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The Road to Recovery and You

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You stepped off the nicest plane you had ever seen, lugging your bag as best you could down the ramp. You could already feel sweat starting to trickle down your forehead, your shirt clinging to your skin. You gave your overstuffed suitcase a final heave and dropped it down beside you. 'I need an assistant,' you thought to yourself as you took your first good look around.

Sprawling African plains stretched out behind the jet as far as you could see, dotted with sparse trees here and there. Hazy waves of heat shimmered off the ground already, though it was still early morning. Off to the right were a series of small structures You could just barely make out as farming huts. In front of you, over the top of the airport, rose the tips of skyscrapers in the distance. The buildings you could see were huge expanses of glass and steel, a seemingly strange juxtaposition to the huts and plains around you.

You startled when you noticed a woman in red and gold standing before you.

“Dr. Y/L/N?” The woman's voice was brisk.

You cleared your throat. “Uh, yeah. That's me. Sorry for zoning out.” You stuck out your hand. “I'm still getting used to the whole 'doctor' thing, you know? You can just call me Y/N.”

The woman didn't look at your hand, much less shake it. “You may follow.” With that she turned and began walking away.

You looked down at your bag and sighed. “Weightlifting Part Two: Electric Boogaloo.”



It was midday before you were finally shown down the spiral walkway into the main lab. The room was all high contrast in black and white, with large holo screens and sleek machinery. The colorful mural decorating the walkway column and the thumping music made you feel hopeful that not everything here would be formal and intimidating.

“Is that Doja Cat?” You yelled toward the young woman at the workstation.

The woman spun around to you, grinning. With a wave of her hand, the music turned off. “My brother hates it.” She walked over quickly and extended a hand. “Shuri.”

You took it. “So you do shake hands here! Cool, cool.” At the young woman's raised eyebrow, you continued. “The guard lady, person, dude who showed me here- I think someone pissed in her Cheerios this morning.”

Shuri just smiled. “Some of the Dora Milaje choose to take their station very seriously. All the time.”

“Uh-huh. Right, well I'm Y/N, or like Doctor Y/L/N or whatever, but Y/N's better. When do we get started?” You bounced on your toes. “I'm jazzed to put this PhD to work.”

“Let me show you a few things I have prepared. You have your part ready?” She waved you over to the workstation.

“So ready. It's a three-stage plan. Well, two and a half.” You ticked them off on your fingers. “Exposure therapy to go along with your end, a combo of pyschodynamic and dialectical behavioral therapies for all the trauma- that's the big piece of the pie-, and purpose finding exercises based in therapeutic mindfulness.” You paused. “That sounds like a lot, but it's not a big deal.”

Shuri was shaking her head. “Don't downplay your genius. It sounds impressive because you are.” She brought up a holographic image of a human brain. “Here is my plan for cognitive recalibration of the neurological pathways. It sounds impressive because I am.” She bumped her shoulder against yours.

“I'm guessing it's more involved than a smack on the head?”

“Just a bit.”



Confidential documents strewn all around your on the floor and table, you sat in your generously appointed suite in the palace, hunched over your computer. On the screen played a series of videos marred with static and crackling. Despite the poor quality, there was no mistaking the horrors of what was happening.

A man strapped to a table.

White coats surrounding.

Clothes cut away.







The next video played right after the first. You wanted to look away, but you couldn't.

A man strapped to a table.

A gleeful doctor.







And the next:

A man strapped to a table.

Burning. Screaming. Healing.

Slicing. Screaming. Healing.

Snapping bones.

Wrenching fingers.

Twisting arm.



Screaming. Screaming. Screaming.


And the next:

A man strapped into a chair.



Struggling to break free.





You shut your laptop with a snap. You felt sick. Hearing about what happened to him was bad enough. Seeing it...

A sob escaped you. You wrapped your arms around yourself and let it all out.

You didn't know how long you had been sitting there, but it was full dark outside the wall of windows. Slowly, you began collecting papers from the floor and tucking them back in the file. A million questions circled in your head. How were you going to face him? Can you look him in the eye after watching him be tortured? A hug would be inappropriate, right? Definitely. Probably shouldn't cry in front of him, either. How could you maintain a level of professionalism? Was it possible to be objective? At this point should you even try?

Later, as You tried to close your eyes without seeing the violent images burned beneath your eyelids, one thought came to the forefront of your mind: you were in way over your head with Bucky Barnes.