I can't explain what was happening, but I knew it was bad. The feeling in my gut said something was wrong. I was in the Triskelion, and things were off. There was a tension in the air, and it was unnerving. I walked down the hall of my floor when I saw someone running down the hallway. My eyebrows wrinkled, and I raced out, following my gut, because it always led me right. I chased after the person in the hall shouting, "Hey! Where are you going?"
The man turned around, and I recognized him as Steve Rogers. "Away. I need to leave. Things are about to get worse."
"Oh. Well, if you're leaving, then so am I," I told him.
"What's your name?" he asked.
"Morgan," I told him as we walked.
"Well, Morgan, I hope you're ready for something of an adventure."
I smiled and raced out with him, and we ran out to the SHIELD garage. I hopped on the back of his motorcycle and tried to make our way out of the gate. But halfway there we were met with a quinjet and bullets. I rolled my eyes and decided to use my powers. Yes, I have them, and no I don't use them often. I created a field around Steve and me, and he was able to throw his shield through it and into one of the turbines of the jet. I heard him shout, "Can you ride this thing?"
"Yeah!" I shouted back.
"Okay, I'm going to throw the bike over me to flip onto the jet. You do your best to make it out of the gate. If you do, go to George Washington University Hospital, and I will meet you there. One, two, three!"
With no room to argue, I just went with it. He threw the bike, and I flipped with it. My stomach dropped, and I tried to keep my lunch. When I landed wheels down, I tried to keep an eye on Steve, but I knew he would be okay. I mean, he was the original super soldier. I drove, and as I moved toward the gate, I saw the spikes coming up from the road, and I rolled my eyes. I made another field and lifted myself up in the air. I got through the gauntlet, and released the field and drove quickly to the hospital.
I hopped off the bike and ditched it a few blocks away, and tried to find some new clothes to change into. It was hopeless, so I walked to the hospital and just waited, trying not to look suspicious. I noticed a man walking up in grey sweats and a blue hoodie. He had a small backpack on his back, and he grabbed my elbow. I then realized it was Steve. He handed me the bag and shoved me into the bathroom. I opened it and found a new pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a jean jacket. There was also a beanie and a pair of dark sunglasses. I smiled and changed, throwing my SHIELD suit into it, and making sure that nothing on the backpack told anyone that I was with SHIELD.
I walked out to find Steve standing there looking very anxious. I grabbed his arm and whispered, "What's going on?"
"Fury was shot, and SHIELD was compromised. He gave me a drive before he died and I left it here because Rumalow was an ass. I need it," he explained.
My brain was reeling. SHEILD was compromised? Fury was dead? What? As we walked down the hall, we stopped in front of the vending machine, and Steve looked, and then a look of disappointment fell over his face. Then he looked to his left and then flipped around. I did too, and a fiery redhead was standing there, chewing gum. We walked a ways down the hall, and Steve grabbed her and forced her into a room, lowered his hood and asked, "Where is it?"
"Safe," she retorted back.
"Do better!" he argued.
"Where did you get it?" she asked, accusatorially.
"Why would I tell you?" he shot back.
"Fury gave it to you. Why?" she asked, shocked. Me, well I was trying to take it all in.
"What's on it?" he pressed.
"I don't know," she admitted.
"Stop lying," he forced.
"I only act like I know everything, Rogers," she added.
"But you knew Fury hired the pirates didn't you?"
"Makes sense, the ship was dirty, Fury needed a way in, so did you," she sassed.
"I'm not going to ask you again," he injected, getting angrier by the minute.
"I know who killed Fury," she added. My jaw fell open, and Steve seemed to let her go. She proceeded to explain that he was a man called The Winter Soldier. He had shot an asset she was protecting through her. The scar on her abdomen proved it. After she explained that he was something of a ghost and some people didn't even believe he existed, she pulled out the drive. Steve looked at it, grabbed it, and we were off. "Um, hi. I'm Morgan Franklin," I added.
"Hi, I'm Natasha Romanoff," she told me.
"Holy shit. What the hell is happening," I mumbled to myself.
"A bunch of bad things," Steve mumbled. We were walking to the mall, and when we got there, we walked into a clothing store. Steve pulled some jeans, a t-shirt, a hoodie, a hat and a pair of glasses. Using my powers, I pulled all of the security tags out, and we were off. We walked into the Apple Store, and Nat said, "This drive has a homing device on it. We may not be able to figure out what's on it, but we can find out where it was made. We will have nine minutes after I plug it in, starting now."
She plugged it in and began working. I noticed a man coming up to us, and I went into action. I grabbed Steve's massive arm and leaned on it, faking a smile. He caught on, wrapping an arm around my waist. The man came up and said, "Hi, welcome to Apple, can I help you?"
"Not really, we are looking for honeymoon destinations," I said in a loved-up voice.
"Oh! Where are you thinking of going?" he asked.
Steve turned around, looking at the map and saying, "New Jersey."
I chuckled to myself and put my face into Steve's chest. He walked away, and I pulled off of Steve. Nat found the location, and asked, "You know it?"
"I used to," Steve said.
I sighed, and we walked out of the store and into the mall. Things were about to get a whole lot more interesting.
When we got into the main area of the mall I heard Steve say, "Okay, it's going to be a standard tac team, two in front, two in the back and a few roaming. If we get caught I'll engage and you two go."
"Wrap your arm around me and laugh at something I said," I hissed.
"What?" he asked.
"Do it!" I demanded.
He fake laughed and we walked right past two of the STRIKE members. He looked up and we kept moving. Nat was a few paces ahead of us and I was keeping eyes out for more people. We were on the escalator when I noticed Rumalow coming up the escalator we were going down. I turned and hissed, "Kiss me."
"Public displays of affection make people very uncomfortable," I whispered.
"Yes, they do," he told me. I rolled my eyes, grabbed him by the neck and pushed his lips to mine. He kissed back and before we knew it, Rumalow was passed. I pulled away and asked, "You still uncomfortable?"
"Not exactly the word I would use," he told me.
We were in a stolen truck, on our way to Wheaton, New Jersey when a question popped into my head. "Where did Captain America learn to steal a car?" I asked.
He chuckled and said, "Nazi Germany. And we're borrowing. Get your feet off the dash."
I grinned and pulled them off. I was so lost in thought but was pulled out by Steve saying, "I'm 95, not dead."
I laughed and Steve shot me a pointed look. Nat was in the backseat, resting. "Steve?" I asked.
"Do you think I'm weird because of my powers?" I asked.
"Morgan, I think your powers are what make you special. If you help us out here, I bet I could put in a good word for you to be an Avenger," he told me. By the look in his eyes, I could tell he was being completely honest with me.
"Really?" I asked, not really being able to comprehend the idea.
"Yeah, but let's get this mission done before we count our eggs, okay?" he requested.
"I can work with that," I told him.
We pulled up to the gate and there were signs all over it saying the camp was closed. We obviously ignored the signs and made our way in. As we were walking, Steve asked, "This is it?"
Nat replied, "Well, the file came from these coordinates."
"So did I."
I frowned at that and then I noticed Steve looking over at one of the buildings. He then said, "This building is in the wrong place." So, of course, we went inside. What we saw made us all stop in our tracks. It seemed like this was the place where SHIELD began. I smiled as we walked the room, and I knew we were on to something. As we walked we came to an office with photos of Colonel Phillips, Howard Stark, and Peggy Carter on the wall. Steve looked a little forlorn, so I put a hand on his shoulder and tried to send him support. As we walked around we came to an area covered in cobwebs, but it was weird because it appeared as if they were blowing in a nonexistent breeze. Steve sighed and grabbed the bookcases and pulled. Magically they separated, and he said, "Why would you need to have a secret elevator in a secret base?"
Again, throwing caution to the wind, we went inside and went down and the doors opened. We were welcomed with ancient looking data banks and dust. We approached the desk sitting in the center of the room and looked for a USB port. Nat found it and the screen popped to life saying, Initiate System?
Nat typed in Y-E-S, and then asked, "Shall we play a game?"
I smiled and she looked over at Steve saying, "It's a movie—"
"I know, I've seen it," he interrupted.
A camera began to move and it landed on Steve saying, "Rogers, Steven, born 1918."
Then, "Romanoff, Natalia Alianovna, born 1984."
And, finally, "Franklin, Morgan, born 1990."
"It's some kind of recording," Nat said.
"I am not a recording Fräulein. I may not be the man I was when the Captain took me prisoner in 1945, but I am..." the voice said.
"You know this thing?" I asked.
"Arnim Zola was a German scientist who worked for the Red Skull. He's been dead for years," Steve told us.
The voice replied, "First correction, I am Swiss. Second, look around you, I have never been more alive! In 1972, I received a terminal diagnosis. Science could not save my body. My mind, however, that was worth saving... on two hundred thousand feet of data banks! You are standing in my brain!"
"How did you get here?" Steve asked.
"Invited," Zola told us.
"It was Operation Paperclip. After World War II, SHIELD recruited German scientists with strategic value," Natasha added.
"They thought I could help their cause," Zola admitted, "I also helped my own."
"HYDRA died with the Red Skull," Steve practically spit.
"Cut off one head, two more shall take its place," Zola recited.
"Prove it," Steve spat.
"Accessing archive. HYDRA was founded on the belief that humanity could not be trusted with its own freedom. What we did not realize was that if you tried to take that freedom, they resist. The war taught us much. Humanity needed to surrender its freedom willingly. After the war, SHIELD was founded, and I was recruited. The new HYDRA grew, a beautiful parasite inside SHIELD. For 70 years, HYDRA has been secretly feeding crises, reaping war. And when history did not cooperate, history was changed."
"That's impossible. SHIELD would've stopped you," I said, desperate to make sure this wasn't the truth.
"Accidents will happen. HYDRA created a world so chaotic that humanity is finally ready to sacrifice its freedom to gain its security. Once the purification process is complete, HYDRA's New World Order will arise. We won, Captain. Your death amounts to the same as your life, a zero-sum!" he told us.
Steve got pissed and punched the main screen Zola was talking from. "As I was saying," he continued.
"What's on this drive?" Steve demanded.
"Project Insight requires insight. So, I wrote an algorithm."
"What kind of algorithm? What does it do?" I asked.
"The answer to your question is fascinating. Unfortunately, you shall be too dead to hear it," with that the elevator doors closed and Steve threw his shield at them desperately, but he was too late. Nat pulled out her phone and said, "Steve, we got a bogey. Short-range ballistic, 30 seconds tops."
"Who fired it?" he asked.
"SHIELD," she replied.
"I am afraid I have been stalling, Captain. Admit it, it's better this way," Zola added. As he spoke Steve and I were both looking for an exit. He noticed the grates in the floor, and as Zola said, "We are both of us, out of time," the three of us ran into the hole in the floor and I created a forcefield around us as Steve lifted his shield. That's when the missile hit. It was horrible, to say the least. The sound alone was enough to shake me to my core, but the rubble raining down on us make it even worse.
When everything settled, I began forcing the field up so that all of the rubble on top of us would be clear. Nat had passed out, I think she got hit in the head, and I wasn't far behind. We got sort of out of the rubble when I noticed the helicopters coming. I threw up my hands and whispered, "We are invisible to their radar. Let's move."
We made it out of the rubble, and all of us were messed up. We lost our car, so we hiked a ways until we found a new one. We drove back to DC in a hurry, and Steve drove us to a friend's house. We approached the back door and knocked. A tall, well built, handsome, African American man approached the door; he looked very familiar to me. He opened it, and Steve said, "We need a place to lay low."
"Everyone we know is trying to kill us," Nat added. When he looked my way, I just smiled sheepishly.
"Not everyone," the man said.
When we walked in, Steve said, "Natasha Romanoff, Morgan Franklin, this is Sam Wilson."
"Sam Wilson!?" I exclaimed at the same time he exclaimed, "Morgan Franklin?!"
I smiled and ran over, embracing him in a hug. "Where have you been, stranger?" I asked.
"I've been working down at the V.A. What about you?" he asked.
"Well, clearly, SHEILD recruited me, and now I am running away with Captain America and the Black Widow, so nothing new," I joked.
"Wait, you two know each other?" Steve asked.
"Yeah. We served in the military together," Sam said.
"He was my best friend out there. After one tour, I left, but he decided to stay. Since then I guess he's been busy making new friends. We'll tell you the story later, but you need to get cleaned up, and I need to catch up with my friend here," I told them.
After Sam and I caught up, in which I showed him my powers, by conjuring a new outfit and also cleaning myself, he went to go grab Steve and Nat, and we all sat around his kitchen table. "So the question is, who at SHIELD could launch a domestic missile strike?" Nat started off with, wasting no time.
"Pierce," Steve realized.
"Who happens to be sitting on top of the most secure building in the world," I added.
"He's not working alone, Zola's algorithm was on the Lumerian Star," he said.
"So was Jasper Sitwell," she realized.
"So the real question is how do the three most wanted people in Washington kidnap a SHIELD officer in broad daylight?" Steve asked.
Sam stopped spreading butter onto his toast and went over to grab a file. I smiled knowing I was adding a new wrinkle to the person I was. "The answer is, you don't," Sam said.
"What's this?" Steve asked.
"Call it a resume," Sam and I said together.
Nat picked up the file and said, "Is this Bakhmala? The Khalid Khandil mission, that was you. You didn't say he was a para-rescue."
I smiled, and then it turned into a frown when Steve said, "Is this Riley?"
"Yeah," we both sighed.
"I heard they couldn't bring in the choppers because of the RPGs. What did you use, a stealth chute?" Nat asked.
I smirked and threw down a file, which read EXO-7 FALCON on it, saying, "No. These."
"I thought you said you were a pilot," he directed at Sam. "And you? Well, that's new," he directed at me.
"I never said a pilot," Sam told him. I added, "You never asked, so I never told."
"I can't ask you to do this, Sam. You got out for a good reason," Steve said.
"Dude, Captain America needs my help. There's no better reason to get back in," he said, and I could see the mischief in his eyes.
"You're with us?" Steve asked me.
"I was with you the moment we left SHIELD. Let's do this," I told him, using my 'no bullshit' voice.
"Where can we get our hands on them?" Nat asked.
"One of them is at Fort Meade, behind three guarded gates and a twelve-inch steel wall," Sam replied, and I added, "The other is at Camp Pendleton, with similar security."
She looked over at Steve, shrugged and said, "Shouldn't be a problem."
After collecting both of the Falcon wings, we were back in DC. We planned to nab Jasper Sitwell and make sure he told us what we needed to know. Sam and I were sitting outside in a cafe next to a nice hotel. We saw Sitwell come out with a senator, and when he left Sam made the call, spoofing his number to look like Pierce. He answered, "Yes, sir."
"Agent Sitwell, how was lunch? I hear the crab cakes here are delicious," Sam said.
"Who is this?" he demanded.
"The good looking guy and girl in the sunglasses, your ten o'clock," Sam told him. He looked the other way, and I added, "Your other ten o'clock dummy." He looked our way, and Sam complimented, "There ya go."
"What do you want?" he asked.
"You're gonna go around the corner, to your right. There's a grey car, two spaces down. The three of us are gonna take a ride."
"And why would I do that?" he demanded further.
"Because that tie looks expensive, and I'd hate to mess it up," Sam told him as a red dot appeared on his chest. He hung up the phone and got a move on. I smiled at Sam, and we were off.
We got to the building we were using, and I said to Sitwell, not looking him in the eye, "Go to the roof, some friends will meet you there."
He did as asked and we got out and into the Falcon suits, waiting for our moment. We agreed that Sam would bring him up and I would just be there to add to the menace. I liked that. We waited around for a while until we heard the scream. We looked up and then flew into the air. Sam grabbed Sitwell, and we made our way up. Sam dropped him behind Steve and Nat, and we both landed on the roof and closed our wings. Sitwell held out his arm as Steve and Nat approached, saying, "Zola's algorithm is a program...for choosing Insight's targets!"
"What targets?" I demanded.
"You four! A TV anchor in Cairo, the Undersecretary of Defense, a high school valedictorian in Iowa city. Bruce Banner, Stephen Strange, anyone who's a threat to HYDRA! Now, or in the future," he shouted, clearly frightened for his life.
"The future? How could it know?" Steve asked, clearly still not aware of the digital age.
Sitwell laughed maniacally and said, "How could it not? The 21st century is a digital book. Zola taught HYDRA how to read it. Your bank records, medical histories, voting patterns, e-mails, phone calls, your damn SAT scores. Zola's algorithm evaluates peoples' past to predict their future."
"And then what?" Nat demanded.
"Oh, my God. Pierce is gonna kill me," Sitwell realized.
"What then?!" Steve yelled.
"Then the Insight Helicarriers scratch people off the list. A few million at a time," he admitted. Well, shit.
Well, we weren't as royally screwed as I had thought. Well, we were. It was worse than I originally thought. Let's get caught up. After Sitwell told us what Zola's algorithm was, we were on our way to the Triskelion when we were attacked by The Winter Soldier. We did the best we could to defeat him, but it didn't work, and Steve found out that The Winter Soldier was his best friend, Bucky. Then the STRIKE team, actually HYDRA, led by Rumalow came to arrest us. They probably would have killed us, if news helicopters weren't there.
When we got into the transport van, Steve said, shocked, "It was him. He looked right at me, and he didn't even know me."
Sam asked, "How's that even possible? It was like seventy years ago."
I knew the answer, but I let him explain, "Zola. Bucky's whole unit was captured in '43, Zola experimented on 'em. Whatever he did, it helped Bucky survive the fall. They must have found him."
Nat and I both said, "None of that's your fault, Steve."
"Even when I had nothing, I had Bucky."
Oh, Nat got shot, so when we were in the vehicle, she was bleeding out. Sam and I both noticed, but he spoke up saying, "We need to get a doctor here. We don't put pressure on that wound she's gonna bleed out here in the truck." Then, one of the guards in our van pulled out the taser stick and made a move over to Sam and then tasered the guy next to them and pulled off the helmet, revealing Maria Hill, and she said, "That thing was squeezing my brain," and then, "Who're they?" she asked about Sam and me.
The vans stopped, and Maria took the opportunity to put a hole in the floor, and we escaped quickly. Nat was clearly in pain, but she soldiered on, not wanting to slow us down. We grabbed the wings too, and they were heavy to carry. Wearing them, they were fine, but damn they were hard to carry. We walked a ways to a secret facility and were met with a doctor running toward us, and Maria said, "GSW. She's lost at least a pint."
"Maybe two," Sam and I added.
"She'll want to see him first," she said. Who? We walked into another room to see Nick Fury lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to machines.
"About damn time," he sassed, and added, "Lacerated spinal column, cracked sternum, shattered collarbone, perforated liver, one hell of a headache."
"Don't forget your collapsed lung," the doctor added as he patched Nat up.
"Oh, let's not forget that. Otherwise, I'm good," he told us.
"They cut you open, your heart stopped," Nat said, clearly in shock.
"Tetrodotoxin B. Slows the pulse to one beat a minute. Banner developed it for stress. Didn't work so great for him, but we found a use for it," Nick told us.
"Why all the secrecy? Why not just tell us?" Steve asked I think trying to keep himself from seething.
"Any attempt on the director's life had to look successful," Maria told us.
"Can't kill you if you're already dead. Besides, I wasn't sure who to trust," Nick added.
We were sitting at a table when Nick threw down a picture of Pierce, saying, "This man declined the Nobel Peace Prize. He said, 'Peace wasn't an achievement, it was a responsibility.' See, it's stuff like this that gives me trust issues." I chuckled, but then tried to quiet them because this wasn't a moment to be laughing.
"We have to stop the launch," Nat said.
"I don't think the Council's accepting my calls anymore," he replied and then opened up a case revealing three chips.
"What's that?" I asked, trying not to sound like an idiot.
"Once the Helicarriers reach three thousand feet, they'll triangulate with Insight satellites becoming fully weaponized," Maria told us.
"We need to breach those carriers and replace their targeting blades with our own," Nick explained.
"One or two won't cut it. We need to link all three carriers for this to work because if even one of those ships remains operational a whole lot of people are gonna die," she added.
"We have to assume everyone aboard those carriers is HYDRA. We need to get past them, insert the server blades, and maybe, just maybe, we can salvage what's left..." Nick explained, dejected.
"We're not salvaging anything. We're not just taking down the carriers, Nick, we're taking down SHIELD," Steve communicated.
"SHIELD had nothing to do with it," Nick replied.
"You gave me this mission; this is how it ends. SHIELD's been compromised, you've said so yourself. HYDRA was right under your nose, and nobody noticed," Steve spat.
"Why do you think we're meeting in this cave? I noticed," Nick argued.
Before Steve could answer, I added, "And how many paid the price before you did?"
"Who are you?" he asked me.
"Morgan Franklin, Level 5, enhanced, and former Falcon team member," I said, confidently.
"Oh," he said and then directed at Steve, "Look, I didn't know about Barnes."
"Even if you have, would you have told me? Or would you have compartmentalized that too? SHIELD, HYDRA, it all goes," he explained.
"He's right," Maria supported.
Fury looked at all of us, and we all agreed with Steve and Sam decided to add, "Don't look at me. I do what he does, just slower."
I chuckled, and Steve left the room. Sam went after him, while Nat took me to another room, to grab a suit and some weapons. The Falcon suit had some of its own weapons, but I had a few I liked more than guns, like swords, and knives and staffs. I was trained in sword fighting, and staff work as a kid and I loved knives, but not in a creepy serial killer way. But anyway, as you can see we were royally screwed. We had to get into the most secure building in the world that was teeming with HYDRA agents and get to the launch room. No easy task, but we weren't going to give up. We were going to die trying.
We were standing outside of the control room, Steve, myself, Sam, and Maria, and I sent out a small pulse that I knew would screw with their earpieces, so they would need to check. They would come here and would be met with the four of us, guns up. Well for me swords drawn. As expected, someone came to the door, and the look on their face was one of shock. Steve said, like the gentleman he is, "Excuse us." He moved, and we walked in, demanding all agents move to the corner of the room. They did, and Maria and I worked on getting set up. After a couple of minutes, we were ready, and I turned on the mic so Steve could talk.
"Attention, all SHIELD agents. This is Steve Rogers. You've heard a lot about me over the last few days, some of you were even ordered to hunt me down. But I think it's time you know the truth. SHIELD is not what we thought it was; it's been taken over by HYDRA. Alexander Pierce is their leader. The STRIKE and Insight crew are HYDRA as well. I don't know how many more, but I know they're in the building. They could be standing right next to you. They almost have what they want: absolute control. They shot Nick Fury, and it won't end there. If you launch those Helicarriers today, HYDRA will be able to kill anyone that stands in their way, unless we stop them. I know I'm asking a lot, but the price of freedom is high, it always has been, and it's a price I'm willing to pay. And if I'm the only one, then so be it. But I'm willing to bet I'm not," he spoke, honestly, and earnestly, making sure that everyone understood the danger we were in. Sam, of course, had to ruin the moment, adding, "Did you write that down first, or was it off the top of your head?"
We left the room, leaving Maria to be our timekeeper. As we ran out to the helicarriers, Sam asked, "Hey, Cap, how do we know the good guys from the bad guys?"
I rolled my eyes, and Steve answered, "If they're shooting at you, they're bad."
We continued, Sam taking off, and Steve and I running, me not wanting to use my wings just yet. I grabbed my swords and began engaging with the agents. Maria was in our ears, telling us how long we had. Sam and Steve were responsible for getting them locked, and I was just ground and air support. As they got Alpha and Bravo locked, The Winter Soldier made his entrance, and I groaned to myself. I turned on my invisibility and began sending some shocks his way. They didn't seem to affect him, but they definitely slowed down the arm. I smiled, and then grabbed one of my wired throwing stars, and threw it as hard as I could, and it nailed the target. The arm shorted for a second, but then he pulled the star out and wound his arm behind him, recalibrating. I frowned and knew I needed to move. I ran, trying to find some high ground, then realizing I had the best high ground there was. I flew up into the air as I heard Sam say, "I'm grounded, the suit's down. Sorry, Cap."
I sighed and said, "Steve, if you want my help, he doesn't know I'm here."
"Morgan, go to Sam. I have to handle this on my own," he replied.
I acknowledged that and went to find Sam. "Sam? Where are you."
"I don't know," he told me.
As he finished, I heard Maria say, "Wilson? Rumalow is on his way to the council."
"On it," he said.
"Hey, I'm going to head to the council room, and make sure Nat and Fury are okay. Wilson, if you need me, you better tell me or so help me god..." I threatened.
"I know, I know. Go," he told me.
I flew up to the council window, and Fury and Nat both appeared to be okay. Then the rest of the council members fell to the floor and guns were raised and then moments later, seemingly lowered. I sighed and then noticed that Nat had one of her bites on her. I smiled and knew what she was going to do. She did it and fell to the ground unconscious. Then Fury shoots Pierce, twice and I took that as my chance to turn off my invisibility and meet them at the helicopter. They smiled solemnly at me, and I knew in my heart that Steve had to be okay. I then heard Sam saying, "Please tell me you got that chopper in the air."
I sighed and said, "Where are you?"
"41st floor, northwest corner," he shouted.
"Stay put, I'm on the way," I told him.
"Not an option," he added.
I flew as fast as I could, and I saw him jump out a window, and I grabbed him after he fell a few stories. "41st floor! 41st!"
"They don't put the numbers on the outside of the building," I shouted and brought him to the landing pad. We were looking for Steve and using my powers I was able to zone in on his location. He was on the bank of the Potomac River. He was alive, and I could feel another presence there with him. I gasped and said, "He got through. Steve got through. Bucky saved his life. But we need to get him. You three in the copter, get as close as you can and I will bring him to you." And, we were off, actually having succeeded in saving the world. Wow.
After that day in DC, we were laying low. Steve was recovering in the hospital, Nat was digging up research on Bucky, Sam was watching over Steve in the hospital, and I was trying to reconcile everything that had happened. Nat and I were appearing in front of "The Committee" today, and I was nervous. After we were sworn in, one of the members asked, "Why haven't we yet heard from Captain Rogers?"
"I don't know what's left for him to say," Nat replied, and I added, "I think the rock in the middle of the Potomac made his point fairly eloquently."
The Committee General then said, "Well, he could explain how this country's expected to maintain its national security now that he and you both have laid waste our intelligence apparatus."
"HYDRA was selling you lies, not intelligence," she retorted.
"Many of which you seem to have had a personal hand in telling," he struck back, obviously striking a chord in Nat.
A man by the name of Scudder addressed us both, saying, "Agents, you should know that there are some on this committee who feel, given your service record, both for this country and against it, that you both belong in a penitentiary, not mouthing off on Capitol Hill."
"You're not gonna put us in prison. You're not gonna put Steve, Sam, or any of us in prison. You know why?" I asked, cool as a cucumber.
"Do enlighten us," Scudder sassed.
"Because you need us. Yes, the world is a vulnerable place, and yes, we helped make it that way. But we're also the ones best qualified to defend it. So if you want to arrest us, arrest us. You'll know where to find us," I shot right back. With that, we got up and left, cameras flashing all around.
After that was done, we both changed clothes and headed to a graveyard to meet Steve and Sam. I assume they were meeting with Fury, and as he walked away, we walked up, and Nat said, "You should be honored, that's about as close as he gets to saying thank you."
"Not going with him?" Steve asked.
"No," she replies.
"Not staying here?" he added.
"I blew all my covers, I gotta go figure out a new one," she told him.
"That might take a while," he said.
"I'm counting on it. That thing you asked for, I called in a few favors from Kiev," she hands him a file, "Will you do me a favor? Call that nurse."
"She's not a nurse," he retorted.
"And you're not a SHIELD agent," she taunted.
"What was her name again?" he asked.
"Sharon. She's nice," she added and then placed a kiss on his cheek and left, but not before saying, "Be careful Steve, you might not want to pull on that thread."
As she walked away, he looked at me and said, "What about you?"
"Well, I got a job working security at the Smithsonian. I wanted to be close to you because I'll miss you. I'll be in touch when I can, okay?"
He nodded, and I hugged his waist, making sure to send him luck. I then looked at Sam and said, "I have your pack and am going to work on repairing it, okay?"
"Yeah. Hey Morgan?" he asked.
"Be safe," he told me.
"Always am Sammo," and then I hugged him too. He was like my brother. Well, I think I had all of the excitement I needed, but little did I know that the excitement hadn't even begun.
After everything seemed to calm down, and I was settled at my new job and in my new house, things got interesting. I was working one day when a guy coming in set off the metal detectors. I took him with me, and when I saw the metal part of his hand, I knew something was amiss. After he left, I immediately followed behind him, trying to maintain my distance. He went into the Captain America section, stopping at the Bucky Barnes memorial. It was then I knew that Bucky Barnes had just walked into the museum. I walked up next to him and whispered, "Hey, I'm a friend of Steve's. I can help you if you want."
He looked over, and his sapphire eyes were shining in the low light. He nodded, just slightly, and I said, "Meet me at the exit at 4 pm. That's when my shift ends, okay?"
He nodded, and I went back to work, but I was more distracted. I was staring off into space more often, and I was trying not to let my excitement show. I had just found Steve's best friend, with nothing but patience and serendipity. This was amazing. Based on what he was wearing and how he looked, during my lunch break, I went to the nearest clothing store and picked out a few clothing options for him, along with a razor, shaving cream, and hair-cutting scissors.
Finally, my shift was over, and I was waiting outside when I felt a presence next to mine. I looked and noticed it was Bucky. We quickly walked to my car and got inside, not wanting to waist a single moment. We pulled up to my apartment building, and when we were finally inside my apartment, I breathed a sigh of relief. Bucky looked uncomfortable, and I frowned a little. I walked over, and when I put my hand on his flesh arm, he flinched away from my touch. "Alright, come. Sit down, and I am going to make sure you are okay," I told him.
Without hesitation, he sat down, and I realized that he liked orders. Because of my powers, I could put my hands on someone's head and know immediately if they were sick or injured and also heal them. Bucky looked stiff on the couch, so I told him, "Relax. I'm not going to hurt you. If you let me touch your head, I can fix anything that's bothering you, and then maybe get to work on your arm. Okay?"
He sighed and finally said, "Okay." He removed the cap on his head and I walked behind the couch, gently placing my hands on the side of his head. I could feel him go rigid, I guess he didn't like people touching his head, so I sent the command, Sleep, to him, so I could work. He slumped back, his body finally relaxed. I started with vital organs, and everything looked good. Heart and lungs were strong, working, and in order. I think that's where the good news stopped. His whole digestive tract was a mess. It seemed like Bucky hadn't properly eaten in forever. His stomach was a mess, along with his intestines, colon, and everything else. I repaired it to the best of my abilities but knew we were going to have to have another session. I looked at his flesh arm and repaired the dislocation better, and made sure the bones were healthy and strong in his arm. His legs looked good, just his knees needed some love. After that was done, I gently woke him, and he looked at me in shock. "Pretty cool, huh?" I asked.
"Um, yeah," he said, clearly not sure if there was a right answer.
"There's no right or wrong there. I was asking for your opinion. Follow me, and we can get to work on that arm, yeah?" I asked.
He nodded, and we walked over to the kitchen table, and it happens that I had Sam's wings laid out on the table because I was repairing them. Bucky stopped in his tracks when he saw them, and I said, "I know my friend Sam was wearing these when you met on the helicarrier. Nothing to be afraid of. Sit and we can get to work on that arm of yours. Oh! I'm Morgan."
He plopped down into one of my dining chairs, and I grabbed his metal hand, closing my eyes and moving through the arm, making sure that all of the wiring and circuits were working. After I was sure everything was plugged in and in the right place, I opened my eyes, and he looked completely floored. "What?" I asked.
"Nothing," he muttered.
"No seriously, what?" I asked.
"I just was thinking, if you could repair my body that easily, then who knows what you could do to help my brain," he muttered.
I hadn't thought of that, but it was a good idea. "I think you're on to something. But I need to rest, and you need to get cleaned up and showered. I bought you some clothes and stuff so you could have clean stuff. Here," and I handed him the bag of clothes. He took it, and I walked him to my tiny bathroom. Once the water was where he wanted it, I left him alone and got to work making food. I hadn't eaten since lunch, and I was hungry, and I knew Bucky was too.
About 20 minutes later, I heard the water shut off, and then silence. I continued to cook and listen, making sure everything was okay. It seemed like it was, and then I heard footsteps coming into the kitchen. When I turned around a smile made its way to my face. Standing in front of me was a shirtless Bucky, with dripping hair and a look on his face saying Please don't ask. I chuckled, and he handed me his towel. I think he was beginning to trust me because he knelt down and I began drying his hair for him. I then sat him down in a chair, draped the towel over him, and grabbed the hair scissors I had bought. I put his hair in a ponytail and cut it off, and then began styling him. He had decided he wanted a more 40's style cut than a modern one, so I made sure his hair looked as accurate to him as I could. We then went back into the bathroom and I helped him shave. Once he got the hang of it, I left and continued cooking.
When he came back out, this time with a shirt on, he looked very handsome. I smiled and said, "Dinner will be ready soon, okay?"
"Okay," he mumbled.
"Is everything okay, Bucky?" I asked.
"Yeah," he sighed."Bullshit," I told him, and walked over and made him look me in the eye. I always had a knack for seeing through lies and people say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and the moment I looked into Bucky's eyes, I knew he was filled with a crushing amount of guilt. I removed myself, and at that moment I knew that I was going to restore this man to his former self. I was going to do it, and I was going to make sure he was okay. I smiled reassuringly at Bucky and went to grab him some soup I had made because that is about as much as his mostly healed digestive system could handle. He slurped it up, and I could tell he had missed food.
After we were done eating, I got him set up in the living room on my pull out couch. He was snuggled into the blankets, and he looked pretty peaceful for a brainwashed Soviet assassin. I smiled and said, "You know where my room is if you need me, okay? Goodnight Bucky."
"G'night Morgan," I heard him mutter tiredly.
I woke up this morning to the sound of the floor creaking in a very repetitive pattern. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and went to check what was happening. I was met with, again, a shirtless Bucky, but this time he was doing push-ups. Why did I do this to myself? I guess I just like taking in muscular, brainwashed, strangers. Chalk it up to a character flaw I guess. Anyways, I made sure I made my presence known as not to scare him, and went to make coffee. As the aroma perfumed the house, I began to make a plan for the day. I knew I would need to ask Bucky if he had anything anywhere that he wanted, and then maybe get it for him. I was lucky yesterday was Friday, so I could have the weekend to sort things out. Gosh, this was tough. While Bucky was still working out, I went out to my balcony and made a phone call.
"Hello?" Sam picked up.
"Hey, its Morgan," I said with a smile.
"Hey! How you been?"
"Good, I need some advice," I told him warily.
"Well, I live to give advice, so spill," he remarked sarcastically.
"WellIfoundBuckyandIdon'tknowwhattodobecauseIcan'tquitmyjobbutIdon'twanthimtobealoneandIdon'twantStevetoknow," I rushed.
"Okay, slow down, speedy," he joked.
"I found Bucky, and I don't know what to do because I can't quit my job but I don't want him to be alone, and I don't want Steve to know," I repeated.
"Sam?" I asked, tentatively.
"How?" he asked, and I could hear the shock in his voice.
"He walked into the museum," I explained.
"Oh," he commented, "Well, I'm coming to DC and Steve is with me, so whenever you feel ready to tell him, I will be here for you, okay?"
"Okay," I sighed, "Let me just get him back into some civilized way, and I will be in touch. Also, tell Steve hi and that I miss him."
"Will do, and I think he misses you too," Sam added.
I smiled and hung up the phone to find Bucky sitting on the couch, staring into space. "Bucky?" I asked.
"Yeah?" he answered quietly.
"Do you want to have another healing session? Yesterday I was able to get your stomach back into some working order, but I wasn't done, and I might be able to help with your memories," I told him.
"Let's do it, but can you put me to sleep like you did last time?" he asked, sounding a bit like a wounded puppy.
"Of course." I walked over, and he laid down on the couch, and I placed my hands on his head and commanded Sleep. Once he was out, I sent energies down to his stomach, intestines and his whole digestive tract so that it would heal up and he could eat solid food. I knew it was done when it began to resonate. It was a weird signal because it was potentially lethal for him to resonate, but I only let it happen for a few seconds. Then, I moved onto his brain, which I knew was going to be a war zone if nothing else. What I found was so, so much worse than I had anticipated. Nothing was "physically" wrong with his brain, but it's chemistry was so off, that I had to reformat his brain for him. I had to reteach him who he was and try and unlock some old memories. I did the best I could, and when I pulled out, I was shocked to find that a few hours had passed.
I decided to let him wake up on his own time, and I went to make lunch. We didn't eat, and I was hungry. I prepared a sandwich for me and one for him that he could now eat. I also grabbed some fruit. I love my fruits and veggies, so I had them with every meal. Before I knew it, he was awake, and I could tell his memories were coming back. Every few minutes his face would light up, and I could tell the reminiscing was making him happy. I called him in for lunch, and he came running in, I think anticipating the solid food. As we ate, I asked him, "Do you remember if you have anything that's yours and where it might be?"
"Yeah, I found a place near the Potomac where I hid my stuff after I pulled Steve out," he explained, "Its just my armor, and some guns and other odds and ends."
"Well, then we're going to get it today, and we are burning everything you don't want, and making sure that everything you do want is in working order. Also, I want you to tell me when you want to see Steve. He and my friend Sam are coming back to DC, and they are friends so I will be seeing them often. Okay?"
He nodded, and I knew that he didn't want to see Steve for a while. I guess I would have to talk to Sam about keeping the secret. I hated secrets, but this one, I was keeping for a good reason. Bucky looked okay to leave, but I did want to take him shopping. He needed a wardrobe, badly. But we were making progress. Slowly, but surely, he was healing and slowly but surely I was growing more attached to this mysterious man.
I guess time flies when you are harboring a supposed fugitive, and trying to keep it a secret from all of the people you love. Well, it's been six months and Bucky was almost completely rehabilitated. He and I had daily recovery sessions in the beginning, but they dwindled to monthly and now they are only as needed. He recovered completely, and now he was adjusted and doing really well. He wasn't so much a burden now, as he was a joy. He was fun to have around and I always missed him when I left the house for one reason or another. I had quit my job at the museum shortly after finding him because I couldn't balance it all. But I had my own problems. I was falling hard for Bucky. My heart fluttered every time I saw him and I couldn't stop the butterflies from flying around my stomach every time he looked at me. I had seen Steve and Sam a few times since the Helicarriers and they were good. They were keeping busy, saving the world, doing superhero things. Recently, Steve had told me that he had spoken with Fury and the other Avengers and I was officially going to be made an Avenger. I was excited, but at the same time, a little upset, because I knew I would have to either tell them about Bucky or leave him here while I went off and did my thing with the Avengers. I had recently come to the decision that I was going to tell them about Bucky. He and I were flying to Avengers Tower today and I was so excited. Sam was coming with a quinjet and I was excited to give him back his fully repaired pack. I had spent a lot of time with it, and when it was done, I couldn't give it to him.
We were packing up to leave when Bucky came in and asked me what he should wear. I told him to follow his heart. He smiled at me and left. I packed up some basics and a nice outfit because if I knew anything about Tony Stark, we were having a party no matter what. I grabbed my bag and headed out to see how Bucky was doing. What I saw stopped me in my tracks. He was wearing his full military uniform. "How?" I whispered under my breath.
"You used to work for the Smithsonian, so I may have taken the liberty to explore their archives when you were sleeping," he told me sheepishly. I couldn't be mad at him because he looked so good, so I just smiled back and said, "Do you have your holo on?"
He nodded, and we headed to the roof. His holo was something I had invented to disguise his arm. I was quite proud of it, and it was really good for Buck because he could go out and not be ashamed of the arm. We walked up to the roof, just in time to see a quinjet landing, with Sam in the pilot seat. He opened the door, and we climbed in, me running over to see Sam and hug him, and Bucky standing in the corner, trying not to be awkward. I smiled, and Sam walked over saying, "Sam Wilson, nice to meet you," and sticking out a hand.
Buck looked shocked, but then said, "James Barnes, but please call me Bucky."
I grinned at the two of them and sat down, becoming more and more eager to see everyone. I had missed Steve and Nat, and I was excited to get to meet the other Avengers. Wow. From humble SHIELD agent to fugitive, to guard, to harboring a fugitive, to Avenger, my life couldn't get any weirder. Well, maybe it could, but I don't want to imagine what my life would look like even weirder.
Finally, we landed at Avengers Tower. Sam and I agreed that the three of us, Buck included, would walk together to where everyone was waiting. Sam and Buck would wait outside while I met everyone and then I would explain about Bucky. I knew some people wouldn't take kindly to it, but it was a necessary evil. We arrived at the room, and the butterflies were zooming through my stomach. I looked to Bucky and he gave me a smile and a thumbs up, instilling me with confidence. I walked into the room and immediately felt dwarfed, but kept my head up high and said, "Hi. I'm Morgan Franklin."
At the same time, Steve and Nat approached me, both wanting to hug me, but Nat getting there first. She wrapped me in her arms, and I sent her some love. She deserved it, and I had missed her immensely. Then Steve. Boy, did I forget how much I loved being around him. His muscular frame held me, and I whispered, "I missed you." I could feel him nod, and I knew he felt the same way.
I shook hands with the rest of The Avengers, including Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Thor, and Clint Barton. I was excited to meet Clint because I had learned how to shoot an arrow long ago, and he was one of the best archers that I knew of. I looked at the group of them and sighed saying, "Okay, so after DC I made a new friend, and I think you should meet him. But first, I recommend you sit down. Especially you Steve." The look on his face was one of a confused puppy. I smiled sadly, and they all found a random somewhere to sit down. "Also please no guns, or arrows, or anything. He comes in peace."
I left to grab Buck, and I found him looking pale as a sheet. I smiled and grabbed his chin, making sure to send him all of the love in the world. "Hey, you are James Buchanan Barnes, not The Winter Soldier. I know it's going to take some time for them and for you to adjust, but it's okay and I will always be here for you, okay?"
He nodded, and I noticed he swallowed thickly. I grabbed his hand, and Sam had long left. I took a deep breath myself, and we walked in. We stopped in the middle of the room, and Buck lifted the formal army hat off of his head and said, "Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, at your service."
Jaws were on the floor, but no one picked up a weapon, which was a good thing. Steve was the first to come out of the shock, and he walked slowly up to him, examined his face and then embraced him, tears falling from his eyes. I noticed Buck got a little teary too, which in turn made me teary. After they separated, Bucky said, "I am so sorry to all of you. I can't imagine what pains I might have caused you, but because of Morgan I am proudly rehabilitated and HYDRA free. Those bastards deserve whatever is coming to them."
Everyone else was looking around the room trying to get their minds around it. Bruce walked up next with his hand extended saying, "If Steve is cool, then so am I. Welcome Sergeant."
All of the other Avengers followed suit, and I finally could breathe. Tony was gracious enough to have rooms prepared for us, so we both decided to settle into the tower for a bit, knowing that this was going to take some serious adjusting. We weren't moving in permanently, but I think I was seriously considering it. I missed being around Steve and Nat, even though I had only been with them for a few days and I knew DC wasn't the right place for me. I was meandering the tower when a hand shot out of nowhere, and I was faced with Nat. "Jeez, why do you scare me like that?" I hissed.
"I don't do it intentionally. I have needed to talk to you forever," she explained.
"What's going on?" I asked, instantly curious, because even knowing Nat for as long as I had known her, which wasn't very long, she didn't often ask for help or advice.
"IthinkIlikeSteve," she rushed.
My jaw fell open in shock, and then I squealed and said, "Yay! You two would be cute."
"Really!" she asked.
"Yeah! I mean you have no moral compass and his points only due north. You compliment each other nicely. I love it. What's the problem?" I again asked.
"Well, I have tried every way I know how to tell him what I feel, and he doesn't pick up on it," she complained.
"Natasha the man was born in 1918. Your techniques stoop far too low, no offense. They might work on the modern man, but him, you have to be direct, but be willing to take it slow with him. I will always be here to help, but I think you know what you need to do," I told her. She sighed and walked away, leaving me to ponder my feelings, worrying about Bucky, worrying about myself.
What a week. After a long discussion and some begging from all of the Avengers, and Bucky, who we were working on making into an Avenger, I decided to move into Avengers Tower. We were flying back to DC today, so we could pack up and take care of last minute things. All of the Avengers decided to come with us, and I knew it was going to be a crazy day, filled with insanity and chaos. But, I agreed because these guys were family. No matter what happened to them or us, we were connected.
Finally, back at the Tower. God that was horrible. I knew I shouldn't have let them come, but I did, and both Bucky and I now knew it was a big mistake. We let JARVIS handle the moving in, while we all went to grab some food and I wanted to work out, so I ate quickly and headed to the gym. I don't know what was happening, but I couldn't help but feel this sense of trepidation falling over me. Something bad was about to happen, and the only way I knew how to deal with bad feelings was to punch them out. So I did. I wailed on that punching bag until my arms felt like jello and I was soaked in sweat. When I paused for a moment to catch my breath, I noticed another presence in the room. When I turned around to see who it was, I saw Bruce standing there. "Hey," I muttered.
"Hey. You look pretty exhausted, and like you could use a nap," he mused.
"Yeah, I probably could, but I don't think I will be able to sleep. I am a powered individual, and one of them is a really good sense of foreboding. Something terrible is about to happen, and I get the feeling that I won't be able to sleep or do anything productive until the threat is out in the open," I explained.
"Well, I came down here to grab you because we have a new mission. Follow me, and we can get you outfitted and ready," he replied.
I sighed and closed my eyes, willing myself clean and then following Bruce into the "control room" so I could hear about the mission and what we were doing. I walked in to find all of the Avengers, minus Sam, waiting for us. I grinned sheepishly, and said, "So what's the deal?"
"Loki's scepter," Tony replied. With those two words, the stone that had been turning in my stomach dropped to my feet, and I could feel the color drain from my face. "We are going to Sokovia to get it from Baron Von Strucker," he continued, and as he did, the dread weighing on my heart and shoulders grew. As I looked around the room, I saw all of them looking confident, even Bucky. I couldn't believe that these people couldn't feel the sense of foreboding that had fallen over me. I sighed, and before Tony even finished, I walked out of the room. I heard three sets of footsteps behind me, and when I turned around, I wasn't surprised to see it was Bucky, Steve, and Nat. My breathing got heavier and heavier as the weight of the mission, and the ugly feeling in my stomach increased. I grabbed the body closest to me, put my head on their chest and listened to the heartbeat, trying to calm myself down.
When I was calm enough to look them in the eye, I released the body from my death grip, and when I looked up, my cheeks reddened at the sight of Bucky. A small smile made its way to my face, and I said, "Sorry about that. My foreboding scale is off the charts. It's one of my powers. It's what made me follow you out of the Triskelion in DC, Steve. Right now, that feeling is ten times what it was on that day in DC. That scepter is bad news."
I looked into all three of their eyes, and they all had concerned looks on their faces. Bucky was the first to speak, saying, "How about this? We go get the scepter, and if things turn out as badly as you think they will, you can say I told you so as much as you want."
I frowned, not wanting to go through with the mission at all. "Bucky, really?" I sighed, "This mission is bound to turn out badly, and you want to give me bragging rights about it?"
Steve was the next to speak, saying, "Morgan, we have been planning this mission for months now. We need that scepter to help take down HYDRA."
"Steve do you remember the last time we tried to take down HYDRA?! We destroyed the Triskelion and sent DC into peril. I do not want to see a repeat of that," I practically shouted.
"Morgan, this mission will save lives. Baron Von Strucker has killed so many people. If we get that scepter and can take him down, that's two more points to SHIELD, or The Avengers, or whatever this is," Nat urged.
I sighed, closed my eyes, morphed into my uniform, and said, "Fine, but if this goes to hell in a handbasket, I get bragging rights until I die, okay?"
They all agreed, and we went back. Everyone else was waiting, and I said, "Sorry. I have a very bad feeling about this, so if things go as badly as I know, they will I get to say I told you so until I am but dust in the wind."
Everyone else looked a little shocked, but I smirked and said, "So Sokovia? Let's go."
Really? Snow? Ugh, Sokovia sucked. But we were here for the scepter, so I got over it pretty quick. I could hear a voice over a speaker saying, "Report to your stations immediately. This is not a drill. We are under attack. We are under attack."
I rolled my eyes as the rest of the Avengers split up, taking on most of the soldiers that were running at us. I heard Stark say, "Shit!" in my earpiece and Steve and I both replied, "Language!" Then Steve said, "JARVIS, what's the view from upstairs?" At that I tuned out, focusing on my task, which was to keep an eye on Tony and Bucky, making sure Tony didn't do anything stupid and Bucky, to make sure he was okay with the fighting and everything. He hadn't been out in the field since DC, so I wanted to make sure he was okay.
I was watching Tony, when I heard him say, "Wait a second. No one else is going to deal with the fact that Cap and Morgan just said 'language?'"
"I know," Steve muttered as he threw his bike at an oncoming HYDRA vehicle, "It just slipped out." I added, "Stark you curse like a sailor. I'm trying to teach you some manners."
"Whatever," I heard him reply.
I knew the city had to be taking fire, so I took it upon myself to deploy the Iron Legion, and get the people out of the way. It sort of worked. They didn't take to kindly to it at first, but I think once they realized that they were in danger, they took it more seriously. I then heard Nat shout, "Clint!"
That knocked me out of my moment, and I shouted, "I need status now, everyone!"
"Everyone's fine; Clint just got hit. Also, we have an enhanced in the field, ladies and gentlemen. A blur," Steve replied.
"Okay. Clint, I'm on the way," I announced.
I ran over to see Clint behind a tree, bleeding. I smiled wryly at him and said, "You of all people Barton."
"I know," he replied, "Get to work now, yeah?"
I nodded and kneeled down, placing my hands on his head and healing the large wound on his abdomen. "Good?" I asked when he was all healed up.
"Still me, so yeah. Thanks," he told me.
"We're locked down out here," I heard Nat say.
"I know you're hiding more than files. Hey, J, give me an IR scan of the room, real quick," I heard Tony say.
"Tony you are an idiot," I muttered and then said, "All of you get to the jet. I'm going after Stark. Barnes, status?"
"Good, Franklin. A little beat up physically but my brain is still in one piece," he replied.
"Good. Help everyone else, and I will bring Stark back with me," I ordered.
"Copy," he replied.
I ran up to the castle and said, "JARVIS? Where is Mr. Stark?"
He gave me directions, and as I approached, I saw a girl behind Tony, red energy coming from her hand. "Guys? We got another enhanced, female. Do not engage." I threw a field in front of Tony, and her red energy stopped as it hit. She looked up, and when she saw me, I whispered, "Run." And she did. I walked over to Tony and tapped him on the shoulder, and that's when I noticed the red tint in his eyes. I sighed, deciding I needed to go in his brain. I put my hand on his head and traveled into his brain cells, clearing out any of the red energy I saw in there, and when I pulled out, he gasped, and came back, looked at me and said, "Thanks. Thor, I got eyes on the prize."
"On the way back guys. Nice work," I told all of them.
"See? Nothing bad happened," Bucky noted.
"Oh, I didn't mean this mission, I meant getting the scepter. That thing is bad news," I told him.
His face fell, and I smiled, wrapping him in my arms, whispering, "I'm proud of you."
I could feel him smile an everything seemed okay for now. But as per usual, just when things settled down, everything was about to go to shit. But, for now, I could enjoy my time with the Avengers and my best friend, Bucky. Things were good.
To celebrate the finding of the scepter, Tony was, of course, throwing a party. As I was getting dressed, I couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was currently happening. "JARVIS, what are Tony and Bruce up to?" I asked.
"Currently in the lab, ma'am," the lovely British voice replied.
I sighed and finished changing, and then walked over to the lab, seeing them standing in front of one of his screens, talking. They both left a few minutes later, so I figured everything was okay. I went out to enjoy the party, and I was mingling with the guests when I saw Sam walking with Steve. "Sam!" I shouted.
"Hey, Morgan. How do you like being an Avenger?" he asked.
"It has its perks. But I wish you were here," I mused.
"Well, now that I'm not on a wild goose chase for a ghost of a man, I can be here more," he smiled.
"Good. I'm looking forward to seeing your smiling face around here more often," I told him with a smile.
He smiled back and walked off. I linked arms with Steve meanwhile and walked over to the bar, where Nat was standing serving a few drinks. We walked up to the bar, and Steve asked, "How did a nice girl like you wind up working in a dump like this?"
"Fella done me wrong," she replied with a smirk.
"You got lousy taste in men, kid," Steve teased.
"He's not so bad. He's too righteous for his own good. Fact is, he's not like anybody I've ever known. All of my friends are fighters. But this one, he's different. He fights because he has to, not because it was in his training or anything. He fights because its the only thing he knows," she ponders, clearly talking about Steve.
I looked over at him, and he was blushing, and he replied, "Sounds amazing."
"He's also a huge puppy," Steve reddened, "Chicks dig that. So what do you think should I fight this, or run with it?" she asked.
"Run with it, right? Or, did he...was he...? What did he do that was so wrong to you?" Steve asked.
"Not a damn thing. But never say never," she said and walked away.
"It's nice," I mused.
"What is?" Steve asked.
"You and Romanoff," I replied.
"Oh, that's not anything. She was just flirting," Steve tried to justify.
"You and I both have seen her flirt, up close. We both know that wasn't flirting. Go get her tiger," I told him.
He walked away, and I continued to sip my drink, trying not to think about the stone that was sitting in my stomach. As I sipped, my head started to pound and I walked over to the couch to sit and lay down. I closed my eyes and I immediately fell into a dream. I was seeing a big orange blob being struck by blue lines of power. I heard JARVIS's voice and a new one, one that I didn't recognize. I saw JARVIS shredded to pieces and the blue blob fell away. I woke up, gasping for air and no longer having a headache. I ran into the lab, excusing myself from the party. I put my hands on the computer and began exploring the system. Immediately I noticed JARVIS's missing presence, but I also noticed that all of the files were missing. Everything we had on HYDRA, Strucker, ourselves, was gone.
I pulled out of the system, and ran back to the living room, to find everyone gone, and only the Avengers were sitting around a table and Steve was trying to lift Thor's hammer. It budged a little, which made me smile, and then I ran forward saying, "We have a problem, everyone."
"What is it? You're all not worthy?" Thor asked.
"Worthy... No... How could you be worthy? You're all killers," a new voice announced.
"No, that's the problem," I sighed.
"JARVIS," Tony demanded,
"Dead," I told him, and the look on his face fell.
"Who sent you?" Thor demanded.
We all heard Tony's voice say, "I see a suit of armor around the world."
Bruce gasped and said, "Ultron."
A few more words were exchanged, and then the Iron Legion burst through the wall and began attacking us. We all fought them off, and when they were all in pieces, Ultron told us, "That was dramatic! I'm sorry, I know you mean well. You just didn't think it through. You want to protect the world, but you don't want it to change. How is humanity saved if it's not allowed to...evolve? With these? These puppets? There's only one path to peace: The Avengers' extinction," Thor threw his hammer at the robot, and then we all hear his voice sing, "I had strings, but now I'm free. There are no strings on me, no strings on me."
A shudder ran through me before I noticed that the feeling in my stomach had gone away. "You motherfucking assholes! I told you going after the scepter was a fucking bad idea! I told all of you! You people don't listen to me, and then you wonder why everything is so fucked up! I told you!" I screamed at all of them.
Everyone had a shocked look on their face, and I added, "Ultron destroyed everything. All of our files and he probably knows more about us, then we do. Also, he took nuclear codes, and I get the feeling things are going to go to shit."
We were standing in the lab, arguing, when Thor grabbed Tony by the neck. I sighed and sat on the table trying not to explode with frustration. As they argued, my blood boiled, and soon I yelled, "Enough!" and shot out an invisible force, forcing them to different sides of the room. From his position in the room, Stark said, "Anybody remember when I carried a nuke through a wormhole?"
"No, it's never come up," Rhodey muttered sarcastically.
"Saved New York?" he pressed.
"Never heard that," he shot back.
"Recall that? A hostile alien army came charging through a hole in space. We're standing three hundred feet below it. We're the Avengers. We can bust arms dealers all the live long day, but, that up there? That's...that's the end game. How were you guys planning on beating that?" Stark kept on pressing.
Steve, Bucky, and I replied, "Together."
"We'll lose," he argued.
"Then we'll do that together too. Ultron's calling us out. And I'd like to find him before he's ready for us. The world's a big place. Let's start making it smaller," I announced, not in the mood for any of this bullshit.
After getting in touch with some contacts, Maria Hill walked into the room we were in and said, "He's all over the globe. Robotics labs, weapons facilities, jet propulsion labs, reports of a metal man, or men, coming in and emptying the place."
"Fatalities?" Bucky asked.
"Only when engaged. Mostly guys left in a fugue state going on about old memories, worst fears, and something too fast to see," she added.
"Enhanced. What were their names again?" I asked.
"Maximoffs. Well, that makes sense he'd go to them, they have someone in common," Steve answered.
"Not anymore," she mused and threw a photo on the table. It was Baron Von Strucker, dead and smeared on the wall was the word PEACE in blood. I looked over, and Barton was muttering to someone on the phone. I caught his eye and motioned him over. He hung up, and Steve asked him, "Who was that?"
"Girlfriend," he replied, and I could tell immediately he was lying, so I shot him a hard look. When he noticed he gave me a look that told me exactly what I needed. Lies. I looked at the boxes of paper files on the table and said, "He may have taken the digital files, but he forgot the paper ones. Get started people; I'm going to try and find JARVIS. Come find me when you have something."
I walked out to find a comfy chair and some quiet while they looked through the stuff. I sat down, closed my eyes and began searching for anything resembling JARVIS. I missed him already, and the tower was too quiet without him. As I searched, I began finding a trail of orange. As I followed it, I called out mentally, "JARVIS?"
"Ms. Franklin?" I heard the familiar British voice reply.
"Oh thank god, JARVIS are you okay?" I asked frantically.
"I am okay, but I need you to keep me a secret. I am in deep shut down right now in the Nexus, trying to keep the nuclear codes out of Ultron's hands. Tony and the rest will find me when they need to. Okay?" I sighed and agreed, not wanting to cause any more ruckus. I got up and walked back in to find everyone standing over a photo. I peered at it, and Stark said, "Wait. I know that guy. From back in the day. He operates off the African coast, black market arms," he paused, and Steve gave him a look, "There are conventions, alright? You meet people; I didn't sell him anything. His name is Ulysses Klaue. He was talking about finding something new, a game changer; it was all very Ahab."
I noticed something on his neck, and I pointed it out saying, "This."
"Uh, it's a tattoo. I don't think he had it..." Tony trailed off.
"No, those are tattoos," Thor pointed, "This is a brand."
Bruce looked it up, and it turned out to mean "thief" basically, in a dialect from Wakanda. Tony paled and said, "If this guy got out of Wakanda with some of their trade goods..."
"I thought your father said he got the last of it?" Steve asked.
Everyone looked confused, and I rolled my eyes, walking over to the corner of the room, picking up Steve's shield, saying, "The strongest metal on earth? Come on people! Well, suit up everyone, we are going to Wakanda."
We had just arrived at the Wakanda salvage yard, I guess, and we entered it, and I could hear Klaue muttering something, I think about cuttlefish. We walked in to hear Ultron saying, "Don't compare me with Stark! It's a thing with me. Stark is, he's a sickness!"
Just then Stark decided to say, "Ah Junior, you're gonna break your old man's heart."
It then turned into a fight and I knew if the Maximoff girl was around, I was going to need to shore up everyone's brain defenses. I had protection on everyone, including Bruce, even though he wasn't in the building with us. The only people I didn't put it on were Stark and Barton because his head was protected, and I knew Barton wouldn't want a repeat of New York. Everyone else needed it and I was willing to give it. The fight continued, and the Maximoff girl, I think her name was Wanda, was nothing if not persistent. I tried my best to keep it up, but the only person I was able to keep it on was Bucky. I think it was because I knew he couldn't afford to be messed with. While he was healed, he was still very fragile.
When we were all back in the jet, after the fight, Maria said, "The news is loving you guys. Nobody else is. There's been no official call for Banner's arrest, but it's in the air."
"Stark Relief Foundation?" Tony asked.
"Already on the scene. How's the team?" she asked.
"Everyone's...we took a hit. We'll shake it off," I told her.
"Well, for now, I'd stay in stealth mode, and stay away from here," she recommended."So, run and hide?" Stark asked.
"Until we can find Ultron, I don't have a lot else to offer," she sighed.
"Neither do we," he muttered and then turned to Barton, asking, "Hey, you wanna switch out?"
"No, I'm good. If you wanna get some sleep, now's a good time, cause we're still a few hours out," he answered.
"A few hours from where?" I interjected.
"Safehouse," he replied.
As I looked around the jet, we were in pretty bad shape. Bucky was sitting with Steve who looked the saddest I had ever seen him. Bruce looked flat out depressed, Nat looked horrified, and Thor looked downright angry. I knew I was going to have to work on them, but I didn't mind it because they were my teammates. We finally landed and walked from the jet to a large farmhouse. "What is this?" Tony asked.
"A safe house?" questioned Thor.
"Let's hope," he answered and walked in, shouting, "Honey, I'm home!" Then a pregnant woman walked in and kissed Clint. He said, "Hi. Company. Sorry I didn't call ahead. Everyone, this is Laura." I looked around, and everyone except Nat and myself looked surprised. I knew he was married. No matter how many times he had said he was talking to a girlfriend, I knew he was lying. I heard some footsteps run in and two little voices shouting, "Dad!" My jaw dropped at that, and his kids were adorable. As he picked them up, he kissed their heads, and his little girl asked, "Did you bring Auntie Nat?"
"Why don't you hug her and find out?" Nat asked, breaking through Thor and Steve. The little girl rushed to Nat, and she picked her up, hugging the little girl.
Some sarcastic remarks were exchanged, and Clint explained that he set this up when he joined SHIELD. Nat was mad about the third Barton being a boy, and Thor had walked out, saying he needed to take care of some things. Everyone seemed to split off their separate ways, and I ended up sitting with Bucky. We talked quietly for a while, and I couldn't control the urge, so I put both of my hands on his cheeks and kissed the top of his forehead. "I'm glad you're okay," I whispered.
"Me too. Thanks for helping," he replied.
I smiled and stood up, walking back into the kitchen hearing Clint say, "Yeah. I guess they're my mess."
I cleared my throat saying, "Not completely Barton. You have Barnes and me right here with you. Okay? And Laura? You have nothing to worry about. Once I'm done with them, this team will be in tip-top shape."
She nodded and Clint smiled. I walked into one of the bedrooms, seeing Nat and Bruce both feeling it. I sat both of them down, and placed my hands on their heads, and did my best to clear out the red ether that was collecting. "Hey, I don't know what the girl showed you, but you are both stronger than that, okay? If you need to talk, come find me, or Nat you can go talk to Steve, okay?" They both nodded. I walked out to find Steve and Tony arguing, Steve clearly not wanting to deal with his vision, so I calmly walked up behind him, and as he ripped up the piece of wood in his hand, I began clearing out the ether. I pulled out and Laura was asking if Tony and I would have a look at their tractor. When we got into the garage I was surprised to see Nick waiting there. "Well, was Hill ever not working for you?" Tony accused.
"Artificial intelligence. You never even hesitated," Fury mused.
"Look, it's been a long day, like, Eugene O'Neill long, so how's about we skip to the part where you tell us why you're here?" I sighed.
He looked over at me and then back to Stark saying, "Fix it."
"You're not the director of me," he childishly shot back.
"I'm not the director of anybody. I'm just an old man, who cares very much about you," Nick responded.
"And I'm the man who killed the Avengers. I saw it. I didn't tell the team, how could I? I saw them all dead, Nick. I felt it. The whole world, too. It's because of me. I wasn't ready. I didn't do all I could," Tony explained.
"The Maximoff girl, she's working you, Stark. Playing on your fear," I interjected.
"I wasn't tricked, I was shown. It wasn't a nightmare; it was my legacy. The end of the path I started us on," Tony added further.
"You've come up with some pretty impressive inventions, Tony. War isn't one of them," Nick told him.
"I watched my friends die. You'd think that'd be as bad as it gets, right? Nope. Wasn't the worst part," he admitted.
Realization washed over me, and I said, "The worst part is that you didn't."
We were sitting in Barton's dining room, and Fury said, "Ultron took you folks out of play to buy himself time. My contacts all say he's building something. The amount of Vibranium he made off with, I don't think it's just one thing."
"What about Ultron himself?" Bucky asked.
"Ah. He's easy to track, he's everywhere. Guy's multiplying faster than a Catholic rabbit. Still doesn't help us get an angle on any of his plans though," Nick explained, and my brain immediately went down the gutter.
"He still going after launch codes?" Tony asked.
"Yes, he is, but he's not making any headway," he replied.
"I cracked the Pentagon's firewall in high school on a dare," Tony bragged, and I shot him a look.
"Yeah, well, I contacted our friends at the NEXUS about that," Nick added.
"NEXUS?" Bucky and Steve asked.
"It's the world internet hub in Oslo, every byte of data flows through there, fastest access on earth," Banner explained.
"So what'd they say?" Clint asked.
"He's fixated on the missiles, but the codes are constantly being changed," we were told. I knew JARVIS was there, so I knew we were going to be okay. "By whom?" asked Stark.
"Do we have an ally?" Nat asked.
"Yes," I said at the same time Nick said, "Ultron's got an enemy."
"Yes," I forced, "We have an ally. I can't tell you who it is, but I know we do."
"I might need to visit Oslo, find our unknown," Tony mused.
"Yeah you do," I told him.
"Well, this is good times, boss, but I was kind of hoping when I saw you, you'd have more than that," Nat said honestly.
"I do, I have you. Back in the day, I had eyes everywhere, ears everywhere else. Here we all are, back on earth, with nothing but our wit, and our will to save the world. So stand. Outwit the platinum bastard," Nick retorted.
"Steve and Morgan don't like that kind of talk," she sassed.
"You know what, Romanoff?" Steve asked for both of us.
"So what does he want?" Nick asked.
"To become better. Better than us. He keeps building bodies," Bucky explained.
"Person bodies. The human form is inefficient, biologically speaking, we're outmoded. But he keeps coming back to it," Tony added.
"When you two programmed him to protect the human race, you amazingly failed," Nat said, clearly annoyed.
"They don't need to be protected; they need to evolve. Ultron's going to evolve," Bruce said, realization in his voice.
"How?" Nick asked the question on everyone's mind.
"Has anyone been in contact with Helen Cho?" Banner asked.
"Who's that?" I asked."Before you came along, she was our healer. Anytime someone got hurt she would regenerate their tissue," Stark explained.
"I'll take Natasha, Clint, Morgan, and Bucky," Steve announced.
"Alright, strictly recon. I'll hit the NEXUS; I'll join you as soon as I can," Tony said.
"If Ultron is building a body..." Steve trailed off.
"He'll be more powerful than any of us. Maybe all of us. An android designed by a robot," Tony warned.
"You know I miss the days when the weirdest thing science ever created was me," Steve mused. At that, Bucky and I both began snickering but stopped when Steve shot us a withering look.
"I'll drop Banner off at the tower. Do you mind if I borrow Ms. Hill?" Nick asked.
"She's all yours, apparently. What are you gonna do?" Tony asked.
"I don't know. Something dramatic, I hope," he answered. With that, we were off.
"Two minutes. Stay close," I announced as we landed on the building in Korea. We ran in, and the first thing I saw was Dr. Cho, on the floor, bleeding. "Dr. Cho!" Steve shouted. We raced over, and she said, "He's uploading himself into the body."
"Where?" Steve asked.
"The real power is inside the cradle. The gem, its power is uncontainable. You can't just blow it up. You have to get the cradle to Stark," she explained.
"First we have to find it," Bucky added.
"Go," she urged, and we left. I asked, "Did you guys copy that?"
"We did," Nat and Clint both answered over the comms.
"I got a private jet taking off, across town, no manifest. That could be him," Nat announced.
"There. It's the truck from the lab. Right above you, guys. On the loop by the bridge. It's them. I got three with the cradle, one in the cab. I could take out the driver," Barton followed.
"Negative! If that truck crashes, the gem could level the city. We need to draw out Ultron," Steve rushed, and then the three of us proceeded to jump off of the building an onto the truck. I could hear Ultron muttering to himself.
"Well, he's unhappy! I'm gonna try and keep him that way," Steve shouted.
"You're not a match for him, guys," Clint argued.
"Wow, thanks, Barton," I answered.
"You know what's in that cradle? The power to make real change and that terrifies you," Ultron mused.
"I wouldn't call it a comfort," Bucky replied. We continued to fight with Ultron but he was smarter and stronger than us by a lot. Steve lost his shield and we were all fighting hand to hand and I knew we were going to be no match for Ultron. Eventually, Nat got into the bed of the truck and she and it was airborne. She got taken, which lowered morale a little, but we couldn't get caught up in it. We were stuck on the ground when the Maximoff twins made their way over and she asked, "How can we help?"
"Fight," I demanded, "And help me find a way to get them out of the train."
Wanda smiled, and red ether emanated from her hands, and the train slowly screeched to a halt, but it tipped. Then, the boy, Pietro ran through the train moving people as fast as he could. He got all of them free, while the three of us were fighting Ultron. He flew off eventually.
As we were trying to get back to Stark and Banner Wanda asked, "The cradle, did you get it?"
"Stark will take care of it," Steve answered.
"No, he won't," she pressed.
"You don't know what you're talking about, Stark's not crazy," I insisted.
"He will do anything to make things right," she finished.
"Stark, come in. Stark. Anyone on comms?" I called out.
"Ultron can't tell the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that?" She then added.
We walked into the room and I heard Stark say, "The genetic coding tower's at ninety-seven percent. You have got to upload that schematic in the next three minutes."
"I'm gonna say this once," I demanded.
"How about "nonce"?" he asked.
"Shut it down," Steve demanded.
"Nope, not gonna happen," Stark argued.
"You don't know what you're doing," I urged.
"And you do? She's not in your head?" Banner accused.
"I know you're angry," Wanda tried to reason.
"Oh, we're way past that. I could choke the life out of you and never change a shade," he seethed.
"Bruce, after everything that's happened..." I muttered.
"That's nothing compared to what's coming!" Tony replied.
An argument ensued, which added up to Pietro falling through a glass floor after destroying some lab equipment but was ended when Thor flew into the room and pounded the cradle with his hammer, sending a powerful bolt of lightning that brought the body to life. We were all shocked because the body sounded like JARVIS. I then realized that Tony brought him back from Oslo, and put him in the body that Ultron tried to create. I smiled and said, "Welcome back JARVIS. It's nice to have you back."
Everyone turned to me, and Tony asked, "You knew?"
"Yeah," I replied, sheepishly, "He asked me not to tell, so I didn't."
"Thank you Ms. Franklin, and thank you, Thor," the floating bot replied.
"Thor, you helped create this?" Bucky asked.
"I've had a vision. A whirlpool that sucks in all hope of life and at its center is that," he explained, pointing at the gem on the bot's head.
"What, the gem?" Banner asked.
"It's the Mind Stone. It's one of the six Infinity Stones, the greatest power in the universe, unparalleled in its destructive capabilities," he explained.
"Then why would you bring it to..." Steve asked.
"Because Stark is right," Thor added.
"Oh, it's definitely the end times," Bruce muttered, and I chuckled.
"The Avengers cannot defeat Ultron," Thor said.
"Not alone," the JARVIS voice explained.
"Why does your 'vision' sound like JARVIS?" Steve asked.
"We...we reconfigured JARVIS' matrix to create something new," Tony said.
"I think I've had my fill of new," Bucky and Steve announced.
"You think I'm a child of Ultron?" the voice asked.
"You're not?" Bucky asked.
"I'm not Ultron. I'm not Jarvis. I am...I am..." he replied.
"I looked in your head and saw annihilation," Wanda announced.
After some more explanation about the Mind Stone and "Vision" as we were now calling him explaining that he was on the side of life, we got suited up and ready to go. I called Sam, and asked, "You got plans today?"
"Not that I know of," he replied.
"Then get here ASAP. We are headed to Sokovia to stop Ultron. You wanted action, you got it," I explained.
When we landed in Sokovia, I immediately got nervous. Steve and I stood at the front of the team, with Bucky and Sam behind us. Everyone else had fallen into step and we were ready to stop the crazies. As we worked through the replica Ultron bots, I noticed we were losing morale. Steve started, "Alright. We got one chance at this people. Let's show Ultron who we really are. You get hurt, hurt 'em back. You get killed--"
"Walk it off," I finished for Steve. We were too far apart to look at each other, but I could hear his approval in my earbud and I continued, "I know this is tough but I know we will come out of it, so keep it up, people." I smiled as I fought, hearing the sound of fighting from all around me, knowing that we were going to be okay.
As I worked through the monsters that were coming at me, I was checking in with everyone, and I knew we had a new ally when I heard the loud roar of the Hulk. "Nat?" I asked, realizing that Bruce had found her and she was with us.
"Morgan?" she replied.
"Good to have you back. Let's kick some ass," I encouraged. I was hearing Tony's end of his conversation with Ultron and I was getting more and more nervous the more I thought about it. The wheels were already turning in my head about how to stop it. As I thought I also heard Clint saying, "Nobody would know. Nobody. 'The last I saw him, Ultron was sitting on him. Uh... yeah, he'll be missed. That quick little bastard. I miss him already...'"
I smiled and scolded, "Clint! You're on radio!"
"Oops. I didn't mean it," he replied, but I could hear in his voice, that he totally meant it.
I rolled my eyes and Bucky and I kept working the bots. When the ground started to shake that's when I knew Ultron's plans. I said, "He's going to drop the city. We need to evacuate now. Our priorities have changed people. I want Vision, Hulk, Thor, and Falcon on destruction and the rest of us are on e-vac duty. Engage only if needed. Civilians are our priority. Steve, anything else?"
"Nope, just keep it up, people. We're close," he replied.
As we fought, everyone was fighting the best they could and at the same time, trying to get the people out of here safely. "Stark? Do you have a plan?"
"I have something," he replied, "You're not going to like it, but it might be our only option."
"Lay it on me, Stark," I said as I continued to fight and evacuate everyone.
"Maybe a way to blow up the city. That'll keep it from impacting the surface if you guys can get clear."
"I wanted a solution, not an escape," I told him.
"Impact radius is getting bigger every second. We're going to have to make a choice," Stark urged.
Nat said, "It's not the worst way to go. The view's nice."
"Well, it's about to get a whole lot better, Miss Romanoff," I heard a voice say over the comms, "I pulled her out of the mothballs with some friends. She's dusty, but she'll do."
"Fury you son of a bitch," I said.
"Ohh, Morgan! You kiss your mother with that mouth?" Fury replied. Life pods began to deploy onto the rock, and we began the process of getting the people safe. Pietro asked, "This is SHIELD?"
"This is what SHIELD is supposed to be," Steve and I said at the same time.
"Guys, we got some bogies coming in," Maria announced. "Well, let's show them what we got," Nick said.
"Woo! This will be a story," I heard Rhodey say.
"Rhodes?" I asked.
"Indeed." I smiled, and it was then I knew we had some chance.
As the fighting continued, I was listening to the chatter on the earbuds when I heard Stark say, "I got it! I can create a heat seal. I'll supercharge the spire from below!" "If you get it hot enough, it could work," I heard FRIDAY, JARVIS' replacement, say.
"They're coming for the core," Thor added.
"Alright, Avengers, time to work for a living," Tony said.
"What's this then, play?" I asked, with a wry grin.
As I ran up, I smiled at my teammates. We were all a little beaten up, but we were ready for a battle. Bucky looked confident, and his eyes were shining and fierce. We were all standing there and when Ultron floated above us, Thor shouted, "Is that the best you can do?"
"This is the best I can do," Ultron responded, and several thousand more robots descended on us.
"You had to ask," Steve and Bucky sighed.
I chuckled and then stopped cold as Ultron said, "This is just what I wanted to happen. All of you, against all of me. How can you possibly hope to defeat me?"
"Well, like the lady said," Tony started, and then looked my way, finishing with, "Together."
As he finished the real fight began. We were taking them down as fast as we could, and after a while, Vision had the main Ultron and he was blasting him, and I decided to join them. Stark, Thor, Vision, and I were throwing all we had at him and eventually it was too much. We all stopped and Ultron said, "You know with the benefit of hindsight—" and before he could finish, the Hulk came and threw him back.
He ran toward the other Ultron bots, and they knew they were going to end up in pieces, so they tried to leave and I heard, "Oh no, I didn't say you could leave. War Machine coming— Okay, what?"
I laughed out loud at that, and I knew Vision had come in and stolen his thunder. "Sorry, Rhodes. Our Vision tends to steal thunder," I let him know.
"It's cool Franklin. I'll get him back somehow," he said, and I could hear the grin in his voice.
"Thor, Morgan, I'm gonna need you now," I heard Stark say.
"Alright lets go. The rest of you are on last rounds of e-vac," I directed and made my way to where Tony was. I wearing my wings, so I could go over to where Tony needed me. I sent some strong fields in the direction of the core and I knew the vibration would cause the core to heat up. As we were, I heard a loud scream and I shouted over the noise, "Status, everyone!"
"Pietro is down. Franklin, we need you," Clint said.
"On it. Vision, come down here and take over for me?" I asked.
"On the way, Miss Franklin," he replied. I flew up to the life pod I knew Pietro was in, and immediately found him and Clint lying next to each other. I placed my hands on Pietro's head and started sending energy through him. He healed remarkably fast, maybe because of the speed thing, but sooner than usual he was all healed up. "Alright, Pietro is good. Anyone else need some help?"
"Banner..." I heard Sam whisper. Just then, the city started to fall, so I held on to the pod, and I heard Stark asking for Thor to help with the breaking of the city. It exploded, and pieces were flying everywhere. A few hit us, but we were okay. "Sam, what happened to Banner?" I asked.
"He took the jet that Ultron shot Pietro with. He's in stealth mode right now, and he just hung up on Nat, trying to get him back," Sam explained.
"Fuck. Okay, once we get back to New York and get everything here squared away, I will get him back I promise," I replied. We were done for today, and on the way back to safety. I knew this wasn't going to end particularly well, but I was ready to face the music. I looked over to see Bucky and Steve sitting next to each other, and when I looked over, they were looking at me and I sent them a gentle salute. They sent one back, and I smiled, thinking about how lucky I was to have them in my life.
I was representing the Avengers at a press conference, and I was nervous. I paced the room I was waiting in, constantly smoothing out my clothes, trying to make myself look as nice as possible. My phone dinged in my pocket, and when I looked to see who it was from, Bucky's name was on the message, but when I opened the message, there was a video. I clicked it, and the whole team was standing there, and I smiled. Bucky was the first to speak saying, "Hey Morgan. We know you are nervous about the conference, so we wanted to send you a video to help calm your nerves. I just want you to know that I am so lucky to have found you. Thank you for helping me when I needed you most."
Next was Steve, "Hey you. You got this, okay? I believe in you, and I know you will represent us well. Good luck."
Then Nat, "Show 'em who's boss okay? You and Steve are the bosses, and we need you both."
Sam added, "You served in Afghanistan. This is nothing. I love you, Morgan."
Then Tony, "Hey Morg. I just want you to know I think you are very special. You are a very important member of this team, and we trust you completely."
Then Thor, "Lady Morgan, you will bring honor to us and the people of Midgard."
Then Pietro, "Thanks for saving my life, and you will save the life of this team."
Wanda added, "Thank you for saving my brother. You do such good work here and you are missed. Good luck."
Clint walked into the room and everyone started chuckling, he asked, "What's happening?"
"We're sending Morgan a good luck message for her conference," Bucky told him.
"Oh! Hi Morgan. Thanks for saving my life in Sokovia. Keep trusting your instincts. Love you," Clint said into the camera.
Lastly was Vision, "Miss Franklin, thank you for everything. You have done something or other for everyone on this team and we appreciate you more than you know."
"So that's all from us for now, but we miss you and love you. Good luck!" Bucky finished and the video ended. My stomach was fluttering with butterflies at his words and I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. Someone knocked on the door, so I quickly turned my phone off and allowed them in. It was the host of the conference and she walked with me to the room I was going to be interviewed in. When I walked in the volume of the room increased and the flashes weren't helping with my nerves and discomfort. I looked at all of the people in the room and they all looked innocent enough. I sat at the table in the front and the woman running the thing picked a journalist. "So we know that the Hulk was lost in Sokovia. Do you know where he is and what he is doing?" one asked.
"No, we don't. Dr. Banner made his own choice when he left Sokovia without us. After I get back to New York, I am going to do everything I can to get him back safely to us."
After about an hour of questions, finally it was the last one, and they asked, "So we know that The Winter Soldier no longer exists, but how did he recover from everything so well?"
"Funny story. When the Captain America section was still up after DC in the Smithsonian, he came in and I took him in and healed him. He lived with me for about six months before we went to Avengers tower. Using my powers, I healed him and made sure everything was okay with him when we were out in the field with Ultron," I explained. That roused the crowd, but I was done, so I got up and left the room, ready to get on a plane and go home. There was a jet waiting for me on the roof, and when I got in, I was shocked to see Bucky standing there. I ran into his arms and I was so happy to be back with him.
"I missed you," I whispered.
"I know," he whispered back.
"Let's go home," I announced.
When we finally arrived back in New York and landed in the jet bay, I was happy to see the entire team waiting for me there. I ran over and gave them all hugs. They all thanked me for the conference, and I said it was no problem and that I would gladly do it again for them. I then said, "Now, we have a green man to find. Let's get to work, okay?"
They all confirmed with me, and we all went our separate ways and Bucky, and I walked down the hall so I could change my clothes and regroup. Bucky walked in behind me, and I phased into new clothes, and when I looked at him, he was staring off into space, and I knew this was a great opportunity to act a little on my feelings. I walked over to where he was standing, and I placed my hands on his cheeks and pulled his face to look at mine, and I smiled at him. He grinned back, and I placed my lips on his and not a moment later, he was kissing me back, and all of my nerve endings were standing on end. As I drank in the taste of his lips, I could feel both of his hands trailing my sides and coming to rest in the small of my back. I found purchase in his hair, and we continued to explore each other. I had no idea of how long had passed when we pulled apart, but when we did, our foreheads were resting on each other's, and we were both breathless. I had a stupid grin on my face, and I was truly happy for the first time in a long time. "Let's go. We have a doctor to find. Tony misses his science bro, and I miss Banner," I whispered.
Buck smiled and he flipped around and motioned for me to jump on his back. I hopped on and we began the trek to the conference room. When we finally arrived everyone was crowded around Tony, and they were all looking at a screen and grinning mischievously. I decided not to ask, and Bucky cleared his throat. Everyone looked up and when they saw us they all looked embarrassed and they all quickly moved to their places at the table. "Soo... I know we are all worried about Bruce, and we all want him to return to us safely, and we are all going to do everything we can to get him back, but I can't connect with him when he is in Hulk mode. I think the Gamma messes with my vibes. But if he is in his human form, I will be able to connect to him. I will try now, and if I can't get to him, I will try every day until we find him. One sec," I explained. I closed my eyes and pictured Bruce, trying to find him. As the blackness changed, I was met with a green blob that was protecting what looked like a brain. Damn, he was still in Hulk mode and I wasn't going to be able to connect with him. My eyes opened and I sighed and shook my head. Everyone sighed in response and I knew this was going to take a while.
Everyone went their separate ways again, and Buck and I headed back to my room to spend some time together. As we walked in, I looked around the room, and the camera caught my eye. It was then I realized what everyone was looking at. "Tony fucking Stark, you are dead!" I shouted.
"What did I do?" I heard come over the PA.
"You snooped! All of you did. I'm putting tape on them, and if the tape is removed, I will hurt you in some significant way and don't you dare doubt me. My powers are just as destructive as they are reparative," I shouted, knowing he could hear me.
Bucky laughed at me and whispered, "Better they know now then find out later, right?"
"Yeah," I whispered.
Its been six months and I still hadn't found Banner. I was discouraged, but it was nice to have Bucky always there to support me. Our relationship was as solid as ever, and the entire team loved us. Nat and Steve were our biggest supporters, but the rest of the team was just as loving and supportive. Because I hadn't been able to find Bruce in so long I was in a bad mood. I couldn't really figure out what was wrong and why he was stuck in Hulk mode. I figured he didn't have control over it, but I had seen Nat do the lullaby with him and it wasn't making sense. As I sat on my bed today, I was looking for Banner, and as usual, I saw a brain. But this time, it wasn't protected by a layer of green. I moved my energy as fast as possible over to him and entered.
"Bruce?" I asked.
"Morgan?" he asked, sounding shocked.
"Yeah, it's me. We miss you," I told him.
"How'd you find me?" he asked, still sounding a little surprised.
"I can find people based on their minds. It's hard to explain, but I have been searching for you for months now," I explained.
"I'm sorry for leaving. I needed space."
"Is everything okay? Whenever you are the other guy, there is a green boundary around your brain that I can't get to. Its been that way for the past six months," I explained.
"Yeah. I think after the Maximoff girl he needed time to sort it all out and so did I. If you want, I can come home."
"No! Take as much more time as you need. I just wanted to know you were safe. I'll check in with you in a few days, okay?" I suggested.
"That works. Thanks. Tell the team I'm sorry and I will be home really soon."
"Will do, Bruce." I opened my eyes, and I was grinning. I walked out and asked the team to meet me in the conference room. Once they were all gathered around, I explained what happened and how I wanted to let Bruce have his space. They agreed, and I then thought about an old friend. Someone who I haven't spoken to in so long, I nearly forgot he existed, but then after what happened in Sokovia, it got me thinking about how nice it would be to have him here and on the team with the rest of us. He was a marksman like Clint, but he was so much different than Clint was. As we all went our separate ways, I found a moment alone and made a phone call.
"Hello," answered the gruff voice on the other end.
"Hey, it's Morgan," I replied.
"Morgan?" he asked, and I could hear the smile in his voice.
"Yup. It's me. You ever think about coming to New York?" I asked.
"No, but the way you're asking makes me think I might have to soon," he commented.
I laughed and said, "Maybe? I miss you, and I have some friends here that you might want to meet."
"Yeah?" he asked, chuckling.
"Yeah. Come and bring as many people as you want. We have the room, and I'm sure my friends won't mind," I explained.
"Well then, I'll be on the next flight out. I'm excited to see you, Morgan."
He was almost here! I was driving to the airport right now to pick them up, and I couldn't contain my excitement. I had my windows down and I was blaring some music, and I hadn't felt that carefree in a long time. As I moved more into the city, I turned the music down and rolled up my windows. I was still excited and when I reached the airport parking lot, I grabbed my purse and the sign I had made for him and his crew. I grinned at the ridiculousness that was going to ensue when these people all met, but I didn't know half of them because we had lost contact over time, due to circumstance.
As I stood in the airport, I was looking around for the one person I knew and when I saw him, my smile grew wider than ever and I held up the sign loud and proud. When he finally noticed me, he and eight other people came over and we all started heading back to the facility. As we drove, I got to know them all a little and I was glad that they were all together. They made a great team and I was excited for everyone to meet everyone else.
As we pulled into the facility, I patched into FRIDAY and asked her to call the team together in the conference room. I told everyone to leave their bags in the car and we would get them later, but I wanted everyone to meet. As we walked in, everyone fell pretty silent and I could tell they were taking in the facility and all its beauty. We stopped in the hall before the conference room, and I told them to wait and when I said it was okay, they could come out. I walked in and everyone looked very confused. "Sorry I had to leave. Needed to pick some friends up from the airport," I said quietly.
"Um, who are these friends, if you don't mind me asking?" asked Sam.
"Funny you should ask. Guys? You can come out now," I called.
They all walked in and everyone was sizing each other up. I smiled and said, "Avengers, meet Oliver Queen and his people. Oliver Queen and Co., meet the Avengers."
"Uh, hi," Oliver said.
"Yeah, hi," Steve replied, "Morgan? Why did you bring them here?"
"Because they're heroes too!" I practically screamed.
Everyone looked confused and I said, "Okay. Oliver and I met on an island in the South China Sea, called Lian Yu. It doesn't matter why either of us was there, but what does matter is that he spent five years there and became a machine. His mission was to save his city, and now all of these people help him. He calls himself the Green Arrow and he works with, Felicity Smoak, John Diggle, Roy Harper, Thea Queen, and Laurel Lance. Then, Oliver sometimes works with the other three in Central City. Barry Allen, or The Flash, Cisco Ramon, and Dr. Caitlin Snow."
Everyone looked surprised and I continued, "Oliver and Co., this is the Avengers. Starting with Steve Rogers, Seargent James Buchanan Barnes, Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton, Tony Stark, Vision, and Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. We are missing a member at the moment, but you'll meet him soon. I think you'll like his style, Oliver."
"Um, okay," Oliver replied.
"Come with me to the living room, all of you. We're having drinks and getting to know one another. No one gets to say no. Tomorrow, we all train, mostly because we are all out of practice, but I want my people to see what Oliver and his people can do. I have a feeling this is going to be a good thing. Let's go!" I announced.
We all ended up in the living room of the facility, and everyone except Barry, myself, and Pietro were drinking. Bucky was sitting next to me, and I was leaning into his warm side. Barry and Pietro were bonding over their speed, and I think they were going to turn out to be good friends. Felicity was talking with everyone but seemed to be keeping close to Oliver and me. Oliver and Clint meanwhile were chatting about arrows and things like that, and I could tell they were going to be fast friends. Laurel and Nat were talking, and it made me happy to see Nat getting along with people. Wanda and Vision were mostly keeping to themselves, but I could tell Cisco was itching to talk to Vision, and Wanda kept eyeing Caitlyn. Steve and Dig were talking; about what? I don't know. I was enjoying seeing all of these people getting along so well. They needed people, and it was nice to see that I could bring them together. As we drank, I noticed a lull in the conversation and everyone seemed to look at me. "What?" I asked.
"You never told us you spent time on an island in the South China sea!" Sam whined indignantly.
"Because that's not a period of my life I like to relive," I shot back, "Awful things happened to me on that island, and Oliver will agree, it was never, and it is still not meant for human inhabitation.
Oliver nodded, and it looked like Felicity wanted to say something. I looked at her, and she blurted out, "We keep our worst villains there."
I shook my head in shock, and Oliver added, "A.R.G.U.S. does. Not us."
"Still working with A.R.G.U.S?" I asked Oliver.
"Not technically. Dig's wife works for them, so when we need help, she sometimes comes through. But I would never work with them again. You know what they did to me, and what they did to you," Oliver explained.
Everyone was silent watching this conversation happen, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable. I stood up and went to punch something. Everyone watched me walk out, and I hoped they wouldn't follow me. When I reached my room, I changed into workout clothes and headed to the training room. When I reached the room, I asked FRIDAY for full lockdown, and to not let anyone, even Bucky or Tony interrupt me. She was agreeable as always, and I went and grabbed some different weapons then I usually used. I used my powers for most things, but everyone knew I was trained in swords, staffs, and knives. They just didn't know how well, or where I got the training from. I grabbed the biggest swords I could and began swinging them in the empty air, trying to release my frustration. I hadn't thought of Lian Yu, or what Amanda Waller did to me in so long, I thought I was home free. But, alas, no, I wasn't. I would never be free of what the people on the island did to me.
After my one year tour in Afghanistan, I was approached by Amanda Waller, and I was dropped into Lian Yu with Oliver. What I saw in the little over a year I was on the island, forever changed me and how I feel about the world. That's how I got my powers. The people there were looking for an idol, and Oliver and I were supposed to stop the operation. He got attached to a woman who was working in the fields, but me? I was captured and tortured, until I could barely stand it. They kept trying to use magic to get me to talk, but all that happened was I absorbed the magic into myself. It developed into what I have today, but it took me a long time to learn how to control it. That's where the training comes in.
After over a year on the island, I was finally released and free to leave. I didn't know where to return to. I got back to New York, and a man in a suit approached me. He told me he could guide me and take away my fear. I was tired of living in fear, so I agreed, and he took me to a place called Nanda Parbat, where I trained with the League of Assassins. I was never brought into the league, but they taught me everything I know when it comes to swords, staffs, and knives. Also, I was handier with a bow than I let Clint believe. I didn't want to outshine him, so I stuck with other weapons. After reviewing my whole past, hours had passed, and I was dead tired.
I trudged back up to my room and asked for a complete lockdown. Once I was sure everything was locked, I settled into my bed and cried. I cried for myself, for all of the hardships I had to endure. I cried for Steve and Bucky, both of whom had missed so much of their lives, but now couldn't enjoy what they had. I cried for all of the Avengers, because I'm sure none of them had asked for this, but here they were, serving a cause that they found to be right. I just cried. I curled up into a ball as sobs wracked my body, and as I sobbed I began hyperventilating, and sooner than I thought, I lost oxygen to my brain and I passed out.
I came to, and I heard the distinct sound of medical equipment beeping. My eyes finally peeled open, and I was pleased to see Bruce standing over me. "Hi," I croaked.
"Hi," he said back, "Do you know what happened?"
"Yeah. I hyperventilated and passed out," I told him.
"Sort of. You exhausted yourself, and when you began to cry, your body went into shut down mode. The lack of oxygen in your brain just sped up the process. You were going to pass out, crying or no crying. Can I send some people in? They're worried about you," he told me.
I sighed, and asked, "How long have I been out?"
"A few days. I got back yesterday, and you were in your room, not moving. Everyone thought you were dead."
I sighed again and said, "Alright. Send 'em in. But not too many at a time."
He nodded and left. Moments later I heard a few sets of hurried footsteps come in. When I looked up, I saw Bucky, Steve, Nat, and Oliver standing at the end of my bed. Steve walked up to me first and wrapped me gently in his arms. He whispered, "Don't do that. We've all been worried sick."
"I know. I didn't mean to. I got overwhelmed. Bruce?" I called.
He walked in, and I asked, "Am I okay to go? I need to talk to everyone, including you."
He looked me up and down and said, "Yeah. Just take it easy?"
After I was detached from the machines and back into normal clothes, I called a team meeting in the training room. Everyone trickled in, and when they saw me, they all gave me hugs. Bucky wrapped me up in his arms, and when we separated, he took the opportunity to kiss the life out of me. We were both breathless, but his kisses were like a drug to me. Once everyone, including Oliver and his group, was present, I began. "Okay. I'm sure Tony has looked me up and shown all of you all of the information he has on me. Yes?"
All of the Avengers looked at me and nodded. I continued, "But there are some holes. I'm going to fill them in for you."
Everyone looked a little surprised, and I was surprised myself. "So everyone knows I served one tour in Afghanistan," they nodded, "After that, I was approached by Amanda Waller, the head-"
Felicity interrupted, "Former."
I looked over at her, shocked. "Dig's wife is now the head," she added and when I looked over at Dig for confirmation he nodded.
I sighed and continued, "Former head of A.R.G.U.S. She liked what I had done in the war, and she recruited me to help stop an operation. The catch? It was in the South China Sea on an island called Lian Yu. That's where I met Oliver. He was recruited by Waller too, and he had some previous experience with the island. We were paired up and dropped in the middle of the woods there. Oliver attached himself to a woman named Taiana. He ran away with her around the island while I was captured and tortured. That's how I got my powers. They kept trying to use magic on me to get me to talk, but I just absorbed the magic, and it developed into what I have today. After about a year, everything suddenly stopped. I didn't know what was going on, but I knew that it was finally over. I couldn't find Oliver anywhere on the island, so I used a satellite phone I found to call Waller and get an extraction team. I was brought back to New York, but I didn't have anyone to turn to."
Sam looked like he wanted to protest, but I put my hand up and stopped him. "I was wandering around New York one night, looking for somewhere to stay for the night, when a man in a suit approached me and asked me if I wanted to come with him. I, of course, said no, but then he said that he could help me get rid of my fear." I looked up, and when I looked at Thea, she looked pissed. I was confused but carried on. "When he said that, I immediately agreed because I was tired of living in fear. Now, I know none of the Avengers know about the place I'm about to mention, and I can assume the same can be said for Oliver and your people?"
He shook his head no, and I immediately knew some horrible things had happened to him since I had last seen him. I sighed, and continued, "Well, this stranger took me to a place called Nanda Parbat." Every single member of Oliver's team, minus Caitlyn and Cisco, shivered. I shot Oliver a very pointed, we need to talk, look, and then continued, "Nanda Parbat is where the League of Assassins trains and works from. The mysterious man brought me there, and I was trained by the best of them. I was never put into the League itself, but I trained with them for over a year and a half and then returned to New York to find chaos, after the battle. I saw someone getting robbed and I stopped them, and I guess I got on Nick Fury's radar. He recruited me and I joined S.H.I.E.L.D. about three years ago. Now, I'm here, trying to forget about my trauma," I finished. "I know that's a lot to take in, so I'm going to let you sit here, while I limber up and get a few things set up."
As I was leaving, Dig asked me, "Why?"
"Because none of these people know all that I can do," I said with a mysterious grin.
I know Bruce was giving me the knife eyes, but I ignored them and walked away. I began setting up some targets around the room, and I grabbed the swords I was using yesterday. I set them in the fighting square and began my stretches. Sooner than I would have liked everyone made their way over to me, and I grabbed the bow and arrow. Clint looked confused, and so did Oliver. I smiled and began shooting. I shot every target, and then I threw Oliver a thing of tennis balls and he knew what I wanted. He threw each of them in a different direction, and I was able to shoot all of them out of the sky. I stood up from where I had taken my last shot and everyone, Oliver and Clint included, looked shocked. I put the bow and arrow down and moved over to where I handed Oliver two swords that were functionally identical to mine. The look on his face when I mentioned Nanda Parbat made me realize that he had spent some time there as well. I climbed into the square and Oliver looked a little unsure. I sent him a challenging smile and I knew he now needed to protect his honor.
He climbed in and we both got into fighting stances. He made the first move and I was easily able to block his first strike. He was a few heads taller than me and he was more muscular than me by a long way, but I was always using my size against my opponents. I dropped down and Oliver stumbled just enough where I could push him to the ground. He fell on his front and quickly flipped up to his back and back on his feet. He ran at me and I was able to sidestep and he almost ran right past me, but he turned at the last second and I raised my swords just in time. We sliced and stabbed for a little bit and finally, I shoved him out of the way and when I looked over at everyone, and they all looked like they wanted to get up there and join in. I winked at them as a sort of invitation and the first one in was Nat.
She ran at me and I threw the swords aside and faced her head on. We grappled for a while and neither of us had the upper hand in the battle. Oliver was waiting for his chance in the corner, and when I looked his way, he smiled. I smiled back and used my momentum to toss Nat over me. I climbed on her and pinned her to the floor. She looked a little defeated, but I smiled and said, "No hard feelings?"
"None, as long as you teach me some of this," she replied with a smirk.
I let her go and she walked out of the square and I heard Oliver come running at me from the left. I turned and scooped up one of my swords and I ducked under his swing just in time. I nailed him in the front of his knee with the butt of my sword, and I was able to topple him in one shot. I straddled him like I had Nat, and said, "Nice, but not nice enough."
"Wow. Who did you train with?" he asked.
"Everyone. They all worked with me on different things. I wanted to absorb as much as I could, so they all were willing to teach me. Who did you train with?" I asked.
"Ra's himself trained me to take over for him."
I could feel the color draining from my face, and I said, "Okay, so we are having a conversation later. You have a lot of explaining to do."
He nodded and I let him go. I looked over and everyone was completely shocked. I smiled and stepped out saying, "They trained me in everything I could ever need in the field. I'm much more than an Avenger. I'm sorry I wasn't completely honest with all of you, but I felt that I couldn't share that part of me. You all knew me as a healer, and I couldn't bear to tell you that I had killed people for Amanda Waller and in training with the League."
"Morgan, we all have done things that are completely unforgivable, but one thing I've learned from you is that we are all deserving of a second chance, and that does not exclude you. You deserve the second chance you have given all of us," Bucky told me.
I looked over at me and my eyes began to fill with tears. I ran to him and hugged him. "Thank you," I cried.
"Always," he told me.
It's been a few weeks since I told everyone everything, and things were good. Oliver and I had talked, and he had told me everything that had happened since I saw him, and it was horrifying. The poor guy couldn't catch a break. He had since left, but I told him if he ever needed something, to please call me. Thea and I also talked. When she looked at me when I was explaining about the man who took me to the League, I knew we needed to talk. She told me the man was her father, Malcolm Merlyn. She was angry, I could tell. We trained together for several days, me wanting her to release all of her anger. It took her a bit, but after the first day, she was venting more than she was fighting, and when we finished, I was happy to see her feeling better. I offered to help her confront Malcolm, and I was happy to see her being willing to accept help.
I spoke with the Avengers, and we, I think, had the perfect plan. When we landed in Starling City, I texted Oliver to let him know we were there and not to interfere. Felicity was patched into our network, so she could tell us where Merlyn was. She let us know he was at his mansion on the outskirts of the city, so that was the way we headed. The plan was to have Tony infiltrate, and then we would all slowly make entry. It wasn't foolproof, but everyone knew, based on what I had told them, that Malcolm was a paranoid son of a bitch, who fought very dirty. He was willing to do whatever it took to beat his enemies, and if tonight didn't go as we wanted, we would be on his list until we were dead.
I watched Tony knock on the door, and when Malcolm opened the door, I felt my temperature rise with anger. There was a cool hand on my shoulder, and I knew Bucky was right there with me, to keep me from doing something I might regret. I had a plan to make sure Merlyn never messed with Oliver or his team ever again. It was something that I didn't want to do, but it was the only way besides killing him, that would help Thea and the rest of Oliver's team. I could hear Tony and Malcolm talking, and Steve was in my ear saying, "I'm in. I found the perfect space. Tony, convince him to show you the basement. I'll be there with Buck and Morgan. Nat, Clint, Wanda, Pietro, Vision, and everyone except Bruce will be on perimeter duty. Anything tries to get in; you put it down. No matter what it takes."
"Guys?" I asked, "Steve is right. These guys won't hesitate to kill you, so don't pull anything."
I got affirmatives from everyone, and Bucky and I began making our way into the house so that we could get to Steve. We made it without injury, and I was hopeful that things would work out for us. Steve had found some rope and a chair, and I was ready for anything with Merlyn. That man had turned me into a killer, and he was going to pay. I heard Tony convince him to bring him down to the basement, so we all moved into the shadows and waited. It felt like forever, but finally, I heard them come in, and Tony kept up the act until Merlyn sat in the chair Steve had left lying around. Within seconds, Bucky had a rope around his neck, and he was out like a light. We tied him down, and I began to put my plan into action. "Nat, Clint. I need you here now. Go through his whole house, and take away all weapons from the house. Look everywhere. He's hiding things, so don't worry about ruining things. I can get you 24 hours, so make it count. The rest of you," I looked at Bucky, Tony, and Steve, "You three are on taking out all of the things that could take down my walls."
They nodded, and went on their way. I put my hands on Merlyn's head and began searching through his head. I started at the time when he trained with the League. I kept the part about his wife dying, but I changed the memories to him becoming an alcoholic, and then getting clean some years later. I got rid of every ounce of training he had and made sure he wouldn't be able to protect himself from anyone or anything. Then I moved on to the Undertaking. I made sure he had everything happen as it should have. Tommy's death changed from rebar to the chest, to a drunk driving accident some months before the Undertaking happened. I made sure he forgot about Oliver disappearing and made sure he thought Robert Queen died in a simple boating accident, not something as complicated as what actually happened. I allowed him to forget about his involvement with Slade, and everything that happened there, and he forgot about Thea being his daughter and everything that happened there. If he saw Thea he would think of her only as Oliver's sister, not his daughter. I made sure to tie up as many of the loose ends as possible, so he had no reason to question whether the things that had happened were real. He still knew about the vigilante, but he didn't know who it was or any of the people involved with him, or where they worked from. I hoped that he would live normally again, and not bother anyone.
I removed my hands from his head, and when I looked at my watch, it was shocking to me that about 20 hours had passed. I made sure he was asleep, and said, "Status everyone?"
"House is clear," was the response from Bucky.
"Is the bed ready?" I asked.
"Covers are pulled back, and pajamas are laid out on the bed," Steve replied.
"Thanks. Everyone back to the car. I will be another hour, while I heal him. Buck, just so you know I'm going to have to strip him naked," I told.
"I trust you," he replied, solid as ever.
"Thanks." I picked up Merlyn and brought him up to the bedroom. I threw him there and pulled every ounce of clothing off of him. I added about 20 pounds onto him and made sure every bone in his body was normal, and he had a hand again. I healed every scar and made sure to clear up any League or fighting related injuries. He was back to normal, and I got him dressed.
I put him in the bed and covered him. Setting the alarm for 8 am, he was ready. I made him forget about Merlyn Global too, so he was going to report to Oliver the next day at Queen Consolidated. I made sure to write down everything I changed so I could send it to everyone. They all needed to be super solid in the way they were around him, so my stuff couldn't unravel. It was pretty solid, but not foolproof. I turned off all of the lights, set the alarm, and locked the door, leaving his house for good, and for the last time. I smiled and headed over to deliver the good news.
When we arrived in the cave, I said, "All taken care of. He shouldn't be bothering any of you anymore."
They all grinned, and I was happy to have been able to help them, but there was a small problem. "I know Merlyn has his differences with the League. I think we, or Oliver and I, need to go to Nanda Parbat and talk to whoever is now in charge."
"Did no one tell you that Nyssa Al Ghul dissolved the league?" Oliver asked.
"Um, no?" I replied.
"Well that happened," Oliver said.
"Well, thanks for letting me know," I replied sarcastically.
"What did you want me to do?" he asked, "I didn't know where you were!"
I looked over at Felicity, and then back at him, and raised an eyebrow. He sighed and nodded. "Okay. I didn't want to bother you. I thought you hated me."
"Come with me," I told him.
We walked to a smaller room, and I said, "How could you think that I hated you?"
"Because I abandoned you on Lian Yu," he replied.
"Oliver, you were doing what was right for you. Also, you saved that poor woman's life more than once, so I was never mad at you."
He looked at me, and I saw a few tears leaking from his eyes. I smiled and said, "You ever need me, or any of these guys, you call. Got it?"
He nodded, and we walked back out, and I smiled when I saw Buck hugging Thea and Laurel, while Steve hugged Felicity and John. Hugs were being shared all around, and I knew that my confessions to these people had brought them closer together.
After clearing things up with Oliver, and taking care of Malcolm, things settled back in for us at the Avengers Compound. World threats seemed to be a little lower than normal, but everyone was trying their best to keep busy. Bruce had discovered some things while he was Hulked out for so long, and I was helping him navigate the changes that he had noticed, along with slowly but surely teaching Nat most of the things the League taught me about hand-to-hand combat. If I kept a few things from her, no one needed to know. Bucky and I were also growing closer, and I was loving every second of exploring our relationship.
Steve had been spending a lot of time with Nat lately, and I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall with the two of them. I wanted to shove them in a room and lock all the doors, but neither of them would be particularly happy with me. I decided if Nat wasn't going to do something, I was going to have to force Steve to do something. I cornered him one day while we were training, and interrogated him. It took a lot longer than I had intended; Steve was a stubborn son of a bitch, but he finally told me that he had feelings for Nat. I grinned and said, "Please tell her. Watching you two is like watching paint dry. Go get her, and be happy for once in your abnormally long and fucked up life."
Steve chuckled and nodded, heading off to find Nat and finally figure his and her shit out. I was cleaning up the training room when my phone began to ring. As much as Tony had begged me to change my number, I had steadfastly refused. I had too many contacts in too many different parts of the world for me to change my number. This just happened to be one of those cases. I picked up the phone with an, "I get the feeling this isn't a social call?"
"You told us not to call with those."
"I did, didn't I. What's up?" I asked.
"The boys. They need your help."
"Can you be any more specific?" I asked, needing details.
The voice on the other end of the phone explained the situation in an almost detached sort of way, even though I knew he had deep feelings for both of the people he was talking about. I listened and began to formulate a plan in my head. It was a little rough around the edges, but if everyone could just play their part right, it would work. I hung up the phone and pushed the cheesily installed "Assemble" button that was in the gym. I hated it, but it came in handy as much as I didn't want to admit it. I steadied myself and prepared to rock the Avengers world.
As much about my life as I had revealed to the Avengers, there were some loose ends that I was remiss to share, but at this point, it was necessary. Everyone was in the briefing room, and they were looking at me expectantly. I stared back and tried to formulate my thoughts. Steve and Nat had finally worked everything out because their hands were entwined and they both were sporting a light blush on their cheeks. I nodded at them, and smiled before I began to speak, "So, I know that I've told you almost everything about me, but there are still a few holes. The biggest is my family. In general, I don't talk about it because most people won't believe me, or they think I'm insane. I've known all of you long enough for you to know that I'm not crazy, so what I'm about to say is all true."
I looked down at the computer in front of me and asked FRIDAY, "FRIDAY, can you bring up the Winchester files?"
"Of course, Ms. Franklin."
Within seconds, two files appeared in front of us, and I narrated, "Meet Sam and Dean Winchester. Both have been arrested for grave desecration, murder, and many other crimes. Their life story is not a happy one, and it began in November 1983, when something killed Mary Winchester; John's wife, and Sam and Dean's mother. Dean was four at the time, and Sam six months. Their father fell into a deep depression that lasted for the rest of his life. He and his boys traversed the country for the rest of their lives and have been hunting monsters and saving people since then. Any monster you've ever heard of, barring a few notable exceptions, exists, and the Winchesters and a few other people work very hard to keep people safe from those threats. While Sam and Dean were John's only children via Mary, they were by no means his only children. Actually, John was known for his suspicious inability to keep it in his pants. I guess John had an affair with my mom and here I am. I might not be a Winchester by name, but Sam and Dean are my brothers, and they are in need of help."
Everyone was looking back at me, and their eyes were wide. I smiled and said, "Sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I got a call from one of my brothers' friends, Castiel, and the boys need me, and I think they need you as well. Long and short of it is that the Archangel Lucifer had been released from the cage in Hell, and after he was forced out of Castiel's vessel, he possessed a few people, namely Vince Vincente, and most recently, the President. I guess while he was in the president, he decided to have sex with one of his aids, and now there is going to be a Nephilim born very soon. After forcing Lucifer from the president, with the help of the British Men of Letters, they were arrested by the secret service and taken to a black site. I get the feeling they're not doing well, and they need to be released from custody. We also need to work on finding and protecting Kelly Kline, the woman who Lucifer impregnated."
Again, wide eyes were looking back at me and Steve asked, "Wait, Lucifer exists?"
"Hell exists?" asked Tony.
"Does Heaven exist?" Bucky asked.
"Wait, what?" asked Bruce.
"I can't prove anything right now because the Supernatural world is a shit show, but just trust me. When you meet Castiel you'll be convinced," I explained.
Everyone stared back at me, and I added, "Once we get Sam and Dean out safely, they will explain things better. I don't know their full story, but I do know that they need my help, and if they don't get it, one of them will do something stupid. It's the Winchester way."
Everyone got back on track with that, and we began our research and battle planning. We knew there was a possibility for a firefight, but we wanted to avoid it.
After battle planning for a while, I changed into formal clothes and made sure I had my FBI badge ready. One plus of working with the Avengers is that I had all of the credentials I could need. Steve and Bucky were going to join me as security, while the rest of the Avengers were on watch and wait detail. If anything suspicious happened, they would notify me, and I would figure it out. We landed about a mile from the site, and myself, Bucky, and Steve made the trek to the entrance. Steve and Bucky were both wearing masks to hide their faces, and I felt confident that we wouldn't get discovered. When we reached the entrance the guards there saw me, and I flashed my badge. They looked a little confused, and one asked, "How would the FBI know about this place?"
"Does it matter? We're the FBI."
He nodded and let us in. I heard Avengers chatter through my earpiece and was having a little trouble keeping a straight face, but I managed. When we reached the next guard, he asked, "Do you have authority to be here?"
"Why does everyone keep questioning my authority? Yes, I'm authorized to be here, and yes, I was given express permission from the Secret Service to take the men you have here into my custody. Now let me see them, and we will be on our merry way," I replied, not allowing anything to give in my voice.
The guard paled and pressed a button so I could go into the corridor where the boys were being held. I entered with Steve and Bucky right behind me, and when the door finally closed, I pressed the button to open their cells, and both of them looked bad. They looked up and when they saw me, some of the life returned to their eyes. I put a finger to my lips because I got the feeling I was being watched. I began to read them their rights as they were put in cuffs, and before I knew it, we were out of the site, and back in the woods. As we walked, Tony asked over comms, "Can we come back now? I hate nature."
"Stay put. We don't know when they'll realize we weren't FBI. Keep eyes in the sky, Tony. Everyone else, back to the jet."
"Jet? Jet? The FBI is going to put me on a jet? Oh, hell no." Dean exclaimed.
"Dean calm down. Not just any jet. A state of the art quinjet," I explained.
"I don't give a fuck what kind of jet it is. I'm not getting on it," was his childish reply.
I looked to Sam, and he rolled his eyes. Sam said, "Dean, I get the feeling this jet is one we've never seen before, and I also get the feeling Morgan doesn't work for the FBI."
"Wait, she doesn't work for the FBI?" Dean asked.
Sam sighed and I took over, saying, "No I don't. I work for someone better. But you'll see who it is on the jet."
With that, we stopped and Bucky and Steve removed Sam and Dean's cuffs. I explained Cas had called me and I had some friends who could help. Sam and Dean both nodded and we continued the hike to the jet.
When we arrived, Dean's eyes went wide, and Sam had a smirk on his face. The jet opened and Steve and Bucky headed in to change. I explained, "The reason I didn't tell you is that I didn't know how you would feel and I knew it would slow things down in getting you out. Welcome to The Avengers quinjet."
Sam and Dean's jaws fell open, and when they turned around and saw the Avengers, I could see the stars in their eyes. I chuckled and Dean asked, "When did you start working for the Avengers?"
"About a year after SHEILD fell. It's been a long time, boys. Let's head back to the compound. Tony, head on back. We'll meet you there."
Dean stared at me and asked, "You're on a first name basis with all of the Avengers?"
"Yep. In fact, the two guys who were with me are my boyfriend and best friend."
Steve and Bucky came back out as I said that, and Sam and Dean's eyes got even wider. Sam asked, "You're dating Steve Rogers?!"
"Sam, who do you think I am. No, I'm dating the Winter Soldier," I said with a wink and a smile.
Both were staring at me, dumbfounded, and I said, "I'll explain everything when we get back. In the meantime, FRIDAY, take us home."
The jet lurched to life and we were off, but not before I put Dean to sleep. Sam stared at me and I whispered, "It's been a long time, brother. I missed you."
He smiled and said, "Yeah, you too."
When we arrived back at the facility, I woke Dean up, and he stared at me and asked, "What did you do to me?"
"I put you to sleep. I didn't want to listen to your bitching the whole flight, and I know I'm not alone in that. It made everything easier," I explained.
"Wait, how'd you put me to sleep? I don't feel a bump on my head or anything."
"Dean, I have powers. I could have sworn I let you and Sam know that," I added, not really wanting to deal with this madness right now.
He stared at me and then began to get up and de-board the jet. I dragged him and Sam into the debrief room, and I said, "Well done, guys. Thank you for helping me get my brothers back. Dean, Sam, call Cas and let him know you're okay, and give him coordinates. It's been a while since I've seen him, and I miss his face. Also, let me know if you need anything."
Sam and Dean nodded, and I looked to Tony and asked, "Is there a way we can get them official badges in some way? I don't want them breaking the law anymore."
Tony nodded and I sent him a grateful smile. "FRIDAY, can you please scrub all records of any Winchesters from the internet and any other records you can find?"
"Of course, Ms. Franklin. Nice to meet you both, Mr. and Mr. Winchester."
Sam and Dean looked at me with wide eyes and open jaws, and I said, "What? Did you think I was going to rescue you and then let you go?"
Sam and Dean looked at each other and Sam answered, "Kind of? We didn't really know what to expect. Both of us thought we were going to rot in there. Glad Cas called you."
I smiled and said, "So am I. But you should know, I would never leave you hanging. You're now under the Avenger's purview. We deal with threat's no one else can, and I'm pretty sure werewolves, demons, and monsters count. If SHIELD has a problem with it, they can take it up with me. Plus, SHIELD isn't really a thing anymore, so no one needs to know."
Sam and Dean grinned at each other, and while they looked around, Bucky whispered in my ear, "If you can, let them have my backpay. I'm not going to do anything with it, and it's just sitting there. At least with them, it will go somewhere good."
I grinned and said, "Take that up with Tony or FRIDAY. They're in charge of finances."
I looked back and everyone seemed to be thinking or talking with Sam and Dean. I could see Dean's eyes roaming all over the room, and I asked, "Dean, what's going on? Last I heard, you and Sam had dealt with Lucifer."
"We did. We really did. Sam has the hell memories to prove it. But we were facing something that even we didn't know how to deal with, so we thought that Lucifer might be able to help, as he had helped the last time that thing had happened. Sam said no to him many times, but I guess Cas thought the ends justified the means. He said yes and Lucifer was able to get out. When we were in our final fight with Amara, she knocked Lucifer out of Cas, and he went and possessed Vince Vincente. After forcing him out of Vince, he possessed the president. Plus, we're dealing with the British Men of Letters. Pompous assholes who want to take over the US hunting world. Sam got captured by them, and they've been trying to recruit us ever since. Without them, though, we never would have gotten Lucifer out of the President. We need to get those Brits out of here, and then figure out how the hell to get rid of fucking Lucifer," Dean replied, progressively getting more and more stressed and angry sounding.
"Woah, there. You're not alone anymore, first of all, and second of all, you have the resources of the Avengers at your disposal. FRIDAY, get me everything you can on a British Men of Letters. Put it in a file and reserve it for me to look at tonight. Now, let's see what we can figure out about this whole Lucifer deal. I remember you telling me that angels can be hurt by holy oil. That still true?"
"So then let's use that to our advantage. You still in contact with the King of Hell?"
Dean nodded and added, "According to Crowley the spell he used would send Lucifer back to the cage."
"Do you really think he would let Lucifer go that easily? Does Crowley have a bone to pick with Lucifer?" I asked.
"Everyone has a bone to pick with Lucifer, but you're right."
I smiled and said, "Call Crowley. Have him come here in about a day, with Lucifer, and we'll be ready."
He nodded and went off to make his phone calls, and when I turned around Bucky was looking at me. I asked, "What?"
"You really can't help it, can you?" he asked.
"I'm not sure what you're getting at, but yes?" I replied.
He chuckled and said, "You just try and help every lost puppy out there, huh?"
I chuckled and said, "It's a flaw. They're my brothers. I can't leave them hanging."
"So tomorrow, we kill the devil?" he asked.
"Yep, tomorrow we kill the devil."
That night, after getting Sam and Dean settled in, Bucky and I retreated to our room, and while he read his book, I dove into the British Men of Letter's file and was shocked to see what they were working with. It was sad that the US Men of Letters never had the chance to grow as the British ones did. As I looked through the file, something caught my eye and made my heart sink. I found a file on a young psychic named Magda. It looked like Sam and Dean had gotten her out of an abusive situation, but then the hitman for the Brits had decided that she didn't deserve to have any type of life, and shot her dead before she even got to her new home. I frowned and decided I should let Sam and Dean know. I pulled out my phone and shot off a quick text: Hey. Thought you should know. That girl Magda, you helped? Arthur Ketch, BMOL, shot her. I'm so sorry. We're going to get those assholes and avenge Magda's death. It's what we do around here. I promise.
After hitting send, asked FRIDAY to enter the BMOL system and copy every ounce of lore, information, and contacts they had. She was happy to do so, as she always is, and I decided to put the file away and try and relax for a bit. Tomorrow was going to be stressful. Before I could even do anything, FRIDAY's voice interrupted with, "Ms. Franklin, I thought you should know that both of the Winchesters appear distressed."
"Thanks, FRIDAY. We'll go check on them," I replied, and roused Bucky from his book and went to the guest suites where the Winchesters were staying. I knocked on the door, Dean came, and I could see the deep anger in his eyes. "Do you mind?"
He allowed us in the room, and when I saw Sam, my heart nearly stopped. He was curled up in a small ball on the bed and I could see the slight shake of his shoulders from the crying. "Oh, Sam."
I walked over and sat next to him. I put a hand on his shoulder and he looked up at me and asked, "Why did you send that? I would have been happy to believe she was alive."
"Sam, you know that doesn't work in your life or mine. You needed to know. Plus, all the more reason to destroy them where they stand. I know you and Dean often live in the grey of hunting, but from what I've seen of these Brits, they don't. FRIDAY is already copying every ounce of digital data, and once that's done, she's going to virus them into next week, so they can't do anything digitally. They probably have lots of lore, so eventually, we'll make the trip, and get their stuff. If they don't want to cooperate, they'll pay for it."
"She was so young," was whispered back to me.
"I know, Sam. I know. One way you can pay her back is by learning to accept your own power."
At those words, I could feel the energy in the room freeze, and Sam looked at me, wiped his eyes and asked, "What do you mean?"
"I have powers, Sam. And one of them happens to be being able to see one of my own. I can see the power in you, Sam. I know last time you used them you were hopped up on demon blood, and you let Lucifer out of the cage, but there are no demons here, Sam, and Ruby did say that you didn't need the blood. It was your black feather, right Dumbo?" I explained.
Before Sam could say a word, Dean interjected with, "No. Not just no, hell no. Sam will not be using any of those demon powers."
I looked back at Dean with a glare, and asked, "Do you know how Sam got his powers?"
"Yes, the demon that killed our mother fed Sam demon blood as a baby," was Dean's smug reply.
"Wrong. He was blessed with these powers from birth. Long before the demon came around, Sam was destined to be powerful. Azazel knew that. He knew Sam was special the moment he heard about him. Demon blood doesn't give people power. It twists what's there. Jake Talley, not supernaturally strong. Just normally strong, enhanced by the demon blood. Ava, not talented at all, the blood just awakened the recessive gene that runs in her family. Sam, a powerful seer and psychic, along with a telekinetic and a little bit of witchiness; the blood not only locked down some of those abilities, but twisted the ones that remained to focus on the demon and his plans. Once Azazel was dead, Sam was free. That blood had no power. But Ruby knew that if she kept feeding you her blood that you would become dependent on her, and addicted to it, to boot. Plus, the demon blood twisted your abilities so they would be evil enough to release Lucifer. The only thing that the demon blood did was allow you to kill demons, and that's the point. She needed you to kill Lillith in order to get Lucifer out. Once you detoxed, the abilities never came into play again because you locked them up so tight. Sam, you were so desperate for normal, that you pushed them into a box, and that's where they've stayed ever since."
Sam and Dean both looked back at me, dumbfounded, and Bucky decided to break the silence with, "I'd take her word for it. She just seems to know things. Plus, Sam, I barely know you, and I know you're not evil. Sure you've done bad things, but we all have. Me more than most."
Dean and Sam were staring at each other intensely, and Sam broke eye contact to look at me and ask, "What do I need to do?"
"Sam, are you serious?!" Dean asked.
"Dean. Out," I demanded.
He stared at me and asked, "What?"
"You heard me. Out. You go, or Bucky and his metal arm take you."
Dean glared at me and sulked out of the room. I looked back at Sam, and said, "Find the box that you put them in, and before you even try to open it, just accept that the box itself is a part of you. An important and valid part of you. A part that you need to understand before you try and do anything."
He nodded and I placed my hand on his shoulder and told him, "Sam, you'll get it. If there's one thing I know it's that you were meant for this, and you will become so much more than you ever imagined. Okay?"
He nodded again, and I took that as my cue to leave. I looked to Bucky and he mouthed, "I'll stay here and watch out?"
I shook my head because I knew FRIDAY would let me know if anything was wrong.
The following morning, I woke up with a good feeling about the day. I asked FRIDAY if anyone else was awake, and she told me that Sam was in his room, and he was awake. With a smile, I headed that way and knocked on the door. The door opened and Sam appeared to still be on the bed. I chuckled and said, "Didn't I tell you not to open that box?"
He smiled and said, "Yeah, you might have, but I'm an overachiever. Sorry."
"It's okay. As long as you feel good about it, I'm not going to stop you. Now, I wanted to talk to you about Dean. Everything okay between you two?"
Sam smiled sadly and replied, "It's about as good as it can get. He's always drawn a hard line on anything to do with the demon."
"I know. I'm going to talk to him and see what I can do, okay?"
Sam nodded and said, "Just make sure that he knows the powers don't change who I am. The demon blood did, and I think he wants to avoid that if at all possible. He's just scared. By the way, I overheard you talking to Dean yesterday about Lucifer. What's the plan?"
"I haven't gotten that far. Was thinking of making a circle of holy oil, and then having Crowley arrive with him and then having me or Wanda move Crowley from the circle after lighting it. Then we can do whatever we want to."
Sam had a feral grin on his face, and I smiled back and said, "Sam, you're going to get your revenge, I promise."
He nodded and I took that as my cue to leave and see if Dean was awake. When I asked FRIDAY, she told me he was in the communal kitchen, with Steve and Bucky. I headed that way, rolling the plan over in my head. I was thinking about Crowley, and whether it was worth it to keep him around. I mean, yes, it was, but did it do anything for the boys other than keeping them a little bit safer from Hell? I don't know.
When I reached the kitchen, Dean was in deep conversation with Steve and Buck and I smiled at the tableau that the three of them created. I was looking forward to seeing how Dean and Bucky were going to interact. As different as Steve and Dean were, I got the feeling they were going to get along better than even I had anticipated. When I walked in, I figured all three noticed me but didn't say anything, so I went to grab some coffee and sat down next to Bucky after placing a kiss on his cheek. Dean was looking at me and he had a pensive look on his face.
I looked back and said, "I get you're mad at me, and that's your prerogative. But I need you to understand that Sam's powers are not evil at all."
"But how do you even know that? Everything we've ever been told has been that Sam's powers come from the Demon and that all things to do with Sam's abilities have to do with Hell and Lucifer."
"Dean you know better than most that Demons lie," I replied, "And you have to know that both of you were being manipulated. You do know that. So why would you think that anything you were told in the lead up to the apocalypse would be the truth?"
Dean stared back at me. The only emotion I could see was total and utter shock.
"You're going to go talk to Sam before Crowley gets here, and then we're going to put an end to Lucifer and his reign of terror over you and over Sam."
After Dean left the room, Steve asked, "Everything okay between them?"
"It will be. Sam has powers, and Dean has never liked that, and for good reason. But now he's just being stubborn. They'll work it all out and everything will be okay. Now, we need to think of a way to hurt or permanently get rid of Lucifer. I was thinking to just burn him with Holy Oil, but I feel like that won't be satisfying for anyone. I was thinking maybe we could remove his grace, and then force him to live as a human," I explained.
"That would work?" Bucky asked.
"Yeah. From what I've been told, humans have to give permission to angels in order to be possessed, and when the grace leaves the body, it is back in the human's control. But, if the grace is forcibly removed, or drained, the personality and consciousness of the angel remains, but the power doesn't. I don't want to remove all of Lucifer from his vessel, which last I knew was long dead and was rotting from the power before he possessed Sam the first time; I want him to be powerless, and essentially human. He believes that humanity isn't worth it. He's never known what it's like to be human, so why don't we make him."
Steve and Buck stared back at me and both nodded. I smiled and asked FRIDAY, "Can you get the Winchester's for me, and have them meet me out back?"
"Of course, Ms. Franklin."
I headed out to the back, and soon, Sam and Dean joined me each holding angel blades, and Sam holding a jar of Holy Oil. Dean handed me a blade, and I asked, "Could this harm him?"
"Not permanently. Only an archangel's blade could do that. But it could do some damage," Sam explained.
"Good enough for me. Now, when Crowley gets here with Lucifer, you're immediately going to light the circle. I can pull Crowley out without much trouble, so don't worry."
Both of them nodded, and Dean dialed Crowley on the phone and minutes later, he was in front of us with Lucifer, whose vessel looked better, if not completely healthy. Dean immediately lit the oil and Crowley squawked. I chuckled and lifted him out of the ring, and asked, "Do you really think we would let you stay in there?"
"I never know with you Winchesters," he replied. He snapped his fingers, but nothing happened. He looked at Sam and Dean first and asked, "What did you to morons do?"
Both of them looked at me and I answered, "It wasn't them. That was me. Now, I thought, if you were going to be here, might as well kill two birds with one stone."
Crowley went pale, and I chuckled, saying, "Not going to kill you, Crowley. You do good work in Hell. What I am going to ask you is that you swear on your life that nothing from Hell with be on the Winchester's trail from now until they die permanently. If I even catch a whiff of a demon, I'll be taking it out of your hide. Understood?"
He stared back at me and asked, "What's in it for me?"
He blanched again, and said, "Fine. But don't expect me to answer your calls."
"I don't need you to answer my calls, now go."
I scratched out the trap, and he left, and when I looked back at Sam and Dean they were both gaping at me. I chuckled and said, "Figured I'd take care of that while he was here. Now back to the real reason we're here."
We all looked at Lucifer, and he said, "I didn't plan for this."
"That's fine," Dean replied, coldly, "We didn't need you to plan for this."
We were all looking at him, and I could sense the fear from Sam. He was practically vibrating with it. I parted the flames, not all the way, but enough for me to get through, and I pulled out the angel blade and slashed across Lucifer's throat as Cas had explained to me. A bright white light began pouring out of the small incision, and I collected it in a small vial. After it was all out, the cut healed on its own, and Lucifer sagged to the ground. I left the circle and put out the flames easily, and when I turned back around, he was looking at all of us, and I said, "Sam and Dean recommended killing you. I figured what better way to punish the angel who hated humanity than to make him human. Learn why your father wanted you to love and cherish us, and maybe you'll get it back. Don't learn, and you'll die the thing you hated most."
His face was white as a sheet, and I could see the anger in his eyes, but I could also see fear. Strong fear. Human Lucifer was scared, and he knew he was in trouble. Good. That's kind of the point. I called, "FRIDAY, can you get Steve and Buck for me, and have them bring our new house guest to his new quarters?"
Minutes later, Steve and Buck came out and when they saw Lucifer, Buck said, "He's not what I pictured."
"They never are," Sam said before I could say anything.
Steve and Buck took Lucifer by the arms and pulled him with them inside. I turned to Sam and Dean and asked, "So what's next?"
"Taking down those British dicks," Sam replied without a moment's hesitation.
I smiled and asked, "FRIDAY, what's the deal with the Men of Letters?"
"I have everything they had on their network in a file, ready to be looked through. I get the feeling the Winchesters will want to see some of this," was her polite, if slightly ominous, reply.
"Gather all of the Avengers, and we'll let them know about the situation with Lucifer, and they'll help us figure out what to do with those British assholes."
A few minutes later, everyone was in the briefing room and I explained what was going on with Lucifer. While no one was thrilled, I could tell most were intrigued and wanted to see what was going on with their own eyes before they made any judgments.
After explaining that, I said, "So, there are two other reasons my brothers need our help. One of them is to find Kelly Kline, the woman who Lucifer impregnated while he was in the president. The other thing is to take care of these British Men of Letters. Apparently, they're here to bring their methods to the states, but based on what I've seen, they're not. They're here to do things their way or no way. They kidnapped both Sam and Dean, and if not for Castiel, both of them might be dead. I had FRIDAY grab all of their digital data, and make sure their systems were completely wiped when she was done. We have the only copy of the British Men of Letters system, and we are going to be using it to our advantage. Sam, Dean, do you have the information to contact the Brits?"
Sam nodded and handed me a business card from his wallet. He added, "This is the man who stopped the woman who was torturing us. Name is Mick. Not as much of a dick as his counterparts, but I get the feeling something is lurking for him."
I nodded and dialed the number, making sure it was playing on the speakers for everyone to hear. The call was answered with a "Mick Davies."
"Hello Mr. Davies. Hope you're having a good day. Now, I'm calling because I'm sure you've noticed that your data has mysteriously gone missing, no?"
"Actually, yes. Something happened," he replied.
"Good to know the AI can do her job."
"Who is this?" he asked, "And why are you calling me to tell me that an AI wiped out my system?"
"Sorry. This is Morgan Franklin. I'm helping out my brothers. You might know them. The Winchesters?"
"The Winchesters have a sister?" he asked, voice shocked.
I laughed and said, "Half. While John Winchester was many things, he also happened to be a bit of a whore. So, I work with the Avengers, Mr. Davies, and I think we have everything to do with the Supernatural under control here. So, if you'll just be on your way back to Britain, we'll handle things here."
"Ms. Franklin, I can't do that. The old men asked that I try to bring our methods to the United States since the American Men of Letters fell 50 years ago."
"Mr. Davies. I'm going to ask this only once. If you leave and don't return, I won't put the force of the Avengers against you. I don't make threats lightly, and this one is as serious as a heart attack. Heed my words, Mr. Davies. Don't leave and we'll make you wish you had," I responded, doing my best to not get angry at him.
"Is one of the Winchesters there? I'd like to speak with them."
"Sure," I replied, putting the phone on mute and asking, "Sam, you wanna talk to him? I figure you're the more diplomatic."
Dean glared at me while Sam took the phone and answered it with, "This is Sam."
"Hello Mr. Winchester. Hope you're having a good day."
"It would be better if I hadn't spent two weeks at an off the grid Black Site for saving the President's life. But you know, we all have our troubles," Sam replied, ice in his tone.
"Well. I hope you can forgive us for whatever role we played."
"Sure, when you promise to leave and take Lady Bevell and Mr. Ketch with you."
There was silence on the other end of the phone, and I smiled because I knew Mick had run out of things to say. His voice returned and he asked, "How do you know Mr. Ketch?"
"Other than the fact that he murdered a young psychic we saved, we don't. But it's enough for me to want him gone. What made you think that it was okay to take the life of an innocent young girl like that?"
"She wasn't innocent!" was his indignant reply, "She'd killed several people, and she was going to be worse."
"Mick, do you know at all what it's like to be looked at like you're a freak because of something you have no control over? To be forced to whip yourself because your family believes you belong to the devil? I do, and so did Magda. All those times she murdered someone, it was an accident, and additionally, a cry for help. She was desperate for someone to save her, and we did just that. But before she could even try out her new life, your organization snuffed her out. Don't try and play this off as protecting the world. You are only trying to rid the world of who you deem to be monsters. You want to play god, and I've met the man, and he wouldn't be thrilled with that, no matter how much you think he would be. You think that you can control hunters. Mr. Davies, American hunters are some of the most ornery, stubborn and mean sons of bitches you've ever met. We're just the tip of the iceberg. Now, you can take Morgan's offer and leave, with your tail tucked between your legs and tell the old men we don't want you here, or you can continue killing with no regard for life or circumstances, and you'll have not only the force of the Avengers on you but every single American hunter we know. Don't underestimate us, Mick. We'll be your worst nightmare. We've saved the world once or twice, and if we need to end you, there is no doubt in my mind we will."
He pressed end call, and I looked around the room at everyone's shocked faces. The only one who didn't seem surprised was Dean. He smiled at me and said, "So who's the less diplomatic now, huh?"
"Damn, Sam. Well, let's see what happens. In the meantime, FRIDAY any update on Kelly Kline?" I asked.
"Not really, Morgan, sorry. I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to track her."
"I bet it's the Nephilim. It's protecting her, and making it hard for us to find her," Sam said, contemplation written all over his face.
"Dean, did you talk to Cas?" I asked.
"Yeah. He was on his way here when we got off the phone yesterday. He should be here soon."
Weeks and months passed as FRIDAY continued her search for Kelly and her unborn baby. Sam and Dean had the chance to settle into the facility, even taking a trip back to Lebanon, Kansas to pick up their things from the Men of Letters bunker. They returned with boxes and boxes of files, weapons, and more books than I'd seen in one place. While they were gone, Tony took it upon himself to build onto the facility, giving them the space they needed, not only to live in but also to work in. Sam and I continued to work on training his powers, strengthening his telekinesis and helping to keep his physical symptoms at bay. Dean would sometimes join in on the training, but more often than not, he was off doing something else.
With regards to the Lucifer in the room, he'd been lurking around the facility like a ghost and I was blessed to not have to interact with him. He avoided me like the plague which allowed Sam to feel safe around me because he knew he wouldn't have to deal with his trauma made flesh. I got the feeling one of the things Dean was doing while Sam and I trained was antagonizing and annoying Lucifer. I was going to need to have a talk with him about that. Steve had mentioned a few times that Lucifer had spoken to him, but there didn't seem to be any real desire to change.
Finally one afternoon, FRIDAY interrupted my workout with Sam, "Ms. Franklin and Mr. Winchester, I just got a hit on the woman you've been looking for. It seems she's holed up somewhere on the North-Western coast. I believe the man called Castiel is with her. She is preparing some things for when the time comes for her to give birth. I will send you coordinates."
With that, my phone beeped, and I said, "Tell the team to gear up. No weapons. They're not going to work on Castiel and with the Nephilim, I don't know what kind of reaction she'll have."
A few hours later, we landed in Washington. We decided not to get too close to her location, so we didn't scare her, but we got close enough that it was a short hike away. We all trooped over there, but I asked the Avengers to wait so that we would not overwhelm her and not make Castiel suspicious. As Dean, Sam, and I tromped over to the front door, it opened and Castiel came out. He looked at the three of us and sighed. I smiled and said, "Castiel, you know lying is a sin, right?"
He chuckled to himself and replied, "I'm not sure I know anything, Morgan. Come inside and meet Kelly. I'm sure you know most of what is going on."
I nodded and we went into the house. I could sense the power coming from Kelly and my stomach immediately rolled over. I looked to Sam and he had the same nauseous look on his face. Castiel left us in the living room and a few minutes later, he returned with Kelly. I smiled and when she sat down she looked at us all warily. I spoke, "Hi. My name is Morgan. I'm Sam and Dean's half-sister. None of us are here to hurt you. Sam and Dean wanted to know where you were so they could keep you safe. There was no ill intent behind their search for you. They wanted to make sure that once your baby was born, it would have all of the love and care it needed. I'm sure you know enough Bible to know that Lucifer wouldn't be a great father to his son, no matter how much he loved him."
She nodded so I went on, "You also know that Castiel is a wonderful angel, despite the reputation of Heaven and its host."
She nodded, "So if he vouched for Sam and Dean as protectors of your baby, he would have no reason to lie to you, right?"
She was beginning to relax, "The only reason I'm here is that I was the one who got them out of the black site where they had been put after the situation with the president. Castiel called me and asked for my help. I work with the Avengers and have some unique people at my disposal. That being said, we have caught Lucifer and he shouldn't be bringing you any more trouble."
She looked at me like a deer in the headlights and asked, "How do I know?"
I smiled and pulled out the vial of grace which was chained to a necklace, "Because this is his grace. I extracted it and he is now human. He's at the Avenger's facility in New York right now and he is not going to harm a hair on your's or your baby's head. I promise you that. Now, I also want you to know that Sam and I both have powers. Mine are more wide-ranging than Sam's, but we can both feel the power radiating off of you from the baby. One way we can help you is by placing shields over you and your baby for the remainder of their gestation, which I know isn't long. It will keep the power a little more contained and less obvious to people who are inclined to notice such things."
She looked between the three of us and then asked, "Then what's he doing here?" gesturing to Dean.
He grinned and replied, "I'm the muscle, along with sometimes being half a brain. While I'm not powered, I'm the best damn hunter in the business. If anyone is going to keep you safe, it's us four, based not only on power but on know-how."
She looked at all four of us and sighed. I knew we had won when she did that. I grinned and asked, "Want to meet the Avengers?"
She followed us out of the house and we began the walk to the quinjet. She was whispering quietly with Castiel and I did my best to ignore her. Through no fault of her own, she made me nervous. I couldn't figure out what it was, but I noticed Sam (Winchester, not Wilson), Steve, Nat, and Buck all had similar looks on their faces. As my thoughts ran in circles, we boarded the Quinjet and headed back to the facility. Right as we arrived I asked FRIDAY, "Keep our guest in his quarters, please? And don't let him know Kelly and her baby are here?"
"Of course, Miss Franklin."
I sighed and asked, "FRIDAY, will there ever be a day when you can call me by my first name?"
The reply was instantaneous, "Never, Miss Franklin."
I smiled and continued to allow my thoughts to roam as we landed and got Kelly settled into a guest suite. Castiel also got settled in, keeping close to Kelly and the baby. I asked FRIDAY for constant monitoring on Kelly, just to make sure she was healthy. Everyone went their separate ways and I decided it was finally time to go and see Lucifer. I walked over to the room that had been marked as his and knocked on the door. I waited, knowing that it was possible Lucifer wouldn't want to see me. About five minutes passed, so I knocked again and still nothing. I asked, "FRIDAY, he still in there?"
"Yes, but it appears he is not in good health."
"Let me in," I asked.
The door popped open and I walked in to find him on his bed, eyes closed. I would have thought he was sleeping if not for the lack of rise and fall of his chest. I scanned him and his heart was still beating, but slowly and not properly. I picked him up and brought him immediately to the med ward. I healed him up quickly and when his eyes opened and he saw me, he frowned. I asked, "Want to tell me why I found you almost dead?"
He stared back at me and muttered something. I stared at him and continued, "I'm not going to ask you twice. You are not a bitter child, so stop acting like one."
"Because," he replied, vitriol in his voice.
"You wanted to die, Lucifer? Did you think that you were going to get out of this so easily?" I asked, steel in my tone and hate and anger burning in my heart.
He stared back at me. Not another word was spoken for a full fifteen minutes. We just stared at each other. I thought over my options as we stared at each other and after allowing silence to reign, I said, "FRIDAY, get Dean for me?"
I watched as Lucifer not only paled slightly, but his eyes widened a fraction, "Ah, so Dean scares you. Good. He should. As should Sam."
I allowed silence to fall again and enjoyed watching as Lucifer squirmed. I heard the doors whoosh open and then I could hear Dean stop in his tracks. I turned around and said, "Found him in his room, almost dead."
"Good riddance," was Dean's mean reply.
"Not the point of this exercise, right? Trying to teach him how humans live."
"Isn't part of humans living, Death?" Dean asked, voice acidic.
"I guess, but for him, not an option."
"Why?" Dean asked.
"Well for one, he doesn't deserve an exit that easy, and two, I don't think you or Sam would feel that vindicated if he just died."
"True. Why did you call me?" he asked.
"Because I couldn't get an answer out of him and I wanted to remind him that either he told me, or I let you loose with him."
He grinned, all teeth, and I could feel the desire to destroy him soak the room. I turned and Lucifer hadn't moved but I could see the fear. I continued, "Feel that? That fear you feel is probably not even close to what you inflicted on Sam and Dean. What you feel you inflicted on Sam 100 fold. You inflicted it on so many people for so long. It's time you not only learn how terrifying it is to be human but how hard it is. Do you know how much humanity struggles?"
He stared back at me, mute, eyes the size of saucers. I continued, "You have hardly seen the breadth of humanity. Humanity created the Winter Soldier. Do you know who that is?"
I heard Dean turn around and walk away, knowing I had this in hand. I noticed the fear abate a little and I waited. He paused and then answered, "Should I?'
"Well, I guess not. In 1917, a baby was born to the Barnes family. They named him James Buchanan--"
"Is there a point to this?" he asked voice now sarcastic.
"Of course there is. Even if there wasn't I don't see what power you have here to ignore me. James grew up in Depression-era Brooklyn, New York. Just after the first World War, which is its own stain on humanity--"
"Proof that humanity is as terrible as I thought," he interrupted again.
"I can get Dean back here in a heartbeat. Better yet, I can call someone worse."
"Worse?" he asked.
"Let me tell my story and maybe you'll meet him again. So, James grew up in Depression-era Brooklyn. As a kid, he thrived and at the age of around four, he ran into someone who needed him. A sickly and frail little boy who didn't know when to stand down. James pulled him out of a scrape and defended him and they were thick as thieves. Fast forward about 20 years, and the two boys were still close as brothers. But, the second World War was raging. The United States needed soldiers, so a draft was put into place, and young James was called into duty. His brother, though, couldn't get into the army no matter how hard he tried. He had asthma, he was color blind, and he had all sorts of other problems. So James was preparing to ship out and the night before he left, he took his brother out for a night at the World's Fair. But, before they could even enjoy their double date, James's brother ran off to the recruiting station. He was desperate to become a soldier. So, James shipped out. But, while his brother was at that recruiting station, he met a very special man, Dr. Abraham Erskine. Dr. Erskine asked James's friend one question, 'Do you want to kill Nazis?' The man sitting in that little medical room said something that has continued to inspire me ever since I heard about it. He said, 'I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies. Doesn't matter where they're from.' So, Dr. Erskine selected James's friend for a special program. Fast forward a few years, James's friend Steve is now the face of war bonds. He's selling them like hotcakes all over the country--"
"Can you get to a point here, please? I don't think I need to know this story."
"I think you do. Now sit down and shut up. Steve got selected for a program and was no longer the frail, sickly kid he once was. Because the bond selling was going so well in the states, they shipped him and his showgirls off to Europe to entertain the troops. That didn't go as smoothly. Then, one afternoon, he heard about the capture of the 107th regimen. The group his brother James was in. He asked a Colonel for information, but couldn't get anything. So, he took care of it himself. He suited up in a leather jacket, a shitty helmet, and a shield that was more decoration than protection. He flew behind enemy lines with some help and rescued his best friend and his entire unit. James was safe, but he had been changed by his time in captivity. After that, James joined his brother and a few others in a group called the Howling Commandoes. They took out not only the Nazi science division HYDRA but several concentration camps and many, many Nazis. One mission was where it all went wrong. In a train on the Alps, James fell from a great height down into a ravine and Steve couldn't save him. But, he was determined to finish his mission and destroy HYDRA, so he did what he had to. He found the leader, called the Red Skull, and dispatched him, but not before he set a plane to drop bombs in several major cities around the world--"
"I don't know what you're trying to do, but if you're trying to convince me that humanity is good, you're not succeeding."
"I'm not trying to convince you of that. Let me finish. Steve crashed that plane into the Arctic, fully expecting to die. So it was to his shock when he woke up. But, there was only one problem. 65 years had passed, and no one from his life was around. Steve tried to adjust. He fought aliens in New York and he joined up with SHIELD. He tried his best and even was starting to enjoy himself when everything came crumbling down around him. Turned out, after Steve crashed into the ice, HYDRA wasn't as dead and gone as he thought. It grew in secret within SHIELD and they had an asset called The Winter Soldier, who had come in and shot Director Nicholas Fury. That's when I met Steve for the first time. We worked that mission together, but even more shocking than HYDRA was the reveal that The Winter Soldier was actually James Buchanan Barnes. Steve was going to have to fight his friend in order to protect the world. It worked, sort of. Steve managed to break through James's programming, but not before taking a serious beating. I found Steve after that fight close to death on the bank of the Potomac River. A couple of weeks later, I'm working at the Smithsonian and a man walks in with a metal arm. I know it's James. I bring him home with me and heal him up. Six months later, I bring him here and introduce him to the Avengers and Steve and James are reunited for the first time in 70 years."
Lucifer continued to stare at me and he looked highly confused. I chuckled and asked, "FRIDAY, send Steve and Bucky here please?"
The confusion grew on his face and I reveled in the moment. The doors whooshed open again and two sets of footsteps walked in. They paused at the door and I said, "It's okay. Come in."
They slowly moved into the room but stuck close by me. I looked at Buck and asked, "My love, what do you think of humanity?"
He gaped at me and slowly processed the question. He answered, "Humanity is terrible--"
"He's only proving my point--" Lucifer interrupted.
"But it's also amazing, frustrating, annoying, maddening, exciting, fulfilling, and a whole host of other things. For a long time, I was convinced I wasn't human. More than the lack of control over anything and everything, the lack of emotion was the most terrible thing. I had no feelings, good or bad. I had no will, positive or negative. Humanity is all about making choices. Good ones and bad ones. But we're not all one thing all the time."
"Steve?" I asked.
"I guess I agree with Bucky. Humanity sucks. But we also create and make things and try our best to change the world. From what I understand, all the angels tried to do was G-d's will. Additionally, from what I understand you were the one who G-d loved the most, but when he moved on to other things, you threw a tantrum. That's what humans do. We hurt each other, we leave, we are mean to each other. But we also love deeply, we come home, and we treat each other with love. A friend of mine once told me, 'The truth is a matter of circumstances, it's not all things to all people all the time. And neither am I.' At the time I didn't quite understand, but everything around me was crumbling. After examining it, I realized she had a better grip on humanity than anyone I've ever known. We change. We're not a monolith. We change our minds. We make mistakes. We do things that upset people. But we also do good. We create things like Iron Man. We make the world a better place a little at a time."
I nodded at both of them and Steve left the room. Bucky approached me and stood with me. I watched as Lucifer continued to stare. He watched both of us. Lucifer asked, "Who is this guy, again?"
"This is James Buchanan Barnes. Also known as, The Winter Soldier, which we need to change. Longest-serving prisoner of war in the world and best friend to Steve Rogers and my boyfriend," I explained.
Lucifer continued to stare at Buck for a while and I allowed it. I watched as Lucifer continued to process everything that had been said. After half an hour, he asked, "How are you not horrible?"
Buck smiled and said, "I've had a lot of help. Steve has been there for me my entire life and Morgan helped me when I couldn't help myself. Plus, I know who I am. I was made to do horrible things, but I know all of those things weren't me. Someone else made me do those things and I was as much a victim as the people I killed."
Silence fell again and I continued to watch as something seemed to dawn on the man who used to be Lucifer. He asked, "But we're not the same. I'm better than you. My father made me to be better than people."
"He made you to love people, no?" I asked.
Another pause, and then, "He made me to love and listen to him."
"But when he asked you to love humanity, you didn't."
The silence continued until, "How was I supposed to love humanity more than I loved my father."
I smiled and said, "Ah, therein lies the rub. I never knew my father. He was nothing more than a sperm donor. From what I've learned, he was a drunken asshole who cared more about avenging his wife's death than raising his two sons. I don't have any love in my heart for the man. But, my brothers somehow do. He treated them like soldiers more than sons, but somehow they still love him. The reason I took your grace was to show you all the reasons G-d wanted you to love us. We're not perfect. From what I've heard, your brother said something similar just before you killed him with his own archangel blade. Something along the lines of, 'Because Dad was right. They are better than us.' And what did you say?"
"They are broken, flawed abortions!" Lucifer immediately replied, voice quiet, but still quite vehement.
"As I'm told, he continued with, 'Damn right, they're flawed. But a lot of them try. To do better, to forgive. And you should see the Spearmint Rhino. I've been riding the pine a long time now, but I'm in the game now, and I'm not on your side, or Michael's. I'm on theirs.' He had a good point. We're never perfect, but we try damn hard to do right. We're not always good, but we try. That's the lesson I'm trying to teach you. Maybe I shouldn't have kept you here. Maybe I should have put you into the world so you could see the good and bad. I didn't want you to have the chance to be terrible. But I guess that's part of being human. We get to choose. So, if you'd like, I can let you go."
He stared back at me, eyes wide. He looked as if he'd been slapped. I turned to leave, Buck following with me when he shouted, "Wait!"
I turned back around and watched. He took a breath and said, "Do you think Sam would want to see me?"
"I don't know. I can only ask. FRIDAY, can you ask Sam Winchester if he'd be willing to speak with Lucifer?"
Moments later, she came back with, "He will speak to him, but only if you, Mr. Barnes, Master Rogers, Miss Romanoff, Boss, and Mr. Winchester are present."
"Excellent can you get all of them except Sam for me?"
She didn't reply, but moments later, Steve, Nat, Tony, and Dean came in. Nat and Tony looked a little confused, but I said, "I found him nearly dead, and I didn't think he deserved an out that easy, so I've been chatting with him. He wanted to speak with Sam and Sam agreed but asked that all of us be present. Now, I'm going to call Sam," I turned to face Lucifer, "One wrong move and you won't make it. Clear?"
He nodded slowly and I asked FRIDAY to send Sam over. Minutes later and Sam walked in. He appeared to be confident, but I could see the overwhelming fear in his eyes. He relaxed at everyone's presence, but he stood behind all of us as if he needed a wall of protection. He watched Lucifer with a wary eye. I looked to him and said, "Say what you're going to say because I don't think you're going to get another opportunity."
Lucifer was looking over my shoulder right at Sam and he opened his mouth to say, "Sam, I--"
Before he could continue, Sam interrupted, voice soft, but strong and angry, "If you are going to say sorry, save it. I don't want your sorries. They're worthless to me. They don't mean anything. I don't want sorry or asking for forgiveness, because you won't get it. You are the singular thing in my life that still petrifies me and I've seen a lot. You and your brother tortured my soul for centuries because your little fight didn't go your way. Michael is not here, thank G-d, so I can't say anything to him, but you're here. You raped me in every sense of the word. You made me scared of my own shadow. You took everything I had built my world on and turned it to dust. Now, when I got my soul back, I could pretend that everything was normal. But once Castiel broke my wall, which isn't on you, I had to once again deal with trauma that no human would ever understand. I didn't eat for weeks because of you. I slept almost none because of you. If not for Cas, I probably wouldn't be alive because of you and the torture you inflicted on me. Your sorries are worth nothing to me. The only reason I didn't just stab you dead is that I agree with Morgan's methods. I agree that you need to understand why your father asked you to love us. Maybe once you do, you'll understand why I will never forgive you, and if I ever do, it won't be for you. Sometimes we need to forgive people for our own health and wellness. The only reason you will ever get forgiveness from me is that I am ready to be rid of the burden. Right now, I'm not. I've still got a lot of shit to deal with surrounding you and your dick brothers."
As Sam spoke Lucifer paled and his jaw opened in shock. He looked as if he'd been punched in the face. Sam turned on his heel and left the room, back tense. Everyone else slowly filed out and left just me, Lucifer, and Bucky in the room.
Lucifer was still looking shocked but he looked up at me and asked, "Why won't Sam forgive me?"
"I think he just told you that himself. He doesn't have to do anything. He has the right to make his own choices. Both Sam and Dean went through hell because of you and all the angels. They've only ever had one on their side, and even then, Cas hasn't always been with them. Sam will probably never forgive you and that's his choice. He doesn't have to do anything. That's part of being human. Humans don't just get things because they want them. We have to work for every shred of happiness we get."
He continued to stare, so I turned to Bucky and asked, "Do you mind dealing with this while I go and deal with our other guest?"
He nodded and said, "Be safe."
I turned around and left the room, trusting that James had everything in hand and that everything would work out. I headed over to where we had set Kelly and Castiel up, and knocked on the door. I heard a faint, "Come in," so I entered the room and saw Kelly and Castiel sitting on the couch. I smiled at both of them and approached. I sat down on the easy chair that was next to the couch and asked, "Kelly, is there anything we can do to help you? If we could have found you sooner, I'm sure there's more we could have done, but I still want to offer our help in any way you need before you give birth."
She stared at me as if I had grown a second head and asked, "Why are you being so nice to me?"
I smiled and replied, "Because you didn't ask for this. I was sort of born into the Supernatural through my father, and I was forced into the Superheroing business through no fault of my own. You were just an aid to the President, who happened to be having an affair with him. You didn't ask for him to get possessed, or to impregnate you with his child. I'm a helper. It's what made me join the army and pararescue. It's what led me to an island off the South China Sea and then to a secluded city filled with some of the most deadly fighters in the world. I saw SHIELD fall because I wanted to help Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff. When I saw James Barnes walk into my exhibit in the Smithsonian, I was compelled to help. So that's what I did when Castiel called and asked for my help. Sam and Dean are my brothers. I got them out of a situation that in any other case might have ended very badly. I brought them here and helped and am helping them deal with a lot of their problems. I used the resources at my disposal to dig into the British Men of Letters. I am helping Sam deal with his own abilities and powers. It's just what I do. Plus, I get the feeling the birth might be highly traumatic and there is a high chance you might not make it through, so I'd like to do what I can so that you have a chance to live to see your child."
I noticed Castiel look at me sharply, so I asked, "What, Castiel?"
"You can save her from her birth?"
"I don't know, Castiel. You know more about birthing Nephilim than I do," I replied, wearily.
He stared at me and then said, "I know that no mother has ever survived the birth of their Nephilim child. The explosion of grace and power kills the mother after giving birth."
I contemplated and then said, "Well, then maybe this will be the first time. I've never been the type to cow over to the impossible, so if it's okay with you, Ms. Kline, I'd like to ask that myself and Dr. Banner keep track of your health and wellness so we can do all we can to protect your life while you are giving birth. I've been having FRIDAY monitor you since we arrived and all appears to be normal, but I would love to have a chance to get a look at the baby. Have you had a sonogram or ultrasound since you got pregnant?"
She stared back at me, eyes wide and shook her head. I smiled back and asked, "FRIDAY, are Buck and Lucifer still in the med ward?"
"No, Miss Franklin. They've both left. Would you like me to get Dr. Banner and tell him to go to the ward and get everything set up?"
"That would be wonderful, FRIDAY. Come, Kelly. Let's go get a look at that baby of yours."