Author: latessitrice PM
A girl without a past. A girl whose only memories cannot be real. She's in SHIELD's hands now, but the past will catch up with her soon enough, and the whole world may suffer for it.Rated: Fiction M - English - Sci-Fi/Drama - Loki - Chapters: 38 - Words: 83,249 - Reviews: 176 - Favs: 63 - Follows: 61 - Updated: 03-06-13 - Published: 10-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8649613
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Great. Apples again. Asta hated apples.
She didn't know much about herself. She liked the colour turquoise. She didn't like jazz. She always wanted to chase rainbows when they appeared, and the sight of them inexplicably made her want to cry. She wasn't even sure what her real name was, but she knew she hated apples.
She moved the chopped pieces aside and picked at the other food on her tray; toast and a little pot of jam and a bottle of orange juice. The tiny jam jar reminded her of the pots you got in hotels for breakfast, though she couldn't ever remember staying in a hotel. At least now they'd moved her into this room, out of the tiny little cell that had been her home for weeks, and she could see the sky again. The window didn't open and the bars across it reminded her of all that time she'd gone without being able to see the outside world, but when the sun had splashed pink and gold across the horizon at dawn it made it all better. It had washed away the remnants of the dream that chased her out of sleep—the dream where…
No. Best not to think about it.
She didn't know why they were so obsessive about keeping her under lock and key. She had nowhere to go, no way of surviving away from them. She was fairly sure she'd convinced them her state of tabula rasa was no game, no lie, and that was how she'd gained window privileges. She couldn't pose a threat to them, small and untrained as she was. She'd seen the warriors at their disposal, the soldiers in black, twice her width and half her height again. Even now one guarded her door day and night, waiting to see if her status changed. She almost wished it would, one of these days. That would break her free of this stifling routine: four walls, one window, a bed, a desk, and a television.
Asta didn't turn on the television in the mornings. It no longer entertained her, or educated her as it had when she'd first been brought to this room. Instead, she read, books being brought to her alongside her breakfast, small stacks that she devoured after the food, blissful pages that swallowed the hours. Curled on the bed she could escape this room and the small patch of scrubby land outside the glass. She could travel the world, travel other worlds, and live as many lives as the words would allow.
They'd given her a clock and a calendar, institutional in their lack of design—what for, she didn't know. It didn't matter what time it was or what day it was. Since they'd taken her from the hospital, they controlled her life, and all her days were the same. Today it was June the 12th. A Tuesday. Tuesdays were no different from Mondays, or Wednesdays, in her eyes. If she ignored the time slipping past, she could ignore the quiet panic that her life was dripping by, wasting away while she waited in her prison. This was all the life she knew. This couldn't be the only life she ever knew.
The snick of the lock turning pulled Asta away from the bathroom mirror. The sight of her own face wasn't something she'd recognised at first, though she was learning it now: thin and pale with big eyes that seemed too large, the blue of the sky at dusk. The few times her mind had unlocked anything that she might rely upon as a real memory had been when she was staring into the glass, trying to burrow her way into the truth behind those eyes, and so sometimes she couldn't resist trying again.
She waited beside the desk for the door to open. This was outside the routine, but it was hard to get excited. Sometimes this happened, little deviations to check she wasn't hatching an escape plan inside the room, or destroying the facilities.
In the doorway was an agent, suited, neat-haired, stood in that trained way with feet together and shoulders back. He was shorter than the soldiers, and a little older too. She'd never seen him before. "Good afternoon, Asta. I'm Agent Coulson."
"Hello." She tried to be polite to the people she met—she never knew when she might gain an ally. Hostility certainly wouldn't get her anywhere.
Agent Coulson gave her a slight smile, a smile she believed. She preferred it to the blankness of the usual soldiers. "I've just arrived at this particular facility and would like to speak with you. Would you mind accompanying me to a meeting room?"
She nodded her acquiescence, as if she really had a choice in the matter. She knew from the television that the rooms she was questioned in were really called interrogation rooms, but they always acted like no one else was watching on the other side of the mirrored walls. She followed Agent Coulson down the windowless corridor, soldiers ahead and soldiers behind, then into an elevator and onto another corridor, as blank as the soldiers' eyes.
As they walked she drew out one of the maybe-true memories. In this one, she was a child, and there were other children, girls who looked like her, their dark hair waist-length and streaming out behind them as the ran around the fenced-in garden. There was nothing out of the ordinary here, no monsters or myths. That was why she thought it was a true memory—but it could have been as invented as any of them. She tried to focus on it, to grasp it and coax out its secrets, but it was oily as a fish and always slipped her grasp.
She knew the routine when they reached the room: she sat on one side of the table and the agent took the other. He sat perfectly straight in the chair, though he rested his hands on the table in front of him, loosely overlapping them. Neat, like the rest of him. She fought the urge to fidget with her hair. It had grown three inches since she'd been here, close to waist-length now. She doubted she'd be granted a haircut if she asked for one, and for some reason her mind urged her not to cut it anyway.
"You've been here a while," Coulson began. "I've heard a lot about you."
"There's not much to hear."
"Perhaps not, but you're a mystery, and everyone likes a mystery." The way he spoke to her was new—he wasn't overtly hostile, and neither did he patronise her. All too often the agents spoke to her like a child, acting like she'd lost years of age instead of merely her past. Coulson seemed aware that she was an adult. There was a kindness to him she trusted in.
"And you've come to try and solve me?"
"While I would like to hope so, I don't believe you're going to be as easy to piece together as a jigsaw puzzle. People are rarely that simple. However, I may have the first clue."
Asta didn't respond, going perfectly still in her chair.
"How do you know Donald?" Coulson asked.
"Donald?" she parroted. The only Donald she could remember was a cartoon duck. Not something she'd seen on the television here, though. Something from before. One of those infuriating cultural memories that seemed to have accumulated in her head, the only remnants of her real memory. "Do I know him?"
"We have evidence that says you came from the same place he did."
"You do?" Excitement fizzed inside her; had they found someone who knew her? Finally? Would this Donald be able to restore her identity, give her a name, fill her up with truth and more than mere fragments?
"We were hoping you could answer that."
The hope deflated. "Can't Donald?"
"Donald is not within our reach right now."
"You know, you sound like Donald. You sound English."
Asta stared at Coulson. She knew where England was, she'd watched a few TV shows set there. The link between the way the characters in those shows spoke and her own accent had never been apparent to her, but now it was pointed out to her, it was obvious. Yet England seemed so very foreign, so other. So very far away.
"I've listened to the tapes," Coulson continued. "You didn't have the accent at first. It's got stronger as you've been with us, but before you had the chance to be influenced by the outside world." Asta frowned. She hadn't even been aware of altering how she spoke. "I must confess, I believe you. Some agents remain convinced you're faking the amnesia, but I don't, and your accent clinches it for me. I mentioned Donald because I hoped to get a reaction—either by giving yourself away if you were faking, or for your memory to be jogged if you weren't. That clearly hasn't happened. Should I try it again with Donald's real name?"
Being believed was a new thing, a reaction for Asta to treasure, but the rest of Coulson's speech made her head spin. "I don't know."
"Apparently his name is Thor."
"Thor?" That wasn't even a real name—that was like a name from a book or a movie. And yet, in her head, little twinges were happening.
Coulson nodded. "I want to help you, Asta. I believe if we can unlock your memory, you'll be able to give us information that will be beneficial to everyone." At the mention of her memory, Asta tasted apples again. "When you have your memory back, we can reunite you with the people who love you. Someone out there must be missing you and want you home."
"I hope so." It was a hope she'd buried away in all these months hidden away, believing anyone she belonged to would have come to claim her by now. Someone had to be missing her, searching for her, and if the people who held her were looking for information about her they'd meet in the middle. Those girls in her memory, the girls with her hair—they couldn't just be reflections her mind had invented to ease the loneliness. Those girls had to be real, sisters or cousins or anything more than fragments of herself.
"And when you can remember who you are, we can find them," Coulson said. "We have new techniques to try—methods that won't hurt you, but we need you to cooperate for them to work. In return, you help us. I promise you we're the good guys. You'll be in my care throughout and if anything we try is uncomfortable and upsetting, we can move on. Do you want to try?"
Despite his impassive face, there was so much kindness in him. When he told her they were the good guys, she was inclined to believe him. After all, they'd kept her fed, kept her alive, hadn't laid a finger on her even when they were convinced she was lying to them. And the promise of being able to remember who she was again. No more blank slate.
Ugh. Apples again.
"Yes. Yes, I want to try."
A/N: I'm writing about a chapter a day of this and have a stockpile so I hope to update twice a week...it's not going to be War and Peace, either. I only work on what happened in the films (or Wiki research) as I've never read the comics. It's going to be AU for the Avenger's movie timeline, so not everything is going to be as it happened on screen.
Thanks to TrixieTropical, Le Rameau and Silver Sniper for pre-reading.
I haven't posted this with the name of the Avenger's character it mostly relates to, because it does kind of give some of the story away. However, it is signposted in this chapter, and if it annoys you because you've come to read a particular character and want to filter out stories not relating to them, tell me and I'll amend that.