Tony walked into the board room, a serious look on his bearded face. He glanced around at the others with tired eyes- he'd clearly been up for hours, before he called an impromptu Avengers meeting at 4am. Natasha, Steve, Clint, Thor, Bucky, Bruce, Wanda, and Sam all sat around the long table, looking sleepily at him. Clint and Wanda were still in their pajamas. Sam looked the sleepiest; since he didn't currently live in the tower he'd been given the heads up a few hours ago and had driven there. No one knew where Vision had gone off to. He was a little odd.
“We have a potential addition to the team.” Tony slid a stack of files onto the table, one to each person. They all opened the folders and read the dossier. “We need to plan an extraction.”
“An extraction? For a manicurist in Baltimore?” Sam raised an eyebrow. “I can just, you know, drive my car and pick her up. You know that right?”
Tony frowned. “She's a little more dangerous than meets the eye. Keep reading.”
Natasha finished the page and looked up. “No problem. Clint and I can just go knock her out and bring her back.”
“I can go grab her. She'll never know what hit her.” Bucky chimed in.
Tony rolled his eyes. “I said extraction, not kidnapping.” He paced back and forth. He'd had his eye on this woman for a while, but wasn't sure. Now, with what had happened just last night, he was positive. They needed her. If not on the team, then at least to teach her to control her powers. “She's made six blocks of Baltimore go radio silent. Power is out.”
“How... how did she do that?” Thor leaned an elbow on the table. “Is this magic?”
Tony shook his head. “No. I think she... Bruce, you want to explain it?”
Banner looked up from his end of the table where he'd been nodding off. He'd known about her since Tony had found her, amidst a large number of power outages in the same area of Baltimore. He'd been studying the patterns, and had gotten her medical records. “She drains power, when she's out of control. We think she can harness it and electrocute people, recharge objects...”
“That's amazing!” Steve's eyes were wide.
“What's not so amazing is that she has no idea how to use it. And according to her medical records, every time there's a huge power outage, she ends up in the Behavioral Health Unit. The energy she drains makes her manic.”
“So she's insane?” Thor asked.
“She's not crazy. She has an imbalance. There's a difference.” Wanda glared at Thor. He grimaced.
“My apologies.” He said under his breath.
“Where is the mark now?” Bucky questioned, straight-backed and solemn. He just wanted to take her down so he could get back to sleep.
“So far, not in a BHU yet. Probably at home, getting more manic by the second. You'll have to be careful.” Tony warned.
“I'm pretty sure we can handle a manicurist.” Natasha raised her eyebrows.
“What do you think your electrocution weapons will do to a woman who absorbs electricity? Bucky, how bout your bionic arm? She could sap that, too. I can't go in in my suit- I'd give her enough power to do God knows what on accident. Neither can Jim, which is why he's not here. Sam, you can't use your wings.” Tony sat down and steepled his fingers. “We have to go in low tech.”
“I'm going to have one arm??” Bucky frowned.
“I didn't say she would sap your power. I said she might.”
“Aces.” Bucky looked annoyed.
“So what do we do when we get to her? What are we even offering?” Steve asked, objective first in his mind.
“We want her to come with us... for the public safety. And if we're lucky we can train her to control this power... and if we're even more lucky, she'll be useful and can join us.” Tony stated bluntly.
“A manicurist? We don't need our nails done, Tony. It says nowhere that she has any fighting ability whatsoever.” Natasha looked at him. “I want to help her as much as you do, but it's not likely she'll be an asset. This is damage control at best.”
“We also got hold of her IQ Test records. Along with a few other exams she's taken. Her IQ is near genius, she's excelled at everything she's ever tried with the exception of Chemistry, and she has the ability to possibly drain power. How is that not an asset?”
“You could have put those IQ test results in the dossier.” Natasha sighed. “All right well, if we're going in, I'm suggesting either myself or “Dad” Barton talk to her.”
“Can you stop calling me “Dad” Barton?” Clint scowled.
“You're such a dad, though.” Nat goaded him. Seeing him scowl further, she added, “but seriously, you're good at talking to people. Either she'll connect with me because I'm a woman, or you because you're a... nice guy.” She stopped herself before she said “dad” again.
“You're kind of an intimidating woman.” Thor chimed in.
“Excuse me?” Nat snapped her head in his direction.
“If you need to convince a scared mortal of something, sending in a warrior may not be the best idea. That's all that I'm saying.” Thor replied. “You aren't soft. Maybe Steve would be a better idea. Or Barton.”
“I'm not soft!” Steve protested. Everyone at the table looked at him amusedly. “Man, I'm soft...”
“You aren't soft, Steve. You're diplomatic.” Sam added. “We should send Steve and Barton.”
“The rest of you will secure the scene.” Tony nodded.
“What happens if she won't come with us?” Clint asked.
“With her history, she'll end up in a Behavioral Health Unit, manic as all hell, by the end of the week. I can have her transferred here.” Tony shrugged.
“We.. aren't a hospital.” Wanda reminded him.
“No, not yet. But we can be if we need to be.” He winked. “Suit up, everyone. Wheels up in half an hour.”
Steve shot a sidelong glance at Bucky. “Guess we're going to Baltimore.”
Bucky frowned. “This bitch better not take out my arm.”
* * *
I woke up and tried to turn on my bedside light. Nothing happened. I tried the main light, and the bathroom light. Nothing. Not again, I thought. I was beginning to dread these power outages. And beginning to think I'd caused them. No, that's delusional thinking. How could I cause a power outage?
The familiar feeling crept up in my chest, in my arms, in my legs. Almost a buzzing. I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. I took some deep breaths. This happened, every time there was a power outage, too. I closed my eyes, willing myself to be calm. I knew what happened next, it was what always happened next. I'd wig out, I'd break a bunch of appliances on accident, and I'd get so angry I'd check myself into a hospital until I got it all sorted out. I really didn't want that to happen. It messed up my work, my finances... I sighed. I couldn't take it anymore; I got up and started pacing. That never worked, but it was better than being uncomfortable and trying to sleep. I opened my medicine chest and looked at my bottle of Ativan. I tried not to take it, but right now I needed it. I downed my maximum allowed dosage, and went to the refrigerator, putting my glass under the water dispenser. About a teaspoon of water came out, before it made a weird clunking noise, stopped working, sparked a little, and smoke came out.
“God damn it.” I swore. I went to the sink to fill up my glass, drank the water, and slammed the glass down. It broke into a million pieces in my sink. And I cut my hand. I was looking at the damage; it probably needed stitches; when there was a knock at my door.
It was barely 6am- who was at my door? I cautiously looked out the peephole. A man in a star spangled suit was standing there, accompanied by a man dressed all in black tactical wear. I was a tad surprised. No, I was very surprised. I'd seen this man on the news, I'd read about him. Why the fuck was Captain America at my door? I double checked, but it was definitely him.
I opened the door as far as the security chain would allow. He and the other man, who had short blonde hair and hearing aids, looked at me. Then Captain America's gaze fell to the ground, where I was bleeding from the cut on my hand. “You might want to get that looked at, Miss.” He looked concerned. “May we come in?”
I silently let them in. I was stunned. “Um.. okay.” I pressed my other hand to my destroyed palm to stop the blood. I let them in and then went back to pacing. “Why is Captain America and, forgive me, you look familiar but I don't know why...” I looked to the other man.
I nodded. “Why are you both in my living room? At 6am?”
“I think you know why.” Captain America reached out a hand and stopped my pacing. “Call me Steve. And let me bandage your hand.”
“This?” I held up my hand. I was getting more amped by the second. “It's fine. It'll be fine.” I shook him off.
“You're bleeding all over your floor.” Hawkeye aimed his flashlight down, even though you could already kind of see in the dawn light.
“Y/N, stop. Let me bandage that.” Steve ordered. I stopped, and nervously let him lead me to my couch and push me to a sitting position. Hawkeye emerged from my bathroom with a first aid kit. Steve set about wrapping my hand. “You're going to need stitches.” He said.
“Right okay. I'll get stitches today. Why are you here?” I asked, my insides feeling like they were about to become my outsides.
“Why is the power out in the surrounding six blocks?” Hawkeye asked me.
“The power is always going out here.” I shrugged.
“Can you, can you face me when you talk to me?” Hawkeye asked. He gestured at his hearing aides. “Gotta read your lips.”
“Um, yeah, sorry. I said the power is always going out here.”
“You do realize you're the one causing it, right?” Steve was kneeling on the ground in front of me.
“You're absorbing power. We've been studying you for a while now.”
“We? We who?”
“Because you drain power, store it, and then don't know what to do with it. Not to place blame, but you're continually destroying the power supply in your neighborhood...” Steve looked at me pointedly.
“So the Avengers are here to... avenge the power grid?”
“No. We're here to offer to help you with this problem. You can learn to control it.”
“I have work tomorrow. Today.”
“We both know you aren't going to work today. Your mania is just getting started. You'll be in the hospital by the end of today.” Steve put a hand on my shoulder. “We can help you.”
I looked at his hand. “Why do the Avengers want to help me? I don't do anything besides destroy toasters and refrigerators.”
“We'll find out what you can do. But you're special. And you're smart.” Hawkeye spoke up from behind Steve. He'd just been in the kitchen; no doubt saw the broken glass. “And your water dispenser looks like it needs some help.”
“I can't just leave. What about my job?”
“You think Tony can't find you a new job? After you're trained?” Steve asked.
“Tony Stark is a billionaire. Your rent is taken care of.”
“Hell, he might just buy the whole building.” Hawkeye said under his breath.
“Y/N, you know your behavior is a problem. We're giving you the chance to fix it. No strings attached, no co-payments. You'll be somewhere safe.” Steve stood up. “It's this, or back to the hospital, where you've been before.”
I sighed. I was getting really agitated. I had two Avengers in my living room, my hand hurt, and my Ativan hadn't kicked in yet.
“I do need help. I can't... I can't handle this. Right now. I can't... I can't breathe. Jesus Christ, I can't breathe, I- I'll go with you. Just help me.”
“Bruce, she's having a panic attack.” Steve spoke into a mic on his wrist.
All I could hear was a garbled response, but Steve turned to Hawkeye, who pulled a small syringe out of his pocket. “Do it, Clint. She's freaking out.”
“What the fuck? No, I'm fine. I'm fine. Just let me get up. I can't breathe. Oh my God.” I pushed Steve away, clambering up off of the couch and pacing my apartment once again. “Do not come near me with that? What is that? Stay away.”
“It's a sedative. It'll calm you down.” Clint was edging towards me.
“You're not a doctor. Let's just go.” I packed into a corner. “Don't even think-”
Steve was talking into his wrist again, and coming towards me. “Mayday... Tony she's really losing it.”
Suddenly a man, also in black tactical gear, with long dark hair and a mask, stalked in. “Stop fucking around, Clint.” He grabbed the needle, stalked up to me, and jabbed it in my arm.
I lost it. I kneed him in the crotch- or tried to. He was expecting it and blocked. He grabbed me in a bear hug to where I couldn't move. I started screaming expletives at him, but he wouldn't budge. Then, quickly, I got groggy, and slumped over. He caught me, stooped and tried to pick me up. In my last few moments of consciousness, I saw him look at Steve.
“Fuck. My arm isn't working. She fucking sapped it. Steve, you mind carrying her back to the jet? And we'll just hope the jet still works.”
Then the lights went out.
* * *