This is it! It's the end of the story, at least for this portion. I've got a few more ideas I'm thinking of turning into another story. I really hope you guys have enjoyed this story as it has been a pleasure to write!
Much love, as always
The party was in full swing and Wanda, who usually felt so overwhelmed in the presence of so many people, could only feel peace and happiness filling her heart as her family celebrated the day of her birth.
Granted, not all of the Avengers were present, mostly due to the split that had occurred all those months ago, but the people present made Wanda's heart sore because she knew they might become separated, but they would never truly leave her.
"Hey kid," Natasha crept up to the young woman, throwing an arm around her shoulder as they sat down on a sofa in the lounge area of the facility they were hiding out in. "Vision can barely keep his eyes off of you. Should we have 'the talk'?" Wanda blushed furiously before laughing softly and pushing the woman away in jest.
"I believe it is several hours too late for such a thing," Wanda whispered back boldly, looking over to find Vision's gaze locked on hers, the man ignoring Steve and Sam as they all conversed in a small group. She felt the brush of his fingers along her cheek, even from half a room away and blushed again before turning back to observe the room and to still ignore the invasive questions Natasha was throwing her way.
Bucky was sitting slightly off from the rest of them, which wasn't unusual during any of the times Wanda had seen him with their group. An ally he might be, but an Avenger Bucky was not. At least by his own admissions. To Steve, Bucky was as much a part of their operation as possible, and that was enough for Wanda. She smiled at the loner politely before landing her eyes on Dr. Banner, who was so involved with staring at Natasha he didn't even know someone was watching him.
It made Wanda grin.
"Do you plan to stay here with Bruce?" Wanda asked, turning her full attention back to Natasha. The other woman shrugged her shoulder nonchalantly.
"I'm not sure. He hasn't asked me to stay, but I haven't slept alone since that incident in the lab while you were out of it, so I'm hopeful. I did want to see what you planned to do first before I made any kind of decision." Wanda furrowed her brow at this. "We're family, kid. Where you go, I go. You can't get rid of me that easily." She playfully punched Wanda's upper arm, not caring when the young woman winced as if in pain. "Yeah, we definitely need to get back into a work out routine if that actually hurt. Can't have you becoming some sort of damsel."
"Do you think if we decided to leave that Bruce would come with us?"
"I don't know. You know how he gets. Doesn't want the world to see the Hulk because he thinks he's a danger to anyone he's around. I get it, terrible things have happened before, but he's got me and the Hulk adores me. I think he'd be fine in the real world."
"That is true." Wanda's eyes flitted back to Vision. He had promised her he would stay with her and from the way she held his attention without even trying, Wanda knew without a doubt he had been serious in his proclamations. His promises.
"Maybe we will stay for a few more weeks, see how things progress. As long as we don't overstay our welcome, of course." She felt more than saw the reaction that Natasha had to Wanda's words. Her friend was happy.
"T'Challa told me we were all more than welcome to stay here as long as we needed, or we can move to one of their more residential labs in Wakanda, although it is a lot less secure than where we are currently."
"Then it is settled. Have you heard if Steve is going to continue the search for the doctors who held us hostage?"
"I guess he and Tony had a heart to heart while you were unconscious. Tony was pretty livid when he heard the extent of what we went through and as far as I'm aware, he's pooled all of his resources into hunting those down who escaped during our rescue. It's only a matter of time before they are apprehended and charged for their crimes."
"I just hope that nothing else happens before they are caught."
Almost as if those words broke the spell around the two women, the others drew closer, singing a very off key happy birthday, Scott holding a terribly made birthday cake, the frosting very thick in some places, nearly nonexistent in others. Wanda couldn't have asked for anything better.
Once the song was finished, Wanda blew out the candle sitting on top of the cake, making a wish to herself that though they all might go there separate ways eventually, that they would always have each others backs.
After the cake was cut and everyone, other than Vision, devoured their slices, presents were passed around to Wanda.
"You guys didn't have to get me anything," Wanda gushed, more than pleased with how her day was already going. Gifts were unnecessary.
"Well, if that's the case," Scott said as he grabbed his gift back from off the table and sat it beside him. Wanda's mouth gaped open slightly at him before he laughed and placed the gift back. "Just kidding, witchy. Open mine first!" He tossed the small gift toward her, laughing when she used her power to catch it mid flight before it slowly drifted into her hands.
Several minutes later, there was only one gift left to open, although everyone seemed hesitant to hand it over.
"This is from Tony," Steve said, handing her a small rectangular velvet box. "Obviously he can't be here, you know, considering we are all wanted by like 117 different countries and what not."
Wanda looked at the gift being held out to her, gingerly taking it in her hands and holding it as if it might explode at any second.
"I do not know what to say," she said stiffly before sliding the wrapped gift into one of the pockets of her jacket. Whatever was inside, Wanda had a sinking feeling she did not want to open it in the presence of others.
"I was unaware that you required a gift," Vision said to the break the awkward silence among the group, looking uncharacteristically chagrinned with his lack of proper birthday etiquette. He put a hand to his chin as if in thought.
"You already gave me the perfect gift earlier," she said without thinking of the others in the room.
Natasha laughed lowly, Steve looked uncomfortable, Scott and Sam both slid sly grins over to Vision.
"You dirty dog," Scott exclaimed while Sam slapped Vision on the back. "Didn't know you had it in you, man."
Wanda felt a blush creep up her face and hurriedly stood from the crowd, the gift in her pocket like a weight holding her down. "I'll be right back," she murmured to no one in particular, needing a moment's respite to collect herself.
No matter how much the others in the room meant to her, there was always the hollow feeling that persisted in her heart, especially on her birthdays. Pietro's absence always weighed heavily upon her and even surrounded by those she loved, she felt lost without him to guide her.
Slipping into her bedroom, Wanda sat on the bed and slipped the gift out of her pocket, ripping off the bow that wrapped the velvet box. Once she opened it, a piece of paper fell out to to the floor. Ignoring the remaining contents of the box, Wanda picked up the paper, unfolding it before her and reading what Stark had written to her.
I know we have never seen eye to eye, but I hope you know that I have only ever wanted what was best for you. You're like the kid sister I never wanted but got saddled with anyway, and I will always feel responsible and protective of you. I know I'm not the brother you would want, but I hope this gift will ease some of the anger you harbor against me.
Wanda stared at the paper before rolling her eyes and returning her attention to the opened box, gasping at the necklace she found inside. It was a white gold chain holding a white gold heart shaped pendant. Crimson lines decorated the pendant with the exact same markings Vision had adorned on his face and body.
Picking up the pendant, Wanda felt a clasp along the side, which she used to push the top of the heart up. As soon as the top was opened, a 3x5 hologram lit up above the locket. Wanda's eyes filled with tears as she stared down at a replica of Pietro, smiling down at Wanda. It was a hologram of the photo she had kept by her bed in New York before she had been arrested after the incidents in Berlin.
Wanda hadn't ever thought she would see it again, that one day she would forget the little details of her brother's face until one day he was just a blur in her mind.
Instead, Tony had given her back something precious, something she had never thought she would see again.
Wanda must have stared at that hologram for at least an hour, afraid that if she shut the locket, Pietro would disappear and never return. That she would lose him again, just as she had in Sokovia.
At last, Wanda closed the locket, placing the necklace over her head and onto her neck, sighing as the locket sat flush against her heart. Wanda knew she would never take it off. Tony had given her a piece of Pietro back and she would never forget it.
Standing from the bed and moving into the hallway, she heard Steve's laughter and Natasha's chuckle. The deep rumble of Vision's voice that caused another bout of laughter to come over the crowd in the other room.
She smiled to herself before going to join her family, wrapping an arm around Vision and resting in his embrace. She felt loved and happy.
Wanda was finally home.