He gasps for air from the memory of the fall as he startles awake. The pain of his severed arm causing him to go into shock as he tries to figure out what happened while trying not to move any more than necessary to try to stop the pain.
Flashes of moments where he was battling a hydra soldier, a blue something comes to him, and he blocked it with Steve’s shield, then he was hanging from a train as Steve tried to save him. The next flash is the fall that he was sure was to his death and the landing. The landing, that he remembers, the tear of his arm then the numbness of nothing.
As he struggles to figure out what is happening, a glowing figure comes upon him, kneeling in front of him as it reaches a hand out, cupping his face. “Oh, my poor man. My poor James. What pain you have suffered, are suffering from and will continue to suffer. Pain will be something that will be in your future for a long time, I’m afraid.” A tear, shining like the sun itself falls down the face.
Bucky stares, then asks, “Who are you?” He tries to see more details, even just to tell him whether the figure is male or female.
The head lifts enough that if he could see the eyes, they would be looking into his own. “Someone who has hoped that what has come past wouldn’t for you. However, I am here to offer you hope. If you are brave enough to take it.”
Swallowing against the pain making him nauseous, he gasps, “Hope?” Why would he need hope? What is coming that he needs hope?
The figure nods. “If I could tell you that all your suffering in the past and in the future will cause the other half of you to come about so that the two of you will be able to save the universe itself, would you be willing to do so?”
Blinking quickly, Bucky tries to understand more.
Shaking their head, the figure informs him, “At three critical times in your future, I will come to you. I will tell you what will happen, and you have the privilege of choosing. To test your resolve, I will take you back to one time, and give you a choice. The decision you make will happen either way, but you will see what I am giving you the options of doing.”
The figure stands, and waving a hand, all pain is gone for a moment, and they reach that hand down to him, “Ready?”
With a quick thought of possibilities, Bucky decides to take the hand and see what it is the being in front of him is offering. With a flash of light, they disappear from the place of in-between where they had been talking.
Suddenly they are walking through a hospital. They are passing rooms which are full of others reacting to whatever they are infected with, each in their own way. They stop and enter a room that is holding a young man shivering on a cot. There are signs that there were two others with him at one point, but their beds are now empty.
The being walks to the cot while telling Bucky softly. “We can only travel in your lifetime, luckily, you were born a year prior.” They indicate the boy in front of them. “This is your choice; this young man will later become a supernatural creature that is only hinted at in mythology. Many years from now he will encounter the person who is your other half. He will hurt them, leave them comatose. He will cause scars not only on her skin but on her heart and mind. He will be responsible for most of the pain that you will have to fight to have your other half.” They look at him, sad for what all their chosen will have to go through, but then, they will truly understand the pain of others. But how they wish this were not to be their future. There was so much pain…
Turning their head to the boy, they continue to explain to Bucky, “Your choice is to have him die here and now before the Doctor comes in. His family is all gone, and the doctor will take him to his home and change him to the being that I described. Choosing for him to die now will save countless lives, since this child will go on to kill, being judge, jury, and executioner.” They give a hard look at the boy, but they do admit some are just not suited for eternal life. This child in front of them is a perfect example. Deciding to judge all by his moral code, and damning anyone that wants to become as he is. He keeps his Victorian upbringing to the point he is very mentally ill by the time he comes across the Shield.
Swallowing, thinking of how he might be judged for fighting in the war, Bucky asks, “And the other side of the coin?” He couldn’t decide on just what the young man’s actions do, without knowing what the boy dying will change in the future. He needs the whole picture.
Unseen by him, the being smiles, still facing the young boy on the cot as they answer him. “Without the child doing everything I said, your other half will never survive to be at your side in the future. She will not have the chance since he kills another who tries to kill her. He, also by leaving the scars behind, will cause her to transform to be able to stand at your side as an equal in the end.” The last is said, but with a sad look on her face. She tries to console herself that both will gain from all of this, but she still feels like this trial by fire they will both have to suffer through is more than needed.
However, they are not the one that can change that without the two key players making those decisions. Free will is stronger than any can ever imagine, it is one of the strongest and most powerful things in the universe. It can change the fate of planets no matter what has been written in the stars to happen. This is why they are offering these choices to Bucky. Hoping that he understands, and he will take decisions more gravely from now on.
Sighing, Bucky rubs his remaining hand over his face, after flinching from the loss of his arm. “Is this what you are asking of me? To make a choice that may save people, especially someone that I may care deeply for in the future, pain? But on the other hand, I lose out?” He looks at them, torn. He may want this future woman, but to make so many suffer for that feels so wrong. He cannot make that choice. That is not the man he is.
The figure turns around to face him, “No. I am asking you to make a choice for the sake of the universe. Your choices will affect others outside of this world. I am showing you an easy version of what you will be doing if you take me up on this opportunity.” And as they said, this is set in stone, this one choice. But they want him to really understand what is at stake. What better way than to give him this trial? Bucky can ask his questions, he can know whatever he wishes to ask of them, and all that needs to really hinge on what his choices can do.
An ironic laugh comes out of the brunette’s mouth. “Opportunity? What Opportunity? You condemn this young man because he will be judge, jury, and executioner. Is that not what you want me to do? You are telling me of what will happen if I allow him to die. Then you tell me of what personally will happen to someone I will care about if I allow him to live.” His heart is breaking, for how can he decide to hurt someone that will mean as much as this being is implying? He would rather have her happy, and never meet him. For he is not sure what is to come, not when they mentioned that there was nothing but pain in his future. What can he offer someone after he goes through what is to come?
When he can feel an answer coming from them, he waves his hand as he admits, “You are telling me more, but honestly, you are trying to make it personal. Tell me, besides what would happen to this person in the future that you say is coming, what makes his life that important to have this choice?” What isn’t the being telling him?
Shaking their head, the being answers, “His life is the one that will change the future to make it possible for much goodness to come.” It is the simple answer for what is to come. For without this young man, so much will never come to pass. Particularly for the events that lead to where they are now. Which is why there is no chance that the future will allow his fate to change.
Sighing, Bucky answers them, “And if he dies?” He is tired of the side remarks. He needs the truth about what all will happen if he allows this person to die to save the future person that will mean so much to him.
“That chance will not happen.” The words are simple, but the meaning is not so straightforward.
Bucky turns away and looks out the window to the city around the hospital, as he tries to make a choice on what is to happen. “This is the only way that chance can happen? You are affecting time to get this opportunity, can you not do the same to make what is supposed to occur in the future, happen?” ‘Do I have to make this choice to hurt people’ is the real question he is asking.
The being laughs lightly, not bothering to correct the falsehood that he has said. “No. I cannot affect anything in the future of you or of the person to come, directly like that. I cannot stop what is to come for you, nor can I do anything to make their future any different besides telling you the choices. Fate is fickle, and has laid down the law on what I can, or cannot do. In fact, only on this one time can I even enter the past with you. After this, I will come to you and tell you what your actions will cause and answer questions you have like I have done here. And you will choose from those facts then and there.” If he could actually see their eyes, he would see the sadness of knowing that the first choice will be particularly hard for him.
Closing his eyes, Bucky sighs. “Then what real choice do I have? If it were up to me, I would have him die here and now. But instead, for the sake of the ‘universe’,” this last is said bitterly, “I choose to let him live. And I hope that I can be forgiven for it.” He tries to send a prayer to have the woman waiting at the end of this, as well as himself, forgive him for this decision.
The relief the being feels is immense. This was a test, one that they are finally seeing how much their warrior is the one they have been waiting for, has passed. With this, there is actually hope for the small planet, as well as the universe as they know it, to survive.
They take the remaining hand of Bucky and take them both back to that time, that place in-between that Bucky is in for now. Leaving In their wake, a young man gasping as the door opens and a golden headed being comes in, his mind in chaos as he decides to follow through on the young Mason’s mother’s request. Hoping this would not be a mistake as it had been to help with a young scientist once upon a time.
With a flash of light, they appear back in the place. Keeping in mind what was to come, and how much their warrior may need help to pass the next while, the being steps away. “For making the right choice, I am able to grant a boon.” This may seem small in comparison of what is to come, but it might be able to save more of the young warrior in front of her.
Bucky looks over at them, his heart heavy for what he has just done, subjecting those countless lives to death because of his choice. What kind of boon can make up for all those lives?
Seeing the pain on his face, the figure steps closer. “The choices you make will be harder, often personal. But they will be your choice. I also will partition away part of you to be hidden from the mind games you will be subjected to shortly. Later on, this boon will help you. But as I have mentioned before, you will suffer more than any other before on your Earth. You will do things that will cause you to question yourself. Right now I tell you, that you will not be able to stop much from happening.” Their voice is sad as they tell their Warrior this information.
Taking a deep breath, Bucky nods. He will take anything to help him get through what was causing this being such grief as they tell him of the future he is going to have.
With a last caress of his face, the being creates a wall in his head, making it so his mind, the real part of him rests there, away from what is going to happen to him. He will find there are consequences for it, but it is the only way to have him save the core of himself from being torn from him. To have him able to fight in the future the brainwashing they are going to make him go through sooner than later.
He will need it.
Not knowing how much actual time has passed, the being known as Bucky screams behind the partition that the being had given him. He watches as his mind and body are tortured and then made to follow the orders of HYDRA. To him, it has seemed as though years have passed, but for all he knows, it could be on a day or so.
The drugs they had given him before Steve had freed him the first time from his brainwashing and torture had made him stronger and given him a better constitution than a normal human. They had been painful and at the very least you could call them inhumane. But he had been glad to have them so that he could keep up with his longtime friend.
Now? Now it is pure pain and torture that they put his body through. Between the treatments and the brainwashing shock treatments, Bucky soon finds himself hiding more and more behind the curtain that hid his real self. The alternative was enough to frighten him since he could feel parts of himself starting to slip away before he started using the partition.
The only bad thing is that the more he hides, the more the curtain becomes less malleable. But he has no other recourse if he wants to be who he had been in the past when his freedom came. He had to decide to finally hide and end up watching everything his body did without being able to affect it except in the very slightest bit. Or losing this last portion of himself.
Soon, as time passed, the hope that the being had given him was the one thing helping him maintain his sanity and to stay behind the curtain. There were times when he had been frozen and was coming out, that he wondered if it was worth staying sane.
As they train him and start sending him out on missions, he finds himself shocked at the brutality that he did. Often Bucky hid behind the curtain any time he found himself killing in cold blood. He might have fought in a war, but he never assassinated someone like he was seeing the other side of himself, the Winter Soldier as they called him, do. He watches his body as the Winter Solider murder others, as he himself cries as he kills the best and brightest in the world.
However, during this time, as the killings are getting worse, Bucky wonders when the choices will come that the being had promised him. So far the things the Winter Soldier has done has made him wonder what could be more important for him to have a choice in their lives when he is killing so many.
Closing his eyes behind the partition, Bucky Bangs against the thick curtain. For God’s sake, he has killed presidents, priests, scientists. Mothers, Children and so many more. How can there be any other choices or even people that can make more of a difference than these? Then the innocent bystanders that their only sin was that they either see him, or someone else that never wanted anyone to know how dirty their hands really were!
Bucky can feel his very soul is crying in pain for the lives he has taken. He knows that it is the other side of him, but it is his hands which are coated in red. It is his face that is often the last thing many of these people see. With this in mind, Bucky retreats even more behind the curtain, sick at heart for the pain he is causing.
Time passes… Missions come and go as Bucky retreats more into his haven from the terror he wreaks on the world. Then comes a mission that makes him pay more attention. He is woken from Cryo to a bunch of men he has never seen before. No matter, they have the code words that activate the Winter Soldier and will make him into the assassin that has driven Bucky into impassivity so that he just watches the world pass but tries not to take note of anything any longer.
They start giving the orders, and as usual, Bucky is behind the curtain watching as he normally does when they program him. He has no idea who the target is, no longer is he given the names since it won’t help him find the objectives. Too often lately, they tell him where the Winter Soldier needs to be, and just show him who he is killing with pictures.
It is easier on everyone since names can be changed easily.
But what makes Bucky pay more attention is that these pictures look hauntingly familiar. Like he is seeing a shadow of someone he had known in that past life where he had choices. The life that felt like a dream as more and more time passes.
So on this mission, Bucky is actively watching as the Winter Soldier runs a car off the road, then goes to kill the driver and passenger as he had been commanded to do. Then everything stops as he realizes who it is that he has in his hands.
The being comes to him and sighs. “James, it is time.” She is sad, having seen all that their Warrior has been through. They also know that they had come to the point that Bucky might have given up. To watch as he killed another that they knew, well this is why Bucky had to be presented with a choice.
He needs to know that the deaths serve an actual purpose than just what HYDRA wants. More than the petty whims of those that have control over the Winter Soldier. That this death is more than it seems.
Otherwise, he will fade away, and they might not be able to retrieve that part of him. Ever. And this world, and therefore the universe will die.
Finding himself free for once in the hell that he has been in, Bucky turns to look at her, realizing only at that moment that he is not in the body that is holding Howard when he sees the Winter Soldier, frozen at that moment, still holding Howard by the back of his neck.
“Why now?” the pain in his voice is enough to make the being face him. Why now does he have to watch the being that inhabits his body kill one of the few people that he liked and got along with in the hell that was the War?
Softening in their bearing, the figure answers him, “Because the choices impact you. Only when they affect you or your other half directly will they have a chance to be decided upon.” And this is one of those times that it will impact them both significantly. Though in the future, this will complicate much, it will also allow them to meet.
Tears spill down Bucky’s face as he looks at the man the Winter Soldier is holding in his hand. “What is the choice here? What impact would it truly have if I let my old friend live?” He stretches his hand towards the man demandingly. He is angry but so very tired of trying to fight what has been happening to him. Is this just another means to break him?
Shaking their head, the being softly reveals to him, “It is not just Howard you have to choose on, it is his wife also.” A tear slips down the being’s face, knowing how much this is tearing him apart. But he needs to understand!
His head falls forward, his hand running through the hair. that on this being is as short as when he fell from that train all those years in the past, as he awaits the details. He desperately hangs onto his own perception of what he looks like as another way to differentiate himself from that being that he detests using his body.
Knowing what he is waiting for, the glowing woman reports the facts to him, “They have a son in college and who will suffer from this death, becoming more of a playboy than he is now. He will end up continuing his father’s work in the weapons fields until the day he is injured and kidnapped. Then the sheer brilliance of the man, who in fact exceeds your friend, his father’s, intelligence, will forge a way to escape, as well as shaping the world with his actions. He will also end up fighting against you.” She says the last to make sure that he fully understands what he will be making if he completes this mission.
His head still down as he can feel the tears falling off his nose, Bucky clenches his hands, but waits, remembering last time. There is always more. There is the other side of the equation he remembers.
“All of this will never come about if Howard and his wife live. Their son will never become a man haunted by the pain of what this moment will cause.” She pauses, then continues, “However, their deaths will save millions of lives in New York City. Their deaths will make it so others will take up the work they started and try to make it better. But their deaths will allow HYDRA more of a foothold in the governments of the world.” The death of these two will affect so much of the world and what is to come that it is, in fact, a pivotal point in history. But without the pain that will come, the future will have no chance.
Closing his eyes, Bucky swallows as his mind does the math. Yes, he will be making an enemy, one that will be fully justified in he made the choice to kill his parents. But the other side is that his home city, the home to what will come to hold millions of lives, will die because he could not stand the pain of allowing his alter ego to carry on with his mission.
As he had said before, the lives of the many versus the few, are what he has to choose for. If he allowed the woman he will come to know as his other half pain and misery, how can he save himself from the same?
With that in mind, Bucky answers the demand of the being, “I must allow this to carry through.” His voice is broken, as is the man in front of the being. He wanted nothing more than to curl up and cry, but he gets it. This is why he needed to make the choice. He needed to know this will make it possible to save lives by killing his friend.
Seeing this, the being’s heart breaks, but she tells him, “It is up to you. This action will make it possible for you to find your other half. It will also cause much pain for many who know about it. For Steve, the son of the Starks and for your other half. But without it, so much will never happen.” She wants him to understand, but she also hates causing him this pain. The choice is truly his, if he wishes fate to be changed, she will do so for him.
Bucky shakes his head, then turns to head back into his body, only pausing as the figure tells him softly, “For you, it will not be long now. The next two decisions will be close to the time for you to be free.” She needed to give him something, to allow him some hope for an ending to the pain and misery.
He had paused for her words, then Bucky nods, acknowledging her as he heads back to his hell on earth. For he will stand by and watch every moment to come, no hiding from the results of his decision.
So Bucky flinches as he sees Stark recognize who he is, but continues to watch what happens. Then when the Winter Soldier hesitates in killing Mrs. Stark, Bucky finds the strength from somewhere to manage to break through as he asks the wife of his friend, “Would you want to live if it costs millions of lives?” He cocks his head to the side to see if she would choose as he did.
She stares into his eyes, noticing the dead look, then she closes her own, waiting for the moment. At that moment both she and Bucky no longer know what happens for a while. The difference is that only one of them is able to wake up later.
For the next long while, Bucky remains in the background, his moment of taking over his body managing to take more out of him that he knew. In fact, the next time he surfaces is when the being comes and asks for him.
As he awakens, the memories of the Winter Soldier rush through him, and he shudders in pain at the death and destruction that he had been doing, as he trains others to become like him. He sees the woman his body has taken as part of their training, stealing something from them and himself. He never wanted to use a woman like that, and now he has to live with the fact that he has taught a woman how to kill using seduction, and to make sure that they understand that there is nothing romantic in sex.
As he looks out of the eyes of the Winter Soldier, this time, he finds himself looking down at a redhead protecting his current target. Her face seems familiar, but as part of those memories that he is now ashamed that his body had been part of, he shies away from it.
Instead, Bucky steps out of the body, turning to look up at the being, waiting for their information. He didn’t trust himself to do anything else.
It’s heart breaking for the man he is now, the being reports to him softly, “The target will die either way. But you have a choice in killing the woman.” Looking at him, they are now doubting that fate has made the right decision in allowing this all to happen. How could this help? It is tearing him apart, for he is basically a man of honor and there has been precious little honor in what he has been ordered to do.
They turn to look over the edge at one of the others who will stand by their Warrior’s side, they continue briefing him, “The woman is someone who, in her own words, has too much red in the ledger. Killing her now will not save many lives, no she has already in her young life killed thousands. In fact, she still lies, steals, cheats, and does whatever she can to carry out her missions.” The lady wants to smile at the woman below. The Black Widow is one who is trying to change her life around, thanks to the friendship of the man who had been sent to kill her. Their friendship will be the cornerstone that holds through the trouble to come.
Bucky laughs dryly, “In other words, she is another me.” He keeps looking down at the scene, wondering what had happened for it to come to this. But he can see that she is trying to protect, not kill. This resonates with him.
With a slow nod, the being informs him, “At the same time, she is one of the people who save those millions in New York City. She is also very loyal to those who win her trust. Her abilities end up helping protect Stark’s son, as well as his love. She is also one of the few who stand up to injustice, even if it incriminates herself. She will help you directly, after opposing you.” This woman works harder than any that she has ever seen to make up for the past. She would be a great example for her warrior that one can overcome the past.
Looking at the woman, Bucky has to admit that she looks familiar. “Have I met her before?” He doesn’t want to examine the memories that will tell him more, they tear at the very core of himself.
The figure answers him, “She was trained in the Red Room.” She knows why he is asking, but she will not lie. For in time, he will remember everything he has done to Natasha. Luckily, she does not remember Bucky in the painful memories. No, those are reserved for those that took away so much with their perverted graduation.
He closes his eyes in pity for the young woman, as a few memories flash in his mind of what goes on in the Red Room, as well as a few memories of the woman herself. But he makes his decision. “She lives.” She is trying to fix the red in her ledger, and he will give her that chance.
Bucky also hopes that she is able to gain the retribution that he never feels he is able to receive for what he has done to her and others like her.
Bucky remains awake behind the eyes of the Winter Soldier, preferring to see what the Winter Soldier does than remember it in a flood of memories. He also takes note of the things he is taught from time to time, thinking that he will need it soon since the being had told him that his time would be soon to be free.
As she had promised, for him the third time is after he had been battering the walls down, trying to save his best friend.
Bucky had started to break free earlier when his alter-persona begun remembering on its own the truth. Then they had put him back under and tore the memory away. He had barely gotten behind the curtain before the pain erased him.
Now as they fight, Bucky is screaming inside of his own head to stop, to not kill Steve.
The figure appears, then smiles at him. “I suspect that this one will be easy for you to decide.” The being is relieved that this is the final time, that after this choice, he will be in more control than he has been for decades. This is the beginning of the end for the Warrior. Not much longer and he will be entirely free of these shackles that he has suffered underneath.
Before they can go into what he thinks are the facts he turns to her and demands, “Is it HIS life? Then I will always choose his life. Even if it costs me mine.” Bucky wants to grab the woman and shake her to make her see that it won’t matter what, he will choose Steve. For Steve is doing the same right now for him.
Smiling the being advises him, “It is if you wish to try to save him, knowing that you will be hunted.” They knew this will happen, but it needed to be done. Bucky had to choose this route that is coming.
Shaking his head, Bucky declares to her, “No, you don’t understand. I don’t care who dies, or suffers or anything like that. Steve has always stood by me, as I have him. He has gone to extremes to save me and still is. The choice is always him!” Nothing else will suffice.
They nod, telling him, “Then your choice is made. And you are free.” She waves her hand, merging the Winter Soldier and Bucky into one being in their minds. It will take some time for them to balance it out, but Bucky will conquer his mind and start the process of making it all his own.
When he looks up at them in shock at realizing he is in his body over Steve, in control of it, the being warns him, “Until you meet your other half, your mind will be susceptible to attacks and their control. But you make the decisions now. You are in control for the most part. I suggest you leave and find yourself. To remind yourself of who you are and merge the two personalities. You will need the training and information that the Winter Soldier learned.” The figure is trying to make it easier for him. So much more is to come, and he will need the peace for what he has been told. It will make a difference.
Stepping to him, the figure solidifies more, showing her female body as she says to him, “My warrior, your shield is coming. You will feel the pain of being controlled again, but otherwise, it will not make the final piece come into place. I gift you with the rewards you have earned to be unlocked by your Shield.” With that, she gives him a kiss on his brow, and whispers “Good Luck.” As she disappears.
Bucky is in control, and he works to save Steve, then leaves to do as she advised. Work to find himself again, start the healing progress.
After Captain America: Civil War ends…
At another spot in the world at a later time, a brunette woman wakes to get ready for her own change in life. After her shower, looking into the mirror, Bella decides that it is time to finally pay those dues. She owes so much to so many for taking time out of their lives to make sure she has a chance to live hers. So in fact, it is past time to pay those dues.
With those thoughts, Bella remembers the past couple of years that have become her own personal hell on earth.
First was the Cullen’s leaving and her falling apart at being left. She had a family that she had finally fit in with for the first time in her life, and to have that brutally ripped away had made her comatose. It was as if they had died with the chance Bella had of finding them in the future. It had been shock and mourning mixed up, along with the fact that she had become sick with the time spent out in the woods until Sam found her.
That had lasted only so long until the Lady came to her. She had warned Bella that life doesn’t stop because of a boy leaving her. Nor if they take a family away. And soon she will see what them leaving her really had done to her. She had seemed sad, as she had cupped her Shield’s face before leaving. The pain that this young woman will be suffering from is only starting.
A week later, Bella woke screaming due to the pain she was feeling. Charlie ran into the room, having not ever heard this type of cry from her before. Looking at Bella grasping her wrist as she screams, he tried to pull her hand away, only to back away in shock as the skin around her scar is literally bubbling. It never stopped, and the feeling of her skin actually bubbling and bursting to only regrow and have it continue is one Bella will never forget. She really didn’t think anyone could.
Charlie had rushed her to the hospital, only to find that nothing could be done. Nothing the Doctors could do would stop it. They had come to the conclusion that maybe amputating her arm above the bubbling may help, and even then, they were not sure what had caused the reaction much less if that would stop it.
It had only been chance that had Sam coming in for a friend that was being treated there instead of the reservation clinic and heard her screaming, and smelled with the stench of what caused her skin to bubble like that allowing her some relief. He, acting on instinct, grabbed her wrist and spit upon it. Amazingly that had caused whatever had resulted in the bubbling around her scar to desist.
Trying to explain to a bunch of doctors what had happened had not been easy, and finally involved a visit by some strangers to make their inquiries into it to desist. And that had not come until much later!
So Bella had been able to go home only after her father pulled rank. Unfortunately, the bubbling of her skin would come back. There was scar damage around the original teeth marks, and only when unable to cope with Bella in so much pain, did Charlie call the only man in their family that may have answers.
When he had come out and seen the damage and suffering that his family member was in for himself, he had quickly sprang into action, determined to save the great niece of his dead wife. With the work of his labs, along with Sam breaking the laws of the tribe and telling this stranger what was going on, did they manage to get a way to not only help stabilize Bella but to also start healing the damage so it was not easily as seen by ordinary humans.
It was the uncle who had called on some old contacts in SHIELD to get them to stop the doctors harassing the Swans on what had happened in the hospital. He didn’t need anyone inquiring too much about what was going on with the risks that he had been apprised of.
Her great uncle had also reached out to Professor X to see if the Beast could come help them figure out what was going on. Only after he come out, had he suggested another scientist. The other scientist had to be reached, and until then, the Beast and her Great Uncle had worked off and on trying to figure out what was going on with Bella. They had quickly ruled out some type of mutation that the X-Men were familiar with.
For one thing, it seemed that the bubbling of her skin was not the only thing changing on her. Her entire DNA was changing as well, but slowly. Very, very slowly, and there was every chance that instead of her arm killing her, the changes would instead. With the information they had, they realized that it was as if the venom was trying to change her. And per their studies of her changes, it had been happening since the bite, but for some reason only started on the outside of her body with the area around the scar. Beast was especially puzzled since, per what she had told them, and the tribal records, her skin should have turned harder instead of bubbling.
It was during this time, Charlie had gotten an odd phone call, from a Mr. Colton, commenting that a relative of Renee’s had been unearthed, and wanted to get to know his family in this time. It had gained his interest since he was aware that one of the things that had hurt Bella was the loss of the Cullen family dynamic. And with all the new things that they were finding out about her and what was happening with her body, well, frankly, Charlie hoped this might help cheer his daughter up.
Despite the wording being odd on the request, Charlie had informed the polite man on the phone that Renee was no longer with them, she had disappeared in the last year. But her daughter was there, and he would ask if she wanted to meet the man. He had gotten the information, then headed off to the lab that had been built for the study, and hope, of finding a solution to what was wrong with Bella.
Hearing the information, Bella had checked with her great uncle, and with some vials of the newest batch of serum, made her way to New York City to meet this new family member. She had been eager to meet this relative, and to see if someone might be more like her than the rest of the family. And frankly, she too had been curious about the wording of the person who had called. Knowing his family in this time?
So she had made her way eagerly to New York and had been waiting in the atrium of Stark Tower for Mr. Coulson to tell her who this relative was or even where she would meet them. Only to have her bad luck follow her and have the city attacked by aliens.
Like the supernatural world wasn’t enough, now there were aliens in the mix.
Luckily the Avengers had been in the city and ended up saving the world. And Bella had found her new relative as no other than Captain America.
Coulson had managed to call her before the invasion to tell her some more information, as well as the name of her relative, Steve Rogers. The name had seemed familiar to Bella, but she never put two and two together until the two of them had been shocked when he had found her in the lobby of Stark’s building, hiding from what had been happening with some small children behind her under the sturdiest desk that she could find to protect them. It had been that moment when she blurted out, “Steve Rogers is you?” that things started to make sense. Captain America was truly a man out of time, and it would explain why he would want to meet family and know them in this time.
Unable to help himself, Steve had laughed, saying that being danger magnets seemed to be family traits. He had helped the children out of their hiding places, escorting them all out of the building and making sure the children were safe. All the while telling her of the information Steve had literally gotten a file of before all this had happened. He had seen a picture of her as well as the information that she was the last known relative of his.
Then Steve had been sad to hear that Colton had arranged for Bella to meet Steve, to hopefully give him more incentive to live in these times. The great man had tried, and with that in mind, Steve had put Bella up in his apartment, then taking care of the business of Loki before taking some time to meet his new family.
He had smiled on the way to that meeting, hoping that it may help him. It did, and he spent a long time with Bella before she had to head back to Forks for them to find out why the serums that she had been given were no longer working as well.
But the two once strangers had bonded well over the month that she had spent with him. It made a lasting impression on the super soldier and the danger magnet that would help change all their lives later.
All in all, it had been a momentous year for them all. The Bright Lady or as Steve and her Great Uncle (aka Uncle since he told her frankly that great made him feel too old) called her, BL, had come many times to start teaching Bella ways to use what was happening to her to her benefit. She educated her in Bella’s mind and dreams, the abilities her so-called shield could do.
Bella had thought this was sometime in the future that she would use those skills and so never tried them in the times between the dreams and times she meditated for her training by this mysterious woman who seemed to care greatly for her.
During the time that Bella had returned from meeting her new relative, Bella met two of Steve’s friends who had started to work with her on fighting. Steve had been frank in that if she was as much a danger magnet as he was, and in fact, he had teased her she was worse since he had only seemed to get in fights all the time, she brought it to a new level with messing with the supernatural! He had thought that Bella needed to learn how to protect herself.
So once Nat and Clint had started training her, Bella quickly found a lot of her balance issues that seemed to have disappeared sometime since the Cullen’s left. She also learned to trust her body and gained a lot of self-confidence in herself thanks to Nat’s personal talks as well as Clint’s support of her attempts in learning new skills.
Imagine all of their shock when Bella screamed one day when she moved the wrong way and an arrow that had been shot away from her was now heading directly for her. She had no time to do anything once she realized what had happened, so she threw her arm out to attempt to take the arrow in her arm instead of allowing the shot to land in her torso. Instead of the pain Bella expected, she opened her eyes to find that she had stopped an arrow being fired at her in midair. In fact, she was to find out from Clint and Nat that it had bounced off something surrounding her.
With experimentation, they started to work with this shield that surrounded her, to see what exactly she could do. A lot of the things that the BL had her working on, suddenly made sense as they worked in the real world. Nat and Clint were especially inventive with ways to get it to activate until Bella could call forth the power at will.
After the Sokovia Incident, Clint and Nat came back to train with her. Clint had informed her that he was thinking of retirement and wanted to make sure that she was safe before he decided. Clint, Natasha, and Steve had never wanted anyone, outside of Fury, to know that they were helping Captain America, and after they had found out about her shield, they refused to tell the man about it at all.
So it had been a surprise when the Scarlet Witch and Jarvis had shown up. It seemed that Jarvis had seen something in Ultron’s mind at the end about her and wanted to meet the woman. He also had a feeling that she would be important, but didn’t tell anyone else about that. Instead, their appearance allowed them to find out another aspect of her shield, that she could even keep them out of her head without even trying to keep her thoughts private. Soon that included others around her, but it was harder than even keeping the physical shield up. They had only chances at practicing that when Jarvis and Wanda could leave the building. It had not been often since it seemed more trouble was coming.
During this time, even her Uncle had to leave to deal with something that came up in his old company. He had kept in touch with her, and she had been amused by the videos he sent her of his new protégé. It had been amusing as the Beast had kept up their work with Bella who was getting quite the education in genes and genetics from him.
Working with the Beast and other scientists worked since she couldn’t really attend college at thiat point, but working with the world famous scientists had her mind entertained. But with her knowledge, limited as it was from not being actually changed and been given second-hand information, combined with these two prominent scientists that gave them some idea of what was happening. The only thing that Hank and her Uncle had come up with was the venom from the bite in her arm was mutating her genes as they would if she was becoming a vampire. That is as far as they could get at that point, beyond using the Shifter’s blood and saliva in increasing amounts to help maintain a level of pain for Bella that she could manage with.
In fact, it had been the Lady coming to her a month ago, with the idea to have her Uncle compare her blood to Steve’s. It might open up some new ways to find a solution. For, while they havd slowed down, the spread of whatever it was had not been completely stopped. It had coincided with the finding of the scientist that the Beast had recommended helping them solve this mystery. It seemed that the scientist had been known to make breakthroughs in the past. It was only due to Bella’s connection to Steve that she believed she knew who the stranger was.
It was now a race, to see if they could find the solution before Bella passed away. The only hope they all had was the BL’s insistence that they would locate the solution. She didn’t know what it was, but that they would find it. She had given all the information she had unearthed about the solution; it was up to them now. Not that she wouldn’t stop looking, of course.
Steve, then later her uncle’s protégé, had left to deal with some issues that had come out of the events in Sokovia as well as the new loss of life for civilians. Bella had watched with the world what little they were able to learn, with her Uncle only being able to add a little to the footage. She had been upset at the unfairness of it all, but then, she knew most of the players on a personal level that they world didn’t.
So it had been with happiness when Steve had called to tell Bella to take the team working on her serum and make their way to him. The King of Wakanda, after hearing what Steve had to say about Bella, had in fact given her his personal invitation to come as his guest. He had also asked for the most updated information they had on what had been done so far to be sent to him for him to give to the King and his scientists to work on to see if they may see something different. Also, it was where the newest scientist that as now working on her file was hiding from the world to help her out.
Still looking at herself in the mirror, Bella shook her head as she thinks on what had brought her to this day. For Bella is getting up for the last time in Forks. Her father will take her to Port Angeles where she will board a private plane that holds her Uncle, his daughter, and his new protégé. From there they will take off and land in Wakanda in a few hours.
Staring in the mirror, Bella can see some differences not only in her eyes but all over. Thanks to all the training she has been undergoing, her body is more fit than ever before. Also, her personal appearance has changed over time as well. Her face and body have changed in ways that only could be attributed to the venom and its changes. But luckily they had been slow, allowing for the people in town to not notice as much. Though if they looked at photos of her later, they would know something had happened. Of course, her self-confidence has helped make that change even harder to see since she acts differently as well.
Smiling at herself, Bella makes her way out of the bathroom, and once she is dressed for the day, makes her way downstairs where her stuff is, smiling at her Dad. She and Charlie had gotten closer. Knowing that Bella might actually die from the bite on her arm had awakened his mind to what priorities should come to mind. They spent many weekends together, hiking when she was physically able to do so without them worrying about a broken leg. There had not been much else for the two of them to do, for Bella still hated fishing, and there is no way, even with her improved balance, that Charlie would take her again after the last time.
In fact, it is only now with Bella heading out to find a solution, did they plan to separate. As Charlie had told her, it is her right to go forward in her life. To have some adventures in life on her own. They had sat down one weekend and just talked. Charlie had asked that she call him and communicate with him, but other than that, he was really looking at this as her heading off on her own. Every child does it at some point in their life, and he is accepting that this is that time for her.
Plus, with Captain America being with her, he has no worries over her safety. Even being the Danger Magnet. He had teased her mercilessly about it, but had told her that he trusts Steve to help her, but if she ever needed him, just let him know, and he would be there as soon as he could be. He loved her, and it was only that love that allowed him to let her go forward to her own life.
As Bella sits down at the kitchen table, Charlie ruffles her hair as he puts the plate of bacon, egg, and sausage down in front of her. Her plate is double the size of his, but Charlie knows that she will finish all of it, and probably need to eat another full meal just like it in an hour or so if she doesn’t snack on some high carbs. Her body was killing calories at an unbelievable pace, so they had learned what to eat for Bella. She had joked that the Wolves had nothing on her.
Indeed, they didn’t. She ate three times the amount of food that they did, and only if she wasn’t in training or something like that. It had taken a long time for them to find out what could help her out, as well as her having a drink that she had to take three or four times a day. It was chock full of the things that they had determined her body used the most of so that there was no damage from her body trying to get what it needed from itself.
While they eat they joke and tease each at the around at the table. After the two of them clean up their dishes they grabbed the last minute things. Charlie also left the room so he didn’t have to watch Bella inject the daily serum into her arm that will keep her from convulsing. He had hated watching her, the pain of knowing that the serum only prevented convulsions at this point and did hardly anything for the pain made him feel his failures of the past. No parent wants to know their child is in that much pain.
Shortly they are in the police cruiser on the road to the airport. Charlie looks over at Bella, remembering a trip coming the opposite way when she had moved in with him a couple of years ago. How much has changed in that small amount of time. Some good, but mostly bad for his daughter.
Trying to get his mind off that, Charlie clears his throat, but before he can say anything, Bella quickly turns to him and tells him, “Nope. Na-uh. No last words, I love you, kiddo or whatever you were going to say. I am off to get a solution for all this crap, and hopefully, help someone else.” She herself had remembered the same time as her father, and the last thing that she wanted to think about was the goodbye at the end of the trip.
A soft smile lights his face, then he asks with an eyebrow cocked, “Did you tell anyone else about what the BL said?” Charlie hoped that Bella would listen. He didn’t want her to spend her life lonely. To him, it seemed there was hope on the horizon. If only she would stop being so stubborn.
Looking out the window Bella shakes her head, “No.” Nope. Not going to talk about this with her emotionally stunted father.
“NO, Dad. I will do as she said, and help Steve’s buddy out. I will do everything she asked of me, but I will not go in hoping for my soulmate or whatever she calls him.” She dares not even dream of this being a happy ever after. She will be just happy enough to be without pain. And to know Steve better.
Charlie softly replies, “Your Warrior.” To him, it fit. The Shield and her Warrior. And he noticed that whenever Bella told him of the BL talking to her about this, it was always her warrior.
An irritated noise comes from Bella, interrupting his thoughts. Charlie chuckles, “I know the Cullen boy made it so you don’t want a relationship, but really Bells, you need to give the guy a chance.” He turns away as he mutters under his breath, knowing she will hear anyways, “Goodness knows you haven’t given any of the other guys a chance.” He thinks of the men that had come around, as well the phone calls for dates that Bella had turned down.
Bella turns her head around quickly, “I told you Clint was married!” She picks the one person that might have her dad leaving this all alone. For that still amuses all of them that Charlie had pushed her towards Clint as a possible match.
Flushing red, Charlie defends himself, “How was I supposed to know that!” He swallows, wishing she would forget one of the few, and the last in fact, times that he had tried to give input into her dating someone.
Rolling her eyes as she turns to watch the scenery go by, she informs him, “He was double my age!” That had been one of the things that had cracked up Nat, that Charlie had wanted someone closer to his own age for Bella. Most Fathers wanted someone around the same age, and Charlie picks not only someone that is older, but married. For a police chief, he was really unobservant.
Running a hand through his hair, Charlie drops it. He should have known better, but hell, the man didn’t look close to being his age! Add to the fact that Charlie had liked the man and his gentle influence on his daughter. Which made more sense when he realized he was a father as well.
He looks over at Bella, and Charlie softly pleads with her, “Just don’t be stubborn and fight this. Help the man, then wait to see what happens. If you push him away from the start, who knows what could have happened?” He has learned to trust the BL, everything she has said has come true, and she has been one of the main ones giving answers. So if she informed Bella of the chance, why shouldn’t she at least try?
Swallowing, Bella asks, “But what if I don’t live that much longer?” It is one of the reasons that she didn’t want to pursue anything with anyone. For who knows how much longer she will on the Earth. She knew firsthand how much pain it causes for someone to leave and you know there is no chance that you will ever see them again.
Charlie has a lump in his throat and clears it to get rid of it. He tells her the advice that he should have taken long ago. “Honey, there is no guarantees in life. You can’t decide to save everyone and then find later that you are lonely because you were scared. Take a chance. Allow whatever happens to happen. Who knows? Maybe he is the key to the solution for you.” Charlie hopes she listens where he didn’t.
Bella turns to him and smiles. “Who knows, maybe I will.” From all their talks, she knows that this is something Charlie had hoped she learned better than him. As he had told her, he had not learned and so an old fool is trying to make sure that she is smarter than he is and listen. Never give up on life, and never, ever on love.
Maybe he is right?
With that thought, the Swans make small conversation as they make their way to Port Angeles. Enjoying this last moment that they are together, but hoping that the separation will help heal Bella.