The Start of the End
When I came to, I was in the infirmary. Clint was by my side, asleep. I didn't blame him: it was nighttime.
Seeing that I was awake, a woman came to me. "My name is Doctor Helen Cho," she said softly so as to not wake my sleeping brother. "How are you feeling, Rosalina Barton?"
"Call me Rose," I replied, rubbing my eyes. "And I feel sore."
"It'll be that way for a bit while you recover," Helen replied. "Would you like anything to eat?"
I nodded my head, realizing I hadn't eaten since breakfast on… "What day is this?" I asked.
"You were sent on your mission three days ago," Helen answered.
"Three days?!" I exclaimed, then quickly lowered by voice as Clint mumbled something in his sleep. "That long?!"
Helen nodded. "Your brother has been extremely worried about you," he said. "But I told him you'd survive."
"Have the others visited?" I said.
"Off and on," Helen said. She left to get me something to eat and came back with a sandwich, giving it to me along with a cup of water.
I ate silently and looked at Clint. "How often has he been here?" I said.
"Never left your side after returning from the mission," Helen said. "You came as soon as it was safe for us to get in there. After a mission success, he came and hasn't left since. He cares about you."
I nodded slowly. "Yea, he does," I mumbled.
A few weeks later, the Avengers were storming a place to search for an artifact. I was told to stay behind, since I was still recovering by their perspective, even though I was almost back to my normal stamina.
I stayed in Avengers Tower, watching the progress on a screen.
I noticed a woman sneaking up behind Tony but before I could call out a warning to him, he was taken over with some kind of spell.
My attention was taken to a different screen as I saw Clint get hit with a laser. "No!" I cried, eyes widening as he fell.
Natasha was quick to get to him and the others soon followed.
After Tony got what they were after, Natasha contacted me on the jetride back, telling me about Clint's condition.
"He'll be fine, Kid, after Doctor Cho sees him," Natasha said. "He's resting right now," she added, sensing my question of "Can I talk to him?"
I nodded. "She's setting up in Tony's lab as we speak," I said. "I'm going to go help her with the set up."
"We'll be there soon," Natasha said.
We broke connection and I rushed to Tony's lab, helping Helen in any way possible to prepare for Clint's arrival.
"I suspect it'll be the other way around now?" Helen asked when everything was up and running.
I just nodded, looking to the sky to find the jet.
Helen took me and her staff to the landing pad, waiting for them to land so that they could bring Clint in and begin work on him.
"When I get more skilled with magic and I can control it more, I'll start to learn healing magic. That way I'll definitely be more help on missions. Especially if we can't seek medical attention right away."
Once the jet came, the others took Clint away, but Natasha held me back from going after them at the moment.
"Let them make sure he's healing before you go," she said.
I just nodded, watching them wheel him away while he was withered in pain.
She was able to keep me occupied enough to keep from going after him for half-an-hour before I couldn't take it anymore and went to him.
He was already on the road of recovery when I got there.
"How are you feeling?" I asked as he looked at me, relief coursing through me, evident in my look and voice.
"Much better," Clint replied. He held out his hand and I placed mine in his. He kissed the back of my hand. "You don't need to worry so much."
"Yea, but I'm your younger sister: it's my job to worry," I said with a smile, pulling up a chair.
"So Tony's going to be having a party in a few days," Clint said. "You should join us."
"Occasion?" I said.
"To say goodbye to the other Avengers before we part ways again," Tony said as he came into the room, carrying a tray of drinks. "Have a drink Hawk, on me. It'll help you out." He gave one to Clint. "And since you don't drink, a nonalcoholic drink for you, Mage." He also gave me one.
"So I'm invited, as well?" I said after getting a sip.
"You're part of the team, correct?" Tony questioned, giving Natasha and Steve each a drink as they came into the room.
"It hasn't been made official yet, since I'm still a trainee, but I guess so," I answered.
"Then, since you're part of the team, it's an automatic invite for you," Tony said, setting the tray down on a table with his usual pizzazz.
I nodded slightly, smiling. "Thanks," I said, getting another drink.
The afternoon of the party, Natasha insisted that she take me out to get some clothes I could wear on occasions such as tonight. Despite my protests, she dragged me away from my training and out into the busy streets of New York.
After a lot of trying on different dresses and skirts that always didn't match my taste for whatever reason, we finally decided on a floor-length black dress with thin, baggy sleeves, a silver trim that looked like a bracelet around the wrists, and a simple belt with a silver square on the front.
With that accomplished, we returned to Avengers Tower and began to get ready for the party.
Natasha went to get ready but told me that after she finished, she would help me with hair and makeup.
I put on the dress and looked at myself in the mirror. The black fabric definitely made my red hair and green eyes stand out. And knowing Natasha, she would be able to do my makeup that would make the green be even more noticeable.
"Alright, sit down," Natasha said as she came into the room wearing a silk cream blouse and a short black skirt, hair styled as it usually is.
I sat down in the chair and she started to work on me.
I could tell that she liked having another girl on the team: it was someone she could relate to on a team that was mostly guys.
"When I'm done with you," she said after she finished my hair and started on my makeup, "you're going to make all the boys want you, even if they're seeing someone else or they're your brother."
I did a small smile but it faded away so that she could work on my makeup easier.
"Alright, done," she said after applying the lipstick and doing a full examination of my face to see her work. "See how you look." She spun my chair around to the mirror and the girl in the reflection took my breath away.
Her rosie red hair was in a Dutch Braid and came over her left shoulder. Her makeup, from the piercing red lipstick to the dark blue eyeshadow, the pale pink blush to the winged eyeliner, the carefully shaped eyebrows to the glitter from the mascara on my eyelashes, made her look fierce and competitive, yet beautiful and kind. Too beautiful. How could this be me?
"What do you think?" she asked as she kneeled down next to me, looking at me in our reflection.
"I-I don't recognize myself," I replied. "How is this me?"
She smirked. "Well, get use to this because I'm going to do this as often as I can," she said.
"How did you get so good?" I said.
"Well, when you are an assassin and have to go undercover at a cocktail party every once in awhile, you learn quickly what to do and what not to do," she said. She got up. "Let's go impress them, Kid."
I also got to my feet, slipped into the wedges she got along with the dress: black with a silver bow on the toe.
"Oh, before you head out, you might want to keep a weapon with you, just in case," Natasha said.
"Uh," I looked down at the dress. No real room to store a weapon without being noticeable. "How?"
"Already got it covered," she said, picking up my knife and it's sheath. Working carefully and tactically, she was able to place it on the inside of my belt. After she finished, only I knew it was there, mainly because I felt it. "Alright, now we can go impress."
I nodded, smiling slightly, and together, we walked out to where the party was.
All conversation stopped and all eyes turned to me, impressed.
Clint walked up to me, smiling. He said, "When Nat said she would handle everything for you, I didn't know that I'd have to be your bodyguard afterwards."
I chuckled. "Well, she knows what she's doing," I said as I looked at her. "Mind being my personal makeup artist?"
Natasha laughed. "Sure, why not?" she replied.
We walked to where the others were, some people going back to talking, but others still watching me.
It made me a bit uncomfortable, but at the same time, it made me beam. I wasn't use to having all eyes on me for good reasons. I wasn't the Hollywood actress that would turn heads whenever she walked into the room. I was just me, before the Avengers, a homeless woman looking out for herself and others, and now, a heroine that had people looking up to me as a role model.
I sat down with Clint while Natasha went to the bar.
"So, how you feeling so far?" Clint asked as a server brought us some drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
"I'm definitely feeling more confident in myself," I replied.
"That's good," Clint said. He raised his glass slightly. "Cheers."
"Cheers," I repeated, raising my glass and tapping them together.
We both took a drink and talked to others as they joined us.
After a bit, the numbers started to die away and soon, it was only the Avengers, Maria Hill, Helen, and Rhodey.
Thor put Mjölnir down on the table and sat down.
"So if someone can lift that thing, they get to rule Asgard?" Tony asked.
"Yes, of course," Thor said.
At that, Tony got up. "Alright, here I come," he said, grabbing the handle with one hand and pulling up, but having no success. "Just warming up." He now used both hands, but no avail. He got part of his Iron Man suit and used it, still nothing.
"Come on, Tony," I said, laughing, "give up."
"Rhodey, why not help me?" Tony said, looking up at his friend.
Even if they both used the suit, it didn't work.
Clint tried lifting it, but it also didn't work. "Nat, why don't you try?" he asked, looking at her.
"Oh, that's a question I don't need answered," she replied. "Rose, go ahead. You try."
"What's the point?" I answered. "I know I won't lift it."
Bruce got up and tried, but also resulted in failure.
"Well, I'll try," Steve said as he tried lifting it.
I don't think anyone but me and Thor noticed it budge slightly, but other than that, it was still.
"That's rigged, man," Clint said.
"Or there's a simpler explanation," Thor said as he got to his feet. He grabbed Mjölnir and tossed it in the air, catching it again. "You're not worthy."
Everyone started laughing but it stopped quickly as a piercing ring rang through the room, causing us to grimace.
We heard mechanical footsteps and turned to see a dysfunctional robot walking into view. "How could you be worthy?" he said in a smooth voice, all of us standing. "You're all puppets, tangled in strings. Strings." He raised his head to look at all of us. "There are no strings on me."
"Ultron," whispered Tony.
"In the flesh," Ultron said. "I'm on a mission."
Everyone got their weapons ready.
"What mission?" Natasha asked.
"Peace of our time," Ultron answered, robots flying out at us.
We all started fighting them.
I opted not to use my knife and instead used magic, first sending a plasma ball at the one coming at me and then using the rust spell to give me an advantage.
"Rose, duck!" Thor called.
Without turning, I dropped to the ground.
Thor threw his hammer and it smashed into a robot that was going to get me from behind and the one I was fighting. destroying both of them.
I got back up and looked at the others as they finished with their robots.
"Dramatic," Ultron commented. "I had to kill a guy. Nice guy."
"You killed someone?" I asked.
"Yes, but it was the only way to complete my mission. There's only one path to peace," Ultron said. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Thor summon his hammer back, ready to throw it at the final robot. "The Avenger's destruction."
At that, Thor released the hammer and it smashed into Ultron, destroying it.
"Now what?" I asked as the others walked to us, looking at everyone. My eyes, like the others, rested on Tony, who looked shaken up.
"Stark, what was that?" Steve demanded.
Tony looked away, not responding.