Everything sounded like I was under water as my eyes flutter open only to close against the blinding light. Pushing myself into a seated position my head swims and I press my hand to my forehead wincing as pain shoots from the area. Coughing I open my eyes and pull my hand away from my head, it was covered in sand and blood. I could taste the blood as well as the sand I’d been laying on.
As explosion nearby rocks the ground around me and the fog starts lifting from my mind. We’d been driving when we’d been hit by missiles; ambush! Glancing around the burning husks of our Humvees that lay scattered around me I don’t see any of my team.
“Daniels? Brenard?” I try to yell, but it comes out more like a wheeze. “Anybody copy?”
When no one answers my anxiety starts to raise and I try to stand only to fall as a sharp pain shoots up my leg when I try to move it. The smell of burning rubber and gasoline fill my senses as my heart starts racing making me feel like I’m going to be sick.
“Kenna?” A familiar voice asks, pulling my back to the present.
I was sitting safe and sound in my office, my chin resting on my hands as my elbows rest on the desktop in front of me. I look up into the face of the infamous Tony Stark as he stands in the doorway of my office and smile as I get to my feet.
“Come in Tony, I’ve been expecting you.”
He enters and sits in the chair opposite of me after hugging me briefly.
“You seemed like you were miles away just now. Is everything okay?”
“It’s the anniversary of the explosion that killed my team, I was remembering waking up but I’m fine. How about you? Are the nightmares getting any better?”
“Much. The journal seems to be doing the trick. I mean I still get them from time to time but they’re not as intense anymore.”
“No more suits trying to protect you from Pepper?”
“No ma’am.” He chuckles, running his fingers through his hair.
“That’s great news. I’m proud of you. You’re making amazing progress but that’s not why you’re here. You were a little vague on your message.”
“Yes. I’ve been seeing you for what, almost two years now? You’ve done an amazing job with me and I know Pepper is happy with her sessions with you too.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“I’ve also looked into your record. Former combat medic for the Marines and were then recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. for a special unit tasked with tracking and capturing terrorists using Stark weapons and had great success.”
“Your point Tony?” I laugh.
I knew well what he’d read and it didn’t surprise me that he’d snooped. I’d have given him my record myself if he’d asked. I had a firm policy to be as open and honest with my patients as I could. It helped them know that they weren’t alone. I was open about my past if someone asked, though I knew not all of it could be found in the normal file, not that anyone had cared enough to ask about the blank spot.
“My point is I’m curious about the year between you getting your degree and starting your practice here. I couldn’t find anything and that seemed…odd to me.”
I look at him for a moment, deciding if he actually cared or just didn’t like the oddity. I sigh as I make the choice to tell him what no one else but myself knew.
“Not many people…hell what am I saying? No one knows what I’m about to tell you and though it’s not technically a secret I am going to ask you to be discreet with the information.”
“Doctor client and all that.” He nodes.
“You know about the explosion and the speculation that followed about my strange healing. After they forced me to retire though they couldn’t find anything wrong with me and I graduated I was approached by someone I thought was a possible client. What’s not in the file is when I showed up at the meeting I was kidnapped and taken to a lab in the wilderness of Serbia.
“Hydra had taken an interest in me after my rapid healing from the explosion. You met one of my former cell mates not long ago. Apparently they thought my healing would help them succeed at making another Winter Soldier. I spent the missing year being beaten and tortured in hopes of when they finally injected me with their special sauce I’d be their next mindless killing machine.”
“So what happened? How’d you escape?”
“I didn’t. After the torture and mind games with the scepter didn’t work they injected me and I died. They dumped me in the wilderness and left me for dead.”
“But you’re clearly alive now. What happened?”
“Best I can figure is whatever caused the healing they’d been interested in protected me from the scepter and the serum enhanced it somehow. When I woke up I was covered in ash and I could do this.”
I hold my hand out in front of me with my thumb and first two fingers pressed together, a blue flame coming to life and dancing across my skin stopping just past my wrist. I look up at Tony and he’s smiling at me.
“Is it just your hands?”
“No, though I can usually control how much of me ignites. Found out the hard way my clothes don’t survive.”
“I bet I could make you a suit that could withstand your flames.”
“That’s very kind of you Tony but I’d have no use for a suit like that working here. It’s been over a year since I had a full body experience.”
“Which brings me to what I wanted to talk to you about. The Avengers could really use someone like you. Your military record is beyond excellent, you’re a skilled hand to hand fighter as well as marksman and the way your mind works problems out in second to none. Add in your work with mental problems as well as actual medical training from the Marines…”
“Are you asking me to join the Avengers?”
“And that has nothing to do with what you just saw me do?”
“How could it? You literally just told me, though it certainly doesn’t hurt. What do you think?”
What did I think? It was certainly an interesting offer but I wasn’t sure I was ready for my missing time to become common knowledge. Once S.H.I.E.L.D. found out I’d been held by Hydra I doubt they’d trust me and I couldn’t totally blame them. I wasn’t sure I was exactly Avengers material.
“We brought a young woman back with us from Sokovia. Hydra experimented on her and her brother with the scepter and it unlocked powers in them, though they volunteered for the experiment. She’s having really bad nightmares and I think you’re the best person to help her. Even if you don’t join the team I think you’d be a huge asset to the team.”
“Can I sleep on it?”
“Of course. No pressure.”
He stands up and I follow suit. We hug and he turns to leave, pausing at the door he turns back to look at me.
“For the record, I’m glad you survived.”
“For the record, who showed you my record?”
“Technically Fury did, but I might’ve done some digging beforehand on my own.” He smirk. “I’ll leave your name at the gate if you decide to join us.”