Steve had said she had to work on her stamina - and Natasha had been appointed the one in charge of helping. Wanda had privately wondered whether it was another attempt to induce girly bonding but she did acknowledge it made the most sense. How were Steve or Pietro meant to train her after all - they were so enhanced she'd never keep up. And Sam and Rhodey were strong, but they wore suits. Whereas she needed to be nimble and agile. Natasha was the obvious choice.
And whilst the traditional girly bonding would not have worked - painting their nails and doing each others hair - getting hot and sweaty had worked. There hadn't actually been much time for conversation during the workout but somehow she did feel closer. Maybe it's harder to keep your guard up when you're panting for breath.
Sat on the floor, feeling extremely undignified, Natasha walked over with a bottle of water and she flashed a grateful smile as she opened it and took a swig. Only after that did she feel quite capable of speech.
"How'd I do?"
"We'll keep working on it. I know it's a rough workout - but you have to be prepared. And Steve is right that you'll need the stamina". Wanda nodded, accepting the criticism as what it was - a constructive attempt to help. "How are you finding the training otherwise?"
"Am I not doing well?" So perhaps she wasn't quite so good at receiving feedback as she thought.
"No - you're doing well. It's more the scared 'deer in the headlights' look you still get that I'm concerned about. You're possibly the most powerful member of the team - you or Vision, at any rate, I think, there's so much potential still - yet you never seem comfortable, or sure of yourself. Not like your brother. But you got your powers at the same time".
"Pietro was quick to master his. Mine..."
"Are more complex". Wanda wouldn't have said it that way, but Natasha was right. Pietro was powerful - with Steve teaching him to fight hand and hand, his lightning reactions and the speed he could build up in a punch, he was a dangerous weapon. But it related to the body, it was relatively simple to develop. Whereas Wanda had unlocked parts of her brain- a CT scan showed her mind lit up like a Christmas tree every time her eyes glowed - that she hadn't even been able to access before, and had to learn how to use those connections, to figure out how she did something at first before she could hone it.
"But I don't think it's just that" Natasha continued. "You seem...more insecure then Pietro. I'm not saying that's bad. But in a firefight...you need to know you can manage it. Sometimes it's as much about confidence as ability".
"Were you never...lacking in confidence?" Wanda asked, curious. There was a beat of silence, Natasha stared at the wall and Wanda stared at her.
"In my training doubt was not a luxury I was afforded. It was punished as much as failure. So...not in many years. I was trained rigorously until I knew exactly what I was capable of, and never allowed to see myself as less than a threat. I would have thought perhaps that Strucker had similar methods".
Wanda scoffed at the mention of the man.
"Strucker thought us tools, but insisted we were not ready and kept us on the sidelines. We were just science experiments to him. Maybe if he'd been more like your mentor it would have been different". She had no love for the man. He had wanted to use the twins - but instead they had used him, taken his 'gift' and made it work for their own purposes.
Natasha took a long moment before she responded, and Wanda, though not trying, could catch the train of her thoughts. That she wouldn't wish her mentor or training on anyone, regardless of how useful or successful it had ultimately been. But when she spoke it surprised Wanda, as the idea she voiced was different - perhaps one she had been considering for awhile.
"Banner was a little like you, in this respect. If the two have you had met under different circumstances...he had a so much power, that he hadn't really intended to gain, and hadn't anticipated in advance how much he would be capable of. So much power and he was wary of it because of the fact destruction would be so easy".
Wanda was silent in response, considering. She had never thought of herself as like Bruce - mostly because, knowing how much he hated her (and even she would admit he had every reason to) it hadn't occurred to her they might have things in common. Her gift was not like his - she had control. Or at least, she could not lose control. But, like him, even when trying to help there was a risk. She was an unknown quantity and still learning...there was a risk of hurting people, if she was not careful. And of course...she had hurt people. Her actions in Wakanda she now regretted. Maybe that was why she found it easier to accept Stark then Pietro. He had hurt people, of course, when they were working with Ultron. But nothing on the scale of what the Hulk had done after she toyed with his mind.
"I can do...a lot of damage, you are right. I have done a lot of damage. I have to be more...careful because of my capabilities. I have to be wary of what I can do. I have to choose the right side".
"You're with Steve now. I don't always agree with him, one hundred percent. But he is a good man. And his ideals are always right - morally. He will not take any shortcuts, and he does not believe that the ends justify the mean, he will take the hard path and do everything right rather than sacrifice innocents. So in that respect, I think with his guidance...you - we - are safe" Natasha said, the speech slowly delivered as she worked her feelings into words, her sentences guarded and carefully chosen to not reveal too much of her own feelings and opinions even after she offered honest reassurance. Wanda supposed the two of them did have more in common they they thought. She might not share Natasha's confidence in herself, or her lightning quick intelligence and sarcasm, but they both preferred not to reveal more than they had to, regardless of how friendly the listener might be.
"I hope you are right. Doing the right thing sounds so simple. As though even if the path isn't easy, determining the right direction should be. But in practice..."
They both let that sentence hang, no less true because it hadn't been finished. She and Pietro had thought they were doing the right thing, even factoring in their need for vengeance, in trying to stop the Stark led Avengers assuming too much control and power. Stark and Banner thought they were doing the right thing when they created Ultron. Captain America and the twins wanted to stop their second attempt - and then Thor, whose ideals were every bit as noble as Steve's, swift in and the result was the Vision. So many disagreements in so many ways and everyone always sure that what they were doing was right.
Was it any wonder Wanda worried about unleashing her full potential, when even trying to do the right thing led you into a quagmire of different opinions?
"So what would you recommend?" Wanda asked, changing the subject - less for herself then for Natasha.
"Accept what you are and perfect it. Maybe the reason you cannot achieve your full potential is that you fear to - but if you fear your powers you're hobbling yourself before you even start" Natasha responded, and Wanda was sure that it was a comment spoken from some experience. "You can't let yourself fear yourself - or you will always doubt yourself and hold back. It's not always easy. But I think it's what you need. That perhaps...it's not just that your abilities are more complicated than your brother's, but that he is more comfortable with his lot. I think that's what you need to figure out. Whether you do it alone, or talk it through - you're not the only person on this team who was 'enhanced' and changed by science after all - but you've got to get there". Wanda nodded slowly, standing up after a moment on legs that still felt weak and shook beneath her.
"I'll do my best".