The next week was hell. I couldn't sleep, I barely talked. Nothing seemed to matter as much anymore. Nightmares plagued my brain every time I closed my eyes and seeped into my waking life making me constantly on edge. Clint knew there was something wrong but I doubt he figured out exactly what it was. I spent most of my time in my room, nobody noticed because there was too much going on. With the cleanup of Ultron's aftermath and moving to a new base people were too busy to see I was falling apart. One person had it worse than me though. She was in agony and there was nothing anyone could do to help.
In the room next to mine something slammed against the wall and I heard furniture shatter, immediately after she began to sob again. Wanda Maximoff was inches away from me behind that wall and I couldn't comfort her. Her brother was dead and she was spiralling out of control. I couldn't even imagine what she was going through, to have had someone with you since before you were even born and have them ripped away. She must feel like she was dying herself.
I hugged my legs to my chest and closed my eyes. His face swam to the forefront of my vision and it felt like someone had kicked me in the chest. Snapping my eyes open I blinked away the tears and got up. I walked over to the wall and put my ear to the cold stone. Wanda was muttering to herself in a language I didn't understand, she sounded like she was going mad. Maybe she was, after what she'd been through I would have lost it a lot sooner.
We'd been on this new base for just over two days, my room was down the hall from the kitchen with all the other recruits quarters. It was clean and tidy but not homely, not yet anyway. What little possessions I had with me I'd already unpacked. Books, clothing and family photos. I picked up a picture of me and my sister Bennett, it was taken not long after my twentieth birthday. My sister clung to my back holding a balloon and smiled cheekily at the camera, I missed her so much and it was still nothing compared how much the woman in the next room missed her twin brother. If I couldn't care for my own sister I would do what I could for Pietro's.
Setting down the picture I opened my door and went to stand in front of Wanda's. She was still talking quietly to herself when I knocked.
"Wanda? Its Agent Deveraux, can I come in?" There was silence "Wanda?" I said again more tentatively. She didn't respond but the door clicked. When it swung open it caught on something behind it and I had to push it roughly to squeeze through. It had jammed on the remnants of a wooden bed frame which was now in pieces on the floor along with a few chairs and a bed side table. I also noticed there was a huge burn mark on the front of the wardrobe. Wanda was sat in the far corner of the room her head in her hands, she looked up as I entered and gazed at me bleary through sheets of dark hair.
"I remember you." she said in a horse voice and I nodded
"You met me with Clint a few nights ago." I said coming to a stop in front of her and crouching down. "I'm Blake."
"I remember you." she said again whilst looking at her feet. I was confused, I'd just told her we'd met before. "I'll never forget, I promise." she said quietly into her shaking hands. Then it dawned on me. She was talking about Pietro.
"He knows." I said gently taking her hand in mine to steady it. She looked up at me sadly and I saw tiny water droplets clinging to her long eyelashes.
"I told him to go. To get the others and run. It's all my fault." she said and her voice began to waver "All my fault."
"No Wanda, it wasn't your fault. Don't think that for a second." I said feeling my heart break for her. Her eyes glazed over again and large tears began to spill out. "I'm so sorry."
"My brother...he was all I had" She tried to grit her teeth a few times to stop crying but it didn't work. I put one arm round her shoulders and left the other in her hand. She held back for a moment then gripped onto it tightly and slumped against me. Suddenly bits of broken furniture around her seemed to be skating away from us as red energy leaked from her hands. I held onto her as tightly as I could without hurting her. Great wracking sobs shook her body and I felt myself wanting to cry with her. Here was a woman I knew nothing about and had never spoken to before, and all I wanted to do was make her pain stop.
I let her cry until she was finished and then sat in silence holding onto her hand. Nat poked her head round the door later and I shook my head in an 'I got this' fashion. I looked down and saw her eyelids beginning to droop. She'd obviously tired herself out with using her powers and not sleeping. Her bed lay splintered on the floor and the entire room was trashed.
"Do you want to take my room for the night?" I asked her taking my arm from around her shoulders "I can stay with my friend down the hall."
I watched her ponder and look round at the mess she'd made "Are you sure that is alright?"
"Course it is." I said standing up and offering her my hand "You need to sleep." So did I but I wouldn't tell her that. She brushed the hair back from her face and stood up. When standing she was a lot taller than me, more willowy than my petite athletic build and even in her distressed state she was still very beautiful.
"Do you need anything?" I asked once she'd perched herself on the end of my bed.
"No." she said taking in her surroundings. I started to leave and she called back to me "Blake...thank you."
I wanted to tell her I couldn't bear seeing her in pain, that I knew how much her brother had meant to her, what she must be going through, but all that came out was "Its ok."
I closed the door quietly behind me as her head hit the pillow. She looked exhausted and ready to keel over. Though I wouldn't admit it to anyone Pietro's death had really shaken me as well. I'd never known anyone who had died before let alone someone so full of energy and life, it didn't seem real.
I sat outside the door for a while making sure no one bothered her. Realizing I'd nearly dozed off after my head dropped onto my shoulder I got up and walked around for a while. Yes I could stay at Emily's down the hall but I didn't feel like talking to her, or anyone really. Something had changed in me over the past week, I wasn't as quick to smile, people who I used to enjoy being around I couldn't bear to be with now. It was strange and I hoped it didn't last forever, the stain of death seemed to follow me wherever I went haunting me like a ghost.
Finally I curled up on the couch in the lounge and fell asleep. Hours later when the sun was fully up I was woken by Wanda. She shook my shoulder slightly and gave me a small smile as I opened my eyes.
"Did you get any sleep?" I asked pushing myself up on my numb arm
"Did I? What about you, that didn't look comfortable." she said pointing to the couch
"Nah it was fine."
"You should have said, I wouldn't have-"
"Wanda, its fine." I said raising my hand to stop her "You needed it more than me."
She smiled and gave me a curious look "Why are you being so nice to me, you don't even know me."
"I guess I don't like seeing people suffer, not when I can do something to help. Are you feeling any better today?"
She sighed and fiddled with one of the many rings on her fingers "It comes and goes, I don't think it will ever be alright."
"No but it will get easier." I said hoping I was right for both our sakes
"How do you move on, when all you had was them?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know. I've never lost anyone." I said looking at her and hating myself, all the things she'd lost I must look like I was throwing it in her face.
"Then you are lucky." she said meeting my gaze and giving me a sad smile
"He seemed like a good man." I said patting her hand gently
"He was, always hot headed, and short tempered." she said chuckling under her breath "But I loved him."
"Talking about me?" said a deep voice and we both looked up.
No. I was dreaming. Or I'd gone insane. Wanda stiffened beside me and I knew I wasn't the only one seeing this. Pietro Maximoff stood across the room leaning against the door frame. Though his voice had sounded cocky he didn't look it, he looked ill and stared expectantly back at his sister. Huge bandages covered his rib cage and he was carrying himself in a odd way, leaning a little too heavily on the wall.
"Pietro?" Wanda breathed out and stumbled to her feet. He stepped into the room and raised his good arm towards her.
I couldn't get over how alive he looked, besides the bandages he seemed in high spirits. His eyes were bright and his skin was full of colour, the last time him the life was leaking out of his cheeks leaving them pale. He smiled at his sisters shock as she grabbed his hand and held it in both of her own.
"You are real." she said in awe "I thought I was going mad."
"Not yet little sister." he said and pulled her into a tight on armed hug. She laughed into his shoulder and I felt something bright return to my body. Pietro's eyes were shining slightly as he kissed his sister on the side of the head and looked up at me. The shadow that had been haunting me was burned away by the smile on his face. Surely I would wake up at any moment and he would be gone. Instinctively I pinched myself but nothing changed. I watched them embrace but couldn't bring myself to get up, I was rooted to the spot as the others came into the room.
Clint , Nat and Steve came to an abrupt stop as they spotted Pietro. Wiping her eyes Wanda de-tangled herself from the hug but still held onto his hand, I was sure she would not let go of him for the rest of her life now.
"You didn't see that coming." said Pietro with a smirk
"You little shit." said Clint marching up to Pietro and punching him on the arm. Had Pietro been in better shape I was convinced Clint would have punched him in the face. It only made Pietro smile though. "What the hell, kid?"
"You told me to walk it off, no?" said Pietro nodding at Steve. It was the first time I'd ever seen Captain America speechless.
"How is this even possible." said Wanda looking at her brother who had just caught the wall for support. She put one hand on his chest and his shoulder to push him back up.
"Can I tell you later? I'm getting tired." he said leaning into her. It was then I piped up.
"Wanda's in my room, you can stay with her." Everyone turned to look at me, some noticing me for the first time.
"Blake are you-"
"Come on I said its fine. I'll try to get you both rooms when I talk to Hill later." I said and she looked gratefully back at me before helping Pietro out of the room. He looked curiously over his shoulder at me as he left and I tried not to smile back at him.
"What's up with her room?" said Clint glaring after Pietro
"Nothing...we were practicing, powers got a little out of hand." I didn't want Wanda to have to stress about anything else, let the blame of trashing her room fall on me.
"Nice to see you're getting along." said Nat coming over to sit next to me "I owe you one." she whispered quietly "I didn't know what to say."
"Neither did I but- wait did you know?"
"Know what?" she said raising her eyebrow
"That her brother was alive."
"Sorry kiddo but I can't tell you that."
"C'mon Nat, Wanda was falling apart you should have said something."
"What if I did and the procedure didn't work, I'd just end up hurting her more. This way is easier believe me." she said squeezing my shoulder and getting up.
"Did it work? Is he gonna be ok?" I asked thinking about just how many bullets had punctured his body.
"There's one thing you gotta remember about us Avengers, we're survivors." said Clint ruffling my hair and following Steve out of the room
"Yeah I'm starting to get that." I said as Nat left the room as well.
The moment she had left I flopped back down on the couch and looked up at the ceiling. He was alive. A weight seemed to lift from my chest and I felt a smile growing on my face. I stopped it and shook my head. I didn't even really know the man, why did he effect me so much. It would stop as soon as I got used to him being around again, no doubt he'd be staying on base with his sister so I'd have to. But something told me this feeling or whatever it was wouldn't pass as easily as I'd hope because the smile had involuntarily returned to my face the moment I thought about him staying.