Small steps

Date: June 27th 2014

Location: Avengers Tower, New York

It had been over two weeks since the girls had been released from their incarceration. Neither had left the Avengers tower in that time, firstly because the Avengers thought it best to ease them back into normal life, secondly –most importantly- it was the fact that the girls didn't think they could. They both knew they were no longer prisoners, that was not the issue, the problem was that their abilities were not subtle. Cleo had to be aware of open windows in fear that she might float away and the thought of going outside, where the big open sky was, seemed to terrify her. Robin wanted nothing to do with large masses of people that she could crush with the slightest touch. In fact she was reluctant to touch anything in case she shattered it accidently. Even simple tasks like turning on a light, using cutlery, putting on clothes, took careful concentration and time. After 'the shower incident' she found that she relied heavily on JARVIS and vocal commands to do things most people never thought about. Though she found the hologram technology she was given access to, allowed her to do some things without help.

The Avengers themselves were very rarely in the tower at the same time or at least busy doing things that Robin thought too important for her to interrupt. Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson would often be away raiding Hydra bases in search of 'a lost friend' and would sometimes be assisted by Tony Stark or Natasha 'the less you know the better'. When not helping Steve Tony would be in his workshop listening to music, tinkering with his suits or bantering with his robots and JARVIS. Sometimes Pepper would force him out of his 'Bat-cave' and they would simply spend time together. A week or so after the girls had settled a man named Clint Barton arrived and would come and go, sometimes with Natasha, sometimes Steve and sometimes alone. The only Avenger they had yet to meet was Thor, whose rooms they were currently using, as he either had yet to return from Asgard or had not informed his super friends if he had. Aside from Cleo, who Robin found difficult to have out of sight for too long, Robin found herself spending a lot of her time in the company of Bruce Banner.

The unassuming man had asked her if she would like him to help to her gain some control over her powers. At first she had refused thinking that, though kind, he had never experienced the kind of uncontrolled power that she had to face every waking moment. At least until she had found her way to YouTube. Avengers videos were everywhere, if there was a clip of Thor swinging his hammer or Tony in his suit it was viral, it was there that she watched the choppy clips of the Battle of New York. Different angles, varying qualities, some things were captured multiple times but there was one clip, not even a minute long, that she found of Bruce. Clips of the Hulk had been as widespread as the rest but only one video showed the transition from man to… monster. As she scrolled through videos of rage and utter destruction Robin knew she had been so very wrong.

Using JARVIS' help she found out how Bruce had become the man she knew, partly out of curiosity but mostly she didn't want to ask him any questions that might be upsetting or offensive. Once she knew the basic details of what had happened she stopped looking into it, she didn't want to snoop and thought looking too far into his past would not be well received.

When it came to telling him she had reconsidered his offer she found that she was nervous and though she tried to hide it Bruce had become very good at knowing when people knew who and what he was. To his credit he didn't mention it nor did he try to intimidate her or reassure her. Instead he took her to the Avengers training level. She wondered if he wanted her to channel her strength or see how hard she could punch if she was trying but as they walked past the training dummies and exercise machines she realised she knew nothing about the man at all. They walked a little past the swimming pool and indoor Jacuzzis until they reached a plain door. Inside was a bare room, the walls painted in cools shades of relaxing green, the floor was polished wood, soft rolled up coloured matts were piled in the corner of the room and the only other thing was an Ipod dock with speakers. She stood in the centre of the room, as Bruce quietly closed the door, and stared blankly out the window towards the New York skyline. After a moment he cleared his throat, gaining her attention, told her to grab a matt from the corner and sit down.

At first the sessions were about breathing and concentrating on oneself, getting to know every fibre within them. It seemed, however, to do very little good. She did the breathing, allowed the soft music to drift through her, and scented the aromatic incense as it wafted through the air but she could still not open a door without misshaping the handle and occasionally pulling it from its hinges if she wasn't paying close enough attention. So one day when they met in the bare room Bruce brought with him a bag. It was not obvious, at first, what was inside but Robin waited patiently as he set up the room before she asked what he had brought. She was then surprised when he gave her a stress ball. It was odd to hold something so soft and squishy after having purposely avoided touch of any kind. Robin told him this, to which he nodded, he had guessed as much. Avoiding the problem altogether had been his approach when he had first had his accident, trying hard to make sure the 'Other Guy' never showed himself. But it never worked. There was always something that triggered him. The only way to overcome the problem was to learn the proper control.

"When you were locked in that cell," He said as gently as he could "how did you stop yourself from breaking things around you?"

"I didn't, there was nothing to break." She answered him as if it was obvious. Tony had told him that the cells were bare, literally only four walls, a ceiling, a floor and a prisoner. There was of course the vent as well but the lack of a bed and any form of waste receptacle had been noticed by the billionaire and had been mentioned when the girls were discussed.

One of the obvious side effects of the lack of furnishings had been that she had been desensitised to touch and with her new super strength she had not learned how to handle her power. So the relaxation sessions turned into 'can you hold this without breaking it' sessions. They always started simple, stress balls, stuffed animals, and then moved on to more solid things, like rocks and books, various things that took different grips to hold them properly. As they progressed, very slowly, she started to regain a little control. At the end of every session he would bring something difficult, the first time it had been a china teacup. Unfortunately she crushed the handle when he gave it to her and when she tried to grab it to stop it from smashing on the floor she ended up smashing it in her fingers. Bruce had been unsure whether to be alarmed or fascinated that the shards had not broken her skin. Upon her reassurance that she had not felt pain or been discouraged, he started to bring fragile objects as the final item in a session. Despite her growing control she always broke the final item. He knew that a little of the self-esteem they built through the sessions was deflated after each failure but when she finally succeeded it would be all the more important.

That Friday afternoon Robin had been so pleased with herself. She had not broken the stress ball, nor crushed a rock, and had managed to turn pages in a book without ripping them… too badly and when she came to the final item of the day she was sure that it would be today that she would not shatter the glass or crumble the porcelain. Then Bruce turned around to show her what the item was.

It was an egg.

"Don't look so worried." He smiled gently as he held the egg so easily.

"I'm going to make a mess." She said reluctantly eyeing the fragile object.

Date: February 13th 2013


It had been nine months since the initial discovery of subjects 2319 and 2320, and to say that Dr Colfer was pleased with the data gathered to date would have been an understatement. The strength increase of their abilities levelled out after the first month of incarceration and afterwards the scientists under her command soon found a very smooth system that allowed them to examine the subjects without putting themselves or the facility at risk. The inclusion of the knock out chemical as a safety protocol on the doors to the cells had been a significant contribution to that fact.

Though she was initially disappointed that her team had been unable to extract or duplicate the abilities shown within the subjects they were deemed useful and would eventually be weaponised for the benefits of Hydra. Luckily, she had been given three years to experiment, and hopefully exceed, with the limits of their powers before they would be given to the 'tabula rasa' facility and then transferred to special training where they would become great weapons for Hydra's coming out party. Whenever that would be.

For now, however, 'SHIELD' was in the best position it had been in decades. After the 'Battle of New York', and the intervention of the Avengers, they were considered the protectors of humanity. The strongest, most 'remarkable' people on the plant and beyond were safely in Hydra's pocket, whether they knew it or not.

This thought reminded her that Pierce would want his weekly report on the project in the next three hours. With a sigh she walked quickly her to her desk and logged onto her computer. As always she started with a general overview of their findings from the project then expanded into what new information they had gathered, and then finally she detailed her expectations for the next week as well as a schedule for the procedures that were to be performed. If he objected to anything he could inform her as such but he had not personally interfered so far, aside from the updating of reports.

After the report was fully encrypted and sent Dr Colfer leaned back in her plush office chair, As the head of the project she was given a nice glass domed office that overlooked the subject's cells and small contingent of workstations in the central viewing area a few feet away from the cells. The stations were manned 24/7 to keep notes of everything the subjects did. The team was wary of using electronic monitoring systems too close to subject 2319, she seemed to be able to absorb the electrical energy and they only wanted her to do that in controlled conditions.

She stood swiftly then walked to her usual spot in the office with the best view of both subjects. 2320 was scheduled for the 'Tank' to see how her abilities were affected when she was completely submerged, while 2319 was left to float aimlessly in her cell awaiting her turn for the 'Tank'. Both subjects had surprised Dr Colfer, and her team, when they were individually placed in rooms before the air was completely removed. Interestingly enough neither subject seemed to notice the lack of oxygen and continued to act as if they were simply locked in a different cell. She was curious to see if the subjects would similarly be unaffected when submerged in water.

Date: June 27th 2014

Location: Avengers Tower, New York

Cleo was floating upside down in the lavish gold and red Norse themed living rooms as she was attempting to do a crossword puzzle. She had to admit that she was in fact terrible at the puzzle as she furiously erased a wrong answer before accidentally dropping her pencil. She glanced down at the number of pencils that she had dropped and been unable to retrieve. With a shrug she pulled the last of her stash from her pocket and began again on the puzzle.

After another ten minutes of failing to complete the crossword she got frustrated and slung the infuriating paper as far from her as possible. She didn't expect the paperback book to cause a small thud and an less than impressed 'Oomf!'. Cleo looked over to see Tony walking into the room with a box in his hands.

"Well, someone floated out of the wrong side of the bed this morning." He snarked as he put the box down onto the coffee table and fell into a relaxed lounge on the plush couch. He shuffled around for a moment, getting comfortable, before he reached into a cushion crease and pulled out a pencil that had been poking him in the side. His eye brow quirked before he shrugged and started to twirl the writing implement in his fingers. Despite her previous irritation at the book Cleo couldn't help but become curious about the mysterious box sat in front of the Avenger. "Don't be shy Tinkerbell I got something I wanna show ya." He drawled as she slowly got closer. She wasn't too fussed about the nickname but her curiosity was focused on the box.

When she eventually got close enough, which took a lot of effort on her part as the floating was mostly involuntary, she reached out and opened the lid slightly to peek inside. Through the small space she had opened she could see what looked like glimmers of metal and the dull sheen of plastic but was unsure what any of it was supposed to be.

"If this is some kind of uber-genius jigsaw then I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that I suck at puzzles." She shrugged dispassionately and began to float away before he stood and grabbed her hand before she could fly too far away.

"First of all, from the lump on my temple I guessed the puzzle thing, secondly, it's not a puzzle." He finished, letting go of her hand and pulling the lid fully off the box. Her attention returned but when she realised he had begun to take scientific looking equipment from the box she involuntarily zoomed backwards until she was pressed to the ceiling.

"Whatever you're thinking of doing. Don't." She practically growled causing the mechanic to glance up and notice her violent reaction. "I'm not a thing you can poke to see if I glow brighter!" At that moment Tony was glad that he had left his 'Hulk-prod' back in his lab.

"Whoa. Calm down Twinkle-toes. These-" he said holding up the small devices "are not going to hurt you. I'm trying to get you some control. Maybe help you walk again. On the ground walking."

The two simply stared at each other for several quiet moments before hesitantly Cleo began to drift towards the floor.

As it turned out, Tony had spent some of his tinkering time working out possible solutions to Cleo's gravity problem. He had considered hand held thrusters -for direction-, attaching heavy weights, high gravity boots and a variation of other possible solutions. Then it occurred to him, the source of the problem was alien technology and if it was technology he could hack it.

When she was close enough he held his hand out to her and after a moment's pause she reluctantly allowed him to pull her down. As she was drawn closer she noticed him looking intently at the golden band merged to her wrist, she could practically hear the gears turning in his mind. Still holding her arm, Tony turned and reached into his box of science stuff. He rattled around through it before he found what he was looking for. When he turned back to her he had a small round metal device held in his index finger and thumb. Cleo looked at him, wary of any sort of experimentation that could be about to occur.

"This-" He said, noticing how skittish she was becoming "is a new and improved mini JARVIS chip. I am going to attach it to your little gold leech and see if we can't access whatever is turning you into a firefly." A pit of fear spiked in her stomach as flashes of the past two years surged to the forefront of her mind. The hours the White Coats had spent trying to access the power locked within the band. "We can stop at any point if you feel uncomfortable… or we could do nothing. I mean if we glued a table to the ceiling you could have tea parties up there." Tony shrugged allowing her arm to slip from his grasp and for her to float away a few inches before she suddenly grabbed his shoulder.

"You promise? You promise to stop when I say?" she asked a little erratically. It was like two side of her mind were warring against each other. One wanted to be able to trust him, to trust that he could at the very least tone down her powers, and the other side of her raged against the thought of letting anyone turn her into a lab rat again.

"Cross my heart." He said as he physically crossed his heart, a small part of him noting how he was still unused to the idea there was no longer a miniature arc reactor embedded in his chest.