Part Three: New Avengers
Avengers Headquarters, Upstate NY : 7.58am
2 Months Later
I was woken by the sound of the shower and turned over in bed. Something was missing. I stretched out my arm feeling the empty space next to me and realised what it was.
"Pietro?" I said raising myself up on my elbow. The cover slipped down my back so the cool air stung my skin, the window was open and traces of steam were leaking out of the gap. I reached down to slip on my dressing gown and glanced over at the clock, it was almost eight. A moment later it hit the hour and I groaned. It only got in half a buzz before it was shut off though. At the same moment I heard the shower stop and the door to the bathroom close. Pietro had already grabbed a towel and hit the alarm so it wouldn't wake me. I smiled as I watched him move over to the open window and close it quietly. Tiny droplets of water were glistening in his silver hair, I thought how cold he must be as they dropped onto his chest and shoulders.
I don't think he knew I was awake yet so I kept silent. The bed moved as he sat down on its end and flexed his right arm. It must still be bothering him from last week's mission. It had happened when Steve's shield glanced off Pietro's arm almost hitting me and Wanda in the process, luckily it was only a graze but the force of it had left a sizable bruise and a huge dent in the wall behind us. I had no doubt he had seen it coming and jumped in front of us to stop it, a habit I really wished he'd grow out of.
I pushed myself up and quietly moved to his side. "Morning" I said and hugged my arms around his chest from behind. He jumped and looked round.
"Hey, did I wake you?" he said moving his arm back so he could reach my face
"No" I said resting my chin on his shoulder "What are you doing up so early?" I flinched as a cold droplet of water dripped onto my cheek, confusingly it contrasted with the heat of his damp skin. He unsuccessfully tried to disguise a yawn so I pulled his chin round to see his face and saw dark rings under his eyes "Did you get any sleep?" I asked
"A little" he said shrugging like it was nothing
"Me again?" I asked internally cringing. He gave me a weary smile and leant his head back onto mine "I'm sorry" I said pulling my arms back "I should stop sleeping over, I'm just keeping you awake."
My dreams had become increasingly vivid over the past few months. I barely got any sleep anymore and knew for a fact I talked when I did because he'd teased me about it once or twice. Apparently it had something to do with him because when I woke he had been staring at me with a very smug look on his face. But they weren't all good dreams, some had gotten so bad now I was afraid to fall asleep whenever Pietro wasn't around. The best way to keep the violent dreams at bay was having someone with me because it was ten times worse when I was on my own.
"Oh really? Then where would you keep all of this?" he said grinning and gesturing round the room. At least half of my possessions were now here. Since his room was the bigger and was closer to the training bay it seemed like the logical choice.
"I have my own room, it's that weird box down the hall we never go in. I can easily move all this crap back there." I didn't want to but I couldn't be selfish when it came to his health against mine. He gave me an amused smile and shook his head.
"Nice try" he said pulling me towards him. "You're not going anywhere."
My witty retort was cut off when he leant forward and pressed his lips against mine. As his wet skin brushed up against me I gripped his hair tightly in my hand to keep our bodies as close as possible. A moment later though I let go because the water from his hair had started to drip uncomfortably down my arm.
"That's weird." I said drying my hand on the duvet. He laughed and ran his own through his hair then wiped it across my face.
I looked up in shock "Oh you're gonna pay for that" I said grinning. He raised his eyebrows amused and jumped up so fast I didn't have time to react. He was halfway through getting dressed into his uniform when I got to my feet. I looked out of the window and saw the rain coming down in sheets. Just perfect, crappy weather wasn't good at the best of times but on field mission days it was even worse.
The bathroom was still clouded with steam when I opened the door, I wiped my hand across the mirror and examined my refection. I guess I didn't have a good night's sleep either because I looked nearly as tired as Pietro. My energy dipped suddenly and I slumped forward holding onto the sink for support. He was by my side in an instant one hand on my back and the other on my shoulder.
I looked up in surprise. "What is it?" he asked looking panicked.
"Stop fretting I'm alright." I said squeezing his hand. I got this kind of thing all the time now, like having my new power automatically gave me killer migraines on top of the nightmares.
He didn't seem to buy that though because he looked even more concerned "You're not...I mean are you..." he asked looking me over.
I was confused by his question until his eyes came to rest on my stomach "Wow no I'm not." I said shaking my head maybe a little too vigorously "It's just ability side effects."
I couldn't work out whether he looked relived or disappointed as he let out a shaky laugh "Alright." he said and kissed my cheek before leaving the bathroom.
I'd have to get used to his overprotective tendencies, they were well honed over a lifetime of watching out for his sister. I shook my head trying to rid the thoughts now crowding into my mind and focused on getting ready.
"You ready?" I said finally emerging and pulling my hair up into a hair band. "I said I'd meet Wanda, you want some breakfast first?" he glanced back at me from the closet where he was pulling out a jacket.
"Thought you'd never ask."
We made our way to the kitchen knocking on Wanda's door as we passed. She didn't answer but we found her sitting with her back to us at the kitchen table. Her hands were outstretched and seemed to be holding up numerous floating pieces of cutlery and china. A spoon and bowl ambled lazily around each other like they were suspended the river of red energy seeping from her fingertips. Pietro clapped her on the back and she looked round, the bowl began to fall but he caught it before it could hit the table top and started to pour cereal into it. I sat down next to her and pulled a few slices of toast towards me.
"Looking good." I said pointing to the remaining hovering objects. She glanced back at them absentmindedly and they returned to their places on the countertop. I had the feeling she didn't even need her full concentration to keep them afloat anymore.
"I was just practicing." she said smiling at me and lowering her hands. I probably should have been doing the same thing but I'd been too preoccupied with her brother recently.
"What time is take off?" I asked
She looked over to the clock on the stove "Twenty minutes. We should probably get going soon." I nodded and finished off the last of my breakfast. Pietro stuffed a few more mouthfuls in a stood up as well. A group of recruits entered the room and their conversation died at they spotted us. A few of them I knew well from training, at least I did before I moved. They gave me curt nods and stared nervously at the other two.
"Come on." I said feeling agitated. Pietro put his arm round my shoulders as we walked out of the room. Since I joined the Avengers Initiative my old friends had begun to treat me differently. I sometimes heard them whisper things behind my back as I walked by and thought nothing they had to say could be good. I knew half of them thought the only reason I'd been reassigned was my relationship with Pietro and how close I was with the team. Yes he'd been the one to suggest it in the first place but it hadn't been the deciding factor. Anyway he didn't make the decision, I did.
"Little hero" I heard one of the guys snicker behind me and I spun around clenching my fists. He was giving me an antagonistic look, begging me to start a fight. Pietro stepped forward looking more than willing.
"What did you just say?" I spat at him but Wanda's hands shot out to stop us both from taking another step.
"Don't" she said in a cool voice looking back at the boy. Her eyes flashed red and he stepped back in alarm. She turned back to us and pushed us out of the room before we could say another word. "Do you want to get in trouble with Fury?" she asked me once we were out of the room.
"I'm sick of this Wanda." I said setting off down the hall before I could change my mind.
"Blake wait" Pietro caught up to me and grabbed my arm.
I turned to face him feeling extremely annoyed but stopped when I saw the look on his face. "It's like this every day now. You'd think I cheated or tricked my way in." I said knowing that I must sound like a whining child.
Wanda strolled calmly up to us and placed her hand on my shoulder. "They just don't understand." she said throwing a piteous look back at the door "They want to be in your shoes and they know they never can." I let my shoulders fall and brushed my fringe out of my eyes.
"They have no idea." I said thinking of the dangers me and my team faced every time we stepped out that front door. We were the front the world saw for powered people. If given the chance I wondered how many of them would deal with the pressure being an Avenger.
"I know" said Wanda giving my shoulder a tight squeeze and I felt some of the tension lift. "But we have a job to do, and you are too smart to let this get in the way of that." she finished looking directly into my eyes. She was right but since I'd started dating Pietro I'd found myself more and more prone to hot-headedness like I'd just displayed. I let out a deep breath trying to calm myself and gestured down the hall.
"After you." I said with a slight smile
Pietro tilted my face up to meet his gaze. "You are on this team because you earned it and because you belong here. Don't let those idiots tell you different." I smiled and pulled his waist band so he had to stand directly in front of me.
"When did you get all wise?"
"About two second ago" he replied grinning down at me
I heard an amused sigh and looked down the hall to see Wanda holding the door open for us. I detached myself from Pietro and followed her into the armoury.
Nat was waiting for us and strapping on her gun. She looked up as we entered and gave me a quick grin. I took the gun she offered me and fitted into my holster.
"Right that's all of you. Cap you wanna do the honours?" she asked as Steve emerged from a side door holding his shield. Pietro glared at it and shifted his injured arm.
Steve stood at the front of the room next to some blueprints "This is strictly take down. As we said the other day an abandoned Hydra base was located a few hours out of the city. We got wind of a small group entering the building yesterday and put agents on recon. No one has come in or out since then so we assume the same group is still inside. It's our job to get in and clear it, any civilians need emergency evac call back up immediately." He looked round at us individually "You got this?" I nodded and went to grab a Kevlar vest from the wall resisting the urge, as I always did, to throw one at Pietro.
"You won't need that" said Nat getting to her feet. I gave her a questioning look and she pointed to my locker "Got some new toys for you." she punched in the combination and the door swung opened.
I exhaled in awe and looked back at her for confirmation.
"Well we thought since you've been on the team for a few months you'd earned it." I laughed out loud an turned back to the locker.
My uniform hung there staring back at me. It was mostly made of a strong black fabric, hints of mossy green leather ran throughout the design and made up the bodice like top that fitted under my chest and protected my vital organs. The long sleeves were laced up down the centre and ended in strong metal-like bracers. Two slits ran up each side of the skirt to allow for movement and underneath I could see a pair of thick black leggings and tall combat boots. It looked nothing like anything I'd ever seen and yet it was completely me. If I had to compare it to anything it would be that of an Asgardian warrior.
I turned to stare at Nat "This is all mine?" she picked up a box from her feet and handed it to me.
"These too." I couldn't think what I could possibly want more until I opened the box. Inside sat two perfectly carved axe blades. They were ornately made with clips on each end. I didn't know how I could use them without setting my gun aside but that was answered for me pretty quickly.
Steve stepped forward smiling at the look on my face and picked one of them up. "Here" he said moving to the locker "When you're not using them they slot into there." He pointed to a strap on the side of my boot "And when you do, just clip them into here. Just watch where you swing when you've got them on." he finished clipping one blade into the underside of my bracer. I was lost for words.
"They were tailored specifically to your hand to hand combat skills, you should do fine with them." said Nat
"You like it?" Wanda asked expectantly "I helped with the design." I gave her a one armed hug holding the box away from our bodies.
"I love it, how did you know?"
"I remember you saying how much you loved Lady Sif's armour. It went from there." So I had been right, very Asgardian.
"Well" said Nat looking impatient but smiling all the same "Go and get it on, we move out in ten."
I gathered it all up in the box and went to change. I emerged ten minutes later feeling immediately on show. Wanda gave me an impressed smile as she pulled off her gloves.
"Let's go then." said Nat nudging me and moving towards the hanger doors "You ready?"
I nodded as she passed and strapped my gun onto my boot along with the blades. I felt more at home with it there instead of relying fully on my new weapons. Pietro was the last person to pass me. He stopped and looked me over before leaning down to whisper in my ear.
"I'm not going to lie, you look really hot."
I laughed and pushed him back "Good, because I feel like an idiot." I said shifting uncomfortably in my new clothes.
He raised an eye brow and turned me to face the mirror. I barely recognised the woman staring back at me. She stood as steady and strong as the man behind her and her body seemed to radiate power with every movement. I tilted my head to the side just to check it was still me. The whole thing fit like a glove making use of both my muscles and my curves. I noticed that my hair and eyes matched the outfit perfectly, clearly Wanda had a knack for this kind of thing.
"Hmm" I said turning round to face him "Not as bad as I thought." he laughed and we heard Steve shout us from the hanger.
"Time to go to work." I said stepping forward and opening the door. In one swift motion Pietro grabbed me from behind and before I knew it we were on the jet. He set me down and I gratefully planted my feet on the hard metal. I looked back at him amused.
"Sorry" he said raising his shoulders "Couldn't help myself."
I dropped his hand and I beat twice on the wall to the cock pit "All set Nat." I shouted and felt the jet come to life under my toes. Steve tossed us a few coms and I hooked mine onto my ear.
"So where we headed?" I asked Steve over the roar of the engines as Pietro took a seat opposite and rested his feet on a box next to me.
"Brookhaven, Long Island." he said
I felt my stomach clench. Pietro sat forward looking at me in concern "Blake?" He knew why I'd suddenly gone white. Brookhaven was my home town, and my family still lived there.