AN/ Wow. So it's been awhile, but nowhere near as long as some of my other hiatuses. I hope this chapter was worth the wait. :3
Disclaimer: I own nothing but Serena. I am not making any money off of this.
Grim1989:Something like it, yes.
She remembered how it had been when she had first agreed to stay. She had not trusted Nick, not trusted any of them. Especially the ones who tried to befriend her. She was certain that her well-being was not their priority. She had stayed in her room, in the corner, in the dark, her arms around her knees, Bad clutched to her chest. She had had many nightmares in those early days. Panic attacks almost daily for the first few weeks. But finally she realized that they had not locked her in, had not even tried to run any tests on her, didn't even suggested anything to her! Just let her be.
That had scared her at first, but after a month she had ventured out to get used to the facility and the people, and began to try and learn what they did, what she could do. She had been given clothing, a uniform like theirs. It had been tailored to herself alone, and when she outgrew it she was given more. The food was wonderful, and she had been given lessons. Not just in maths and sciences, but in deportment and history and in physical training.
And then she had tried to discover the limits of her powers….and that….had been something she would never forget.
Three and a half years earlier:
Her throat was dry and sore, her voice husky and sounded overused. Her eyes were sore and red and swollen. But Siren smiled with satisfaction. She stared down at her hands and then looked around at the broken glass around her. She frowned and looked down again. That wasn't right. Something wasn't right. She could break glass, but that wasn't all she could do, was it? Stun people? Hurt them? She'd been here for several months. And she had only just begun to try and figure out her powers. She had never wanted to before, but Nick was curious.
Nick had been so patient with her, and kept to his word. He'd not run any experiments on her, or chained her or anything. And he told her he'd let her learn anything she wanted, like the things her parents knew. And he let Natasha Romanoff take her shopping to get her new clothing, and she had her own room. She could not shake the feeling that this was all a trap, but Nick was pretty straight forward with her. He told her he wanted him to join his group, use her powers. So she knew that he was not being altruistic, he wanted something from her. But not, it seemed, her blood, or tears. Just her voluntary assistance.
So even though she did not trust him, she was still curious about her powers, especially now that she had the opportunity to discover her powers in a safe environment.
But so far she seemed to be missing the point, she was screaming and it was having effects, but she felt as though she was doing it wrong.
She had just finished yet another fruitless venture, and she was sprawled on the cold floor, exhausted, frustrated, and near teats, when Nick came over to her, and sat down beside her with merry disregard to the state of his immaculate uniform.
"Siren." He'd begun to call her that recently, given up trying to make her respond to what he claimed was her name. "This may be hard to answer, but what, exactly, did HYDRA want you to do for them? How did they use you?" He asked slowly, his voice calm. He did not look at her, but at the remains of glass on the floor. And at first the question did hurt, made her hunch in on herself and cringe away. But then she began to think. HYDRA. had had plans with her. And it hadn't been to have her scream. What had they wanted?
"They…" She stopped and stared off into the distance. Memories returned, memories she had repressed. Silent tears began to fall down her cheeks. "I think…I remember." She wrapped her arms around herself and forced herself to continue. "I sang….to the….the…them." She couldn't say 'volunteers', that wasn't right. Captives? Victims? "The…test-subjects. I made them calm. Accepting. Pliant." She cried harder now, remembering her involvement, she was truly an awful person. Evil. She helped them. Helped HYDRA.
"How old were you when you did that Siren?" Nick asked, still not looking at her, voice still calm. He had not twitched so much as a muscle at her words. She looked up at him when he asked the question, a little confused.
"I was….nine or ten I think." She answered slowly.
"And you were scared, drugged, and had been raised by some very evil people. Did they hurt you if you refused?" Nick's voice was lower somehow, soothing. She relaxed ever so slightly, but tears still leaked slowly from her violet eyes.
"I….was wearing a collar…and was shocked if I did not comply." She answered with only a small waver in her voice.
"If you were frightened and drugged, how did you calm the men you sung to?" Nick asked, changing the subject abruptly. Siren blinked once in shock and answered without really having to think about it. It was never something she thought about if she could help it, it made her nervous, and usually brought about a panic attack.
"I…was told to calm them. So I did. I made myself calm, and then made them calm." She tried to explain without much success, she wasn't too sure herself how it worked. Now Nick turned to look at her, appraising her. But he still looked calm, and not judgmental.
"You calmed yourself first? Every time?" He asked as if it was the most commonplace subject in the world.
"Yes." She answered shortly, wondering what he was driving at. His answer was a non-committal grunt and he stood to his feet before offering her a hand. She stared at it as if it were a snake, before hesitatingly taking the gesture at face value and allowing him to pull her to her feet.
"I have an idea about your powers, I will want to try you out on some different trials now." He told her, his voice never betraying he had a revelation for her. And then his voice was suddenly firm and he grabbed her chin and forced her to look into his eye. "And never for a moment think that you have misused your powers or done some great sin. You were a child, and under torturous and unbelievable conditions." She couldn't have broken away from him if HYDRA had come bursting through the doors. She was trapped, but not afraid. "You are a good girl Siren. And you are smart. You are going to be an asset to S.H.I.E.L.D., and help us destroy HYDRA wherever they may be." Then he released her and turned to leave, not even waiting for her reaction.
Once she recovered she returned to her room, sat on her bed with her arms around her upraised knees, and just let her thoughts flow. She had known –in the back of her mind- that none here at S.H.I.E.L.D. seemed to be wary of her, or even unhappy with her presence. They had all been incredibly nice to her, especially Natasha. They had not resented her inclusion into S.H.I.E.L.D., nor did they find much fault in her lackluster work ethic. They all seemed content to let her adjust. Oh, not that there were not the few dissenters, the rare one or two who were overtly hostile, the few who were vaguely dissatisfied with her, but that was something one found in any situation. That was what made her feel better about the people who actually were nice to her, made it seem more sincere.
And now she was being told that she had done nothing wrong, that she was not steeped in sin. It was quite a lot to take in. But it gave her a good feeling. She pulled Bad over from where he lay on her pillow, hugged him to her chest and laid back with a smile. When she fell asleep the smile was still there.
Back to present:
Nick had indeed figured out what her powers were. She was an empath, a projective empath. And a powerful one at that. She could calm or rouse a crowd at will. She could cause a person to feel a specific emotion, as long as she herself could emulate such an emotion to project. It was draining. But she could effectively control a mob at full tilt if she were to exert herself. She had become quite skilled at emotional manipulation although it was not something she was happy to do. She did not like manipulating anyone, much less her teammates. Her companions. So when Nick Fury came to her, and told her that he wished for her to bring in Dr. Bruce Banner, she refused.
"I won't do it." She told him firmly without even looking up from the bow she was tying around Bad's neck. The dark purple looked lovely against his black plush-fur and matched his eyes exactly.
"Are you disobeying a direct order, Serena?" He always used her 'real' name when he was being serious. Being 'Director Fury' and not just her mentor and boss, Nick. She didn't even look up to gauge just how annoyed he was, she was used to him by now to tell from his tone, and how he referred to her. When he was severely pissed he called her 'Miss Sato'. So she was beginning to get into hot water, but he was still willing to hear her side. So she gave it to him.
"It is one thing to be forced into the use of my powers to manipulate the emotions of others by drugs and pain against my will, another for it to happen with the informed consent of my team-mates. A different matter completely to use my powers on our enemies to defend my teammates. But I will not use my powers on a man you want me to recruit." Now she turned to look up at him.
Nick had not changed a hair –not that he had any to change- since the day she had met him. She however had changed quite a bit. Now 19 she still looked younger than her age, but only about two or three years younger. Her hair had grown quite a bit and now reached past her hips when unbound. She had grown taller, although she was still so short that she hardly came to Nick's chest. When she was last measured she was 5'3". But she had filled out a bit, and had become something of a beauty although she did not acknowledge it. She was healthier emotionally, but still suffered from PTSD, and the rare panic attack. She still refused to have any medical tests done on her. And she was very, very strict about how she would use her powers.
Nick looked a little startled by her words –exhibited only by the slightest widening of his eye- but took them calmly enough, his hands behind his back, properly at 'ease'. She sat a little straighter, pulled Bad onto her lap, and waited patiently for his response.
"Dr. Bruce Banner is dangerous when he is confronted. He could hurt people." Nick told her seriously, obviously plying to her sense of duty. She didn't even blink. "Very well. I will send Agent Romanoff. But you will keep him calm?" He phrased it like a question, but she knew it was something like an order. But she never did take orders well.
"With his informed consent." She told him tartly. He may have smirked a little then, but it could have been just a trick of the light.
"Very well. You inform him when Agent Romanoff brings him in." Nick told her as he turned to walk away, probably to call Natasha. Always one to get the last word she called after him.
"I'll be waiting for the plane to arrive!"
AN/ I hope all my readers enjoyed this chapter!