Chapter 1: The Unexpected Valentine
Wanda Maximoff needed a new job. To an outside observer, the job she had seemed perfect. Reasonable hours, decent pay, fair holiday rates.
The only problem with Wanda's job was the fact that she hated it.
Wanda worked in a Party Store in the local mall, and, as already stated, she hated it. 'Party' and 'Struggling twenty-something Sokovian immigrant' were not really concepts that meshed well together, particularly when blended with the string of other tragedies that had made up Wanda Maximoff's life so far.. The death of her parents at age ten, battling through childhood as orphans in the war-torn Sokovia, and finally, tragically losing her twin brother in an accident soon after they had migrated to America. Unfortunately, the 'struggling twenty-something' part of the equation meant she couldn't be picky regarding her employment options. So, Wanda went on hating her job.
She hated the way her face hurt after hours of forcing a smile for customers.
Hated her constantly changing uniform, usually themed to the next nearest Holiday.
Hated the name-tag that let customers act overly familiar with her when they asked for things.
Most of all, she hated the customers who raced in a few minutes before closing time, because, often, the things her store sold were an afterthought, or the last item on a list.
It was the night before Valentine's Day. For a the last couple of weeks, Wanda had been forced to play the role of Cupid, wearing a pair of wings and clutching a cheap plastic bow, as she endured customers jokingly ask her to shoot them with her arrow.
The stores around her shutting up shop, and Wanda was about to do the same, when, like clockwork, a customer rushed in. It was a man probably a few years older than Wanda herself, with soft golden hair and dazzling blue eyes, clutching the hand of a little girl who was his double, with the same hair and eyes.
If Wanda hadn't been so annoyed by his arrival, she might have recognized that he was handsome, even if not her usual type. Then again, in the past those Wanda had thought were her type had often turned out to be of the 'Wham, bam, Thank you Ma'm' persuasion, so it might have been time to rethink what exactly her type was anyway.
The man seemed a bit frazzled, bright blue eyes scanning the store's selection of Valentine's Day cards.
Wanda waited, customer-service smile pasted on her face, as the minutes ticked by. Closing time came and went.
The little girl yawned loudly. The blonde man (the girl's Father, Wanda assumed) scooped her tenderly into his arms. She nuzzled her head into his shoulder as he continued browsing.
"Excuse me, sir" Wanda's jaw twitched, exhausted from her forced smiling. "Do you need any assistance? It's just that, I really do need to close up.."
"Oh!" He exclaimed in a soft British accent looked at his watch, jumping slightly. "I am so sorry, I lost track of the time.."
He looked as though he really was sorry, but Wanda had had so many after-closing customers linger and falsely claim to be sorry that she didn't really believe him. To his credit, though, he did hurry it up. One more quick scan of the cards and he made a selection, carrying it to the counter.
"Just the card, sir?"
"Yes, thank you.." He set the little girl down again so he could reach for his wallet. "Stay right there, Vivian, Daddy just has to pay the nice lady.."
"Okay, Daddy" The little girl, Vivian, apparently, yawned again, but stayed put.
Wanda, briefly and privately, thought that the blonde man looked a little on the young side to be a Dad, now she saw him up close.. But why did she care? It wasn't any business of hers. She just wanted the guy to pay up and get out so she could finish closing.
He counted out enough money for the card, along with a few extra dollars, placing it all in Wanda's hand.
"Keep the change, Miss. For your trouble.."
"That's really not necess.."
"I insist" He scooped up Vivian again, heading out of the store. "I really am sorry to have kept you so late. Enjoy the rest of your night."
"You too.." Wanda, quite surprised, watched after the man and his daughter as they left.
Vivian peeked back at Wanda over her Father's shoulder, raising a small hand and waving.
Without thinking, Wanda waved back, feeling the corners of her mouth involuntarily tug upwards in a smile.. A real smile.
Then she shook her head, and set about closing the store before anyone else could barge in.
The following day, Valentine's Day proper, was actually a rather quiet one for Wanda's store, apart from the one or two idiots who had forgotten what day it was and ran in to buy cards and cheap love-heart teddy bears like it wouldn't be immediately obvious to their significant others that they had simply forgotten.
Quiet suited Wanda just fine. In fact, she preferred it.
She was currently sitting behind the counter, sucking on a heart-shaped lolly-pop (they were just going to get thrown out in a few weeks anyway), and flipping through a magazine (Huh. Brad and Jennifer were supposedly back together again), when she was interrupted by a strangely familiar British accent.
Wanda looked up, eyes widening, lolly-pop falling from her mouth, when she saw the cute blonde Dad from the night before.. Why did she think of him as cute?!
"I'm sorry to surprise you, Miss, uh.. may I ask your name?"
"I see it" He said. He was clutching one of the single red roses sold all through the mall on that day. "I just thought it more polite to ask."
"Right" Wanda swallowed. "My.. Wanda. I'm Wanda."
"Hello, Wanda" He smiled. "My name is Victor, although everyone usually calls me Vision.. I was here with my daughter last night?"
"I remember.." Wanda nodded.
"I wanted to apologize again, for keeping you late.. Explain myself.."
"That's really not.."
"I feel I need to" Vision continued. "Vivian's Mother passed when she was very young. But every Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Birthdays.. I buy a card and we visit the cemetery, so Vivian can place it on her grave. It helps her feel close to her Mother, I think. This year though, I've been so busy with work, housekeeping, looking at schools for Viv when she starts Kindergarten.. I completely forgot about Valentine's Day, until she mentioned it to me.. So I panicked.."
"You did look a bit frazzled when you came in.." Wanda felt a slight lump in her throat, suddenly feeling rather guilty for being annoyed with Vision the night before. She knew how it felt to lose someone you loved. The pain and guilt of forgetting special days as time went on.
"I was" said Vision. "But that was no excuse to make what was clearly a long day for you even longer. You looked so tired.. a little sad. I wanted to apologize again, and say thank you.."
"You really don't.."
"So, thank you.." Vision ignored Wanda's protests, handing her the rose. "And Happy Valentine's Day, Wanda."
"Thank you.." Wanda carefully took the rose.
Vision's dazzling blue eyes sparkled, and he smiled, a wise, knowing smile.
"I hope things get better for you.." He lingered in the store for a few minutes, that felt much less awkward than they should have been, before glancing at his watch. "I need to go collect Viv from a play-date, but I'm sure I will be back here again, so.. See you?
"Yeah, see you.." Wanda watched Vision as he walked out of the store, and continued watching him until he was completely out of sight.
Her fingers, ran over the soft petals of the rose, and she felt that same tug of a smile at the corners of her lips. Then she shook her head and groaned, annoyed with herself.
Vision was a customer, no different than any of the others who passed through every day. She would probably never see him again, and even if she did, he wouldn't remember her.
There wasn't much about her worth remembering.
Chapter 2: The Cranky Leprechaun
Wanda meets Vision again when little Viv needs supplies for a Pre-School Saint Patrick's day Party.
Of course, Wanda did see Vision again. He didn't come into her store, not right away. But she saw him a few times, as he walked through the Mall. Sometimes alone, but usually with his adorable little daughter in tow.
Among the hundreds of people who passed by her store each day, he stood out, her green eyes drawn to him. Wanda couldn't explain exactly why this was. Perhaps it was the fact that his unexpected kindness towards her had provided a rare, all too brief bright spot in the never ending drudgery that was Wanda's job.. or maybe it was just because he was easy on the eyes.
Whatever the reason, Wanda noticed Vision. And as she noticed him, she began noticing things about him.
She noticed that when Vision was alone, he usually seemed to be in a hurry, like there was somewhere else he would rather have been. Wanda knew just how that felt. She would always rather be somewhere other than work.
When Vision had Vivian with him, however, he was relaxed, happy. His eyes sparkled, a bright smile on his face. He would listen with rapt attention to anything the little girl was telling him.
Wanda noticed other things when she saw them together. Viv was always dressed well. Fresh clean clothes, a good warm hat and coat when it was cold. Vision's clothes were noticeably a little older, a bit faded, one of his coats patched at the elbow. If Wanda caught sight of them leaving the Mall, Viv would often have a treat, like a cookie or an ice-cream cone, or a small chocolate bar.. But Vision rarely seemed to bother with anything for himself.
They didn't seem to be struggling at all, but it was clear to anyone who might see the duo that Vivian's needs came first, always.
Though Wanda's heart had been hardened a little by the losses she'd suffered, she found that watching Vision and his daughter touched her, just a little, reminding her of the relationship she'd shared with her own Father before his death. He had always been willing to go without to make sure Wanda and her twin brother, Pietro, had everything they needed.
Once or twice, Vision had glanced in Wanda's direction as he passed by her store, quickly waving or flashing a smile.
Wanda, not confident enough to acknowledge that he clearly did, in fact, remember who she was, would blush and look away, finding something to busy herself and pretending she hadn't seen him.
Still, just like their first.. well, second.. encounter, the times she did see Vision smile became splashes of color in the grey of her days. Wanda found herself actively looking for him in the crowded mall, and increasingly hoping that maybe, someday soon, he would find a reason to come back into her Store.
The day Vision did return, Wanda almost missed him. She wasn't rostered on, but her strangely named, overly perky colleague Mantis had been struck with a case of food poisoning.
Wanda had been woken early on what was supposed to be her day off to take Mantis's shift, which immediately put Wanda in a foul mood. Not helping this foul mood was the fact that it was the week of St. Patrick's Day, so her current 'uniform' resulted in customers thinking they were the world's greatest comedians when they asked her whether she'd lost her lucky charms. The joke got old pretty fast.
So, when Vision entered the store that afternoon, accompanied by Vivian and her little friend Cassie, they were greeted by the sight of a rather cranky leprechaun atop a small stepladder, passive-aggressively rearranging a large display of Shamrock hats and assorted Saint Patrick's day memorabilia.
"Ah!" Immediately recognizing Vision's voice, Wanda yelped in surprise, losing her balance and toppling from the stepladder.
"Oh my God!" Vision raced forward, catching Wanda as she fell. "I am so sorry, I shouldn't have startled you like that.. Are you alright?"
"Uh.." Wanda froze for a moment, suddenly quite lost in Vision's vibrant blue eyes, and couldn't help thinking that she actually fit quite nicely against him as he held her.. Then blushed bright red as she remembered what had just happened. "I'm alright.. You can, um, put me down now.."
"Oh, right!" Vision blushed a similar shade of red, immediately setting Wanda down. "Sorry, I.. Sorry.. Rough day again?"
"You could say that. I'm not even really supposed to be working Today.." Wanda glanced at the two little girls behind Vision. "Oh.. hello."
"Hello, nice lady!" Viv grinned, waving. "Me and Cassie have a Patrick's Day party at Pre-School Tomorrow."
"Saint Patrick's Day, Vivian" Vision gently corrected her. "You two go pick a few things out. Green and shamrocks, remember?"
"And then we can have a Shamrock Shake at McDonalds, Uncle Vision?" Cassie asked hopefully. "My Daddy says its okay."
"Yes, then you can both have a Shamrock shake."
"You too, Daddy" said Viv. "You like Shamrock Shakes."
"Maybe" Vision told her. "I'll see how much money I have when we're done here. Go on.."
Viv frowned, but followed Cassie to the St. Patrick's Day display.
"Sweet kids.." Wanda commented.
"They are. Cassie belongs to my friend Scott, I'm just minding her for the day" Vision explained. "Are you sure you're alright?"
"I'll live" Wanda managed a small smile.
She and Vision stood in surprisingly comfortable silence, until the girls returned. Cassie had chosen a hat and some pom poms, but Viv clutched only one small shamrock pin.
"Are you sure that's all you want, sweetheart?" Vision asked, confused.
"Uh-huh. Since I only got a little thing, we've gots enough money for your Shamrock Shake!"
"Vivian" Vision sighed.
Wanda glanced between them. The scene was familiar to her. She felt her hardened heart soften just a little more.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" she said suddenly. "I think it might be you girls' zi norocoasa. That means 'lucky day', where I am from.. Everything with a Shamrock is only one dollar!"
"Really?" Viv gasped.
"Mhmm. Go, pick some more!"
Viv and Cassie rushed back over to the display.
"Is that true?" Vision asked Wanda, blue eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"Technically, no, but will be in a few days" Wanda shrugged. "We always order in way more Saint Patrick's Day stuff than we actually need."
"I wouldn't want you to risk your job.."
"I'm not. No one will notice.. Let's just call it a 'Thank you for not letting me split my head open' discount."
The girls returned with their newly selected purchases, and Wanda rang everything up at the 'Special' price.
"Here you go" She handed the bags to Viv and Cassie.
"Thank you, nice lady!" Vivian grinned.
"Thank you, again" said Vision, paying, then pausing as he turned to leave. "By the way, Wanda.."
"You make quite a cute Leprechaun."
He followed Viv and Cassie out of the store, leaving a blushing Wanda Maximoff behind him.
Chapter 3: Save Some Eggs For Me
Easter was a frustrating time for Wanda Maximoff.
Easter had become a rather frustrating time of the year for Wanda Maximoff for multiple reasons, all of which were related to her much hated job.
Yes, she was dressed as a bunny.. Ears, make-up nose and whiskers, and worst of all, a stupid fluffy tail. However, that didn't mean she was open to extra unwanted attention from sleazy customers.
Yes, Wanda was a bunny. No, she was not a Playboy Bunny, or a Penthouse Pet. She was the Easter Bunny, bringer of chocolate eggs and happiness and whatever the Hell else the damn bunny was supposed to do.
No, she wouldn't wear the ears for him in private. No, the Easter Bunny was not going to make a 'Special Delivery' to his house, and stop trying to grab the damn tail, Idiotule!
Of course, because Wanda could not risk losing her job, no matter how much she hated it, she did not actually swear at the stupid sleazy customers. Instead, she kept smiling her increasingly forced smile, and counting the days until Easter was over.
Then there were the customers who weren't sleazy, just stupid, and couldn't understand that she could not just magically produce items that her store didn't stock.
"Can you show me where you keep your chocolate eggs?" A rather snooty looking woman with a designer handbag and too much make up asked, tapping her fingers on the counter.
Somehow, Wanda knew this was not going to go well.
"I'm sorry, Ma'm" Wanda once again pasted on her best customer-service smile. "We don't sell those."
"Then why are you dressed as the Easter Bunny?" The woman frowned.
"Because it is Easter, but.."
"Then you should have Easter Eggs!"
"Ma'm, this is a Party supply store. We sell costumes and decorations and paper plates and stuff, but we don't have many edibles. We'll get in a few novelty lollipops now and then, but.."
"Easter eggs are a novelty!"
"Not the kind of novelty we usually sell.."
"Well, I suppose I will have to take my business elsewhere!" The snooty woman sniffed, hefting her designer bag higher on her shoulder as if making sure Wanda could see it.
"That would probably be for the best, Ma'm" Wanda forced her smile a little wider, worried that her jaw was going to freeze in place, "Since this store simply doesn't stock the item you want."
The woman huffed and walked out.
Wanda sighed, slumping behind the counter.
Unfortunately, it was apparently a day for stupid people, as Wanda suffered through painfully similar exchanges with her next few customers. Shortly afterwards, while Wanda was facing away from the counter adjusting a display of plastic chicks, a little voice said:
"'Scuse me, do you.."
Wanda turned, her smile even more forced than usual, and only just managed not to snap as she replied,
"No, we do not have any chocolate eggs." Wanda immediately froze, her face reddening, when she realized that the voice belonged to little Vivian, standing by the counter with her Father.
Vision looked at Wanda with a concerned expression, but little Viv took things very much in her stride.
"'Course you don't have chocolate eggs" The little girl told Wanda matter-of-factly, before bursting into giggles. "The Easter Bunny brings those!"
Wanda relaxed at Vivian's giggle, and couldn't help the genuine smile that now spread over her face.
"You are exactly right, but some silly people think that the Easter Bunny hides eggs in my shop.." Wanda moved out from behind the counter, her smile brightening further when Vision laughed as well. She crouched to Viv's eye-level. "Your name is Vivian, isn't it?"
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded. "Hi!"
"Hi" Wanda chuckled. "My name is Wanda. What are you and your Daddy looking for Today, Viv?"
"We want stuff to decorate our Easter baskets with" Viv replied.
"Every year we make new baskets and decorate them together the day before Easter Sunday" Vision explained. "It's a little tradition for us."
"Sounds fun.. I think we have a few nice stickers that could work, come see if there are any you like.."
So, as Viv chose which sticker sheets she wanted, she explained their Easter Sunday plans to Wanda, while Vision looked on with a proud smile.
".. And then Daddy puts all the eggs away and only gives me one every day, so Easter lasts way longer!"
"Lucky girl. Make sure you save some eggs for me, okay?" Wanda joked. She took Viv's chosen stickers, ringing them up under her staff discount without even thinking about it.
"Thank you again, Wanda" Vision smiled at her.
"You're welcome.." Wanda felt a strange flutter in her chest at Vision's smile, but tried to ignore it. He was a customer. Less annoying than most, maybe, but a customer all the same.
Of course, Wanda had been entirely joking when she'd asked Viv to save her some eggs. So, she was completely caught off guard when, a few days after the end of the Easter Holiday, she saw Viv running into the store clutching a small homemade basket with a few Easter Eggs inside, covered in the stickers Wanda had sold to her.
"Don't run indoors, Vivian!" Vision called after her.
"Sorry, Daddy" Viv's feet screeched to a halt. "Wanda, I saved some eggs! We even made another basket, just for you!"
Wanda's jaw dropped. She looked to Vision.
"You didn't have to make her.."
"I did not make her do anything" Vision smiled. "Vivian wanted to save some eggs for you, and I decided not to discourage her generosity."
"Oh.. Well, thank you, Vivian" Wanda gently took the basket.
"You're welcome. Don't eat them too fast!"
As quickly as they had arrived, Viv and Vision were gone, off for a playdate with Cassie.
Wanda stared at the basket. Then, she glanced beneath the counter, where the rose Vision had given her on Valentine's Day still rested. The flower was long dead, dried up and missing a few petals, but Wanda had found herself unable to get rid of it. After a while, she smiled softly, tucking the basket in beside the rose.
Chapter 4: Missing Piece
Wanda struggles in the lead up to Mother’s Day.
Mother's Day, when Wanda was a small child, had always been relatively pleasant. She and Pietro would jump on their parent's bed first thing in the morning.
Their Mother would smile at them over the 'Breakfast' they had prepared for her- Burnt toast and coffee that probably had way too much sugar in it-, and after she had forced it all down, the twins would present her with their gifts. It was never much.. cards and artwork made at school, and whatever little trinket their Father had managed to scrape together the money for.
But their Mother would always hug them tightly, kissing their cheeks, and warmly thank them for whatever they had pulled together.
Mother's Day in the present was difficult for Wanda for the obvious reason that her own Mother was no longer with her. None of her family was with her.
Mother's Day was not quite as big in her store as other Holidays, since people tended not to have parties for Mother's Day.. But it was big enough to always be in her face.
The cards. The low-budget gifts, usually snapped up by children spending their pocket money, or the last minute 'Crap, I forgot' crowd. And most of all, the stupid shirt she currently wore, with 'I Heart My Mom' splashed across the front, a permanent, painful reminder of what she no longer had. This wasn't helped by the fact that the store had been quiet most of the day, giving her little chance of distracting herself from said painful reminder.
Vision and Viv, when they arrived that afternoon, proved a wonderful distraction. Wanda felt a smile spread over her face, feeling almost relieved.
"Hello, Viv, Vision, what are you two after to.. Oh" Wanda paused, squinting at an unusual pinkish smudge on Vision's cheek. "You've got something on your face.."
"Oh" Vision blushed the same color as the smudge, scrubbing at his cheek with one hand. "Must be make-up left over from work.."
"Where do you work?" Wanda asked, curious.
"Daddy is a Superhero!" said Viv proudly.
"A Superhero?" Wanda's brow crinkled in confusion.
"Well, I dress up as one for Parties" Vision explained, still scrubbing at his cheek. "My own character, The Vision.. it's where my nickname comes from, all my friends thought it suited me better than Victor, and I actually preferred it myself, so it's just stuck.." He moved his hand. "Better?"
"You might have made it worse" Wanda chuckled. "Hang on, I've got some make-up wipes back here from taking my whiskers off during Easter.." She took one, stepping out from behind the counter and, without really thinking about it, reached up to wipe the smudge from Vision's face.. Then blushed and jumped backwards, realizing that this was much too intimate a gesture for a salesperson to share with their customer.
"Thank you.." Vision blushed slightly himself.
"No problem.." Wanda murmured, quite embarrassed with herself, as she tossed the wipe into the waste paper basket behind the counter. "So, uh.. what were you and Vivian here for?"
"We're looking for a card to take to Mommy at the Cemetery" Viv replied.
"Of course. Well, we have plenty of nice ones.."
For the next few minutes, Wanda and Vision hovered awkwardly, avoiding each other's gaze as they waited for Vivian to finish looking through the cards.
"Daddy" Viv said as she browsed, "Cassie gots cards for her Mommy AND for Hope."
"Oh, did she?" Vision's eyes drifted over to some Teddy Bears.
"Uh-huh. Does that mean Cassie got two Mommies now?"
"I don't know.. I think that's something for Hope and Cassie to decide."
"Okay.. Daddy, will I get a new Mommy one day?"
"I.." Vision blushed brightly, but for the briefest of moments, his blue-eyed gaze flickered in Wanda's direction. Wanda didn't notice, fiddling with some balloons and pretending she wasn't listening to them at all. "I don't know, Sweetheart. Maybe."
Shortly afterwards, Viv laid her chosen card on the counter.
"Are you going to visit your Mommy for Mother's Day, Wanda?" The little girl asked innocently.
"No" Wanda managed to reply. "My Mommy is in Heaven, like yours."
"Oh.. maybe they're friends!"
"Maybe" Wanda smiled sadly.
"Are you going to see your Daddy?" Vivian continued. "My Daddy does Mommy stuff for me!"
Wanda's face fell. Vision noticed this, trying to intervene.
"No, it's alright.." Wanda swallowed the lump in her throat, forcing herself to speak. "My Daddy is in Heaven too.."
Vivian gasped, horrified. She couldn't imagine not having her Daddy.
"It's okay, really.. it happened a very long time ago.."
"You look sad.." Viv frowned.
"I.." Wanda paused. She was about to say that she was alright. For a long time, she had been pretending that she was, but that wasn't really true. "I suppose I am a little bit sad."
"Do you need a hug?"
Wanda again, was about to say no.. until she finally locked eyes with Vision again, and he simply nodded. Probably a few more boundaries being crossed here.. but screw boundaries.
"Yes.. I think a hug would be nice."
Viv raced around to the other side of the counter, launching herself into Wanda's arms, and Wanda instinctively swept her up to hold her close. Vivian was warm and soft, her blonde hair giving off the sweet bubblegum scent of children's shampoo. And she fit so perfectly in Wanda's arms, as perfectly as Wanda had fit in Vision's when she'd fallen from the stepladder. Viv fit like she belonged.
Vision could see it, and his breath caught. For a moment, he could almost see where he fit himself, holding them both..
Wanda met his eyes again, mouthing 'Thank You'.
Later, when she understood much more, Wanda would say that that hug was like finding a missing piece of her broken heart.
Chapter 5: The Girl By The Side Of The Road
Wanda is concerned when Vision encounters her outside of work.
After that day, Vision and Vivian would come visit Wanda at the store more often, even if they didn't actually need anything. Vision would often purchase small bags of balloons or rolls of streamers 'for Viv', trying to make it look as though they had another reason for visiting, but they were clearly just there to see Wanda.
Wanda didn't mind at all. If the store was quiet, Wanda would chat with Viv about what she had been doing at Pre-school, make pleasant small-talk with Vision about his job, or general life stuff. Once, she had asked him how his search for the right Kindergarten for Viv was going. He had looked surprised that she remembered, then smiled, telling her he was narrowing it down.
Once or twice, they had brought Wanda ice-cream, because, as Vision told her 'Viv had insisted'. Wanda would thank them both, then knock a few extra dollars off whatever Vision purchased to subtly pay him back.
Wanda found herself very much looking forward to these visits. When Vision and Vivian were around, she didn't hate her job so much. When she was talking to Viv, Wanda was the nice lady in the shop. It was easy to pretend she was always that nice. To pretend that the smiles Vision flashed her way meant more than just 'Thanks for being nice to my kid'.
When Vision and Vivian were around, Wanda, for a little while, was almost happy. Almost.
Unfortunately, all the ice cream and smiles and pretending in the world couldn't stop the black hole that Wanda Maximoff would inevitably slip into when her Birthday approached. Her Birthday was painful, due to the memories of sharing it with her brother. Her Birthday, more than any other time of the year, she could not escape the pain of her Pietro's loss.
In the lead up to her Birthday, Wanda would take some time off. Head out on the town a few nights running, to drink herself into a stupor and dance with strangers, but most of all, just to forget.
When the actual day of her Birthday arrived, Wanda woke with a splitting head ache, in a strange bed, next to a man with terrible breath whom she only half recognized, from flashing images in her alcohol-fogged mind of something quick and dirty and up there with probably the worst sex ever, but she hadn't cared at the time because at least she was thinking about something else. At least she could forget.
Wanda groaned and carefully got up, gathering her quickly discarded clothes from the night before. Mr. Terrible Breath looked dead to the world, so she decided it was safe to risk sneaking a quick shower, hoping to sneak out before he woke up.
The plan seemed to be going well, until Mr. Terrible Breath rudely burst in on her, demanding that she get the hell out, because his girlfriend was on her way home.
What a charmer.
Wanda didn't have enough money left for a cab, and it seemed pointless to ask Mr. Terrible Breath to do the gentlemanly thing and pay for one for her. So, Wanda's Sunday Morning began with what she had worked out to be a long walk home, clutching her uncomfortable shoes in one hand, and her purse in the other, her head still throbbing from her hangover.
Sometime during this walk of shame, Wanda remembered that this Sunday Morning was her Birthday. She was another year older than her twin would ever be. When she remembered this, Wanda let out a sob. The floodgates opened, tears flowing freely down her cheeks as she walked, carving trails through the make-up she hadn't had time to wash off her face. She must have looked an absolute mess, and was grateful for the fact that the streets were still relatively empty this early in the morning. She wouldn't have wanted too many people seeing her like this.
Then, of course, a car pulled up beside her, and just as she was about to snap at the driver to go away, the window rolled down, and a horribly familiar, very concerned voice spoke.
Wanda turned, a lump in her throat as she met Vision's blue eyes, tears blurring her own gaze even further. She was suddenly hyper aware of her sinfully short skirt, the tear in her stockings, the shirt that was a size too small. Because of course, everything was going to change now.
Wanda wasn't the lady in the shop who was nice to his kid anymore. She was the girl with a hangover wearing slutty clothes and no shoes, crying by the side of the road as she made the walk of shame home from a terrible one night stand. He couldn't possibly want her anywhere Viv now that he'd seen her like this.. seen who she really was.
"Vision.." she choked out, her voice a little shaky. "W-What are you doing out so early?"
"Daddy burned the pancakes" Vivian piped up from the backseat, and Vision blushed. "So we're going out for breakfast instead."
Wanda jumped at the sound of Viv's voice, not really expecting her to be there, but then where else would she have been? She forced a smile for the little girl.
"That sounds nice.."
"Do you wanna come?" Viv did not comment on Wanda's tears directly, but could clearly tell she was upset. "Maybe we can help you feel better!"
"I'm not sure that's a good idea, fata dulce.."
"Why not?" Viv pouted.
"You are very welcome to join us" said Vision.
"I don't think I'd be very good company.." Wanda avoided Vision's eyes, beginning to walk once more. "Besides, I don't have money.."
"I will shout you.." Vision continued to drive along slowly beside her.
"You don't have to.."
"Wanda.." Vision's voice was still as sweet and gentle as it had ever been, and Wanda forced herself to look into his kind eyes.
"Get in the car, please. I really do not feel comfortable leaving you alone while you are so upset.."
"I really.." Wanda paused, sighing, and relented. "Alright.."
She got into the car beside Vision.
"Yay!" Viv clapped her hands.
A short while later, they pulled up outside what was clearly a 'Family' restaurant, with a playground inside. Wanda felt a little uncomfortable as she got out of the car. A few customers inside stared.
"Here, you can borrow my spare coat.." Vision draped a worn old coat around Wanda's shoulders.
"If you're that embarrassed to be seen with me dressed like this, I didn't have to come.." Wanda snapped, more upset with herself than with him.
"Wanda, I couldn't care less what you are wearing" Vision frowned. "I offered the coat because you are clearly uncomfortable.."
"Oh" Wanda blushed. "S-Sorry, I just.."
"It's alright.." He lifted Viv from her car seat.
"Yay, we're here!" she grinned.
"We are" Vision smiled. "Shall we go in and get something to eat?"
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded eagerly.
"Yeah.. I guess so.." Wanda meekly followed after them, pulling Vision's coat more tightly around her.
Chapter 6: It Takes A Village
Sharing breakfast with Vision and Viv, Wanda finds herself sharing her grief.
Once inside, Vision chose a booth near the play area. They had to walk through most of the restaurant to get to said booth, and Wanda swore she could feel every eye in the place glaring daggers at her. In her mind, their message was clear.
You don't belong here. We don't want you here.
Wanda wanted to turn around and run right back out, but before she could, Vision had taken her hand in his. Wanda's hand was quite cold from walking so long through the cool morning air, but Vision's was wonderfully warm.
"Don't worry about what anyone else thinks" He whispered. "You're here with me, and you are welcome.."
"Okay.." Wanda was only slightly comforted by his words.
Vision set Vivian down, smoothing a hand over her soft blonde hair.
"You wanted the blueberry pancakes, didn't you sweetheart?"
"Yes Daddy" Viv nodded.
"I'll order them for you. You go play for a bit, okay? Daddy wants to talk to Wanda."
"Okay" The little girl happily rushed off to the play area.
Vision took his seat in the booth. Wanda, quite reluctantly, sat across from him, grabbing a menu and pretending to peruse it so she did not have to meet Vision's eyes. Vision watched her for awhile, glancing at his own menu once or twice, before he finally spoke.
"Mhhm?" Her eyes remained fixed on the menu.
"Are you going to tell me what's got you so upset?" He asked gently, then frowned. "Did somebody hurt you?"
"What? No.. No, nothing happened that I didn't agree to."
"Good. For a moment I was worried that I might have to beat someone up, and I don't think I am threatening enough for that to go well.."
The tiniest of smiles tugged at Wanda's lips, before she heard Viv giggle from the play area, and the smile faded.
"I shouldn't be near her when I'm like this.." she sighed.
"Like what?" Vision seemed confused.
"Hungover and dressed like a.. Look at me!" Wanda snapped, finally meeting his gaze.
"I am looking at you" Vision replied quietly. "All I see is a friend who is upset, and I would like to know why, in case there is anything I can do to help."
Wanda hesitated for a moment, then sighed, relenting.
"It.. Today is my Birthday."
"Happy Birthday.. Although I am guessing the day is not quite so happy for you."
"No, not really.. I have.. had a twin brother, Pietro" Wanda continued. "Two years ago, just before our Birthday, he was killed in a hit and run accident, saving a little boy from a drunk driver.."
"I am so sorry.."
"Pietro was all I had left in the world, and when I lost him.. I lost a part of myself, and it hurts, so much, and days like our Birthday hurt even worse.. So I go out and drink myself to oblivion and have bad sex, because it helps me forget all that pain, for a little while, and I know I shouldn't, I know it's not.."
"Why shouldn't you?" Vision cut her off.
"What?" Wanda frowned.
"Well, as a man who spends at least three days a week leaping about in a green leotard for the entertainment of children, I feel I am the last person who should judge someone based on how they dress. And I definitely won't judge someone on how they choose to grieve" said Vision. "Grief is a very personal, private thing. Everyone deals with it in their own way, in their own time. Nobody should judge somebody else for how they choose to grieve.. I'm certainly not going to."
"No, I'm not.."
"Oh.. Well, thank you.."
At that moment, a waitress approached the table.
"May I take your order?"
"Oh, um.." Wanda looked back to the menu trying to find something small, hopefully cheap.
"We'll have a child-size order of the blueberry pancakes, an order of the pancakes with lemon and sugar, and a mixed grill for the lady.." Vision finished, and the Waitress left before Wanda had a chance to object.
"Vizh!" Wanda scolded, the nickname slipping out without her thinking about it.
"I thought it would be good for your hangover.. Wait, are you vegetarian? I'm sorry.." Vision made to call the waitress back, but Wanda stopped him.
"No, I'm not, just.. That mixed grill is the most expensive thing on the menu."
"In a place like this, there's only a few dollars separating most expensive from the least.. And I believe all the discounts you have been giving us just about cover the price."
"You noticed that?" Wanda blushed.
"I did, Thank you."
They fell silent for a moment. Not an uncomfortable silence, exactly, but not all together pleasant either. The sound of Viv's playing filtered over from the playground.
Vision's mind seemed to have wandered off, not quite sure whether to say his next words. He didn't want it to seem as if he was trying to overshadow her grief with his own.. But he thought, hoped, that maybe sharing his own past troubles could help.
"Vivian.. She was supposed to be a twin.." He began, his eyes misting up, just a little.
"Was?" Wanda was not sure she was going to like the end of this story.
"She had a brother, Vincent.. Vin.. who died in the womb."
"Viv knows.." Vision nodded. "It didn't seem fair to keep something like that from her, and I still have one sonogram picture from when there were clearly two, so she would have found out, and sometimes she gets this look on her face, and.. she knows. She releases a balloon for him every Birthday.. When it happened, a few people tried to tell us it was for the best. They weren't exactly a planned pregnancy, I was learning how to change Viv's diapers at the time most most of my friends were having their first legal drinks.. But the loss still hurt. I don't think Virginia, their Mother, ever quite recovered from it.."
"And then she.." Wanda felt a lump in her throat. It seemed like she'd finally found someone who had suffered just as many tragedies as she had.
"She got sick when Vivian was only a few months old, and died just before she turned one.."
"How.. How did you keep it together after all that?"
"Well, I had at least one very compelling reason to keep it together.." Vision gestured towards the little girl on the playground, giggling as she slid down the slide. A soft smile crossed his face. "Without Viv, I don't think I would have coped nearly as well. I also had good people around me.. My Village, so to speak."
"Village?" Wanda's brow furrowed.
"You know the old saying.. 'It takes a village to raise a child'. That is especially true for a single Father... My point though, Wanda, is that while I don't know exactly how it feels to lose a twin, I do have some idea about loss. So, if you ever need someone to talk to.."
"I'll keep that in mind.. Thank you."
Their food arrived, and Vision called Viv back to the table.
"Can I sit next to Wanda, Daddy?"
"Of course you can" Vision smiled. As Viv slid in beside Wanda, he cut up her pancakes into more manageable pieces, then slid the plate across the table to her.
"Thank you, Daddy."
They all ate in relatively comfortable silence. Vision had been right.. the greasy bacon of the mixed grill did wonders for Wanda's hangover, and she flashed him a smile in thanks.
"Vivian" Vision smiled at his daughter when they were almost finished, "Did you know that it is Wanda's Birthday Today?"
"It is?" Viv cried happily. She immediately jumped into Wanda's lap and, before Wanda could react, the little girl started to sing. "Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you.."
And then, Vision had joined in.
"Happy Birthday dear Wanda, Happy Birthday to you!"
For so much of her life, Pietro had been the only person to sing 'Happy Birthday' to her, and often, since his death, she had stopped anyone else who tried. But now, here, with Vision and Viv.. it felt okay.
Wanda pressed a kiss into Vivian's hair, then looked up at Vision to find him smiling.
Vision had seen her Today, on her very worst day. He'd seen her, and he hadn't run away, hadn't ordered her away from his daughter.. Instead, he'd encouraged her closer.
He had seen Wanda Maximoff, short skirt and torn stockings and bad decisions.. And he had understood why, and accepted her, just as she was.
For the first time in what felt like a very long time, Wanda smiled on her Birthday.
She was beginning to think that she had found her Village.
Chapter 7: Warm Coat, Warm Heart
Wanda becomes rather attached to Vision’s coat.
Later, Vision dropped Wanda off outside her apartment block, and left only after Wanda agreed to exchange phone numbers to ensure she could call if she ever found herself needing to talk.
She smiled at Vivian's little hand waving to her from the back of the car, and watched until they were out of sight. Then Wanda headed inside her cheap, somewhat rundown apartment, feeling strangely content, and set about cleaning up a few scattered messes she hadn't been too bothered with before.
It wasn't until sometime after Vision and Viv had dropped her off that Wanda realized she was still wearing Vision's spare coat. She pulled out her phone, and was going to text him, thinking he might want to come get it, then paused. Her apartment was still a total mess, and despite Vision's earlier understanding of her struggles, she wasn't sure she was comfortable with him seeing deeper into how she currently lived.
Instead, Wanda sent a different text, simply thanking him for breakfast. She then decided she would take the coat to work with her, and return it next time Vision visited the store. Father's day was coming up, and Viv would probably come looking for a card. Wanda knew Vision had other coats, so he wouldn't miss this one for a bit.
Wanda, however, did not have many spare coats, at least not good quality ones. So, when the Heating went out in her apartment a few days later, Wanda found herself wearing Vision's coat during the still cold mornings. Though old and well-worn, the coat was comfortable and warm.. and it smelled just a little like Vision, the smell of freshly brewed tea, mint toothpaste, and almost burnt toast, with the tiniest hint of Viv's bubblegum shampoo.
Wanda told herself she would head into the Mall early on her next workday to buy a new coat of her own. But she, uh.. forgot. And Vision hadn't happened to come by and fetch his coat that day, so she had taken it home and worn it again.. and again, and a few more times after that. It was, Wanda thought, justifying the matter to herself, a very comfortable coat.
She got a laugh one morning when she found one of the coat's pockets filled with streamers, the other a packet of balloons, the little extras Vision had purchased 'for Viv' when they had come to visit her. She took to wearing the coat in the evenings too, as her Landlord was no closer to fixing the heating.
Vision had texted Wanda a photo of a picture Vivian had drawn in preschool, a picture of the three of them eating together. Aside from thinking that this was absolutely adorable, Wanda couldn't help but be a little impressed. It seemed like Viv was quite an accomplished little artist for her age, and Wanda would know, since she had been taking art classes before Pietro's death, until the time came that she couldn't afford them anymore, at least not if she still wanted a roof over her head.
The next time Wanda had a 'bad' night, one of those nights she usually would have gone out to drink and forget, she had found herself looking at the drawing. In her mind's eye, she saw Viv flying into her lap. Saw Vision's kind smile.. And then, like some sort of magic, like somehow, he knew.. Vision texted her.
Just checking in. Here if you needed to talk.
Wanda felt herself smile slightly. Texted back a thank you, that she was alright, because somehow, just knowing at least one person out there gave a damn about her was enough to make her think that everything was alright, or at least that it could be.
Wanda decided against going out. Instead, she made herself some popcorn, and opened Netflix. The next morning, instead of waking in a stranger's bed, she woke on her own couch, with Vision's coat wrapped around her.
The next time Wanda saw Vision and Viv, it was, as she had expected, a few days before Father's Day. Vision's coat sat folded just behind the counter. By now, Wanda had almost forgoten that she brought it to work with her with the intention of returning it.
"You can't look, Daddy!" Viv scolded Vision as she rushed over to browse the racks of cards. "It's 'sposed to be a surprise!"
"Of course" Vision chuckled. "I promise you, I will not look."
"I'll just be over here talking to Wanda, alright? Tell me when you've picked one so I can cover my eyes."
"I will, Daddy" Viv nodded.
"Good girl" Vision smiled, heading up to the counter. "Hello, Wanda."
"Hello" Wanda smiled at him. "Looking forward to Father's Day?"
"Sometimes, I think Viv looks forward to it more than I do" Vision chuckled. "How have you been?"
"I'm improving" Wanda shrugged. "Thanks for your text the other day."
"You're welcome.." Vision peered behind Wanda, spotting the folded coat. "Is that mine?"
"Oh, of course" Wanda blushed, and hurried to fetch the coat. Now that the time had come to return it, however, she was finding herself a little bit reluctant to part with it. Still, she held it out towards Vision. "I'm sorry, I meant to try and return it sooner than this, but the Heating is out in my apartment, and your coat is really.."
"It's quite alright" Vision shook his head, pressing the coat back into Wanda's hands. "Please, keep it until your heat is back on."
"Are you sure?" Wanda frowned. "That could take awhile, my Landlord isn't great with these things.."
"Well.. okay. Thank you" Wanda's frown became a smile, and she tucked the coat back behind the counter.
"Got one!" Vivian suddenly declared. "Close your eyes, Daddy."
"Alright" Vision chuckled, turning away and covering his eyes.
Viv rushed over to place her chosen card on the counter, then dumped the contents of a small coin purse to pay for it.
"Look, Wanda! I saved up my own monies for Daddy's card!"
"I see that, but, hmm.. you've given me a little too much" Wanda took two nickels from the small pile of coins, placed the card in a small bag, then swept the rest of the money back into Viv's little purse. She would cover the rest of the cost herself once they left. "Your change, Miss Vivian.."
"Thank you!" Viv smiled sweetly. "You can look now, Daddy."
"All done?" Vision turned around, uncovering his eyes.
"Uh-huh.." Viv nodded, then turned back to Wanda. "Wanda, we're gonna have a party in the park for the Fourth of July. You should come!"
"Just us and a few friends" said Vision, and Wanda almost thought he was blushing. "If you already have plans I understand.. B-But if not, you'd be very welcome to come.."
"Hmm.." Wanda smiled softly, charmed by his sudden shyness. "I might be able to fit you in. Text me the details?"
"Of course" Vision jumped, seeming surprised by her acceptance. "Yes, I'll do that as soon as we get Home.. Thank you, Wanda.."
Wanda watched as the Father and daughter hurried out of the store, a smile on her face, then moved to find her purse, dropping a few extra dollars into the cash register.
Chapter 8: Stuck Zippers
During the Fourth of July party, Wanda helps Vision with a minor costume malfunction.
That night, as she had asked for, Wanda received a text from Vision with details of the time and location of the Fourth Of July party, along with a little extra note.
No pressure. If you already have plans, I completely understand.
Wanda did not already have plans. She rarely had plans to do anything socially, because Wanda did not really have friends. Pietro had been the social one out of the two of them. Any friends they'd picked up had been mostly his, and they'd all drifted away after his death.
The closest thing she had to a friend was Mantis, and she only saw her for a few minutes between shift changes, or the Halloween and Christmas seasons, when the store got busy enough to require both of them working.
And now, Vision. Vision had called her his friend. And Vision had said she was welcome at this party. A family-friendly party in the park did not seem like somewhere that Wanda would usually fit, but then, there weren't a whole lot of places that Wanda felt like she did fit.
Vision seemed to want her at this party though, and so did Viv. Maybe, Wanda thought, that was reason enough to try and go.
Wanda next saw the Father-Daughter duo two days before the Fourth Of July, when they came in to the store to pick up a few party supplies. While Vision gathered everything they needed, he left Viv by the counter happily chatting to Wanda. Wanda, today forced to wear a garish American flag T-shirt, had her mood much improved by the little girl's presence.
"The Party's gonna be really fun!" Vivian declared. "Uncle Clint's cooking a barbecue, and Uncle Scott's girlfriend Hope is bringing the cake.."
"That sounds nice" Wanda smiled. She saw Vision glance over at them from a few shelves away. "What's your Daddy bringing?"
"Daddy's gonna be the entertainyment" said Viv. "He's dressing up as his superhero alter-emo."
"Alter-ego, Sweetheart" Vision gently corrected.
"I'd like to see that" Wanda saw Vision blush and hurriedly look away.
"You can if you come" Viv bounced on her heels. "Are you coming to the party, Wanda?"
Vision's ears, making sure he completely failed any attempt at subtlety, visibly perked up.
"Hmm.." Wanda smirked. "Yes, I think I'll be able to make it."
"Yay!" Vivian cheered happily.
Wanda couldn't help but notice that, despite Vision trying his very best to seem focused on the store's selection of paper plates, he also seemed very pleased.
When the day of the party rolled around, Wanda found herself feeling rather nervous. She couldn't quite put her finger on why. It was just a casual get together in the park. And technically Vivian had invited her first, not Vision, so this was most definitely not a date.
So why the hell were her hands shaking as she tried to decide what to wear?
Wanda shook her head, and pulled herself together, choosing what she hoped was a sensible, comfortable outfit of jeans and a red shirt. She checked herself over in the mirror, running a brush through her hair one more time, then fetched the packet of chips she was taking as her party contribution, and headed out the door.
Upon arriving at the park, Wanda was almost immediately greeted by Viv, running over and grabbing her hand.
"Wanda, you're here!"
"I am" Wanda chuckled. "I said I was coming, didn't I?"
"Yeah.. But Daddy was worried that you was just too nice to say no" Vivian eagerly tugged Wanda towards the picnic area, where a small group of adults and quite a few children were gathered, and, unusually, a tent set up a short distance away.
Wanda could see no sign of Vision.
"Where is your Daddy?" she asked Viv.
"He's getting ready for his show" she replied, pointing towards the tent. "Come meet everybody before it starts!"
Wanda was quickly introduced to Scott, his girlfriend Hope, and Cassie, whom she already knew; followed by Clint, Laura, and their children: Cooper, Lila, and baby Nate. Wanda was beginning to think she was the only single woman in a hundred foot radius, until Viv introduced her to Natasha Romanoff.
"You must be the girl from the party store" said Natasha, shaking Wanda's hand. "I'm Natasha, but around this crew, I'm more commonly known as 'Auntie Nat'."
"Wanda Maximoff" Wanda raised an eyebrow as she returned Wanda's handshake. "How did you know I worked at the.."
"Oh, Vision's been talking about you."
Before Wanda had any chance to react to this, Vision came bursting out of the tent in full costume, his face painted a pinkish-purple, golden cape fluttering behind him.
He hadn't been lying about the green leotard, but he made it work. Like, really made it work. Wanda felt her jaw drop. Who would have thought that Vision was hiding a six-pack underneath the 'Dad outfits' she usually saw him in?
Vision seemed momentarily shaken when he saw Wanda, but quickly recovered, getting himself back into character.
"Fear not, children! The Vision is here. Who wants to help save the park from evil?"
"I do!" Viv released Wanda's hand and rushed over to her Father, all the other children following her.
"Excellent, plenty of volunteers" Vision grinned. "Follow me!"
As Vision led the children away for adventures, Clint used the quiet moment as a chance to get the barbecue started. Wanda stared after Vision as he departed, a flush coming to her cheeks.
Had the park gotten warmer? It definitely felt like it had.
"So.." said Wanda nervously a little while later, sitting between Nat and Laura. "Uh, what exactly did Vision say about me?"
"Oh, all good things, don't worry" said Laura.
"Yeah" Nat agreed. "How Viv likes you, and that it's nice to make a new friend.."
"A friend.." Wanda's heart sank a little. "Right.."
"Is something wrong?" Nat tried to hide a smirk.
"No" Wanda stood. "I'm just going to use the bathroom.."
Wanda survived the horrors of the Park's public restrooms. By the time she came out, the cooking was done, and she could see Clint handing out burgers and sausages to the children. She made her way back towards the picnic area, past the tent.. and heard a familiar, rather frustrated voice.
"Vision?" she frowned. "Is everything alright?"
"Yes" Vision replied a little too quickly, then sighed. "Well, no, not really. My zipper appears to be stuck."
"Oh.. I might be able to help, kids get stuck in costumes in the store all the time. As long as.. you're not completely nude underneath that thing, are you?"
"Okay then, I'm coming in."
Wanda entered the tent to find Vision, with most of his make up already removed, struggling with the zip.
"Easy, Vizh" Wanda chuckled, the silliness of the situation putting her at ease. "Turn around and let an expert handle this."
"Alright.." Vision blushed, rather embarrassed to have found himself in this predicament, but did as he was told.
"The trick with a stuck zipper" said Wanda as she took hold of it, "Is not to tug too hard. Don't force it. You have to try and ease it down gently, like this.." As Wanda very carefully pulled down the zip, Wanda felt her calm evaporate a little, her breath catching. Vision's back was as unexpectedly well-muscled as his front had been. A strong wall of perfect, unblemished skin.. except for his shoulder, which displayed a small tattoo. A name.
Wanda's heart ached for him.
"Is something wrong?" Vision asked.
"No.." Wanda resisted a desire to run her fingers over the three small letters. "The tattoo.. for your son?"
"Yes.." Vision nodded.
"I have one for my brother.. but mine's on the opposite shoulder.."
"It is nice sometimes, isn't it?" Vision turned, "Having something special to remember them?"
"Y-Yes.." Wanda nodded, but confronted with the sight of Vision's bare chest, anything close to a truly coherent thought raced right out of her brain. She imagined herself curling against that chest, his strong arms around her..
"Wanda, Are you alright? I'm sorry if I brought up any unpleasant.."
"No" said Wanda quickly, snapping out of her fantasy. "Hmm, I think the food's ready, so I'm going to go, uh.. eat."
She raced out of the tent, leaving a slightly confused Vision behind her.
Chapter 9: Sparks
Wanda is invited to watch a fireworks display with Vision, Viv, and Natasha.
Wanda hurried back over to the Picnic site, heading to where Clint still stood at the Barbecue.
"Hey, Wanda, right? Sausage, burger, or one of.." Clint paused, concerned. "You alright, kid? Your face looks a little red."
"I'm fine" Wanda almost squeaked. "Perfectly fine. I'll uh, have one of each please.."
"Okay then.." He took a paper plate, dishing the food onto it and handing it and some plastic utensils to Wanda. "Salads and condiments are on the table, if you want any.."
"Thank you.." Wanda rushed off, scooped a few spoonfuls of potato salad onto her plate, and took a seat beside Viv without really thinking. Natasha sat across from them.
"Are you alright?" The red-head raised an eyebrow. "You look.."
"If you say so" Nat smirked.
Of course, Wanda was very much not fine when Vision came to sit on Viv's other side. He was dressed again now, but that didn't really help Wanda. The image of him shirtless was burned into her brain.
"You were a very good Superhero, Daddy" said Viv, swallowing a mouthful of burger.
"Thank you, Sweetheart.." Vision gently ruffled his daughter's hair, then looked to Wanda, slightly concerned. "Wanda, if I have done anything to make you feel uncomfortable.."
"No.. No" Wanda shook her head and managed a smile, forcing herself to relax. There was no reason for him to feel bad just because she couldn't control her hormones. "Viv's right, you were a good Superhero. Seems like an interesting character."
"Thank you" Vision smiled back at her. "I thought him up in College. I was a Creative Writing major before Vivian was born."
"Huh. I used to do art classes" chuckled Wanda. "Maybe we should make a comic book."
"That was actually my intention, one day" Vision replied. "But the idea never felt quite finished. The Vision is fully formed in my mind, but.. I imagined him as part of a duo, and I could never quite create the right partner for him.."
Natasha, who it turned out was quite a schemer, glanced between the two of them, smirking.
"So," She began, "There's a fireworks display back here later Tonight, but everyone else is being boring, all 'We have to drop Cassie back with her Mom' and 'Can't keep the baby out late'.. Don't let me down, Vision. Are you coming?"
"Can we, Daddy?" Viv bounced in her seat.
"I don't see why not" Vision shrugged. "Viv and I will be happy to come."
"What about you, Wanda?" Nat swung around to face her. "You in?"
"No pressure" said Vision again. "If we've taken up of your time.. You have other friends to see for the Holiday.."
"No.. Fireworks could be fun" Wanda shrugged. "Sure, I'm in too."
"Great!" Nat grinned. "What's your address? I'll come pick you up.. Or Vision could."
"Well.. Wanda's apartment is closer to our place than yours.." said Vision.
"Perfect, it's all settled then" Natasha, looking very pleased with herself, got up to dump her used plate in the trash, leaving a rather confused Wanda and Vision to wonder what the hell had just happened.
So, that night, Vision and Viv picked Wanda up and they headed back to the park to meet Natasha. The evening had become quite cold, but Wanda had not yet got around to buying herself a new coat, so wore Vision's old one, however he kindly did not comment on it.
When they reached the park, quite a few other families milled about, and it would have taken them longer to find Nat if not for her distinctive red-hair.
"Hey, you're here" She waved them over. "Good, I'm hungry, and there's a Hot Dog stand somewhere around here. Would you like a Hot Dog, Viv?"
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded.
"Perfect" Natasha scooped the little girl up. "Wanda, Vision, you save our spot. Viv and I are going to get Hot Dogs."
Once again, a slightly confused Wanda and Vision were left behind.
"She's.. interesting" Wanda raised an eyebrow.
"She is" Vision chuckled. "Natasha was in some of my College classes.. and one of the few friends who stuck by us when Virginia fell pregnant."
"That's good.." Wanda thought carefully about her next words. She knew it was none of her business, but she couldn't help wondering. "I couldn't help.. I wondered.. You have a tattoo for your son, but not for.."
"Not for Virginia, no."
"I know it's none of my business.."
"It's alright.. Virginia has plenty of other people to remember her" Vision explained. "Vin only really has me.. Viv knows she had a brother, but she remembers him more as an idea.. But I felt Vin kick, I saw him wave in an ultrasound. I can remember my son when he was alive, for however short a time that was..
"I understand" Wanda replied, thinking of Pietro. Her hand instinctively moved to hold Vision's.
He didn't stop her. Her fingers were such a perfect fit as they linked through his that he hardly noticed it.
"Besides that.." Vision continued, "Virginia and I, Things were quite complicated in the end. I married her because it seemed like the right thing to do.. We were reasonably happy, I did love her, in a way, and I think she loved me.. But I'm not entirely certain that we were.. In love. That's not too horrible for me to say, is it?"
"I.. I don't think so.. Feelings can be complicated things."
"I wouldn't give any of it up, though" said Vision rather quickly. "My time with her. It gave me Vivian, and she.. my daughter means everything to me."
"Of course she does" Wanda nodded. "Viv is fata speciala.. a special little girl."
"She is.." Vision turned to look at Wanda, now noticing their entwined hands.. Then..
"Daddy, Wanda!" Viv came racing towards them, her hot dog in hand, Natasha close behind.
Vision and Wanda sprang apart.
"Thanks for holding the spot, guys" Nat smirked.
"No problem.." Vision murmured. Both he and Wanda were blushing.
"The fireworks are gonna start!" Viv bounced, pouting, unable to see properly over the crowds. "I can't see!"
Vision moved to pick her up, only to find Wanda beating him to it. He didn't have time to argue, the first firework shooting up into the sky as Viv settled in Wanda's arms.
"Are you alright with.. Vision began.
"I've got her" Wanda nodded.
A second firework shot up, followed by a third, exploding in the night sky. Soon, the sky was completely full of colored sparks.
"Wow.." Viv's jaw dropped.
"We didn't have colored ones in Sokovia.." Wanda seemed equally awed. "They're beautiful, aren't they?"
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded.
Vision turned again, looking at his daughter and his new friend, his eyes falling on Wanda in particular. She was smiling, the most wonderful smile he had ever seen, the colored light of the fireworks perfectly illuminating her face. She was beautiful.
"Well, Vizh?" Wanda turned to him, still smiling. "Don't you think the fireworks are beautiful?"
Vision could only nod, words failing him, thinking just to himself.
"Yes. You are."
Chapter 10: Double B Bakery
Wanda helps Vision obtain a cake for Viv’s Birthday
From then on, Vision began sending Wanda text messages on a much more regular basis. Cute or funny things Vivian had said, artwork she'd brought home from preschool. Often, he sent her messages just checking in. These seemed to always show up right when Wanda needed them most.
Wanda had been going out on her own much less. She hadn't stopped completely, bad habits were not broken over night. But when she did go out, she wasn't drinking quite so much, and she wasn't waking the next morning in a stranger's bed.
She told herself that this wasn't anything to do with Vision and Viv.. How crazy would that be, trying to change her life because of some guy and his kid? Wanda had wanted to change things for a while, she was fully aware that her coping mechanisms weren't healthy. Having Vision and Vivian see her at less than her best had given her a push in the right direction, but they weren't the reason for the changes she was trying to make. At least.. not the only reason.
One morning, as Wanda sniffed a carton of just-past-use-by milk to determine whether it was truly spoiled or not, her phone buzzed. Seeing Vision's name, she scooped it up quickly, looking at the text.
Are you working Today?
'Going in a couple hrs' Wanda texted back. 'Why?'
Expect visitors. Viv has something to give you.
'Okay. See you then :).'
Wanda smiled to herself, wondering what this little gift was. Whatever it was, coming from Viv, it was sure to be absolutely adorable.
For the first time in quite a long while, Wanda Maximoff was almost happy to go to work.
One of the few things Wanda did like about her job was the Double B Bakery, located a few doors down from the Party Store. The cakes were elaborately decorated and usually very expensive, but the baker, Bucky Barnes, hated waste, so at the beginning and end of most work shifts, he gave away good cake that usually would have been thrown out, to other workers around the mall.
Before Pietro's death, when Wanda had only worked part-time shifts to fit around her art classes, she had sometimes offered Bucky suggestions on new designs for decorating the cakes, and once, as a favor, she had even drawn up a few of those designs as templates for him last minute when his decorators had been struggling with a large order. He'd said that he owed her big time for the save.
Wanda hadn't done art of any kind in a long time, but she remained on Bucky's cake drop-off list.
Wanda was just finishing off a slice of said cake when Viv came bolting into the store, an envelope clutched in her small hand.
"Hello, Vivian" Wanda chuckled, licking the last crumbs from her fingers.
"Inside speed, Viv!" Vision reminded her.
"Sorry, Daddy.. Whoa, was that cake from Double B?"
"It was" Wanda nodded. "The baker gave it to me."
"Daddy said he's gonna get me one one day" said Viv. "But he's saving it for a big Birthday.. maybe when I'm 10, 'cause they're 'spensive."
"Well, that sounds like it will be very special." Wanda suddenly wished that she'd kept some aside for her, but in her defense, she'd had no idea exactly when Viv was coming. "Now, Miss Vivian.. I heard from a little birdie that you had something for me." She flashed Vision a smile.
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded, handing Wanda the envelope.
"Hmm, what's this?" Wanda opened the envelope, finding a handmade invitation to Miss Vivian Jarvis's Fifth Birthday Party. The invitation touched Wanda's heart. Being asked to a Fourth of July barbecue was one thing, but a Birthday party was much more personal.
"You wouldn't be the only adult" Said Vision quickly. "Natasha is coming, and Scott, and.. Everyone who was at the barbecue, actually."
Wanda looked in Vision's direction. He seemed nervous for some reason, and was he.. Was he blushing? Wanda smiled softly, a faint blush crossing her own cheeks.
"I would love to come.. Thank you for the invitation, Viv."
"You're welcome" Viv grinned.
"Do you need anything else for your party?" Wanda asked.
"Not today" Viv shook her head. "But we'll be back!"
And they were. In the couple of weeks leading up to Viv's Birthday, Vision would text to check whether Wanda was working, and when she was, he and Viv would come by the store to pick up things for the party. Just a couple of things at a time, balloons and streamers on one visit, paper plates the next.
Officially, Vision said, it was to help their money stretch a little further, but Wanda got the feeling there was a different reason behind the repeat visits. She couldn't quite put her finger on why she thought this, but whatever the reason, Wanda didn't mind. Seeing them both was a highlight of her day. On one visit, while Viv was choosing which cups she wanted, Wanda tugged Vision aside to ask what Viv could want for her Birthday.
"You don't have to buy her anything. She invited you because I.. Because she likes you. Having you there would be present enough."
"That's sweet, Vizh" Wanda chuckled. "But say I was going to get her something small.. What would she like?"
"Well.." Vision thought for a moment. "She likes magic.. and superheroes, and she's old enough now that she's started wanting to decorate her room with posters and things.."
Wanda took a mental note of everything Vision said.
"Hmm.. I'm sure I can think of something."
While magic and superheroes were a slightly odd combination, Wanda did think of an idea, albeit one she didn't immediately jump to implement for various personal reasons. Eventually, she decided it was long past time to just get over it.
The night before Viv's party, Wanda had taken advantage of the Mall's late night shopping to grab the things she needed to make Viv's present a reality.
As she was leaving, the stores finally beginning to close around her, Wanda found herself colliding with a frantic Vision as he came running in.
"Whoa, Vizh!" she cried. "Where's the fire?" Vision's face paled, and Wanda's eyes widened. "Oh, rahat.. is there really a fire?"
"No" Vision shook his head. "I burned Viv's Birthday cake."
"Oh.. well, it's okay, Vizh" she tried to calm him. "The party's not until Tomorrow afternoon. You've got plenty of time to.."
"You don't understand!" Vision cried. "I always make the cake and decorate it the night before so I can show her first thing in the morning. She's going to wake up wanting to see it.. I called Nat to come stay with her, and I was hoping I'd get here in time for another box of cake mix, but everything's closing, and.."
"How will that help? Vivian's going to be so disappointed.."
"I know" said Wanda, grabbing his hand and dragging him along, again briefly noting how well her fingers fit between his, "But I might have an idea.. And if it doesn't work, well, there's a gas station near my apartment that's open twenty-four hours and I know for a fact sells cake mix.."
Vision's brow furrowed in confusion.
"Drunk Wanda makes unwise snack desions at 3 AM."
Soon, Wanda pulled Vision to a stop outside Double B.
"Wanda, you know I can't afford one of these" Vision frowned. "Even if I could, they're closed.."
"The owner never leaves right away, and he owes me " Wanda explained, leaning over the counter. "Bucky!"
"We're closed, Ma'm!" called a voice.
"It's Wanda, I'm calling in my favor!"
"Wanda?" A rather confused young man, only just removing his hairnet and shaking out his long dark hair after a hard day's baking. "What's all this.."
"My favor, for the templates?" Wanda reminded him. "I need a cake."
"I'd be happy to help.. those design templates really saved my ass" said Bucky, "But, I can't make anything new until morning."
"We don't need a new cake" said Wanda. "Just one of the ones you're supposed to throw out at the end of the day because you can't sell them anymore, but I know you never do because they're still perfectly fine and you hate waste. A Birthday cake preferably, but we can get creative if need be."
"Creative?" Vision raised an eyebrow, a little concerned.
"It's this or gas station cake mix, Vizh."
"Right.. go on, then."
"I think I have one Birthday cake.." Bucky replied after a moment. "Is red velvet okay?"
Wanda looked to Vision for confirmation, then nodded.
"Red velvet is fine."
"Alright. I'll grab it from the back for you."
As Bucky headed out the back, Wanda turned to Vision.
"Well, we have a cake, Vizh" she grinned.
"We have a cake.. we have a cake.. Wanda, you are brilliant!" A huge smile spread over Vision's face, and he pulled Wanda into a tight hug.
Wanda was surprised for a moment, but returned the embrace. Vision was warm and strong and safe, and he smelled a little like burnt chocolate cake. She laughed, and Vision did too, until they both started to notice that the hug was lasting a little too long for 'just friends'. Vision reached to tenderly brush a stray hair from Wanda's face, until Bucky re-emerged, and they quickly broke apart, red-faced.
"Here's the cake.."
"Thank you.." Vision took it, and he and Wanda headed for the exit together.
"So.." said Wanda awkwardly, "See you Tomorrow?"
"Yes.. and thank you, for this" Vision smiled shyly. "Vivian will be so happy."
"You're welcome.." Wanda smiled back. "Wish her Happy Birthday for me in the morning."
Both headed Home with a new spring in their step.
Chapter 11: Those Who've Suffered
Viv’s party proves a more emotional day than Wanda expected.
Wanda arrived home in a rather good mood, and that certainly helped with what she was planning to do with the rest of her night. She dug deep into her closet to find her long-abandoned easel, and spent a good few minutes brushing the dust off of it before setting it up properly and placing a new canvas on it. Then she gathered her brushes and paints, mixed a few colors she thought she may need, then set it all up by the easel and sat down, brush in hand.
At this point, Wanda briefly hesitated. She hadn't painted in a long time. She'd always done her best work when she was happy, and unfortunately, happiness had been in rather short supply for her since Pietro's death. But then she thought of Vision's arms around her. Thought of Viv’s sweet smile.
"Magic and Superheroes.." Wanda mused, dipping her brush into the paint. "I think I have just the thing.."
The special gift dried just in time for Wanda to wrap it and take it to Viv's party the following afternoon. She followed the address on her invitation to a neighborhood relatively close to her own, but far nicer. Vision's House was easy to spot for a few reasons: The balloons out the front, the giggles of children from inside, and it was the smallest house on the block.
"Hello, Wanda.." Vision was already dressed for the party in his 'The Vision' make up and outfit that left very little to the imagination, but even beneath the make up, Wanda thought she saw an extra redness to his cheeks as he greeted her, and blushed slightly herself.
"Hey, Vizh.. Did Viv like the cake?"
"Yes, she loves it. Thank you again.." Vision eyed the rather large rectangular parcel in her grasp. "I hope you did not spend too much on that."
"I don't think so.." Wanda dodged a speeding child as she stepped inside, and waved politely at Natasha, who raised her wine glass in greeting.
"That's good.. Vivian, you have another guest!" Vision called.
Viv, whom had been happily chatting to Cassie and a group of other preschool aged children a short distance away, hurried over. She was covered in the same pinkish-red make up as her Father.
"Hi, Wanda. Daddy said you helped him with my cake. Thank you!"
"You're welcome.. and Happy Birthday, Miss Vivian" Wanda smiled, offering the parcel. "This is for you."
"Thank you" Viv grinned, then looked to her Father. "Can I open it now, Daddy?"
"Go ahead" Vision nodded.
Viv happily tore open the parcel, revealing a painting of a dark-haired woman, dressed all in red, with red energy surrounding her hands.
"Wow.." Viv gasped.
"I hear you like Superheroes, Miss Vivian" Wanda crouched by Viv's side. "And magic, too."
"Well, this is the Scarlet Witch.. She's a special hero with magic powers."
"She's really cool.. can we put her up on my wall after the party, Daddy?"
"Of course.." Vision was staring at the painting, almost entranced with it. "That's a very special present, Viv. Go put it in your room so it's safe, okay?"
"Okay" Viv took the painting and rushed off.
"Wanda.." Vision looked at her, "Did you paint that yourself?"
"I did.." Wanda nodded.
"You're beautiful.. I mean.. it's b-beautiful, the painting" Vision stammered, hurrying off. "I'm doing a show for the children in a minute.. must go prepare.."
Wanda watched him fondly as he rushed off, chuckling softly. He was so very sweet.. and, she couldn't help but notice, his butt looked really..
"Cute, huh?" Nat rested her elbow on Wanda's shoulder.
"Huh?" Wanda jumped. "W-What's cute?"
"Viv, dressing up like her Daddy."
"Oh, yeah.." Wanda blushed. "Very cute."
"Were you thinking of something else?" Nat smirked.
"Sure.." Natasha chuckled. "Come have a drink with me and the girls while the guys keep the little ones entertained.."
Hope, Nat, and Laura were great company, but Wanda couldn't help becoming a little distracted from their conversation once Vision had started his show. When he got into character as 'The' Vision, he seemed like a real superhero. Confident, and so different from the sweet, quiet man she knew from his visits to the store.. And yet, in some ways, still completely recognizable.
Once the show was done, they cut the cake, which Viv was delighted to notice was red, the same color as her Witch. With a group of ravenous preschoolers descending on the cake, Wanda took the opportunity to sneak away for a quick trip to the bathroom. On her way back, she found herself looking around a bit. While the house was small, it was cozy rather than cramped, and definitely felt like a Home.
Photographs, mostly of Viv growing up, lined most of the walls. Some featured Vision and Viv, some also included Natasha, or Scott and Cassie. A very special few featured a blonde woman, whom Wanda guessed was Virginia. One featured baby Viv with an older couple.. aside from that one, though, Wanda couldn't help but notice that there weren't any pictures of extended family, and there didn't seem to be any family members at the party, either.
Wanda jumped at the sound of Vision's voice.
"I'm sorry.. I wasn't snooping.."
"I didn't think you were.." He looked a little strange, the surface of his make-up beginning to crack. "I was worried you might have gotten lost."
"No.. just admiring some of your photos" said Wanda. "And I.. I don't mean to pry, but.. No family coming Today?"
"My Family is here Today.. The family I've found, anyway" Vision replied. "Virginia's parents live quite a long way away.. They made the trip a lot when Vivian was a baby, but once they realized she wasn't going to be a perfect little clone of Virginia, and she liked Superheroes more than Barbie.. They haven't been quite so interested."
"That's horrible" Wanda frowned. Seeing Viv for even a few minutes was often the Highlight of her whole week. She couldn't imagine anyone not wanting to spend time with her.
"It is.. But I think she has enough people who really love her to make up for it."
"But what about.." Wanda paused and trailed off. She was probably crossing a line. None of this was any of her business.
"My parents?.. Well, I have no idea who or where they are, and not the faintest idea how to go about finding out. I was dropped off on a hospital doorstep when I was born.."
"Vizh.." Wanda's eyes widened. "I'm so sorry.."
"I've made my peace with it" Vision shrugged. "I was raised in Foster Homes until I made it to the U.S on a special exchange program for disadvantaged youth when I was in my last year of High School. I was a good student, so a few of my teachers sponsored me to stay on for College.. They were very disappointed when they found out I got a girl pregnant.. But.." He ran a finger over the frame of a picture of himself with newborn baby Viv, clearly besotted, "I don't regret a thing. Those teachers tried to teach me that love is conditional. Having my daughter showed me that it shouldn't be.."
Wanda watched him for a long moment. She wasn't sure what to say. Then..
"Vision!" called Scott's voice. "People are coming to pick up their kids!"
"Host duties are calling.." Vision smiled softly, turning to answer the call. "Feel free to keep looking at the photos.."
"Vizh.." Wanda whispered, gazing at him with wide eyes.
"Hmm?" He looked back at her.
"Why do you keep telling me this.. all this really personal stuff?"
"I don't really know.." Vision shrugged. "I just find you very easy to talk to.. Those who've suffered.. I think we understand each other."
"Yeah.." Wanda half smiled. "I suppose we do."
A short while later, most of Viv's preschool friends had left, leaving only the Fourth of July crew behind.
"I should probably go soon too.." said Wanda. Today had turned out a little more emotionally taxing than she'd expected.
"Wait.." Vision stopped her. "I mean, if you really have to leave, by all means, go, but.. Viv is in the backyard. She asked for you.."
"Well.." Wanda managed a smile. "If the Birthday girl is asking for me, of course I have to go.."
Wanda headed out into the yard, where Viv stood holding two blue helium-filled balloons on strings.
"Hey there, Miss Vivian.." She smiled. "Your Daddy said you were asking for me?"
"Uh-huh" She offered Wanda a balloon. "I'm sending a 'bloon up to Heaven for my brother. Do you want one for your brother, too?"
Wanda felt a lump in her throat, but took the balloon Viv offered.
"Yes.. Thank you."
They stood there together for a moment, then let the balloons go, watching them drift higher and higher until they were just tiny specks in the sky.
"I didn't have Vin long.. but I miss him."
"I understand.. I miss Pietro too."
"Wanda?" asked Viv thoughtfully.
"Since Pietro was big, like you, and Vin is very little.. Do you think your brother is looking after my brother?"
Wanda smiled softly, ruffling Viv's hair. She liked that idea.
"Yes. I think he is."
Standing inside, Vision watched them both from the window. A warm, pleasant feeling tugged at his heart. It had been such a long time since he felt it, that it was quite a while longer before he remembered that feeling was love.
Chapter 12: Something Roared
Wanda panics when she learns Viv is missing in the mall.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Wanda dreamed of Vision. Little things to begin with, like his warm laughter, his soft smile, the eternal kindness in his dazzling blue eyes. The way her fingers fit so perfectly between his when they held hands.
But as time passed, she dreamed of more. Dreams of his smile led to dreams of his lips, and that inevitably led to dreams of kissing him. His arms around her.
Dreams of running her hands over his well muscled chest. Of Vision's hands on her body, soft kisses on her bare skin.
Dreamed of them tangled together, moving as one, of him inside her. He would be gentle, because of course he would, because Vision cared about her, he wasn't using her, and she wasn't using him.
Wanda dreamed of him whispering to her, telling her that she was beautiful, because that seemed like something Vision would do, dreamed of crying out his name..
Wanda woke, sweaty and panting, a dull throb between her legs that needed to be dealt with before she was going to have anything close to a coherent thought. Wanda finished herself off with a few deft strokes of her fingers, rode the brief wave of pleasure.. then groaned, annoyed with herself.
Great. Just great. As if her life wasn't enough of a train wreck already, now she was having naughty dreams about her best friend.. Shit, Vision was her best friend, wasn't he? It wasn't like she had any other friends.
The whole thing was completely insane, for multiple reasons.
For one, no man would ever be that sweet and considerate in bed in real life. That was a fantasy taken out of the movies, one teenage girls believed, one Wanda had believed until the harsh reality of life taught her better. No real man was that perfect, not even Vision.
And even if he were, even if, by some miracle, Vision Jarvis was the one perfect man in all of creation, Wanda was probably the last person in the world he would want to be with.
Wanda Maximoff was the dictionary definition of a hot mess. While she had made a few improvements recently (She was painting again, and was even looking into a cheap nighttime Art class), she was pretty much as far from having her life together as it was possible to be. He deserved so much better.
Vision needed someone stable, someone sensible. Someone who didn't go out, drink themselves into oblivion, and have terrible one night stands whenever they were upset. Although, Wanda did have to give herself credit, she really wasn't going out much any more, and she actually hadn't had sex since Mr. Terrible Breath the night before her Birthday.
But that wasn't the point. Vision still deserved better, because it wasn't just himself he had to think about. He needed someone who could set a good example for Vivian.
As much as Wanda cared about Viv, she didn't think she was anywhere near ready to be someone's surrogate Mother.
Wanda sighed. She definitely needed a shower before she headed in to work the morning shift.
For most of her shift at the Party Store, Wanda stood behind the counter a little anxiously, still rather embarrassed about her naughty dream. She wasn't sure which scenario she'd rather.. For Vision to show up, hoping that seeing him in a normal setting would help clear her head, or that she wouldn't see him at all until she'd had enough time to try and scrub any and all 'Stupid Sexy Vision' images from her mind.
She took a breath. Fifteen more minutes, then her shift would be over. She could go home, and think some more about whether she wanted to rip the band-aid off and just see Vision, or alternatively, avoid him forever. The time ticked by unbearably slowly. At ten minutes to go, hoping that Mantis showed up in time to relieve her, an announcement came over the Mall speakers that immediately chased every other worry from her mind.
"Attention, Shoppers and Employees. We have a child missing in the Mall.."
Well, that wasn't the part that worried her. Kids got lost all the time. They were usually found in a few minutes. But..
".. Vivian Jarvis, age 5.."
Wanda's heart dropped. The announcement went on with a description of Viv, but she hardly heard it. She felt sick. Viv was missing. Vision must so worried. Where could she have gotten to?
Despite the statistics saying that, more often than not, children who got lost in the mall were found perfectly fine, unpleasant scenarios ran through Wanda's mind. She wanted nothing more than to run out and search for her, but there were still ten minutes to go in her shift, Mantis still hadn't arrived, and Wanda really needed this stupid job.
It didn't occur to Wanda until much later that her reaction to the situation was very much like a Mother.
If time had seemed to move slowly before the announcement of Vivian's disappearance, it had now slowed to a glacial pace. She strained her eyes and ears, hoping for any sign of Viv. Her hair. Her giggle. The usual sounds of the mall, like chattering customers, rustling shopping bags, the idiot teenage boys charging and crashing into each other with shopping carts (security was supposed to deal with them ages ago, but no one had showed up), grated on Wanda's nerves even more than usual, because it kept her from listening properly. It didn't help that the place was busier than usual, with some celebrity Wanda didn't know the name of doing an in-store appearance.
A few more minutes passed. With relief, she saw Mantis making her way towards the store, waving to Wanda and smiling her just slightly too chipper smile.
Then, with greater relief, Wanda saw Viv, wandering alone, looking around for something.. But just as quickly, her relief turned to horror. Viv had wandered right into the path of the idiot teenagers. They'd never be able to stop. They were going to crash right into the little girl. She could be seriously hurt.
A fire ignited in Wanda's chest. Something woke. Something roared. Then she was running, faster than she had ever run, almost flying, past a very confused Mantis and out into the Mall, racing towards Viv, sweeping her into her arms before..
One of the shopping carts caught Wanda's foot, running right over her toes, but her heart was pumping with far too much adrenaline to notice that it hurt. Viv, realizing how close she had come to disaster, clung to Wanda tightly.
Wanda rounded on the teens, fire in her eyes.
"You absolute idiots!" She snarled. There usually would have been an F-bomb somewhere in that statement, in her head there certainly was, but Wanda was keenly aware of the child in her arms. "You could have hurt someone!"
"S-Sorry, lady" One of the teens stammered. "We didn't see the kid.."
"Well you should have looked closer!"
"Okay" came a voice from behind them, "What's going on here?"
Wanda turned to see Sam, a Mall security guard with whom she usually got along quite well. Not Today.
"About time you showed up. These two have been hooning around all-morning!"
"Go easy, Wanda, I've been swamped Today. With the in-store, and now a missing kid.." Sam raised his hands defensively, then paused, spotting Viv in Wanda's arms. "Hey, that's the missing kid!" He reached for Viv.
"I can handle it" Wanda clutched her tighter, protective. "I know her Dad, I'll call him.. You just get these idiots the Hell out of here!"
"Yeah, okay.." Sam began ushering the teens towards the exit. "You heard the lady, out! And don't come back until you learn to be civilized people. You're lucky I'm not slapping you with lifetime bans.."
Wanda headed back towards the store, for the first time noticing the sharp pain in her foot, but the adrenaline was still buzzing.
"Oh, my!" cried Mantis, "Is everyone alright?"
"I think so.. Are you okay, Viv?" Wanda asked, gently setting her on the counter.
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded.
"Good. Stay right there, I'm going to call your Daddy.."
Wanda whipped out her phone, scrolling through her contacts until she reached Vision's name, calling his number. She grew more anxious with each ring.
"La naiba, Vizh, pick up!" Just as Wanda was thinking it was going to ring out, she got a very frazzled, frantic answer.
"Wanda, I can't talk right now, Viv is.."
"I found her, Vision."
"Viv's with me, at the party store."
"Oh, thank God! I'll be right there.."
As the call disconnected, Wanda turned back to Viv.
"Your Daddy is on his way, Fata Dulce" she smiled. "Are you sure you're alright? You must have been so scared, getting accidentally separated from your Daddy.."
"No.." Viv seemed sheepish.
"No you weren't scared?" Wanda frowned.
"I think" said Mantis, who had an uncanny ability to read people, "The little girl is saying that it wasn't an accident.."
"Vivian.." Wanda turned to the little girl seriously, her eyes widening. Her foot was starting to throb, but she tried to ignore it. "Did you run away from your Dad on purpose?"
"Yes.." Viv slowly nodded.
"That was very naughty of you!" Wanda cried. Unpleasant scenarios raced through her mind again. "What if I wasn't here? You could have gotten hurt! Why on Earth would you do something so silly?"
"I'm sorry" Viv whimpered. "I.. I wanted to find a surprise for Daddy."
"A surprise?" Wanda's expression softened.
"It's his Birthday Today" Viv explained. "He never gets anything special, because it's so close to my Birthday.. so I wanted to find something. I brought all my monies!"
"Oh, Miss Vivian.." Wanda's expression softened further, and she hugged the little girl. "You might just be the sweetest child in the universe. But don't ever run away like that again. You scared me, and you've probably scared your Daddy too."
"It's okay.." Wanda took a shaky breath. "Now I need to sit down, I think I've broken a few toes.."
La Naiba: Damn it
Fata dulce: sweet girl.
Chapter 13: Not Broken Yet
Viv invites Wanda over for Vision’s Birthday.
Mantis fetched a chair for Wanda and sat her behind the counter, insisting she prop up her foot. Wanda did so, while making sure Viv stayed by her side all the while. She had no intention of losing the little girl again before Vision arrived to fetch her.
Vision soon came bolting into the store, panic in his eyes.
"Vivian?!" Relief flooded his features when he spotted his daughter, sweeping her into his arms. "Oh, thank God you're safe.. How many times have I told you to be extra careful in big crowds?"
"Sorry, Daddy. But guess what? Wanda's a superhero, like you! She saved me!"
"Oh yes, sir, Wanda was brilliant!" Mantis nodded, grinning. "There were some teenagers being stupid with the shopping carts, and they almost crashed right into your little girl, but Wanda scooped her up just in time!"
"Wanda, thank you so much for.." Vision turned to look at Wanda, his blue eyes softening in concern when he saw her propped up foot. "You're hurt.."
"Stupid teenagers ran over my foot while I was grabbing Viv.. might have broken a few smaller toes, but I should be alright."
Seeing Vision had brought memories of Wanda's dream, and she found herself blushing under his gentle gaze. This was made even worse when she realized that, although he was a perfect gentleman and would never look, her propped up leg gave Vision, any passing customers, and the party store's security camera, which had a direct feed to the Mall's security center (Hi, Sam!), a perfect view up her skirt. Wanda quickly brought her leg down, removing her shoe to inspect the damage. The two smallest toes on her right foot were bruised, tender to touch, and hurt when she tried to wriggle them.
"Ouch.." Mantis flinched at the sight of the injured toes.
"Definitely 'spart'.. that means broken" Wanda added in English, when her current companions looked confused. She winced slightly as she replaced her shoe, then stood, sighing. "I'd better get Home and ice it. Damn I wish I hadn't walked to work today.."
"You can't walk that far with your foot like that, Wanda" Vision frowned, still looking concerned. "You need to rest it or you'll do more damage. Let me give you a lift, it's the least I can do after.."
"Or.." Viv interrupted him, an idea causing her eyes to light up, and a wonderfully bright smile to spread across her face, "We could take Wanda Home with us, Daddy. Then she wouldn't have to walk, and you could have a friend with you on your Birthday!"
"Oh.." Wanda's face reddened. "There's no need, I really wouldn't want to impose.."
"You wouldn't be" Vision replied, maybe just a little too quickly. "Vivian and I were just going to bake a cake, then watch a movie and order take-out to eat while we watch it.. Which we do pretty much every Friday, so nothing too special. I suppose it might be nice to have a friend around.. But if you would rather rest at Home I understand.."
Was Vision blushing again? 'God damn it', Wanda thought, that man was just too sweet. She could push aside her stupid naughty dreams for one day so that he could have an adult friend over for his Birthday.
"Actually, it's probably a good idea that I come with you for a bit.." Wanda managed a smile.
"It is?" Vision sounded surprised for a moment. Then (although Wanda may have just imagined it), his eyes seemed to light up. "It is!"
"Oh yes" Mantis agreed. "Someone should watch Wanda for at least a few hours in case of extra symptoms.. like blood clots, or loss of circulation, or.."
"We get it, Mantis" Wanda chuckled.
"It's settled, then. Wanda, you are coming Home with us" Vision set Viv down, though still held her hand, offering his arm to Wanda. "Put your arm around me, so you can keep weight off the broken toes.."
"Oh.. Right, good idea.." 'Pull yourself together, Maximoff', Wanda told herself. Do not think about 'Stupid Sexy Vision'. Remember sweet, helpful Vision instead. She limped a few steps closer to him, slinging an arm around his neck, and trying to ignore the way her breath caught when he slipped his free arm around her waist in return.
"There we go.. lean on me as much as you need."
"O-Okay" Wanda nodded, hoping he would excuse her stutter as the pain talking.
"And Vivian, do not let go of my hand."
"I won't Daddy" Viv replied.
"Good girl. Luckily it's not too far to the car.." Vision looked over his shoulder at Mantis. "It was nice to meet you."
"You too.." Mantis watched as Vision guided the injured Wanda from the store, and continued watching until they were almost out of sight. "What a sweet couple.."
Once back at his small but cosy Home, Vision helped Wanda inside. She was beginning to relax a little more now. Her friend was helping her. Her friend. Perfectly normal.
"We'll just set you up on the Sofa.." Vision guided her toward the living room.
"No, Daddy!" Viv objected. "We have to take Wanda to the Kitchen."
"The Kitchen?" Wanda and Vision said in unison, both very confused.
"Uh-huh" Vivian nodded eagerly. "Then she can watch our show!"
"Oh.." Vision blushed. "Well.."
"What show?" Wanda was still very confused.
"Well, when Vivian and I cook together, we sometimes pretend that we are on a cooking show" Vision explained. "It makes it more fun for her, I think."
That.. Sounded absolutely adorable.
"Well" Wanda smiled softly, I would love to watch your show."
"Yay!" Viv cheered.
She ran to fetch Wanda a chair, and they soon had her set up with a perfect view of the Kitchen bench, her foot propped up on a stool, and an ice-pack over her bruised toes. Unlike at the store, she was angled in such a way that the avoided flashing anyone.
"Alright" Wanda grinned. "I'm ready."
"Right.. um.. I'll just.." Vision hurried into the kitchen, seemingly suffering from just a little bit of stage fright.
"Relaxa, Vizh" Wanda chuckled. "Just do whatever you normally do, and have fun. Right, Viv?"
"Right!" Viv replied with a grin. "Welcome to Daddy and Vivian's cooking show! What are we cooking today, Daddy?"
"Uh.. um.. w-well.." Vision continually glanced at Wanda. He was clearly not used to having an audience.
"It's a chocolate cake, Daddy."
"Of course.." Vision tried to relax, not sure if the encouraging smile Wanda flashed his way was helping or only making him more nervous. "But, uh.. What do we always have to do before we start?"
"We wash our hands!" Viv rushed to the sink.
"Yes, good girl.."
Wanda watched the Father-daughter duo in the kitchen together, occasionally laughing at their antics. Vision did eventually relax. Not because he forgot Wanda was there, but because it almost felt like she had always been there, like she belonged. After the cake was in the oven, Vision set about washing the dishes, and Viv skipped over to Wanda, happily chatting to her about what she had done at Preschool the day before.
After a while, Wanda sniffed the air.
"Uh, Vizh? I think you should check the cake now.."
"Oh.." Vision paused in putting the dishes away to glance at the oven. "There's still five minutes on the timer."
"I know, but.. check it anyway" Wanda insisted.
"Alright.." Vision fetched a mitt and removed the cake from the oven. It looked, and smelled wonderful. Vision poked it with a skewer, confirming it's done-ness. "Well, it appears you were right, Wanda."
"Daddy, it's perfect!" Viv squealed happily. "We don't even got to cut off any burned bits!"
"We don't" Vision grinned. "Thank you, Wanda."
"You're welcome" Wanda smiled.
After icing the cake (letting Wanda lick the spoon because she was their guest), Vision helped Wanda into the lounge (she may have leaned on him a little more than was strictly necessary) they all chose what they wanted from the Chinese Takeout menu.
"I'll go call and place the order, and you girls can pick a movie.."
"Alright, Daddy" Viv rushed to fetch a stack of DVD cases after Vision had stepped out of the room, then dropped them in Wanda's lap. "You can choose, Wanda. You're our guest!"
"Thank you, Viv.." Wanda scanned the covers, mostly Disney movies and other family films. Though her plan was to choose something Vision would like, seeing as it was his Birthday, she couldn't help but be tempted by a few of the Disney classics that she had never seen, due to her rather unsettled childhood. "Beauty And The Beast is supposed to be good, right?"
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded eagerly. "Belle's really smart, and brave.."
"Alright then. Beauty And The Beast it is."
"Perfect" Vision smiled as he re-entered the room. "That is one of our favorites."
Once the food arrived, Vision dished everything up, and helped Viv change into her pyjamas before they all settled on the sofa to watch their movie. Wanda's foot remained propped up, although she had rather forgotten the pain for now.
"Our movie and takeout nights are a special occasion" Vision explained, after swallowing a mouthful of dumpling. "We usually always eat at the table."
"That's good. Not enough people do that anymore" Wanda replied with a soft smile, eyes misting slightly at a memory. "Pietro and I always used to make time to eat together, before.."
"Shh!" Viv scolded them both. "Belle's Daddy is almost at the castle!"
"Well, we'd best be quiet then" Vision flashed Wanda a smile.
Wanda looked back to the TV screen, hoping he hadn't seen her blush.
It didn't take long for Wanda to become engrossed in the film. The animation, like most Disney films, was gorgeous. Though Belle was as smart and brave as Viv had said, Wanda found herself identifying more with the Beast, particularly later in the movie. Knowing that you were in no way good enough for the person you were falling in love with..
No, she was definitely not falling in love with Vision. It didn't matter that his smile made her heart flutter. It was a crush, nothing more. It couldn't be. After losing Pietro, Wanda didn't think she had enough of her heart left to risk giving anymore away. She didn't realize yet that she already had.
As the credits rolled, Viv yawned.
"Bedtime for you, Vivian.." Vision moved to pick her up.
"Can Wanda take me?" Viv asked.
"Uh.." Wanda blinked, surprised by the request.
"Well," Vision pointed out with a frown, "Wanda has to be careful of her foot, so maybe not this.."
"Please?" Viv begged, wide-eyed.
Wanda sighed. She might not have been able to give her heart away, but Vivian could definitely melt it.
"Okay, I'll take you to Bed" She stood, wincing only a little, and scooped the sleepy Viv into her arms.
"But your foot.." Vision argued.
"Just my toes, and they actually feel fine right now. Which way to her room?"
"Down the hall" Vision relented. "Second door on the right."
Viv's room was exactly like Wanda would have expected after the time she'd spent getting to know her. The room was passably tidy, by five-year old standards. A picture of Virginia sat on her bedside table. There was a shelf with a wide variety of books. She did not have an insane amount of toys, but those she did have were well looked after. Superheroes were a common theme, and.. oh. The Scarlet Witch painting was now framed on the wall. That was flattering.
Pulling her eyes away from the painting, Wanda moved to Viv's bed, pulling back the covers, setting her down and tucking her in.
"Goodnight, Miss Vivian.."
"Can you sit with me for a minute?" Viv asked. "Daddy always does."
"Alright.. But only if you go to sleep soon" Wanda sat beside her.
"I will.. You coming over was a good Birthday present for Daddy, Wanda."
"Was it?" Wanda chuckled.
"Uh-huh.." Viv yawned and snuggled into Wanda's side, her little eyes drifting shut. "He likes you."
"Does he?" Wanda smiled a soft, shy smile. "Well, I like your Daddy too.."
"That's good.." Viv soon drifted off.
Wanda gazed down at the child curled sleeping at her side, gently running her fingers through her soft golden hair. She looked so peaceful, so perfect. The world hadn't broken her yet. If Wanda had her way, it never would. But then, it wasn't really up to Wanda, was it? Viv wasn't hers to protect. Wanda sighed and stood, leaning down to press a soft kiss to Viv's head.
"Sleep well, Fata dulce."
She limped slightly as she headed out of the room.. Crashing right into Vision.
Chapter 14: Listen To Me
Wanda and Vision have a meaningful discussion about past relationships.
Wanda only just managed to stop herself from yelping in surprise, not wanting to wake Viv. Her heart raced.
Shit. How long had Vision been there, and how much had he heard? And whoa, he was so close. Were his eyes always that blue? And so gentle. He was looking at her like.. Wanda wasn't even sure, but it made her heart flutter, and heat rise in her cheeks. If she reached up and leaned in just a tiny bit, she could be kissing him, and.. No, bad Wanda!
"Fata dulce.." Vision whispered, so as not to wake his daughter.
"Hmm?" The words snapped Wanda completely out of her minor trance, although she was a little too distracted by thoughts of kissing Vision to register what he had said.
"Fata dulce" He repeated. "You've called her that before. What does it mean?"
"Oh.. Sweet girl. My Mother used to.." Wanda trailed off. "It just means sweet girl."
"I suppose so.. you framed my painting."
"It deserved to be framed" Vision replied. "It is very good."
They both stood there for a moment, in a silence that was equal parts awkward, and somehow the most comfortable Wanda had ever felt.
"I, uh.. I came to see if you needed help" Smiling almost shyly, Vision offered her his arm. "Because of your foot.."
"Right.." Her broken toes were throbbing a little, although Wanda felt almost as though this was her body conspiring against her, giving her an excuse to accept his help. "It is a bit sore, actually."
Vision offered his arm again, and Wanda took it, letting him help her hobble out of the room. Wanda left the door slightly ajar, sensing that Viv probably appreciated that extra little bit of light. Her instinct was right, because Vision smiled at her. Another sweet, shy smile. Wanda wasn't sure what he thought he had to be shy about, but she was sure that that damn smile was doing funny things to her insides.
"So.." Vision spoke, to break the silence that had again settled between them, "How has work been? Today's thrilling adventure aside, of course."
"It's been.. work" Wanda chuckled, grateful for the distraction the new discussion gave her. "Honestly, Today might have been a nice break from the monotony if I wasn't so worried about Viv getting hurt."
"Thank you again, for helping her."
"It was no problem, really.. The store will want me in costume for Halloween soon. Mantis always has great ones."
"Is her name really Mantis?" Vision's brow crinkled.
"Surprisingly, yes" Wanda nodded, smiling. "Apparently her parents are really into insects. Anyway, if I don't come up with a costume on my own, the store gives me one, but it's always something really cliche, like a witch, or a vampire.."
"Hmm.. Why not dress as the Scarlet Witch?" Vision suggested.
"Like your painting, the Scarlet Witch. A costume like that wouldn't be too difficult to pull together, and it would be special and unique to you. It seems like the perfect solution.
On the surface, it was. Maybe even a little too perfect. The Scarlet Witch wasn't just a character in a painting. The Scarlet Witch was Wanda.. kind of. A completely idealized version of herself. Beautiful, powerful, smart.. everything Wanda wished that she was. For a person who had as low an opinion of herself as Wanda did, that wasn't an easy 'costume' to wear.
Still, she managed a smile for Vision. He was just trying to help.
Vision helped Wanda back to the sofa, and she propped her foot up once again.
"Would you like anything, Wanda?" Vision asked. "Tea, coffee?"
"I'm usually a tea drinker" Wanda replied.
"So am I" Vision smiled, heading for the kitchen and fetching two mugs from the cupboard. "I keep the coffee for guests. Mostly Natasha.."
Wanda, oblivious to the fact that Nat had clearly been trying to play matchmaker on the Fourth of July, suddenly felt jealous.. and then wanted to slap herself. She had no right to be jealous. Still..
"Are you and Nat..?"
"What? Oh, God no" Vision laughed as he set about making the tea. "Natasha is just a friend. More like family. She loves being Auntie Nat to the kids, but she's very happily single."
"Right.." Wanda felt more relieved than she had any right to be, and before she could stop herself, asked a question she knew she had no right to ask. "What about you?"
"It would be nice to have a special someone" Vision shrugged, "But, being a single Father.. That's a little too much baggage for some women to handle. I've met a few.. they think Vivian is the cutest thing in the world when they assume I can hand her back at the end of 'my weekend'. Once they know it's full time, and thatI don't like leaving her with babysitters too often.."
"I'm sorry, Vizh.."
"It is what it is" Vision moved to sit beside Wanda, a lot closer now without their adorable Viv-shaped buffer, and handed her a mug of tea. "I understand that there's a lot more to think about when there's a child involved.. But Viv doesn't bite. I'm not trying to replace her Mother. She had a Mother. I just need someone who doesn't immediately balk at the fact that spending time with me usually means spending time with her.. It doesn't have to be something scary."
"Of course not.." without even thinking about it, Wanda moved to comfort him, laying a hand on his shoulder. "You're a great guy, Vizh, and Viv is the sweetest kid I've ever met, and anyone who can't accept that she comes first for you.. Well, that's their loss."
Somewhat selfishly, Wanda thought that, if she didn't have to be a Mother to Viv, if she could just be her friend, which she was more than happy to do.. Maybe, she and Vision could.. No. She wasn't good enough for him. She wasn't the Scarlet Witch. Not beautiful, or clever, or strong. He deserved so much better.
Vision, immediately noticing her change in demeanor, frowned.
"Wanda, is something wrong?"
"No.." She sipped her tea, trying, but failing to hide a sudden quiver in her lip.
"I'm your friend, Wanda. Vision insisted. "You can talk to me."
"It's just.. I live in a crappy apartment, working a job I hate so I don't lose my crappy apartment, any men I do meet only want one thing, and.. Sometimes I wonder if that's all I'm.."
"Don't" Vision grabbed Wanda's hand, and she only just managed not to spill her tea.
He was looking at her with the most serious expression she had ever seen on him. It was actually really hot.. No, bad Wanda! She shook her head, trying to clear her mind.
"Don't talk about yourself like that."
"No, listen to me" said Vision. "You are beautiful, and kind, even when you don't want to be, like when an idiot walks into your store a few minutes before closing and completely outstays his welcome.. And there's just something.. Something special about you. You deserve love and respect as much as anyone else does, probably more than some people do, and anyone who isn't willing to give you that isn't worth your time. Do you understand me?"
"I.." Wanda's voice cracked. She couldn't remember anyone ever being so kind to her. At least, anyone who wasn't related to her. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat, struggling to respond.
"Do you understand, Wanda?"
"Inteleg.. I understand."
Vision was still holding her hand. They looked at each other for a long while. Vision opened his mouth as if he was going to say something else, but the sound of a siren somewhere outside broke the spell. Wanda pulled her hand from Vision's grip, before quickly draining the rest of her tea.
"I should probably head home soon.."
"Of course" Vision nodded. "Let me call you a cab, I'll pay.."
"Vizh" Wanda frowned, "You don't have to.."
"I want to" Vision stood to fetch his phone. "Viv and I invited you over, the least I can do is help you get Home.."
When the Cab arrived, Vision helped Wanda outside (leaning against him felt almost normal now), and politely opened the door for her.
"Text me when you get Home, alright?" Vision asked. "I want to know you made it there safely."
"It's only 9 PM, Vizh" Wanda chuckled, shaking her head. "What could happen?"
"Just promise you will text me."
"Good.." Vision seemed to pause for a moment, considering, then kissed her cheek. "See you soon?"
"Yeah" Wanda almost squeaked, blushing bright red, quickly climbing into the cab. "Soon."
Vision moved to the driver's side, giving them Wanda's address, what he thought was enough money to cover the fare, and a very generous tip in exchange for helping Wanda up to her apartment to keep her from further injuring her foot. Wanda was about to object to just now generous this tip was, but the cab drove off before she could. Vision waved to her, a cheeky smile on his face.
Wanda watched him until her cab turned at the end of the street. He was still waving. Once he was out of sight, she gently touched the spot where Vision had kissed her cheek. It tingled, exuding a soft warmth.
And Wanda smiled. Vision thought she was beautiful.
Chapter 15: The Best Version Of Herself
Wanda puts together a special Halloween costume, and decides to show it to Viv and Vision.
When she reached her apartment block, and the cab driver helped her to her door, Wanda, as promised, texted Vision to let him know that she made it Home safely. His reply came very quickly.
Thank you for letting me know. I would have been worried otherwise.
Wanda smiled.. almost giggled. She felt strangely happy.. giddy, even. And it wasn't just because Vision thought she was beautiful, or that he had kissed her cheek. It was that he worried about her. He cared that Wanda got home safe. She was important. She mattered to someone.
Since Pietro died, Wanda had almost forgotten how that felt. To be cared for. To matter. Now, thanks to Vision, she was starting to remember. Even if he only cared as a friend, it was a nice feeling.
And it made her think some more about other things Vision had said. Particularly, his suggestion that she dress as the Scarlet Witch for Halloween.
Wanda had imagined the Scarlet Witch as an impossible ideal.. everything she could never be. But..
"Don't talk about yourself like that."
Vision's words echoed in Wanda's ears.
You are beautiful, and kind, even when you don't want to be, like when an idiot walks into your store a few minutes before closing and completely outstays his welcome.. And there's just something.. Something special about you."
Of course, it was going to take more than a few kind words to completely cure Wanda of her insecurities, and a rather large part of her couldn't bring herself to believe Vision. Then again, whether she believed Vision's words or not, how hard would it be, really, to try and become the best version of herself?
It had been a long day, and her broken toes were beginning to throb once more. She'd think about things more in the morning. Wanda took some mild painkillers, changed into her pajamas, and let herself fall into bed, almost immediately drifting off to sleep.
She dreamed she was the Scarlet Witch. She was flying, but she wasn't alone. Someone flew at her side, an impressive figure dressed in teal and gold..
Her dream, though only a hazy memory when she woke, cemented the growing plan in Wanda's mind. She wanted to become the Scarlet Witch. Be her best self, even if it was just for a little while.
Over the next few days Wanda began assembling her costume. At one thrift store close to her apartment, she found a nice, long leather jacket just the shade of red that she needed, and at another, a corset to match. At the mall, between her shifts at the store, she purchased gloves, and a pair of leather pants that fit snugly over her hips.
The complete ensemble, Wanda hoped, would accentuate her curves without being too revealing. It was okay to want to show off her figure a little, right? Back when she was just a struggling orphaned youth in Sokovia, she had always been a little too skinny. Once Pietro had scraped together enough money to get them to America, and finally managed to establish the regular pattern of three square meals a day, Wanda had filled out a bit, and she actually quite liked her curves.
As she was about to head home and try everything on together for the first time, Wanda thought of Viv, how happy she'd been when she had given her the Scarlet Witch painting, and her excitement upon realizing her cake was the same color as the witch's outfit. She smiled, a new plan coming to her, and called Vision. He answered on only the second ring.. a very quick answer for 'just a friend', Wanda thought, but chose not to dwell on it.
"Hello, Wanda. How are your toes?"
"A bit sore still, but getting better" Wanda replied. "Are you and Viv home? I have a little surprise for her.. for you too, actually."
“We're home.. What kind of surprise?"
"It wouldn't be much of a surprise if I told you, would it?" Wanda smirked.
I suppose not.."
Wanda imagined him pouting, and chuckled to herself at the image.
"Is it okay if I drop by in a few minutes?"
"Of course. You are always welcome."
"I'll be there soon then. Bye, Vizh.."
Goodbye, Wanda. See you soon."
He had sounded very happy about her visit, and Wanda found herself blushing slightly after she hung up. Feeling as though she was welcome, wanted even, was also new to her. Once again, though, it was a nice feeling.
"Wanda!" Viv flew at her as soon as Vision had opened the door, hugging her legs.
"Oof.. Hello, Miss Vivian" Wanda chuckled.
"Careful, Vivian" Vision gently reminded his daughter. "Wanda's foot is still sore."
"Sorry.. Wanda, Daddy said you had a surprise for us!"
"I do, Fata dulce" Wanda smiled, affectionately running a hand through Viv's golden hair.
"What is it?" Viv bounced excitedly.
"I'll show you in just a minute.. Can I borrow your Bathroom, Vizh?"
"Of course" Vision nodded. "Would you like a cup of tea? I was just about to make some.."
"Sure, that would be great, Vizh. Thanks."
In the bathroom, Wanda changed into her carefully assembled Scarlet Witch outfit, ran a brush through her hair, and examined herself in the mirror.
As she did, her mind was conflicted.
One part of Wanda, the part she had most often listened to up until now, told her the same thing it always did. That everything was too good, too perfect. She could never be this.
But another part of her, a new, positive part, told her that this was possibly the most 'herself' that she had ever been.
Wanda smiled and headed back out, eager to see Viv's reaction to her surprise.. And Vision's, of course.
When Wanda, walked back out into the living area, she didn't get a chance to say a single word before she heard Viv squeal.
"Look, Daddy!" she cried excitedly. "Wanda's the Scarlet Witch. She really is a Superhero, like you! Isn't that cool, Daddy?.. Daddy?"
Vision didn't reply. When Wanda turned to look at him, she found her friend with his mouth hanging slightly open, spilling tea all over the bench.
"Uh.. You okay, Vizh?"
"Ah!" Vision yelped, snapping back to his senses, and quickly grabbed a cloth to mop up the spilled tea. "Oh dear.. how silly of me.."
"Do you need any help?" Wanda offered.
"No, no, I've got it.." He smiled at her, a nervous looking smile, his cheeks slightly pink. "You look very nice, Wanda."
"Do I?" She smiled, doing a twirl. "It's just a few different bits and pieces I've picked up.. You really like it? Not too much cleavage?" It was only after the words spilled from her mouth that she realized this wasn't exactly an appropriate 'just friends' question, and her cheeks reddened.
Vision's eyes flickered to Wanda's chest for the briefest of moments, before his own cheeks burned as red as they did when he was in his 'The Vision' make-up.
"No, that's just the right amount of.. Um.. N-No, it's not too much."
"Daddy, Wanda, why are you turning red?" Viv asked innocently.
"It.. it's getting a little bit hot in here, that's all" Wanda mumbled.
"Oh.. Then we should have juice pops!" Viv happily ran to the freezer.
After a moment, Vision relaxed, and burst out laughing.
"Yes, Viv, we should have juice pops" He grinned. "Would you like one, Wanda?"
For a few horrible moments, Wanda had been worried that she might have crossed a line, but now the tension was gone, and Vision's laughter was contagious.
"Yes" Wanda managed to get out through her laughter, "I would love a juice pop."
Wanda and Vision laughed together, tears of mirth beginning to escape their eyes.
Viv, clutching the box of juice pops, glanced between them, confused, not understanding what was so funny.
Grown-ups were weird sometimes.
Chapter 16: Run!
An unpleasant incident occurs when Wanda and Vision share lunch in the Mall's food court.
Though Vision told her she didn't have to rush off, Wanda hadn't stayed long after eating her juice pop and drinking the tea he had remade for her.
She didn't want to cross anymore lines. Though they had laughed it off together, she knew she had embarrassed him. The pink hadn't quite faded from his cheeks for the rest of her visit (it wasn't until a much, much later point in time that Vision told her this had nothing to do with Wanda's cleavage question, and everything to do with watching her eat a juice pop).
Still, he had kissed her on the cheek again as she left, and Wanda found herself trying very hard not to skip back to her car. She had no reason to skip. Friends kissed each other on the cheek all the time, right?
Still.. She was happy. She'd found some sort of confidence in the Scarlet Witch.
Wanda didn't change out of the outfit until she went to bed that night. And when October rolled around, and she got to become the Scarlet Witch every time she had a shift at the store, Wanda found herself almost enjoying going to work.. Almost.
Because in her job she still had to deal with her fair share of idiots.. For example, the men who came into the store trying to hit on her because she was wearing a slightly sexy costume. But.. not every man who came into the store was an idiot.
She may have been imagining it, but it seemed like Vision was visiting her at work more often. Usually with Viv, but a few times he had come by himself.. passing through, on his way to do other errands, he said. Just stopping by for a quick 'hello'. Reminding her, rather often, how nice her costume was.
This wasn't anything unusual, right? Just a by-product of their becoming closer.. As friends. Good friends. Maybe even best friends. But friends was all they were.
On the day before Halloween, when Mantis had arrived to relieve her after working the Morning shift, Wanda left the store, crashing right into Vision as he was coming in.
"Oof! Sorry.. oh, Hey Vizh."
"Hello, Wanda.. I was just coming to.."
"Say Hello?" Wanda chuckled. "I've just finished.."
"Oh.." Vision looked a little lost, like he wasn't sure what to do next.
For a moment, Wanda found herself wondering whether his 'other errands' had ever actually existed, and he'd just been making excuses to see her more often.. But that couldn't be it. Whatever the reason for his slightly odd behavior, she felt the need to remedy it.
"I was going to drop by the Food Court and grab a bite to eat before I left" She told him. "You could come with me, if you like.. If you have time, between all your errands."
"Errands?" Vision stared blankly for a moment, then jumped. "Right, errands! I've uh.. already finished my errands for Today."
"Come on, then" Wanda chuckled and turned in the direction of the Mall's food court, gesturing for him to follow her. "I'll buy you Lunch, I owe you."
"You don't have to.." Vision frowned.
"I know, but I want to."
Soon after, Wanda and Vision sat together at a table for two, eating burgers in the Food Court, sharing an order of fries. This close to Halloween, other employees were also in costume, so Wanda's outfit did not stand out too much.
Though they were in a crowded Mall, this was the most alone together that they had ever been, and there was something strangely intimate about sharing food. They both blushed slightly as their fingers brushed against each other in the fry packet, although both also tried to ignore this.
"Viv wants to give you a drawing she made at Pre-School" said Vision, by way of distraction. "Of you as the Scarlet Witch."
"Really?" Wanda found herself smiling. Viv was so sweet.
"Mmhm" Vision swallowed another mouthful. "I offered to bring it to you, but she said she would rather give it to you herself next time you come over."
"Well, I will make sure to visit again soon" Wanda smiled.
"She.. We would like that.." Vision smiled back, then seemed to become slightly nervous. "Wanda, I've been meaning to.. um.. I've been meaning to.. maybe.. ask you something.."
He paused hesitating, and Wanda was about to say that he could ask her anything, when she was jolted by a pair of hands suddenly leaning on the table, just missing the remaining half of her burger.
"Hey, Babe.. Nice costume" The owner of the hands crooned, a slimy quality to the voice. Wanda looked up to see a man around her age with dark, messy hair, showing of a set of slightly yellow teeth in an unpleasant grin. Just the type of sleezeball she might have let take her home when she went out drinking her troubles away, a habit she had almost entirely abandoned.
"Um.. Hello.." Wanda cringed away from the man.
"How about you ditch the loser and come eat with me instead?" The man continued, undaunted.
Vision's cheeks flared red, and he suddenly became very interested in his shoes. Wanda glared at the intruder.
"He's worth ten of you."
Vision's eyes flickered back to Wanda, and he was now blushing for an entirely different reason.
The man frowned for a moment, then his eyes glinted with malice, wicked grin widening.
"Oh, come on.. I know what kind of girl you are."
"What?" Wanda frowned.
"A buddy of mine took you home from a bar a few months ago" The intruder continued, smirking. "And he wasn't the only one. You're always shit-faced enough that you go home with just about any guy who tries it on.."
Shame washed over Wanda, tears prickling at the corners of her eyes. To her, her days of drunk, meaningless sex were beginning to feel far away, but this was a painful reminder that they were not so long ago.
"Don't talk to her like that" suddenly Vision was standing, and for a moment, he reminded Wanda of Pietro, defending her from playground bullies when they were children. But where Pietro had burned with white-hot rage, Vision simmered, a more tranquil Fury.
"Why?" The other man had sneered. "It's true, she knows it is. Or are you just jealous because the little slut won't open her legs for you?"
The simmering fury boiling over, Vision had punched the man in the face.
Without thinking, Wanda stood and grabbed Vision's hand. The incident was beginning to draw the attention of other customers in the Food Court.
"What?" Vision blinked, a little shocked by what he had just done.
The idiot was getting up, and he looked pissed. Wanda knew he was the type of man who wouldn't appreciate a bruised ego.
When Vision still didn't move, Wanda ran, dragging him with her, and within a few moments, Vision's feet instinctively moved to run with her.
"You'll pay for that!" came a gurgling yell, followed by the sound of feet behind them.
Wanda looked back at their pursuer. Blood was spilling from the man's mouth.. it appeared as though Vision had knocked one of his teeth out. She sped up, shouting for customers to get out of the way, still dragging Vision. Though he was running, he seemed slightly stunned.
They passed by Double B, just as Bucky was carrying a pre-ordered cake to the woman working in the store across from him. Though the baker dodged Wanda and Vision as they passed by, he 'accidentally' blocked the path of their pursuer.
"Oops, so sorry sir!" Bucky tried not to smirk.
Wanda gave him a thumbs-up over her shoulder.
"Out of the way, idiot!" The man shrieked.
They kept running to the Mall's exit, and out into the light of day.
"Vizh, where's your car?" Wanda asked him.
"Your car, Vizh, quickly!"
"Oh.. This way!" Vision snapped out of it long enough to pull Wanda to his car, unlocking it so they could both get in.
Wanda dived into the passenger side and put on her seat belt, her chest heaving from the effort of running so far. Vision managed to buckle his own seat belt before shock seemed to overtake him once again. Unfortunately, they were still being followed.
"Vizh!" Wanda yelled, as the furious man sped towards the car, "Drive!"
"Oh, right!" Vision snapped out of it again, finally started the car and pealed out of the mall parking lot, leaving their shrieking pursuer behind (Once again, it wasn't until a much later point in time that he told Wanda that his second trance had nothing to do with shock, and everything to do with the minor distraction of Wanda's heaving busom in a corset).
Chapter 17: Almost Kiss
After the incident at the Mall, Wanda tends to Vision's injured hand.
They didn't stop until they reached Vision's House. It hadn't occurred to Vision to take Wanda home first, and it hadn't occurred to Wanda to ask him to. Somehow, Vision's home had become a safe place for them both.
It was only once the car had stopped and they had both got out that Wanda allowed herself to truly take a breath. The situation had been just a little too similar to the struggles of her youth. She and Pietro desperately running after they had snatched a loaf of bread, or an apple.. But then she looked at Vision's hand, and her own troubles rushed away.
A bruise was blooming across his knuckles, and one had split open, steadily oozing blood.
"Oh Vizh.." Wanda felt a lump in her throat, unable to keep from thinking this was her fault. But.. No. She had to stop letting past bad decisions define her present. Still, she worried for her friend. "Your hand.."
"Oh.." Vision looked at the injuries, slightly surprised.
"Come on.." She pulled Vision towards the house. "I'll help you get cleaned up."
Wanda sat Vision down, nursing his injured hand, while she dug through his bathroom cupboards for disinfectant.
"Where's Viv?" Wanda asked. Finding the disinfectant, she poured a little into a dish of warm water.
"At a playdate with Cassie. Scott should be dropping her off in a bit."
"Okay.. can you move your fingers properly?"
"Yes" Vision nodded, after an experimental wiggle.
"Good.." Wanda fetched a cloth, and began gently cleaning the cut on his hand.
"Wanda, I.. I'm sorry.." Vision mumbled, wincing slightly at the sting.
"You're sorry?" Wanda gaped at him. "For what?"
"Making a scene.. ruining your lunch.."
"Vizh, no.. What you did.."
"You must think I'm quite the brute.."
"No, I think he deserved it.. What you did.. That's just about the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. No one's tried to defend me like that since my brother died."
"I just didn't like hearing you spoken to so horribly" Vision blushed a little. "He was.. he was being..
"Un nemernic." Wanda didn't often slip into her native tongue, but with Vision, she felt comfortable enough to do so.
"An ass hole, Vizh. He was an ass hole."
"Well.. yes" Vision chuckled. "You know.. I have never punched someone before."
"You wouldn't know it" Wanda smirked. "It was a good shot."
"Your brother.. Pietro.. Did he punch people often? I only ask because, well, you seem to know what you are doing with this type of injury."
"He did.. He had to, sometimes, where we grew up.. He didn't usually come off as well as you have. Pietro was scrappy, but he wasn't really a fighter. He could run, though.." Wanda smiled wistfully. "When Pietro ran, there wasn't a soul who could catch him."
"I wish I could have met him" Vision smiled softly. "You speak of him so fondly."
"He was.. special. If you keep this clean, it should be alright. It's not deep.." Wanda set aside the cloth to look up at him, and her breath caught. Had he been that close the whole time?
"Thank you, Wanda.." Vision's breath seemed to catch as well, although Wanda may have imagined it.
"W-What were you going to ask me? Before.." She was still holding his hand.
"Oh.." Vision blushed. "I was.. I w-was.. I was going to ask if you would like to.. Maybe.. If you would like to go.."
He was so close. If Wanda leaned in, just a little she could be.. So she did, and Vision did too, and they were so, so close.. their lips almost..
The front door opened.
"Daddy, I'm Home!"
Wanda dropped Vision's hand and they sprang away from each other.
"Up here, sweetheart!" Vision called, his cheeks red, then turned back to Wanda. "Vivian wanted to know if you would come trick or treating with us Tomorrow night."
"Oh.. right" Wanda blinked. Somehow, that didn't feel like what Vision was asking at all, but what else could it have been? "Sure, I'll come trick-or-treating."
"You will? Yay!" Viv ran into the Bathroom at exactly that moment. In her childish innocence, she didn't question Wanda's presence. However, she did notice something else. "You're red again.. I'll go get juice pops!"
Wanda watched Viv fondly as she raced off, not noticing that Vision was watching Wanda herself with the same fond expression.
Early the following evening, Wanda returned to Vision's House, finding Vision in his full 'The Vision' suit and make-up. That suit really did not leave very much to the imagination, and Wanda couldn't help blushing, just a little.
"Hello, Wanda." Though she couldn't see it, he was also blushing beneath his make up.
Neither one of them was sure whether their almost-kiss the day before had actually happened, or they were just imagining it.
"Wanda!" Viv happily ran over to greet her. Like on her Birthday, Viv was wearing make up similar to her Father's, and a cape.
"Hello, Fata dulce" Wanda crouched to the little girl's eye level, running a hand through her hair. "Are you a superhero like your Daddy?"
"Uh-huh.." Vivian looked Wanda up and down, confused. "Where's your costume?"
"I have it right here" She patted the bag dangling over her arm, and looked up at Vision. "Is it alright if I change in your Bathroom again, Vizh?"
Once Wanda had changed into her Scarlet Witch outfit once again, they headed out. The streets were filled with children in costume, clutching rapidly filling bags of candy. Wanda had never been trick-or-treating before. It wasn't a tradition in Sokovia, and she and Pietro had been too old to partake by the time they made it to the U.S. But now, with Vision and Viv, she was quite enjoying the experience.
"Thank you very much, Ma'm" Vivian waved, at the elderly woman whose house they were just leaving, smiling sweetly as she skipped away back to the sidewalk.
"So polite. Thank you, young lady" The woman gushed over Viv's good behaviour, then smiled at Wanda and Vision. "Your Mommy and Daddy are doing a wonderful job with you!"
"Oh, I'm not.." Wanda blushed.
"We're n-not.." Vision sputtered.
"I'm just a family friend.." said Wanda.
"Oh.." the woman looked puzzled.
"But thank you anyway" said Vision with a slightly awkward smile.
"Remember to stay close, Fata dulce" Wanda called after Viv, not thinking of the fact that this was a rather maternal instruction. "We don't want to lose you."
"I'll remember" Viv promised.
The elderly lady gazed after them, still quite confused. Wanda and Vision didn't realise that they'd been holding hands for the last three blocks.
Chapter 18: A Nice Ring To It
Vision and Viv discuss Wanda.
As it turned out, Wanda and Vision continued to not notice they were holding hands until they ran into Clint(dressed as Legolas from Lord of the Rings) and Natasha(dressed as some sort of spy) with the elder two Barton children two streets later.
Wanda dropped Vision's hand, and Vision tried very hard to ignore the sense of loss he felt when Wanda let go.
"Auntie Nat!" Viv immediately ran over.
"Hey, kiddo" Natasha smiled at Viv. "Got a good haul so far?"
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded happily.
"Where is Laura?" Vision asked Clint.
"She's at home with Nate" Clint explained. "He's still a bit too little for this, some of the the costumes scare him..Yours is pretty good, though, Wanda. What are you supposed to be?"
"Oh, uh.. I'm.."
"She's the Scarlet Witch!" said Viv.
"Who?" Clint looked confused.
"I kind of made her up" Wanda smiled sheepishly.
"Whoa.." Clint gaped. "That's really good for something you just made up.. Don't you think so, Nat?"
"Definitely" Nat smirked. "Hmm.. 'Vision and The Scarlet Witch' has got quite a ring to it."
Wanda and Vision glanced at each other, but broke the eye-contact quickly, blushing.
"It does" Clint agreed. "And you do kinda look like you're a matching pair."
"Uh.. Thank you" said Vision quickly, while Wanda's blush deepened. "Well, we should be getting on.. Vivian!"
"Coming, Daddy!" Viv finished telling Lila which houses had the best stuff, then rushed back to her father's side.
The two groups of trick-or-treaters said a quick goodbye, and continued their separate ways.
Once they were out of hearing range, Natasha whispered something to Clint.
"What do you mean they're not together yet?" He frowned. "You said you were working on it!"
"I am, but I can't be there all the time" Nat huffed. "Besides, you know how clueless Vision is with this type of thing, and it doesn't seem like Wanda is much better.."
Returning home that night after a quick stop back at Vision's to retrieve her clothes (she might have forgotten something, but she could just pick it up next time, right?), Wanda found herself smiling. Vision hadn't corrected Clint, or panicked when he'd said they looked like a matching pair. He'd just said thank you.
And looking back on it, being mistaken for Viv's Mother wasn't quite as scary as she thought it would be.
Maybe.. Maybe the idea of the two of them, of her, and Vision, together.. Maybe it wasn't as crazy as she thought.
When Wanda slept, she was the Scarlet Witch again, flying with The Vision.
Elsewhere, Vision was having the same wonderful dream. Vision and the Scarlet Witch, flying together.. It did have a very nice ring to it. Of course, being a Father, he had learned to sleep lightly, and found himself woken from his wonderful dream by a pair of familiar small feet padding down the hall, and his bedroom door creaking open. He sat up, smiling softly at the little face in the doorway.
"What are you doing awake, Fata dulce?" The Sokovian term of endearment slipped from Vision's mouth without him really thinking about it, bringing pleasant thoughts of the Sokovian woman who usually said it.
"That's what Wanda calls me" Viv giggled.
"It is" Vision smiled. "But that doesn't answer my question.."
"I couldn't sleep, Daddy. And.. I was worried you might be feeling lonely."
"Oh.. come here" Vision's heart melted, and he pulled back the covers, patting the space beside him that had remained empty for a little over four years, except for the times, like now, when his daughter crept in to sleep beside him. "Sweetheart, you do not have to worry about me being lonely. I have you."
"I know.." Vivian curled into his side. "But I do worry, Daddy.. Sometimes you look sad.. Maybe you need a girlfriend, like how Uncle Scott gots Hope now.."
"Daddy isn't very good at getting Girlfriends.."
"What about Mommy?"
"Well, your Mommy actually got me" Vision explained with a chuckle. "Otherwise, as your Auntie Nat has told me, I am 'hopeless' at talking to women."
"Oh.." Viv paused for a moment, and Vision hoped she was going to drop the subject. Instead her eyes lit up as an idea came to her. "You're not hopeless at talking to Wanda, Daddy. Maybe Wanda could be your girlfriend! I like Wanda, and you like Wanda, and Wanda likes you.."
"I do.. I do like Wanda.. but It's really not that simple.." Vision sighed.
Because the truth was, he was 'hopeless' at talking to Wanda, or at least at talking to her in away that would lead to them being more than friends. He'd wanted to ask her to dinner with him, but he'd been unable to get the words out, and then he had ruined everything by punching a man in the middle of the Food Court. Though Vision had insisted that Wanda hadn't ruined anything, it felt very much to him like he had, and he didn't feel as though he would pluck up the nerve to ask again for quite some time.
His daughter, however, was having none of his excuses.
"Why not? All you got to do is ask her, Daddy."
"Vivian, I really don't think.."
"You can ask her Tomorrow, when we go see her at the store" Viv continued, oblivious to her Father's objections.
"Viv, I.. Wait" He paused, frowning. "I never said we were going to see Wanda Tomorrow. We don't even know if she'll be working."
"Then we can go to her House."
"Wanda lives in an apartment, but we can't show up just so I can ask her to be.."
"It's not just that, Daddy" Said Viv. "Wanda left something behind in the bathroom. We have to go give it back."
"What did she leave behind?" Vision frowned.
Viv hopped out of bed again, rushing to the bathroom, and returning a few moments later clutching a black bra.
Oh dear. Vision's cheeks reddened, but he felt immediate sympathy for Wanda, whom he knew would feel quite embarrassed over something like this.
"Alright.. we can return Wanda's.. we can see her Tomorrow."
"And you'll ask her to be your girlfriend?" asked Viv hopefully.
"I.. I will think about it" Vision relented. "Now leave Wanda's.. leave that over there and get back into bed, it's late."
Viv did as she was told, hopping back in beside him, and before too long, they were asleep once more.
Vision was flying, the Scarlet Witch by his side..
Chapter 19: Dinner?
With encouragement from Viv, Vision tries to ask Wanda out.
Sometime the next Morning, Vision called Wanda to find out what her plans were for the day.
"Heading into work in a bit.. I already have to start wearing a stupid Elf costume for Christmas" Wanda had told him. "Why do you ask, Vizh?"
"You, uh, left something behind at my House" said Vision, trying to stay rather nonchalant about the whole thing. "Viv and I can come drop it off to you at the store later, if you like."
"Sure. See you then."
"Yes. See you."
Vision let out a breath as he disconnected the call. Judging by her own casual reaction, Wanda was clearly not aware of the slightly embarrassing nature of what she had left behind. Vivian grinned, giving him a thumbs up over her cereal bowl.
Vision sighed. His daughter clearly didn't understand that returning a woman's forgotten bra was definitely not ideal circumstances for asking that woman out.
Wanda, currently unaware of Vision's predicament, couldn't help smiling to herself as she got ready for work. Even the annoyance of squeezing into the slightly too tight 'Elf' costume she had been given to wear didn't hamper her good mood.. not much, anyway.
Having Vision and Viv visit always made her work days feel a lot more pleasant.
Vision, feeling rather uncomfortable, held Wanda's.. er.. 'forgotten item' between the tips of his fingers, touching as little of it as possible (to do so somehow felt like an invasion of privacy), and dropped it into what he hoped was a discreet looking plastic bag.
"Come on, Daddy!" Viv tugged on his arm eagerly. "You got a really important question to ask!"
"Vivian" Vision frowned, but didn't stop her from tugging him out the front door, "You remember that I only said I would think about it, don't you?"
"Silly Daddy" Viv giggled. "You say that a lot, but then you always say 'Yes!'"
Vision opened his mouth to argue, but found that he couldn't, because Viv was right. 'I'll think about it' or 'Maybe' almost always turned into 'Yes' where his daughter was concerned. She'd had him wrapped around her little finger from the moment she was born.
"Well" Vision huffed slightly, "In this case, I am definitely still just thinking about it."
Wanda sighed heavily. It was only the first day of November, yet it already looked like a Christmas bomb had hit the Mall, with trees, tinsel and baubles everywhere, and Christmas Carols blaring from every speaker.
It was going to be a long couple of months.
Squirming in her elf outfit for a moment, Wanda's eyes lit up when she saw Vision and Viv approaching the store, so happy to see them that she didn't notice the discomfort radiating from Vision.
"Hi, Wanda!" Viv happily ran over to the counter.
"Hello, Miss Vivian" Wanda reached over to gently ruffle her hair. "Have you been enjoying your Halloween candy?"
"Daddy only let me have a little bit" said Viv.
"Daddy is clever, then. Too much candy can make you sick."
"Hello.." Vision greeted her rather more quietly than usual, handing over a plastic bag.
"Hey, Vizh. Thanks for returning.." As soon as Wanda peeked into the bag to see exactly what Vision was returning to her, her cheeks turned a bright crimson. Shit. "Oh God, I'm so sorry.."
"It's perfectly alright.." Vision's own face was rather red.
"This is so embarrassing.."
"It's okay Wanda, these things happen.."
"I should have checked.."
Vivian, who had no patience for the awkward ramblings of the two adults, decided to take it upon herself for to move things along a little.
"Wanda" The little girl loudly interrupted, "Daddy wants to ask you something."
"Oh.." Wanda paused, her cheeks slowly faded from crimson back to a soft pink as she turned back to Vision. "Okay.. What did you want to ask me, Vizh?"
"Well.. I was.. I wanted to.." Vision's blush deepened. He was still flustered from returning Wanda's 'forgotten item', and there were a few other facts that weren't helping matters, namely the fact that, well, Wanda made a rather sexy elf, and the fact that her costume was just a little too small only, er, enhanced this.
"Go on.." Wanda's brow crinkled, a little confused.
"I.. I was going to ask if you.. I hoped you might like too.."
Viv's five-year old impatience getting the better of her once more.
"My Daddy likes you, and he wants you to be his girlfriend."
"Vivian!" Vision lightly scolded his daughter, his cheeks burning even redder, if that was possible.
"You was taking too long!" Viv huffed.
Wanda swallowed. A small, nagging voice in the back of her head said that of course that Vivian was making some sort of mistake, that of course that wasn't what Vision was trying to ask. He was the best type of person, decent and honest and kind. He wouldn't want her. She wasn't good enough for him, or for Viv.
But.. While Vision looked a little embarrassed, he didn't really seem opposed to the idea. A small bubble of hope bloomed in Wanda's chest, and a small, shy smile spread over her face.
"Is that what you were going to ask, Vizh?"
"Well" Vision smiled somewhat sheepishly, "My plan was actually to ask you to dinner and just see where things go from there, but somebody got a little bit ahead of herself.."
"Sorry, Daddy.." Now it was Viv's turn to look sheepish.
"So.. would you?" Vision continued. "Like to go to d-dinner, I mean.. With me. It's perfectly alright if the answer is n.."
"Yes" Wanda chuckled. He was so adorably clueless. "I would love to go to dinner with you."
"Really?" Vision's eyes lit up.
"Really" Wanda grinned.
"Yay!" Viv cheered. "Where are we going?"
"Um.. well.." Vision glanced back and forth between Wanda and Viv. He'd neglected to tell his daughter that he didn't actually intend to bring her with them.
Wanda, however, just chuckled. She understood that Vision and Vivian were a package deal.
"Yeah, Vizh" She gently nudged his arm. "Where are we going?"
"I think we should go to McDonalds" said Viv.
"I love McDonalds!" Wanda grinned at Viv. She wasn't lying, really. There had only been one in Novi Grad, the Sokovian city in which she and Pietro had lived, and she had rather fond memories of when they had scraped together enough cash to share a meal. She hadn't been to one since her brother had died, however.
"I.." Vision opened his mouth to object, but they both looked so happy.
"You what, Vizh?" Wanda lifted Viv to sit on the counter, both of them grinning at him.
"Yeah, what Daddy?" Viv giggled.
Oh, he could be getting himself into some very big trouble here. It seemed like Viv and Wanda were both going to have Vision wrapped around their little fingers..His girls.. What? No, it was much too soon to start thinking of Wanda as 'his'. Vision shook his head. Oh well, McDonalds had a playground at least, so he'd get a little time alone with Wanda.
"Nothing.. McDonalds it is" He relented. "What night works best for you?"
"I'm free Tuesday. Pick me up at seven?"
"Tuesday at Seven" Vision nodded, smiling. "Perfect."
"It's a date then.." Wanda grinned, then sighed as a delivery person arrived with three new crates of Christmas junk that needed to be put on the shelves. "I'd better get back to work."
"Of course" Vision scooped Viv off the counter. "See you Tuesday?"
"Tuesday. And Vizh?"
"I'm looking forward to it.." Wanda leaned over the counter to kiss his cheek.
"M-Me too.." Vision brushed brightly. "Definitely Tuesday?"
"Definitely Tuesday" Wanda nodded.
"Alright.. See you then!"
"Bye, Wanda!" Viv waved to her.
"Bye, Miss Vivian" Wanda waved back. "Be good for your Daddy."
Wanda watched them go. Vision seemed to have a spring in his step.. And it looked like that Spring was for her. Once he was out of sight, she began shelving new Christmas junk, a smile on her face.
Chapter 20: First Date In Forever
Wanda and Vision are both nervous about their date.
When Tuesday evening arrived, Wanda found herself the exact opposite of calm. She had a First Date. With Vision. Yes, it was a first date at a fast-food place with his five year old daughter in attendance, but it was still a First Date.
Wanda hadn't been on a real First Date, or any real date at all, in a very long time. She hadn't had much time for it in Sokovia, and in the U.S, well.. Before now she hadn't bothered trying to start anything long-term, because she hadn't met any men she thought were worth it.
But now she had a First Date with Vision. Sweet, kind, friendly, ridiculously good-looking Vision.. and she wanted long-term. She wanted a second date, and a third date, and more movie nights with Vision and Viv, and.. Maybe she was getting just a little ahead of herself. She needed to get through the first date and not mess it up before she started thinking about what came next.
The problem was, from Wanda's perspective, she was phenomenally good at messing things up.
She sighed, digging through her closet, currently dressed in only her underwear. What the hell was she supposed to wear to a first date at McDonalds?
Elsewhere, Vision was in a similar predicament, digging through his own closet wearing only his boxer shorts. This was his first genuine 'First Date' since Viv's Mother, and he was understandably nervous.
"What am I going to wear?!"
Viv, standing nearby, did not see the problem, and so was a little confused by her Father's distress.
"We're only going to McDonalds, Daddy" she said. "You don't dress fancy at McDonalds."
"Yes, but if Daddy wants his first date with Wanda to be the first of many dates with Wanda, then I need to look nice for her" Vision smiled at his daughter.
"Oh.." Viv thought for a moment. "Like how the Beast dresses up for Belle before they dance?"
"Exactly like that" Vision smiled, picking up his phone from the bed. "Now be quiet for a moment Sweetheart, I'm going to call Auntie Nat for advice.."
Natasha had just sat down with a bowl of popcorn and opened Netflix when she received Vision's call.
"Hey, Vision. What's up?"
"I need your help. I have a date with Wanda, and I have no idea what to wear.."
"Finally.." Nat grinned to herself.
"Nothing.. What to wear, huh? Where are you going?"
"McDonalds!" Viv called out, interrupting.
"Unfortunately, no.." Vision sighed into the phone.
"Why the hell.."
"Vivian hijacked the proceedings a little.." Vision replied sheepishly. "She's coming too."
"On your date?" cried Nat in disbelief. "And Wanda still said yes?"
"Yes, she did.. she actually didn't seem to mind much."
"Wow.. She must really like you."
"I'm hoping so, yes" Vision blushed.
"She does!" Viv interrupted again. "She told me."
"Really?" Vision's heart skipped a beat, then he shook his head, returning his attention to his call. "So, about what I should wear.."
"From what you've just told me, I don't think it matters much" Natasha replied.
"I am being serious. Vision, the girl's agreed to a date at a fast food place with your kid tagging along.. It seems to me like Wanda's happy just to be spending time with you."
"You think so?" Vision asked.
"Yeah, I do. So don't stress on your clothes. Keep it comfy and casual, and just be yourself."
"Be myself.. Right.. Thanks, Natasha.."
Vision sighed as Nat disconnected the call, looking back to the closet. Comfy and casual. He could handle that. He selected a pair of his most comfortable trousers, and a sensible sweater, before he started to get dressed.
While he couldn't take her somewhere special, thanks to Viv's unintended intervention, Vision wanted Wanda to know that he thought she was special, that she meant something to him.
So, on his way to Wanda's apartment, he stopped to buy her a small bunch of flowers. Now, he was nervously heading towards Wanda's apartment, holding Viv's hand with one hand, and the flowers with another.
"They're very pretty flowers, Daddy" said Viv. "Wanda will like them."
"I hope so" Vision smiled at her. "Can you knock for me, Viv? I do not have enough hands.."
"Okay, Daddy. Viv raised a small fist to knock. Vision waited, slightly anxious.
Wanda was just finishing off applying her make-up as she heard the knock at the door. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she moved to answer it.
Wanda had opted for comfy casual as well, in her favorite jeans and a red sweater just warm enough to keep out the chill of the cooling November air. She opened the door to find Vision looking like a deer in the headlights, seeming almost as nervous as she felt.
Viv sighed, nudging her Father, and he jumped, snapping out of his trance and holding out the flowers.
"H-Hello, Wanda.. These are for you."
"They're beautiful, Vizh.." A soft smile spread over Wanda's face as she took them. No-one had ever bought her flowers before. "Thank you."
"You like them?" Vision's heart fluttered. She had such a beautiful smile.
"I do" Wanda nodded. "Let me put just put them in water and then we can go, okay? Come in, if you like.." She found herself rather glad that she had put in the extra effort to clean up the place a bit.
Viv moved to step over the threshold, but Vision stopped her.
"It's alright, we'll just wait here." He did not want to seem too eager. From what he'd gathered in their past conversations, Wanda had encountered far too many men who only wanted 'one thing' from her. Vision respected Wanda far too much to ever let her believe he thought of her that way.
"Alright, I won't be long.." Wanda ended up being rather glad that Vision and Viv had waited, because, quite embarrassingly, she didn't have anything to put the flowers in except an old jug. Oh well. She filled the jug with water, popped the flowers in and admired them for a moment, then headed back to her date.. Vision. She still couldn't quite believe it.
Vision had taken advantage of Wanda's brief absence to calm himself.
"You look very nice, Wanda" He smiled, offering her his arm. "Shall we go?"
"So do you. And yes, we shall" Wanda looped her arm through Vision's, while her other hand took hold of Viv's without thinking about it, smiling down at the little girl. "You look nice too, Fata dulce. Are you excited about McDonalds?"
"Uh-huh" Viv nodded eagerly.
"Then we'd better get going."
Unfortunately, McDonalds was not the most romantic of locations. When they arrived, there were quite a few children rushing about, and they had to sidestep both a dropped, half-eaten cheeseburger and a puddle of spilled shake on their way in. Oh well, Vision thought, he'd just have to make the best of it.
"Vivian, you can go play for a little while before we eat" Vision told his daughter. "Wanda and I are going to talk for a while."
"Okay, Daddy" Viv happily rushed off to the play area.
Vision and Wanda found a passably clean table, and Vision, always a gentleman, pulled Wanda's chair out for her.
"Thank you, Vizh" Wanda blushed slightly as she sat down. He was always so sweet to her.
"You're welcome.." Vision also blushed as he took his own seat. "I'm sorry Viv hijacked our date.. I wanted to take you somewhere nicer.."
"It's okay" Wanda chuckled. "You and Miss Vivian are a package deal, I knew that when I said yes to dinner in the first place. I don't mind having her here. And the venue is okay too.. Almost better."
"Better?" Vision was very confused.
"In a way.. Look Vizh, the truth is, I've been really nervous about this" Wanda sighed. "I haven't been on a real date in a long time, and I've been worried I was going to mess it up somehow."
"Oh, me too!" Laughed Vision, relieved. "I haven't been on a real date since Virginia, and she made the first move.. She made pretty much all the moves actually. To be completely honest with you, I really have no idea what I'm doing."
"Neither do I.. relationships.. real relationships.. aren't really something I have a whole lot of experience with. They don't tend to go well for me. But you and I.. I might be crazy, but with you, Vizh.. I think.."
"It could work" Vision reached across the table to link his fingers with Wanda's. They fit perfectly. "You're not crazy."
"Good to know.." Wanda smiled, a small, shy smile. "I really don't want to mess this up.." Like she messed up everything else, Wanda thought, but didn't say.
"I don't want to mess it up either" Vision replied.
"Also good to know.. So this.. This crazy little fast food place date with Viv as an adorable buffer.. It's good" said Wanda. "Low pressure, a bit of fun."
"When you put it that way, I completely understand."
"Good.." Wanda felt quite relieved. "So, we just have a bit of fun, and.. ia lucrurile incet. Take things slow."
"Take things slow" Vision agreed with a soft smile, still holding Wanda's hand across the table. "That's fine with me."
Chapter 21: Almost A Family
Viv hijacks Wanda and Vision's date again, but Wanda doesn't really mind.
A little while later, Vision headed up to the counter, ordering a McChicken meal for Wanda, a hamburger Happy Meal for Viv, and the classic Big Mac for himself. Viv, a well behaved child for the most part, was happy to sit and eat quietly while the adults talked.
"So, you've never been tempted to go back to Sokovia?" Vision asked, after swallowing his latest mouthful.
"God, no. That whole country is a.." She'd been about to say gaura de rahat.. translation, 'Shit-hole', but stopped herself, mindful of Vivian's presence. "There are just too many bad memories. Not too mention it's still a war-zone most of the time."
"Ah.. When you put it that way, I see why you would not want to go back.." Vision frowned. She had suffered so much.
"What about you, Vizh?" Wanda popped a few fries in her mouth.
"Have you ever thought about going back to Britain?" Wanda clarified. "Looking for your Family?"
"A little, when we lost Vin, and just after Vivian was born.." Vision replied. "More for medical history than anything else. Otherwise, I don't see much reason to. I found my family here in the U.S."
"Like Lilo & Stitch" Viv piped up through a mouthful of burger. "You found your family all on your own."
"Don't talk with your mouthful" Vision gently scolded, then smiled. "But yes, a bit like that.."
"Lilo & Stitch.." Wanda thought for a moment. "That's the one with the little girl and the crazy alien, right?"
Viv swallowed her next mouthful before she answered.
"I don't think I've ever seen that one.. Of course, there are a lot of those movies that I haven't seen."
"But you have to see it!" Viv gasped. "It's one of our most favorite movies. Daddy, can we all go home and watch it?"
"Well.." Vision sighed, hesitating slightly, feeling a little as though Viv was hijacking his date yet again. "We were going to get dessert.."
"We can always get it to go" Wanda shrugged. "I'm off work Tomorrow, so I'm happy to go watch a movie."
"If you're sure.."
"Yay!" Viv jumped up from her seat and ran to join the line at the counter, behind an exhausted young couple with a fussy toddler, and a suspiciously red-eyed man who probably had the munchies.
"Vivian, you haven't finished your fries!" cried Vision exasperatedly, before turning to Wanda with an apologetic expression. "Sorry again.."
"Vizh, I already said it's okay.." Wanda couldn't help laughing a little at how worried he was. "This was fun. Movies at home are fun too. And Viv is fun. Sure, it might be nice to try for a bit of alone time next time, but it's no big deal.."
"N-Next time?" Vision's eyes lit up.
Wanda, suddenly caught in her own insecurities once more, failed to notice that light.
"I.. well.." Shit. Wanda thought things had been going well, but maybe she'd assumed too much. Maybe she'd screwed up, pushed too hard, made him feel uncomfortable with her question about returning to Britain.. She stood awkwardly. "I thought.. But if you don't want a next time.."
"Of course I want a next time!" Vision jumped up as eagerly as his daughter had a few moments before, grabbing Wanda's hand. "I want multiple next times. I want more dinners, and lunches, and movie nights and.. Maybe I am getting a little ahead of myself" Vision blushed.
Wanda, calm again now, laughed, a soft melodious sort of sound, and Vision's blush deepened, because Wanda's laughter was one of the most wonderful things he had ever heard.
"I don't think you're too far ahead, Vizh."
"Good.. My point is, I really do want a next time.."
"So do I" Wanda smiled softly. "We'll talk about it later.. For now, dessert. What's good? I've never had dessert here before."
"Well, I have always been partial to the apple pie.." Vision replied, as they walked hand in hand to join Viv in line.
A short while later, they were back at Vision's house once more, and after changing Viv into her pajamas, they all settled down to watch their movie.
They ate their desserts, apple pies for Wanda and Vision, and a strawberry sundae for Viv, as they watched.
Wanda found herself tearing up at a few points in the film. Lilo's story about the loss of her parents, Stitch feeling 'Lost'. Seeing Wanda's tears, Vivian crawled into her lap, snuggling close, and Wanda couldn't help smiling, gently stroking the little girl's hair.
Vision watched them both for a while, rather entranced. Viv fit in snuggled against Wanda like she belonged there. Though it was still much too soon to think it, the words flashed in his mind again. His girls. Slowly, almost shyly, Vision draped his arm around Wanda.
Without really thinking about it, Wanda rested her head on Vision's shoulder, shuffling slightly closer to him on the sofa.
To someone who didn't know any better, they already looked like a family.
Shortly after the credits rolled, Viv dozed off in Wanda's lap.
"I'd better get her to bed.." Vision reached for his daughter.
"I've got her" Wanda stood, holding Viv. The little girl was a pleasant warm weight in her arms, her hand clutching the front of Wanda's sweater. "Down the hall, second door on the right, right?"
"Yes" Vision nodded. "That's right."
Wanda headed down the hall to carry Viv to her room, and Vision followed quietly behind them. As he watched Wanda gently tuck Viv into bed, he felt a pang in his heart, reminded of the maternal influence that Viv had never really had, and that Wanda had not had for nearly long enough. Wanda pressed a kiss to Viv's forehead, then headed back over to him, frowning a little at his expression.
"Are you okay, Vizh?"
"Yes.. Just thinking."
"Right.." She blushed. "I, uh, suppose I'd better head home soon."
Vision had a sudden desire to ask her to stay. It felt so much like she belonged there already. However, he didn't want Wanda to get the wrong idea, even though he, of course, would have slept on the couch.
"Of course" He said instead. "I will call you a cab."
The cab arrived all too soon, and Vision walked Wanda out to the sidewalk where it had parked. Hand in hand.. they'd been doing a lot of that.
"So.." Vision began. "About, uh, 'next time'.. I heard you say you were off work Tomorrow, but did you have any other plans?"
"Not really.. why?"
"I'm free tomorrow too. Scott is taking Viv to play with Cassie after preschool.. W-We could do lunch? I know a nice little Cafe.."
Wanda smiled at his awkwardness. It was adorable.
"Sure. Lunch would be great. See you Tomorrow, then?"
"Yes.. Tomorrow." Vision hesitated for a moment. Should he kiss her? Did she want him to kiss her?
Wanda did, but she found herself feeling as nervous as Vision was. She had not had a first kiss, a real first kiss, the kind of kiss that was supposed to be the start of something special, for a long time. She actually found herself grateful for an excuse to wait a little longer.
"Hey. No pressure, taking it slow, remember?" She smiled, then tapped her cheek. "Here is fine."
"Alright" Vision smiled softly, kissing Wanda's cheek, and opening the cab door for her. "I'll pick you up around 12:30?"
"Don't forget to.."
"Text you when I'm home safe" Wanda chuckled as she got in the cab. "I know. See you Tomorrow."
"See you Tomorrow."
Vision paid the driver, once again including a generous tip. He watched the cab until it was out of sight before he headed back inside, sighing.
The House felt surprisingly empty.
Chapter 22: Frumoasa
Wanda and Vision continue getting to know each other over lunch.
When Wanda returned to her apartment, it felt somehow empty. Of course, it had always felt more empty since Pietro's death, but now it felt like there was something extra missing. She couldn't put her finger on exactly what, just.. Something.
Wanda sighed, thinking a hot drink before bed might help, and headed for the kitchen. Her eyes almost immediately fell on the jug containing the flowers that Vision had Vision had given her. Suddenly, Wanda forgot all about the unknown missing something, and found a soft smile tugging at the corners of her lips. She sniffed the flowers, and her smile widened. She would need to pick up a proper vase sometime soon. Vision was the type of man who would probably buy his girlfriend flowers relatively regularly.. Not that she was his girlfriend, yet.
Wanda quickly texted Vision to let him know she was Home safe, then made her drink, taking it with her as she headed off to get ready for bed. She took the flowers too, setting them on her bedside table. It would be nice to see something beautiful when she woke up.
Vision smiled when he'd received Wanda's message, as he'd been waiting for it. He had just enough time to text back a thank you, before Natasha called him.
"It's a little late, isn't it?" Vision asked when he answered the call.
"Sorry, couldn't wait. How'd it go?"
"Well, I think. We had dinner and then came back home and watched a movie."
"Ooh" Nat smirked, finishing the last of her large bowl of popcorn.
"Taking a girl home on the first date? Smooth, Vision."
"It's not like that!" Vision sputtered, his face turning bright red. "Viv was there. And even if she hadn't been, I w-wouldn't do that. I respect Wanda far too much. We want to take things slow."
"Yeah, that's understandable, I guess."
"I'm glad you think so."
"Did you kiss her?" Nat dumped the bowl in the kitchen sink.
"Like I said, we're taking things slow" said Vision. "I kissed her on the cheek, that was enough for us."
"I get it. You've always been a little shy around girls. You barely spoke to me for a month after Virginia introduced us.."
"I'm not shy" Vision bristled. "Taking it slow just feels like the best way forward for Wanda and I. It's what works."
"Okay. When are you seeing her again?"
"Tomorrow. We're having lunch."
"Wow.." Natasha sounded confused.
"Just.. Making a second date for the day after the first one doesn't exactly sound like taking it slow.."
"It just fit our schedules" said Vision. "We both have Tomorrow off work. I'll be busy at parties the rest of the week. Plus, Tomorrow is the only day I can be sure of an extra few child-free hours."
"Fair enough. I want a full report on how it goes, okay?"
"Okay. I'll call sometime Tomorrow, then."
They said their goodbyes, and Vision sighed as he disconnected the call. The House still felt empty. Maybe a warm drink before bed would lift his spirits..
Wanda dreamed of Vision again that night. She dreamed of sweet kisses and soft touches, dreamed of strong but gentle hands. Of his dazzling blue eyes, gazing at her like she was something special, something precious..
She woke the next morning, her cheeks slightly flushed, and glanced at the flowers on her bedside table. Then Wanda saw her clock, and cursed. She'd overslept, and Vision was picking her up in an hour. She quickly jumped out of bed and headed for the bathroom to shower.
Her dream had felt more real this time.. Maybe because Vision himself felt more real. Wanda had believed that someone as good and caring as Vision couldn't possibly exist.. Now she was beginning to think that maybe he did.
Wanda's hair was still slightly damp when Vision arrived to pick her up just over an hour later.
"Hello" Vision replied apologetically. "Sorry I'm a bit late, the traffic was a little heavier than I expected."
"It's alright, I was running a little behind schedule myself" Wanda smiled at him. She grabbed her bag with one hand, and Vision's hand with the other. "Shall we go?"
"We shall" Vision smiled back.
Before long, they were sitting in the nice little Cafe that Vision had mentioned, sharing a pot of tea and chatting over plates of Eggs Benedict.
"This really is nice, Vizh" Wanda smiled, looking around. "Thank you for bringing me."
"You're welcome" Vision blushed. "I felt like I had to make up for our first date."
"Hey, I liked our first date" Wanda lightly teased. "Although, it is nice to have the time alone to talk. So, you moved over here when you were.."
"Seventeen" Vision replied. "I did my Upper Sixth.. I mean, Senior Year here, and stayed on for College."
"And you had Viv.." Wanda thought back to previous conversations, remembering a comment he'd made about changing diapers when his friends were having their first legal drinks, "At 21?"
"A few months before my 21st Birthday."
"It was definitely a learning curve" Vision chuckled. "And even though I had quite a few people telling me I'd ruined my life, I couldn't help loving Viv, and Vin, from the moment I knew they existed. After spending my whole life without a Family, finally having someone that was mine.. it was a big pull."
"It must have been."
"Of course.." He trailed off for a moment, "It did make losing Vin all that much harder.."
"I'm so sorry, Vizh.." Wanda's heart ached for him. She couldn't know how it felt to lose a child, but she did know what it was like to lose the person you loved most when you had no-one else.
"I.. It doesn't really get easier, but I've made my peace with it. It wasn't anything I did wrong, or Virginia.. Sometimes these things just happen. We were lucky to still have one healthy child. And besides, I.." Vision trailed off again.
"You might think I'm crazy.."
"I promise that I won't."
"Well.. Sometimes I get the feeling he is still around. Vin, I mean. I hear a little boy laughing out of nowhere, or see an extra shadow playing with Viv.. It's silly.." He looked down.
"No, Vizh.." Wanda reached across the table, grabbing Vision's hand. "It's not silly at all. It's kind of.. frumoasa."
"Frumoasa.." Vision repeated, breath catching slightly. Wanda's accent thickened when she spoke in her own language, and it was just about the sexiest thing Vision had ever experienced. "W-What does that mean?"
"Beautiful" Wanda translated. "It means beautiful."
"Beautiful.." Vision filed the information away in his memory for later use.
"Mmhm.. It's nice to think that the people we've lost are still with us in some way. I like to think that my brother.. It's just nice" Wanda smiled softly. "Not crazy at all."
Vision smiled back, slowly bringing their joined hands to his lips and kissing Wanda's fingers.
Chapter 23: Good Enough
Wanda still has concerns over whether she is good enough for Vision and Viv.
Wanda blushed as Vision kissed her fingers, a flutter in her heart. By now, their plates were almost empty, their lunch coming to an end, but neither one was ready to leave the other's company just yet.
"The park isn't far away from here.." Vision commented, still holding Wanda's hand. "And I don't need to pick Vivian up from Scott's for another few hours. Would you like to go for a walk?
"I would love to" Wanda smiled. She was still blushing, which Vision thought was adorable.
"I'll just go pay.." He stood, reluctantly releasing his grip on Wanda's hand.
"Vizh" Wanda frowned, "You don't always have to pay for me."
"I know, but Today I want to" Vision replied. "Next time we can split the bill.."
"Another next time, hmm?" Wanda smirked.
"Well, if.. if you want.."
"Well, that's that then.." Vision headed for the counter. "I'll pay Today, and next time we will split the bill.."
A short while later, Wanda and Vision strolled through the park hand in hand. A There was a slight chill in the wind, but it was otherwise a very pleasant day for late Fall. A few people were out walking their dogs, and the giggles of children on the nearby playground floated through the air.
"This is nice, Vizh" said Wanda, looking around with a smile. "Do you bring Viv here to play?"
"I do" Vision nodded, "And I've worked at a few parties here when the weather is nice."
"That would be fun. Your show for the kids on the Fourth of July was great" Wanda smiled. "I'd like to see another one sometime."
"You would?" Vision blushed. "It's a bit of silly fun, really."
"Silly fun is still fun."
"That's true.." He paused, thinking. "It would be a little unprofessional of me to invite you to one of the private parties, but I'm visiting a children's Hospital next Wednesday. You could come see me then, if you like."
"I'll have to check with work" said Wanda, "But if I'm not rostered on, sure."
They passed an Ice-Cream truck that had set up shop in the park, the vendor trying his luck in the just pleasant enough weather.
"Would you like one?" Vision asked. "It's probably a little too cold for it, but there's just something especially fun about ice-cream from an Ice-Cream Truck."
"I wouldn't know" Wanda replied. "I've never had ice cream from an Ice-Cream Truck before."
"You haven't?" Vision gasped.
"No" Wanda answered with a shrug. "We didn't have them in Sokovia. Once we moved here, Pietro just assumed they were pentru copii.. For kids."
"Oh no, Ice-cream Trucks are for everybody. I am definitely buying you one now.." Vision tightened his grip on Wanda's hand, leading her towards the truck.
"..Don't have to, I know. But I want to." He turned to the Ice-Cream Man, placing a few dollars into his hand. "Two cones with a flake and sprinkles, please."
Once the cones were prepared, Vision handed one to Wanda, who couldn't help licking her lips. It did look good, so she took a bite.
"Mmm!" Her eyes widened. "It's so soft.."
"Soft-serve" said Vision, taking a bite of his own. "It's what most ice-cream trucks sell."
"It is delicios."
Vision found himself blushing once again at the sound of Wanda's accent, but it faded quickly, and the two of them continued their leisurely stroll through the park, eating their ice-creams.
"That was great, Vizh" Wanda smiled at him after she had finished hers. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Next time we'll try the chocolate-dipped kind, Vivian loves those. Oh, you've got a bit on your chin.." Vision pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket, wiping the offending drop of ice-cream from Wanda's face with a practised ease that came from wiping his daughter's face regularly. But, doing the same thing for a beautiful woman in whom he had a strong romantic interest was a very different situation. He swallowed, suddenly feeling rather awkward. "That.. That's better."
"Thank you.." Wanda's breath caught. The way Vision was looking at her.. It was so similar to the way he had looked at her in her dream. Like she was something special.
In Vision's eyes, Wanda was something special. He'd known Wanda for less than a year, but it was already getting difficult to remember a time before he'd known her, and even more difficult to imagine his life without her in it. While Vision would always be grateful to Virginia for giving him Vivian, their interactions with each other had always been slightly awkward. While they got along reasonably well, they had never fully meshed as a couple, or even really as a family, with Virginia having fallen ill so soon after Viv's birth. But with Wanda, he could see just where she fit, with him, and with Viv.
Wanda could almost see it too.. Almost. If only she could finally silence that little voice in her head that still tried to tell her that she wasn't good enough for him, for them. That Vision and Viv both deserved so much better than her.
They stared at each other for a few moments longer, until the spell was broken again, when Vision felt the melting remains of his own ice-cream trickling over his hand. He hurriedly finished it, cleaned his hand, and reached to hold Wanda's hand once more.
His fingers were slightly sticky, but she didn't mind much.
"I've been meaning to ask" said Vision, as he dropped Wanda home a little while later, "Did you have any plans for Thanksgiving?"
"Thanksgiving? Uh.." Wanda hadn't ever really celebrated, even when Pietro was alive. It had always seemed like an American thing.
"Sometimes we get quite a crowd, but Scott's spending it with Hope's Family, and Clint and Laura are taking the kids to see her parents, so it will just be me, Viv, and Natasha this year.. You're very welcome to join us, but.. if.." He was starting to ramble a little. "..If you already have plans, I completely understa.."
Wanda chuckled and kissed his cheek, halting his adorable ramble.
"I don't have plans."
"No. I would love to spend Thanksgiving with you. I could even come over early and help cook, if you like."
"Viv would like that" Vision smiled. "She is under the impression that you must be a brilliant cook after you saved our cake."
"I am a brilliant cook" Wanda grinned, just a little smug. "We're on for that Morning then?"
"Of course" He kissed her cheek. "And you'll let me know about the Hospital?"
"I will" She nudged him back out the door. "Now go, or you'll be late picking up Viv."
"See you soon?"
"See you soon."
Wanda watched Vision until he was out of sight. He seemed to have a spring in his step once again. She slipped inside the apartment, a small smile on her face. They had made at least tentative plans for not just one, but two more 'next times'.
Maybe.. Maybe it didn't matter so much that Wanda didn't think she was good enough. Vision thought she was, and one day, his feelings might just rub off on her.
Chapter 24: Who Needs A Hero?
Wanda helps Vision with his show at the Hospital.
Wanda cursed slightly when she received her work roster. It turned out, she was supposed to work on the day Vision had asked her to attend his show at the Hospital.
Wanda hated her job at the best of times, but she especially hated it during the Christmas season. Aside from her elf costume, which was a little too small to be comfortable and regularly attracted idiots, the Christmas Carols driving her insane as they played on a loop, and the different kind of idiots who wanted things her store just did not sell.
No, Ma'm, we do not have Christmas pudding.
No, Sir, we do not have Ginger Bread Houses.
No, we will not be getting them in.
Because we are a party supply store, not a supermarket. We mostly sell decorations, disposable plates, and a few novelties.
Then why do we have candy canes?
Candy canes are a novelty.
Eugh, it was a nightmare. She would much rather be with Vision, even at a somewhat heartbreaking location like a children's hospital.. And there was still a little bit of hope that that could happen. She scrolled through her contacts and called a number, smiling when the call was answered.
"Hey, Mantis. It's Wanda. Do you mind taking my Wednesday morning shift? I'll do your Friday, if you like. I've got this thing with Vision.."
"Your boyfriend? I understand, of course I'll switch."
"He's not.." Wanda paused. "Well, he might be. It's new.."
"Aww, that's such a special time. You two make a cute couple!"
"Thanks.." Wanda blushed. "And thanks for swapping shifts."
"You're welcome. Bye-bye!"
"Bye, Mantis" Wanda chuckled.
Vision was just about to plate-up Viv's dinner, a basic pasta dish, when he saw Wanda's name flash on his phone. He answered it on the first ring, wincing slightly, hoping it didn't make him seem too eager.
"Hey, Vizh. Just wanted to let you know, I can make it on Wednesday."
"Wonderful! I mean, uh, that's good."
"Should we meet there, or are you going to pick me up?"
"I'll pick you up, since I already know where it is."
"Alright. See you then."
"See you then" Vision smiled as he disconnected the call. Viv giggled from her place at the table. "What's so funny?" He asked, setting her meal in front of her.
"That was Wanda on the phone."
"How did you know?" Vision frowned.
"Because" Viv grinned, "You're always reaally happy after Wanda calls, Daddy."
"Oh.." Vision blushed.
When Wednesday Morning came, Wanda found herself standing in her underwear, staring into her closet once again. What the hell were you supposed to wear to a Children's Hospital?
All the usual rules for 'date attire' didn't really apply. Was watching Vision perform for these poor children even a date? She was basically going to watch him, in Vision's own words, prance around in a leotard. She probably wouldn't be the only adult present, as neither a parent, a nurse, or a doctor, Wanda was beginning to think she may be a little out of place.
Just as she was starting to rethink this whole thing, maybe call Vision and tell him she couldn't make it after all, Wanda's eyes fell on her Scarlet Witch costume. Hanging up waiting, Wanda had originally thought, for the next Halloween, or maybe a costume party.
The idea that came into Wanda's head at that moment was probably a little crazy. But, she liked being the Scarlet Witch.. And playing a superhero for sick children would be worth a bit of good karma, right? Wanda smiled, pulling the costume from the closet.
To save time, Vision was already in his own outfit and make-up, and to prevent any possible embarrassment from walking around in public in full costume, he simply texted Wanda when he pulled up outside her apartment block, to let her know he was waiting out front.
A few minutes later, Wanda hopped into the car in her full Scarlet Witch get-up. Vision's jaw dropped.
"Hey, Vizh" Wanda smiled sheepishly. "I know I was supposed to be watching your show, but I thought maybe we could try un act dublu.. a double act. What do you think?"
"I think.. um.." The sound of Wanda's accent combined with the sight of her Scarlet Witch outfit was having a profound effect on Vision. He blushed under his make-up.
Unfortunately, Wanda took this extended pause as rejection. Her face fell.
"I can go change.."
"What? No!" Vision snapped out of it, grabbing Wanda's arm before she could get out of the car. "No, don't change. A double act sounds wonderful. I always thought The Vision needed.. I'm sorry, I just got distracted because.."
"Because what?" Wanda's brow furrowed.
"Because.. you look absolutely beautiful in that outfit" said Vision. "I've always thought so, but now that we are dating, I can, well.. actually say it."
"Oh.." Now it was Wanda's turn to blush. "Th-Thank you.."
"You're welcome.." Vision was still blushing himself as he started the car. "We should get going.."
"We should.." Wanda paused for a moment as they drove off. "Vizh?"
Wanda leaned over and kissed his cheek.
"I think you're pretty handsome as 'The Vision'.."
"Thank you.." Vision's blush deepened, but he smiled.
It was heartbreaking, seeing all the sick children, some confined to their beds.. But the smiles on their faces when they saw Wanda and Vision in costume was worth the heartbreak. These little ones wanted to see Superheroes, and that was what they were going to give them.
"Hello, children. I am The Vision!"
"And I am the Scarlet Witch!"
"We heard that there might be some heroes needed around here, didn't we, Scarlet Witch?" Vision grinned.
"Yes. Who called for a Hero?" Wanda smiled as a few kids raised their hands. Things seemed to be going well.
Wanda got right into her 'character', although of course, since the Scarlet Witch was an idealised version of herself, there wasn't necessarily much 'character' to get into. And she and Vision meshed perfectly, bouncing off of each other.
Once their show was over, they stayed a while to chat to some of the children. Wanda felt a tug on her sleeve, and looked down to see a slightly pale dark-haired little boy in a hospital gown, dragging an IV along with him.
"Should you be out of bed, cel mic?" She asked gently.
"No, but I wanted to ask you a question."
"Well, let's get you back to bed and I'll see if I can answer it for you."
"Okay.." The boy pointed out his bed, and Wanda took his hand to lead him back towards it. "Are you really a superhero, Miss?"
"Well.." Wanda chuckled, thinking for a moment before answering, "I am Today.."
Vision watched fondly, his heart warmed, as Wanda gently lifted the frail child back into bed. One of the Nurses tapped his shoulder.
"Hey, the Scarlet Witch was great! Can we book her officially for next time? It's nice for the girls to have a hero too.."
"I'll have to check on that one" Vision chuckled "Wanda.. The Scarlet Witch.. doesn't actually do this full time."
"Really?" The nurse sounded surprised. "She's so good with the kids.."
"Yes, she is.." Vision looked to Wanda again, his gaze softening. Even though this was something he already knew about her, he still found himself falling in love with her just a little more.
Chapter 25: The Night He Knew
Wanda spends Thanksgiving with Vision, Viv, and Nat.
"That was.. actually pretty great" Wanda grinned, as Vision drove her home later. "Seeing the smiles on the kids faces."
"You'll come again next time, then?" Vision asked with a smile. "One of the Nurses asked for the Scarlet Witch especially."
"Of course" Wanda's grin widened. They sure were racking up quite a few 'next time' plans.
"Wonderful.. speaking of the Scarlet Witch, I've been meaning to ask you something."
"I was wondering if I could.. Borrow her, maybe?" Asked Vision, a little sheepish. "See, I'm thinking about getting back into my writing, and like I've said, I always thought The Vision needed a partner.. I'd credit you for creating her, of course."
Wanda thought for a moment, a slight blush colouring her cheeks.
"Well.. yeah.. Everyone wants to see themselves as a superhero, right?" Wanda smiled softly, as the car pulled up outside her apartment block. "I trust you with m.. With her. Just let me be the first to read whatever you come up with, okay?"
"Of course" Vision nodded. "Maybe you can do some artwork to accompany it."
"Maybe" Wanda undid her seat belt, getting out of the car. "Before you go, Vizh, what do you usually cook for Thanksgiving? Just so I can get a handle on it."
"Oh, all the usual things.. Turkey, Green bean casserole, Pumpkin pie.. I usually burn the pie" Vision mumbled.
"The usual stuff, and make sure I get there before you burn the pie. Got it" Wanda chuckled, leaning back into the car to kiss his cheek. "Say hi to Miss Vivian for me."
"I will" Vision blushed, being a gentleman and ignoring the fact that Wanda's current position gave him a perfect view down the front of her corset. "Text me when you get in."
"Vision, we are literally right outside my building" Wanda raised an eyebrow. "What could possibly happen?"
"Statistically, you are more likely to run into trouble close to Home" Vision pointed out. "Just humour me, please?"
Wanda chuckled, heading inside. Vision waited until a text came through on his phone.
'I am safe inside'.
Vision smiled at the message, then headed home to get his make up off before he needed to collect Viv from Preschool.
In the lead up to Thanksgiving, Wanda found herself studying traditional recipes. She was actually quite a good cook, or at least she had been before Pietro died. Now seemed like the perfect time to reawaken her talent.
She arrived at Vision's house rather early on the morning of the Holiday, armed with tips on baking Pumpkin Pie and making the perfect mashed potatoes.
"Wanda, you're here!" Viv grinned excitedly as she opened the door for her. "Good, now you can make sure Daddy doesn't burn the pie."
"Thank you for the vote of confidence, Vivian" Vision sighed from the kitchen, where he was currently basting the turkey.
"Well, that's what you told Auntie Nat on the phone, Daddy.." Viv replied. "You said Wanda was coming over early to make sure you don't burn the pie."
"I think you and I may have to have a talk about eavesdropping on adult conversations.." Vision mumbled, returning the turkey to the oven.
"I'm sure your Daddy is completely capable of not burning the pie, Miss Vivian" Wanda winked at Viv, who giggled, then headed to the Kitchen. "But I am here to help anyway."
"Happy Thanksgiving, Wanda" Vision smiled at her, blushing slightly.
"Happy Thanksgiving, Vizh.." Wanda kissed his cheek, smiling when his blush deepened. "What do you need me to do?"
"Well, we should probably get the potatoes started soon.. The pie can wait a bit longer."
"Got it" Wanda chuckled.
By the time Natasha arrived later that afternoon, Wanda and Vision were setting the turkey and sides on the table, and the pumpkin pie was baking away in the oven.
"Mmm, everything smells great" Nat sniffed deeply before taking a seat. "And look at you two, so domestic already. It's adorable."
"Uh.. Thank you" Vision pulled Wanda's seat out for her, as both of them blushed, then set about carving the turkey.
"You're welcome" Nat smirked.
Without really thinking about it, Wanda dished a little of each of the sides onto Viv's plate for her, made sure she got the nicest looking slice of the turkey when Vision was done carving, and tucked a napkin under the little girl's chin, behaving very much like the Mother-figure she didn't think herself worthy of being.
"Thank you, Wanda" Viv grinned.
"You're welcome, fata dulce" Wanda gently ruffled Viv's hair.
Vision watched them both fondly. Natasha grinned.
"So, Vision, Wanda" Nat began a short while later, as they were all tucking into their Thanksgiving feast, "How are things going with you two? Cooking a holiday meal together seems pretty serious.. You exclusive yet?"
"Uh.." Wanda blushed.
"W-Well.." Vision sputtered.
"What's 'sclusive' mean?" Vivian asked.
"That they're not going to go out with anyone except each other" Natasha explained.
"Oh" Viv smiled, then looked to Vision. "Daddy, you and Wanda should be 'sclusive."
"We.. We haven't really talked a lot about it" said Vision.
"Well, do either of you want to date anyone else?" Nat asked with a smirk.
"No" Wanda and Vision replied instantly and completely in unison, both turning bright red.
"Then you're exclusive" Nat grinned.
"I suppose we are.." Vision smiled shyly.
"I suppose so too.." Wanda smiled back at him, then stood up. "I'm going to go check on the Pumpkin Pie."
"The timer says another few minutes.." Vision frowned.
"I'm going to check it anyway." Wanda headed into the Kitchen, soon returning and placing a perfectly baked Pumpkin Pie on the table.
"Yay!" Viv cheered, clapping her hands.
"Another few minutes, and that would have started to burn" Wanda kissed Vision's cheek again. Hopefully they could work up to other kisses soon, but for now, this would do.
Natasha left sometime later, after they were all stuffed with turkey and pie. Wanda lingered, helping Vision wash all the dishes, and pack up the leftovers.
"Wanda should stay and watch movies with us" Viv suggested.
"That is a wonderful idea" Vision smiled at his daughter.
"It is" Wanda smiled. "Go choose some, Fata dulce."
In the years that followed, none of them quite remembered which movies they watched, although 101 Dalmatians was in there somewhere.
But they did remember how comfortable they were together, how happy, how at Home they all felt.
Vision with his arm around Wanda, her head on his shoulder. Vivian crawling up and curling across both of their laps.
Days like Thanksgiving were always tiring at Viv's age, especially when so much food was involved, and the little girl eventually fell asleep. Vision hadn't wanted to move right away, so it took him a while before he realised that Wanda had fallen asleep too. She'd risen much earlier than she usually would on a Holiday in order to come over and help him cook.
Very carefully, Vision shifted, so as not to wake Wanda, and stood, carrying Viv to bed. When he returned, he tried to gently rouse Wanda, but to no avail. The beautiful young woman was deeply asleep, and it soon became clear that she wasn't going anywhere Tonight. But, Vision decided, he couldn't possibly let Wanda sleep on the couch. It was much too uncomfortable for a lady.
Vision carefully scooped Wanda into his arms, his heart skipping a beat when she instinctively curled into him, her fingers gripping his shirt. He carried her up to his room, removed her shoes (just her shoes, always the perfect gentleman), and tucked her into bed, pressing a gentle kiss to her forehead.
He watched her sleep, just for a little while longer, rather enchanted. Vision had never seen Wanda so perfectly at peace before. She was one of the most beautiful things he had ever laid eyes on. He double checked that she was warm enough, then headed back out to sleep on the couch himself.
Later, when he was asked, Vision said that was the night he knew he was falling in love.
Chapter 26: One Day
Wanda accidentally walks in on Vision in the shower.
Vision woke quite early the following morning. He stretched, winced slightly at the crick in his neck that had come from sleeping on the couch, and got up to check on his girls. He was about to correct himself again, then paused.
Wanda was somewhat 'his' now, seeing as they were dating exclusively. Not that Vision was possessive at all, but it was a nice thought. Smiling, he headed to Viv's room first. She was fast asleep, as he'd expected. Vivian always slept in quite late after a Holiday. Vision quietly crept to his own room. Wanda looked to still be deeply asleep as well, a small smile on her face.
Vision smiled softly, then quietly fetched a set of clean clothes and backed out of the room, pulling the door shut behind him. He probably had enough time to get in a quick shower before either of them woke.
Wanda began to wake a short while later, stretching, a yawn escaping her mouth, followed by a happy little sigh. She hadn't had such a good night's sleep, or woken up feeling so rested, in quite a long time.
In fact, Wanda felt so comfortable, so very much at Home, she hardly even realised that she had woken up in a bed that wasn't her own, in a house where she did not actually live. She got up in a happy little daze, her just awakening brain only half registering the framed photograph of Vision and Viv on the bedside table, and her legs, working on autopilot, carried her down the hall, opening the door to the bathroom.. just as a very naked Vision was getting out of the shower.
They both froze, Vision with his hand almost reaching his towel.
The first part of Wanda's brain that managed to work again couldn't help thinking that Vision was a very impressive specimen of a man, but then she blushed bright red, turning and bolting from the room.
"Rahat.. I'm so sorry!"
"Wanda.." Vision snapped out of his own shocked state, quickly pulling on his underwear and trousers before hurrying out after her. "Wanda, wait.."
Now fully awake, everything crashed into Wanda's mind at once. That somehow, she had slept over, and now she had just completely invaded his privacy by barging into his bathroom. She hadn't intended to, of course, and she had been half asleep, but her embarrassment kept her from registering this as a valid excuse.
"No, I'm sorry" Vision grasped her arm, gently, but tight enough to stop her from running. "I thought I would be done before you woke up, but clearly I was wrong.."
"I.." Wanda blinked, trying to gather her thoughts, and wipe the naked Vision images from her mind. Difficult with him holding her arm, but she didn't really want him to let go. "I slept here?"
"You did. You fell asleep on the couch, and you looked so peaceful I didn't want to wake you."
"How did I end up in your bed?" Wanda's brow furrowed.
"I.. I carried you" Vision blushed. "I didn't want you to wake up sore.."
"Oh.." Wanda blushed herself, her heart beating a little bit faster. Though she'd been very much asleep, she could almost remember it. The warmth of his arms, the way she'd curled into him.. Then she frowned. "Where did you.."
"I slept on the couch" said Vision quickly.
"Don't be. It was just the gentlemanly thing to do.. And I'm sorry about this morning, too. I really thought you would be asleep for a while longer when I checked on you. Next time I will leave a note."
Wanda felt a smile tug at the corners of her lips, relaxing a little. She'd kept Vision from his bed and barged in on him in the bathroom, but he was still talking about next times. He must have really liked her.
"Next time, I will remember to knock" She finally turned to face him, a cheeky sparkle returning to her eyes. Vision hadn't had a chance to fully dress or dry himself, and while Wanda was trying not to let herself get too distracted by the droplets of water running down his toned chest, she allowed herself just a moment to admire his shirtless form. After all, if they were exclusive now, she was more or less officially his girlfriend. That had to come with some perks, right?
"Yes.." Vision chuckled. "Knocking is usually a good idea."
"I suppose I should get going soon.." Wanda glanced at her watch.
"You don't have to" said Vision quickly. "I was going to make breakfast, and then I was wondering if you might come to a few of the Black Friday sales with us? I don't usually get caught up in it all, but we aren't exactly flush with cash, and with Christmas so close.."
Before Wanda could answer, Vivian came padding out of her room, gasping when she saw Vision.
"Daddy, you're not 'sposed to come out of the Bathroom 'til you stop dripping!" She cried. "That's the rule."
"Yes.. It is, but.. uh.."
"But what?" Viv frowned.
"You go dry off and finish getting dressed, Vizh" Wanda chuckled. "I'll make breakfast.."
"And then the Sales?" Vision asked rather hopefully.
"Sure" Wanda winked. She knew those sales were usually Hell on Earth, but any excuse for more time with Vision and Viv was a good one. "If there's one thing working at the mall is good for, it's getting a heads up on the best deals."
A short while later, they were all sat at the table enjoying a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast.
"Daddy.." Viv's eyes sparkled as she ate, seeming slightly awestruck, "Is this what bacon tastes like when it's not burned?"
Wanda burst out laughing, while Vision blushed brightly.
"Yes, Fata dulce" Wanda wiped tears of mirth from her eyes. "This is what bacon tastes like."
"Wow.." Viv gasped. "Daddy, can Wanda come for breakfast all the time?"
"Well.. yes, one day" Vision replied without really thinking.
"Yes.." Wanda replied, blushing softly, her mind unable to keep from drifting off to thoughts of the future that Vision seemed so sure of. "Maybe one day.."