Back to the Base
When I woke up, I was in a different part of the forest, alone.
I sat up quickly, looking around as I got to my feet but fell to my knees as I felt a pain spark in my ankle.
It scared me for a moment: since I had became an android, I hadn't experienced any real amount of pain, at least nothing like what I was feeling now.
I looked down at my ankle and saw that most of the skin was seared off, revealing a mix of muscle and metal. I grimaced at the sight of it and attempted to heal it with magic.
I panicked a little when it didn't work but then forced myself to calm down. Before I could move, I knew I had to get this under control, even if I was going to fly the entire time.
I got some snow and placed it over the wound, letting out a relieved sigh as the cold met my hot skin. Then I made myself a quick makeshift brace by using tree branches and ripping the cloth off of the leg of my pants.
Once it was secured, I got to my feet again, still feeling discomfort, but not as bad as it was before.
There was the sound of branches breaking and I turned that way, quickly getting an arrow on my bowstring. "Who's there?" I asked, getting ready to shoot.
"Careful there," Tony said as he flew into view, hovering above the ground. "It's only me."
"Tony, when did you get here?" I said.
"We've been here for awhile now," Tony said. "The Avengers are finishing up getting rid of HYDRA at the farm. Red Skull, Loki, and the Enchantress fled shortly after they realized we were too powerful as a team. Vision was going to come but he went with Clint and Natasha to check on Laura and the kids. Told me where he had taken you after you passed out."
Something about that didn't add up. What had made Vision go with Clint and Natasha? And wasn't Clint worried about me, since Vision would've told him what had happened when they showed up and I wasn't there?
"Rose, how are you-?" began Vision as he flew into view but stopped as he saw Tony. "You are with the others," he commented. "Unless…"
"Imposter!" I growled, releasing my arrow.
The real Tony, I knew, would be able to dodge the attack or blast the arrow before it hit him.
Instead, it almost hit his arm but he grabbed it.
"You almost fell for it," the Enchantress growled as the iron suit disappeared and she touched the ground. She threw my arrow on the ground.
"I knew you weren't the real Tony," I said as Vision landed next to me. "When you said that Vision when with Clint and Natasha, I knew something wasn't right: Vision would've came to check on me, as he's doing now, and Clint would've came with."
"You will not win, Enchantress," Vision said. "Your magic won't work on us."
"You're mere mortals," the Enchantress replied. "I could easily put you under my spell."
"It looks like we have skin, but that is not on the inside," I said. "Metal mixes with flesh, and we are androids. Your Asgardian spells won't do much on us, especially since I am a magician, myself."
"And your current injury will allow you to fight?" the Enchantress asked, gesturing to my brace.
The longer I stayed on my feet, the more pain there was. So to stop that, I hovered in the air inches above the ground.
"I can fly, you know," I answered. "You shouldn't worry about me: only yourself." I cast a plasma ball at her but she rebounded it and sent it at us.
Vision and I flew into the air before it could hit us but it still clipped my leg where I was hit, destroying the cast.
I bit back my cry of pain, knowing that I needed medical help for it.
"Get to the farm," Vision told me. "I will keep her occupied while you go."
"I'm not leaving you, Vision!" I protested.
"Go!" Vision ordered. "Earlier today, you gave the orders and I obeyed. Now it's vice versa! Don't argue! You need to seek help with your injury!"
After a moment's hesitation, I nodded and flew back to the farm.
When I reached it, I saw that SHIELD was taking the HYDRA members away and the other Avengers were making sure everything was fine, minus Clint and Natasha, who, I assumed, were getting Laura, Cooper, Lila, and Nathaniel.
Vision came by my side a few moments after I arrived. "She left when you did," he said when I looked at him. "Sorry for my tone back there. I just-"
"I understand," I interrupted, not unkindly. "You wanted me out of there before I got more hurt. And I can be a bit stubborn at times. But thank you for that."
I gave him a kiss but we both jumped when we heard two young voices go, "Ew!"
I chuckled as I turned to see Cooper and Lila there, Clint, Laura, and Nathaniel over by the house. "Are you two ok?" I questioned. "No bruises or cuts?"
"Are you alright, Aunt Rose?" Lila asked.
"Yea, Dad said that he and Aunt Natasha had to come help you," Cooper added.
"I'm fine now," I answered. "I just need to see someone about my leg, which isn't best if you see right now." I added the last part quickly, covering my injury with my hand as they both tried to see how hurt I was. I knew it would only give them nightmares by how bad it looked. "You two go back to Mom and Dad. I'll be over as soon as I'm taken care of."
The two kids hugged me and then rushed over to where Clint and Laura were.
"Your niece and nephew," declared Vision as we both went to where the medics were, though knowing that Tony would be our best bet, since he was there getting treated for an injury.
I nodded. "My niece and nephew," I repeated.
"You didn't join us in the battle, yet you sent the distress call," Tony commented as the medic finished with him and went to go restock some supplies.
"I would've but as soon as I sent the call, the Enchantress knocked me out," I replied. "And also gave me a pretty bad injury that I think would be best you look at first."
"Alright, let me see," Tony said as he offered me his chair.
I sat down in it, Vision staying back a little bit but observing carefully, and put my foot up on the small table Tony pushed in my way.
Tony looked at the injury, frowning. "Doesn't look too pleasant," he observed. "Yea, it's a good thing you're having me look at it first. Some of the metal is gone, and since that's replacing the bone, it needs to be repaired before it's healed."
"Why not just put metal skin over it?" I asked. "Like with other places on my body?"
"With how this looks, I think it'll be easier to do that," Tony said. "Come onto the ship and I'll be able to do that here."
I got to my feet, hovering still, as Tony, Vision, and I went onto the ship. I sat down in the place Tony told me to sit and put my foot up again, Tony going to get what he needed while Vision stayed by my side.
"So what happened after I passed out?" I said, looking at Vision.
"I was momentarily dazed to start with, since there was that flash of light," Vision said. "It was long enough for them to start an attack and once I realized that you had fainted, I put myself between you and them. Yes, it did hurt me a bit, but better me than you. As soon as Clint and Natasha came, that gave me the chance to get you and take you someplace safe. I was going to put you with your family, but Clint said that it would not be the best situation, since it would worry them even more. So I took you to the clearing you were in. By the time I got back, the others had shown up and were already driving the three away. So I helped them with that and then came to get you."
"Did you happen to notice when I had gotten hit on my leg?" I said.
"As I was leaving with you, the Enchantress cast a spell at us," Vision said. "I thought that it missed us, but I guess I was mistaken."
Tony came back with the stuff he needed, setting it out carefully and strategically. "Ok, so, you ready?" he asked me.
"As ready as I'll ever be," I replied with a sigh. I unconsciously took Vision's hand in my own, just wanting to know that he was there for me.
With a nod, Tony started the procedure, cleaning the wound, which was the most painful part of the whole thing because it meant the cleaning alcohol coming in contact with the raw muscle, and then covering it with the metal before doing the cosmetic part, making the metal the right color to go unnoticed on my skin.
By the time he was done, I couldn't even tell there was metal there.
"Alright, that should do it," Tony said as he wrapped it. "Just make sure it stays wrapped up for a few days so that the skin and metal fully fuse together."
I nodded. "Thanks Tony," I said.
"Now go with the little agents," Tony said, shooing me away lightheartedly.
Vision and I went back outside and right away, Clint was waving us over.
We went over to them.
"Everything alright?" Clint asked, gesturing to my leg.
"Yep, everything's fine," I said. "Nothing major."
"Rose!" Nathaniel cried.
"I'm here little buddy," I said, Laura letting me hold him in my arms.
"It was like he knew you were in trouble," Laura said. "Once we left the farm, he would not stop crying for the longest of time. He was so stressed out."
I looked down at the blissful baby in my arms. "Were you worried about me?" I asked gently. "Well, I'm fine." I kissed his forehead and he seemed to let out a contented sigh.
"This is Nathaniel," Vision said, watching the baby with his blue eyes.
"Yea," I said. "And Cooper and Lila, my niece and nephew, and my step-sister, Laura." I gestured to each of them. "Guys, this is my partner, Vision."
"You look cool!" Cooper exclaimed. "And your name is so awesome!"
"What's the yellow gem?" Lila asked, pointing to it. "And why's it yellow? And-?"
"Alright, alright," Clint said, cutting off Lila. "It's getting late. You two get inside and get ready for dinner."
"Ok!" the two kids said, going into the house.
"I'm going to get inside, myself," Laura said. "Nathaniel needs to be fed and then I'll start cooking for the others."
"I can feed him," Clint offered. "Less work for you. And Fury said that he would cater for everyone here for dinner and breakfast in the morning."
Laura nodded her thanks and went inside as I handed Clint his youngest child.
"Curious, they are," Vision pointed out.
"Well, they're kids," Clint said as he started up the steps to the porch. "Are you two going to come inside or stay out here?"
"I'll come inside," I said as I followed him. "Much more quiet."
"I'll come, as well," Vision added, falling in step next to me.
Even though I did my best, for some reason, the metal wasn't fusing to my skin. I tried everything I could think of from just staying off of my feet and even trying to use magic to get it to work.
Due to that, I had to return to the base earlier than I would've liked, especially since when I brought it up to Tony, he admitted that it would've been a better job had it been done in his lab.
So when the Avengers left, I said my goodbyes to my family at the farm and went to leave, Clint saying that he would be back after Christmas, at least.
I warned Clint to be careful, telling him what Red Skull had told me and Vision about why he attacked the farm, and he promised me he would be careful, and to call if he needed help. Plus, Natasha was staying there, was well, so he had someone to rely on for help.
When we got back to the base, Tony brought me to his lab and got to work on my leg, being able to do a much better job than before and actually have my skin fused to the metal before I left.
After that was over with, I got back into the habit of doing stuff with Vision, whether it was long walks outside, wandering around the base, taking small trips into New York for various reasons, sitting back and resting, the occasional training session, talking all night long, or sleeping and eating meals when we needed it.
We tried to keep on the same schedule when it came to meals and sleep since we were so used to each other's company. For a little bit after we got back from the farm, I was a bit off sync with him, but it didn't take long for us to get into the same procedure again.
Tony gave me an update every so often on how my heart was doing, saying that he was making great progress and should actually be done before the winter ended.
I just had one request: I wanted both Vision and Clint present when he did the surgery. They didn't need to be in the same room as me, but I didn't want Vision away on a mission or Clint at the farm in case something went wrong during the operation. It was a reasonable request.
Of course, Tony honored it. He also told me that I would need a few down days to recover before training and doing missions again. He would clear me when I was ready.
When it was just me and Vision, we didn't talk about my surgery that was coming up: he saw that whenever it was mentioned, I would tense up slightly and there would be a look of unmistakable fear in my eyes. He didn't want to bring me any more stress than I already had, since I was still not doing well with my nightmares and I was still a bit paranoid about Ultron basically being able to control my body and almost end my life.
One morning the day before Christmas Eve, there was a disorganized air around the base that Vision and I didn't quite understand.
"This is what happens when you fall asleep," Vision pointed out, and I had to agree with how coincidental it was: the night we decide to sleep, something big happens.
"Steve, what's going on?" I asked, catching Steve's arm as he walked quickly by us to stop him.
"It's about Bruce," Steve said. "We've been trying to contact Clint and Natasha but they're not picking up."
"Bruce?" I said. "What about him?"
"He's back," Steve replied.