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Wanda/Darcy

 

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Darcy had never been to the Avengers complex before, but ever since Erik had been invited to set up shop there, she had been maybe not so subtly bugging Jane for the chance to go. What better excuse? Jane could catch up with Erik and compare research, and Darcy could satisfy her raging curiosity about "Earth's Mightiest Heroes."

Who knew? Maybe she could even get to meet them in person instead of just staring awestruck from a distance. Maybe even get a selfie or two. Being friends with one of the top researchers there had to come with some benefits, right? Her soul mark tingled at the thought.

The visit started off pretty much exactly as she expected, if "pretty much exactly" was actually a thing. Erik and Jane got caught up in comparing notes, and Jane marveled at all the tech and gadgets Erik had been provided in his lab. The Avengers spared no expense, apparently. Which showed in their entire facility, actually. Everything was shiny and new and absolutely out of her price range. "You break it, you bought it," she thought to herself.

She wasn't technically supposed to go snooping around, but listening to Jane and Erik wax poetic about science wasn't her idea of a good time. They could go on for hours, and she just didn't have the tolerance for that. Besides, the private areas of the compound possessed an irresistible allure for her. She couldn't resist. Or maybe didn't want to. Or both.

Either way, it didn't matter. She made sure her friends were set up with lots of caffeine and food, and went exploring. Maybe she would find that ever elusive soulmate. It was a long shot, but stranger things had happened, right? Especially around the Avengers.

For someplace as high security as this, their security was pretty lax once you got inside. People bustled about, but she just acted like she belonged and no one questioned her. Score one for playing it cool.

First place she entered was actually pretty easy to identify, what with all the exercise equipment. One of the weight benches was even in use at the moment. She wondered if he was one of the new Avengers she had heard rumors of. No one had any details yet, so she was dying with curiosity. "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back," she liked to say. She demanded satisfaction.

She cleared her throat as she walked in and looked around, taking in the once again state of the art equipment. There was probably more money invested in this room than she made in a year. Maybe twice as much. Not that she was complaining. She loved what she did.

"Hey there," she said, with a little wave and a bright smile. The guy set the weights down carefully and grabbed a towel to wipe sweat from his face.

"Hi," he said, smiling broadly. "Are you new? I haven't seen you around before. Of course, I haven't been here all that long."

"Oh, I'm just visiting a friend. You know Erik? Mad scientist extraordinaire?"

"Yeah, I know him," he laughed. "Nice guy, but... quirky."

"That's him," she said, and stuck out her hand. "I'm Darcy," she said. He took her hand and shook it firmly.

"Sam. Sam Wilson."

"Nice to meet you, Sam. What do you do here? Are you an Avenger?" Blunt, as always. That's her. He laughed a bit nervously.

"Yeah, I am. They call me Falcon."

"Really? What do you do? What's your super power? I can't believe I'm meeting an Avenger!" She squealed as she pulled out her phone. "Can I get a picture with you? No one will ever believe me."

"Well... I don't have a "super power," but I have a flight suit that's pretty amazing. We're not actually supposed to be flashing ourselves around yet," he paused, considering, "but I guess a picture is okay."

"Yes!" She gave a little fist pump and almost hopped over next to him in her excitement. She probably stood a little closer to him than was absolutely necessary for the picture, but he was cute and she was happy, and what the hell. She actually took a couple shots of them before she was satisfied with the results.

"Thank you so much. I've always wanted to meet the Avengers," she said. Sam smiled at her kindly.

"Well, most of them are out on a mission right now, so it's just me and Wanda. If you wanna meet her, I think she's up in the dorms. She likes to spend time in her room."

"Who's Wanda? You mean there's another chick on the team now? Sweet! You need another shot of estrogen in there to keep everything sane." She grinned.

"Yeah, yeah. You girls always gotta stick together," he laughed. He had a really nice laugh, in her opinion. "Head through that door, then take the elevator up two floors. You can see how the Avengers live," he said, giving her a playful wink.

"Sweet! Thanks, Sam!" She bounded out the door like she was hopped up on sugar. Maybe she wasn't gonna get to meet all the Avengers right this moment, but she was gonna get to snoop around, and meet two of the new Avengers to boot. It was actually better than she expected her first day to go, really. And Sam had seemed so nice. He hadn't ignored her or kicked her out, and he had even given her the okay to come up and invade secret, sacred Avengers territory! Life could be good. It was just too bad he wasn't her soulmate. He seemed pretty awesome.

The elevator opened up onto a much quieter space than she had seen before, and it was easy to see why. This really was the Avengers' living space. There were couches and a tv, a kitchen area, bookshelves... And it looked lived in. There were a few well-thumbed through magazines on a coffee table, and a mug in the sink. Real-people stuff. The Avengers were human beings too, after all. What did she expect? Certainly not a jacket left draped over the back of a chair, or a blanket sitting in a lump on one of the couches. It was weird seeing your heroes do the same things you would do. She loved it.

There was a hallway off the kitchen, and she followed it. Most of the doors were shut, but there was one further down that was open, and she headed towards that, figuring that would be the most likely place to find Wanda if she was in her room like Sam said.

Darcy didn't know what to expect, but part of her had wondered if maybe Wanda would be some muscle-bound Amazonian type. Black Widow wasn't like that, but there weren't many women like her in the world. Darcy couldn't think of a single one, actually. That was sorta sad. The world could use more sexy-as-hell power females.

Her guesses about this new Avenger, though, did not come anywhere close to the truth. The young woman was slim, petite, and a little otherworldly, with her big green eyes and long, dark hair. Darcy gasped.

"Hey, you're that chick from TV!" The girl- she had to be the Wanda that Darcy was looking for- shot her a startled look. "I saw what you did in Sokovia. That was amazing, and I'm so sorry about what happened to your brother." Darcy kicked herself for mentioning Wanda's late brother when she saw the tears well up in the girl's eyes. "Jeez, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I say stupid stuff sometimes. It's a thing with me. I-"

Wanda raised a hand to silence her, and gave Darcy a smile. Darcy couldn't help but notice that, while it was sad, it was also damn beautiful.

"I did not think to meet you here, and now," Wanda said in her low, soft voice. Darcy froze, unable to believe what she had just heard, though the tingling burn of her soul mark Flaring couldn't be ignored. Was this really happening? I mean, she had sorta wished for something like this to happen, but wishes didn't really ever come true, right? This couldn't be real. She wasn't this lucky. This woman in front of her couldn't be hers.

"You-" was all Darcy could manage to get out. Wanda cupped Darcy's face and smiled, even as tears rolled down her cheeks.

"I needed you so badly," Wanda said in a whisper as she leaned in close. Darcy could feel Wanda's breath on her lips as she spoke. "I thought you would come when Pietro died, to save me. This is better, I think."

"Really?" Darcy asked, her voice little more than a squeak.

"Now I am stronger," Wanda said. "I will not put him between us. There will be only you and me." Wanda leaned in, finally, and pressed her lips to Darcy's.

Darcy was a little lost with all the talk about coming at the right time. She was still in shock, but then Wanda was kissing her, and oh my god the woman's lips were soft. Darcy gripped Wanda's waist and pulled her closer, and was gratified to feel the girl's arms wrap around her neck. This was heaven. This was perfect. She could do this forever, stay here forever, feeling Wanda's body pressed up against her own.

When they pulled apart, it wasn't to go far. They stayed there in the circle of each other's arms, just enjoying their closeness.

Darcy still could barely believe her good fortune. Who would have ever thought her soulmate would be such a beautiful girl, and an Avenger too? If this was a dream, she didn't want to wake up. Turn off the alarm clock.

"What are you thinking?" Wanda asked.

"I'm thinking no one is ever gonna believe this," Darcy said with a shrug, going for honesty.

"Why would they not believe? I don't understand," Wanda said. "Do they not believe in soul marks? I could show them."

"It's not that. Just, you're a whole lotta good fortune, and I've never been all that lucky, you know?"

"That is silly," Wanda said. "You deserve good things, and it pleases me that you consider me one of those. Too many before you have not." She sounded so confident that Darcy thought maybe even she could start to believe it. "Would you like to see my mark?" Wanda asked.

"Yeah, I do."

Wanda stepped back and pulled her shirt off her right shoulder. Darcy pulled the girl's long hair to the side and looked at the mark, and there was her messy writing scrawled over Wanda's skin, the normally black writing of a soul mark having changed to a beautiful emerald green. She ran her fingertips over it, causing Wanda to shiver, marveling at how it made her skin tingle when she touched it.

"I can't believe those are the words you've had on your skin all this time. I'm so sorry," Darcy said, laughing. "Did you ever wonder how you would end up on TV?"

"Always," Wanda said, smiling. "It was a constant source of amusement for my brother, too."

"Hey, wanna see mine?" she said brightly, sounding much more like her old self again. Wanda nodded, and Darcy pulled her shirt down to show Wanda how her own mark trailed over her right shoulder as well. "Your handwriting is so pretty," Darcy said. "I've always thought that."

"Thank you," Wanda said softly as she pressed her lips to Darcy's soul mark. The heat that shot through Darcy when Wanda did that left her shaken and yearning.

"Damn, girl. That was intense! Whoa." Darcy felt almost out of breath.

"For me as well," Wanda said, but she didn't push for more. Darcy half expected her to. She could tell Wanda wanted to kiss her, possible even do more than that. Hell, she wanted it too. But maybe falling into bed together as soon as they met wasn't the best way to go.

They wrapped their arms around each other again and just stood there like that for a long moment, letting their heartbeats slow.

"So. You wanna give me the grand tour of the place? I've just been wandering around," Darcy said. "I'm sure you can show me all the best spots I'm not supposed to see." She grinned and Wanda giggled. Actually giggled. So, beautiful and cute too.

"I will show you," Wanda said. "Whatever you wish to see."

"I want it all, baby!" Darcy knew she was grinning like an idiot. "First we gotta take a picture, though. Pics or it didn't happen." She grabbed her phone and wrapped her arm around Wanda's waist, pulling her close. "And this seriously needs to have happened."

Wanda pressed a kiss against Darcy's cheek and smiled for the camera.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Rocket

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They'd stuck Rocket and Groot with a human woman for their end of the mission. Supposedly she was gonna be able to shield them while he set up the big guns for their attack on Thanos' forces. It was a matter of sneaking in, setting up, and staying safe once the shooting started. Easy, right?

They were gonna freakin' die.

He was venting some of his nervous energy to Groot while he assembled the gun he had designed. Sure, mostly his venting took the form of complaining, but Groot understood, even if he was still young and easily distracted.

Currently, Groot was distracted looking back at the silent woman accompanying them. She had said not a word to either of them once given her assignment, simply nodded her head in greeting and given them a grim smile. That was the one thing Rocket could appreciate about her. Well, two things. She was quiet, and she took this seriously. He didn't need some joker at his back. He didn't wanna get dead.

"Ha. They can call me a monster all they like, but I'm a freakin' genius, Groot," he said. "This baby is gonna blow a hole right through Thanos' army. Guaranteed." He patted the gun, proud of himself. Gotta give yourself credit where credit is due. No one else will.

"I know what it is to be called a monster," the woman behind him said, and Rocket jerked as the soul mark on his back Flared to life.

"What the-" He swung around, staring at her incredulously. "What did you just say to me?" He asked her.

He saw her jolt as his words hit her. Her eyes widened, her mouth dropping open. They stared at each other in silence for a long moment.

"My soul mate," she said, her eyes softening as she smiled at him. "I can't believe it."

"Oh yeah? What? Don't wanna be tied to a freak like me?" He couldn't help the bitterness in his voice.

"That is not what I meant. I do not see you as a freak, and as I said, I know what it is to be considered a monster. The people of my planet fear me for what I can do without considering what it is I will or will not do. They fear my strength, and so they make me an outcast. I know what it is to feel all alone in a crowd."

Her words struck a cord in Rocket. He had always felt the same way. There was no one in the galaxy like him, and most people looked down at him for his small size and less than normal creation. He'd had to develop a tough outer shell to protect himself, letting only Groot inside. Groot, who also understood what it was like to be alone in a crowd. Now there was this girl, looking at him with eyes that shone with a pain all too familiar.

He had no defense against her. She was his soulmate. He had, quite literally, been made for her.

"I didn't even get your name," he said. She grinned.

"I'm Wanda. I heard your names, Rocket, Groot. It is my pleasure to meet you." She moved closer, and settled herself down next to him. Her hand came up and stroked his head, and he felt the remaining tension in his body melt away. He looked into her eyes, green and sparkling, and thought he had never seen anything more beautiful or anyone more kind.

Then she was stripping her jacket off. "What the hell are you doing?! It's not safe here!" Rocket said.

"I wish to see my mark. I am curious to see what color we have become. I wish to show it to you as well. It will only take a moment." She held out her arm, and there were his words to her, in the deepest scarlet he had ever seen, but looking strangely iridescent. The color seemed to shift as she moved, like a film had been laid over the words, under her skin. He'd never heard of anything like it. He knew his own would look the same.

"We're not even the same damn species!" he said. "How could this even happen?" He couldn't seem to wrap his mind around this. He had known, logically, that his soulmate would be different from him, but knowing it in your head and being faced with it in reality were two very different things.

"Love is for souls, not bodies," she said softly. "Who is to say? What I know is that we are meant to be together."

"Well, I sorta meant that we can't have sex. We can't be... normal, y'know?" he said, looking away, embarrassed. She had the good grace not to laugh.

"Rocket, my love, whether we have sex or not is beside the point. Souls, not bodies, remember? Whatever will be will be. I am yours and you are mine. We can worry about the rest if we survive this battle, yes?"

"Oh, we're gonna live. I just found you. I ain't letting go now," he said with a little growl in his voice.

Groot had been watching this whole exchange with wide-eyed wonder, and now clapped his hands together in delight.

"I am Groot!"

"Yes, my friend. Even if I die, I will die happy, having known you both," Wanda said, with a small smile. Rocket was only a little surprised, by this point, that she could understand Groot's language. Of course she could. She was his equal, and his other half. Wanda took Rocket's hand, and they settled in to wait for the coming battle, for once content.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Wade

+++++

 

Wanda enjoyed Halloween.

This was her first time experiencing it, and she was somewhat floored by the sheer exuberance the team showed for the holiday. Their enjoyment was infectious, and she found herself playing along, even letting Natasha help her find a costume.

In hindsight, that might have been a bad idea. Natasha's idea of a costume was a lot sexier than Wanda was comfortable with.

She ended up in a "sexy sorceress" costume that had a slit up one side that went almost to her waist, and a bodice cut so low and tight that she wasn't sure she would even be able to get into it. Natasha didn't seem concerned, though, and refused to let Wanda back out.

So now she was at a party with a bunch of people she didn't know, trying her best not to be noticed, and calming her nerves with as much alcohol as she could stomach. She was going to have one hell of a hangover in the morning, but it seemed a small price to pay for getting through the night without embarrassing herself.

She had lost track of time, but eventually she noticed a man staring at her from behind a crudely made paper mask. It was just a brown bag with a happy face drawn on and eye holes cut out. Other than that and a worn pair of gloves, he seemed to be dressed normally. It was probably the strangest costume she had seen all night, and that was saying something. The lack of effort had her intrigued.

She offered him a shy smile, and he made his way over to her. He didn't speak, just nodded to her in acknowledgment and dragged his finger down her arm. Normally, Wanda would have slapped a guy who dared to touch her like that, but for some reason his touch just made her shiver in the most delightful way. He hadn't looked away from her, and his brown eyes gazed at her from behind the mask with an intensity that sent heat rushing through her.

His fingers traveled over her collarbone and up her throat before trailing over her cheek until he could trace his thumb over her lips. The feel of him lingered everywhere he touched. She pressed a soft kiss to his thumb before flicking her tongue out against it, and he sucked in a deep breath. She could feel sparks building between them.

Wanda didn't pull away when he guided her by the arm away from the party, to a secluded room close by. She had no idea what she was doing, only that she wanted it, and didn't want to question it. Maybe it was the alcohol, but this quiet man enticed her. She knew where this was going. This wasn't something she would normally do. She didn't have sex with random strangers. She didn't have one night stands. Yet here she was, willing to follow this strange man to a private location so she could do just that.

Fuck it. She wanted to throw caution to the wind.

They reached for each other at the same time. She wanted to kiss him, but he ducked her, not letting her remove his mask. Instead he ran his gloved hands over her body, acquainting himself with her curves. His hand slid up her bare thigh where the dress was split open, and he pulled her leg up around his waist. She could feel his hardness pressing against her wet core, and she moaned into his neck.

They wasted no time. This wasn't lovemaking, this was primal. He slid inside her and began thrusting hard, forcing the breath from her lungs. She welcomed him into her body, his length filling her perfectly. Her pleasure was building fast, like she had never experienced before, and it wasn't long before she was crying out and bucking against him as she came. She felt his whole body tense as he followed her with his own orgasm, his harsh breathing loud in her ears.

It was only then that she realized that he wasn't wearing a condom.

"Fuck," she said, closing her eyes and bemoaning her own idiocy. What had she been thinking? It had to have been the alcohol. She couldn't be that stupid.

The man holding her had stiffened up when she spoke, and she wondered if he realized the same thing she had.

"We did that already. I was there," he said, sounding slightly amused and a little bit shocked.

Wanda's eyes widened as she felt the soul mark on her thigh burn, and she knew if she looked at it that it would no longer be black, but shining with whatever color they created together. His eyes through the mask were staring at her in wonder as well, and she knew he felt it too. She was so tempted to read him, she was so nervous, but she wouldn't do that. Not to him. Her soulmate deserved her trust.

"Who are you?" he whispered, still staring as if he couldn't believe she was real. She smiled at him.

"My name is Wanda. And you are?"

"Wade."

"Wade," she said, testing his name on her tongue. "Let me see you, Wade." She made to take off his mask, but he stopped her.

"Don't. You're...not gonna like what you see." His eyes held a deep sadness, and she ached to soothe him.

"You are mine. I want to see you," she said more firmly, and his hands fell away. She slowly pulled the mask off him and gasped at the hideous scarring of his face. He winced and pulled away from her, visibly upset.

"I told you that you wouldn't like what you saw. Look, don't feel like you have to be stuck with me or whatever. This doesn't have to mean anything," he said as he zipped his pants back up. He couldn't even look at her.

"Wait," Wanda said, putting her hand on his arm. "You misunderstand. I am not repulsed by your scars, I am horrified at the thought of what you had to go through to get them." She stepped in front of him and lifted his face, forcing him to look at her. "You do not repulse me. Please believe that." She leaned in and kissed him, willing all the truth of that statement into it.

After a moment, Wade responded, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her tight against his body. When they broke their kiss, they were both smiling.

"You are so beautiful," he whispered into her hair, and she knew he was talking about more than her looks. "I don't deserve you."

"That is not for you to judge, my love." She opened her mind to him, finally allowing herself to explore him, and for him to feel her as well. "I see you. All of you. You are beautiful as well."

Wade's eyes were huge. "Did you just speak in my head?"

"Yes," she said, suddenly bashful. "Did that bother you?" She was suddenly fearful that she had overstepped, crossed a line that would make him pull away.

"Hell no. That was fucking weird, but I liked it. I could feel you. You're amazing." Now Wanda was blushing, unused to such compliments.

"Thank you."

"Babe, who the hell are you?" he asked, sounding awed.

"Well," she said slowly, "most people call me the Scarlet Witch, but I would prefer it if you called me Wanda."

Wade's eyes almost popped out of his head. "You're an Avenger?"

"Is that a problem?" she asked.

"No, no. Not a problem," he said quickly, reassuring her. "Thing is, though, I'm sort of slightly maybe a little bit not so you'd notice a mercenary." He said it quickly, like he was ripping a bandage off a wound and expecting the worst.

"A mercenary?"

"Uh, yeah. They call me Deadpool," he said, laughing uncomfortably, but giving her a cocky grin.

"Oh my god," she said, eyes wide. "We have been trying to find you for months!" She was grinning from ear to ear, and Wade looked suddenly nervous.

"Um. To arrest me?" he asked uncertainly. Wanda looked confused.

"What? No," she said, waving her hand dismissively. "To recruit you. And here you are, falling into my lap."

"I fell into a bit more than that," he said, his confidence suddenly restored, offering her a wink.

"About that," she said. "You are aware we just had unprotected sex. I am on birth control, so that is not an issue, but there are diseases..."

"Don't worry about that, sexy. I'm clean. You?"

"I am healthy as well," she said, smiling brightly. "I have not had a lover in a very long time. Years."

Wade pulled her hard against his body. "And you're never gonna have another lover again," he growled. She grinned up at him.

"Only you, my love."

"Damn straight," he said, and lifted her up so she could wrap her legs around his waist. He pressed her against the wall, and they were done talking for a while.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Natasha 

++++

Natasha was tired of being tired. She was tired of wearing herself out looking for a man who didn't want to be found, tired of exhausting herself in a futile chase.

So she cut her losses and she went back just in time to break in the Avengers' new facility. She consoled herself with the thought that at least here she could be useful, around people who would actually want her around. She was tired of being rejected. She was sick of being hurt.

She did what she did best. She hardened her heart so she could function without.

She hadn't even gotten to know the new recruits yet. She'd met Rhodes while undercover as Tony's personal assistant, so she wasn't concerned about him at all. She had confidence in his abilities and dedication. She hadn't had the opportunity yet to look over Sam Wilson's file, but Steve had confidence in him, so that spoke well of the man. She would withhold judgement and expect good things.

Vision was a complete wild card to her. None of them could really know what to expect, as none of them really knew him. He was a newborn, basically, with a wealth of knowledge already available to him, and a desire to protect all life, apparently. Mjölnir had found him worthy, so she'd been told, so she had to believe that he was as good as he made himself out to be. You had to trust in something, right?

It was Wanda Maximoff that gave her the most pause. She knew the girl had fought well in Sokovia, and had lost her brother in an attack by Ultron, but she had yet to speak to her. Natasha had been too busy dealing with Bruce's desertion after the battle to worry over the Maximoff girl, and she had been too busy since to make time to get to know her. Clint had told her good things, as he'd sort of taken Wanda under his wing. Hawkeye, indeed. Time would tell whether or not Maximoff could be trusted. Natasha had her doubts. After her experience with Wanda's mental manipulation, she was reluctant to get anywhere near the girl.

She had a job to do, though, and she would never back down from a job, especially due to a silly thing like fear. She was in control of her emotions, not the other way around. At least, that's how she preferred it to be. She could train with the girl.

She had to admit, looking over the team as they gathered together in full uniform for the first time, they made an impressive sight. Training them would certainly be interesting considering they could all fly, too. She and Steve would make it work. They always did.

Steve knew how uncomfortable she was around Wanda, and took it upon himself to keep them apart during training. He worked with the girl himself, which Natasha was fine with for now. She would have to deal with it eventually, but she was glad for the reprieve.

So it was about a week before she had to interact with the girl.

Steve had finally decided that Wanda needed to learn some basic hand to hand combat before she could progress, and he delegated that to Natasha. It made sense. They were about the same size, and she was definitely the better fighter in that area. Steve was unbeatable with his shield, but less effective with just his fists.

The girl looked nervous as Natasha approached. She didn't blame her. Natasha was very aware of her own reputation, and did a lot to cultivate it. It was well deserved, anyway. Wanda was going up against the best, and she knew it, and she knew she was unprepared. That was good.

Natasha looked at her from across the mat and raised one perfectly sculpted eyebrow. "A little fear is a healthy thing, but don't let it control you. Breathe," she said.

Wanda jerked as if stung, her eyes comically wide. "I refuse to fear you. How could I, now?"

Natasha was confused for a split second until she felt the swift and sudden pain of her soul mark Flaring, and remembered the words scrawled over her skin. The pain faded as quickly as it had come, but she was still painfully aware of the change, and from the look on her face, Wanda felt the same.

Steve was looking at them curiously from across the room, probably wondering why they hadn't begun sparring yet, and Natasha made a snap decision. She moved rapidly to take Wanda by the arm and lead her out, into the relative privacy of the locker room. The girl followed without struggle, letting Natasha pull her forward.

Finally, they were alone.

"What the hell?" Natasha said. "It can't be you."

"Apparently it is. You are my soulmate, Natasha. I am yours. We belong together." Wanda sounded completely sure of herself, totally accepting of the situation.

"That's not possible." Natasha refused to believe it. This girl had messed with her mind, had brought things to the forefront of her memories that she had really rather have forgotten. How could this have happened? Natasha knew she was starting to freak out, but she couldn't help herself.

"Does this really bother you that much?" Wanda asked, sounding suddenly unsure.

"What do you think?" Natasha said harshly, glaring at Wanda. "You basically raped my mind, and now I'm expected to just get over it because some stupid mark tells me to? No. I don't want it. I don't want this." Her voice sounded on the verge of hysteria to herself, but Wanda seemed to take her seriously.

The girl's eyes glistened with tears for a moment before she blinked them away and squared her shoulders. "I understand," she said, her voice surprisingly steady. Natasha was thankful for that. She didn't think she could've taken it if Wanda had broken down right then. "I will leave you alone," Wanda said. "Do not concern yourself. I require and expect nothing from you." Wanda gave her a brief nod and left Natasha there, trying to deal with her changed world.

++++

Wanda was avoiding her. They were avoiding each other. It was working surprisingly well so far, except for the little fact that she couldn't rid herself of thoughts of the Sokovian girl. And the others had picked up on the tension. Steve let it go on for a while, but eventually pulled her aside, as she knew he would.

"Nat, what's going on? The tension between you and Wanda is starting to cause some problems in the team. Did something happen? Did she do something?" He was looking at her with such open concern that she had to smile. Nat wondered how much she should tell him.

Screw it. "She's my soulmate," she said, her eyes pleading with Steve to understand. He looked at her with soft, sympathetic eyes.

"Jeez, Nat. I don't know what to say. What are you gonna do?"

"What can I do? I'm bonded to a woman who screwed with my head in a way that I'm still not fully recovered from. How can I be with her? How can I let her in?" She hated how hopeless and forlorn she sounded.

"You should give her a chance, Nat. She's a good kid who made some bad choices. If she's your soulmate, then there's something about her that makes her perfect for you. That's gotta mean something."

She had to admit that he was making sense, and God, was she tired of fighting the ache in her gut that she felt every time she saw Wanda. The damn mark tingled every time she even thought about the woman. Part of her yearned for Wanda constantly, her other half fighting constantly against that need. She felt like she was losing her mind.

"I don't know, Steve. I don't know if I have it in me." It cost a lot for Natasha to admit that out loud.

"I have faith in you. You can work this out. You have to work this out, though, Nat. The team can't go on like this."

"Yeah, I know," she said.

++++

She found Wanda holed up in her room.

"Can I come in?" Nat asked when Wanda answered the door. Wanda nodded and stepped back to allow her entrance.

Nat took the opportunity to look around. She had never seen Wanda's room before, and she was surprised to see it decorated not in dark, vivid colors, but in soft, neutral shades. It was feminine and calming, and definitely did not fit the image she had of the girl. She wondered what else she had wrong.

"What can I help you with?" Wanda asked, her voice polite, but distant. The tone set Natasha's teeth on edge, even though she knew she had caused it. Had wanted it, even.

"I'm here to talk," Natasha said simply.

"Alright. What would you like to discuss?" God, Natasha wanted to shake that dispassionate look right off the younger woman's face.

"You. And me. Us." She didn't really know what to say.

"There is no 'us'," Wanda said. "I apologize if I have made you uncomfortable."

"You haven't," Natasha replied. After a brief pause, she sighed. "Look, I reacted badly. I know you've turned over a new leaf, and I'm trying to accept what happened before when you gave me that vision. It's a work in progress. Give me time," she pleaded, needing Wanda to understand.

Wanda gave her a long, steady look, her face impassive. "I understand," she said, her voice slightly less void of emotion this time. "I cannot change what I did, though I would take away your pain if I could. I have many regrets, and using my power on you in such a way is one of them." Her voice wasn't emotionless now. "I am sorry," Wanda said, sounding utterly miserable and resigned. The young woman took a shaky breath. "If I had not done that, perhaps we could be together. I did this to us. It seems I will never stop paying for my past."

There were tears in Wanda's eyes now, and the girl reached up to wipe them away before they could fall. A sharp pain lanced through Natasha's heart at the sight. She couldn't argue the point, though. Wanda was right. If she hadn't caused Nat so much pain, they probably wouldn't be where they were right now.

Was she punishing Wanda? She had never let fear rule her actions before, so why now? Why did she not let herself take what she so obviously wanted? Was she really trying to hurt the girl for hurting her? She had to admit, intellectually, the idea of making Wanda pay for her actions had always held appeal, but emotionally, is that what she really wanted?

Did she want Wanda to feel like this? This was not the girl she faced before. This was not the Wanda Maximoff she had expected to find. This woman wasn't who Natasha thought she was.

Screw it.

It took all of three quick steps to reach Wanda, and she wrapped the girl up in a tight embrace. Wanda hugged her back, her slim body shaking as she tried not to cry.

"I'm sorry," Natasha said softly. "I'm so sorry." She rocked the younger woman slightly as they stood there clinging to each other. "Maybe we can start as friends. Would that be okay? I need time, Wanda. Can you give me that?"

She felt Wanda nod against her shoulder. "I can. I will."

"Thank you," Natasha whispered, and buried her face in Wanda's hair, allowing herself this moment. It was enough, for now, to have this woman in her arms. It felt good and right.

And for the first time in Wanda's presence, she smiled.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Groot

++++

Teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, as they called themselves, was interesting. The ever present threat of Thanos had brought the Avengers back together, and though it was an uneasy truce, the peace between them held for now. The Guardians had tested that peace, however. For example, adding the additional element of Peter Quill into the mix of personalities had been fascinating. He reminded her of Pietro in a way, recklessly confident and outspoken. A ladies man with a heart of gold. She sensed his dedication to the woman Gamora, which he attempted to hide behind layers of bluster and flirtation, but she knew he would not be with another woman. The only woman in his heart was her.

However, his attitude clashed with that of Stark and Captain Rogers. He and Stark were too alike to get along easily, both arrogant and cocksure. Both certain they knew what was right. And Captain Rogers, being the straight and narrow sort of man he was, had little tolerance for their brand of mischief, which was one of the reasons he and Tony had such a difficult time maintaining a friendship. They both wanted to like each other, and in a way they did, but there was always an undercurrent of irritation. They rubbed each other raw.

Peter Quill was a bad element to add into that mix.

His companions were little better. Drax was far too loud and aggressive. He and Sam had a horrible time trying to communicate, what with Sam's liberal use of slang and colloquialisms. Sam was easily frustrated by Drax's literal nature. Natasha, however, seemed to enjoy Drax, if only by needling him. Nat could also be very literal when she wanted to be, and she had little difficulty conversing with Drax. Vision had no problem at all, of course. Drax liked him a lot.

Gamora was aggressive and a bit belligerent at times. She tolerated no nonsense, and so she and Clint tended to clash. He was a rather laid back person, coming off as a little dismissive and casual about serious things sometimes. That was just Clint's way of dealing, but Gamora was very serious by nature and tended to be offended when Clint acted that way about things she deemed important. Again, though, Natasha got along with Gamora well. They were birds of a feather, warriors who understood each other. Women who had depended on no one but themselves for a very long time, but had come to find a family to care for. Natasha and Gamora could often be found in each other's company, speaking in low voices. Wanda knew they were sharing experiences and concerns, and perhaps finding comfort in each other.

Mantis was odd, though she seemed harmless enough. Vision got along well with her, as they were both very innocent and kind, with a unique way of looking at the world. She made the rest of the team uncomfortable, though. Wanda knew why. Her own powers were bad enough. Now there was a woman who could read them at a touch, could affect change on them to a degree just by laying hands on them. With both her and Mantis along, her teammates were a bit discomfited, some more than others. Some trusted her more than others, after all.

Rocket was probably the hardest for the rest of them to take. He had little respect for Tony's inventions, which irked Tony to no end. He was abrasive and rude, offering little respect to anyone. Captain Rogers frowned every time he looked at Rocket, which didn't make matters any better. Rocket could tell Steve didn't like him, and that only encouraged him to be worse in Steve's presence. She knew it was a defense mechanism, and did her best not to cross paths with Rocket too often. She could understand him, but that didn't mean she wouldn't lose her temper, and she really couldn't afford to do that. Control was her life's goal now. Control of her emotions was necessary.

And then there was Groot. He was the strangest creature she had ever seen, even more so than Rocket. A walking, talking tree creature, whose limited verbal vocabulary disguised a broad intelligence and sharp wit. She knew only Rocket really understood Groot, though the other Guardians had developed a certain level of understanding. Vision had tried to communicate with Groot on more than one occasion, only to leave actually frustrated. There was no way for Vision to translate something that wasn't verbally or physically expressed, but rather spoken through the mind. The Avengers tended to avoid Groot whenever possible. None of them were comfortable interacting with someone who couldn't hold a conversation with them. She understood that.

But she also understood Groot. Her powers were useful in letting her past his limitations and directly into his mind. They had never spoken, but she listened to his comments to others, and sometimes couldn't help but snicker when he said something snarky that he knew none of them would understand.

However, she could also sense his loneliness underlying everything, and so she made it a point to find him one day to talk to him, deciding it might bring him some happiness to have another person to communicate with.

She found him watching Drax wrestle Thor. There was quite a crowd, actually. Most of the Avengers were there, as well as the Guardians, and there seemed to be a good bit of betting going on about the outcome of the wrestling match. She would place her money on Thor. He was an Avenger, after all. Solidarity. Groot was watching from a place near the wall, and he looked both alarmed and entertained. She smiled as she approached him.

"You are having a good time, I see. I'm glad." Groot just stared at her for a moment, his soulful eyes wide and startled. "Is there something wrong?" she asked uncertainly.

"I am Groot." "I thought my soul mark was a lie."

Wanda gaped as she tried to process what she'd just heard. She couldn't ignore the sting, though, as her soul mark Flared on her back, and she realized this really was it. Groot was her soulmate, and it wasn't the words he could vocalize that she had written on her skin, it was his truth. The real Groot.

"I am Groot." "Maybe I'm not what you wanted."

"I don't know what I wanted, except for someone who would accept me and love me as I am. So many have not," she said. She gave him a questioning look. "Will you reject me?"

"I am Groot." "Never."

"Then we are fine as we are," she said, relaxing and giving him a bright smile. She took his hands in her own and brought them to her lips, placing soft kisses on his fingers.

"I am Groot." "You are a very odd Terran. Most people would not be so eager to embrace my strangeness." He looked so sad that it broke Wanda's heart. She reached up to stroke her fingers over his face, marveling at the disparity of a wooden, yet very animated being.

"You are different, but that doesn't mean it's in a bad way. Your friends love you. You have a kind heart. Anyone who can't see that is not someone you should concern yourself with anyway." She tried to project her certainty, her belief. This was something he needed to be told. She placed her hand on his chest, over where she assumed his heart would be.

"You are beautiful to me," she said simply. Groot seemed taken aback by her words, but then broke into the biggest, most charming smile she had ever seen. She watched in amazement as he produced a single flower from his body and plucked it for her. She took it and tucked it into her hair by her ear, blushing.

"I am Groot." "I will watch over you. It's my duty now, and my pleasure. You are mine to care for."

"Yours forever," she agreed.

Watching from the other side of the room, Natasha stuck her hand out. "Pay up, boys."

"How does she always know?" Peter whined.

"Never bet against the Black Widow," Clint said, nodding sagely and handing her a twenty. "I definitely didn't see that coming."

Chapter Text

Wanda/Laura

++++

Laura Barton was, for the most part, a happy woman.

Even though her husband was gone most of the time, and she worried about him constantly, she knew he loved her and their children more than life itself, and he was worth it. He treated her like a queen, and he was such a good father. She couldn't ask for any more in a man. He was funny, and loving, and she loved him even when he was tearing apart their house in unnecessary home improvement projects. At least they meant he was coming home. He was always counting on coming home.

She worried about him, but she was proud of him too. He had a warrior's heart. He had to fight the good fight, and she had known that when she married him. He did what he needed to do to make the world a better, safer place.

She loved him, and she trusted him to take care of their family, even when that meant bringing home former assassins and Avengers. Even then.

Life on the farm could get lonely. Clint came home as much as he could, but SHIELD, and then the Avengers, kept him busy. The kids were there, but sometimes you just longed for the company of other adults. She had made some friends in town, but tended to keep them at arms length, as she didn't want anyone asking uncomfortable questions about their life. Bad enough that the kids had to watch what they said in school, which was difficult for them. She didn't want to bring around even more people who they couldn't be open with.

That left very little in the way of real friendship. She made do, and she didn't complain. The life they had was something she was proud of, and she would've screamed her pride from the rooftops if she could have, but she was content to simply warm herself with the knowledge that her husband was saving the world, and she and the kids were his support system. She focused on that, on making their home as safe and comforting a place as she could. When he came home, she wrapped him in love, and she knew he took strength from that.

Sometimes, though... sometimes she wished deep in her heart that she had more of an opportunity to meet people. She loved her husband more than she ever could've believed possible, but she had never found her soulmate. The words scrawled across her collarbone seemed to taunt her at times with the impossibility of their fulfillment. That saddened her more than anything else. She would never give Clint up. She would never give up their life together, but there was someone out there who had the same ache in their heart that she did, and she couldn't help but daydream about it sometimes. She would imagine meeting this person, man or woman, it didn't matter. They would say her words, and she would feel that click deep inside her as they fell into place as they were meant to do, right alongside her love for her husband. If this person was truly her soulmate, they would never be able or willing to separate her from Clint, not when she loved him so much.

The daydreams about her soulmate never kept Laura from embracing the happiness she had found as a wife and mother. She lived every day with her family's love in her heart. She wouldn't trade them in for anything.

Though sometimes she wanted to kill her husband. Just a little. She loved him to pieces, even the part of him that wanted to save everyone. That heart is what made him the man she loved, after all, but sometimes he drove her insane with his desire to fix things. First there was Nat, which she was totally fine with now, though it had been a bit of an adjustment then. Then came the Avengers, and she understood that they'd needed a safe place to go. She got that. But now there was another young girl, Wanda Maximoff, and Clint had called to tell her he was bringing her home as well. Because her brother had died to save Clint's life. Clint and a young child. How could she begrudge that girl a safe place to go? Their home was a safe zone, somewhere the girl could grieve and heal without pressure, and the whole situation had triggered Clint's protective instincts.

Clint wanted to help the Maximoff girl through her grief. He was welcoming her into their life with open arms, and Laura would do no less.

She made sure the guest room was ready, and talked to the kids about being sensitive to their soon-to-be guests's needs. Luckily both Cooper and Lila were just like their father, and she knew they wouldn't be a problem.

It was only a few days after Clint's call that he arrived at home. He gave her a kiss as he picked her up in a tight embrace, and she felt her eyes grow moist with tears. She refused to cry, but her joy at having him back safe and sound and in her arms just always made her a little emotional.

"Hey, honey. I'm home," he said. "I love you." He gave her a crooked smile, and she blinked the tears away, unable to stop smiling at him. She kissed him soundly, and probably would've kept kissing him if she hadn't heard soft footsteps and remembered they had a guest this time.

"Oh my god," she said, smacking Clint on the arm. "Stop that." She was laughing, though, as she turned to their guest.

Wanda looked shy, shoulders hunched and head down. Her long, dark hair made her skin seem even paler than it probably was. You could practically see the weight of her grief crushing her, and Laura's heart went out to the girl immediately.

"Come on in, honey. Make yourself at home," Laura said. She put her hand lightly on Wanda's arm to guide her into the living room while Clint put their bags away, and Wanda stared at her with big, wide eyes the whole time, making Laura feel just a bit self conscious. She sat Wanda down on the couch and then lowered herself down as well. It was a relief to get off her sore feet and ankles for a bit. Wasn't pregnancy supposed to get easier each time? Well, someone lied.

Wanda was still staring at her, and Laura couldn't take it anymore.

"Is there something wrong, sweetie?" Wanda shook her head, but seemed to be at a loss for words.

"It is just- you are not how I imagined you to be," she said finally before clapping her hands over her mouth in horror. "Oh my god. Those are the first words I say to you? I'm so sorry!"

It was Laura's turn to be speechless as she processed the fact Wanda had just spoken her words. She felt the undeniable sting as her soul mark Flared, and automatically raised her hand to trace her fingers over her collarbone. Wanda's eyes dropped to the spot, and she reached up to brush Laura's shirt aside and trail her own fingers over the writing there.

"It's so beautiful," she whispered. "We are gold."

Laura smiled and placed her hand over Wanda's, holding the girl's hand to her skin. "Welcome to my family, honey," she said. Wanda looked at her, tears overflowing.

"It's been so long since I have had a home, and now Pietro is not here to share it with me," she said, her voice breaking as she cried. Laura gathered Wanda up in her arms and held her as she sobbed out her pain.

"Shh. It's okay, honey. It's okay." She rocked Wanda gently and looked at Clint over the girl's shoulder as he came back into the room. "You're here now. I've got you. I won't let you go." She gave Clint a small smile as she comforted her young soulmate.

Wanda pulled away, sniffling and wiping her face on her sleeve. "I'm sorry," she said.

"You've got nothing to be sorry for," Laura said with a gentle smile. "You've been through a lot. I just want you to know that you're safe here. This is your home now too. We are your family, and we'll take care of you." She tugged on the end of Wanda's hair, bringing a smile to the girl's face. Clint was looking on, slightly confused, but rolling with it.

"Thank you," Wanda said. "Um, is there someplace I can clean up? I'm a mess now." She looked embarrassed, which Laura found completely adorable.

"You're beautiful," Laura said, cupping Wanda's cheek. Wanda leaned into the touch, but her wide eyed gaze never strayed from Laura's face.

"You are the beautiful one," she said, sounding awed. "I see it in you. I see your heart. I see your love, and your loneliness, and your dedication. You are amazing, and you are everything I could ever want in my soulmate. I only hope to make you happy." Wanda was smiling at her through teary eyes, and Laura's own happiness and gladness were welling up within her. She gave Wanda a soft kiss on the cheek and watched her blush.

"The bathroom is right down that hallway, sweetie. Can't miss it. I'll be right here when you get back." She watched the young girl go, then turned to her husband.

"Did what I think just happened really just happen?" Clint said. Laura rolled her eyes.

"Yes, dear. Apparently you found my soulmate and brought her home, and now I'm keeping her." Laura's words were teasing, but her tone and posture were full of contentment. She felt at peace, whole.

"I'll let you explain this one to the kids," he said, grinning, and Laura laughed.

Chapter Text

Wanda/T'Challa

++++

After the Raft, they go to Wakanda.

T'Challa greets them upon their arrival, shaking Steve's hand and welcoming them to his home. His eyes flick over the others briefly, but she knows he misses nothing. His eyes may be quick, but his mind is quicker. That much is obvious.

He says nothing to her as he ushers them inside, but she feels his gaze linger on her for a moment. It makes her uncomfortable, and she huddles closer into Clint's side. He has held her since their escape, and she is glad for it. She isn't sure she could continue to stand on her own. Now Clint hugs her as she curls tighter against him and away from T'Challa's scrutiny.

Wanda is given medical care, clothes, a room. Clint offers to stay with her, but she shakes her head and turns him away. She wants to be alone. She wants to not feel the pressure to be "herself" again, whoever that is. She wants to simply be.

Days pass like this, until they force Wanda to leave her room for a while, saying how unhealthy it is for her to stay shut away all the time. She doesn't say anything, she hasn't spoken since before the Raft, but she leaves her room and walks the grounds instead.

She is sitting, watching the spray of a beautiful fountain, the light catching on the water and creating a rainbow in the air. She hasn't seen anything so beautiful in a long time.

She jumps when T'Challa appears next to her with that casual grace he always has. He doesn't sit, and she pulls her legs up to her chest and clutches her knees, waiting for judgment, waiting for his anger. She killed his countrymen. She fought against Stark and the Accords. She braces herself.

T'Challa doesn't say anything. He stays for a few minutes, then walks away, and she is confused, her guilt left eating at her. She puts her head down on her knees and tries not to cry.

The pattern continues. He finds her at random times, in random places. He doesn't speak. After the first couple of encounters, he begins to sit next to her instead of standing. After a couple of weeks, his visits start to become longer, a few minutes becomes ten, perhaps even more. She doesn't keep track.

She is wary at first, but as time goes on, she relaxes. She grows more comfortable with his strange brand of company. Unlike Clint and the others, he doesn't push, doesn't try to make her speak, doesn't ask questions she doesn't have the answers to. He is simply there, and she doesn't know why.

It is a month before he speak to her.

"I've been trying to understand you, Miss Maximoff," he says, and Wanda freezes, every muscle in her body instantly wound tight at his words. Her words. The words that have been scrawled across her body since before she can remember. He must mistake her sudden tension for anger or something, because he rushes to reassure her. "I do not hold your actions in Lagos against you, as some do. I know it was an unfortunate accident. The Accords were meant to try to prevent such accidents from happening, but I am afraid they have been used to justify the type of imprisonment you experienced, and that bothers me a great deal. I feel I must apologize for what you have gone through, Miss Maximoff. I won't let that happen again."

He is looking at her. She can feel his gaze, intense as it is, burning her. Just as she can still feel the sting of her soul mark Flaring.

"I have been trying to understand you. Here you are, probably the most powerful woman in the world, and yet you cringe away from my very presence. I don't understand what has broken you so, but for some reason, I wish to."

Wanda risks looking over at him, and immediately regrets it. His eyes draw her in. She can't bring herself to look away again. She settles for watching him watch her.

"I read about you," T'Challa continues. "You have been a very driven woman. That's why you have your powers, is it not? You wanted to affect change in the world."

"We wanted vengeance," she growls, her voice hoarse and cracking with disuse, but made strong by fury. She sounds almost unrecognizable even to herself. "Pietro and I, we wanted Tony Stark to die." The impact of her words hits him hard, she can tell. Her eyes flick down to his forearm, which he is rubbing now through his sleeve, and she knows he feels the Flare. "Pietro and I were consumed by our desire for vengeance, and it cost us his life." Angry tears spring to her eyes and she blinks them away.

"We could kid ourselves that we were doing this for the greater good, but no. We wanted to become stronger to take our revenge for the lives of our parents and for all those who had suffered at the hands of Stark and those like him. We wanted to destroy him above all else. It was our mission." She doesn't try to stop the flood of bitterness from showing in her voice or on her face. She lets go. She stops holding on so tightly, and it is freeing. "Don't assume you know why I have done the things I've done. You don't know me. I am powerful, but power guarantees nothing. It couldn't save my brother. It couldn't save me."

"I have also felt the need for vengeance. I stopped letting it consume me, but it was a hard thing." He looks sad, his voice soft, and her anger melts away.

"I am sorry. I should not have snapped at you like that." She sighs and hangs her head. She wonders if he still wants to know her after all of that. Probably not. "I will never sign the Accords because I do not wish to be controlled again. I have had too much of that in my life already. I will not be a weapon, to be aimed at whoever the 'Powers That Be' thinks deserves it. I will make my own choices."

T'Challa's steady gaze unnerves her, and she forces herself not to fidget. Her throat aches now, after being unused for so long, and she focuses on that. It helps.

"It's alright, Miss Maximoff. I understand." They are both quiet for a moment, gathering their thoughts, letting the tension settle. Slowly, Wanda begins to breathe easier, though she is startled when T'Challa clears his throat into their silence. "May I call you Wanda?" he asks, and he looks younger now, unsure of himself in a way she has not seen from him before.

"Yes," she says. "May I call you T'Challa?" He nods, and she smiles, a small smile, but a true one nevertheless. It feels strange on her face.

"You are my soulmate," he says. He looks at her in wonder. "No wonder I was drawn to you." Wanda remains quiet, unsure of what to say. She watches as T'Challa reaches towards her slowly and takes her hands in his own. She doesn't flinch. This surprises her. "I want to get to know you, Wanda. I hope that you would like to know me as well." He presses a soft kiss to her knuckles.

"I do," she says. "I think we are much alike."

His smile is blinding, and in it she sees hope.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Maria

++++

Maria made it through her day through deep breathing and the promise of a relaxing bath when she got home. If she ever made it home. At this point, chances weren't looking too good.

When the hell had blowing a city out of the sky become a thing? How the hell had they come to this point? Aliens. Genocidal robots. What next? Never mind, she didn't really want to know. Forget she asked.

She’d been working almost nonstop since the disaster that was the Sokovia Incident. Stark and SHIELD both had people on site now aiding in the relief efforts. Coordinating that had been a nightmare. A week later, and things were finally starting to calm down, even if the amount of paperwork and red tape she was now having to plow through meant long days, and sometimes late nights, at her desk. Dealing with world governments could be such a hassle.

She needed a break from the, for lack of a better term, bullshit.

Maybe it was time to check in on the Avengers’ newest recruit. Well, newest human recruit. She really had no idea what to think of the Vision yet, and was keeping a cautious distance for now. Tony’s last project had been a disaster. Vision seemed to be a completely different sort of being, but she still wasn't entirely comfortable with him yet. However, with Banner disappeared off into the wild blue yonder, Barton retiring, Thor leaving for parts unknown, and Stark deciding to focus on other things for the moment, the Avengers were a bit short staffed. Rogers and Romanoff were throwing around some ideas for replacements, but nothing had been decided quite yet. Maria had seen the contenders list, though, and she knew who she had her money on. It was just a matter of time.

Time they were putting to good use finishing construction on the new Avengers facility. Having the Avengers out of Stark’s tower and out of New York City seemed like a good idea. They were having absolutely terrible luck not destroying the place. At least here they had wide open spaces in case of alien invasion or experiment gone wrong. It would house everything from a science division to living quarters for the Avengers team members themselves.

Speaking of which, Maria made her way down the hall leading to the brand new section of living quarters. This was one of the first things that had been completed in the new base, if for no other reason than to provide a place for the newest Avengers to live. Stark was throwing money into getting this place fixed up fast, so she had a feeling he was compensating for something, but she really didn't care to figure out what. Tony Stark’s neuroses were not her problem, and she was damn grateful for that. She wouldn't want to be his therapist.

She sighed and promised herself some wine with her relaxing bath. Wine and, after her bath, takeout from the Chinese place down the street. A guilty pleasure, and one she could definitely use tonight.

She stopped in the Maximoff girl’s doorway and did a quick double take. The Vision was there, with his arms wrapped around the girl, and they were just standing there in the middle of her room, holding each other. She heard the girl sniffle, and Maria’s heart went out to her. She’d heard about the sacrifice Pietro Maximoff had made for Barton and that Sokovian child. She honestly hadn't thought the boy capable of something like that, not from their past experiences with him, but he’d proven to be a hero in the end, and had been the only one of them to fall in the battle.

Leaving his sister all alone and grieving. Maria couldn't imagine what the Maximoff girl was going through right now, having lost her brother and her home in one fell swoop, after having colluded with Ultron in the first place.

The girl noticed her first, straightening up and pulling away from the Vision awkwardly, and running a hand through her hair to pull it off her face. Vision seemed hesitant to let the girl go, but turned to face Maria anyway.

“Greetings, Ms. Hill,” Vision said. “Is there something we can help you with?”

Maria hadn't had a chance to speak to Wanda Maximoff yet. She took a good long look at the girl now, and noted how skinny she was, and how her hands trembled as she wiped her tears away. This girl was a mess. Was anyone watching her? Anyone but Vision?

“I was hoping to speak to Miss Maximoff for a moment,” she told him. Vision nodded and turned to the girl, offering her a small smile.

“I will see you later, Wanda.”

“Thank you, Vision.” The girl’s voice was lower than Maria had imagined, and rather alluring, with that accent. She scolded herself as she watched Vision phase through the wall and out of the room. She wondered if she would ever get used to that.

The Maximoff girl wrapped her arms around herself and stood there quietly, waiting for Maria to speak. Maria found being the focus of those green eyes was a bit discomfiting, and she had to force herself not to fidget. God, she hadn't been this nervous in years. What the hell?

“I'm Maria Hill. I basically supervise the Avengers’ activities and run the base, and I'm sort of the liaison between the Avengers and, well, everybody else. I'm here to see how you're settling in.” She was proud of herself for sounding so collected in the face of that utterly disarming gaze, a gaze that was now looking a little bit panicked. The girl’s breathing had sped up and she was looking decidedly queasy now. “Did I say something wrong?”

All she got in reply was the girl shaking her head and rubbing her palms over her dress. Okay, she knew she called the girl weird before, but there's weird, and then there's weird.

“Do you need a doctor?” Maria asked, moving into the room.

“No doctors! I'm alright,” the girl said quickly, and Maria froze in her tracks as a stinging heat Flared up on the small of her back. Oh god. They stood there staring at each other in silence, eyes wide and disbelieving in each of their faces.

“You're my soulmate,” Maria said. “I always wondered why someone would say that. I guess I get it now, after everything HYDRA put you through, it makes sense.” She laughed, and if the laugh sounded just a little hysterical, Maximoff let it pass.

“You are Maria Hill,” the girl said, and Maria shivered at the way her name sounded when she said it. “I have had your name on me all my life. P-Piet… My brother…used to tease me about it all the time. I hated it,” she said softly. Sadly.

“I'm sorry,” Maria said, not knowing what else she could offer.

“Please call me Wanda,” the girl said, frowning. “You and I should not be so formal.” She paused, looking suddenly shy. “May I see it?”

Maria swallowed hard, but nodded. She turned around, untucking her blouse and tugging it up in the back to show her mark. She glanced over her shoulder as Wanda moved closer, and shivered when she felt the girl’s fingers trace the writing on her back. God, the things this girl was doing to her self control.

“What color are we?” Maria asked to distract herself. She felt Wanda’s fingers trail over her sides, then back to her mark.

“Purple,” the girl said. “It is beautiful.”

“I wish I could see that.” Surprisingly enough, she really did. She wanted to know what color they were. She wanted to see it with her own eyes. And she sort of wanted to see her words scrawled on Wanda’s skin. Was it getting hot in here? She should have someone check the air conditioning tomorrow.

“I could show you,” Wanda said, taking a step back and reaching for the hem of her dress. Maria grabbed her hands, stopping her from taking it off. She knew her face was red. Had to be. She hadn't been this flustered since she was a teenager. Damn it. “Do you not want to see?” Wanda asked, her tone innocent, but her eyes holding a hint of challenge.

“Yes. I do. The mark, I mean, not…,” she gestured at Wanda, who raised an eyebrow.

“Do you not find me attractive? I think you are quite beautiful,” Wanda said. “I would like to know you better. I would like to be able to embrace the one person left in this world who is mine.” The girl sighed. “I am not so young or inexperienced as you might think, Maria. It is alright.”

Wanda had hit the nail on the head. This girl was so young, and so lost, so sad. How could Maria take advantage of that? No matter how much she might want to. Wanda tilted her head, her gaze fixed on Maria’s face, then she growled in frustration and grabbed Maria by the face, pulling her into a heated kiss. Wanda released her quickly, but Maria was still left reeling.

“I want this, Maria. Make me feel something good. Please.”

Maria Hill had intended to return to her paperwork, then go home and take a hot bath and relax alone. Instead, she closed the door to Wanda Maximoff’s room and locked it. She smirked at Wanda, having decided to let loose and give in to what she was feeling.

“Come here. I'll take care of you,” she said.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Darcy 2

++++

Darcy wants to complain. Not that it would do any good. Jane was insistent on coming to Sokovia. Something about excellent visibility for some planetary lineup. That was all well and good for Jane, but Darcy could see very little else to recommend Novi Grad as a tourist destination, especially not the whole “civil unrest and possible rioting” thing. She could do without that. Jane however, would walk through fire to get The Science, so Darcy helped it happen.

Couldn't she have interned with a slightly more sane scientist? Jane was great. She loved Jane like that annoying older sister she never had. She even let Darcy do pretty much whatever she wanted as long as Jane got her science, but there were other things that mattered. Like personal safety and comfort. Y’know. Little things.

At the moment, Jane was asleep. Staying up all night meant daytime was sleepy time, and Darcy should really have been in bed too, but she has too much restless energy. Time to see what Sokovia had to offer.

Not much, at least, not where they were. Maybe it would be better elsewhere in Novi Grad, but all she found were a few restaurants, some tiny stores, and an open air market. Now that actually looked interesting.

She browsed the stalls, picking up some fresh fruit along the way. It was pretty busy. There were people bargaining with the sellers, kids running around with their mothers calling after them, some young couples walking hand in hand. Most of what was said was in some foreign language she couldn't immediately identify, but there was a bit of English being thrown around as well, so she wasn't totally lost.

Darcy bit into an apple as she did a little people watching, one of her favorite activities. It was way better than television sometimes. People were crazy. She liked that.

Someone bumped into her, and she prepared to give the culprit the meanest, baddest glare she could, when she found herself looking into the biggest, greenest eyes she’d ever seen. The woman was gorgeous, with long, dark hair and absolutely kissable lips. Darcy searched for something to say, something to bring the beautiful girl back towards her, but she was moving further into the crowd. She looked back to give Darcy a wink and a wicked smile, and then she was gone.

A sudden thought occurred to Darcy, and she reached for her wallet, but it was gone. She'd been too distracted by the hot chick to realize she'd been victim to one of the oldest tricks in the book, the bump and grab. She should've known a girl like that wouldn't normally give her the time of day. She should've known there was something up. Wasn't she supposed to be the street smart member of the team?

“Damn it! Jane’s gonna kill me.” She groaned as she turned and made her way back to the little hotel they were staying at. At least the place was old enough to still use real keys. The key was still safely in her pocket.

She kicked herself all the way back to their room.

++++

Jane was mad, but seeing as how that hadn't been all of their money, she got over it. She had bigger things to worry about, like getting her equipment set up for the night. Which meant lugging around a bunch of stuff from the car to a little hilltop outside the city. Not too bad. They'd done worse, and it was a nice night.

Darcy spent the evening listening to her music with one ear and Jane with the other, which was pretty relaxing. She nodded off for a while, only waking up when Jane started packing things away and calling her name. She seemed pretty happy, so Darcy smiled and hummed while they worked. A happy Jane was a good thing. She liked when her friend was happy.

Once again, though, Darcy couldn't sleep, and instead went walking around. She kept a close eye on her pockets this time, not wanting a repeat of the day before.

She hadn't expected to see the pretty thief again, but there she was at the edge of the crowd, looking for all the world like she wasn't searching for her next mark. Anger burned in Darcy’s gut, and before she knew it, she was stalking up to the woman and grabbing her by the arm. The woman’s eyes widened as she saw Darcy, but Darcy wasn't gonna let her get away without at least venting some of her frustration.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Darcy asked, voice shaking with emotion. The girl’s eyes grew impossibly wide, and Darcy might've laughed under different circumstances. “I mean, I know hitting up tourists is the ‘in’ thing, but we can't all afford to be robbed, alright? Some of us don't even have paying jobs. Im doing it for the love, baby, all for the love.”

The girl just stared at her, and Darcy started to get uncomfortable.

“What?” she asked. “Do you not speak English, ‘cause that would really suck if I just wasted that whole speech.”

Suddenly Darcy’s hand was ripped off the girl’s arm and she was shoved roughly away.

“Hands off my sister,” the hot new guy growled at her. He was cradling the girl in his arms and looked ready to get violent at any second. Darcy reached in her pocket for her mini taser, but didn't pull it out quite yet. She didn't wanna escalate the situation if she didn't have to. The guy was pretty imposing, not huge, but strong looking, and bristling with anger.

“Hey, she's the one who stole my wallet, man. I'm just talking to her,” Darcy said.

The hottie said something to him in their native language, and Darcy was struck by how damn sexy her voice was. Damn.

The guy was looking down at his sister incredulously now, and she was obviously trying to calm him. Darcy appreciated the effort, but maybe it was time to split, while they were preoccupied. She took a couple of slow steps backwards, then turned to go, when the girl called out after her.

“Please wait. I wish to talk,” the girl said. Darcy felt the sharp burn of her soul mark, and gasped, her hand coming up to cover her arm where the mark lay under her shirt. She turned back to the siblings and watched as the girl slowly approached her.

“What did you say?” Darcy asked, still a bit stunned.

“I asked you to wait. I wish to speak to you, my soulmate, before you disappear.” She said something to her brother before turning back to Darcy. “Come. It's best if we don't talk here.”

Darcy followed the woman in a daze, hardly able to believe what was happening. How could this be her soulmate? A beautiful thief from a little war torn country. It was like some stupid romance novel or something. Things like this just didn't happen, especially not to her.

She was led to an alley a couple blocks away, where it was quieter and there was no one but them, and suddenly Darcy was nervous. She was practically queasy from nerves.

“I’m sorry I stole from you. I would not have done that if I had known who you were,” the girl said in that spectacularly sexy voice of hers, and Darcy had to fight down a wave of arousal so strong it made her knees shake. “Pietro is fetching your wallet. Most of it is still intact, though I’m afraid we have spent some of your money already.” The girl looked ashamed, and Darcy found her anger melting away.

“Why steal at all?” she asked.

“It is impossible for us to find work. Not many people are hiring, and especially not to people like us. This is not how we want to live, but we do what we must to survive.” In the girl’s eyes was a silent plea for understanding.

“Okay. I get that,” Darcy said. “I'm super glad you still have my wallet. I sorta need my ID and stuff. Thanks for returning it to me.”

“Of course,” the girl said. “I would never do anything to harm you. I apologize for what I have done.”

“It's okay. I know what it's like to do what you gotta do,” Darcy said, giving her a small smile. “What's your name?”

“Wanda. Wanda Maximoff.”

“Hi, Wanda. I'm Darcy Lewis, and you have a beautiful name.” Darcy grinned. “I never thought I'd have a drop dead gorgeous soulmate.” Darcy watched a light blush spread over Wanda’s cheeks, and she reached out to brush her fingers over the girl’s face. Wanda leaned into her touch, and Darcy stepped forward into her space, close enough to feel the heat of Wanda’s body.

When their lips met, it was magical. Darcy’s eyes slid closed, and she moaned into the kiss, her fingers tangling in Wanda’s hair to pull her closer. She felt the woman’s hands on her hips, gripping her tightly before sliding around to her lower back, her fingers traveling downwards from there. Their embrace grew more heated, kisses almost desperate, until Pietro cleared his throat, breaking them apart.

“Get a room,” he said, rolling his eyes, and Wanda grinned. He handed Darcy her wallet, managing to look contrite even with a teasing smirk on his face. Darcy ignored that, refusing to be embarrassed for losing it over Wanda. Had he seen his sister?

“So… Where do we go from here?” Darcy asked. “I'm only in Novi Grad for a couple more days, but I don't wanna leave you,” she said to Wanda.

“May we come with you?” Wanda asked, looking worried. “We have no money, but we can do other things. Cook, clean, fix things, whatever you need, we can do it. There is nothing for us here.” Pietro nodded his agreement.

“Well, I've gotta find the money for the plane tickets. Do you have paperwork, like a passport or whatever?” They both shook their heads, and Darcy sighed. “That's gonna be harder, but I know a guy who can maybe pull a few strings.” She caressed Wanda’s face, her gaze softening. “Don't worry. You're coming with me, one way or another. I'm not letting go of a good thing.”

Wanda’s smile was bright enough to light up the world.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Darcy 3

++++

Life just really sucked sometimes. Really, really sucked.

Darcy didn’t want to go on this stupid trip. She had tried to tell Jane as much, but her friend just wasn’t listening. Jane wanted to go to a beach resort with her hunky boyfriend (who went by the name of Thor, of all things), and she wanted to take Darcy with her. Apparently she “didn’t get out enough” or something. Whatevs. As if Jane should talk. This was her first vacation in probably ever, with how obsessed she was with her work. It took a sexy, blonde alpha male to distract her at all.

Still, Jane really wanted her to go, and Thor was paying for everything. He seemed more than happy to have Darcy invited along, which was cool, and how could she say no to that? Jane even insisted on taking her shopping for some warm weather clothes, since Darcy didn’t have much in the way of beachwear at the moment. She’d be a bad friend to turn them down when her bestie was so excited about having her there, right?

Jane took an afternoon off just to go shopping with her, and Darcy found herself enjoying it a lot. Spending time with her friend was always a good thing, something she sorely missed. They’d worked together for a long time before Darcy finally took the plunge and went for her dream of being a professional photographer. She’d built up quite a client base since then, through hard work and not a small amount of luck, but she missed those long days and nights spent helping Jane on her path to becoming one of the world’s foremost astronomers. The woman was a marvel, and Darcy had learned a lot about the importance of perseverance at Jane’s side.

That was probably the real reason she gave in to Jane’s repeated attempts to drag Darcy on this island getaway. Jane would never give up on something she really wanted, and Darcy needed to overcome her aversion to exposure. She knew she did. Jane was looking out for her, as she always had. Gotta love the girl for that.

Darcy’s stomach clenched, however, when she looked at the two piece swimsuit she’d brought. What had she been thinking? Jane must’ve cast some sort of spell over her to make her buy this thing. She never wore things like this if she could help it. Ever.

She sighed. No sense delaying the inevitable. She changed quickly, then stopped in front of the mirror to look at herself.

She was okay, she supposed. Full lips, dark hair, and pale skin (she reminded herself to apply liberal amounts of sunscreen when she went out). Her job kept her on her feet and in shape as much as possible for someone who avoided the gym like it was her grade school bully. She had full breasts, nice curves... and a huge, ugly scar splashed across her stomach and down her left thigh.

God, she hated it. It had been there as long as she could remember. She’d been burned as a young child, and although she couldn’t remember the experience (thank goodness), it made her self conscious. She’d received so much pain just for having the rippled, discolored skin on her body. Kids could be evil little monsters, and she’d been the target of more than her fair share of bullying and teasing. That had left a scar all it’s own, one harder to get over. The laughter and cruel, cutting remarks were always there in the back of her mind, waiting to remind her of why she had so few friends over the years.

Even now, as an adult, people could be dicks about it. She’d had lovers (if you could call them that), who had broken things off as soon as they’d seen her, too unsettled by the sight of the scar to ever be comfortable touching her. It was hard to trust someone enough to let them in after experiences like that.

She sighed again as she traced her fingers over the scar. There was one other reason she hated this thing. It had burned off her soul mark. She had no idea what it said or looked like, only the placement, the only thing her parents could remember about it, for some reason. Would the mark show up when it flared? She’d had skin grafts on the area, so she couldn’t be sure. She might never get to see the beautiful color that would indicate her soul bond.

She blew out a quick breath in frustration, chiding herself for dwelling on the past. What’s done was done, right? No use crying over spilled milk, as they said. It was time to get over herself and get over her hangups about this. Time to step into the light, literally.

Darcy put a cover up on until she reached the beach, though, where she took a deep breath before removing it and settling down on a lounge chair to soak up some sun. She forced herself not to fidget, told herself no one was looking, no one cared.

She was repeating that to herself, eyes closed tight, when suddenly sand was kicked onto her, and she heard someone suck in a quick breath. Darcy’s eyes snapped open, anger and embarrassment triggering her fight or flight instincts, and boy, was she ready to fight. She looked at the woman in front of her, expecting to see disgust or shock or something equally humiliating on her face as she stared at Darcy’s scar, but the woman’s eyes were on her face, not her stomach, and she didn’t look repulsed at all. In fact, she looked rather flushed, like she was blushing....

And what eyes she had, sparkling green, kind and, yup, a bit embarrassed. The girl was gorgeous. Darcy struggled to find something to say, something witty or at least not completely ridiculous, but she was distracted by the woman’s tiny bikini and gentle curves, not to mention the long, shapely length of her legs. She wanted to shrivel up and hide, faced with such a beautiful specimen of femininity. Her scar had never felt more hideous.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to stare, you’re just so beautiful,” the woman said, words coming out all in a rush, and Darcy’s eyes widened. Her jaw absolutely hit the floor, and she might’ve frozen that way for ages except for the sharp, stinging pain across her stomach. She looked down at herself and started to laugh a bit hysterically, and her new soulmate looked completely confused.

The woman’s words were emblazoned on her stomach, in the most beautiful, flowing script she’d ever seen. Darcy traced her fingers over the letters wordlessly, throat tight with emotion and tears in her eyes. Her hands shook with the force of the emotions suddenly roiling inside of her, and she swallowed hard a few times, trying to find her voice.

“You are my soulmate,” the woman said in wonder. “Did- did I upset you? Do you want me to leave?” The girl sounded unsure, afraid, and it was that fear that finally gave Darcy the strength to speak.

“It’s just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Darcy said, tears finally spilling over. “I always loved this color.” She smiled, and the woman seemed to relax again.

“My name is Wanda,” she said, running her hands over her stomach where Darcy’s words, which she hadn’t noticed until now, had morphed from plain black to a vivid green. “I can’t believe you’re here!”

“I almost wasn’t,” Darcy said ruefully. “I’ve never been so happy to have been dragged into something in my life.” She stood up, wanting to be closer to her soulmate. “I’m Darcy,” she said.

“That’s a pretty name,” Wanda said bashfully, ducking her head. Her hair fell in front of her face, and without even thinking about what she was doing, Darcy reached out and tucked it behind Wanda’s ear. The girl’s lips quirked up in a flirty smile.

You’re pretty,” Darcy said softly, and was pleased when Wanda blushed all over again. It was adorable. She could definitely get used to this.

She flinched when she felt Wanda’s fingers on her stomach, on her scar, and Wanda paused for a moment.

“Is this alright?” she asked. Darcy swallowed hard and nodded jerkily, steeling herself.

Wanda’s gaze dropped to Darcy’s stomach, where she ran her fingertips over her words, and Darcy felt an unexpected jolt of pleasure shoot through her at the contact. It was like nothing she’d ever experienced before. She’d always heard that having your soulmate touch their words could be arousing, but this was so much more powerful than she had ever imagined. Suddenly it was just the two of them on this stretch of beach, and Darcy wanted nothing more than to press her lips to her words where they were scrawled on Wanda’s toned stomach. She wanted to kiss this woman breathless, explore her body, learn her taste and feel. The want was nearly overwhelming.

Wanda seemed to feel something similar, as she sucked in a deep, shaky breath and visibly gathered herself.

“I want you,” Wanda said boldly. “Can we go back to your room? I have a roommate.” Wanda pointed over at a group of people laughing and playing around a few yards away. “I’m sorry I kicked sand on you. I was trying to retrieve our ball.” She picked up a volleyball Darcy hadn’t even noticed, tossing it with her graceful, slender fingers. Darcy glanced over at Wanda’s friends.

“Won’t they miss you?” she asked. “And aren’t we moving a little fast?”

“Only fast if you don’t want it.” Wanda suddenly looked very uncertain. “Do you want to be with me now? I’m sorry I assumed.”

“Oh yeah. I am totally not against some alone time for the two of us, believe me. I just don’t wanna interrupt anything,” Darcy said.

“You aren’t. I will return the ball. They will understand. Wait here,” Wanda said. She ran over to her friends and tossed them the ball. Darcy watched her talk to them, suddenly self conscious again as Wanda pointed to her, but her friends only smiled over at Darcy, one offering a little wave. They shooed Wanda away with good natured laughter, and she returned to Darcy with flushed cheeks.

“They took that well,” Darcy said. Wanda took Darcy’s hand and brought it to her lips, placing a soft kiss on her knuckles.

“They’ve been worried for me. They tell me I’ve been alone too long.”

“How is that even possible? I mean, look at you,” Darcy exclaimed without thinking. She clapped a hand over her mouth, but Wanda just laughed.

“I was waiting for you,” she said, and warmth suffused Darcy’s body at the honest affection in Wanda’s gaze.

“Wow,” was all she could think of to say, but she tugged Wanda along behind her, her soul mark absolutely tingling at the thought of touching her soulmate once again. She stopped in front of her room, turning to Wanda once more.

“You really think I’m beautiful?” she asked, needing reassurance. Wanda cupped her face, stroking her thumb along Darcy’s cheek.

“I do,” Wanda murmured, leaning in close, their lips almost touching. “Let me show you.” She brought their lips together, kissing Darcy gently, but insistently, and Darcy moaned into her mouth.

Darcy wasn’t gonna question it anymore. She opened the door and pulled Wanda inside.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Pepper

++++

“I just can’t believe you, Tony. What were you thinking? ‘A suit of armor around the world’ is your idea of peace?” Pepper stared at him open mouthed, completely flabbergasted.

“Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time,” Tony said with a sardonic, yet flirtatious smile.

“Most of your ideas do,” Pepper replied. “And Where was Bruce in all this?” She stopped herself at the hurt look in his eyes at the thought of his missing friend. “You know what? Never mind.” She sighed heavily. “What am I gonna do with you, Tony? I mean, first you destroy all your suits, and I think you’ve given Iron Man up, and then you start Avenging again, and now this. Do you have any idea of the PR nightmare you’ve created? Not to mention that the team destroyed an entire city.”

“Hey! That wasn’t completely our fault.” She raised her hand at Tony’s defensiveness.

“I get that, but this company, the one you gave me control of, it’s involved in cleaning up the mess. Your mess. Again.” Tony shrugged, and even though she knew he was acting this way because of his deep sense of guilt, she still let it get under her skin. Her patience was wearing thin.

“Well, it is still my company. I mean, my name’s still on it and everything,” he quipped.

Pepper wanted to scream, pull her hair out, something. Talking to Tony when he was like this was about as productive as banging her head into a wall. She growled and threw her hands up.

“What do you want from me, Pepper? You want me to tell you I’ll stop Avenging now? That I’ve seen the error of my ways? That’s what I’m trying to do! I’m trying to make this right.” He opened his arms to her, his face alight with hope, but she’d been fooled before. She’d believed him the last time he made this promise. Tony was great at the grand gestures, not so great with the follow through, and she didn’t want to let herself in for that again, damn it. Even if she did still love him, and always would.

“Just stop, Tony,” she said sadly, and his face fell before he quickly recovered and resumed his usual devil-may-care facade.

“I’ll prove it to you, Pep. You’ll see,” he said with forced lightness, and the smile she sent him was strained.

“Sure. We’ll see,” she said, unable to take away his hope, but she pressed her hand against her hip where her soul mark lay, wondering if things would be different now if he was her soulmate. Wondering if she would’ve been enough to make him want to change.

++++

Weeks went by, and Tony was true to his word. He kept to the sidelines, preferring to work on tech than actually going into the field. He spent a lot of time tinkering with and improving the gear of the other Avengers. Pepper watched them make appearances sometimes while she was on the phone in her office, and she had to admit that Tony was taking good care of them. She was proud of him for sticking to his guns on this, so far anyway.

She was also proud of him for being able to accept the female Maximoff twin into his life in any way, after what she’d done. Wanda Maximoff was a pretty young woman, who rarely smiled, it seemed. Not that she had much to smile about these days, with her twin gone. Pepper couldn’t imagine the pain the girl had and was going through. Still, the Scarlet Witch, as they were calling her now, had hurt Tony and the rest of the team very badly, and Pepper couldn’t help but feel angry with her for it. Tony was moving past what happened, though, or attempting to. The least she could do was try to manage the same.

++++

The problem was the presents. Tons of them, of varying degrees of ridiculousness. From rooms full of flowers, to entire displays full of candy, to the finest jewelry, concert tickets, dresses.... He was insane. She told him to stop more than once, but he insisted, something about wanting to “spoil her.”

She wasn’t happy. Tony’s money was never what she wanted.

Pepper suggested he donate to charities instead, and so he did, in her name. She didn’t have to feel guilty about that, at least. His money was going towards good causes, not thrown away on a relationship she wasn’t sure she even wanted anymore. Tony was trying so hard to win her back, had been on his best behavior since returning from Sokovia, but it hadn’t made any difference to her heart.

She sighed loudly as she walked through the new Avengers facility, headed for the armory. She hadn’t been in the building before, and she had to admit she was impressed. Tony had converted the property into an amazing complex for the Avengers’ use. They weren’t just training here, they were housed here as well, which Steve had been adamant about, citing team building concerns. She probably shouldn’t know so much about the inner workings of the team, but Tony didn’t keep much from her these days, both for personal and professional reasons.

Tony had insisted she come by and see it sometime, and today seemed as good a day as any. He was holed up here all day, working, so maybe they could have lunch and really talk. Tony wasn’t great at the whole ‘expressing emotions’ thing. He could talk rings around anyone, and never say what was really on his mind. If she was really honest with herself, Pepper knew it was way past time to tell Tony this wasn’t going to work. She just didn’t feel the same way she used to.

When she reached the armory, Tony wasn’t alone. The Scarlet Witch herself was standing there, modeling her new uniform while Tony took notes of any adjustments he needed to make. They both looked up when she walked in, and Tony’s face lit up with a wide smile.

“Pepper! You finally decided to grace us humble beings with your presence,” he joked. “Wanda, meet Pepper Potts, head of Stark Industries. Pep, you know Wanda.”

Pepper smiled at the young girl, who nodded at her in greeting, face expressionless.

“You are the one Tony says puts up with him at great personal cost,” Wanda said in acknowledgement.

Pepper’s eyes widened in recognition of those words even before she registered the sting on her hip, the Flare of her soul mark.

“Is that what he says?” she asked without thinking, and finally got a reaction from the girl, a flash of wide eyes and slight hitch in her breathing, but Wanda covered it well, face going back to inscrutable within moments. Tony seemed to sense something was amiss, but shrugged it off and looked back at Wanda.

“Well, being with me does have its benefits,” he said, smiling broadly and winking at the girl. Wanda ignored him, face blank.

“Are we finished?” she asked blandly.

“Yup. We’re good. Take it off and I’ll make it all better.” Pepper cleared her throat at his choice of words, raising an eyebrow, but Wanda was already shrugging off her coat. To her great relief, and regret, Wanda didn’t need to remove anything else. Pepper swallowed hard as Wanda walked towards her, pausing only when she was right next to Pepper, close enough for their shoulders to brush. Pepper looked into Wanda’s eyes and she could swear she felt some sort of connection snap into place.

“It was a pleasure to meet you, Pepper,” Wanda said softly, face still expressionless, but eyes speaking volumes.

“The pleasure was all mine” Pepper said, and a jolt shot through her at the flash of heat in Wanda’s eyes. The girl said nothing else, just took her leave, and Pepper turned back to Tony and wiped a hand over her face.

“We need to talk,” she said simply.

++++

Pepper knocked on Wanda’s door, feeling more than a little trepidation, but unable to stay away.

Her talk with Tony hadn’t gone well, of course. He was hurting, so he acted out. By the end of their lunch, he’d had way too much to drink, and she called James Rhodes to come get him. She loved Tony, and she always would, but she couldn’t and wouldn’t be his keeper anymore.

Lost in her thoughts, she gasped when the door swung open. Wanda stood there, looking as if she’d been waiting for Pepper to show up. She gestured for Pepper to enter her room, and Pepper could feel Wanda’s eyes on her as she walked in on shaky legs and looked around. The room was still pretty bare, even after all these weeks being here, and she wondered how Wanda was really doing, because so far, the woman she’d seen wasn’t doing very well.

The sound of the door closing brought Pepper out of her trance. Wanda was gazing at her warily, and Pepper gave her a nervous smile.

“Hi,” she said, her mind too full of questions to focus.

“Hello,” Wanda said quietly, her sultry voice sliding down Pepper’s spine like liquid heat. God, she hadn’t reacted to someone like this in...ever. This was visceral, instinctual. Her entire body felt this woman’s presence. “I’m glad to see you again so quickly,” Wanda continued. “I had hoped.” She didn’t say anything else, and silence settled between them.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Pepper blurted out suddenly. “I had just decided to end things with Tony, and then there’s you, and I really wasn’t expecting this. I have no idea how to handle it.”

Strangely enough, Wanda smiled.

“I don’t know what I’m doing either. I’m here, alone. A new country, new people, new everything, with people I swore to destroy.” She grimaced. “And without my brother,” Wanda said, pain now naked upon her face, and Pepper’s heart broke for her. She stepped forward and wrapped Wanda in her arms. The younger woman slowly embraced her back, holding on tightly and shuddering as she held in her tears. “Can you feel it?” Wanda whispered into her neck. “Do you feel me like I feel you?”

Pepper shivered at the feel of Wanda’s breath on her skin, and couldn’t deny it.

“Yeah. I feel it too,” she said. She released her hold on Wanda and backed up a step to look her in the eyes. “You hurt my friends, though.”

“I did,” Wanda said. “I am trying to atone for the things I’ve done.” If Pepper had worried that Wanda would always be difficult to read, her worries were put to rest. Now that the girl was talking, her face was alive with emotion. She could see the fear of rejection baldly apparent in her eyes.

“I’m trying to get past it,” Pepper said. She reached up to brush her fingers over Wanda’s cheek, and the girl caught her hand and held it there, leaning into her touch.

“Please give me a chance,” Wanda said, her voice trembling. “I would never harm you.” Her eyes were pleading for acceptance, for forgiveness.

“It’s okay, Wanda,” Pepper said, smiling softly. “I know.”

“I can’t lose you. I just lost him. I can’t lose you too.” Wanda’s voice was hoarse with emotion. Obviously words weren’t going to be enough. Pepper leaned in and kissed her, her lips moving firmly but slowly over Wanda’s. Wanda leaned into the kiss, not deepening it, but savoring.

They were both breathing a little shakily by the end of it. They stared, then reached for each other at the same time, fingers intertwining.

“I’m coming out of a relationship with a ton of emotional baggage,” Pepper said.

“And I’m an emotional wreck with powers no one understands,” Wanda replied.

They laughed together, finally at ease.

“We’ll be just fine,” Pepper said, confident in that, at least, and she leaned in for another kiss.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Wade 2

++++

Wade’s been trying to get close to the girl, Wanda Maximoff, for weeks. Pretty tough when she’s basically locked up tight in the Avengers compound 98% of the time, emerging only for brief forays onto the training field with the rest of the team. It means spending a lot more time than he’d planned on this one mission, but he isn’t gonna give up now. All he needs is the briefest opening, and hello payday.

It comes unexpectedly, a sudden change in her routine, and he follows as she leaves the safety of the Avengers and SHIELD behind. Now it’s just the two of them, and she is oblivious, yanking a too-large hoodie tighter around herself as she walks towards a quiet and secluded area of the base.

Wade has no idea what this area is for. He hasn’t explored it yet. He assumed it was empty, as no one really approached it, an area not yet ready for use maybe, but the girl walks with purpose. There is a destination here, and he follows her towards it. He takes a moment to bemoan the lack of security. Sure, it makes his life easier, but wasn’t this supposed to be the Avengers’ super-awesome secret base? Shouldn’t someone know he’s here by now?

The hallway opens onto a marble room with soft lighting, and the girl sits on a stone bench, facing a plaque on the wall. The place is peaceful, but gives Wade the creeps for some reason. It echoes, feels colder than it should. If he weren’t such a cool motherfucker, he might be a little weirded out, but nope. Cool as a cucumber. No prickles of uneasiness up his spine at all.

He pulls his gun as he silently approaches her, keeping it leveled at her as he walks around the bench. He doesn’t know why he wants to face her. It would make total sense to just shoot her in the back of the head and be done with it, but he doesn’t want to do that, and he’s not one to question his instincts, so he holds back.

He has his gun pointed right at her face when she looks up at him, completely unsurprised by his presence, and Wade realizes she knew he was there all along. He doesn’t know how, but she knew, and he wonders why she is just sitting there now, gazing up at him with tears streaking her face and pain in her eyes.

She looks so young, and so lost and alone.

His gun hand doesn’t waver, but his resolve does. He’s not opposed to taking out a real threat, male or female, but this girl doesn’t look like a threat to anyone. She looks like she could break apart at the slightest touch. This makes him uneasy. This isn’t what he signed up for. He doesn’t know what to do.

“Do it,” she says. “Kill me. I am already dead.” Her voice breaks over the words, but she stares into the barrel of his gun and waits calmly for him to end her.

Only Wade can’t. He won’t. Not her. Not his soulmate. He knows those words by heart, has wondered for years about what would drive a person to speak them. The skin where his mark was may have been scarred beyond recognition, but he can still feel the Flare that connects him to her.

“Can’t do that, babe. Not to you,” he says, sliding his gun back into its holster. He sees her eyes widen with recognition, watches the realization spread across her pretty face, but is still taken by surprise when she leaps up and throws herself into his arms. Suddenly he’s holding this tiny slip of a girl, who’s sobbing into his chest and hugging him like he’s her lifeline. He has no idea what to do. Again. This girl has completely fucked him up already.

It’s a long time before she stops crying, lets go of him long enough to wipe her face on her jacket. She sniffles and looks up at him, and even with her face all blotchy from tears, she’s beautiful.

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I just lost my brother. My twin.” She nods her head towards the plaque, and Wade is close enough now to read it. Her brother’s name, dates of birth and death, the inscription that just had to come from her: Our hero.

He wraps his arm around her because it’s all he can think of to do, and she leans into him, which makes him happy. He decides to take a risk. She’s his soulmate, after all. She wouldn’t reject him, would she? Rip the bandage off.

Wade reaches up and pulls his mask off, letting her see his disfigured face, waiting for judgement or disgust, but she touches him with kindness and concern.

“What happened to you?” she asks, curious, but accepting. He releases a breath he didn’t even realize he was holding.

“Long story. Can I tell you someplace that isn’t here?” He gives the place a once over. It still creeps him out.

“Of course,” she says, and places a kiss on her brother’s name. The hint of a shy smile she gives Wade gives him hope, and he stops her for a moment.

“One thing. You aren’t dead, and you’ve got every reason to go on living, you got me? I’m not gonna let you give up now.” He stares into her eyes, hoping she gets how serious he is about this. “I’m gonna keep you safe, starting by murdering the fuckhead who sent me here to kill you. We’ll go from there.”

“You are insane,” she murmurs, but her lips are quirked up at the edges. “Do not let Captain Rogers hear you say those things. He would not appreciate it.”

“Got it. Keep the killing to myself. Try not to offend America’s sweetheart.” That comment earns him an honest to god giggle, and it’s the cutest thing he’s ever heard. He wants more. He has a feeling he’s gonna want more of a lot of things from this girl.

His arm around her shoulders, he guides her into the sun.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Peter Quill

++++

Peter absentmindedly rubbed at his wrist as he sat back in the chair with his feet propped up on the control console. He liked this. Space. When the ship was quiet like it was now, lights low and only him keeping his solitary vigil as they flew through the emptiness, his mind could slow and he could feel the tension ease from his shoulders.

It was hard to be alone, but it was hard to be part of a crew too, and he enjoyed these nights to himself. He’d been a loner for too long to give it up easily.

And when he was lonely, he had his soulmate to think about, whoever he or she or it was.

He pulled his sleeve up to look at the words scrawled across his skin, words he’d spent his life obsessing over.

“Who are you?”

He sighed. His soulmate wouldn’t even have heard of him. No matter how hard he tried to spread the name Star-Lord, he would never be famous, or infamous, enough. Maybe it really was no use trying to fight fate.

Peter looked out at the stars and wondered for the millionth time where his soulmate was.

A crackle and rush of wind and light startled him from his reverie and he nearly fell on his ass as he bolted to his feet. He reflexively grabbed for his blaster, but of course he didn’t have it, not while sitting in peace on board his own ship. The light flashed brilliantly gold and red, and he had to cover his eyes and look away, then it all suddenly went out. The quiet afterwards seemed louder than before, the lights dimmer, and he rubbed his eyes as he tried to blink away the afterimages.

A soft groan pierced the silence, and he was shocked to see a woman now sprawled on the floor. She lay on her side and was slowly pushing herself into a sitting position. Long, dark hair hung in her face, and when she pushed it back Peter’s heart skipped in his chest.

She was absolutely beautiful, all big green eyes and red lips, and right now those eyes were wide with fear and confusion.

“Who are you?” she asked, voice weak and trembling.

“Who are you and why are you on my ship?” Peter watched her eyes go impossibly wider, then she collapsed completely into a dead faint. It was only then that Peter realized his wrist stung. No, his mark stung, and he stared down at his wrist in shock.

He could hear Gamora calling for him, was aware of the swift footsteps and concerned voices of his friends as they converged, but he couldn’t stop staring at the lettering on his skin, now changed from a dull black to a brilliant and shining red.

++++

Peter was watching the mystery woman sleep in his bed. She looked so right there, and the sight sent a hot spike of desire straight to his groin. He was having a hell of a time concentrating with her so close, looking so soft. His soul mate, finally, and she was more beautiful than he’d ever dared to imagine.

“So this is the woman you’re supposed to spend your life with?” Gamora asked, her voice cold. Peter flinched but nodded. He couldn’t deny it. This attraction between himself and Gamora, while acknowledged only in glances and undercurrents, had been a real thing, and it hurt him to have to hurt her with the truth, but he’d been waiting for this moment his entire life, in a holding pattern of one night stands and meaningless sex. He’d always known, deep in his heart, that he’d been waiting for this moment to arrive.

“I’m sorry, Gamora. I-“

“Don’t apologize,” she said brusquely. “You don’t owe me anything, Peter.” He couldn’t identify the feeling in her voice now. Anger? Sadness? Resignation? Some strange mix she would never share with him? He had no idea, and honestly, no desire to delve into it. He just wanted to focus his attention on the woman who lay in his bed. She drew him like a lodestone.

“Where did she come from?” Drax asked. He looked suspicious, and Peter couldn’t blame him. If she wasn’t his soul mate he would be suspicious too, maybe wonder if she was a threat. But she was his, and she belonged here. With him.

She began to stir, and when she opened her eyes her gaze fell immediately on Peter. He tried not to fidget, to look cool and suave, but that apparently wasn’t happening because she smiled at him and he swore the whole world disappeared. It was just him and her, and the sweetness of her face as she looked at him.

Peter reached out to steady her as she sat up and was rewarded with another of her heart-stopping smiles. He could see himself doing a hell of a lot of foolish things just to earn one of those. God, he was in so much trouble.

“Who are you?” she asked again, and Peter gave her what he hoped was a rakish grin.

“I’m Peter. This is Gamora and Drax,” he said, waving his hand in their general direction without tearing his eyes away from the beauty before him. “You’re on my ship, and I have no idea how you got here.” He watched her as she took it all in. She seemed a little unnerved by Gamora and Drax. “Are you from Terra?” he asked. She had to be. She looked entirely human.

“Terra?” She looked utterly adorable when she was confused. He suddenly wanted to kiss her, but he forced himself to not force himself on her. She seemed to sense his dilemma, though, because her lips quirked up at the corners just the tiniest bit.

“”Terra. Earth,” he said. “Sorry. It’s how everyone in the galaxy except for Terrans refers to Earth.”

“The galaxy?” she said weakly, casting another glance back at his friends. “Where the hell am I?”

“You’re on my spaceship, the Milano. We’re a long way from Earth, though. How’d you get here? All I saw was light, and there was wind, and suddenly you were there.”

“I don’t know,” she said, brow furrowed. “I was practicing with Dr. Strange, and I think I lost control of my portal. My powers can be chaotic. They must have directed me here to you.” She looked up at him, and he swore he could lose himself in the depths of those eyes.

“Powers?” It was all he could think of to say, to ask. There were too many questions, too much he wanted to know about her. Where did he even start?

She lifted her hand and his breath caught as it lit up with a scarlet glow, tendrils of power snaking out from her palm and wrapping around her fingers.

“Magic,” Peter whispered, awestruck, but she heard it somehow. Her eyes widened and something softened in her face as she snuffed out the light.

“They call me the Scarlet Witch,” she said, and Peter grinned.

“They call me Star-Lord,” he said.

“No one calls you Star-Lord,” Drax said, and Peter glared at him.

“How do we know we can trust you?” Gamora asked, ever direct. Peter thought his Scarlet Witch might be offended by the hostility, but she only smiled.

“You don’t. But I would never hurt my soul mate, so maybe that will help,” she said. Gamora didn’t look convinced and Peter could tell she was going to argue the point, so he interrupted before she could.

“Can I have a minute alone with our guest?” he asked. Gamora stared at him coldly before leaving, with Drax close on her heels. Peter sighed and sat on his bed next to his soul mate. “You haven’t told me your name,” he said.

“Wanda.” He watched her swallow hard as she took another look around. “Am I really in space?”

“Yeah. I can show you around when you’re up to it.” He paused, weighing his words. “You know, it was hard for me too, at first. Of course, I was just a kid then, but still. You’re safe with me. I wouldn’t hurt you.” He knew she had no reason to trust him, but god he wanted her to.

“I know,” she said, and it was like a weight taken off his chest. “I can tell you’re a good man. Your mind is a comfort to me right now.” His eyes widened and she grimaced, reaching out to cup his shocked face in her palm. “I have some talent for reading minds, but I wouldn’t hurt you either, Peter. I’ve been waiting for you for so long.”

Peter realized their faces were a lot closer than they had been, and he was leaning in, she was leaning in...

The kiss started gentle and sweet, her lips soft against his, until suddenly it wasn’t just a kiss, they were kissing, and she was clutching at him like she couldn’t be close enough. He pulled her and she came willingly, straddling his lap and rolling her hips against him, making him moan into her mouth.

They were moving too fast, he knew that. He didn’t want this to be just another quick fuck, but she was so soft and pliant and willing, and oh god, so beautiful...

Peter pulled back, and it was the hardest thing he’d ever done. He looked at her, eyes a bit glassy with lust, her hair mussed from his touch and her cheeks flushed, and he’d never seen anything more designed to destroy him, but what a way to go.

“Hold on. We’ve gotta slow down. I wanna do this right,” he said breathlessly. Wanda bit her lip and nodded.

“Okay. I’m sorry,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I don’t normally throw myself at men like this. It’s just that you’re my soul mate and I feel so close to you already.” She smiled shyly, completely at odds with the still wanton way she was straddling him.

“Don’t apologize. Seriously. I don’t mind it at all! I just wanna make sure I treat you right. I mean, I’ve dreamed of this day for years, and I don’t wanna rush it, you know?” He stroked her hair, letting his fingers glide through the silky strands, enjoying just being able to touch her.

“I understand. I suppose I am just used to having to take things when I can get them. Life has been less than kind to me, and I rarely have the chance to slow down.” She draped her arms around his neck and pressed her cheek to his shoulder, relaxing into his embrace. “This feels like a dream,” she said sadly.

“Hey. This isn’t a dream.” Peter ran his hands over her back in soothing circles. “I’m real, and I’m right here, and I’m gonna take care of you. You’re safe with me,” he said.

“But I am supposed to be on Earth, learning to better control my powers and saving the world.” Her weary sigh nearly broke his heart.

“You could stay here. With me. We’re sorta in the business of helping people too. We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy. Saving worlds is kinda our thing.” He couldn’t keep the plea from his voice. He knew he sounded absolutely pathetic, but he’d just gotten her. He didn’t want to let her go. “Pays pretty good,” he added weakly.

“You get paid for saving people?” she asked incredulously, sitting up to stare at him with wide eyes.

“You didn’t?”

“No. We were, or are...whatever, we were funded by a rich man with a guilty conscience and a hero complex. Before the government stepped in and took over, anyway.” Peter heard the bitterness in her voice but set his curiosity aside for the moment.

“Well, your sugar daddy can’t have you back,” he said, only half teasing. Wanda’s tiny smirk was drop dead sexy and had him seriously rethinking his stance on moving too fast.

“I don’t think that will be a problem. Tony and I have never seen eye to eye,” she said with a harsh laugh. Peter caressed her cheek, her skin soft under his fingers, her delicate features making his touch feel clumsy and awkward but it still wasn’t enough. Part of him was here, talking to her, and part of him couldn’t turn its focus from how utterly desirable she was.

“You don’t sound like you were happy,” he said, trying to remain on point. Wanda’s fingers went to her throat as her expression darkened, and his split attention suddenly became laser focused. He wanted to take that haunted look from her eyes.

“Things happened. Some of them very bad,” she said soberly. “I was jailed, tightly bound and collared so they could control me. It was... bad in a way I cannot describe. I’m glad to be free again, but I’m still not trusted. I still need to move cautiously so people aren’t scared. I’m always afraid they’ll come back for me, that they’ll lock me up again and this time they won’t let me go.”

Peter hurt for her. Her pain, her fear... He hated the people who had done that to his soulmate. He’d kill them all in a heartbeat. She must’ve seen that anger on his face or sensed it in him, because the smallest smile graced her perfect lips and she hugged him tight.

“Do you want to keep me?” she asked, both solemn and slightly teasing at the same time.

“Yes,” he said quickly, not even having to think about the answer. “And I’ll never let anyone do that to you again.” He was dead serious about that vow, and her expression became different now. Intense, heated.

“Show me your mark.” Peter didn’t even consider denying her. These were her words on his skin, and he was hers for the taking. Wanda took his hand in her slender fingers, gave him a predatory smile that made his heart race. He watched her bend her head to his wrist, everything moving in slow motion until the moment her lips touched his mark. He nearly jumped out of his skin as sudden, intense pleasure coursed through him. Head thrown back, he was helpless in her hands as she ran her tongue over him, sucking and nibbling his skin until he was writhing under her. He was vaguely aware of her answering moans, her body rocking against the straining bulge in his pants, now painfully tight.

She released his wrist to kiss him deep and hard, and Peter lost himself in the taste of her, not even noticing the way she pulled at his hair to guide him. A primal need was rising within him, to claim and take her, and bind her to him forever. He slid his lips down her neck, desperate to taste more of her, to know her in all ways.

“Keep me, Peter,” she was gasping. “Let me stay.” Over and over like a mantra as he sucked at her throat.

“Always. Forever,” he whispered against her throat, and the shudder that went through her at his words was almost enough to finish him off right then and there. He shifted them, pressed her down into his bed, and she reached out with her magic to shut his door. He burst into lighthearted laughter, delighted by her display of power, and she blushed but grinned.

“I love you already,” Peter told her, leaning in for another kiss, and then words were no longer necessary.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Clint

 

++++

 

Clint dropped his bags at his feet and wrapped a teary Laura in his arms. Finally, he was home, safe and ready to spend time with his wife and children. No more fighting the good fight, at least not for the foreseeable future. No, now was the time to rest and be with his family.

 

There was only one small problem.

 

"Honey, who is this?" Laura asked, and Clint pulled out of her embrace to gesture at the young woman who stood quietly in the doorway behind him.

 

"Laura, this is Wanda Maximoff. Wanda, this is my wife, Laura." Clint didn't go into more detail right now. How do you tell your wife that you found your soul mate and brought the girl home?

 

"It's nice to meet you, Wanda," Laura said, ever gracious. He loved her so much. Clint kept an arm around her waist, and he caught Wanda's eyes flickering to it before she gave Laura a tentative smile. It didn't reach her eyes, and he didn't expect it would, not for a long time. Not with her twin brother dead.

 

"Wanda is gonna be staying with us for a while. if that's alright," he said, drawing a quizzical look from his wife.

 

"Of course, honey. I'll show you to the guest room," she said to Wanda, and Clint shook his head.

 

"You rest," he told her, his hand on her pregnant belly. "I'll get her settled in." Laura smiled at him and gave him a kiss, then he led Wanda to the back of the house where her room would be. 

 

She set her bag on the bed and turned to look at him with those large, green eyes that seemed to drag him in no matter how much he wanted to resist.

 

"You did not tell me she was pregnant," Wanda said, moving closer. She placed her hand on his chest, and he swore his heart skipped a beat under her palm.

 

"We've got two others, Cooper and Lila. They're around here someplace. I'm surprised they haven't already ambushed me," he said, trying hard not to reach for her. It was so hard not to touch her. Every inch of him was painfully aware of how near she was.

 

"Why did you marry, knowing she was not your soul mate?" she asked, tilting her face upwards. All he had to do was lean down, and he could be kissing her. It would be so easy.

 

"Because I love her," he said softly. Wanda nodded her understanding, but he wasn't lucky enough for her to let it go.

 

"Why did you bring me here?" she asked. "How do you expect this to work?"

 

Now he did reach out, unable to stop himself. He slid his hand over her shoulder and into her soft hair, cupping her head. 

 

"I couldn't leave you behind," he admitted. Wanda trailed her fingers down his arm until she reached his soul mark, and he sucked in a sharp breath at the intensity of the feelings flooding his body at that simple touch. Her lips were parted, eyes heavy-lidded in open invitation, and he stopped resisting.

 

Just for a minute. Just a kiss, one kiss, he told himself, but his desire only multiplied at the first taste of her. He clutched at her, running his hands over her curves and pulling her hard against him. Her whimpers drove him on, made him crazy, almost desperate for more. He could've come when she hooked one long leg over his hip and started rubbing on the hard-on trapped painfully in his jeans, but the thundering sound of feet running through the house woke him from his daze. 

 

Clint shoved himself away from her, struggling to breathe, to control himself. He swore and kneeled down to conceal his erection just as Lila and Cooper ran into the room. He embraced his children and tried to ignore the girl standing only a few feet away looking thoroughly ravished.

 

What the hell am I doing?

 

+++

 

Clint couldn’t put it off any longer. He had to tell Laura. 

 

He’d given it all afternoon, kept the mark on his arm covered up so she didn’t see how it had changed from black to purple, but he couldn’t wait any longer and it wasn’t getting any easier. It didn’t help that Wanda kept watching him, with that measuring gaze that made him feel like she saw right through him. Hell, she probably did. It was damn unnerving. 

 

“Honey?” he said softly. 

 

Laura stopped in the middle of prepping their dinner salad and closed her eyes. Her shoulders were suddenly slumped, and he’d never seen her look so vulnerable. Not even that first time they’d had to rush Cooper to the hospital because she “hadn’t been watching him closely enough.” Which was ridiculous, but there’d been no telling her that then. 

 

“So is this it?” she asked, turning to look at him.

 

“Is this... Wait, what?” 

 

“She’s your soul mate, right?” Laura nodded, his stunned expression all the answer she apparently needed. Clint was having trouble keeping up. This was happening way too fast. He wasn’t ready. 

 

“She’s beautiful,” Laura said. “I always knew she would be. I guess I convinced myself that things would be different. The longer it took, the more I thought maybe this day would never come.” She was doing an admirable job of sounding calm, but Clint could see her trembling. 

 

It was the first tears that spilled down her cheeks that broke him out of his frozen, silent state. Clint was at her side in two steps, pulling her into his arms and holding her to his chest. She slipped her arms around him in a crushing grip and sobbed. 

 

“It’s okay, Laura. I’m not going anywhere. I promise. Okay? I promise.” He kept murmuring to her as she cried, until finally it slowed to sniffles. Clint pressed a kiss to her head. 

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” he told her. “You and the kids, you’re my family. You’re my wife and I love you. Wanda means something to me too, but that doesn’t make you less.” God, what a mess this was. 

 

“What are we going to do?” Laura asked, echoing his exact thoughts. Clint sighed. 

 

“Well, I don’t know. I can’t deny what she is to me,” he said. 

 

“And I don’t want you to,” Laura said quickly, pulling back enough to look him in the eyes. “You of all people deserve to have your soul mate, Clint.” 

 

He kissed her sweetly, softly. 

 

“You willing to share me, hon? Because that’s what this would be,” he told her, trying to impart through tone and expression how very serious he was. “You say the word and she’s gone. She may be my soul mate, but she doesn’t need to be in our home or our lives. I couldn’t leave her behind all alone... but if it’s a choice, Laura, I choose you. It’s always gonna be you.” 

 

He could see the joy building in his wife’s eyes again, the happiness and surety of his love for her. He never wanted her to doubt it, to doubt him. Even if there was a woman in their house who pulled at him like she had her own gravity. 

 

“We’ll make it work, honey.” Laura said softly, palm pressed to his cheek. “I want us all to be happy. She’s a part of you, so she belongs here.”

 

He couldn’t love this woman any more than he already did. 

 

“I don’t know how you deal with me,” he said, smiling. 

 

“So I will be staying, then?” Wanda asked from behind him. Clint swung around and glared at her. 

 

“Hey. Private moment!” he said indignantly. Wanda only shrugged. He already knew she could be infuriating. 

 

“You are not in a private area,” she said, as if that excused everything. Laura stepped forward before he could say anything else and took Wanda’s hand. 

 

“You’re staying,” Laura said firmly. “You’re family.”

Chapter Text

Wanda/Bucky

 

++++

 

He hadn't been able to stop looking at the girl. His attention span wasn’t all that great these days, but she'd held his gaze like his eyes were glued. Maybe it was the gentle way her hair and skirt moved in the breeze, or the way her eyes looked older than her years, but he'd felt an intense draw to her. Had he ever felt this way about a woman before? He couldn’t remember. He didn’t think so.

 

Bucky looked out the window of their stolen Quinjet, but all he could see was her face.

 

They hadn't gotten a chance to talk. The fight came too quickly, was too insane. The kid in the red suit had been a pain in the ass, and defeating him without seriously injuring or killing him turned out to be ridiculously difficult. In the end, it was Sam who'd taken care of him. Bucky just hadn't been able to bring himself to use the full force of his training and enhancements against someone who sounded that young.

 

They'd stood fairly close to each other while facing down the other Avengers, and boy had that felt strangely satisfying. Then everything went to hell, and the next time he saw her was in a brief moment when she ripped the guy in the black cat suit away from him before he could rip his throat out. He'd taken a second to catch his breath, stupidly wishing she would stay, but she ran off to help elsewhere. At least she'd had her head on straight. One of them needed to.

 

He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, almost a sigh.

 

He had tried to keep track of her. He didn't even really know why, but he hadn't been able to stop looking for her across what had become a battlefield, a flash of red against a colorless backdrop.

 

She'd been absolutely stunning when she held up the crumbling tower he and Steve were running towards. He'd had to remind himself to run rather than stand there gaping at her raw power.

 

It had torn at his heart when she screamed, but the tower was going to crush them, and he’d had to concentrate on moving forward. He couldn't afford to be distracted, couldn't go back no matter how much his instincts screamed at him to. So he'd left her behind.

 

He sat there staring at the sky, gut clenched with the certain knowledge that he’d made the wrong decision.

 

“What’ll happen to your friends?” What’ll happen to her?

 

Why the hell did he care so much?

 

“I don’t know. Whatever it is, I’ll deal with it.” Steve, always so certain, so hopeful. He couldn’t have the same faith, not after everything he’d seen and everything he’d done.

 

He couldn’t think about this anymore. For the first time he could remember, which honestly wasn’t saying much, he tried to blank his mind. Maybe it was his lack of practice at it, but the image of her still remained.

 

++++

 

It turned out getting your arm blown off was sorta painful, even if it was a prosthesis, and by sorta he meant extremely. Luckily for him, the guy in the black cat suit turned out to be a decent guy and wanted to help. T’Challa, he reminded himself. Good guy. I didn’t kill his father. Probably a first for me.

 

He couldn’t blame Stark for being bitter, couldn’t blame him for wanting revenge. He’d probably feel just as angry if he were in Stark’s shoes. Hell, he hated himself sometimes already.

 

Bucky tried not to fidget with the stump of his arm, now painless but still strange, as he listened to Steve and Natasha spell out a plan for the rescue of their friends from the high-security prison they’d ended up in. T’Challa wouldn’t and couldn’t assist with the breakout, but between the three of them, they could probably still make it work. Even with him being down an arm he could still fight.

 

He wanted to see her again.

 

++++

 

For a maximum-security prison, the Raft was ridiculously easy to break into. He supposed the point was to keep people from getting out, though, not in. Who would be stupid enough to break into an underwater prison?

 

Captain America and friends, apparently.

 

He mopped up the remaining guards while Natasha worked the control room and Steve got his friends out of their cells. He rejoined them at their stolen Quinjet and tried not to stare at her, though she was all he could see. He scowled when he noticed what looked like small burn marks on her neck and had to force himself to relax his fist and not go back into that prison to finish off every last guard he could find.

 

He knew what electricity could do to a person.

 

She looked so small, sitting huddled with her arms wrapped around herself as if that was all that was holding her together. He tried not to watch as the archer put his arm around her and she leaned into the embrace. The archer caught his eye, and Bucky looked away quickly.

 

The flight back to Wakanda seemed twice as long on the way back.

 

Bucky kept his distance once they arrived. He knew the girl’s- Wanda’s- wounds were being treated and that she was going to be fine. The rest of them as well, though he admittedly paid less attention to that.

 

Steve noticed the extra attention he was giving to Wanda’s treatment and condition. How could he not? The guy knew him better than he knew himself, pretty literally, and Wanda was his responsibility. Steve had always taken that very seriously. He could remember that much. But Steve didn’t say anything, and Bucky didn’t want to talk about it. He barely understood it himself. The girl just... mattered.

 

He hadn’t intended on ever talking to her, though. What good would it do? He was just a mess of a man with a brain full of holes who could barely function in normal society. And he’d left her behind to be locked up in a straight jacket and collar. There was no way to make up for that.

 

But she found him, sitting on a table in the medical wing as he waited for the doctors to finish their tests so he could go back on ice. It would be better for everyone if he did, no matter what Steve said. He stared at her as she approached, looking around curiously.

 

“Bucky?” she said hesitantly, and suddenly he could feel pain in his arm, his missing arm, as if a real one was still there. A sting where his soul mark used to be. And suddenly it was like a door was thrown open and memories flooded his mind, memories of Steve teasing him about it when they were kids, of staring at the mark while he lay in bed with another nice but meaningless woman, of crying for the loss of it after Hydra removed his arm. He stared at her in shock.

 

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I wanted to thank you for helping us escape the Raft. You didn’t have to do that, and now I’m free again and it’s partially because of you.” Her voice was soft and hoarse, still recovering from what had been done to her, but it was also the sweetest sound he’d ever heard. “I cannot thank you enough,” she said.

 

He wanted to speak, to tell her she didn’t have to thank him, especially now. He wanted to say how sorry he was that he’d left her there to be arrested, how he’d wanted to go back for her. He wanted to tell her how beautiful and perfect she was, and that he would never deserve her. All of it on the tip of his tongue, struggling to be voiced, and yet he was silent, unable to find a place to start.

 

Her face fell a bit as she realized he wasn’t going to say anything, and she looked away self-consciously.

 

“Like I said, I’m sorry to bother you,” she said. “I’ll go.”

 

It was when she started to walk away that he found his voice at last. He hopped down from the table and grabbed her hand, forcing her to face him once more.

 

“Don’t go,” he said roughly, and watched her eyes light up in recognition. “Please. Don’t go.”

 

She nodded and stepped closer, making him tense, but only for a moment. The feel of her as she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him close was too good, too comforting and warm. His entire being told him this was where he belonged.

 

“I won’t leave you,” she said, looking up at him with the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. Trusting and open, and his heart clenched at the beauty of her.

 

“Don’t go into cryo,” she said softly, and he could see the raw need and loneliness in her eyes. And how could he even think of leaving her now, when they’d just found each other?

 

“I won’t. I’m staying right here with you, doll. You’ll get sick of me.” He smiled at her, but was only half teasing because he was a needy bastard and all he wanted was to hold her forever.

 

“Never,” she reassured him, and something in his chest loosened at the surety in her voice, the honesty in her eyes.

 

For the first time since he’d fallen into Hydra’s hands, he felt... happy. Even the memories he did have couldn’t compare to this. He didn’t think anything ever would.

 

He leaned down and kissed her, and it felt like coming home.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Wade 3

 

++++

 

“You sure this guy’s on the up and up? This place is pretty shady,” Sam said. Wanda couldn’t argue that. This bar was full of people who looked like they’d be happy to shoot you. She felt this twitch between her shoulder blades, like eyes were following them. They probably were. 

 

“This place is shady, but it’s also the only place he’ll meet us. Says he doesn’t trust anyone as goody-two shoes as Cap,” Natasha said. She smirked at the frown that passed over Steve’s face, but didn’t push. They’d all had it hard since they became fugitives, especially Steve. He’d grown somber and distant, his smiles few and far between. Natasha was easier on him these days. They all were. 

 

“If he has the intel we need, that’s all I care about.” Steve sounded tired to Wanda’s ears. She felt that way too. 

 

They didn’t have to wait long for Natasha’s mercenary friend to show. Wearing a jacket with the hood up, he pulled a chair over to their table and straddled it. 

 

“You stick out worse than a nun in a whorehouse,” he said to Steve. Wanda tried not to openly stare, but his disfigured face was so compelling, somehow familiar, as if she’d seen it in a dream. He caught her eye for a brief moment, his eyes looking cold and unamused past his sly grin, and she flushed in embarrassment at being caught. 

 

“Wade,” Nat said, smirking, “meet Steve Rogers. Steve, this is Wade Wilson. You two will be the best of friends, I’m sure.”

 

“I’ve already got a bestie, but thanks. We’ve got friendship bracelets and everything,” Wade said. Sam chuckled at that. Wanda just dropped her gaze to her hands and picked at the chipped nail polish, trying not to look up at Wade again. 

 

“We’re not here to make friends,” Steve said, ever serious these days. “We’re here to get a job done. Are you going to help us?” 

 

“Yeah, about that. Turns out I can’t just give you this information.” 

 

“What the hell? Why are you wasting our time?” Sam asked. His anger rolled over her and she forced down a wave of nausea. 

 

“Chill out, man,” Wade said. “I didn’t say I wasn’t gonna give it to you. I said I wasn’t just going to give it to you.” Sam’s anger seethed and roiled, but at least he wasn’t exploding. Wanda was grateful. He was always so angry these days. She couldn’t blame him, not after everything they’d been through, so she swallowed down her discomfort. 

 

“Anyway. As I was saying, I can’t just give this to you.” 

 

“What is it you want?” Steve asked tiredly. Wanda allowed herself to look up now, to look at Wade’s strangely familiar face as he answered. 

 

“I wanna go with you,” he said. 

 

++++

 

The building they were raiding was three stories of fully armed enemy combatants and they had no idea where the crates of alien weapons and technology were being held, so the plan was to split up and slip in while Sam set up a distraction outside. They’d get as far as they could before the fighting started, and with any luck they’d find their target before the bad guys knew what was up. 

 

Luck was never on their side. It all went to hell within minutes of stepping inside the building, and Wanda found herself fighting through what felt like hordes of men and bullets. Shielding was second nature, but fighting while shielding was still a work in progress, so she was advancing more slowly than she would’ve liked. She could hear her teammates over the com link having their own troubles. 

 

Suddenly Wade was there, tearing through the men like they were paper, his shots terrifyingly accurate and 100% deadly. She dropped her shield and stared as he turned to her and laughed. 

 

“Maximum effort, baby!” he said, giving her a thumbs up. Wanda’s jaw dropped, and she froze as the soul mark on her back Flared. The sting passed as quickly as it had come, leaving a gentle warmth behind. 

 

More men burst through the doorway, guns blazing, and Wade dove in front of her to take the bullets that were headed her way. He dropped to the ground with a grunt, and ice froze her veins as she realized what had happened, her soul mate shot like... like Pietro... and she exploded in rage. 

 

The men who survived the initial outburst of her power didn’t live for long. 

 

But Wade wasn’t dead. He was standing back up again, dusting himself off and cursing. 

 

“Fuck! That hurts every time,” he said. Wanda slapped his chest, pushing him hard, and he raised his hands in surrender. “What the hell?”

 

“Do you have to take every bullet in the place?” she asked angrily, her thoughts consumed with fear. “Idiot! I can defend myself! What were you thinking?”

 

She barely noticed Wade lowering his hands, coming closer, until he cupped her face and brought her raging to a screeching halt. 

 

“For you? I’d take every bullet in the world if I had to. Especially now that I know you’re mine,” he said, and she could hear the smug smile in his voice. The meaning of his words slowly sank in, and her eyes widened. 

 

“You would have done that even without knowing me as your soul mate?” She asked incredulously. Surely not. Even he wasn’t that crazy. He had to be joking. 

 

“Fuck yeah,” he said. “Couldn’t let anything happen to this sweet ass.” He reached down and groped her ass, and she smacked him in the chest. 

 

“Keep it in your pants, lover boy. There is still fighting to do.”

 

“And we can hear every word you say,” Nat said through the com link. Wanda’s face went beet red, and she stuttered an apology to her team as Wade slapped her ass and moved towards the door. 

 

She could hear Sam laughing his head off, and underneath it she heard Steve. It was the first laugh she’d heard from him in ages. She could deal with some embarrassment to have Steve sound like that again. 

 

Wanda smiled and followed Wade into the hallway, red at the ready. 

Chapter Text

Wanda/Domino

 

++++

 

If it wasn’t for bad luck, she’d have no luck at all.

 

Wanda’s entire life had been a series of terrible events and ill-fated decisions. She’d lost everything she’d ever loved, everything she had ever valued, and now she was a damn fugitive who was afraid to show her face anywhere for fear of being thrown back into a maximum-security prison in the middle of the fucking ocean with a straight jacket and shock collar and a serious lack of anything resembling hope.

 

And now she’d been cut off from the rest of her team.

 

She had no idea where she was, not really. She’d never been in this godforsaken city before, and certainly hadn’t planned on getting separated from her friends and completely lost. The rain and her injury weren’t helping matters. She was soaked through, her uniform jacket doing very little to protect her from the elements, and she could feel the warmth of blood running down her side. All her appearance did at this point was draw attention to her and that was the last thing she needed, so she stayed off the street, away from the people and lights, and tried to think.

 

Her damn com link was lost, she had no way to contact anyone, and she was fairly certain she needed stitches. The pain was only growing as her adrenaline rush faded, and each movement was swiftly becoming an agony.

 

“Fuck.”

 

She stumbled her way through a darkened alley, trying her best to ignore the memories it brought up. Memories of Pietro, and their youth, and the struggle for survival. The fear was too eerily similar.

 

A gunshot rang out, and she ducked instinctively. The bullet hit the wall right where her head had been, and Wanda threw up a shield just as more bullets followed. She started to move down the alley, keeping her shield up and her back to the wall as best she could, cursing her luck once again. The shooter could be anywhere now. Hell, there could be more of them, all waiting for her to falter so they could take her out. End the threat of Wanda Maximoff forever. Or worse, drag her back to that wretched prison.

 

Her hands and knees were shaking, her body drained. All she wanted was to collapse and rest.

 

Someone turned the corner in front of her, a woman. Loose, casual gait and cocky smirk revealed in the flashes of light that managed to penetrate the shadows. Wanda’s attention was caught by the strange patch of lightened skin around her left eye, but only until the woman leveled a gun at her.

 

“You’re a hard woman to kill,” she said, popping her gum lazily as she looked Wanda over. “I didn’t think you’d be this much trouble when I took the job.”

 

Wanda’s thoughts were a jumble. How could this woman have said her words? But there was no mistake. She’d been puzzling over them, imagining different scenarios for meeting her soul mate ever since she knew what the words meant. But the sting of her Flare left no room for doubt. Her soul mate was going to kill her.

 

“Help me,” she said hoarsely, unsure if the woman would even hear her. Her vision was getting a bit fuzzy around the edges. Was that normal? Ha ha. Vision is fuzzy, she laughed to herself, imagining a fuzzy synthezoid as she finally passed out.

 

++++

 

With consciousness came pain, and Wanda groaned as she opened her eyes and blinked them into a bleary sort of focus.

 

“You probably shouldn’t move,” came a nearby voice, and she threw a blast before it even registered who’d spoken. She bolted up in horror, clutching her side in pain and nearly falling over.

 

“Oh my god!” Wanda stared at her soul mate, who was standing against a wall, arms folded over her chest and looking decidedly unmoved by the smoking hole next to her head.

 

“That would’ve hurt,” she said, sounding impressed. “Are you done?” Wanda slowly nodded. “Good! Now sit down before you hurt yourself even more,” she said. Wanda lowered herself back into the couch and tried to focus.

 

Her soul mate perched herself on the coffee table and began to probe at her wound. Wanda hissed in pain, but tried to stay still and let her examine it. She blushed as she finally realized her jacket and shirt were missing, and the woman seemed to notice her discomfort.

 

“I had to get your clothes off so I could tend to your wound,” she said. “Plus, I just wanted to get you naked.”

 

Wanda’s eyes widened, but her soul mate gave her a wink and a grin, and she felt herself smiling despite her embarrassment.

 

“It looks good,” the girl said, leaning back. “You didn’t pull your stitches.”

 

“Thank you,” Wanda said softly.

 

“Don’t mention it. I sorta tried to kill you anyway, so maybe this makes up for it a little bit.” Her smile was absolutely contagious, and Wanda found it difficult not to lose herself in those liquid eyes. “Call me Domino.”

 

“Domino?”

 

“It’s a thing. I already know who you are, obviously. It’s a good thing luck’s on my side, or I could’ve killed you.” She leaned forward to brush her fingers over Wanda’s cheek, her grin softening into a tender smile. “That would’ve sucked.”

 

Wanda laughed. “Understatement.” She turned her head to brush a kiss over Domino’s fingers and watched her pretty eyes darken with lust.

 

“Don’t start something you’re in no shape to finish,” Domino said with a crooked smile. Wanda had to admit that was probably a good idea. The spirit was willing but the flesh was definitely weak at the moment.

 

“I don’t know how to find my team. Will you help me? Will you come with me?”

 

“You think they’ll have me?” Domino asked, eyebrows raised. Wanda nodded.

 

“Of course. We belong together. And you seem to have the skills,” Wanda said teasingly. Her soul mate just snorted indelicately in response, making her laugh again.

 

“I’ll get you back to them. With a little luck it should be easy enough, and Lady Luck has never let me down.” She shot Wanda a cocky grin.

 

“Never?” Wanda asked skeptically.

 

“Well, she brought me you,” Domino said, and leaned in for a kiss. And as Wanda reveled in the softness of her soul mate’s lips, she thought maybe her luck had finally changed.

 

Chapter Text

Wanda/Vision

 

++++

 

Wanda felt like a broken wreck of a person. Pietro was gone now, life given up in a single act of heroism, and she had never been so alone.

 

A single thing kept her going. Her mark. The words that had once been black now almost glowed as a bright and shining red. Knowing whose words they were was little comfort. “Look again,” he’d told her, but he avoided her now. She didn’t know why, didn’t understand what it was about her that made him so nervous, but it was an obvious and unavoidable truth. The Vision could barely look at her.

 

Still, these words were hers now. He was hers, and it kept her going to know that she wasn’t truly alone. He was, quite literally, made just for her.

 

Weeks went by with him skirting away from her, keeping a careful distance between them, and she was sick of it. He was hers, and she needed him, and if he was going to tell her otherwise he needed to do so already.

 

It took her two more days to corner him. She found him alone in the library, engrossed in a book. He wasn’t aware of her, probably hadn’t expected she would show up here, but she’d skipped training to find him, made some lame excuse about not feeling well. Steve hadn’t believed her, but he let her go anyway.

 

And now that she’d caught her wayward soul mate, he wouldn’t be escaping her again.

 

Wanda approached him slowly and only broke the silence when she was a few feet away.

 

“That must be a very interesting book to hold your attention so,” she said. Vision jumped, but quickly recovered and pasted a distant, polite smile on his face. She’d wipe that smile off him if it was the last thing she did. She hated it.

 

“Miss Maximoff. I apologize. I didn’t hear you come in,” he said quickly. Wanda smiled, but it wasn’t kind.

 

“Obviously,” she said. “You would have run otherwise. You are good at that.”

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

Wanda crossed her arms over her chest and sighed.

 

“You are my soul mate. I bear your words.” She turned her palm over to show him. “May I see your mark?”

 

“I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you mean. I have no soul mate.” He said it so surely, so calmly. Wanda’s eyes widened and her entire posture weakened.

 

“You... don’t? You don’t have a mark?” She didn’t want to believe it. How could it be true? It couldn’t, could it? She’d never heard of such a thing. If one person had a mark, so did the other. That’s how it was. But he was artificially created. Maybe that made all the difference?

 

“I apologize if this has upset you,” he said.

 

“Do you have a mark?” Wanda asked again. She needed to hear it.

 

“I do, but it must be mistaken. I have no soul.” Vision looked at her impassively, but Wanda shook her head.

 

“Of course you have a soul. Everyone does,” she said.

 

“I’m a synthetic being, and thus cannot possess a soul,” he replied. Wanda thought she caught a hint of sadness in his voice, but it was too brief to be sure.

 

“Don’t be stupid. It doesn’t matter how you were made. Every living being has a soul, and you are a living being. Besides, I would be able to tell, don’t you think? I’m the one who can see minds.”

 

Vision looked unconvinced.

 

“Let me see your mark,” Wanda said firmly, leaving no room for argument. Vision held out his hand, and she saw her words scrawled across his palm, almost invisible against the dark red of his skin.

 

Wanda held out her own hand, very aware of the mark on her palm that seemed to burn the closer they got.

 

“If you do not have a soul, this shouldn’t affect you,” she said quietly. He was staring at her with an unnerving intensity, but she forced herself to continue. She reached for him and their palms met.

 

It was overwhelming. The amount of sensory data that passed between them was unlike anything she'd ever experienced before. She could feel his longing for humanity, his every emotion that he doubted and dismissed as inhuman. His mind, his soul, his self... He washed through her in a tidal wave of feeling.

 

And she could feel herself being laid bare before him. Unnerving and frightening as it was to be so vulnerable, she welcomed it. Anything that could show him how alike they truly were, anything that could show him he had a soul as bright and fierce as her own, was worth it.

 

She released his hand only when the initial rush of feeling had faded, replaced by the sweet sensation of their minds brushing against one another. It was too tempting to remain that way, fused together so perfectly, but there was an important conversation to be had. He couldn’t hide from her anymore. She knew him now.

 

The sense of loss when their hands parted, though, was enough to make her gasp. Wanda opened her eyes and looked at Vision, truly seeing him for the first time. His tics and subtle clues, every small signal that betrayed his confusion was now an open book to her. Then his cool visage collapsed into open pain as tears rolled down his cheeks.

 

Wanda moved closer, wrapped her arms around him while he cried, then wiped his tears away. “Do you see how human you are?” she asked, knowing he did but needing him to say it.

 

“Yes,” he said, his voice a hoarse whisper. He raised a hand to her face and ran his fingertips gently over her cheek. Wanda leaned into the touch, needing the closeness, accepting his silent apology.

 

“Then stay with me,” she pleaded. Her voice wavered and broke over the words, and his gaze softened.

 

“I will, Wanda. For as long as you’ll have me.”

 

Her only reply was to pull him down into a kiss.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Victor Creed

 

++++

 

Footsteps sounded in the darkened streets, approaching quickly. Victor tensed as the runner rounded the corner and slipped, falling hard onto the road. The boy - no, girl, young and scared - looked up at him with wide, pleading eyes from where she lay sprawled on the ground a few feet away, and breathed one word. 

 

Please.

 

Victor’s eyes widened in shock as he felt the sting of his soul mark on his palm, and before it even registered what he was doing, he was stepping forward to intercept the teenage boys who’d been chasing her down. He grabbed the first by the throat and felt a fierce satisfaction as the boy choked and writhed in his grasp. The others pulled up short, unsure what to do, and Victor debated the wisdom of making the kill for only the briefest of moments. The soft crying from his soul mate behind him made him see red, and with a growl he crushed the boy’s windpipe before tossing his limp body at the feet of his friends. 

 

They ran. 

 

He turned to his soul mate, crouched down in front of her, and she scrambled back fearfully. The rejection hurt, but he expected no less after what she’d just witnessed. Still, his nature had demanded he kill the boy who had threatened her well-being, and he couldn't regret it.

 

Looking at her now, he saw she wasn't as young as he had thought, maybe sixteen or so, and small. Malnourished, even. Her dark hair was tied back severely, perhaps in an attempt to hide her gender from those who liked to prey on the vulnerable. He reached for the girl and she cried out, huddling into a ball and hiding her face. She was trembling, shaking, terrified of him. He sighed as he realized how completely he’d driven her away with his bloodlust. 

 

A shout distracted him, and he looked up to see a young boy rushing towards them, fear and rage in his eyes, and Victor grunted as the boy threw himself between him and his soul mate.

 

"Leave my sister alone!" the boy yelled, fists raised.

 

"Pietro!" his soul mate cried out, tears streaking her face and throwing her arms around her young protector. Victor stood up to his full height, towering over both teens. The boy, Pietro, swallowed hard but didn't back down. Victor could respect that. Foolish, but brave, to stand up to him.

 

He remained still and simply watched as Pietro slowly backed them up, keeping the girl behind him. They didn't turn their backs until they were well away, and Victor let them go. Better the girl go with her brother than with him. What could he offer but death and pain? His path was no place for someone so young. He looked down into his palm at the letters that now stood out blood red on his skin. How fitting.

 

With an ache in his chest, Victor put her behind him.

 

++++

 

What am I doing here? He shouldn't be there, shouldn't be back in Sokovia, had sworn he'd never return. So what was he thinking coming back to the place he'd first found her? He used to have more self control than this, but here he was, weakened by his loneliness. How long had it been since he'd allowed himself to think about her?

 

A flash of silver caught his eye and he reacted instinctively, a growl tearing from his throat as he crushed the skull of the robot that had been hurtling towards him. The hell?

 

That was when the earth started to move.

 

++++

 

He knew that boy, would recognize him anywhere. That face had been fixed in his mind for upwards of three years. His hair was different, lighter at the ends now, and he'd put on the muscle he'd been lacking before, but his eyes were the same, still filled with fear and rage and determination. 

 

The boy was quite a bit faster than Victor remembered, as well. Still brave, but still foolish, and he saw the tell-tale twitch in the boy's body in the second before he started to run out into a hailstorm of bullets to save the Avenger and child.

 

Victor might not be quite as fast, but he was closer.

 

He darted out of his shelter to tackle the idiot boy just as he pushed a car in front of the crouched Avenger. Victor grunted as bullets pierced him, driving the breath from his lungs. The pain that followed was immense, a crushing fire in his back and legs, but he was pleased to look up and see the boy safe. He was staring at Victor in shock, though recognition sparked in his eyes.

 

Eyes that widened almost comically as Victor attempted to push himself up only to fall again, thick blood spewing from between his lips. As much as he tried to fight it, darkness claimed him.

 

++++

 

Victor lay on a hospital bed, his body knitting itself back together. The doctors had done what they could to help, but his healing factor had made them fairly unnecessary after they removed the bullets from his flesh. He had his eyes closed, feigning sleep, knowing the boy - Pietro - was sitting close by.

 

He heard the door open and someone rush in.

 

"Pietro!" 

 

Her voice. It was her, he was sure of it. She said his name with the same fear he remembered hearing on that night so long ago.

 

"I'm safe! I'm safe," the boy said. "He saved me."

 

Victor heard the girl gasp, then the soft sound of her footsteps approaching. His eyes opened and found hers as she moved towards the bed. She didn't look scared this time, but curious.

 

"I know you," she said softly. "I remember." She smiled as tears came to her eyes. “Thank you for saving my brother... and me.”

 

Maybe it was the drugs the doctors had tried pumping into his system, or the way her green eyes seemed to draw him in so easily, but he found himself speaking without thinking. 

 

“I’m no hero,” he said gruffly. He watched her eyes widen in shock, heard her brother’s strangled gasp, and grinned. She laid her hand on his cheek, so soft compared to him, so delicate.

 

“You are to me.”

Chapter Text

Wanda/Peter Parker

 

++++

 

Peter had never seen the inside of Stark Tower before, had never even dreamed he would. Not as himself, at least. Sure, maybe as Spider-Man one day Tony Stark would take an interest in him and invite him for a visit, but to walk in as himself was... inconceivable. Yet here he was, and he still couldn’t believe his good luck. 

 

This was a dream come true. 

 

He tried not to gawk too obviously as he waited in the lobby, absently rubbing at the soul mark on his wrist, which had been itching all afternoon. His instructions had been clear that someone would be meeting him here, but vague about who that person would be. SHIELD agents went about their business around him, and he kept one eye peeled for any of them who might be approaching. 

 

“Mr. Parker?” a familiar voice said from behind him. Familiar?

 

Peter turned to see the Black Widow herself, Natasha Romanoff, standing before him. He swallowed hard and tried to smile. Be cool, Parker. They invited you.

 

“Uh, hi. I’m Parker. Peter. I’m, uh, Peter Parker.” 

 

“I know,” she said, giving him a friendly, if somewhat amused, smile. “Come this way.” 

 

She led him to an elevator tucked unobtrusively into the corner. A palm scan and voice confirmation got them into it, and Peter tried not to stare. How could he be standing so close to the infamous Black Widow? He followed news about the Avengers, and she was at the forefront of the stories nearly as much as Tony Stark. For an ex-spy, she certainly wasn’t afraid to put herself out there. She was strong and opinionated and afraid of nothing. 

 

Plus, she was like, super hot. 

 

Peter tried to calm his racing heart, which was no small feat. This woman had been the subject of a fair few of his more... intense... fantasies, and he certainly didn’t wanna make a fool of himself here. She looked relaxed enough, but if he insulted her in any way she could dismember him in a heartbeat, Spider-Man or no Spider-Man. It didn’t help that his soul mark was itching even more fiercely now. It was all he could do not to scratch at it. 

 

“Do you know why you’re here?” Ms. Romanoff asked. 

 

“Uh, not really. Something about a tutor?” Signing up as a volunteer tutor had paid off big time, apparently. 

 

“Your grades are excellent and your teachers have vouched for your behavior. Your school is one of the top in New York, so your grades are sort of a big deal, and we need someone who has tutoring experience and patience. Lots of patience.” 

 

“I- I’m flattered. Really. Who am I supposed to be tutoring?” Why would any of the Avengers need that?

 

Ms. Romanoff’s expression hardened and she sighed as the elevator door opened. “Follow me.”  

 

Peter couldn’t help but gape as he entered the private area of Stark Tower, the area held just for the Avengers. This was definitely by invitation only, not open to the public, like, ever, and his head spun as he tried to take in everything at once. He was so distracted that he didn’t notice Ms. Romanoff stop in front of him and he walked right into her. 

 

“Oh my god. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry,” he said quickly, horrified. Nice knowing you, Peter. He waited for the swift ass-kicking he deserved. 

 

Ms. Romanoff’s lips just quirked up into a tiny smile. It did nothing to soften her expression, but it made Peter feel better. She gestured him into a room where a young woman sat at a table, arms crossed over her chest, looking like she’d rather be anywhere but there. 

 

“This is Wanda,” Ms. Romanoff said. “She’ll be your student for the foreseeable future.” The girl’s face soured even further at that. “We’ve had her tested, and she’s pretty far behind.”

 

“You make me sound like a dog with a disease,” Wanda said. Wow. Her accent was... amazing. 

 

“And if you behave yourself, maybe you’ll get a treat later,” Ms. Romanoff said to Wanda with a smirk. Wanda’s glare was enough to probably destroy a lesser mortal, but Ms. Romanoff seemed completely undisturbed. Peter’s nerves were back in full force. 

 

“Don’t let her get to you,” Ms. Romanoff said to him. “Her bark is worse than her bite.” He didn’t really know if that was true. The growl coming from Wanda at that moment sounded pretty dangerous to him. “I’ll let you two get to it,” Ms. Romanoff said. She patted him on the shoulder and closed the door behind her, leaving him alone with a girl he was pretty sure could and would rip his throat out. 

 

He swallowed hard and squared his shoulders. Man up, Parker.  Never show fear. 

 

Acting like she was a dog probably wasn’t gonna help him any.

 

They were both silent, Peter casting around for something to say and trying to ignore the almost painful burning in his soul mark. He’d need to get it looked at later. Something was obviously wrong with it, but he just couldn’t deal with it right now. His spine ached from the tension in the room. 

 

Then she spoke.

 

“I know you,” she said slowly, her eyes narrowed on him, and Peter’s soul mark Flared sharply and then finally, finally, settled. The itch and pain faded as if they’d never been. Peter tore at his watch, ripped it from his wrist and bared his newly-Flared red mark to his gaze. You’ve gotta be kidding me. 

 

“You are that Spider Boy on the TV.” Peter was barely listening to her, disbelieving, unable to process. 

 

“Stark has been looking for you. He will be very happy,” she continued, and Peter’s head finally snapped up, panicked eyes meeting hers. 

 

“You can’t tell anyone!” He realized what he’d done half a second after he said it. His face went scarlet with embarrassment. Great job, Parker. You made her wear those words all her life? You’re a moron. 

 

Her green eyes were large, shocked, and her head lowered in slow motion as she looked at her wrist. 

 

“Damn it,” Peter gritted out. “I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry.” That seemed to shake her, and her head came up as she blinked.

 

“Why are you sorry?” she asked. 

 

“Those were just... really stupid words to have on your wrist all this time,” he said. 

 

“And ‘I know you’ was so much better?” she replied, smiling a little. He liked her smile. It softened her face. She didn’t look nearly as unapproachable now. 

 

“Well, with my ‘job’ it kinda made sense.” He grinned ruefully. Her smile widened and his heart skipped a beat. 

 

“Come and sit with me,” she said, motioning for him to join her. He slid into the seat next to her and took the opportunity to look at her more closely. She really was beautiful. “What is your name?” she asked. 

 

“Peter. Nice to meet you.” 

 

“It is nice to meet you too, Peter. You are younger than I expected.” His face flushed again at that comment, and he wondered if he was about to be let down easy. 

 

“Sorry,” he mumbled. 

 

“Stop apologizing,” Wanda said, taking his hand. “Perhaps we can begin as friends. There is much you need to know about me, and I wish to know everything about you. Other things, those can come later if we want, okay?” 

 

That took a weight off Peter’s shoulders that he hadn’t even realized was there until that moment. He wasn’t ready for this, for any of this. Her eyes were surprisingly gentle as she watched him, seeming to understand, and he smiled at her, grateful beyond words. Maybe it was just that they were meant to be, but he felt close to her already, like the longer they sat there the more it felt like he’d known her forever. He’d never known anything like it before, and a warmth suffused his chest. 

 

“Thank you,” he said simply, reaching out to hug her. She wrapped her arms around him, fitting into his embrace like she belonged there. And she sorta does. She turned her head to brush a kiss over his cheek, and the spot still tingled when they parted. 

 

“You have my permission to teach me,” she said teasingly, and Peter had to shake his head. 

 

“You’re gonna be so much trouble.” 

 

“You like trouble, I think.” He was going to deny it, but she smiled so sweetly and he couldn’t bring himself to argue. 

Chapter Text

Wanda/Victor Creed 2

 

++++

 

Victor growled under his breath as he caught the scent of his hunters on the air. They were close. Too close. He didn’t understand how they’d found him, or how they’d followed his tracks so easily, as careful as he’d been, but these were the Avengers and apparently he’d underestimated their abilities. Well, not anymore. This time he’d get them off his back for good. 

 

++++

 

Wanda drifted away from the others as they combed the area for their prey. Not armed, but extremely dangerous, she’d been told, with natural weapons in his claws and brutal strength. Victor Creed was a man to be wary of. A killer. An animal. 

 

She shook her head. What made her think she had any right to be here, tracking a killer, when she was one herself? When she had destroyed her home? When her choices had killed her brother and were the very reason she was now alone in the world? She was just a foolish girl, she could admit that now, and it was even more foolish to think she had a place here among the Avengers. 

 

There was no place left for her.

 

She listened to the quiet voices in her earpiece sounding off the all-clear and was about to do the same when a large body tackled her from behind. She hit the floor hard and rolled as Natasha had taught her to do, groaning as she forced her body to move. 

 

Looking up brought her face to face with the very man she’d been hunting. He was smiling at her, all teeth and the promise of pain, and she shivered. He held her earpiece in his hand, and crushed it before tossing it negligently to the side.

 

“No one to save you, little girl.”

 

++++

 

Victor watched the girl’s eyes widen. He could taste her obvious fear in the air, but there was something else too, something darker in her gaze, and it sent a delicious shiver down his spine. A second later he was on top of her, pinning her to the ground, one long claw against her throat where he could feel the rapid beat of her heart. 

 

Something made him pause, some instinct he couldn’t ignore, and he stared down into her eyes as he tried to make sense of it. 

 

“Do it,” she said quietly, tilting her head up to bare her throat to him further. “Just do it. Please.”

 

Victor froze instead as he felt the sting of his soul mark across his back. Her words, the words he’d pondered all his life, and finally he understood. 

 

“I’m not gonna kill you,” he growled. “And what kinda person would ask that of their soul mate?” He watched the tears start to roll down her face as she lay there beneath him, not struggling but defeated. 

 

“I just... I can’t be alone anymore.” She was crying for real now, sobs wracking her small frame, and Victor sighed as he released her and pulled her into his arms instead. 

 

“Dammit, girl. You’re not alone now. You’ve got me,” he said gruffly. She clung to him tightly, and he stroked his fingers through her hair, careful to be gentle. 

 

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said over and over into his chest, and he curled around her protectively, cradling her in his warmth and strength. She was so beautiful, but so broken, and he wanted to protect her from everything, including herself. 

 

It was a strange feeling for him. He hadn’t wanted to protect anything in a very long time. 

 

“Take me with you,” she whispered, and that surprised him. 

 

“You’re an Avenger. I’m not a good person, girly. You don’t wanna throw in with me.” As much as it hurt to say that, he had to, had to give her the warning. The option to leave. She looked at him with pleading eyes. 

 

“I’m not a good person either. I’ve done horrible things. I don’t belong here, with them.” Her voice was shaky but filled with resolve. “I don’t care that you’ve killed people. We’ll... we’ll work it out. Just don’t make me stay.” 

 

He couldn’t say no to her, not now. He suspected he’d have trouble saying no to her for a very long time. 

 

“Alright, girly. It’s you and me.” He stood up and reached down to lift her into his arms. She didn’t struggle, just let him carry her bridal style while she wiped her face and snuggled into his chest. “What’s your name, girl?”

 

“Wanda.”

 

“Wanda,” he said, testing her name on his tongue and deciding he liked it very much. It felt almost familiar. “I’m Victor.”

 

“I know,” she replied softly. She touched his face with soft fingers, her eyes on him at once soothing and stimulating. He wondered what she saw when she looked at him.

 

“I won’t let you be alone again,” he told her, and it was a vow he meant to keep no matter what. 

Chapter Text

Wanda/Karen Page/Frank Castle

 

++++

 

It’s a stupid idea for her to be roaming around the streets of New York City, especially alone and in the middle of the night, but Wanda is tired and heartsick and wants to be lost. She misses her brother, his absence leaves an angry, burning hole in her chest, and she can’t help but wish she had joined him when he died. Life without him is proving to be too painful for her to take.

 

The Avengers have good intentions but their care wears on her, depending on them after so long hating their very existence leaves her feeling strange, uncomfortable in her own skin. After today, she needed to get away, get some distance, so here she is, wandering neighborhoods as just another silent shadow.

 

The woman walking in was tall and slender, blonde hair like silk spilling over her shoulders, and even in her grief Wanda couldn’t help but notice. How could she not? Her smile was warm and inviting, and everything Wanda wasn’t and might never be. Not now.

 

“Nice to meet you, Ms. Romanoff.” Wanda watched her shake Natasha’s hand, wondered why they had picked this woman to write about them. She watched the woman settle in the chair across from them, her and Vision, perched nervously on a couch.

 

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Page,” Vision said smoothly.

 

“Oh! Well, it’s nice to meet you too. I have to admit, you’re not what I was expecting when they told me who I’d be interviewing.”

 

“I expect I’ll differ from most people’s expectations. My hope is that this interview will set the public’s minds at ease.”

 

“That’s our goal.” Her voice was sweet, but Wanda could hear the steel behind it, having spent the entirety of her life listening for the danger that lurked behind kind smiles.

 

“Why you?” she blurted, not caring how rude she was being, not registering the way the woman’s eyes widened.

 

“Why not?” was all she received in answer.

 

The area she’s in now doesn’t look much like Novi Grad, but it has the same feel to it, the same desperate edge, and she finds comfort in the similarity.

 

Her arm itches where the first of her two soul marks had Flared earlier in the day. The reporter, Karen Page, her soul mate. Her soul mate who hadn’t even stuck around to talk afterwards, who hadn’t acknowledged their bond even once, who must’ve felt her own mark Flare, but decided to ignore it and her, and walk away when the very awkward interview was done. Her arm itches and she wishes she could ignore it, but it’s persistent and isn’t leaving her alone anytime soon.

 

Maybe that’s why she has two soul marks. Maybe she was destined to be rejected. Wanda has never considered herself fanciful, but a small part of her always imagined finding her two soul mates, two people who loved her and would never leave her alone, so this hurts probably more than it should. But then, she has always been a greedy girl.

 

She wraps her arms around herself as she wanders, trying to clear her head, but Pietro is all she can think of, guilt and loss weighing heavy on her heart.

 

“Wanda?”

 

She stops short at the sound of her name, spins around to see the reporter coming up behind her. She’s beautiful even under the dim streetlights, and Wanda wishes she was dressed nicer, wishes she didn’t look as pale and tired as she knows she does, wishes she could compare.

 

“What are you doing out here so late?” the woman asks. She should call her Karen. She remembers her name, couldn’t forget it now if she tried. There are so many things she wishes she could forget.

 

“Why do you care?” she says, wincing inwardly at her own tone. Why would this woman want anything to do with her? She’s all rage and pain and no one in their right mind would want to deal with it. She is broken, so broken.

 

But Karen looks at her with empathy and kindness, and Wanda doesn’t know what to do with that.

 

“It’s dangerous out here,” Karen says, and Wanda laughs bitterly.

 

I am dangerous. Haven’t you heard? I destroyed a city, killed my own brother. I’m lucky they haven’t put me down like an animal,” she says, and realizes it’s the truth. She knows she is fortunate the Avengers have vouched for her and taken responsibility for her. She doesn’t know if she feels lucky, though.

 

“Are you going to hurt me? Gonna attack anyone else?” Karen asks. She looks honestly curious.

 

“No.”

 

“Then you’re not all that dangerous right now, are you?” She smiles, just a quirk of her lips, and Wanda can’t look away.

 

“Why did you leave?” she asks. Karen doesn’t pretend to misunderstand.

 

“I didn’t know what to say. Needed time to think,” she says.

 

“And you’ve thought about it now?” Wanda tried to sound like she doesn’t care, knows she fails.

 

“Yeah, I have. It was hard to find my second soul mate and realize she’s just as broken as the first one. Makes you wonder what kind of person you are, you know?”

 

Wanda is dumbfounded.

 

“You have two soul mates as well?” she asks slowly.

 

They stare at each other wordlessly.

 

“This the girl that caused all that trouble in Sokovia?” comes a rough voice from the shadows, startling her. Wanda knows who this man is when he steps out of the shadows holding a gun, the skull standing out starkly on his chest. His face is everywhere, his eyes burning with the same rage she feels inside herself.

 

“The Punisher,” she whispers. He watches her, and she knows he’s waiting for her to make a move, waiting for the moment he needs to protect people from her. He has no idea.

 

“Are you going to kill me?” she asks him, and his scowl deepens. Karen shoots the man a quick look, unreadable, and Wanda can see the tension in her even in her peripheral vision.

 

“Gonna have to give me a reason,” he says, holstering his gun.

 

Wanda’s second soul mark Flares and she crumbles inside just a little bit more. Her second soul mate should be putting a bullet between her eyes right now, she knows this, and how wrong is it of her to wish he would?

 

“You’re the Punisher. I killed people,” she says. “I almost helped to destroy the world. Don’t I deserve to die?”

 

“Not gonna kill one of my soul mates just ‘cause she made some mistakes,” he says gruffly. “Revenge and me go way back.”

 

“Who?” She can barely get the word out, can barely speak. The knowledge is there, her heart is full with it, but she needs to hear it to make it real.

 

“Karen. Uh, she’s my other.” He takes her hand, or she takes his, Wanda isn’t sure. They move in unison, already in tune with each other. Her heart aches. “So I guess we all belong together,” he says, uncomfortable.

 

Karen is smiling, though, and she reaches a hand out to Wanda, who looks at it blankly before slowly reaching back. Karen’s smile only grows when their fingers finally touch, and she pulls Wanda into them. Wanda doesn’t fight it, wants this acceptance more than anything, needs to belong with someone now that she has lost her entire world.

 

The Punisher clasps her other hand tightly in callused fingers and looks at her with a gaze that offers not just acceptance but understanding. She cannot look away, and doesn’t want to.

 

“Call me Frank. None of that ‘Punisher’ crap, okay?”

 

Wanda nods because she doesn’t trust her voice right now. Her throat, her chest, her entire being, is taut with emotion.

 

“It’s gonna be okay, Wanda,” Karen says. Wanda knows she doesn’t deserve the kindness in Karen’s voice, doesn’t deserve any of this, but she wants it all the same.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Peter Parker 2

 

++++

 

He was so tired. His entire body hurt, and looking at himself in the mirror, it was no wonder. There was more of him that was bruised than not. Dark purple splotches marred his chest, ribs, stomach, legs. He twisted around, hissing at the pull, and his back was no better. From head to toe, he was just a mess.

 

But that wasn’t the only color painted on him now.

 

“Don’t worry.”

 

Peter traced the words inscribed over his heart, red as blood. Red as the blood spilled on the battlefield against Thanos. His mind flashed to Mr. Stark, his ruined body in his last moments of life...

 

He wiped the bitter tears from his eyes and dabbed at the blood on his face with a wet washcloth.

 

He wanted Aunt May. He wanted Ned. He wanted all his classmates, hell, even Flash. He wanted his bed, and his things, and his life back, but most of all he wanted this whole crazy mess to have never happened.

 

But life didn’t work that way. No take backs. No do-overs. Mr. Stark was dead, and he was never coming back. Peter knew all too well what death was. Hadn’t he lost enough? Why did it always end like this?

 

He bent his head and sobbed as he wished for Aunt May to be there.

 

++++

 

He went home.

 

The Avengers made it clear he was welcome to stay, he’d more than earned his place, but he just didn’t want to be away from home any longer. He needed to get away, clear his head, not see people around him mourning Mr. Stark. He didn’t care if it was selfish. Grief was selfish, and he just wanted to be a kid again, even if he didn’t feel like one anymore.

 

He didn’t ask about his soul mate. She hadn’t come searching for him, and he hadn’t gone searching for her. Hell, he hadn’t even gotten to say his words to her yet, so she probably didn’t even know he was her soul mate. Better to leave it that way for now, in his opinion. He was too emotionally spent to even think about it.

 

Peter knocked on the apartment door, his key long gone. May cried when she saw him, wrapped him in a bear hug and sobbed against his chest. His bruises protested but he didn’t care. He hugged her back and never wanted to let go. 

 

He told her everything that night, how he’d gone to an alien planet and fought and lost, and he’d turned to dust in Mr. Stark’s arms and he hadn’t been ready to go, and how being faced with his own mortality had made him feel. He told her about coming back, and the final battle, and the amazing things he’d seen. And he told her about Mr. Stark’s sacrifice. It hurt, so much, but he managed to get the words out, and she held him and rocked him and they got through it together as they always did.

 

He didn’t tell her about Mr. Stark hugging him, though. That was personal, and special, and he would hold that moment in his heart forever. He’d wanted acceptance, and he’d gotten it, and maybe it was only relief on Mr. Stark’s part, but he liked to think Mr. Stark had been happy to see him too.

 

He glanced at his soul mark in the mirror as he got ready for bed that night.

 

“Don’t worry.”

 

“Yeah,” he muttered. “Don’t worry, be happy, Peter.”

 

++++

 

Ned wanted too many details. Peter couldn’t give them. He’d already exhausted just about all his ability to talk about it going over things with May. He had nothing left. Ned was disappointed. He couldn’t hide it. But he knew when to back off, too, and Peter was grateful.

 

Instead they did stupid kid things. They put together the LEGO Super Star Destroyer Ned had gotten his hands on. They listened to music. They ate pizza. Maybe he was too old for goofing around like he was still fifteen, but it helped. And Peter slowly started to feel like himself again.

 

++++

 

There was no way he would miss Mr. Stark’s funeral. May helped him get ready, helped him with his tie when his fingers couldn’t manage. She held his hand in the car Happy sent for them. And she stood close during the funeral itself, her hand grounding him. He’d never been so grateful for her.

 

It was weird, having all of the Avengers there. Nice weird, though. Captain America wasn’t on the run anymore, they weren’t fugitives. They’d saved the world, after all. A little appreciation and forgiveness was long overdue in Peter’s opinion. The Avengers had never been the bad guys, and there were enough bad guys in the world that the Avengers were needed.

 

Admittedly, Captain America hadn’t been on the run in five years, but still. Peter hadn’t been there for that, so it was all new to him, and he was still adjusting to the new world order.

 

His soul mate was present at the funeral too, and he knew he had to talk to her.

 

Peter approached Wanda when Mr. Barton walked away. She was standing at the edge of the lake, looking out, hands tucked into her pockets.

 

“Excuse me, uh...Wanda?”

 

She swung around, eyes wide and hand slapped to her chest where he knew her mark was. Then he realized what he’d said.

 

“Oh, jeez. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that to be the first thing I said to you.” He was mortified.

 

“Peter, right?” she asked slowly.

 

“Uh, yeah. That’s me.” He gave her a smile, but it didn’t feel right on his face. And judging by her expression, it didn’t look right either. She stared at him with slightly narrowed eyes, obviously trying to remember when they’d spoken. “It was during the battle,” he volunteered. “You told me ‘Don’t worry.’ I don’t blame you for not remembering. There was a whole army coming down on us at the time.” Recognition settled on her face.

 

“I do remember you,” she said. “You were so injured. You look much better now.”

 

“Yeah,” he blushed. “I heal fast.”

 

“I knew my soul mate was out there,” Wanda said, eyes distant, “but I loved Vision and I didn’t want to wait around for something I wasn’t sure would ever come. Something maybe I didn’t feel I deserved. The other half of me. And now you are here and he isn’t...” Her voice trailed off, but Peter stayed quiet, waiting. “I miss him,” she said finally.

 

“I’m not gonna try to replace him,” Peter said. “I know it doesn’t work that way. And hey, I’m only seventeen. We’ve got lots of time, you know?”

 

“Yes. We have lots of time now,” Wanda said, wiping tears from her eyes. “I’ve lost my other half twice already. My brother, Vision... I need things to be different this time.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Peter told her, taking her hand. “Mr. Stark gave us all an opportunity. I don’t want to waste that.”

 

“Yes,” Wanda said with a wry smile. “Stark saved us all.” She looked out over the lake once more, her expression unreadable. “I respect him for that.”

 

They stood there silently for a while, each lost in their own thoughts, until she squeezed his hand, bringing Peter’s mind back to the present.

 

“Come home with me and Aunt May,” he said. “I want... I need to have you close.” Wanda raised an eyebrow.

 

“Your Aunt would allow that?” she asked incredulously.

 

“Yeah, she’s cool. And she understands,” he told her. Her eyes searched his face for a moment before she nodded.

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay,” he said, and the next breath he released felt lighter.

Chapter Text

 

Wanda/Ava Starr

 

****

 

Wanda tried to breathe, but she couldn’t catch her breath. She and Pietro had been running from Hydra for so long, too long, and they were both exhausted. Their newborn powers were still weak and barely controllable. She glanced worriedly at her brother, whose entire body was shaking like a leaf in a stiff breeze, trembling and moving in spasms almost too fast for the eye to see. She could see the pain of it etched on his face, in every line of his brow and wrinkle around his tight lips. His jaw clenched against the pain, he reached out to check on her, only for his hand to jerk forward at the last second and slam into her shoulder. She hissed in pain.

 

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Wanda,” he whispered, but his voice rang loudly in her head, nearly blinding in its volume. Her fingers glowed red, but she forced it down, forced the panic and pain away, and the light faded.

 

“We can’t lose them,” she said bitterly, wishing for the thousandth time that they’d never volunteered for these experiments, that they’d never heard of Dr. List and Baron Von Strucker, that they’d never fallen unknowingly into the hands of Hydra. They’d been so stupid to think SHIELD would be the way to protect their country and defeat Tony Stark and the Avengers. Why would SHIELD need that kind of power? Why would they need to create their own super-powered soldiers? It had all been a stupid dream, a fool’s hope, and now look at where they were, at what they’d become. They had no home, no friends, no safety, allied with a Nazi organization, and it was all her fault for persuading Pietro this was the right thing to do, their best choice to gain the power to make the changes they wanted in the world.

 

She’d been such a fool, and now they were going to pay for it. Her brother was going to pay for it. Hydra would kill them for deserting, for refusing to be controlled. Hydra didn’t tolerate disobedience and betrayal. She had cost her brother his life. Hydra would run them down like animals and put a bullet in their skulls.

 

Bullets exploded into the space around them, leaving divots in the dirt and trees, and she screamed as she ducked down. Pietro pulled her away and behind an outcropping that provided the bare minimum of protection.

 

“I’m going to circle around and come at them from behind. You stay here,” he told her.

 

“No, Pietro! They’ll kill you!”

 

“They won’t even see me coming,” he reassured her. “I’m gaining control. It’ll work. I have to try,” he said. She stared at him, thinking fast, desperate for another solution, but came up empty handed. Her mind was cloudy, his racing thoughts blurring her own.

 

“Be careful. Come back to me,” she pleaded. He nodded.

 

“Always.” Then he was gone, and Wanda closed her eyes and whispered a quiet prayer for his safe return.

 

Her mind became clearer now that she had some distance from her brother, and she took a chance and glanced over the lip of the outcropping, ducking back when she was met with a hail of bullets.

 

“Shit,” she muttered. Pietro would need help, and she was the only one who could do it. She closed her eyes and focused, letting her power flow through her. It felt wild, strong and unwieldy, but when she opened her eyes her hands were engulfed in the bright red glow of her power. She braced herself to move. This was the moment of truth. Either her powers would shield her, or they would fail and leave her a bullet-riddled corpse.

 

Just as she began to move out from her hiding place, she was tackled to the ground, fingers closing around her neck. She struggled with the gray-clad figure pinning her down, flailing wildly as her concentration shattered and her powers fled. She was going to die. She was going to die here, and it was so senseless.

 

A lucky hit knocked her attacker’s mask aside and she was quick to take advantage of their momentary distraction to suck in a deep breath and reach inside herself for that well of rage and fear that she lived with every day, focusing it in one desperate moment and, with a flick of her fingers, sending her pain into their mind.

 

They stumbled backwards, landing hard, and Wanda scrambled to her feet, ready to run. Then the strangest thing happened, and she watched in fascination and horror as her attacker’s entire body started to flicker in and out of existence.

 

What the fuck?

 

The now obviously female voice was groaning as their body writhed on the ground. Wanda turned away, a breath away from running, when another, louder pained cry tore at her heart. Something about this person drew her towards them, and against her better judgment, she crouched next to them and eased the mask from their face, ignoring her own discomfort as the girl’s pain flooded her senses.

 

Tears moistened the girl’s eyes though they didn’t fall, and she looked up at Wanda with a dazed expression Wanda was growing all too familiar with. She cupped the girl’s face, noting how the girl’s eyes tried to focus on her, as if she was already fighting the effects of what Wanda had done to her. She lightly slapped the girl’s cheeks, forcing her to focus.

 

“Come on. Come back to me,” she muttered to her, and suddenly the girl’s gaze snapped to her own, eerily clear of visions, if still clouded by pain. Wanda’s fingers slipped through the space the girl was occupying every time she flickered, but it was slowing now. Wanda knew she should leave now, before her would-be assassin could come after her again, but the girl’s eyes held her frozen in place. They were beautiful, she was beautiful, and while Wanda had never been one to fall for a pretty face, there was just something about this girl. Her turbulent mind was fast becoming familiar.

 

“I’ll never leave,” the girl told her, awe and certainty coloring her tone. Wanda started, her hand flying to her hip as her soul mark Flared, the pain fleeting but undeniable.

 

They stared each other down, equally shocked.

 

Pietro stopped next to her, breathing hard, jolting Wanda from her trance, and she looked up at her brother with cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

 

“Are you about done here? I might need some help,” he said between gasping breaths, not angry, but a bit exasperated.

 

“Pietro-“ Wanda started, but her brother cut her off.

 

“Yes, yes. Your soulmate. I could tell from the dopey look on your face.” She swatted him, but couldn’t argue. “I need your help, sister, or we won’t be leaving this place alive,” he said more seriously. His eyes were bright, but he definitely looked worn out already, sweat pouring from his face and shaking even harder than before.

 

The girl- Wanda’s soulmate- smiled grimly as she forced herself to sit up, taking deep breaths as she regained control of herself.

 

“I’ll take care of it,” she said darkly. Wanda ran her fingertips over the girl’s chin, directing her attention and making her face her. Strangely enough, her powers seemed tightly under her control at the moment, her thoughts hers and hers alone.

 

“We will take care of it together,” she said. Some of the darkness seemed to leave the girl’s eyes as a small smile graced her lips. “Give me your name,” Wanda said.

 

“Ava,” the girl said simply.

 

“Come, Ava,” Wanda said, taking her hand and giving her a smile as she pulled her to her feet. “Let’s finish this.”

 

“Sometime today?” Pietro asked, earning a glare from both girls. “Just saying,” he said as another round of gunfire sounded. Wanda hadn’t even been aware of the sound until now. Meeting Ava had distracted her completely, and the feel of Ava’s hand in hers threatened to do so again.

 

Ava pulled her mask back on and dropped Wanda’s hand, her entire demeanor changing as she assumed the role of assassin once more, only this time her targets would be different. “I’ll be right back,” she said steadily and disappeared.

 

Pietro looked around and shrugged. “That’ll take some getting used to,” he said.

 

“We’re all a bit strange,” Wanda replied. Then Pietro took a deep breath and was gone in a flash of blue, and Wanda grinned as she raised her hands, bringing her powers to bear.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Brock Rumlow

 

++++

 

Brock tossed back another shot and tried to ignore the noise around him. He’d chosen this little bar thinking it’d be a nice place to get drunk peacefully, but apparently the place was more popular with the locals than it looked. Now the noise of voices, music, and the thunk of glasses hitting the tables was a bit overwhelming.

 

He’d just about decided he had enough when the door opened and in walked the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Long, dark hair and creamy skin, full lips, and she moved with a grace that drew more eyes than just his. The shawl around her shoulders did little to hide her slim figure, and her hips swayed as she walked.

 

Walked closer. Shit. His mouth grew dry as she approached, and he couldn’t help but stare as she stood next to his seat at the bar and gestured to the bartender. Her voice was husky when she ordered, and it sent a shot of arousal straight to his groin. Fuck.

 

“You got a problem, asshole?” a man asked as he sidled up to her and wrapped an arm around her waist. This drew her attention, and when she turned he could finally see her eyes were a bright, sparkling green. God, her face took his breath away. “Hey!” the guy yelled at him over the music. “Leave my sister alone,” he said, and Brock grinned. His sister.

 

“I ain’t gonna hurt her,” he said, unable to control his smile, which seemed to aggravate the man further.

 

“She wants nothing to do with you, American,” the guy said snottily. “Come on, Wanda.” He tugged her arm, but she put a hand over his and didn’t budge.

 

“Wait, Pietro,” she said. Her gaze focused on him quizzically. “Do I know you from somewhere? You seem... familiar.”

 

Brock’s grinned widened as she spoke his words, words he’d been waiting to hear his whole life. He relished the feel of his mark Flaring, undeniable proof she was his, and... “I’m yours, babe,” he said, winking at her. “Brock Rumlow.” He watched her face change as his words registered, saw her reach for her hip where their marks were located.

 

“Fuck,” Pietro said. The helpless look on his face made Brock laugh, and Pietro rolled his eyes. “I don’t care if you are her soulmate. You hurt her, asshole, and I will kill you,” he growled. Brock held his hands up in surrender.

 

“Got no plans to hurt her.” His gaze went back to Wanda, who was still looking at him in shock. Brock brushed his fingers over her cheek. “I’m gonna take care of you,” he told her. Some of the shock left her face and she lifted her chin.

 

“My name is Wanda, and you should know this, Brock- I don’t need a man to take care of me,” she said. “I am not some fragile doll who’ll be kept in a box. You need to understand that.” The anger and heat in her gaze had him painfully aroused.

 

“That’s good. I love a woman with a mind of her own,” he told her. “But I’m still gonna look out for you.” The world was a hard place full of hard people, he knew that better than most, and he’d do anything to prevent her pain.

 

“Awesome,” Pietro said, getting both of their attention. “I could use the help. She’s a handful.” He grinned and she slapped his arm, but the mood was lighter now. “Shall we celebrate with a drink?” he asked his sister, and Brock looked at her, a hint of trepidation forming in his gut. She could choose to walk away, and she was staring at him as if she was considering it. He could only wait helplessly as his nervousness grew.

 

Whatever she’d been searching for in his face, she apparently found, because a bright smile lit up her features and she leaned in to place a gentle kiss on his lips.

 

“You’ll do,” she said fondly.

Chapter Text

Wanda/Peter Parker 3

 

++++

 

Wanda needed out- out of the tower, so close to Stark while they waited for the new Avengers complex for be completed, away from the orchestrator of her world’s destruction twice over now, away from the man she was supposed to now accept into her life as if he belonged there. His presence grated on her nerves, an itch she could never scratch, an ache she couldn’t massage away.

 

She had no right to resent him. Not now. Not after everything she’d done. But her heart couldn’t let it go.

 

It was simple to make her escape. Was it even an escape if you were free to come and go as you pleased? As nice as that had sounded when the good Captain America had told her she was trusted and would not be held captive, she knew there were eyes everywhere. There was no way the powers that be would let her roam around freely. It was impossible. Governments weren’t like that. SHIELD wasn’t like that. The good Captain could believe what he wished. She knew better.

 

So yeah. It was an escape.

 

She was certain she’d escaped prying eyes and spying devices when she left.

 

Disturbing thoughts haunted her, darkness she couldn’t shake, darkness that made her want to do things her brother would have hated. The desire to follow him, to give it all up and find him again in the afterlife, it was a compulsion almost too strong to fight, and Pietro would’ve been so disappointed if he’d known. But he didn’t, did he? And he never would. He could never know anything about her ever again.

 

She walked quickly, putting as much distance as she could between herself and the Tower. It didn’t matter where she went, only that she could outrun her thoughts, find a way to breathe through the heartbreak that constantly threatened to choke her.

 

Her steps sped faster and faster until they matched the racing of her heart. She was running, uncaring, unseeing, down darkened streets and alleys, until her body finally gave out and she collapsed against a wall. Sobs were torn from her body with every ragged breath she could manage. Her knees hit the pavement hard, and she clutched at the rough bricks in front of her face, the solidness of the building helping clear her messy thoughts.

 

“Hey. Hey. Ma’am, are you okay?” someone said behind her. She stiffened and cried out in anguish as the soul mark on her hip Flared.

 

No, not now. Why now? Pietro should be here... He should be here and it’s all my fault...

 

She pressed her forehead to the wall, wishing it would just open up and swallow her whole.

 

“Ma’am, are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?” her soulmate asked, and she knew she couldn’t put this off. She had to face this. Was this why she was hers? Was this why Pietro had died? Had he been destined to die so she could find this moment? Please no...

 

She turned slowly, only to see a masked man before her, closer than she had expected and reaching for her. She jerked back hard against the wall and instinctively threw up a wall of red between them as she cried out. “Don’t!”

 

She knew he felt the Flare when he jerked, even though she couldn’t see his face behind the mask and goggles.

 

“Not how I thought that would finally be said to me,” he admitted. “I suppose it could’ve been worse.” He paused and she knew he was studying her. His head tilted as he took in her pitiful state, and she suddenly felt extremely self-conscious. “Are...no, you’re not. Obviously. Can I help?”

 

It took a moment for her brain to catch up. Her thoughts were sluggish, her heart desperately aching for comfort but afraid all the same. Guilt ate at her and she couldn’t reach out, couldn’t accept what fate was offering her. Not with her brother gone, not with his body cold in the grave and unable to ever experience happiness again.

 

She forced herself to her feet and ran, both relieved and saddened when he didn’t pursue her.

 

++++

 

She didn’t look for him, not really, though she found videos of him on YouTube. It became an addiction, watching his exploits. He was powerful and good, so good. She would never be worthy of that. Even as the ache in her heart over the loss of her brother lessened, even as she became more open to the idea of happiness one day, a part of her still fought. How could she ever be worthy of someone like that? She was a wreck of a human being, too twisted and dark, and she had ruined anything fare could have planned for them. They could never belong together. Not now.

 

Seeing him at the Leipzig airport was a shock to the system. Though his costume was different, obviously upgraded by Stark, she would know his movements, know him, anywhere. Even at the great distance they were at, she just knew, and her heart pounded at seeing him again. Clint could tell something was wrong, but she shook him off, and there was too much going on for him to push.

 

Fighting him was difficult. She had zero desire to harm him, and she knew he recognized her too because he held back as well. They went their separate ways as soon as they could, choosing other opponents, keeping their distance, and she lost track of him. It was when she was lying on the ground in Vision’s arms, head still spinning from Rhodey’s attack, that she saw him again.

 

He was beaten, bloodied, mask up, and god he was so young. He was scanning the battlefield, looking for her? Their eyes met and he started forward only to be stopped by Stark, who sent him away as trucks approached. Stark was gesturing wildly, yelling, and Wanda mouthed one word at her soulmate, who kept looking back over at her. “Go,” she told him. If Stark wanted him to leave, he should go. No sense he be caught up in the ugliness that she knew was about to happen. He didn’t need to see it.

 

His face hardened, but he nodded and ran just in time. Stark took charge of Rhodey’s medical care, and the rest of the we’re left to the government’s tender mercies as they were secured and stuffed into armored transports. Wanda didn’t fight. She didn’t have the energy or the focus. Her head was a goddamn mess. But her soulmate was safe, and she could be satisfied with that.

 

++++

 

Prison was... not the worst thing she’d ever experienced. Admittedly, she’d never been collared and secured so tightly, but she knew what it was to have no dignity, to be treated like a lesser being. People had been treating her and Pietro like that for so long she’d almost forgotten what it was like to be treated any other way before Hydra got their hands on them. It was unpleasant, but prison was supposed to be, right? At least they fed her.

 

She almost didn’t believe it when the good Captain arrived to free them. The rescue went far too smoothly and she would’ve thought it was a trick except that the others were there. They were there and they were happy, and it really was okay.

 

And her soulmate was there, waiting for her on the jet, giving her water and sitting her down, stuttering over how sorry he was, how he’d helped break the codes and he wished he could’ve done more, done it faster, that he hadn’t left her there to be carted away to the hellhole of the Raft. She watched him, silent, words escaping her. He was here. He was here. He’d come for her. Did he understand how much that meant?

 

“You’re here now,” she rasped, unused to speaking after so long. He kneeled at her feet and looked up at her so earnestly that it hurt her heart to see it, to see the devotion on his young face.

 

“Y-you may not want me. I mean, I’m not the best catch or anything. Heck, I’m still in high school, and you’re, y’know, you, and you might not want me around, but if you do, I’m here. I’m in this, okay? My Aunt May would never let me forget it if I left my soulmate when she needed me, and I wouldn’t do that anyway, and I’m probably talking way too much, but I just wanted you to know that I’m here and I’m gonna be here, okay? I don’t care what anybody says, not even Mr. Stark.”

 

Wanda couldn’t find all the words she wanted to say, couldn’t keep up with him, but she knew what she wanted.

 

“Stay,” she whispered. She smiled at the hope in his eyes, and leaned forward to press a chaste kiss to his lips. “Stay.”