"You're a failed experiment Pietro Maximoff."
Pietro struggled against the two men holding him but couldn't break free of their strong grips. No, no it couldn't be true. He couldn't have failed. He knew he hadn't quite perfected his powers yet but surely it was only a matter of time.
"Where is Wanda?" He growled the words. "What have you done with her?"
Wolfgang Von Strucker grinned coldly and gestured to a door. A second later, Wanda was pushed out.
She tried to run towards him but an agent quickly detained her. Pietro kicked out behind him, catching the shin of a man holding him. A fist met his jaw and he spat blood onto the floor, eventually stopping his struggles as the men continued to hit him.
Wanda was screaming the entire time. "Pietro, don't fight them! They promised not to hurt you if you left without arguing!"
"Don't keep their promises…" Pietro gasped in the air, exhausted from his beatings. "Failed experiments… Get killed…"
"Both of you! Shut up!" Strucker practically yelled, losing his temper. "You two-" He pointed a finger to the men holding Pietro; they flinched under his sharp gaze. "-take him away."
One of the men gagged Pietro, tying a cloth around his head to cover his mouth, and began to force him away. He struggled against them, trying to reach his sister.
"Wanda!" He shouted, his voice muffled by the cloth.
"Pietro! Be strong Brother. I'll find you again one day! I promise."
Pietro looked down.
Below him, the cliff fell away into a good twenty metre drop, possibly more. A very wide, very slow, river cut through the land. The far bank was level with the water. Then he looked up. The sky. It had been so long since he had last seen it. The stars almost took his breath away and he momentarily forgot about what was going to happen. They looked like tiny diamonds. Well, what he assumed diamonds looked like. They were just so beautiful.
A man came up beside him, holding a rock and his mind was immediately jolted back to reality. A rope was tied around the grey boulder, the other end binding Pietro's ankles.
"I still don't get why we can't just cut his throat." The man grumbled, shifting his weight to make holding the rock easier. "It'd be much less effort."
The other man rolled his eyes. Obviously this was a subject they had discussed before. "Because Strucker wants us to do it this way. Because this is how we've always done it. And because I'll sit your throat if you keep complaining."
The first man quickly shut up and the second checked the ropes tied around Pietro's wrists, bonding his hands.
"It's supposed to be rather pleasant if you just relax." He mocked cruelly.
Pietro glared at him, gritting his teeth on the cloth.
"See you in hell Maximoff." The man murmured and threw the rock off the side of the cliff.
Pietro was shoved from behind and pushed off, plummeting towards the water. Just as he thought he would fall forever, he hit the river and the rock dragged him down into the choking depths. His eyes flew open and he tried, in vain, to struggle back up to the surface. He dropped to the bottom of the river, the rock falling into the mud with a quiet, muffled thump.
"Wanda!" He attempted to scream underwater, air bubbles escaping his lips as he called for his sister.
His lungs were burning, shrieking for air but he couldn't fill them. Even though he knew he wouldn't get any, his body still tried to take a breath. An almost silent whooshing noise met Pietro's ears and a shape fell into the river as cold water blocked his throat. Please don't say they pushed Wanda in too! The person reached Pietro quickly, taking a knife from their belt and beginning to cut the rope bonding Pietro's ankles. Pietro fell limp, his vision clouding with darkness as his strength left.
"Wanda…" His last breath was lost as an inaudible sigh, the remaining bubbles rising from his mouth up to the surface.
Someone was pumping Pietro's chest.
He felt a hand lay on his jaw and the side of his head. Someone's mouth covered his and air was forced into his body. Pietro struggled up onto his hands and knees and the person crawled back a few paces as he coughed up mouthfuls of water. He choked violently for what seemed like hours, expelling the river from his body and gasping for air in between his coughs.
"Are you okay?"
He looked to his left, breathing heavily. A man- he guessed early thirties- was knelt beside him. His short, brown hair was streaming with water; as was the rest of him. His brown eyes watched Pietro, glistening with concern. Pietro immediately scrambled away from him, his eyes flashing with alarm.
"Hey, whoa!" The man put both hands up in a submissive position. "I'm not going to hurt you kid. If I had wanted you dead I would have left you in the river. Calm down."
"You… Saved me?" Pietro asked warily; still not ready to trust anyone fully.
"Why else would I be soaked to the skin?"
He took a cloth from his pocket and moved towards Pietro. He quickly scrambled away again.
"Kid, you're injured. Let me help."
Pietro remained tense but didn't try to run away as the man came to sit beside him. He pressed the cloth to his arm, gently wiping the blood from a deep cut in Pietro's skin.
"Got a name Kid?"
"Pietro… Pietro Maximoff… And I'm not a Kid, I'm nineteen. Who are you?"
"Clinton Barton... You can call me Clint. And, to me, anyone under twenty-five is classed as a kid… I'm guessing you're not from here."
Pietro shook his head uncertainly. "I don't know where I am…" He paused, his gaze fixing on a point in the distance. "They've got my sister." He suddenly remembered, leaping to his feet.
His power suddenly rose- like it always did when he panicked- and he shot forward. He sprinted a couple of hundred metres in just one second and tripped, skidding on his side across the ground. He slowly rolled onto his front, pushing himself up slightly with his hands. His arms gave way and he fell down onto his back, eyes flickering.
Barton came and knelt beside him, looking down at him worriedly. Pietro didn't want to fall asleep. He still didn't trust this guy. He needed to find Wanda. Unconsciousness crept up on his mind.
"Wanda." He whispered quietly and Clint leant down to hear his words. "Have to… Have to find Wanda… Hydra…" His eyelids fluttered shut, breathing out his sister's name one more time before he slipped into darkness.