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Open Mind, Metal Heart

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Stone walls crumbled around her, bits of metal and glass seemed to float on the air. Wanda could feel a change in the electric currents of the atmosphere. It was time. Stark must have engaged the explosion. Any moment now and she would join dearest Pietro.

It was as though the whole world was disintegrating around her; it suited her mood nicely. The collapsing buildings, the dust, the glass shards whirling around, created a certain harmony with the shredding of her broken heart.

This was not how it should have been. Pietro was supposed to come back for her, he could have rushed her from the danger in the blink of an eye. She could still feel his last thoughts echoing in her head. The confusion and uncertainty followed by acceptance. Then finally a stubborn determination. She could still hear it; his silent apology. It made her heart feel as though it had been engulfed in an endless inferno.

She could just imagine his arms around her, lifting her from her feet and carrying her to safety. For a moment she thought her imagination had actually conjured her brother for her. She felt herself lift from the floor, she turned to her rescuer and for a moment she saw Pietro. When she blinked, he was gone.

A strange set of eyes stared back into hers, holding her gaze as the world crashed around them. Then, the Vision turned from her and looked to the sky. He found a clearing and lifted off, Wanda safe in his arms. She felt her stomach twist as they rose in height. Soon the city was far behind, a flaming ball.

All her emotions had melted away in the surprise of her rescue. But as she watched the city burn, she felt them rush back with a vengeance. Without thinking, she tightened her grip on Vision and closed her eyes. She tried to focus on happy memories. Anything that would momentarily stifle the pain.

She could no longer sense Pietro, from the moment he ran between Clint and those bullets, their connection had been lost. The truth was, without his stability, she wasn’t sure how long she could control herself.

Her stomach lurched as they began to descend in height. She opened her eyes to see that they hovered outside the S.H.I.E.L.D ship. A door on the side opened, a man in a mask waved franticly for them to come inside.

Vision swooped in and the door was shut. He lowered her gently to her feet, keeping a firm hand on her until she was steady.

There was so much happening inside the cargo bay that Wanda welcomed the distractions. No one came to fuss over her and for that she was thankful. It allowed her to find the most deserted corner and sink to the floor. Several large crates blocked her view of the cargo ships and uniting families.

Instead she tried to focus on controlling her grief, which has begun to rise within her. Her sense of loss and hopelessness threatened to overwhelm her. She was here. In S.H.I.E.L.D’s ship. Her brother was gone and she was all alone.

She could feel the power of death curling at her fingertips, threatening to explode from her again. She brought her legs up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them, crushing her hands under her knees. Putting all her concentration on the tap of her powers, she willed the energy to retract from her fingertips. There had been enough death today because of her.

Time passed, but Wanda continued to sit, tucked up behind the crates. Curling and uncurling the tentacles of her power, until she was certain she had it under her control once more.

A crate by her shifted and disappeared, letting a shaft of light penetrate her hiding spot.

“Well what do we have here?” A familiar voice said softly stepping around the other crates and into the corner. The sight of Clint Barton made her go red with rage. She could feel it coursing through her. This was the man her brother had died for? Then as fast as it had come, her anger was gone. Barton was a good man. She could not blame him for Pietro’s choice.

He squatted down in front of her, reaching out a hand to take hers. She had opened her mouth to protest that it wasn’t safe, when his skin met hers. There was a moment of silence. Wanda closed her mouth and looked down at her hand in his. Her powers lingered in the back of her mind, at a safe distance. Clint smiled kindly at her and relief flowed through her suddenly.

“I thought you were done hiding? You’re an Avenger now kid, let’s get you cleaned up.” Clint helped pull her to her feet. She felt stiff and shaky, her limbs protesting the sudden change in position.

The cargo bay had emptied while she’d been hiding. With a start she realized the ship was no longer in the air.

“Where are we?” She asked, scanning the area but no one else was in sight.

“Somewhere outside Sokovia, S.H.I.E.L.D’s constructing a refugee camp as we speak. Then we’ll be heading out, we’ve done our part.” Clint glazed back to see that Wanda had stopped following him. He came back to stand in front of her, scanning her face.

“Heading out?” Her brow scrunched up in thought. We’ll be heading out. But was she included in that? Did she even want to be?

“Yeah, you’re part of the team now.” He put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “We’ll take care of you, you don’t have to do it alone.”

Wanda stared up at him, unable to speak. Part of her wanted to be alone, to seclude herself from the world, because what was the world without her brother. But another, stronger, part had already made up its mind. Wordlessly she nodded, eyes blurring over unconsciously. Without realizing how, she was crying. Nodding and crying.

Without hesitation Clint took her into his arms, he smoothed her hair away from her face; holding her. Wanda buried her face in his shoulder, relief finding its way through her body, filling in some small part of the giant hole left by Pietro.

“Well, I was gonna save the surprise for later, but I think you need it now. Let’s go.”

Gathering her composure, Wanda wiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand and followed Clint from the bay.

They walked through several deserted corridors before entering the med bay. Wanda read the sign as they walked in and felt her stomach drop. This couldn’t be what she thought it was. Instinctively she read out for Pietro’s mind, but came back empty.

Med bay was busier than any other room they’d passed. Nurses bustled past them, tending to several wounded civilians. Clint stepped off to the right and through another door. This second room was less crowded. The rest of the Avengers occupied it. At least, what was left of them.

In the center of the room sat a med tube, very like the one that had created Vision. The Vision himself, stood beside the tube, in deep conversation with a young Asian women Wanda didn’t know.  He’d looked up when she entered the room, meeting her gaze. For a moment she was sure she caught concern on his features, but it was gone in a flash.  She redirected her eyes to Clint, worried for her sanity. Of course androids can’t express emotion.

“What are we doing here?” She tried to ask quietly but the sound of her voice pulled everyone from their thoughts and they all turned to look at her. She didn’t meet anyone else’s eyes, feeling a certain awkwardness amongst them.

“A possible solution has been presented to cure the injuries obtained by your brother, Pietro Maximoff.”

At first the Vision’s words didn’t register in her mind. Her brother was dead. She had been linked with him when it happened, she’d felt his life force leave his body. Her eyes found their way to the med tube. Without thinking, she was walking towards it, hand out stretched, mind probing.

The outside of the container was cool to the touch. A small glass window was positioned over the head of the patient. Wanda stared down into Pietro’s perfect face. He looked so peaceful, he could almost be sleeping. Her hand curled into a fist on the lid.

“I can’t hear him.” She said softly, then looked up, eyes meeting those of her teammates, panic starting to creep in. “I can’t hear him!” She spoke louder, almost a shout.

“It’s okay, here, this is Dr. Helen Cho, she’s in charge.” Clint said soothingly, directing her to gaze that of the young Asian women who smiled halfheartedly at her.

“To me honest Mr. Barton, this wasn’t my idea.” She gestured to Vision beside her. “Vision is the one who ran the diagnostics, he’s the one who determined the possibility…” She trailed off, leaving Wanda to glance between the two, uncertain.

“The possibility of what? Can you bring him back?” She directed her question at Dr. Cho but Vision answered.

“There is an extremely high probability that the machine will be able to restore his body. However, Dr. Cho and I were at a loss as to how to regenerate his mind. I suggested the use of the Mind Stone, I believe if directed correctly it could reactive his systems to full capacity.”

“The Mind Stone.” Her eyes found their way to the bright yellow gem embedded in his forehead. Vision noticed her gaze and nodded solemnly.

“I believe that vibrating the stone at a specific frequency, while directing its energy output within a specific timeframe, I will allow me to restart his brain functions. There is, however, a possibility such a high frequency could propel the stone beyond its capacity and cause it to rupture.”

“Basically, it could kill him.” Stark chipped in, not looking away from the data pad in front of him.  

“What! I cannot let you risk your life for this.” She glared angrily at Vision, before looking back down at Pietro. As wrong as it would be, she couldn’t help imagining his eyes opening, a smile crawling onto his broad, handsome face.

“I must do what I can Ms. Maximoff. My life is not worth more than any human.” He watched her stare down at her brother, his voice solid and grave. “When the time comes, I will do all possible to restore his life.”

Wanda swallowed hard. As much as she wanted her brother back, she could not deny that to risk someone else’s life, even someone who was not human, was wrong. One look at Vision told her there was no changing his mind. He would do what he felt necessary and there was nothing she could do to stop him.

“Thank you.” She said softly, holding his gaze for a long moment before returning her eyes to Pietro. “This means more to us than I could ever tell you.”

“Well now that that’s settled. Lunch, anyone? Or dinner? I don’t even know what time it is, but I’m starving.” Stark popped to his feet, stretching luxuriously. He glanced around the room, looking for support. Thor shrugged and stood as well.

“A feast would be agreeable.” He said and Tony clapped him on the shoulder, leading the way out of the room. Rhodes was quick to follow. Steve trailed out after them, hand rubbing the back of his neck. Dr. Cho has disappeared through the back, but Romanoff stood waiting for Barton by the door.

Clint glance at her then turned to Wanda, an eyebrow raised in question.

“I’ll stay here for a bit.” She said, pulling a chair up to the med tube and sitting down firmly.

“Alright, food is just up the hall if you get hungry.” Clint said simply, turning to accompany Romanoff out the door.

It took Wanda a moment to notice Vision, who had taken up position on the other side of the room.

“Aren’t you going to go?”

“I do not require food to function.” He said simply.

Wanda stared at him blankly for a moment longer, before turning back to her brother. It was actually quite easy to ignore his presence. His mind was not loud like those of humans. Without reaching out for it she could still sense its existence, a pleasant humming in the background.

Shifting that knowledge to the back of her own vast mind, she focused on reaching out for Pietro again. All she got was an ominous blackness. It filled her head with white noise, a buzzing emptiness that she did not like. Sighing, she sat back, fingers resting on the glass above his face.

She closed her eyes, memories of their childhood found their way to the surface, pulling her into a deep and much needed sleep.