I snapped my eyes open and bolted upright with a startled scream, surprising an unexpecting Vision, since I was so still in his arms.
"Rose?" Vision said, placing a hand on my arm.
I felt the sting of the needles, the hungry gnawing on my stomach, the heaviness of my eyelids, the burning from the lack of water. All while being in a HYDRA cell. As an experiment.
"I wasn't born with my powers," I whispered. "I was a HYDRA experiment! A test subject!"
"Rosalina, I think the serum they put in you caused you to have a nightmare," Vision said. "You were never a test subject with your powers."
"Yes, I was!" I said. "That dream was all too real! More real than the nightmares of me losing control! Pietro and Wanda, they saved me!"
"But why would HYDRA want you?" Vision asked.
"To work alongside the twins," I said. "Be a servant, like them. Do their dirty work." Then I realized something. "Vision, I feel fine. I'm not in pain anymore! The serum, whatever it did, it finished it's job!"
"Do you feel any different?" Vision said.
I paused for a moment, really thinking and seeing how I felt. Then I shook my head. "Other than the flashback I had," I said, getting up. "It probably worked by making me remember more stuff." I paused. "Have you had any complications?"
"I haven't done much with you resting," Vision said as he got to his feet as well. "I tried phasing and changing density, but only with one hand. No problems there." He tried his whole body now. "It has not affected my abilities at all."
"Did you try phasing through the door?" I said. "That could get us out of here."
"I did as soon as we were brought here," Vision said. "It shocked me. They knew I'd try that, I guess."
"So we just wait," I said.
We turned as we heard footsteps.
Osborn came into view, Magicseer, Bullseye, Perception, and Venom with him.
"I'm ready to eat," Venom said.
"Metal's not good for digestion," Bullseye said.
Vision reached over to me and took my hand in his, squeezing it gently.
"Besides, Venom, I need them for the second part of the test," Osborn said. "If it fails and they die, then you can feast."
"Perfect," Venom said, grinning.
I glanced at Vision and he returned my glance.
"Get them," Osborn said, opening the cell door.
Magicseer and Perception came into the cell while Bullseye and Venom stayed right outside, ready to get us if we run.
"Vision, whatever you do, don't resist the tests," I whispered as our counterparts made us move into the hallway. "It'll only be worse for you. Do whatever they say, or else they'll do something to force you to do it, like try to hurt me."
Vision nodded slightly, and I could see he was scared about what was going to happen. I couldn't blame him: I had a feeling of fear rise up in me as I remembered the flashback, the needle sting, my heart stopping, the shock to bring me back to life, seeing the terror on the twins' faces.
The two took us out to the hallway and down to where two doors were, but before we could go into the separate room, Vision suddenly pulled me in close to him and kissed me as if this was the last time we'd ever see each other. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, "Don't change."
"I won't," I said. "Don't you change, Vision."
"I won't," Vision replied, squeezing my hand gently. "Be brave. We're Avengers. We'll get through this."
I nodded, my metallic heart racing as I tried to keep my fear hidden.
"Get them into the rooms before I get sick," Osborn growled.
Magicseer and Perception pulled me and Vision away from each other, our hands still intertwined before one final yank separated us and they practically threw us into the room, slamming the doors behind us after they entered, Bullseye and Magicseer with me and Perception and Venom with Vision.
I fell to my knees, looking around the room.
Three walls were mirrors and the fourth was thick glass. There was good lighting, not a single shadow in the room. Against one wall was a bunch of machines, test tubes, and other materials. At the center of the room was a cold, hard, metal table.
As I got to my feet, I looked at the glass and saw Vision getting up, looking around before meeting my eye. His room, I could see, was the mirrored reflection of my room.
"I love you, Rosalina," Vision mouthed.
"I love you, Vision," I mouthed back.
"Get to the table," Bullseye said impatiently.
I saw Venom tell Vision the same thing.
"Self repairs," Vision told me before Perception shoved him forward to the table. He laid down on the table and I saw him power himself down, which seemed to annoy the other android and the Spider Man counterpart.
There was only one flaw in his plan: we didn't know how long to stay asleep.
"Go," Magicseer said, pushing me forward none-too-nicely.
I stumbled forward but then walked to the table, each footstep echoing a thousand times more louder than what seemed normal.
I laid down on the table as the brother-sister duo walked to me to start strapping me down. "Powering down for self repairs," I said before shutting myself off.
The young girl, Rosalina Barton, was in New York. At this time, she was fifteen, and even though at this point she was homeless, she was still thriving in school. She enjoyed the events going on and was glad to have some friends she could hang out with.
But that changed one morning when an unexpected school-wide assembly was called.
Rosalina went to the auditorium like everyone else, confused about what was going on.
It was so crowded, students were struggling to find places even to stand.
A man walked onto the stage and all the talk grew quiet. "Hail HYDRA!" he said. "I am Wolfgang von Strucker, the new leader of this school. We are trying to make something, a super soldier. And you will help us."
Rosalina looked around as the other students shifted restlessly. "HYDRA?" she whispered. "That can't be! Captain America, he fought them in WWII!"
"If you hear your name," Wolfgang continued, "then please come forward. Or don't: either way, we're going to get you. We know who each and every one of you are. No use trying to hide. We know where your classes are, we know your family, and we even know where you live." He started to say ten names.
Rosalina listened, hoping her name wasn't called. She let out a relieved sigh when it wasn't.
One by one, her peers called came up onto the stage and were taken backstage and the others were released, going back to class.
As the days progressed, Rosalina noticed that the kids called didn't return, and more and more disappeared, also no word from them. It made her worried. She became much more aware of her surroundings, especially walking to and from the shelter, her home. A home with no address.
"They can't find me here," she whispered one night, staring at the bottom of the bridge, huddled in the corner with her thin jacket around her. "There's no way. This isn't a house with an address, and they have addresses. I never gave one."
About three months had passed since HYDRA took over the school. The teachers still did their normal routine: classwork, quizzes, exams, homework, stuff like that. They stopped everything when Wolfgang would walk into the class, demanding a student. The other kids never looked at the student who was called but the teacher signaled them out. That student would leave and everything would resume as if nothing had happened, though they all knew the person taken would never been seen again.
Rosalina kept off the radar as she usually did. Luckily, her teachers hardly acknowledged her unless she asked for assistance. And she was fine with that, especially now.
Her friends who she hung out with had all been taken for testing, and she worried about them.
But she noticed two new people, a brother and sister, who were seen walking down a hallway together, keeping close as they looked around. They both wore gray, the brother a kind of jumpsuit and the sister a dress. He had blue eyes and blond-tipped short hair. She had brown eyes and brown hair. They had came when HYDRA came, but they didn't do anything that would mean they were a part of them. In fact, they tried to keep away from them.
Rosalina decided that if she saw them during she, she would try to talk to them.
But she had to cast that thought away when Wolfgang came into her classroom.
"Rosalina Barton," he said.
Her eyes widened and she hoped the teacher didn't notice her.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
"She's here," the teacher said, pointing in her direction.
Slowly rising to her feet, she packed her bag in a daze, constantly aware of Wolfgang's eyes on her to keep her from running, but her mind was too numb to try to escape. She shouldered her backpack and walked out of the room with Wolfgang following a step behind.
She could barely process the walk to wherever she was going, her heart racing, her breathing quick, and her body shaking slightly. She could feel her stomach turning the way it usually did when she was put into a life-threatening situation or when she was scared out of her mind. She felt sick, like she could throw up at any moment.
When Wolfgang placed a hand on her shoulder, she jumped.
"I don't mean to scare you, my dear," he said calmly, having watched my reaction the whole time we walked. "Everything will be alright."
"W-what are you going to do to me?" she whispered, even her voice shaking.
"We're just going to perform some simple tests," Wolfgang said. "See how well you do in them. There is no pass or fail. Just a judgement on your current performance."
She nodded slowly, trying to calm herself down.
Wolfgang led her into a jet and made sure she was comfortable before it took off.
"Where are we going?" she asked, finally getting herself calm.
"To a base near here," Wolfgang said. "Your tests will be there."
"But my parents will worry," she said, though she knew her parents were dead. She wished she had some way to contact her brother, but they had broken connection long ago, though not by choice.
"I know you are an orphan," Wolfgang said. "And you have no home. Here, you'll have a family, a roof to live under, no worry about if you'll have a next meal, a bed to sleep in, clothes on your back."
Her eyes widened slightly at hearing this: it was but a dream to be able to think of that. All she knew now was poverty, no shelter but a bridge, worried about meals and trying to find comfort on the concrete. She loved when she was invited to a sleepover: she had at least a night to not worry about that. But was it true she no longer had to worry about that?
There was silence until the jet landed and Wolfgang lead her out into a type of hanger and to a door that had HYDRA's symbol on it.
Then she remembered again: this was HYDRA. They wanted destruction. That stuff Wolfgang said, she would get, yes, but at a terrible price, should she survive these "simple tests."
As she followed him, she stopped the brother and sister sitting in a corner together, her head buried into his chest while he had his arms wrapped around her. It was clear they loved each other and relied on each other for support.
And not for the first time, Rosalina yearned for her brother to be there, to comfort her as this brother comforted his sibling, to hug her when she was scared, to tell her in his brotherly, protective voice, "Everything will be alright, Rosie. I promise."
But Clinton Barton wasn't here, and she had no idea where he was.
Wolfgang stopped in a lab and had Rosalina put her bag down before guiding her to a wicked-looking machine. She stepped onto a platform and he typed a few things in. The machine hummed to life, raising the platform as a few tubes came out and stabbed themselves into her skin.
She gasped in pain, wanting to struggle but at the same time, trying to stay still.
"Stay still," Wolfgang said. "It'll all be over in a minute."
Her eyes widened as the tubes filled with something, forcing it into her bloodstream. She felt woozy, swaying on the platform. When the tubes removed themselves from her figure, she fell back, falling off the platform and into Wolfgang's arms as he darted forward to catch her.
Her vision went blurry and she fell into a restless slumber.
She awoke in a kind of bedroom, dressed in a gray dress like the sister. She sat up, looking around. Slowly, she got to her feet and went to the door, slowly opening it and stepping into the hallway slowly.
"You shouldn't have survived the test," a voice said to her right and she spun around to see the brother. "Everyone else but my sister and I have died as soon as it was injected."
"W-what?!" she cried, eyes wide.
"They will do more tests," the brother said as he walked around her. "More until they deem you are ready to be trained. Don't survive them. Training will be the worst thing you ever endure. But if you survive, then I will protect you as I protect my sister. You will become our sister. Because you will need that kind of support or else you will not make it."
Before she could question him, he ran off.
"You're awake," Wolfgang said as he walked to her from the other direction.
She turned to him, nodded slowly, the brother's message swirling in her mind.
"You must be hungry," Wolfgang said. "Come, we'll get you something to eat and then we'll do another test."
Without any choice, she followed Wolfgang down the hall.
He made sure that she did eat something, not just throw it away, before taking her to a new lab and having her lay down on a table. He strapped her wrists and ankles down before stepping back. "Just remain calm," he said as he powered up a different machine.
She let out a startled scream as the machine came to life, bringing several needles into view...
My eyes flew open as there was a burning sensation throughout my whole body.
I tried to bring a hand up to my forehead but something stopped it.
I looked around and saw I was still on the table and I realized something: I wasn't asleep long enough.
The room was empty and when I looked over at Vision, I saw he was also alone, but he was still sleeping.
"Powering down for-" I began, meaning to shut myself down again, but something suddenly sparked up inside of me, causing me to let out a cry of pain.
My cry was enough to make Vision come out of his sleep and he snapped his head to me, seeing me ball my hands up into fists, my eye shut tight as pain made my body try to ball up.
It felt like a fire was burning in my body, and I had no way to stop it.
I screamed as it intensified in my head, as if roasting my brain. I pulled against the restraints, trying to curl up into a ball on my side.
"Rose!" Vision cried, distress clear in his voice and visible on his face as I opened my eyes enough to see him.
Involuntary tears ran down my face as the pain pulsed through my body.
Then all at once, it disappeared.
I relaxed, my head falling back onto the table and stopping my struggle, feeling numb.
But then I heard a scream from Vision and turned my head to see he was now going through what I just did.
"Vision!" I exclaimed.
His suffering went on for a few minutes before it left him and he relaxed.
I heard my door open and tried to look behind me as footsteps approached me.
"Don't do that again if you know what's good for you," Perception said as he stopped just outside of my line of vision.
I saw the Vision was watching what was happening with wide eyes.
"What do you want with me?" I asked through a sore throat, raw from screaming.
"Don't talk," Perception said. "Test one, phase one is complete. Beginning test one, phase two for test subject Rosalina Barton."
I tensed up as he placed a hand on my forehead. Unlike Vision's, which was warm and human-like, Perception's was cold and metallic, like Ultron.
Suddenly, I felt something in my brain, viewing my mind and going into the most private memories. It was sharp, like a dagger, stabbing into thought after thought and twisting the blade around, causing excruciating pain for me.
But I couldn't scream: all I could do was stare wide-eyed at the ceiling at Perception went deeper and deeper into my own being, seeing everything, my fears and weaknesses, the good and the bad, the happy and sad times, the stuff I wanted to keep secret and the stuff everyone knew about.
After what seemed like an eternity, Perception lifted his hand and the dagger was gone.
"Phase two complete," Perception said. "She can return to the cell now." He turned and left the room as two other people came in.
Magicseer and Bullseye undid the straps and pulled me to my feet, having to practically drag me out of the room because my legs didn't support my weight.
They placed me in the cell and I huddled in a corner, my knees pulled against my chest, my head buried between them.
I didn't even move when the cell door opened again and Vision was brought inside.
"Rosalina," Vision murmured, sliding to me.
I didn't respond, only turn to him and bury my head in his chest, holding him as if I was scared that if I let go, I could lose him.
Vision wrapped his arms around me, keeping me close and not speaking, trying to get over his own experience while trying to comfort me at the same time.
I couldn't help it: I started crying.
"Vision," I sobbed.
I was startled when I felt a sob shake his body and looked up at him to see him crying, as well.
"Rosalina," he whispered.
We held each other in our arms, both silently crying, both trying to get over the experiments that were performed on us.