning to face her savior, only to stop in her tracks when she watched you making your way to her. "Y/N? You--"
"Saved your life," you stated. You bit back the bile in your throat after having just killed somebody, enemy or not. Now was not the time to dwell on it. "I'm here to fight."
She stepped towards you, shaking her head. "If they get you--"
"They don't know. Nobody knows." You shrugged your shoulders, chewing the inside of your cheek as Natasha studied your face. Her shoulders slouched as she breathed out heavily, pursing her lips tightly. "Nat… I'm going to do this, with or without you. It'll--" You cut yourself off when Natasha stepped to the side to avoid an enemy's blade, and your movement was automatic as you lifted your arm, your veins revealing in a color that matched the sun as a beam shot out of your hand, slamming into the enemy to send him away from her. She looked back at you with a raised eyebrow as you clenched your jaw against the feeling of guilt at hurting another living being. You shook your head quickly, making eye contact with the former assassin once more. "It'll be easier if we stand together."
The moment Natasha nodded, you felt yourself relax just a bit as you turned back to the raging war. It was easy for you to defend yourself as long as you kept your focus around the clock, maintaining enemies at a distance and saving whoever needed saving. You were aware how Natasha would cast a glance at you every now and again, the idea of you in the midst of a battle for the thing keeping your heart beating didn't sit right with her. The smartest thing for her would be to lead you away from the fight and load you up into the Quinjet right now.
After blasting enemies left and right with the burning power of the stone for what felt like forever, you were eventually caught off guard when something rammed into your jaw, knocking you off balance as you staggered back. You remained on your feet, placing your hand over the throbbing pain coursing through your bones as you looked towards your assailant. With a huff, you lifted up an arm to blast him, but the alien was quick to block your attempt by swatting your hand with the flat end of his sharp weapon. You immediately pulled back at the sharp sting, but as the alien swiped at your legs with the weapon, you didn't have time to react to the pain in your hand before you were on the ground.
You groaned, looking up at him as he leveled the end of his blade at you, a sickening grin on his face as he prepared to lurch forward… until his face and body seized before dropping to the floor, your eyebrows furrowed with confusion as your eyes wandered to Natasha, who was making her way to you with an outstretched hand.
"I should teach you how to fight," she stated, shaking her head with a smirk. "We can start training after we get out of here. You shouldn't rely on just your powers."
You nodded quickly, opening your mouth as a smirk pulled the corner of your lips, "I had it handled."
Natasha rolled her eyes, laughing softly as she pulled you to your feet. "You looked like you were handling it pretty well from your spot on the ground, kiddo." She patted you on the back, releasing your hand as she shook her head. You turned away from her with a grin, breathing out deeply, but the smile that was stretching her features slowly faded when she saw the spark of pain cross your expression. "Y/N?"
You shrugged it off, breathing out as she tightened her grip on your shoulder. "I'm fine," you told her. "We should--" Your sentence was cut off into a strangled scream, your hands instantly going to your chest as the stone burned with more fiercely than you've ever felt before. Natasha fell to the ground with you as you were forced onto your knees, her face contorted in worried confusion.
You couldn't find the ability to form coherent words, the pain in your chest feeling as if someone were gripping your heart as tight as a vice. Natasha sat with you, helpless, as she watched your arms become colored in yellow veins, her eyes following them as they traveled up your neck and just barely past your jaw. Your mind was begging for reprieve from the agony, wanting to reach out for the redhead right next to you, but you couldn't move any of your limbs to do that, suffering a torture that was worse than whatever HYDRA had brought you you.
Your entire life with this stone in your heart, this was the most unbearable pain it has ever brought to you. The fire in your chest feeling as if it were setting your entire body on fire, insufferable as Natasha's voiceless words fell on your deaf ears. You were barely aware of her hands still on you, squeezing you in a reassuring manner in an attempt to let you know that everything will be okay, but how could you think like that when all you could think about is doing whatever it took to get the pain to stop…
And it did. The blazing inferno in the stone seized just like that, though your body was still writhing from the intolerable pain it brought. You were able to catch your breath, collapsing against Natasha as she held onto you tightly, the muffled voices in the comm tucked securely into one of your ears barely reaching you, but she heard them loud and clear. “He’s here,” she whispered, quickly climbing to her feet. “We need to go.”
“Where--” You groaned out as she pulled you up with her, huffing as the stone flared briefly in your heart. “Where are we going to go?”
She glanced over her shoulder to what you could only assume where Vision was, doing everything he can to prevent Thanos from succeeding, she tugged you the opposite way. “I don’t know yet,” she declared, picking up the pace, “but we’re leaving.”
You stopped abruptly in the middle of a clearing, away from the war going on somewhere behind you, forcing her to stop running to turn and look at you with furrowed eyebrows. “We can’t leave, Nat,” you stated. “They need us. The world--”
“Will be safe as long as we get you away from here.”
You shook your head. “He’ll find us. He can--” You cut yourself off when the stone lit up another firestorm in your heart, causing you to instinctively clutch your chest in hopes to extinguish the growing pain. Natasha was on you instantly, gripping your shoulders as her face softened, feeling yourself falling to your knees once more. But the pain was only growing stronger, your body tightening against it as your muscles locked. You were vaguely aware of Natasha pulling away from you, standing up and turning around as she pulled out her batons. That was when you knew…
His voice thundered threateningly several yards ahead of you, his footsteps seemingly loud in your skull, “Only beings of immense power can directly wield the stones and, yet… you, a measly little human being, your heart can hold it without trouble.” You picked your head up at his voice, looking up at Natasha to see how tense her body was. She was prepared to fight the madman for you, ultimately risking her life. “It’s almost poetic.”
Natasha didn’t hesitate to charge the Titan, her face scrunched in anger as her jaw tightened, but the maniac was in no mood to wait any longer for the stone. He waved his arm, sending the redhead to the ground and trapping her under unescapable bands of earth, rocks jutting out of the ground in a perfect prison. You struggled against the pain to get to your feet, your arms glowing brighter than a thousand suns as anger flew through your veins.
“You’re not winning this war,” you sneered, shaking your head. The other half of the stone glowed in the incomplete spot on his gauntlet, your jaw tightening, slowly raising your hands up.
The corner of Thanos’s lips tugged up into a small smile, his eyes watching you carefully. “Humanity is going to lose half its population when I’m done,” he stated. “I hope they remember you.”
Diverting the pain pulsating from the stone into the beams radiating out of your hands, the power you felt right at this moment was more than you’ve ever felt before, but it was no match against the man in front of you. He easily used the gauntlet to match your beam, though the purple from the Power Stone was no match against the yellow from the Mind Stone, easily gaining the upper hand as you felt yourself slide back against the dirt. You refused to let the fear show on your face, maintaining eye contact with Thanos as you fought against everything you felt. And, as he took one step closer to you, you could feel the stone in your heart reaching out to meet its other half, more desperate than ever before.
You tore your eyes away from Thanos to look at Natasha, her eyes filled with the fear you were feeling as she struggled against the rocks pinning her to the ground. Though, when she made eye contact with you, she felt the fight leave her body when the only thing she saw written in your irises was acceptance.
“Y/N,” she called out, shaking her head desperately. And, though her eyes were wild with dread, her voice wavering with terror, she still managed to bring you a sense of warmth.
You frowned briefly at her calls, too busy staring at her to notice just how closer Thanos was getting to you because it didn’t matter. You didn’t want to look away from the woman who was bringing you comfort in your time of dying. “I love you, mom.”
The power in the stone felt as if it died the second Thanos reached you, his gauntleted hand wrapping around your throat as he picked you up off the ground. You felt his free hand press against your chest, his grip tight on your neck preventing you from making any noise.
And the last thing you heard was Wanda calling out your name before you felt your heart stop beating.
Everything around her stopped the second she watched the Titan pull the stone out of your chest, her heart shattering as he dropped you to the ground like a ragdoll. She didn’t have time to process anything else before the sound of thunder echoed throughout Wakanda, a bolt of lightning gliding through the air to strike against him, digging him into the ground and grinding him back. Wanda couldn’t think of anything else as Thor took Thanos away from your lifeless body, dropping to the ground next to you. Her hands were hesitant, hovering above you as if she were scared to touch you.
Tears crawled down her cheeks, silent sobs escaping out of her mouth, as she finally brought your face into her hands. And she took the moment to read into your mind once more, watching as your fleeting memories ran through her mind as well, disappearing into darkness as you thought one last time. All the times you had watched her from afar, remembering all the feelings erupting inside of you at just the look of her. It was hard for Wanda to sit here and watch you love her from a distance, knowing that you could’ve been hers. To you, loving her from afar was enough because you didn’t need her to know you loved her, you didn’t need her to return it, you had only hoped that she felt it.
She sat there and watched your memories as long as she could, from her to Natasha and to the rest of the team, all the smiles and laughs… until she heard her own voice in your memory. “What do you feel?” She gasped softly, the words sparking the memory in her own head as she remembered the look in your eye when you had answered her question.
“I feel you, Wanda.”
It all faded away all too quickly, disappearing into the darkness as your brain stopped producing memories. And as she slowly started to dissolve away into nothing, she knew that she was okay with this. She wouldn’t know how to live with the hole in her heart with you gone.
She looked around the room, a small frown wrinkling her smooth features. Her hand ran across the wall as she walked along it, feeling the paint underneath the tips of her fingers as she walked. Her heart squeezed tightly in her chest as her lips trembled, fighting hard against the urge to cry as she marveled at the paintings of nature riddling the wall. The details put in every single inch of the mural made it look like it was printed onto the wall straight from a computer, but the unholy amount of messy paint supplies nestled in the corner of the room told her otherwise. She wondered how long it took you to do all this.
She paused at a painting of a window looking out into an array of dark green hills, a bright blue sky and a brilliant yellow sun, the only thing in the room not matching with the other works. Bright compared to the rest of it. Her fingers traced the lines of the fake window, her heart aching as her head turned away from the art to stare at the mattress resting a few feet away. Her lips pursed together, her mind aware of the new presence walking into the room, and she had hoped it was you… She knew better.
Wanda’s hand left the wall to rest back by her side, picking her head up to see Clint standing at the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest. He breathed out a chuckle as he stepped further into the room, his eyes canvasing the art on the walls. “She was a really good artist, wasn’t she?”
Wanda continued her walk around the room as she nodded, her eyes admiring each stroke of paint. Her nose burned from the tears trying to escape their prison, reaching the seemingly untouched nightstand resting by the bed. Her fingers skated over the surface, disturbing the fine layer of dust, using her thumb to wipe the grime off of her fingers as she stared at the unlocked collar, remembering the moment she made you laugh for the first time after your second round of HYDRA. She pulled open the single drawer, her eyes landing on a small, worn out notebook.
“Did you know that brain activity can continue up to four minutes after the heart stops?”
“It wasn’t your fault.” His voice reached her ears as she pulled the notebook out of the drawer.
“Because I didn’t,” she stated, ignoring his words. “Not until she…”
“Nobody knew about the--”
“I knew.” She nodded as she flipped through the book, her breath catching in her throat at the beautiful drawings of the team on the pages, filled with happy moments colored expertly in black and white. That’s what you remembered everybody by, the happiness, the laughs, though you’ve witnessed your fair share of downs with the team. You’ve seen the angry side of everybody, the sadness that would linger behind their eyes, but you looked beyond that to find the genuine happiness everybody would hide behind the fake smiles. “I knew she had the stone. I’ve known since I first laid eyes on her.” The spark she had felt when she first saw you walk into the building all those years ago to fight against Ultron, it was undeniable. She didn’t want to hurt you, physically or mentally, but her hatred for Tony Stark at the time was stronger than whatever feeling she had towards you… or so she thought.
She immediately regretted what she did to you and went on to resent Ultron.
Clint sighed as she stopped turning the pages, pausing on a picture of herself smiling widely, the only colored picture in the book. Her green eyes sparkled brightly back at her, her nose crinkled happily. And she watched a droplet of water fall onto the page, narrowly missing the drawing as it seeped into the paper. She quickly wiped the tears off her face to prevent any more from ruining the art.
“It wouldn’t have changed anything.” Wanda picked her head up to look at Clint, eyebrows furrowed. “Even if we did know about the stone in her heart, she still would’ve wanted--” He cut himself off, looking down at the ground when her eyes narrowed. She would delve into his thoughts, fish out whatever he was going to say, but she knew he was already thinking about something else in case she did.
“What?” His sigh only angered her more, the book closing gently in her hands as she took a step towards the former SHIELD agent. “She would’ve wanted what?”
He huffed, looking back at her. “She still would’ve wanted to save you. Nat…” He trailed off at her name, his voice getting caught in his throat for a brief moment before he cleared it. “Y/N did everything she could to protect you."
“I didn’t need protection.”
“She didn’t think so.”
Wanda looked down at the book in her hands, opening it once more to look at the colored drawing of herself. “I wish I told her.”
“Told her what?”
She sighed as she sat down on the bed, her fingers hovering over the colorful drawing. “She thought I was in love with Vision,” she said. “She was willing to do anything to prevent my heart from being destroyed, she just didn’t know that my heart belonged to her… and that I was just too much of a coward to tell her.” Her eyes caught the small drawing on her wrist, her head tilting to the side softly as she stared at the heart, letting her mind wander back to the moment it had happened… the moment that seemed to have happened only a few days ago.
“She knew.” Wanda picked her head up to look at him, pursing her lips together. “She left this for you.” He uncrossed his arms to hold up an envelope, crossing the room to hand it to her. “She gave it to… Nat before Wakanda.”
She took the envelope from him, eyeing the ink scrawled out to spell her name in your handwriting. She felt her breath hitch in her throat, running her fingers over the marking.
“Whatever happens next, Wanda, just know that I’ll always be there if you call.” He placed a hand on her shoulder gently before squeezing it and walking away, leaving her alone.
Wanda drove through the streets of the small town, her eyes scouring the neighborhood until she located the exact spot she had been searching for. She could feel her heart beating against her ribcage as she pulled into the driveway of a home that was yet to be there, holding the envelope close to her chest as she climbed out of the car. The feeling of emptiness flowing through her as she stopped in the middle of the frame of the house, looking around for a brief moment before looking down at the last gift you had given her.
She pulled the pamphlet out of the envelope, her heart slowing down as she read the words you had written onto the paper… This is where sitcoms come to life.
She felt the overwhelming feeling taking over her body, the envelope falling out of her hand as she gripped the pamphlet tight against her chest, a small fire being ignited in the pit of her stomach as she fell to her knees. She sobbed into the air, doubling over as if she were in pain as she cried at the loss of you…
The force that left her body made her arch her back, her arms spreading wide as she slowly floated to her feet, the burst of scarlet energy radiating out of her as her eyes squeezed shut. Her body felt as if it were being torn apart as the house built itself around her, breathing out as the energy faded away, but only for a brief second.
A stronger power overtook her, her back arching seemingly more as she screamed out, half in pain, half in grief. Her thoughts were focused on you as everything formed around her, her cries muffled by the sound of her magic forcing everything to bend to her will.
And then… it was nothing. The burning in her chest now a dull ember as she straightened her form, opening her eyes and immediately making eye contact with… you. The feeling of emptiness filled with warmth at the sight of your wide smile as you stood on the other side of the room. Though there was nothing stopping her from crossing it to reach you, she was frozen with happiness to see that you were alive.
This is what she wanted; a happy ending with you. And, if the universe wasn’t going to give her what she wanted, she was going to take it herself.
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