As soon as the jet landed back at base our agents poured onto it. They trained their guns on the men from Hydra and marched them out and directly into the lower levels of the building. Nat was waiting by the door, arms folded surveying her prey. They lined the prisoners up in front of her and the man with the injured leg averted his gaze clearly terrified it only make her singled him out even faster.
"That one." she said pointing to him and he began to struggle against his bonds as they dragged him into the building.
"You guys alright?" she shouted over to us and I nodded. She followed them into the building closing the door behind her.
"Where do you think they're taking them?" I asked
"I don't know but they're not going to like it." said Pietro
A few doctors made their way over to us. "Are any of you hurt?" They asked checking us over. One spotted the burns on Pietro's neck and tried to get a hold of him but he shrugged them away.
"No get her." he said pointing to Emily in the corner seat, her head was slumped forward and I didn't know if she was sleeping or hadn't yet woken up from her hit. I'm sure if she'd know that Captain America had carried her to the jet she would have fainted. She had a soft spot for him like most of the others around here. They escorted us to the medical ward and told us to wait while they saw to Emily and Evans. I almost told them to leave him lying on the floor, to let him suffer the way he had done to that poor kid. But then how could we question him later, if there were any others like him we had to know now.
We sat down on a crisp white bed away from the doctors as they fussed over the other two. Wanda turned to Pietro and began to examine his injuries, as far as wounds went they weren't so bad. The burns weren't deep but they were sore. Patches of dried blood were still caked on his forehead and chin from where he'd been elbowed in the face. She wet a cloth and dabbed at a angry welt on his arm. Pietro winced ever so slightly but made no other signs that the burns caused him pain.
"Wanda?" called Steve entering the room and beckoning to her. She looked back at us torn between leaving her brother and ignoring Steve.
"I got this." I said gently taking the cloth from her hand. She smiled gratefully at me and crossed the room.
"You're a mess." I said wiping the blood from the corner of his mouth. His lip was split but it had stopped bleeding.
"This is nothing" he said like it was something to be proud of. I tensed a little and rubbed harder than necessary. He met my gaze with a questioning look and I eased off. "Sorry" he said "I didn't mean it like that." I continued working but traced my fingers down the side of his jaw to show him I understood. "I thought I'd never see you again after last night." he said grabbing my hand to stop me
"I was being weak." I said shaking my head "I shouldn't have let it come between us like that, I'm sorry."
"You are many things Blake, weak is not one of them." he said and I smiled down at my feet
"I need you to pull your sleeve up." I said seeing the crispy fabric where the rod had come into contact with his arm. I stood up and he rolled up his sleeve rested his arm in my hand. Gripping it tight I gingerly peeled away the burnt fabric, the sound made my stomach turn but he showed no sign of discomfort. I cleaned it the best I could trying hard not to focus on the weight and how tiny my fingers looked against the bulk of his arm. He didn't say a word the entire time, he was just watching me. I could see his eyes follow my every movement.
"What?" I said finally grinning up at him
He twisted his hand around my wrist slowly gliding it up the underside of my arm so that his hand was clasped around my elbow. I closed my eyes, relishing in the feel of his skin against mine once again. "You look so much better, better than I've ever seen you."
"That's because your brain his fried." I said laughing dabbing the cloth along his cheek. I knew what he meant, the strain of my ability had been wearing me down, but now I felt like I could run a marathon.
He pulled on my elbows so I stumbled into his embrace and he wrapped his arms around my waist. "I don't think so" I heard him murmur, lips against my collar bone. I shivered involuntarily and he chuckled.
Someone tapped me on the shoulder and Pietro lifted his head to stare up at his sister with a 'Not a good time' look on his face.
"You know this is a hospital?" she said flicking him on the arm
"What, I'm being well cared for." he said in an innocent tone as I threw the cloth over his face
"I'm sure. Come on. You're fine, go" said Wanda laughing "There is a meeting in the training room in half an hour. Both of you, don't be late. It's important."
We wandered back to his room so he could change into less bloody and burnt clothing. Most people we saw bombarded us with questions. I spotted the white faced boy from earlier as he ran up to me.
"Is Emily with you?" I thought I recognised him, he was Emily's little brother.
"She's in medical but she's fine Adam. You can go and see her." I jumped as he threw his arms around me thanking me again and again. I managed to pry him off me with help from Pietro and send him back the way we'd come.
Once in Pietro's room I turned my back so he could get changed, not wanting to distract either of us by getting preoccupied. It didn't work. I could see him clearly in the refection of the glass bathroom door, he'd only gotten half dressed, the jacket forgotten on the floor when he spotted me staring. In a breath he was right behind me but I still didn't turn around. I saw him wrap his hands around my hips and felt the warmth of his fingers through the gap between my belt and t-shirt. I leant my head back as his lips found my neck and felt the muscles of his chest pressed up against my bare shoulders.
"Never thought I have this again" I said placing my hands over his. He looked up to our reflection and smiled at me.
"I'm glad you changed your mind."
"You can thank your sister for that" I said "I don't think it's gone, not by a long shot. But at least what happened in Sokovia-"
"Stays in Sokovia?" he added
"Something like that" I said with a small laugh. You could barely see the faint bruising on my arms now. It was nothing more than a bad memory. The only thing was that I was finding it difficult to differentiate between my own memories and the ones Wanda put there. I didn't care though, if I didn't see it again for the rest of my life it would be too soon. Pietro moved aside one of my straps and kissed the spot the bruise had covered.
"If I did anything to make this worse I didn-" he said and I shook my head feeling the top of it brush his chin
"No Pietro it wasn't you. Its only because I care so damn much about you that it got so bad in the first place, that's on me. But If it hadn't been you it would have been something else down the line that set it off."
He only really heard part of what I was saying because he grinned at me "You care about who now?" he asked in a smug tone
"You heard me." I laughed and he brushed my hair from my shoulder so his lips could reach my collar bone. "Pietro I.." I tried to form coherent words but I was finding it very difficult because his grip on my hips was growing tighter
"Mmm?" he whispered against my ear and I felt his hair tickle my cheek
I moaned and turned round his arms still encircling me "We don't have time right now" I managed to get out. He raised his eyebrows at me amused. "Ok well I don't have time." I finished laughing slightly. He let go and looked at his cloak, if we didn't leave now we'd be late. I stooped down threw the jacket at him. He caught and started to pull it on but I had a sudden idea.
"Wait" I said quickly moving forward. I took the jacket from him, pulled him down and threw myself into the kiss. My whole body leant into his and every nerve flared. He rocked back on his heels and caught me with one arm wrapping the other tightly in my hair. I broke away before my resolve could and handed him his top.
"Ok now you can get dressed."
I'd caught him completely off guard and I started to laugh at the stunned look on his face.
"Well done genius I want to do the exact opposite now." he said grinning but pulling it on all the same.
"Ah come on that was hilarious. It's not often I get to catch you out." I said moving to the door "We gotta go, I've got something for you before we go to training."
We stopped by Wanda's room but she wasn't there so I pushed open the door and grabbed the box off the dresser. Her room was starting to look lived in now we'd unpacked her belongings, hints of Wanda could be found all around. Beautiful red hand woven scarves draped over the side of the mirror and bed posts giving the room an odd other worldly feel. I noticed her Scarlet uniform was no longer hanging behind the door and closed it behind me before handing the box to Pietro.
"Another thing from Wanda?" he said looking sceptical "If she wants me to have it she can give it to me herself."
"No, this is from me." he loosened up a bit realizing I wasn't going to hand him anything from his childhood and opened the box. I saw a hint of awe register in his face, I knew he didn't get new things often and a pair of sneakers might be one of the best.
"Look they're not just normal trainers, this-" I said pointing to the sole "Can withstand your speed for much longer than any of your others so it shouldn't wear down."
"How did you get these?" he said picking one up to examine it. I hesitated, I didn't want to take all the credit but was anxious about telling him I had help from Stark.
"Tony. He designed them for you." I said. I couldn't see any change in Pietro's face that would suggest he was annoyed, perhaps a glimmer of guilt.
"Stark." he said placing the shoe back in the box "Tell him..thanks." I sighed with relief
"Sure thing, or, you could tell him yourself?" I didn't want to push it but we were all a team, things had to run smoothly or people ended up dead. He paused for a moment and nodded before sitting on the floor to pull them on. I blinked he was gone, his other shoes left in a pile by the box.
"Pietro?" I said looking around. There was a short bust of sound and he skidded to a stop in front of me. "Wow" I stepped back impressed . I could have sworn he'd just run faster that I'd ever seen him...or not seen him.
"These are amazing" he said giving me a huge smile. He had that look you see on people who have just got off a rollercoaster and want to do it again.
I'd said I never wanted to do it again but after seeing that speed I had to try it. "How far is the training room?" I asked moving forward
He stretched his arms out to move his shoulder blades then swept me up "Couple of seconds." he said and took off. I didn't even take that long. He stopped and put me down in a fluid motion so I never felt a thing.
"I could get used that." I said still feeling dizzy but more from the rush than my head. He looked like he would be up to that challenge right away but we pushed through the doors and met a group of people standing just behind it. Steve, Nat, Clint, Wanda and Rodey were there all taking in loud voices. They were all in their full uniforms ready for action.
"We need more time." said Rodey "None of the others are trained."
"They're just kids" said Clint sounding annoyed looking to Nat for back up
"We're the same age." added Wanda to him in a matter of a fact tone
They weren't arguing but it sounded like none of them was agreeing with the other. Steve was caught in the middle but not saying a word. He glanced up as he saw the doors open and looked relived.
I waved my hands in front of me "What's going on?" I asked as soon as the rest of them noticed us.
"Oh hey kiddo." said Nat moving over to us "Were just having a meeting, can I talk to you both for a sec?" I glanced back at Pietro but he was looking to Wanda, she gave him a small nod of reassurance and he followed me and Nat to a side room. We could still hear the others talking in hushed tones outside the door.
"Any news?" I said as soon as she sat down.
"Not exactly. Most of them are refusing to co-operate. Evans-" she said in a cold voice "Is being detained until we decide what to do with him." I had a few suggestions but kept my mouth shut. She went on "Wilhelm, the basterd who shocked you" she pointed to Pietro "Wasn't so hard to break. He spilled his guts to the first agent he could before I got anywhere near him."
I grinned "That's cos your a badass, Nat."
She shrugged like she already knew and I grinned even more "Anyway" she carried on "We've got reports coming in from other agents, the enhanced are being picked off and taken by Hydra before our agents even arrive on the scene. Now we know why."
I gritted my teeth. Whatever they did to Evans I just hoped he wouldn't stay on base. I couldn't bear the thought of him being in the same building as me and my friends, and I didn't trust myself to not do anything stupid if they kept him on base.
"What can we do?" asked Pietro from my side
"We got the data out of Wilhelm that some armed Hydra bases have set up shop around areas with concentrated enhanced populations. We're moving out at first light. Gonna be a hell of a job." said Nat looking torn "You two are the only enhanced on base, besides your sister, who are trained enough to go out into the field."
"We'll help Nat, we have to." I said and Pietro nodded by my side crossing his arms with a determined look on his face.
Natasha smiled and then shook her head "I know you're ready but by Shield standards only members of the Avengers team are qualified for this job." My heart sank. Yes we were both trained and had now been out in the field multiple times but I was still officially an 'agent in training', and who knew if I would become unstable in the future, keeping me away from action was perhaps the best plan.
"I understand." I said feeling useless.
"No Blake, you don't." she said and I looked up "We need you both. Over the past months I've never seen a team take so quickly to each other. You anticipate each other's move, know where you both should be at a specific time. And obviously you have the whole chemistry thing down." she finished with a smirk
"But you said-" I began confused
Nat looked at Pietro "You agree?" He put his arm around my shoulders.
"Yes she's ready, we'll make sure she is." he replied and a knowing look passed between them
"What is going on?"
"They only way you can stay on this mission, with your team is if I classify you as an Avenger." said Nat with a straight face
I blanched. There was a moments silence and I fumbled for what to say.
"What! You're kidding right?" Pietro laughed next to me and I knew it had to be a joke, but Nat's face was dead serious.
"No, I'm not kidding around Blake. We need people like you on the team. You already fit in, we all care about you. You're a natural with a weapon and your enhanced abilities make you a perfect choice. Don't you want this?"
"I.." I couldn't think of anything to say. "I'm not trained. The others-"
"Have been practicing as long as you have. You taught Maximoff most of what he knows. Anyway you've trained with us, you know how we work, how we fight."
This was insane. "This is just because the enhanced are in danger. You wouldn't be asking me this if they weren't."
"Actually" said Pietro in a nervous voice taking his arm off my shoulder "I suggested it to the team about a month ago."
"Why?" I breathed out incredulously
"Because he knew you have what it takes." said Nat standing up "If you want this. There's no going back. You turn up with the rest of us for missions, you train every hour we give you and you have our backs."
"I thought that's what I already did?" I said feeling disgruntled
Nat's eyes twinkled "Exactly."
Nice one Widow, reverse physiology. She didn't play fair. "What if I mess up?" I asked in a concerned voice
She grabbed my chin gently between her thumb and forefinger "Then walk it off." she said and Pietro gave her a withering look. "It was right there." she shrugged at him
There was a knock at the door and Clint opened it.
"We all good in here?" he said looking from Nat to me. I didn't know if I was good, if I was really qualified but I had made up my mind. If given the choice a thousand times over I would have made the same decision.
"Yeah. I'm ready." Clint gave me a sad smile. I knew he didn't want me to join, he'd been angry when they'd let Pietro back in after his accident. Kids were kids in Clint's eyes, no matter how trained or powerful.
Pietro took my hand firmly and we walked back into the training bay. I was in complete shock. I looked round at my friends thinking how much I stood out in my standard issue uniform when they looked like gods, but the looks they gave me clearly stated they thought I belonged here. Wanda came to stand by my side and smiled encouragingly. Rodey gave me a quick nod and I smiled awkwardly back. Nat closed the door behind us and joined Steve at front of the room.
I glanced back at Pietro gratefully, at least now we had a valid excuse to spend time together.
"You didn't see that coming?" he said grinning at me. I shook my head and leant against his arm.
"Guess were on the same team now." I said still unable to believe what was happening.
He looked down at me and then around at the rest of the group whose eyes were fixed on Steve. "We always were." I laughed and released his hand. Steve opened his mouth to speak and I stepped forward so that I stood as part of the group.