I sat in silence as the others talked around me. How could this be happening. My stomach was in knots and my heart ached like a physical wound. I glanced at Pietro and he gave me a reassuring smile. That hurt more than anything so far, he had no idea. What could I do, tell him and risk everything I'd wanted since I met him or suck it up and get on with my life. Nat made arrangements for me to meet with Jenna the following week to discuss trigger possibilities. I agreed on the spot because I wanted to get out of there. I already knew what my trigger was, and I wasn't going to give him up without a fight.
"I'll see you then Blake. Ask for Doctor Keller, they'll send you straight to me." she said ten minutes later in the hall, as Nat and Clint had jobs to do they followed her. I watched them until they rounded the corner and then fell into Pietro's arms.
"For god sake." I mumbled into his chest
"What's is it?"
I ran my fingers through my hair and let it fall in a sheet down my back "I need a drink, you game?"
"Trying to get me drunk?" he said grinning
"You wish" I replied pulling him down the hallway
We grabbed some drinks from the kitchen and took them outside. The sun was still high and it was baking hot in the garden. He lead the way to a grassy verge and flopped down. We could see the entrance to the parking lot from where we sat. A few cars came and went with shaded windows and shiny black paint jobs. I sat with my back against his shoulder looking out at the trees my head on my knee. I was quiet for a while, I couldn't think of anything to say that didn't lead to awkward questions, but who else did I have to talk to? Wanda was in training and I couldn't bother Nat or Clint again, not after the trouble they went through to help me out.
"Do you think it's as bad as they're saying?" I said lifting my head
"Hm?" he said turning his head to rest against mine.
"This new stupid ability."
"I don't know but we'll figure it out."
I sighed and took off my sweater folding it up and placing it in his lap to lay on. The sun stung my eyes so I put my hand over my face. I could feel his slow steady breathing under my head and concentrated on it to distract me from my thoughts. This was all I wanted, to lay here with Pietro and not let all the crap I'd just found out about into my head.
We heard a car coming and I sat up. It was sleek, yellow and extremely conspicuous. I looked over at Pietro and saw his face tighten, he knew whose it was. The car slowed to a stop and a dark haired man got out wearing a Metallica t-shirt. Tony Stark.
"Well if it isn't Fast and Furiosa." he said striding up to us grinning. I hated that nickname but smiled all the same.
"Hey it's the elusive Irony Man. Where's your suit huh?" I said clasping the hand he offered me and getting to my feet.
"You made a funny, pint size. Wow drinks at 4pm, someone die?"
I flinched and ground my teeth together "It's been a long day." I said as Pietro got to his feet next to me. He was a few inches taller than Tony and seemed to make good use of it.
"Mr Stark." he said in a mock polite tone folding his arms over his chest. Most people would have shrugged it off but I could read is body language all too well.
"Pietro" I said under my breath and shook my head at him. Tony didn't seem to notice. Pietro still partially blamed Tony for the death of his parents, it was after all his company that sold the bombs that got his house blown to bits and trapped him and his sister under the debris for days. I'd only met Tony a half a dozen times but I knew he'd had nothing to do with selling those weapons to the arms dealers.
"So" I said trying to break the tension "What are you doing here?"
"Me?" he said his attention back on me "Here for Romanoff, I think we might have word on Banner." Bruce Banner was one of the Avengers I hadn't met. From what Nat had told me he sounded like a great man, if not a bit unstable. I'd been lucky while I'd been in Sokovia not to run into the Hulk, that would have been too much even for me.
"Right" I said thinking of Nat, I couldn't bear the thought of her leaving especially now, but in this case I'd have to let it slide. We all fell silent lost in thought.
"Well this just got awkward real fast. Catch you later." said Tony clapping Pietro on the arm. "Mean swing you got there kid." he said and Pietro gritted his teeth. Typical Tony Stark bailing when he got bored or uncomfortable. I waved as he walked back to his car, but then a thought occurred to me.
"Hey Tony, wait up" I ran to catch him up
"Can I ask you a favour?"
"Depends what it is" he said looking wary but intrigued all the same. He still didn't know me that well so it could have been anything.
"You're pretty good at making stuff." I said, obviously
"Could you make some sneakers for me?"
"Can't I just buy you some?"
"No that's not what I meant, not for me, they're for Pietro. Wanda says keeps running them down. Do you think you could make some with soles that stand up to that much use?" He paused looking from me to Pietro standing a few yards away hands in his pockets. Tony seemed to piece two and two together and grinned mischievously. Was it really that obvious?
"Yuh huh, I got you covered."
"You know I called that." he said pointing from me to Pietro "Remind Barton he owes me and Romanoff ten dollars."
"You guys bet on us?"
"Ah don't look so shocked we do it with everyone." he said with a smirk "Would have bet sooner but you were being so damn stubborn."
"What! I wasn't being-"
"Come on. A blind person could see it Blake." he said rolling his eyes
"Ha well I've got a blind friend in New York so you'll have to ask him." I said glancing back at Pietro, he looked like he was in a bad mood. "I gotta go Tony."
"Ouch does brood that much usually?"
"Only when he's pissed off." I said with a chuckle waving goodbye and jogging back to Pietro.
"What was that about?" he asked putting a protective arm around my shoulders as he watched the sports car drive into the building.
"Just asking some advice on polymers." I said evasively
"I'm not going to pretend I know what that is." he said laying down the ground again his head on my sweater. I smiled down at him but all of a sudden my head throbbed painfully and I swayed on the spot.
I felt like I was in two places at once. One second I looked down and saw Pietro's body splayed out on the grass in the sun, big blue eyes staring up at me, warm and inviting, and the next huge stains began to spread over his t-shirt covering it in blood, smoke filled my lungs and I coughed trying to get rid of it. I looked down again and saw his eyes staring straight through me, completely blank and lifeless. I stumbled backwards holding my head and almost tripped over. Before I could fall he caught and steadied me.
"Oh god no, please no." I muttered frantically holding my hand over my eyes
"Blake what's wrong?" he asked prying my hand away and placing his on either side of my face "Was it Stark? Did he say something to you?"
"No no, it's nothing. I'm.." I tried to pull myself together, I couldn't let him know how much this was affecting me. Lying to his face made me feel sick as well as dizzy "I'm fine. It's just the heat."
"Do you want to go in?" he asked still holding onto me and I nodded.
"I don't want to stay in my room though." I said thinking of all the nightmares that could bombard me there. "Can I..can I stay at yours?"
"Sure" he said surprised but pleased all the same "Anything you want from your room first?"
"Maybe, can we swing by there on the way?" I was still shaking when a whistling noise caught my attention.
"Yes. Ow." something had just hit him on the head, we both turned and saw Evens and his friend holding a tennis racket looking like they had just accidentally poked a bear. The tennis ball lay at our feet. "Sorry, heads up guys." yelled Evans.
Pietro held his arms wide an incredulous look on his face. "Watch it" he yelled back stooping to pick up the ball. He threw it up and caught it a few times. I knew what he was going to do before they did. He sprinted off, ball in hand to the edge of the woods and threw it into the trees.
"Ah come on Maximoff." They whined. I saw a slight blur of colour and knew he had gone to retrieve it. A moment later Pietro was by my side with the ball in his hand.
"Hey Deveraux, your boyfriends a dick." he shouted back to us smirking.
I rolled my eyes and held out my hand, Pietro dropped the ball into it and I launched it back at them. It hit Evans in the stomach and he doubled over.
"Oops, sorry" I shouted "It just slipped." Pietro laughed and pulled me into a kiss. I wrapped my arms around his neck and leaned into him. After a minute I broke away, wondering how long I could keep this going before I broke apart.
We stopped by my room and I grabbed a book off my shelf and some aspirin from the bathroom. I didn't know if it would help but I needed to stop this headache. My foot caught in something on the way out, it was Pietro's t-shirt.
"You left this" I said handing it back to him and closing the door.
"I didn't leave it you were wearing it. Anyway, it suits you better" he said echoing my earlier words.
"Don't say that, I might have to steal it." I said before wobbling on my feet. I corrected myself before he could and he looked at me with concern.
"I'm fine." I said waving his hand away. I wasn't.
Pietro's room was down the hall from Wanda's. I imagined it being covered in crap, loose clothes and wrappings scattering the floor but I was wrong. He opened the door and I almost laughed. It was only slightly messier than my own. The bed covered the far wall under the window which looked out onto the surrounding woods. A standard issue laptop sat humming to itself on the desk. The closet door was half open and I could see a bunch of athletic gear peeping out.
I'd never been in here since he'd moved in. I thought it best when trying to avoid him to stay out of any room with a bed in it, let alone mine or his. He looked down at me expectantly.
"Nice" I said going to look out the window. There were scuff marks all around the sill, I had no doubt he used it to sneak out after hours and go for a run. He closed the door and threw his spare t-shirt into a bag. The sun was low in the sky now and the room was full of orange light. Closing my eyes I soaked in the light letting it warm my face. I caught him looking at me, his head tilted to the side.
"Really I'm fine." I said for what felt like the hundredth time today and crossed to the bed. "I just need to lay down." I knew he hated being still, life always moved so slow for him, but he still came to sit on the bed next to me. Sometimes I felt like I had to be faster when I was around him, just to keep up. I rested my head on his shoulder and tried to relax. Something dropped off the bed and went to pick it up, it was my book. Knowing I couldn't sleep yet I rolled over onto my back and saw Pietro was reading it over my head.
"I already read this part." he said as I flipped the page "It's not so bad."
I laughed "You love it don't lie." The small print was making my eyes sting. "Can you read it to me?" I asked wishing my head wasn't throbbing so much. He plucked the book out of my hands, resting it on my leg to read.
I let his voice wash over me, calming my noisy brain. The only problem was the more I listened to him read the more I wanted him to throw the book away. I remembered talking to him for the first time in Sokovia, his accent had caught my attention at once. Back then I couldn't have said where it was from, maybe eastern Europe at best. Now having known him and Wanda I knew where and how they'd picked it up.
Starting to feel restless I moved my hand onto his chest. He noticed but didn't stop reading. The vibrations of his voice rumbled under my touch and the more I listened the more it was driving me crazy. I needed a distraction from the pain in my head and the book wasn't exactly working the way I intended.
I lifted the leg he was resting the book on and threw it over his body placing both my hands on his chest. He knew what I was doing because a smile played on his lips and he held the book at arm's length to keep reading. I explored the side of his jaw with my lips and heard his words faltered for a moment. When I looked up I saw his eyes dart from my body back to the book and knew his resolve was breaking. I moved my lips to his and his words broke off. He wrapped his arms around me still holding onto the book so it pressed against my back.
"You know I can't read if you're doing that." he said amused
"Can't we do both" I asked and saw him pull the book away from my back so he could see it. Before he could say another word I grabbed the book and let fall to the floor "Actually, screw that. I'd rather do the other thing."
He paused for a split second considering, then before I knew what had hit me he was kissing me and his hands were running up the back of my t-shirt. I caught my breath for a second and felt my long hair tickle the exposed skin on my back. As he pushed himself up I clawed at his top and I pulled it off throwing it behind me. Even after these few months I still hadn't gotten used to the look of him. We all trained yes, and we weren't in bad shape. But this was unreal, luckily for me his increased metabolism helped build muscle more efficiently than the rest of us.
There came a knock at the door and we froze. "Leave it" said Pietro moving his mouth back to mine. They knocked again but harder this time. I groaned and got up pulling my top into a more acceptable position. Pietro gestured to the door pulling himself to the edge of the bed. I opened it flattening my hair down the best I could.
"Oh, Blake. I'm looking for Pietro." It was Nathan, a friend from training. He looked around me and saw Pietro sat on the edge of the bed shirtless. Crap, well that cats outta the bag, he wasn't very good at keeping his mouth shut for an agent. I also knew how he acted around Pietro and could have sworn I'd seen him checking him out a few times. I felt awful and tried to get his attention back.
"Er I..oh yeah. You're on mission tomorrow. I came to let him-let you guys know."
"Mission?" asked Pietro getting up from the bed "What for?"
"Search and retrieve. The enhanced, a few more came up on the radar. You move out in the morning." No that couldn't be right we weren't ready. What could Nat be thinking letting me out into the field like this. I think he saw my distress because he added "It won't be dangerous, just a simple pick up and bring them back to base." I nodded feeling slightly better, at least there would be no actual fighting.
He stood there for a second looking like he wanted to be anywhere but here "I'm gonna go. See you later." I smiled awkwardly and closed the door behind me resting my head against the wood. I didn't want to think about the mission, I looked back at the Pietro, I knew what I wanted.
"Don't think you're getting out of it that easily" I said walking back towards him. He backed up until he hit the edge of the bed and I stopped so that my hips were pressed right up against him. I saw that glint in his eyes again before he pulled me onto the bed.
I had to be dreaming. Everything was dark and fuzzy around the edges of my vision. I could hear muffled screams and shouts all around me. I watched people flood past me onto the evac boat, faces covered in blood and brick dust. A few other agents stood around me calling to the people to hurry. I couldn't get enough air into my lungs and my brain was starting to cloud over just like the sky around me. I looked over the side of the boat and felt my stomach twist. The remnants' of the city of Sokovia lay on the ground hundreds of metres below my feet.
I noticed a woman sat on the floor crying for her son and Clint was standing on the ramp, a determined look on his face. He had spotted the boy across the street. I ran forward to stop him or get there before him but he had already gone. No, I wasn't about to leave my mentor and a child defenceless he needed back up. I sprinted off hearing the agents yelling for me to get back on the boat. Halfway towards them I heard the sounds of gunfire very close by. I spun round and saw the bullets tearing up the road, I was caught in the middle of it and getting to Clint.
I spotted a blur of colour out of the corner of my eye and knew what was going to happen. What had happened every night since in my dreams. Not this time. I pushed off with all my strength and shoved him as hard as I could behind a car with Clint and the boy crouched behind me. The impact was like fire in my veins and suddenly I felt like I was drowning from the inside. I collapsed to the ground and felt gravel dig into my palms.
"Why did you do that!" shouted Pietro skidding down next to me and cradling me in his arms
I tried to respond or even breath but I only spluttered out blood.
"It's going to be alright" he said holding my head up looking around horror struck. It was going to be ok now, he was safe. The pain in my chest was blinding and I could barely hear anymore.
"Pietro..I'm..I'm cold." I managed to get out. I couldn't feel my legs anymore.
"A little help here!" he yelled at Clint as my eyes rolled back into my head "Wake up!" I heard someone yelling from far away "Blake, wake up!"
I woke with a start clutching my chest and nearly smacked my head on the side dresser. I drew in large lungfuls of air and realised I was on the floor tangled in sheets with Pietro kneeling next to me. He was still shaking my shoulders trying to wake me up. I grabbed his hand tightly and his eyes snapped to mine. "You're alright." I gasped
He grabbed me and lifted me onto the bed. "What the hell was that?" he asked looking nearly as frightened as I'd seen in my dream. I looked down at my skin but saw no bullet holes, no blood, but bruises has appeared and my muscles ached as I moved.
"Nightmare" was all I could say. He looked down at me and saw the bruising, then looked down at his own matching scars. His face took on a dangerous look as he pieced it together.
"They're getting worse." he said holding my shaking hands in his. "I'll be right back." he got up to leave and I tried to grab his arm
"Where are you going?" I noticed it was dark outside now, probably late at night. No one would be awake.
"To get Doctor Keller. She has to know something. Something that can help." he said desperately and I dropped my head.
"There's no point" I said defeated
"No point, look at you Blake. We have to find out what the trigger is, this has to stop."
"Yeah, I think it does." I said my voice wavering "Pietro, I know what my trigger is." He calmed down enough to walk back to my side. I looked into those crystal blue eyes and felt my heart shatter.
"No" he said shaking his head "It's not...it's not me?" I didn't say anything, he already knew.