In the morning, Pietro was up before me, gently shaking me awake.
"Rose, wake up," he whispered.
Slowly, I woke up, sitting up and rubbing my eyes.
"Morning Sleeping Beauty," Pietro teased, seeing how messy my hair was.
"Oh shut up," I muttered, though I smiled as I got to my feet, running a hand through my hair as a comb.
"So why'd you come in here?" Pietro asked as he got to his feet. "Missed your big, protective, handsome brother?"
"You sound like Clint," I commented.
"Not the Old Man!" Pietro protested.
"And to answer your question," I continued, "you, my protective big brother, was talking in your sleep about your sister."
"I don't talk in my sleep," Pietro said quickly, turning to hide a blush.
"Then I must've had some dream," I said. "Come on, we've gotta get ready for school and then we'll be at the new orphanage after school."
"Alright, alright," Pietro said. "I'll be out in two. Think you can beat that?"
"Challenge accepted, Brother," I said with a smile, darting to my room.
I quickly threw on some clothes and ran out to breakfast, beating Pietro by a couple seconds. "I beat you!" I exclaimed. "By a few seconds! And you're supposed to be the quick one!"
"For once, though I let you win it," Pietro said coolly as he went to get breakfast.
"You didn't see that coming?" I asked.
Pietro laughed as he got food and we sat down together.
We continued to talk as he ate, getting our bags afterwards and a couple new agents leading us to the car to be driven to school.
On the drive there, they filled us in on the information for the new orphanage and how to get there after school was out.
We were dropped off a couple blocks away and walked to the school.
After a long day that left us drained, we began to walk to the new orphanage.
"Story change," Pietro said. "We're homeless and was still able to attend school. Our friends didn't know we were homeless until we let it slip and now they're offering us to live with them, but we don't want to be a bother to them so instead we're coming here."
I nodded. "Alright," I said.
When we reached the orphanage, we immediately picked up on a much more friendlier atmosphere. Compared to the gray stone walls and tall, barred-iron fence at the other orphanage, this one was red brick with a low fence with even a garden bordering the building. Kids and teens were outside, talking and laughing.
When they saw us approach, one boy stepped away from the group and immediately hugged us, startling us slightly, but being able to hide it.
"Welcome to the family," he said, stepping away. "Mother Dawn takes excellent care of us. A wonderful woman, she is."
"What's your name?" Pietro asked, keeping me close to him.
"Xander," the boy said. "What about you?"
"I'm Pavel, and this is my sister, Roza," Pietro said, patting my shoulder.
"Pavel, Roza, welcome home," Xander said. "Go inside. Mother Dawn will see you and get you situated."
We nodded and walked up the steps, into the building.
We entered a large hall, complete with a seating area with a fireplace, doors springing off to different directions.
"Welcome children," a woman said as we entered, coming to us. "I'm Mother Dawn. How may I help you?"
"We need a place to stay," Pietro said. "My sister and I. We're orphans, been trying to make due on the street, begging while attending school. It's never enough. We gave up trying and decided to find a place to call home. Our parents died in a fire. We have only each other."
"A touching story," Dawn said as she started walking. "Follow me and I will get you situated. By the end of the day, you will have a warm meal down, clothes and more school supplies, and a place to sleep. Do you have any requests?"
"M-may we stay together if we're adopted?" I asked softly.
"Of course," Dawn replied. "You two I see already share a bond more than just blood. You've been through a lot together and went to stay that way. You may not be able to function properly without the other."
"That is all true," Pietro confirmed. "If I didn't know if my sister was safe or not, it nearly drove me mad. I had to find her. I have to protect her. I promised Mom and Dad I would."
"You two will stay together," Dawn said. "Be sure of that."
We reached her office and she ushered us into two chairs before sitting behind her desk, bringing up a registration form. She put a pair of reading glasses and she began to ask us questions in order to fill out the form. Once it was complete, she got to her feet.
"You two are officially enrolled," she said. "I will show you where your room is and you can get settled in before dinner."
Unlike having a dorm that a group of kids stayed in, Pietro and I had an actual room that we shared, and the room was pretty nice, complete with two beds, desks, wardrobes, and a small bookshelf.
"This is someplace I could get use to," I commented as we sat down on the beds.
"Definitely," Pietro agreed. "Everyone seems so nice and I feel like they actually accept us, compared to the other place."
We worked on our homework and then decided to walk around for a bit, see what there was.
"You need to shave, Pavel," I commented, seeing the stubble growing back.
Pietro paused in a mirror, running a hand along his jawline to see the beginning of a beard. "I'll do it later tonight," he replied.
When we went outside, we saw Xander playing catch with a few younger kids. He seemed to be the fatherly figure for them, calling out encouragement as he threw the ball but they didn't catch it. He caught the ball and spotted us. "Heads up, Pavel!" he called, throwing it at Pietro.
Pietro caught the ball and looked at me, giving me a small smile. "Let's see if you can throw," he said as he handed it to me, patting my back.
"Come in, Roza! Toss is in the glove!" Xander said encouragingly, patting the inside of his glove.
I nodded, in reality being able to play catch with Cooper and Lucas, but now needing the pretend that I had no sense of accuracy. I threw the ball a bit to the left but with a shuffle of his feet, Xander caught it.
"Not bad!" Xander said. "Little bit more practice and you'll be able to play softball!"
I smiled softly. "Thanks," I said.
"You can look around the ground," Xander said. "Lots of stuff going on. You have a preference you want to do?'
"Football?" Pietro asked.
"Or dodgeball?" I added.
"We have a football field behind the building," Xander said, pointing behind the orphanage. "If they're playing, they're playing there. And there's a basketball court by the field where we play basketball and dodgeball. Just depends on what the kids are feeling."
We nodded and walked in the way Xander pointed to.
"Football or dodgeball?" Pietro said as we walked.
"Let's do football this time," I said. "Haven't played it for awhile. Just don't use your speed."
"No, that's why I'll be goalie if I can," Pietro said. "Easier that way. If not, then a defensive position."
"I'll see about being on defense," I said.
We saw the field and the kids beginning to pick teams.
"Hey! Wait for us!" Pietro called as we ran to them.
"You two wanna play?" one of the captains asked.
"If you'll have us," Pietro replied.
"What are your names?" the second captain said.
"Pavel," Pietro said.
"Roza," I said.
"Alright, I got Roza," the first captain said. "You look athletic."
I did a small smile as I joined his side.
"Perla, with me," the second captain said, gesturing to a girl to join her side.
After a few more names, the first captain had Pietro join his side.
When everyone had a team, our captain had us pick positions.
One girl immediately took the goal, so Pietro and I took defense.
Once everyone was in positions, we started to play until Dawn called everyone in for dinner.
"Hey, Roza, nice goal there at the end," one girl said as she patted me on the back.
I smiled slightly, looking at the ground. "Thanks Elizabeth," I said, embarrassed.
In the cafeteria, when we got food, we tried to sit away from the others, but they made Pietro and I sit with them.
"Come on, don't sit alone!" Perla insisted.
"Yea, you're family," Xander added, offering us each a piece of candy that they said he always had during meals.
"Alright, thanks, we'll sit here," Pietro said as we accepted the pieces of candy.
"You'd better," Elizabeth said. "Like Xander said, we're all family here. We stick up for each other. You've gotten like so many new brothers and sisters now, even if we get adopted, or if you get adopted. We have many different reasons for why we came here, but this is what unites us."
We were about to reply when an alarm went off.
"W-what does that mean?" I asked hesitantly as we all got to our feet.
"Get to your room," Xander said. "Eat there. Mother Dawn will tell us when it's alright to come out. We'll find out what's going on later."
Pietro and I got to our feet, grabbing our plates, and filed out of the room with the other kids, going to our room.
Once the door was closed, I pressed a finger to the communicator in my ear. "Magemancer to Russian base, come in," I said.
"Agent Alexander here," a man said. "Report."
"Is there any suspicious activity going on around the orphanage?" I asked. "An alarm set off and we're currently in our roms. Everyone was sent to theirs. We can't go out without looking suspicious."
"I see some kind of activity, but whatever it is, I can't tell," Alexander said. "But there is something going on. Looks like an attack."
"Should we go out to fight?" Pietro said.
"Yes, but use extreme caution," Alexander replied.
Pietro and I looked at each other and nodded, changing into our uniforms that we had brought with us just in case. And with a little bit of magic, I changed both our hair colors temporarily.
Once we were ready, Pietro picked me up and quietly went into the hallway before running outside.
When we got outside, Pietro put me on my feet and we listened to see if we heard anything.
"Scanning area for attack," I said as I floated into the air, turning in a circle as I scanned the area. "The field, Quicksilver."
Pietro nodded and ran that way as I flew over the building.
"Mage, Quick, there's high readings of Dark Avenger energy in your area," Steve reported to us.
"Dark Avenger?!" I exclaimed as I stopped flying, Pietro sliding to a stop.
"Yes, do not engage," Steve said. "I'm sending Vision and Scarlet your way to deal with it."
"Which Dark Avengers?" Pietro said as I flew down next to him.
"Magicseer and Bullseye," Steve reported.
"Man, aren't they being annoying?" I said. "We won't attack, but if they aim for the orphanage, then we're fighting."
"Understood," Steve said. "Right now, stay hidden."
"Roger," Pietro and I said.
I turned us invisible as we waited.
"We're getting there as quickly as possible," Wanda reported. "But we're rushing a usually four-hour flight."
"Get here as soon as you can," I said. "That's all we ask."
"We're doing our best," Vision said. "Luckily they had Wanda and I go to London to be on standby. That cuts six hours off the flight."
"How long do you suppose you'll take?" Pietro said.
"Minimum an hour," Wanda said.
"Max three," Vision added.
"Alright, we'll watch them," I said. "Let us know when you get into Russia."
"Roger," they both said, breaking connection.
"They're staying in the Russian base," Pietro said right away after connection was broken.
"Agreed," I replied. "Waiting this long could possibly be deadly. Wish Steve thought of that before sending them only as far as STRIKE."
We watched Magicseer and Bullseye talking on the field for a long time, as if waiting for something.
"What are they planning?" I whispered. "This is making me too on-edge. Whatever they're going to do, I'd rather it be now instead of later."
"I know," Pietro agreed, watching the brother-sister villain-duo.
"I could try to get closer and hear into what they're saying," I offered. "Turn into an ant, hide in the grass."
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Pietro warned. "They could crush you, and we need to stay back by the orphanage to block any attacks."
I nodded, giving up the idea immediately. "Just a thought," I said. "I don't like not knowing what the bad guys are planning."
"Entering Russian airspace now," Wanda reported after about an hour. "We're arriving in T-minus fifteen minutes. Anything?"
"They haven't done anything yet," I said. "Just talking."
"They're waiting for something," Pietro added. "Maybe for their backup, maybe for you two. We don't know exactly."
"They haven't even moved yet?" Vision said, confused.
"That's right," I said. "Strange, I know. But we're continue to watch them. Be as quick as possible."
"Will do," the both said.
Exactly ten minutes after they disconnected, Magicseer suddenly cast a spell at the orphanage.
I countered with my own, leaving the building untouched.
"Finally some action," Pietro commented as Bullseye shot an arrow. He ran and grabbed the arrow, throwing it back.
"Hold them off for five minutes at least," I said as I cast a spell back at them. "The two should be here by then."
Pietro nodded. "Might as well release the invisibility spell," he said. "They know we're here now."
I removed the spell from around us.
"Rosalina, Pietro," Magicseer said as she floated into the sky. "I knew you were here."
"And why are you here?" I demanded, also flying so she and I were eye-level.
"We have a mission, just like you have one," Bullseye answered.
"What makes you think it's a mission?" Pietro responded.
"Why else are you living in an orphanage?" Magicseer said. "You're a bit too old for them, and the others wouldn't just give you up like that. Especially Wanda for you, Pietro, and Vision and Clint for you, Rose."
"Oh what's it to you?!" I snapped.
"Watch your tone," Bullseye warned, shooting an explosive arrow at me.
I threw up a shield quickly but it still caused me to fly back still.
"Magemancer!" exclaimed Pietro as I steadied myself in the air.
"I'm fine," I replied. "Focus on the targets!"
Pietro nodded and turned back to the two Dark Avengers, but too late to react to a spell cast by Magicseer, causing him to go flying into the building.
"Quicksilver!" I exclaimed, flying in front of him as he recovered. "I will warn you only once, Bullseye and Magicseer, leave!"
Before the two could approach us, a laser beam suddenly hit both of them, causing them to fall back.
"Came in just in time," Wanda commented as she touched to the ground, Vision next to her.
"What took you?" Pietro asked as he got to his feet.
"We came as fast as we could," Vision said.
"Leave these two to us," Wanda said, turning to the two Dark Avengers. "Get to wherever you're supposed to be."
"We'll let you know when everything's safe," Vision added.
"Be careful," I said as Pietro picked me up and ran back to our room.
When we got inside, we quickly changed back into our regular clothes and I returned our hair to their past color.
"Now we wait," Pietro said, picking at the now-cold food we had brought to the room. "Think you can heat this up a little bit? I'm starved!"
I nodded, heating up both dishes. "Have mine," I said. "I have no appetite right now, especially with that small fight."
Pietro only nodded, eating silently as we listened to the fight going on outside.
"Targets have fled," Vision reported after a bit. "Everything's safe, for now."
"Stay at the Russian base," I said. "Steve can send another pair to STRIKE, but if there's another attack, we can't pray that they'll be talking most of the time. We got lucky. If it had been an attack from the start, you may've been too late."
"Roger," the two said, though Pietro and I could hear a bit of delight in their tone.
"We'll see you the end of the week," Pietro said and we broke connection. He sighed, setting his fork down and stacking the two empty plates on one-another. "You know, I was hoping to have no need to fight," he commented. "Just one mission without fighting. It seems that's all we do, because we have no choice. No 'can we talk about this?' but 'either you give up and die or fight to keep from dying.' Always action, no peace."
"I know how you feel," I said, sitting on the floor near him, deciding against the bed for whatever reason that I didn't know. "I sometimes wonder what it would be like to not have powers, if I was never a HYDRA experiment. Most likely I would still be in New York, living on the streets, but at least I would be able to be more...human. Ever since the experiment, I struggled in school, dropped out of college because I couldn't handle the pressure. It became too much. Before I found out, I thought it was because of all the tests that were suddenly thrown at us, that it just was too stressful, despite being able to cope with everything beforehand." I shake my head. "But it wasn't the tests. HYDRA destroyed my chance at gaining a valuable education, being able to get a job, live someplace and be able to actually support myself. Before then, it was talk and love. Now it's train and fight."
Pietro came and sat next to me, taking a hand in mine. "Wanda and I volunteered for the experiments," he said. "We thought we could get back at Stark for what he did to us, the fear of being blown up at any possible second, hearing the agonizing screams of those critically wounded and then dying off as they died themselves, becoming orphans. I just wonder, what if there was no bomb or we weren't able to do what we did? I know we certainly wouldn't be here."
"I'm looking forward to the day Vision and I can live away from everything with Lucas and Lucy," I said. "We'll be away from it all. Living in the country like Clint and Laura. No action, just living together, watching the two grow up and have families. And maybe we'll adopt from an orphanage. Maybe not. It all depends."
"That sounds nice," Pietro commented.
We stayed the way we were for a long time, leaning against the wall while sitting on the floor, hands intertwined. No action, no need to be doing stuff.