Disclaimer: The usual legalese that means we know we're operating in a grey area but everyone chooses to look the other way because we're just having fun.
Spoilers: Through the end of AoU. Then diverging into the same, minus o. I shouldn't try to be coy. It's AU after AoU, which is what you wanted to know.
Pairing: Romanogers. Didja see my avatar?
Summary: Wanda is settling into her new role as an Avenger, though it's hard for someone with telepathic powers to get too comfortable, especially when your bedroom shares a wall with Natasha's. In three to five parts. We'll see.
Wanda Maximoff dropped into a seat on the quinjet, brushing the dirt and leaves from her hair as she waited for the cabin to stop spinning. This had been the team's second attempt to bring in the Winter Soldier, or Bucky, as Steve constantly reminded them to call him. Naming conventions had caused a slight argument during the mission briefing when Natasha had insisted on referring to him as the Winter Soldier on the logic that he didn't get to be Bucky until he actually was Bucky again. Sam had taken Steve's side, Rhodey Natasha's and Vision had posed an existential question about the nature of identity that had allowed Hill to retake control of the briefing before Wanda had been asked to take a side.
Although she was uniquely situated to comment on mind-control and brainwashing, she hadn't been sure what her response would have been at the time. Now, after a blow to the head sustained while attempting to employ her powers to she was supposed to be using to help the Winter Soldier become Bucky again, she was fully in agreement with Natasha. Wanda could hear her yelling somewhere outside, Steve responding in kind as the rest of the team trudged up the ramp. Rhodey stepped out of his armor and took his seat in the pilot's chair while Vision helped Sam take off his wingpack. As the jet powered up, Rhodey called back, "Someone tell the odd couple we're about to leave without them."
Sam leaned his head down the opening. "Wheels up, lovebirds!"
Natasha was scowling as she limped up the ramp and hit the button to raise it, nearly dumping Steve into the jet. He barely noticed, regaining his balance easily and grabbing her arm to turn her toward him as the jet lifted off. "If he was in his right mind, he would never…"
"No! No more justifications, Rogers! I've encountered this good buddy of yours four times and he's shot me three! Unless that's some kind of charming 40s greeting you haven't told us about, I'm maintaining that he's a dangerous…"
. "…brainwashed, confused former agent of Hydra?" he interrupted her, something only he or Fury could do without risking bodily harm as a consequence. "You frightened him! He didn't know we'd driven off the Hydra thugs coming after him and I was talking him down when you popped up out of nowhere and…"
"And he shot me! Again! After he'd already taken one of our teammates out of action!"
Wanda wanted to indicate that she appreciated the acknowledgement without involving herself in the argument. She settled for a weak wave.
Steve gave her a dismissive thumbs-up without turning away from Natasha. "Wanda will be fine. She's with us, where she can get treatment, but Bucky…"
"Fought off a Hydra squad…"
"A weak Hydra squad."
"…with our help, then started pounding us." Natasha folded her arms across her chest, tugging out of Steve's grasp now that their ascent had leveled off. "We can't keep doing this. It's not working."
"Uh, you want to put some pressure on that, Nat?" Sam suggested, having stowed his wingpack and opened the first aid kit. Wanda vaguely considered helping, but she was starting to feel a bit groggy. A metal fist to the skull was something she would have to avoid in the future. Sam lurched past her with a handful of gauze; he knelt and pressed it against Natasha's thigh. "Don't mind me, just keep fighting."
"We can't let Hydra capture him," Steve continued as if taking Sam at his word. "And I almost had him back. I could see it in his eyes. Then you're there, guns drawn."
"Because you don't bother protecting yourself around him!"
"I don't need protection from Bucky!"
"Oh, right. I'm sorry, I guess you've forgotten the time he put you in the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds and a beating that would have killed a normal man!"
"I remember," Sam muttered, still providing unnoticed medical attention.
"He's not under Hydra control anymore. He's trying to figure it out and he just needs help."
"Damn it, Steve…"
Wanda found herself singing out, "Language!" in chorus with Sam and Rhodey, a habit they'd picked up from Natasha and, on his frequent visits to HQ, Stark. After a final glare, Steve stalked toward the pilot's chair to speak quietly with Rhodey while Sam coaxed Natasha to sit so he could bandage her thigh properly.
The soft droning of the jet's engines was the only sound until Vision took a seat beside Wanda, calling her out of her daze. "It strikes me as very odd that a well-timed reminder about using certain words almost always diffuses a potentially volatile situation."
"I believe it is what is called a running gag." She glanced at him, sensing some of his usual mixture of wonder and confusion when faced with interpersonal interactions. "Of course, the tension is still there."
"That I can see. May I treat your injury?"
She closed her eyes as Vision gently cleaned and dressed the gash on her scalp. Her mind drifted back to the mission she had been trying to accomplish when she had been hurt – get into the Winter Soldier's mind and try to unlock his memories. She wasn't entirely comfortable with that particular aspect of her powers now that she was no longer under the exclusive influence of blind anger, Strucker or Ultron.
Strangely, she hadn't realized that telepathy was unique power until she had begun to develop it for the purposes of mental manipulation for Hydra. She had always known what Pietro was thinking, even before Strucker's enhancements. It had been natural for them. She missed his voice, out loud and in her head. Of course, she now had plenty of other voices to either listen to or ignore.
It turned out that, when she wasn't directly controlling it, her telepathy acted like a highly evolved form of empathy. Feelings were like clouds surrounding people that she could access via proximity. Sometimes it happened because people were thinking loudly, as she had dubbed it; their focus, emotion or intensity was so extreme she couldn't help but hear them, sometimes be overcome by their rage, frustration, happiness, love…
That was her favorite. When she walked between two people who loved each other – it could be a couple, a parent and child, siblings – she could feel the warmth of love coursing through her, as if the feeling were a physical link bonding and surrounding the individuals. She had first understood that it wasn't just something that existed between her and Pietro during the time they had roamed Sokovia after escaping the Hydra lab but before Ultron had come.
The elderly couple holding hands as they walked slowly down the street had been her favorite experience, a golden glow that filled her for a moment with a shared lifetime of experience and closeness that had only increased the depth of their love over the years. She had wanted to follow them, to absorb as much of that luminous warmth as possible, but Pietro had called to her and she had lost sight of them. She sometimes wondered if they had survived the battle, if she would ever encounter that beautiful love again.
Or course, it could be hard sometimes. She had once passed a couple arguing in the market and the man's warmth had been met by a frosty chill from the woman. Unrequited love or a crumbling relationship, Wanda had never been sure. Her own experiences were sadly limited.
She blinked and wondered where she was for a moment before turning to Vision. "You bandaged me. Thank you."
"Quite some time ago. You have been a million miles away, as they say, though I am not sure the distance is significant. Though further than the distance to the moon, it would be irrelevant to other celestial objects in our orbit. I suppose the philosophical analogy of Russell's Teapot could be applied under the circumstances, though I doubt…"
"How long have I been out?"
"Yes, pertinent information. You have been sleeping deeply or unconscious – there has been some debate as to which – for nearly three hours. We will be landing within thirty minutes, when competent medical professionals will make an assessment."
"Hm." She meant to continue the conversation, but she was distracted by a scene occurring across the aisle.
Steve was kneeling in front of Natasha, holding some rolled and padded gauze. "You're bleeding through your dressing."
He gently lifted her boot to his bent knee. "So we need to apply another one."
He worked quietly and quickly, applying the fresh gauze over the bloodied. "Am I hurting you?"
Wanda felt a jolt in her stomach as Natasha replied, "Yes."
Steve began to move his hands more carefully. Had she not felt so awful herself, Wanda would have screamed out at his obliviousness. Natasha simply allowed him to continue working on her leg.
When they arrived at Avengers' HQ, Natasha accepted Sam's help off the jet, pushing Steve toward Hill to start the debriefing. Wanda leaned on Vision as she made her way toward the medical team waiting in the hangar.