You Don't Always Get What You Want.
The three men stared at each other in the dark basement. One was trapped. The other two looked like they wanted to help. They were talking about how to help the trapped guy. Then one turned, frowning at the shadows. That let that one see the thing that hit him in the face and split the skin on his cheek. He pulled a weapon but it was too late.
"Don't kill them," the trapped male said, his voice cracking. The man came out of the shadows, nodding at him. He stomped on the second man's chest when he tried to move. "Don't." The younger one took off his goggles, looking at the machine he was stuck in. He released the trap, nodding at the doorway. "Wait for me."
"Don't get taken again," he growled, stomping off. He paused to stare at one then at his mentor. "I can't believe this." He disappeared up the stairs.
The formerly trapped man nodded at them. "Thank you."
"You have a mini me?" the one that had been stomped on asked, trying to sit up. The man ignored him.
"Who is he?" the other one asked. "Is he your son?"
The man shook his head. "No. They made him." He disappeared after the first one. He looked at him. "You didn't have to come."
"The last time they captured you, they made you forget again," he noted. "Now they can't do that again." He nodded. "Out of here?"
"Give it a minute." He watched the other two come out of the basement, looking around before going to search for him again. He looked at the younger version of him. "Does the one that you took in remember him?"
"Yes. He's swearing up a lot." He grinned at the other man, getting a dirty look back. "It's not my fault he took me over when they tried to erase me. It's nice he let the others out." He walked off. "I've got transportation."
"Hopefully it doesn't come with a cat like the house did."
The younger man smirked. "Fang is a good cat. That's why she sits on your arm to get fur in it. She thinks it makes it feel better."
"I'd rather she not." He got in to drive. The younger one rolled his eyes but got into the passenger's seat, checking his weapons while they drove off. "Are there any of the former lab left?"
"Two. Both in hiding in South America. I got the other three on their way down there but I had to break off to come rescue you."
"Thank you. I'm not ready for that yet."
The other guy shifted to look at him. "Doing that only made Steve more stubborn. He'll find you again." The other one grunted. "Are we going after the last lab people?"
"Let me drive."
"Your head's obviously hurting. Let me drive." The other one shook his head. "If you crash us because you're getting flashes again I'll call him to pick you up from the hospital."
"Every day. They made me this way," he shot back with a smirk. "So let me drive."
"Fine." He let go of the wheel, moving overtop of the other one so he could slide over. "Don't wreck us and don't pick up any dogs, cats, or girls."
"Fine. No dames and no pets."
"Thanks." He tipped the seat back, resting his eyes for now. He trusted this one. He had trained him so he knew what he'd do and how he'd do it. "Home?"
"Yes. You need to rest and meditate." The guy nodded, letting himself sleep for a bit. The dreams would come but this one could make them easier for a while.
Steve Rogers found Natasha that night, sitting next to her at the bar. "We need to talk," he said quietly. She looked at him, sipping her drink. "We had him. He got rescued by someone who was just as bad as him."
She blinked a few times. "Excuse me?"
"Sam called him a mini me for Bucky."
"I have not heard anything about that." She finished her drink. "Let's go talk." He paid for her drink and followed her out to the car Sam was waiting in. She got into the back because Steve would never fit into the backseat. "There was another one? Another Soldier?"
"Had a slightly different mask and goggles," Sam said, driving them off once Steve was in. "Young guy, maybe mid twenties. Dark hair, white guy, strong, scary non-look on his face, and he stomped on my chest when I tried to move. No robotic arm."
"Bucky told him not to kill us," Steve said. "That's pointing to him knowing more about us." He shifted to look back at her easier. "He got Bucky free then went to wait on him outside."
"He clearly had control of the kid," Sam agreed. "He gave very quiet, non-firm orders."
"I asked Bucky if he was his son. He said they made him."
She considered it. "They would probably want someone to follow him when he was too injured or dead. They probably used most of the same methods but tried a few others. Was there anything in particular about him?"
"Young guy, dark hair, muscles," Sam said. "Sneaky as hell since he beaned Steve from the shadows."
"I barely heard him move," Steve said. He held up the beanbag that had hit him and split his cheek. "I got hit with this."
She took it to look over, frowning at it. "Sawdust, some pellets of some kind. They feel like metal." She pulled a knife out of her pocket to open the seam, pouring it into her hand. "Sawdust, silver it looks like. Why use a precious metal? There's easier things to craft or procure." She checked it, nodding. "I have no idea but this looks homemade." She looked at Steve. "Was he in tactical gear?"
"Slightly. You could tell he had on a vest under his button up shirt and jeans. Work boots not combat boots."
"Maybe it's what he could steal when he needed to get out of the tac gear," Sam said.
"It's possible." She pulled out her phone to send text messages, finding one waiting on her. "Somehow one of them got my number. He said not to find them. You upset Bucky's memory problem." She let Steve take the phone. "That's your phone number."
He checked his phone, shaking his head. "It's not looking hacked and that message isn't in my outbox." She took her phone back to text to it. Steve's phone rang. She sent it to one number they had found to track for Bucky. It got answered that the young one was none of her business, HYDRA had already rued their mistake by making him. To leave Bucky alone for a few days because his head was going to explode soon if he didn't get some of the memories sorted. Steve and she would not help with that, which would make them bigger targets for HYDRA to try to retake them again. Then the phone was disconnected by changing the number when she tried to answer. She let Steve read it.
He frowned. "That's possible."
"It's probable. The memories coming out would unsettle him much like seizures would. Whoever this one is clearly has his trust."
Steve nodded. "If we can find the young one, can we track him easier? I doubt he's got the inborn sneakiness Bucky had before he joined the army."
"I can ask some contacts," she said, sending out a few messages. None of them knew anything. "Sorry."
He nodded, turning back around. "So we'll start over. Hopefully we can save them both."
"It's clear the young one hates HYDRA," Natasha said. "So perhaps he's taking care of Bucky's needs?"
Steve shrugged. "No idea. A partner? Or is he a trainee?"
"Could have been both," she said. "Some things need more than one man. As you know." Steve nodded at that. "We'll find him, Steve. Both of them."
Natasha's phone rang with a peculiar ringtone, making her smile as she pulled it back out of her pocket to look at. "Clint said that there's been a few suspiciously dead HYDRA scientists recently. No one knows why or by who but they're going into hiding so even their HYDRA supervisors can't find them."
"Them," Sam said.
"It's likely," she agreed, sending a message back. "Clint's contacts have seen the young one. He said there's a lot of contradictory information but most everyone just calls him 'damn it, it's him'." Steve laughed, nodding. "And he is Bucky's trainee." She looked up after sending back a response. "A HYDRA goon was worried they'd come for him and spilled that they had made that one to take Bucky's place. Somehow, that became a huge mistake." A new message came in. "He said they destroyed a base in Iran getting free, down to the basement level, and ran off. Apparently they had taken Bucky back just before we met him in DC. That one was looking for him and got him out of DC after he rescued you."
Steve nodded. "So he's looking out for him."
"Apparently. Clint said one of his contacts called the young one more sane than Deadpool but just as deadly, but less talkative." She looked up. "And he can use swords as well as guns."
"Interesting," Steve agreed. "Why would HYDRA need someone to use a sword?"
"It could be from his former life," Sam said. "There is SCA people who do fence and joust."
She sent that back, shaking her head when she got a return message. "No, he uses it like a knight in an old time battle would. It's a weapon like Deadpool would use but he's got no particular blade that Clint's heard. He can pick up any sword or dagger or gun." She looked at the men. "Clint said he's heard that guy's weird but deadly."
"So if Deadpool and Bucky had a kid, it's this guy?" Steve asked. Natasha nodded. "Charming. Is he as insane as Deadpool?"
She asked that. "Clint's answer is 'not exactly'. But he's not sure why." She looked up, smiling slightly. "He said he wanted to rescue the kid to make him sane."
"Okay, sure," Steve agreed. "I doubt we could get one without the other now."
"At least you know Bucky's fine, he's healthy, and he has someone taking care of him," Sam said.
"Yeah, that's the good news. The bad is we have no idea where he's going this time." They pulled into Sam's parking spot and got out to go inside. They had some searching to do.
The duo walked into their safe house together, Bucky leading. "Well, that was fun," the younger one said, reaching up to pet their cat. She was once again on top of the fridge. She'd come down later to bother them for petting or something. "I still can't believe they want me back. Not after the last attempt."
"You made yourself a challenge," Bucky said, looking at him. "You may not head off on your own to draw attention to yourself, Alex. Or meet up with the other one."
"Fine. I won't." He went to the bathroom. "Want the first aid box?"
"No. I'm fine."
Alex leaned out to stare at him. "Your arm has a hole, you can barely open a can with that hand. Want the electrical kit or the med kit? Or do I get to tinker?"
"The last time you tinkered I got Ukranian radio stations," he muttered, walking off. "And I was in China."
"You picked up the comm channels too," Alex quipped, closing the door so he could use the bathroom. He came out to silence, grabbing his gun to pull on the person waiting on him.
"You survived. Welcome home, Soldier."
"Not likely." He shot him and headed for where Bucky was. He was destroying some. Alex shot them and then headed out a window to get their external forces. They were quickly down. A few ran but he'd get them later. Bucky came stomping out, handing Alex the cat carrier. "Let me get the armory packed."
"I have," Bucky said. "That's what I was doing when they broke in." They shared a look. "Lisbon?"
"Sure, I could use some beach time," he said dryly. He scanned around. "Three left in a jeep. They're not going to make it too far. I fired an explosive head at them." Bucky smirked. "They summoned me thinking I was a mystical weapon. Fuck them."
"You're mystical to many because no one understands you," Bucky joked. "Even after my original self possessed you." Alex rolled his eyes but hit him on the arm before going inside to pack his two bags. They joined the cat, Bucky's bag, and weapons in the backseat. The cat sent up a racket. "Calm your pet down before I give her away or sedate her."
Alex got into the backseat to calm her down. She finally fell asleep so that was nicer. "Lisbon?"
"It's nice weather."
"Okay. I guess it's cool. Should I find a friend up there?"
Bucky snorted. "We're not staying there for long."
"Then why don't we go somewhere safer then go to Lisbon?"
"I have no idea where that would be."
"Where's the last place they'll look for you?" Alex asked.
"You can probably get your mascot into Russia easier."
Alex snorted. "I can hide Fang, James."
"Fine. I'll consider it on the way to the airport." He drove off, but he was smiling. Alex really was the best trainee he'd ever had that he could remember. He was loyal like Steve had been but mouthy like him, and he had a lot of uses in their life beyond being his backup and being able to treat his injuries. He'd have to make sure Alex and Steve got along once they were ready to deal with Steve. Then they'd have to find and introduce Forger.
Natasha walked out of the bathroom the next morning, putting her phone on the table in front of Steve. "That is all that anyone has been able to find out about the young one. He appears to not have been fully corrupted by them." Steve read over the information, not looking pleased. "I've also heard they left whatever safehouse they went to last night because an extraction team found them. The two that survived that said that James did not take them out, the young one did. Hill questioned one of them. They told her that he was not normal, they had not gotten what they wanted when they summoned him, and things were worse than they appeared with that one because again he's not normal."
"Summoned?" Sam asked.
She smirked at him, just a tiny little cat smirk. "Apparently they were trying to use something to summon a higher energy weapon along the lines of the cosmic cube." Steve shuddered. "They got him instead."
"Wouldn't something like that be more specific so it couldn't goof that way?" Steve asked.
"It would appear that they got some of what they wanted. They said that when they were attempting to wipe him the first time, some spirits intervened. They destroyed the lab and the boy got them calmed down." She settled into the free chair with some coffee, taking a sip before putting the mug down. "There's also rumors, according to the questioned one, that he had somehow summoned other dimensional natives to come help him get free. They destroyed the lab for him and got him and Bucky out of there when they found him. HYDRA regained them a few days later, but by then the boy had sucked up something somehow that made him better and meaner. They managed to escape a second time a few weeks later, and the young one managed to stay free when HYDRA recaptured James right before we spotted him in DC. He had been recaptured for about two weeks at that point."
"Is that why the programming broke down?" Sam asked.
"No idea," she admitted. She took another sip. "It was the young one that got James out of DC however. They did an image search and found him on the tapes they had confiscated." She looked at Steve. "He found James at the museum exhibit and helped him out because he apparently had a headache by what he was showing."
Steve nodded. "So he's protecting him? Or is Bucky still training him?"
"No one's sure," she said. She shrugged. "It could be that and more. One other interesting fact, the boy has stamina. He went to someone for help, and paid the usual sexual price. Apparently he wore them out in many ways because one of them named him his heir in his will after he died in bed with him."
Steve sighed but nodded. "That's bad. How do you even do that?"
"No idea," Sam said. "I can't. But it might go with the sword work that got noted by someone last night. Maybe wherever he came from swords are more usual so he's been in battles?"
"Possibly," Steve agreed, frowning as he leaned his head on his clasped hands. "Can we find them now? Where are they heading?"
"They boarded a plane to Lisbon but no one's sure. They didn't get off at that airport. Bucky's arm is too distinctive to cover completely; that's how we spotted him on surveillance."
Steve nodded. "Is the young one traveling with him?"
"Yes, and he held an animal carrier that no one seemed to see." Both men stared at her. "No one checked the animal's papers, no one scanned it, the animal went through the x-ray machine instead of going through the scanner like normal. No one noticed the animal."
"I can't see Bucky putting up with a pet."
"Perhaps it's some sort of familiar," she said. "I have no idea. It was an interesting fact noted."
"Can they find where they got off?" Sam asked.
"No. No one matching their description got off the plane at any of the stops according to the airport's security tapes Hill had tapped."
"So, disguise," Steve said.
"Anyone with an animal carrier?" Sam asked.
"One with a large backpack that could hide it. One animal carrier in another color. Hill didn't think either was them because they were both females."
"So maybe there's something like an illusion?" Sam asked. "Unless we believe that guy has magic?"
"If they wanted a mystical weapon," Steve started.
Natasha nodded. "It's possible. No one's sure but they're very curious. There's also two distinct descriptions of the younger one."
"Could there be two?" Sam asked.
"I'm not sure," she admitted. "The only information we have on them is contradictory." The men both nodded, sipping their coffee. "Now what?"
"Going to Lisbon is probably pointless," Steve said. "Was that plane going anywhere else?" She shook her head. "Could they have boarded another plane?" She nodded. "Are we sure they got on that flight?"
"They were found on the surveillance tape of the walkway. They could have turned back but no one saw them on the way out."
Sam nodded. "So they could be anywhere again." She nodded. "At least it's some information. Is the new guy more or less dangerous than Barnes?"
"No one's sure yet, but he is not squeamish. A few of those lab people died in horrible manners. One was said to be chewed up, like something the size of a t-rex ate it then spit it out," Natasha said.
"If the guy can summon up a t-rex, we're all doomed," Sam joked, grinning at her.
"Quite possibly," she said dryly. "Though I'm not sure if he summoned one or did something mechanical to them."
"I'd hope it was something mechanical instead of a dinosaur," Steve joked, grinning at them. "I'd hate to have to find a big enough gun since we're not presently talking to Stark."
"Stark might be fascinated," she said.
"Maybe," Steve agreed. "Better to not include him yet." She nodded. "Any other tidbits?"
"The boy, or someone, has fixed a serious problem in James' arm. Someone said they saw wiring after one event and a young one that was working with him fixed it."
"So swords and electronics," Sam said. "Weird combo. Is he Asgardian?"
"Not that anyone's said," she said.
"He was pretty normal sized last night," Steve said. "Not like Thor."
"We'll have to ask when we find them," Sam decided. The other two nodded. "Am I making breakfast?" They got up to make their own then they'd go back to searching the duo out. Two people had to be easier to find than one, right?
Bucky looked around the modest two room apartment in Brooklyn, then at his younger protege. "Why here?"
"Because the one guy I accidentally sucked up suggested it."
"Oh. I suppose that makes sense. Weapons storage?" The young one pointed at an area. "Just a closet?"
"No, not just a closet. This is a former SHIELD safehouse that HYDRA had control of. No one remembers its here. It's not on the lists. As far as SHIELD knows, HYDRA looted it then left it. They checked it twice then crossed it off the list as compromised." He grinned. "Which means it's perfect for us and Forger. He's upstairs by a floor." Bucky nodded, grimacing. "That means he can do more than patch that hole you have."
Alex went to the kitchen, pulling out food to eat. They settled in. Forger came down to look at his arm, then went to get parts. When he came back, Alex leaned on the table. "Steve's still looking for you, now us. He's gotten intel from a few sources we have in common. They're not sure who I am, or if there's actually two of us." Forger grinned at him then got back to work. "They've gotten very little beyond the fact that I've been seen with a sword."
"Still weird," Bucky complained. "Must you?" he demanded.
"If you want it to work, yes," Forger said. "You'll need it to work to finish taking out the people that took us from home." Alex gave him a hug. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He got back to his fixing job, making sure it was seamless. The moving plates were a pain in the butt to bend back but they were needed to cover the more delicate wiring inside.
Bucky looked at Alex. "What are you seeing? You're staring at the wall. Don't tell me there's another spirit here to talk to you."
"There's two, they're having a perpetual argument in the hallway. They apparently got shot out there." Alex looked at him. "Something the old you saw. You, Steve, and Howard sitting at the same table while Howard tinkered with something." He shook his head quickly. "He's really looking forward to rejoining your head instead of mine. That and he thinks Steve's stubborn levels are going to max out soon so we need to either get them off the track or somehow make them leave us alone for at least a few more weeks."
"Go be your charming self, like you did with Gloria that time," Forger quipped, smirking at him. "It'd make you tired enough to sleep again."
"I get sleep. I just see *someone's* dalliances with dames." He looked at Bucky. "The old you was clearly trying to recreate Steve as a dame." Bucky just shrugged. "I know, but still. You were." His face screwed up then he rolled his eyes. "He's having mental spasms over that." He looked up. "Sure, it was a *bromance* of the ages," he said dryly. "Really." He shook his head and sighed, getting more coffee for them all. "He's complaining that you two weren't like incestuous brothers at all, just like brother-fucking cousins." He sipped his coffee, grinning at the new ranting the spirit of Bucky was doing.
"Please quit warping the former me," Bucky complained. "How do I get him back?"
"Break the last few blocks," Andrew reminded him. "He's hiding from all the angry Russian parts."
Bucky hummed and nodded, sipping his coffee. These two were weird but they were good students for him. They learned a lot. Especially Forger. He hadn't been able to fight at all before HYDRA had summoned them. The ranting of the HYDRA people had been hilarious but not good for anyone. Especially when Alex had appeared with a weapon in hand, a being floating behind him, and the dead had suddenly rushed at him to invade him to get his help.
They were not the mystical weapons HYDRA had been summoning. They were just the sort of weapons that Bucky needed to get free. They may have captured him for a few weeks but Alex had gotten him free while Forger was getting him free of their designs. Forger had been gotten and altered for about a day but Alex had stopped that. He had stopped all that fast with the beings that had helped him. They were kind of mad on his behalf. Alex had been feral so he couldn't show that by more than growling and killing.
They'd figure it out and he'd figure out the Steve thing too.
Alex was out talking to sources of local information when he spotted one of the capture team out and about. They were staring at a young woman across the room. Alex recognized her. She probably recognized she was in danger. He sent a quick text message to Forger then strolled over to dance with her. He sidled up behind her, wrapping a hand around her waist. "Don't flinch. There's a capture team staring at you," he whispered in her ear. She stiffened anyway, glancing back toward him. "I'm giving you an excuse to get out of here when they go for me. All you have to do is act like a normal woman."
"I can do that." She turned to dance with him, staring at him. "May I have your name?"
He grinned. "Alex."
"You know who I am?"
"You're the reason Bucky keeps getting headaches that make him wake up swearing in Russian," he said, staring down at her. "Which we'd like to help him with but it'll take a few more months." He spun them around, glancing around them. "Hmm. Slap me and walk off."
"May I know anything more than a first name?"
He kissed her then winked. "I'm not from this realm, Natalia Romanova. Nor have I ever been until someone summoned me." She smirked, slapping him and stomping off. Alex strolled the other way toward the alleyway. Most of the team came after him. The two that weren't she could get outside. Alex was leaning against a wall smoking when the team made it out to him. "Wow, you guys are slow." A few pulled stun guns. Alex shrugged, taking another drag of the cigarette. He had picked up that bad habit from Bucky's Ka spirit. "Do you think they scare me?"
"You're coming with us, Warrior."
"I doubt that. I doubt you can make me." They advanced on him. Alex pulled a knife and waved them on. "C'mere. I'm bored. Not like I'm getting laid tonight so you'll be my fun stress relief." One advanced. Alex kicked him around then dropped him. "Next?" They rushed as a group. Alex destroyed most of them and kicked off the wall to flip over the last two. He got one in the throat with his knife, ignoring the graze to his side. He kicked the remaining one in the head a few times then stabbed him in the throat. "No thank you. You're not fun. I needed stress relief, and you guys were horrible at it." He wiped his knife off on someone's pantsleg then put it back. He stood up, staring at the man at the end of the alley. "Don't make me kill you too, Stevie." He grinned and back handsprung up onto the wall, then over it and disappeared.
Natasha looked at Steve, who was gaping in horror. "He said his name was Alex and he's never been from this realm. They summoned him. One called him Warrior."
Steve looked at her. "That was Bucky's name for me." He swallowed. "Said just like him."
She nodded. "We heard a lot about the dead coming to him for help when they summoned him."
Steve nodded. "Do you think one was Bucky?"
"They could have shoved him out of his body somehow I suppose. I have no idea how that happens."
Steve nodded again. "Can we track him?"
"I doubt it unless someone else is out and about."
Steve took a deep breath. "Can we ask?"
"Of course." She walked off to find someone's number in her phone. "It's Natasha," she said quietly. "It's nice to hear from you as well." She smiled. "No, a bit of hunting. There is someone connected to Captain America who is in the wind. Yes, him. The rumors are true but he has trainees. One named Alex..... Forger? Interesting. Documents? Mechanics. Hmm. Any ideas on them? I ran into Alex earlier when he saved me from some HYDRA agents by distracting them for me. I would, yes. So would Steve. Thank you. Of course I'm local for the moment. I'd love to have dinner. I'll see you in a few hours?" She smiled again. "Done." She hung up, looking at Steve. "There's two trainees. Forger, who does mechanical things, and Alex. They are in Brooklyn."
"Why?" Steve asked. "Did Bucky drag them there?"
"Not that they said."
"All right," Steve agreed, swallowing. "Can we find them?"
"By now they would have moved. Ask the non-Avengers." He nodded, heading off. She went to dinner.
Steve went to a bar where he knew a few lower level mutants hung out, getting a few odd looks as he sat down at the bar. "Who's here tonight that might be able to tell me where to find someone?" he asked the bartender.
"That's sometimes a dangerous question."
"A friend and his two trainees or whatever are nearby."
A guy sat down next to Steve, staring at him. "Forger's a cool guy."
"Is that his own name?" Steve asked. "Or his codename?"
"I think it's what his middle name translated to. He's a bit messed up after HYDRA tried things on him for a day." He shrugged. "At least he got the magic under control."
"Yeah." He sipped his drink. "Why are you looking for Forger?"
"I'm looking for Bucky to help him."
"Oh, him. Yeah, he's somewhere around Brooklyn. He's hiding from you but he's in Brooklyn."
"Anything you can tell me about Alex or Forger?"
"They're from some other realm. They have demons there. Alex told some bad guy he totally fucked up that he wasn't as bad as a demon that liked to eat kittens."
"That's interesting. Is that why one of them called him Warrior?"
"He appeared with a sword, got the dead gathered there to help him, and then took out a base. With a sword."
"I heard he was like a kid between Deadpool and Bucky."
The guy burst out laughing, nodding. "Yeah, a lot. Though I think those two tease each other. I can call Wade, see if he knows where they are."
"Please. I just want to help Bucky."
"Sometimes helping him isn't what you think it is. Alex has gotten some of his memories free for him." He gave him a look. "He'll find you. You know that."
"I know," he agreed. "But I'd feel better if I was sure he was somewhere safer from HYDRA than on the run. That way if anything he needs it's nearby. Or I'm nearby if he needs my help."
"The trainees are good. Alex seems to be like a movie hero sometimes but they're okay."
"I'd still like them to be closer so I could help. I want to help Bucky get better."
"I'm sure he realizes that."
"Alex called me a name Bucky used to."
"Yup," another voice said as he sat on his other side. "I can sometimes see the spirits he's sucked up." The guy in the mask stared at him. "Including the Bucky that was in the museum." Steve opened his mouth. "I guess he was out of his body thanks to HYDRA so Alex sucked him in too." He grinned at the bartender.
"You still owe a tab," the bartender said. "And no swords in the bar."
Steve put down money for them to get a beer, getting a grin from the bartender. "Can you tell Bucky I want to help him however I can?"
"I can," Deadpool agreed. "I'm pretty sure he knows that but it's painful. Every time he sees you he gets this mind cramp that makes him flinch and get headaches."
"Alex said he had one when we found him in DC."
"Yup. Then they went home to a capture attempt." Deadpool lifted the bottom of his mask to drink his beer. "Alex handled it with him."
"Someone said that Alex is like a kid between you and Bucky."
Deadpool smiled. "I'd claim that kid in a heartbeat. That'd be a kick ass kid. I'd be proud of him."
"They're local. Can you help me find them?"
"They don't want to be found. He's protecting you by not being near you. Plus not having the massive brain cramps."
"I want to help," Steve said, hanging his head.
"It's funny how Alex sucked up the old Bucky," Deadpool said, giving him a pointed stare. "But I doubt the two attack puppies will let you near the big dog."
"Hey!" someone shouted. "If you talk about them, they show up!"
"Too late," a female voice called. "But Forger is fun." She laughed. "No tickling!" The sound of a slap then she laughed some more.
Steve got up but Deadpool shook his head. "Talk to Alex, Rogers. Don't talk to Forger unless you want to talk comic books or science fiction stuff. He even gives me headaches with all that stuff." He finished his beer, got a refill, and headed to a table.
Steve nodded, glancing into the back. Forger was there. The guy stared at him. "Can I meet you two?"
Forger leaned out with a grin. "Hi, nice to meet you. I'll tell Alex."
"Have a great night." He disappeared into the back again, taking the giggling working girl with him. He could tease her mercilessly then let Alex work her out. Alex was great at that sort of thing. He was still working on his skill set here. That spell had so screwed him up.
Steve was getting coffee for him and Sam the next morning when someone behind him smiled and paid for his drink. "Thanks." He turned, smiling at the guy. "Can I buy yours for you?"
"Nah, I'm flush. Dad gave me an allowance." He took his coffee cup with a wink, heading outside.
Steve followed, handing Sam his through the car window before going after him. "Alex?" He looked back at him. "Can we talk?"
"We're going to, but not out here. There's way too many spectators." He led him to a pretty empty alley that had some boxes and almost no windows. He hopped onto a box, staring at Steve while he sipped. "What's up?"
"I want to help Bucky."
"He's helping you by not being around you. He'll draw more attention and danger to you."
"I can handle that."
"No, you can't. We've taken out at least ten bag n'tag teams." He stared at him. "Including the other night when they tried for your pretty assassin friend."
"Okay," Steve agreed. "Still, we're stronger together than apart."
"Except for the crippling headaches he gets each time he looks at your picture," Alex said. He glanced at Sam then at him. "I've helped him get some unlocked but the rest has been compressed so much it'll take outside intervention. Which we're working on but it'll be months. Months of him having crippling migraines that could lead to him being captured again unless we can take out all of HYDRA."
"I can help guard him."
Alex took a long drink of his coffee then sighed. "You're part of the problem, and maybe a later solution, but right now all you're doing is causing migraines. He can't do anything while they're going on. Including sleep, which he needs to heal."
"Can we help you guys set up a safe house?" Steve offered. "Make sure it's safe from HYDRA?"
"I'm pretty good at that." He grinned.
"Are you Asgardian?"
"No," he said, chuckling. "As I found out there's barely a comic book of my former home here. Two issues and it was ended because no one believed in strong female lead characters. In my world I fought demons."
"Oh," Steve said. "They said you appeared with a few beings."
"Yeah, including the hell god I had been helping fight. Two minutes earlier and I would've had artillery in my hand and I would've made them send me home so I could finish that battle with the girls."
"Is he okay?"
"Did you suck in Bucky's old spirit?"
"Mostly. He was hanging around. I'm slowly getting him back to his original body but we have to take out the blocks first." He turned and shot at someone, making them scream as they fell.
"Thanks," a female voice yelled.
"Welcome. Don't want assholes like that around me anyway." He put the gun up, looking at Steve again. "The things you learn in Africa dealing with stupid issues," he said dryly, then grinned. "Way too many stupid. Usually also people taking bribes from the stupid sort."
"I've seen some of those recently." Steve shifted, looking around then at him. "How can I help him?"
Alex shrugged. "Right now all you're doing is giving him a headache. We need to fix that before anything else."
"We can find a safehouse for you guys," Steve said again. "And I can check in through you. I want to make sure Bucky's okay."
"His old self said you're about to guilt yourself into another coughing fit," Alex said dryly, staring at him. Steve groaned. He grinned at the older guy. "He also said that you had better have found a dame for both of you since it's your turn because they all ignore him when you're around, just like in that bar in France." Steve laughed, nodding. "I am doing the best I can to get him back to mostly whole and then his old self can go possess him then instead of me. Though it's nice that I can now dance and he's embarrassed when I sleep around." He shrugged, tossing out his empty coffee cup.
"He used to date all the time."
"Yeah, I keep getting lectures about easy sluts and how good girls in his day put out but not that way.... Oh, and he said he complains a lot about oral sex. Apparently it's not manly enough for his style." He grimaced, looking off to the left. "Yay. They like it, that's why they come back." He paused. "Yeah, I know, the last one was an assassin. He was like my fourth, get over it." He rolled his eyes. "He's a bit of a prude."
"Yeah, he had his moments but back then gay guys were illegal. You got locked up for that stuff," Steve said.
"I get that. I really do." He grinned again. "Thankfully I've never dealt with that sort beyond our former mayor being a germphobic prude who hated sex." He slid off the box. "I'll tell him you're going to quit hunting him so we only have to escape *one* group?" Steve nodded. "I'll try to keep him as safe as I can and I'll call if I have to go rescue him again. Not the first time this year. Unfortunately." Steve grimaced but nodded, looking down. Alex smiled at him. "He said you're moping and you should at least go dancing. It'll cure that with some ice cream." He looked up then grinned. "Also, if we run into something serious, I'll gladly call you guys instead of handling it."
"What if HYDRA comes again?" Sam asked.
Alex looked at him. "Then we handle it. We've handled a few of them over the last few years, Mr. Wilson." He smirked and waved. Then he looked at Steve. "Some day you'll have most of your old friend back, with a lot more damaged memories and the occasional need for a lube job. Just have some patience. Like a dame, sometimes you gotta wait on 'em."
Steve nodded. "I can wait but I want to keep track of him in case he needs me to help him heal."
"Sure. You can do that. We make some subtle waves when we move. People want to fondle the arm and it freaks him out."
Steve laughed. "It's pretty and shiny but Bucky was always good with the dames."
"Yeah but now they think he's emo." He walked off. "We'll see you later."
"Please do. Just let me know when I can help."
"Sure." He climbed a wall, disappearing back into the buildings.
Steve looked at Sam, who shrugged. "It will take time for him to integrate those memories and deal with them."
"I know, still blows chunks." He walked back to where Sam was waiting, walking off with him. "Alex seemed a bit nice."
"He seemed hard, like he's seen too many battles."
"Apparently they were battling demons there."
"That's just...nasty," Sam said, shaking his head. "Very nasty." He finished his coffee and tossed the cup into a trash can they walked past. "Bucky will be fine. At least you know he's okay now."
"Alex seems able to help him."
"I'm hoping we can help all three of them. They clearly need some safety. When they're ready, they'll come to you for it."
Steve nodded. "I'm hoping it'll be soon." They went back to Steve's apartment to make further plans. They really did need some new safehouse locations. Natasha joined them with bags of food for lunch. She was great at setting up safehouses so that and lunch was a welcome help.
Forger and Alex looked at each other two weeks later. They were in deep shit. Bucky was knocked out. There were supposed SHIELD agents surrounding them. Alex shrugged. "The old way?"
"The new works better for you than me. Your deal took almost all my skills from me."
"I meant you take the old way?"
"Yeah, I'm set for that."
"Shut up and don't move," an agent ordered.
"That's not in my makeup," Alex said simply. "If a hell goddess couldn't make me shut the fuck up, you sure as hell won't." Forger released something and Alex went into super speedy mode. Yeah, he got shot in the arm and grazed a few other times but the agents were all down. Two permanently. Alex looked at his arm and sighed. "I hate new scars. Forger?"
"They're down," he said, putting something else down. "Get Bucky?"
"We can both carry him. He's more solid than he looks." They carried him out, hotwiring an agent's car. Forger was driving. "Any idea what they did?"
"Some sort of electrical pulse. That's why I called. You know more electronics than I do."
"Great." He checked Bucky's eye but he tried to grab him by the throat. "That's real nice for the ones who saved your ass."
"Who are you?"
Alex huffed. "Great. They made you forget again." The man sat up carefully, looking around. Alex looked up then at him. "Okay, let's remove this memory thing." Bucky tried to grab him but Forger cast something and Alex backed it up by zapping him. Then the old Bucky tried to possess himself. It didn't fully work but partially. Bucky floated back to Xander shaking his head. "More blocks?"
"A few," the ghost said. "But it's healing. Slightly." He climbed back into Alex's body.
Bucky shook his head a few times. "What was that?"
Bucky stared at him. "Why did you do that?"
"Do you remember who I am now?"
"You're Andrew. Also known as Alex."
"I am. And you remember Forger?" He pointed at him.
"Yes," he said, glancing at him then at Andrew. "You're hit."
"Through and throughs and a graze. I'm good. I'm more worried about you. You got mind zapped."
"I can tell by the headache." He looked around. "We're in New York?"
"We're moving tonight," Forger said. "Let me pick up Fang and the weapons." Bucky grunted, nodding.
"Thanks," Alex said. "Do we have to tell anyone?"
"No," Forger said. "Not hardly."
"Why did you two switch names?" Bucky asked, getting comfortable.
"Because they thought I was the warrior they didn't get with him." He smiled at Bucky. "They weren't totally wrong but I'm not the nice one."
Forger shook his head. "No he's not. Though it's nice that the demons gifted you with my weird possession streak."
"It's not bad. They're friendly most of the time." He looked at Forger's neck. "That thing is in the black again."
"I'll deal with it in a few."
"Thanks. Don't want you to go totally feral when the chip shorts out." Forger grinned back at him before parking and getting out. "Let me get the kits."
"Sit," Forger ordered, heading up to grab everything and the cat.
Bucky looked at the wounds. "What happened?"
"I took out some SHIELD agents."
"Great. That'll cause problems."
"Not likely. They're not supposed to exist." He grinned. "And if they keep it up, I'm going to have a fit."
Forger came back, tossing back the soft-sided pack that was their med pack and carefully putting the cat in the front seat with him. Then he went back up and came down with their backpacks. They went into the trunk and he got back in to drive. "Okay, we're heading where?"
"Somewhere not here," Forger said as he drove them off. He paused and got out, leaning on the hood to stare at the young woman standing there. "Hi." He grinned. "Looking for someone?"
"Looking out for someone, Forger."
"How do you know about me?"
She grinned, flipping some hair back. "I'm Hawkeye's protege and Natasha told him, so he told me to be careful around you and if I found you to help you out."
"We're just evacuating for a bit. SHIELD decided to play bad games. You should go be safe."
"Safe is not being an archer." She moved closer. "If you're having problems with SHIELD, talk to the Captain about talking to his groupie, their former handler that supposedly died. He's in charge."
"That's good to know. Thank you."
She smirked. "Welcome. Shoo, go, don't forget to call the pouty Captain guy. It'll help." She strolled off. "Going to deal with the idiots in the bro mafia group."
"Have fun with them. I did," he called after her. He got into the car, looking back at Bucky.
"That will draw him deeper," he said quietly.
Forger nodded. "It may." He restarted the car, moving off. "We'll see if we can plan around that." Bucky nodded, relaxing. Fang started to meow so he handed her back to Alex. She was his cat, she only listened to him. Even if she was a Bucky's arm groupie.
The next night, Forger was in a dark office when a man walked in. "Ya know, it's weird when we have to have talks." He turned the chair around, staring at the woman behind the man. "Shoo. I'm not going to hurt him. Just lay some truth and I know your kind, Agent May. Shoo. Now." He stared at her.
"Go, it'll be fine," the guy said, closing the door but staying over there. "Who're you?"
"Forger." He grinned. "I suspect by now that you've gotten the report on some of your people attacking us last night. Alex and I were not amused. We really weren't amused to have to redo all the unscrewing we've done with Bucky's poor mind."
"That wasn't us."
"They said they were SHIELD."
"There's a second group."
"They're still stupid." He stared at him. "To drop some intel on you means that someone should probably trust you. I don't but you're a complication I don't need to deal with while we deal with HYDRA trying to get him and us back."
"You were an agent?"
"No. They summoned us when they wanted a mystical weapon. Had no idea what they were doing. They were trying to get the infinity stones again." He shrugged. "I'm good but not infinite."
Phil Coulson grimaced. "Why would they try that?"
"You get them all, you get the special powers as a prize," he said dryly, smirking at him. "Just like the visions say you'll have to fight after the whole civil war tears the rest of the US apart." He tipped his head to the side a bit, staring at him. "It needs to be noted that Bucky has not a single full memory of anything that happened before he got woken the last time."
"We found their lab in the bank. The chair?"
"Compressed memories into a tiny little box in his mind. We've been working on it but the ones who want to help so much are a danger to us and them. It's also making the problem worse. All we want to do is get him healthy, get him able to legitimately make his own decisions, and then find a way to send me and Alex home. You guys are a complication we don't want."
"They probably wanted to interrogate him."
"Yet they fired something at him to white out his mind again. So no, I doubt they wanted to interrogate him. Use him maybe, but not interrogate. There's no way they'd get anything with his mind whited out that way."
"I can agree with that interpretation but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm not in charge of them so I can't make them stop."
"That's not how this works," Forger said simply. "Because they need to stop. Today. Otherwise we're going to have to consider them as corrupt and dangerous as HYDRA is to us, and then we'll have to retaliate. Considering Alex and I both used to hunt demons and I'm rather skilled in a few areas...." He smiled. "It should be heard by them as well."
"What if they try to detain you since you're not native?"
"Then they're in for a rude surprise. We're not normal and we weren't even before HYDRA had us for all of a day." He grinned. "I seriously wasn't normal before and Alex asked to have some of my luck when he got brought. That's why the demons they accidentally brought with them helped us take down the lab." He stared at the older man, who winced. "We're not happy campers to have been summoned. We're protecting Bucky and he taught Alex a lot he didn't know before. Unfortunately I've been places that the level of stupid this is becoming is epidemic. And the more stupid it gets, the worse we'll have to react.
"It's your choice to make us react and this is the only warning any of us will give. Because if I have to deal with them, so be it. Or in our world, so mote it be." Bells rang out. "Got it?" Coulson nodded. "Good." He smiled. "I'll let you call your people to yell at them and make more complicated plans that won't work. Because frankly, we're not going to fall for the comic book bullshit levels that you guys put out." He leaned down once he stood up. "If I can take down a cult that was hoarding biological weapons by screwing a few of them then turning them on each other, then I can handle this in a totally different, unique way." He smiled. "I hope we have a truce. It'd be really nice not to have to run from everyone when they show up." He left through the window but disappeared into the sewer before anyone could catch him.
Phil Coulson reached over to stop his tape recorder, then called the others in to hear it. "I want to know what they did. We need to stop that."
"He was an asset."
"He was brainwashed," Skye complained. "Even Rogers said he has no memories of anything. Who was that guy?"
"By the information we have, he's called Forger. I have no idea why. I'm not sure if anyone knows." They all nodded, getting down to researching and stopping the other SHIELD group from interrupting.
This could get very bad very quickly if they didn't stop it.
Bucky looked at Alex later that night. "Why did you pick him to emulate?"
"The others had no idea how to street brawl. I needed to be tougher." He grinned. "Besides, I had to use a living example for the battle memories to be crafted from." Bucky nodded. "It worked out okay."
"Good. What about getting home?"
"After you're healed I will." Bucky scowled. "It's the easiest way so I don't bring the old you with me."
"Fine." He went back to his sandwich. "Where is he?"
"Discussing some 'I really wish you wouldn't' ideas some groups have had."
"To keep us out of the way of the fighting."
"That's not practical."
"It can be. We'll have to wait and see." He dug into his own dinner. "Can I have some sparring time later please?"
"Of course. You need to stay in practice." Alex grinned, digging in again. The cat almost made a noise from her spot on top of the cabinets so Alex put down a piece of chicken for her. She hopped down to eat it then went back up there after letting him rub her ears for a few minutes. She was so spoiled sometimes.
Bucky just shook his head. He wasn't used to owning a cat.
The young woman sat down boldly across from the older guy sipping some milk. She smiled at him. "Do I know you, miss?" he asked, putting down his glass.
"I needed to tell you they moved."
"Your former buddy. Mr. Hot Arm and Racoon Eyes." Steve stiffened. "The SHIELD that's not your former handler's version tried to grab the three of them. They whited him out but they got it fixed." She glanced around then at him. "So they're safe but not local."
"Thank you. Are you... who are you?"
She grinned, pulling her bow around. "I'm the other Hawkeye, Captain." She winked and got up, strolling off.
Steve sent a text message on his way back to his apartment. Sam was already looking things up.
Natasha walked in behind him. "May said Forger popped in for a talk," she noted. "Told Agent May off but they talked for about twenty minutes about how they didn't want to consider SHIELD another threat." He stared at her. "It may not have fully helped but it was an effective warning. They at least researched the two boys."
"Any idea if it can help them any?" Steve asked.
"Not yet," she said. "Though I've heard that Alex is still trying to get home. I have no idea how that'll work since someone last night told me that Alex had asked for the other one's gifts and skills when he appeared or just before he was summoned." He stared at her. "I don't know why he couldn't get himself free if he had the same skills."
"Probably too many there to get him," Steve said. She shrugged, sitting down at the table to help Sam. Steve considered it. Alex was a bit scary. He was like a movie spy when he fought. So what was Forger like when he fought?
Forger sat down across from Bucky, getting a curious look. "Let me help you with the meditation."
"Can you do it better than him?"
"Yeah, I actually learned how to do that. He got some memories and my fighting abilities." He grinned. "I'm actually trained for it." Bucky nodded, letting Xander lead him down into his mind and onto the spirit plane. He hadn't been here before and looked at the young guy that appeared next to him. The guy was slightly younger looking than Forger, had an eyepatch, was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, plus combat boots. He was wearing an open hunting knife and there was a hyena following him. The young one looked up then the old him appeared with a few other spirits. "Okay, guys, let's find the blocks." They moved on Bucky, who wanted to fight back but knew it'd be a problem if he did.
The old Bucky stared at his new self. "The fighting is the programming having a panicky girl fit."
Bucky stared at him. "I'm not you."
"No, I'm you from before the Army." He grinned. "The us from the Army is hidden in there. He's the one that's been squeezed to a pulp." He moved closer, staring into his eyes. "You can do this. We can do this." He looked back. "Xander?"
"It's good. You guys have to do that sort of work yourself. If I remove the blocks I can see it could harm him." He walked over, pointing at a few places. "I see large blades there. Like in a magic show." He wiggled one and Bucky yelled, holding his head. "Yeah, that's what they did to you." He looked at the old Bucky, who grabbed that plate to remove it for himself. Bucky tried to fight off the pain but they got two out. The old Bucky was all right, but Xander was a bit bruised from the fighting. Xander snatched one before sending Bucky back to his mind.
Bucky woke up with a yell.
Forger woke up, staring at him. "How's the headache? I can make that tea." Bucky stared at him, panting. "There's another ten plates."
"Fuck," he said in Russian.
"Basically, yeah. But they have to come out if you want to regain those memories."
"The ones I'm getting I don't want!"
"They turned you into an animal, Bucky. You were programmed. That's a later healing point. Once you remember what you need to heal from." Bucky stomped off swearing at him. Forger looked at the old Bucky's ghost, who shrugged.
"Give it a few hours, kiddo. He'll calm down. I always did whenever Stevie pissed me off."
"This is worse than that."
"Probably, yeah." He went to hover in front of himself. Bucky stared at him. "I can't even see the plates. I doubt it'll get any more pretty. Once they're gone we can fix the damaged parts."
"I don't want to remember some of that."
"I'm sure you don't. If you want to remember the rest, we have ta free those." He stared down at him. "Which do you want? To wonder or to know?"
Bucky nodded. "I'd rather not know right now."
"I get that. I can't agree with it, but I get it." Bucky glared. Bucky shrugged. "I'm you, buddy. I remember our sister. You don't. Or our mother." Bucky nodded, slumping some. "So, there's going to be bad things. They're all about the bad things. They turned you into one."
"I can't be that."
"No, you can't. Once you remember, they can't use you again." Bucky stared at him. "Even if they compress you again, I'll be in there so I can come back. We can put in trip switches or something."
Forger came in, handing over a mug of tea. He moved behind Bucky to work on his tense shoulders and back. "It'll help."
"It's not that sort of pain." He waved him off.
"Drink the tea. Shut up, and deal with it. It'll cause you more pain and it'll keep you from moving right in case they come again." He looked at the spirit. "There's plenty I don't want to remember and it's not as bad as his."
"True," he agreed. "I've seen into your mind. You did bad shit for the right reasons, kiddo." He looked at himself. "A few more of those and we can fix it all."
"The tea has a mild sedative herb so he can get some sleep without nightmares," Forger said. "It's something I've had to use in the past after apocalypse battles."
"I saw a few of those," the old Bucky said, shuddering. "Damn."
"Basically." He grinned, going back to it. Alex came in to help him take care of Bucky. They got him down. Forger went back to the spirit plane while meditating, removing the rest of the blocks on him while he was down. It'd hurt him less. Then he pulled the old Bucky in to send him in there to help him sort things out. Forger came out, got dinner made, then went to rest.
Bucky woke up in the morning, and woke up Forger by staring at him until he woke up. "That's dirty pool."
"Yep." He sat up, staring at him. "Did it work?"
"Yeah, so far. What if they come back?"
"In case you hadn't noticed, the old you is highly protective and a bastard when he needs to be." He gave him a pointed look. "The chair's destroyed. I did that when they tried to put me into it. The dead people helped me a lot."
"That's still weird."
"It's not my fault I'm like an open suit for them." He shrugged, getting up. "Let me start breakfast."
"Alex did." He walked out. "Can it be undone anyhow?"
"Only if you do it," Forger said, coming out. "He'll make sure it won't happen again. Eventually he'll end up merging with this new you so you're one person again."
"That's good to know." He settled in with his scrambled eggs and toast. Forger grabbed some coffee. "Eat something."
"I'm good. I'll eat in a while."
"Now," Alex called. "I know you've done this before but yay!"
Forger came back with an eyeroll but did settle in to eat. Everything could be gone over later. Bucky would still need some help and support to finish opening things up.
Alex looked around at their new city from their rooftop. "Why are we back here?" he asked.
Forger looked at him. "Because it's one of the few places where we can get things to help Bucky remember. Plus they won't be waiting for him here. The few HYDRA agents here in town are still trying to take over, so we're out of notice. They'd never consider us here. If so, it's helping by getting them out of the way."
"I have to do what?"
Forger looked at him. "Don't make me beat you." Alex walked off rolling his eyes. Forger got the plans they'd need and went down to talk to Bucky, who was back in bed. So he'd go handle it himself.
"Don't you dare," Alex called. "They could be watching for you."
Forger looked at him. "They don't want another feral incident. The only way they'll take me is dead, and that's not going to happen because then I'm no use to them. They'll try something and when they do, you guys go back up there." He winked and left, going to draw some attention to HYDRA's people. Some were really open. They were stupid too. So sure, a robbery in their office would help when it drew news people.
Steve flinched, looking up as someone landed on the ground next to him. "Alex? Is Bucky okay?"
"We're fine. We moved both of us back up here after Forger nearly got caught in DC getting information for Bucky. He's still really mad at Forger so if you see him can you detain him so we can yell at him?" He walked off shaking his head. "He said be home later."
"I can do that." He looked so confused but oh well.
Forger landed in Steve's apartment, shrugging. "He's staring." He handed over the backpack he carried. "The stuff they have on you and him. It was too important not to grab when I was in there disabling the self destruct modules." He gave him a look. Then behind him the window closed. "I stopped their plot to destroy parts of DC."
Bucky stared at him. "I should kill you."
"You can try but it won't work for you either." He stared at him. "Beyond that, I took out another two units of HYDRA. Full units." Bucky stared, mouth open. "And took out their self destruct units, plus their new robotic army. All that took was the mouse." He waved a hand in the air. "Beyond that, be mad. It's good you're having emotions again." Bucky glared. Forger shrugged. "It is." He looked around. "Rogers, who lives above you?"
"That's why I can hear an electronic squeal." He opened the window, climbing out and up there. He let himself in, staring at her. "They're talking."
"Who are you?" she demanded.
"Forger." He grinned. "I gave Steve info on the people I had to bypass down there plus stuff on them." He sat on the windowsill. "Leave Bucky alone please. He's still really confused. We've just barely gotten the blocks removed. He's barely starting to remember. Including you."
He held up a hand. "Don't. Just...don't. I can still see spirits. Including the you that's following you around. The Egyptians had a point when they talked about the Ka."
She blinked. "There is?" He nodded. "Is she young?"
"Ish. Late teens. Looks really angry."
"Bucky's was his old self before the army. Yours is younger than his was but not by much."
She nodded. "Is she trying to pass anything on?"
"I think she's confused." He looked at that spirit. "Anything?" He walked over to touch her hand. She pulled back, giving him a scared look. "I'm not them. I can talk to her."
She barely touched his hand. "She is not doing what they would want."
"She said you're not doing what they would want," he said. "Things have changed since then. They were wrong people. They did wrong things. They made you do wrong things."
She nodded. "I survived."
"You did survive. It's a credit to your strength. You've proved you were stronger." She smiled shyly, ducking behind her hair. He moved it off her cheek, smiling at her. "Do you need to tell her anything?"
"The new masters seem kinder. I like them. They use our skills better."
Forger looked at her. "She said she likes the new masters better. They use your skills better and they seem kinder."
Natasha grimaced. "They are, though I do choose a lot of my own missions."
"That means you grew up," the younger Natasha spirit said.
"She said that means you grew up."
"You lead others who could be us. You make a good Widow Mother."
Forger repeated that. Natasha winced. "I would not want anyone to do what we did."
She nodded. "I can see why." Forger chanted something, letting her appear to her older self, stepping back to get out of the way. "You will not be that harsh but you can teach others how to survive like we did."
"I can and have," she agreed quietly.
The younger one smiled at her. "You survived and that's the most important thing. You graduated when thousands haven't." Natasha nodded. "That's something special."
"You're welcome. I'm still watching over you. Sometimes you need to remember how strong we are. Before others try to make you weak enough to be taken down." She touched her cheek, smiling at her. "We'll survive for a very long time."
"Sometimes the weakness is an art to itself."
"True, and we learned that. But not all that makes you weak is an art and not all that are arts are weaknesses." She patted her again. "You will find a weakness in yourself, the same as they said you'd have one. It doesn't mean it's a bad thing. You found one that wasn't a bad thing. Friendship made you stronger." She faded out.
Natasha looked around but the boy was gone. She took a deep, centering breath, then went to take a shower. That was weird and making her skin itch. She saw things much differently when she was a teenager. Now she knew what true weaknesses she had and how to use them to her benefit. Including friendship.
Downstairs, Alex snuck in. "Guys, HYDRA just pulled up dressed like SHIELD agents. We've got to go."
"Let me call Natasha," Steve said, grabbing a few things to shove into his emergency kit. He and Bucky went out the window and headed in different directions. Alex went with him. Natasha finally answered and agreed she could be safe and leave. Steve looked at where Bucky had disappeared but he couldn't see him. He could hear a few quiet gunshots though. So they were apparently handling it.
Forger watched, he was too far away to get there in time to help, and he followed when they managed to overpower Alex. Bucky had disappeared. Forger could fix this though. He had a lot of experience in handling problems. He followed them back to their lair.
"You didn't get all of the self destruction devices," the man staring at the bound Alex sneered. "Not by a long shot."
"You'd be shocked, though that wasn't me." He smiled. "Don't you worry about it though. I'm pretty sure our mouse will get the rest."
"Mouse?" he sneered. "What sort of mouse can disarm things?"
Forger came in through the window, shooting the others but leaving that guy. "The sort that can do many interesting things. I used it while destroying a demon cult." He shot him in the forehead, making him die. He undid the bounds, getting a nod. "Go. I'll clean this mess up."
"You hate to see dead people." He looked at his cohort. "Just go. Help Bucky."
"Yup, I'll see you soon?"
"Probably." Alex snuck out. Forger took a second to download the computers in there and then went to destroy things. He was great it. He was so great at it when new guards came rushing in he let himself slip into the feral state to give them what they wanted. They wanted him, they could have him in ways they never expected. He ran into a few heros trying to get in and shook his head. "There's nothing left in there." He walked around them. One of them tried to grab him but yelped as his hand burned. "Not a great idea, dear." He blew a kiss and grinned. "They're gone. They really shouldn't come after us. We get mean. We've learned well before we even got pulled here." He ran off, going over a wall and into the river to lose them.
"Who was that?" Stark demanded.
"Forger," Hawkeye said as he joined them. "One of the two guys that HYDRA pulled trying to get a mystical weapon. He's been helping Barnes. Natasha's asked about him a few times." He looked in there. Then at Stark. "There's a lot of things that we shouldn't look like a threat to." He walked in. "Guys, can we have the remains?" he asked.
One of the ghosts floated over to him, patting him on the cheek. "Yes. They are not fully judged but we will do the rest for you. That way they can't escape." She smiled. "You are good, Hawkeye. One day you'll be one of us." She floated off. "Finish up." They pulled out the souls that were going with them then left the facility past all the heros waiting. One of them shuddered, looking down. She paused in front of her. "Your brother is not one of us. He is at peace, child." She looked up at her. "It could be much worse. Trust that the other side is mad at those sort too for how many of us they add." She disappeared.
The young woman wrapped her arms around herself, shivering. Stark pulled her closer, ignoring her shoving at him. "Are you all right?" She nodded. "Want to go wait in the car?" She nodded, going to do that. Stark walked in there. "What was that?"
"Forger can call up dead spirits," Clint Barton said, looking at him. "He did that when he got pulled here. He used to hunt demons from what little we know."
Stark blinked. "Seriously?" Clint nodded. "That's...wrong on so many levels."
"He was in DC getting things for Bucky a few days back, and found self destruct things." He walked off. "Computer array, Stark." Clint checked the rest of the bodies. No one was alive and they all looked horrified. The few that had gunshot wounds weren't horrified. That told him all he needed to know. Forger hadn't done most of the work himself, he had asked them to do it for him. He really wanted to know what the guy could *really* do. The rumors about him were weird and contradictory.
Stark shuddered. "That's just wrong. So very wrong." The rest of the team went over the facility to find out what they had been planning. It'd help them predict what was going to come their way next.
Forger handed over the bag. "The crystals you need. One's large and needs to be split."
"Thanks." He looked then at the park. "Here?"
"We should be safe enough here and I can guard while you set it up."
Alex laid out the crystals. "You're missing one."
"I told you one was larger and needed to be split."
"Oh. Thanks." He did that with a dagger and a rock as a hammer. Those two pieces got put into place by the diagram Alex had found. The three stones got put in the center then he pulled out a sharper dagger. "Come on. You have to be in here before I start."
"If I step in now, it'll drag all the spirits with me. I'll step across when you have it open."
"Are going to be warped by me, Andrew. The hellmouth taint I carry will see to it, and if they don't, the spirits will." He stared at him. "Just do it!"
"I need laid, Andrew. Just...make the circle."
Andrew nodded, sighing as he laid the protections around it then let his blood drip slowly onto the three center stones as he chanted the spell. He felt it open. "Okay, it's open, Xander."
"Go." He turned to fire on someone stomping their way. "Go, 'Drew! Now!"
"Andrew!" He pointed. "Go!" He slipped through the portal. Xander stepped toward it but no, he was hit by his former skills coming back. "At least he has the memories and the training to help him." The portal snapped and he grinned. "Yeah, baby, I'm back now." He leapt and killed the bad guy, then landed and grinned. "Thanks for the training help too, Bucky." He looked at him.
"You knew you couldn't go back," he said from the tree he was resting against.
"Not with the power I hold. The spirits are enough to keep me here, much less the magical radiation I have." He shrugged but grinned. "So I could really use the sparring time again."
"Yes you could." He stared at him. "You're not a movie spy. I couldn't make Alex see that at times."
"Bullshit. I've taken out two hell gods by myself." He grinned. "To keep little girls from doing it themselves."
"I know programs like that."
"We ended one."
"Good." He moved closer, walking around the steaming body. "What is that?"
"Demonic." He shrugged. "It happens." He yawned. "Andrew needs to sleep." He looked at the spell circle, breaking it by picking up the stones. They went back into the bag with the bloody stones. He carried them off. "Where are we heading, boss?"
Forger looked at him. "Which home? The home I inherited by killing someone in the sack? Your home? Did he take his cat?" Bucky nodded, rolling his eyes. "Good. Fang is really his cat." He looked around. "We have guests."
"It's Steve's friend."
"Hmm. Not exactly." He sniffed. "Someone wears gardenia perfume. Do you really think the guy with the wings does?"
Bucky sniffed. "How can you smell that?"
"Hyena taint." He grinned. Then he turned and fired a sedative dart at someone. "No. Not your type, sweetheart." He walked off. "Let me go get dinner. I'm hungry for a change."
Bucky followed. "Put the stones safely somewhere first?"
"On the way home."
"Okay. Want me to give it to Steve?"
"What's he going to do with magic supplies? The last time I looked, the shield did not give him magic."
"How did you get it? Andrew had it naturally."
"Hellmouth taint." He smirked. "The damn thing loves me and it's here in the US anyway. All three of the ones on this world have checked up on me, petted me fondly, and told me to be a good boy." He ran off, disappearing into the night.
"Great, mystical holes that lead to hell dimensions like him like the cat used to," Bucky complained, heading off into the night so he could eat and think. He was still merging the memories. He ran into Wilson and shrugged. "You just have to get used to them."
"The other one home?"
"Yeah. Thankfully. He's mostly gentle. The other one...he's been in too many big things to be anything but hard." He walked around him. "I'm still merging them."
"Ya know, I'm a counselor for the VA," he called after him.
"I read your dossier," he called back with a wave. "Maybe some day."
"Or him, if he needs me."
Bucky paused to look at him. "I doubt you'd help him any, Wilson. He's not exactly going to ever be a normal guy. Hunting demons does that you apparently." He disappeared.
Sam called in that contact and information, going to see who Forger had knocked out. Steve was complaining that he had lost both of them again. Bucky was invisible wherever he was and Forger had been picked up by some lady in a cadillac. By the time Natasha had tracked the car, Bucky was out of the city, Forger was making her squeal happily in New Jersey, and they figured out she was an arms dealer. Then Forger disappeared into the daylight before they could bust in to capture him.
Andrew landed at home after a few side trips on the way, the path hadn't been direct, and came out into a battle. He stared then dispassionately fired on the two higher beings, killing them. Then the two human mages that had summoned them went. "Hi, all," he said when the slayers stared at him. He grinned. "I'm back."
"What happened!" Buffy demanded, stomping over, bloody sword in her hand still.
"HYDRA. Bad comic book guys with ideas of purity and power. They were trying to summon a mystical weapon. That's what got Xander and me." He stared down at her, being a bit taller than she was. "He's okay as of when I left. I had borrowed his skills for the battle and that's what got me," he said quietly, grinning some. "Then we had to help a guy who was screwed over worse than the PTB do to any of you ladies. I learned a lot from the real warriors over there."
"Like the guy was part of a team that basically won their World War II. He was the second-in-command guy." She shuddered. "I learned a lot." He smiled at the others, waving some, then put his guns up. "Sorry, new habits aren't going to die at all." He looked at her. "So, I'm now able to plan battles, and explosives and all sorts of neat things I had to learn. Especially after I ended up sucking up Xander's ability to suck in ghosts." He walked off with her. "It'll be okay and Xander's fine, Buffy."
"He's normal and so are you."
He stared at her. "Buffy, I took down a whole troop of warriors all by myself just last night," he said plainly. "All of them human." She shuddered, stepping away. "Because it was them or me. And it ended up being me who survived. The same as Xander's done in Africa. I may have copied his skill memories and then trained them so they're mine now, but I'm still Andrew. I'll step in when the girls need me to. Including on patrol some nights. That way none of the human based problems we've had start again." He walked off, going to hug his favorite slayers. "C'mon, I feel the need to make cocoa. I haven't had to do more than simple foods for about a month. And that dish was a casserole." They gathered around to escort him back. Giles stopped him so Andrew grinned at him. "Borrowing Xander's skills with that wish was really handy but why HYDRA took me. Comic book bad guys that I'm still better than." He walked around him. "I've got a journal you can bum for the reports, Giles."
"Please, then we'll be talking, Andrew. You seem different."
Andrew smirked back at him. "I wished for some of Xander's skills for the battle. I got most of them for almost a year now. Thankfully I trained most of them into me so I'm going to keep them. Hopefully not the possession one, but the others are kinda neat. I had no idea why women got all moany on him." He grinned, heading to the kitchen with the girls.
Buffy stomped in. "He's taken out humans."
"Humans are those things that endangered slayers lives," Andrew quipped from the kitchen. "Including the one group that wanted to sacrifice you all for being *women* who dared to fight." He leaned out to look at her. "Did you yell at Xander for saving three baby slayers in Africa by taking that group out?"
"I didn't know he did or I would've!" she shouted.
He nodded. "A lot of the girls overseas don't tell you a lot of things because you'd have a hissy, just like you are now." He tipped his head slightly to the side. "We never hurt anything or anyone unless they make us, Buffy. If they make us, it's going to be them instead of us or the slayers. Ask Giles, I'm sure he's gotten some reports." Giles nodded, taking off his glasses to rub at his eyes with the hand holding them. "We're sorry this blew how you see the world but you deal with undead killing and we'll deal with the humans that try to kill you back for it." He went back to his cocoa making for the slayers and started on a real dinner. They clearly hadn't been eating properly if the stack of takeout boxes and pizza boxes were any sort of sign.
Buffy would calm down. He hoped. If not, he'd figure it out and maybe go take over Xander's route in Africa. Just in case he needed to know how to fight the possessions again.
Forger landed in Africa and went to find a shaman he had trained with. Yeah, it was going to be a lot of fighting. He hoped the slight vision of the man ripping into him for daring to use his gifts to defend them all and deal with the HYDRA people wouldn't come true. It had been bad. The shaman had compared him to Rosenburg when she was full-blown magic addiction. He was almost depressed that it could turn out that way. Of course, the man had never been that mean to him in the past but you never knew.
He paused to change at a motel overnight. Now he looked more like a normal person instead of a soldier or a warrior. Not that he wasn't wearing weapons but not as openly. He drove into the village, looking around. The clinic and everything else looked the same. He parked behind the clinic and walked around to the market, nodding at the women he remembered. He bought food, using the local language. She smiled and made a nice deal with him. He went to the shaman's tent, knocking on the door before walking in.
The old man stared at him. "You didn't take the warning."
"I was hoping it was just a crackhead dream," he said, sitting in front of him like a student would. "Is it wrong to help heal him?"
"You used his spirit against him."
"No. I let them merge once I had removed the blocks they created. They smashed his mind to little pieces. He had no memories of anything. Worse than one that had a head injury, he knew he was missing things. He was getting flashes and his Ka was hanging around. I accidentally sucked his spirit in for a few minutes. I just...sent it back to the original owner and helped them meet again."
"That may be healing, but what of his mind if it happens again."
"He didn't do it to himself. Evil ones did it to him, made him an attacking beast for them against his will."
The shaman nodded. "There's many of those in this world." He stared at him. "You still used those skills to attack."
"I let the ones they killed have justice for it," Xander defended.
The shaman nodded. "That is one way of viewing them killing them."
Xander nodded. "True. It does look bad, but without it they never would've found peace. Which is worse? Dealing with people who treat people like experiments by letting their victims take justice or leaving unquiet spirits that will some day hurt innocents?"
"In that choice there's no good one." Xander nodded, looking down. "Do you still think it was the right use of your gifts?"
"Yes." He looked up at him. "I do. Because they stole me as well. Some day I'll be the same sort of spirit that'll need to be quieted. I hope someone lets me."
The shaman nodded. "That makes sense for one as angry as you."
"I'm pretty sure you've seen the world I came from."
"I have been shown, yes. Including why we met." He stared at the young. "You should eat. You brought lunch."
"You taught me to never show up without food," he said dryly, smiling at him. "Lunch?"
He took a piece of fruit to sniff. "A bit unripe but it'll make a good dinner." He put it aside.
Xander felt that bad feeling. "Oh, Goddess no," he mumbled, saying a prayer. He looked at his trainer, who smiled sadly. "Please?"
"I'm sorry but they were here first."
Xander nodded, flipping to his feet and barely missing the bullet aimed at his back. It hit his hip. Xander killed them and a few others that rushed in. He looked at the shaman. "I'll see you on the spirit plane, Elder. I'm sorry they corrupted you." He ran out, dodging bullets. His rental jeep had a bomb on it. But they hadn't found the magically hidden things. He pulled them out and released them. The bad guys went down in a hail of screaming as the acid shot across them. He made sure he didn't hit any of the villagers. A few were hiding and one had a knife. One of the village elders had a gun. "I'm not here to hurt you. I came to talk to the one who trained me," he called. "I'd be peaceful if they hadn't shot me."
"It is as the highers will," the elder said. He fired on him.
Xander shook his head and said a prayer as he set the bomb he pulled off the jeep off before throwing it toward them. It went off and he felt bad. He felt sick. He felt like he was going to puke right then and there, even though there was still a large danger to him. He walked off, taking what he needed with him. Behind him, the spirits came at the old shaman's call and turned on him and the others for having them die. One came after Xander and he paused, bowing at her. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I didn't know they'd be there or I wouldn't have come."
She nodded. "They had already poisoned us. It just released us." She patted him on the cheek. "There's many of them here. There's only one of you."
He choked back a laugh and a sob. "You told me that once about a demon enclave I had to take down because no one could help me." She nodded, fading out. Xander decided on his course and he could handle this. He looked up. "Is this what you wanted to try to break me? Because it won't work. The world can burn and I'm still myself." He woke up with a scream, panting hard. Someone touched his shoulder and he broke her hand then flinched. "I'm sorry. Sorry." He got up, going to the small airplane bathroom, then he came back to help her. "I didn't realize it was you, ma'am. I thought you were a hostile entity." She nodded, letting him wrap and brace her hand for her. The pilot was scowling. "I had a flashback," he said quietly. "They happen and there's nothing you can do about them but survive. I won't fall asleep again." The pilot went back up to the cockpit and Xander went back to his seat.
That had to be a real vision.
That meant the Powers That Be knew about him being taken and had probably allowed it.
Which meant the slayers at home were screwed and the vision that said he couldn't go home was right.
He'd have to deal with it himself.
He didn't even fight when they took him off the plane. He looked at one of the agents. "I'm sorry. I had a flashback; I fixed her hand so it'll heal all right but I did apologize. You guys know you can't fight those."
One of the agents nodded. "I've seen others have them and attack when woken."
"She touched my shoulder," Xander admitted. "That's why I apologized and helped brace her hand for her. I'm really sorry."
"That's fine, sir. We can put you on a later flight to your destination."
"No, let me go home instead," he sighed. "It's not a good time for a vacation to see old friends." They nodded, helping him change the tickets out after they had the proper forms filled out. They were real agents, they understood about those sort of things.
Bucky looked up from his drinking when someone sat across from him. He sipped the beer, staring at her. "Yes?" he asked finally.
"Are you ready to come in?" she asked quietly.
"I'm still figuring the memories out. Plus I'm still looking for Forger."
She slid a paper over. "He had a flashback on a flight to Africa. Broke the stewardess' hand."
"He doesn't have flashbacks, he has visions," he said, reading it over. "Though it's nice he's going to see an ex." He handed it back. "I'm still working on making it all make sense."
"I understand why but we had to move around a team earlier. They were heading this way."
He nodded. "I dealt with a few earlier."
"This was less than an hour ago," Natasha said.
"I'll get my tab but I'm not going in."
"That's fine. We can track you. You know he worries."
"Yeah, the punk did a lot of worrying over me instead of himself in the old days." He shook his head, paying his bill and heading out to the hotel. Two agents in there got knocked out. He packed and left, nodding at Natasha as he walked past her. Steve got in his way. "Not. Yet."
"We can get you back to the US. You'll be safer."
"We have safe houses," he said.
"Still not truly safe, Stevie." He patted him on the arm. "Let me go check on Forger. That vision must've been bad for him to wake that hard." He walked around him, going to find a way to Rome.
Steve followed, but had to stop to beat a mugger that tried him and Natasha. By then Bucky had disappeared again.
Xander walked into the shrine to Janus, kneeling at the altar. One of the guards cleared his throat. Xander stared at him until he walked off. Xander looked up. "If you wanted or needed me to be a better warrior," he said in Latin. "Why didn't you just have me possessed again? Why go to all this trouble?" He stared up at the statue. "All you're doing is making me more angry and it still won't break me. No matter what the PTB think, Lord Janus, it won't break me. I've already broken and healed." He laid a small offering on the altar then stood up and stomped out. If the PTB had a temple he'd remind them of the same thing. But it appeared he was stranded here and had to help the good guys. Somehow. Not that they'd accept it since he was normal. Again. Someone pulled him into an alley, covering his mouth. He stared at the guy.
"HYDRA cell not even two blocks away. One's meeting with a high ranking cardinal," Clint Barton said quietly. He let him go. "Do you know who I am?"
"Yeah, you're a comic book character in my original world." He smiled sadly. "Thanks."
"Welcome. We can help you get to safety."
"There's no safety. For some reason they want me more than they want Bucky. I don't know why but they do. Otherwise I'd be in Africa talking to a shaman I trained with. Unfortunately they figured out where I was going and he warned me on the flight."
"That was a vision?"
"Yes, it was. I used to only see apocalypse battles. Yay me," he finished flatly. "I'm having a moment of this shit sucks and is my life. I'm going to go hide and maybe drink. Thank you for the warning."
"I'd like to know what you can do. If we need you at a battle, I need to know what skills you have," he said when Xander looked at him.
Xander nodded, grinning some. "I'm sure you'll see them sometime. Hopefully not soon though."
"I saw that base in DC."
"They deserved the right to avenge their deaths."
"True. I'd want someone to let me do that too." He leaned on the wall. "You could come in."
"I'm not going to get in the middle of the war between Stark and Rogers. I saw how that ended. It wasn't good. Beyond that, I'm not that sort of hero. I stepped in because one little teenage princess shouldn't have to save the world alone, especially after they took my only anchor to peace," he said quietly. "All this," he waved a hand around. "Is the Powers That Be, who're over the princess patrol, making sure they're weaker so they have their balance.
"I'm pretty sure they had easier ways of making me better at my former job of demon hunting and they went with this. So...I'm going to mope for a bit, mourn my old life, then I'm going to go blow the fuck out of people that did this to me with their help." He smiled. "You go hide. Before they find you. You're more vulnerable than I am and I don't want to have to call back your spirit some day, Hawkeye." He walked off, merging into the shadows to go find somewhere scummy but safer.
Clint watched him go, calling in the contact to Natasha. She thought it was interesting but Clint knew that look. The kid was at his end if he didn't find a reason to go on. Maybe they'd have to find one for him.
Bucky found Xander later that night, sitting across from him in the bar. "Why does it look like they want to beat you to death?" he asked in Latin.
Xander grinned. "They might but they won't. A girl hit on me and I made her squeal happily enough that she took the rest of the night off. So their fun was out." He took a drink. "Which one did you run into?"
"A few. You?"
"Hmm. A lot alike."
"No. He had choices and I had one. I took my one and it wasn't great but it was better than being eaten." He finished his drink. "I really need a night to mope."
"Ditto." He stared at him. "Do you have all your memories?" Xander nodded. "That's bad."
"No, bad was the shaman I trained under warning me that his whole village was compromised. I'll need to honor them soon." He got up to get another drink, bringing one back for Bucky too. "Vodka."
"Thank you." He watched what Xander was drinking. "Is that mead?"
"Vodka and ouzo with some rum for taste." He sipped it. "It works well."
"Point." They sat there and sipped while the rest of the bar pouted about their fun thing being off for the night. Bucky and Xander could outdrink anyone. They got into a drinking contest to prove it. Bucky won, because super soldier healing factors were great for that, and he got to carry Xander to bed before someone stabbed him. They settled in to guard each other that night, aware at least one other Avenger was in town. They'd deal with that in the morning. After Xander honored his mentor by lighting a fire that he sent out to sea.
Xander looked up from staring at the floating little fire, staring at the woman next to him. "I can help you build one for him," he said quietly.
"He'd hate that. It's mushy." She looked at him. "You can see spirits." He nodded. "Is he here?"
"No." He pointed. "He was there but he peeked in then left." He shrugged. "Sometimes they only check in, sometimes they move on faster." She grimaced. "Sorry." He looked around then at her. "You don't have a Ka spirit." She looked confused. "Your Ka is like a secondary soul to you. Often it's a more innocent version of you or a younger one at least. You don't have one."
"Maybe because this is all I've known."
"Romanoff had one." She gaped. He nodded. "They've done something to you. I don't know what but have them scan you. Please?" he asked quietly. "With the way they liked the mystical they could've promised your soul to someone and it'll take a lot of work to get it back."
"Who would I ask?"
"Mortimer at the bar in New York. The Stabbing Fleshwound looks like a prison bar but it's not. Ask the bartender there to talk to Mortimer and tell him what I said. He'll be able to tell." He walked around her. "I wish you peace, Scarlet Witch."
"Thank you, Forger." She turned to look at him. "Who was it?"
"My training mentor. They thought I'd go to see him to get help so they took out the village. When I had a vision not to go, they killed him for it and probably half the village." He looked at her. "And I feel guilty. I should've went to save them."
"That's insane. You can't do that and they might've still died."
"I tell myself that. Sometimes it's not enough. When you get to that point, retire." He stared at her over the edge of his sunglasses. "Really. Just...quit and move to somewhere quiet for a bit. It'll save you." She slumped but nodded. He left, going to head to upper Europe.
"You can come with us," she called.
"No I can't. It'll put you in more danger." He waved before disappearing into the crowds coming down to the beach to start their day.
"What a cause for depression," Stark said as he joined her. "But he's right. If you get that bad, you take a break. We'll understand." She looked at him. "I know we're still fighting. That guy's an interesting conundrum that I'd like to solve."
"He can't go home," she said.
"That doesn't mean we need more third-party fighting going on."
"I don't think he's going to end up working for anyone but Barnes." She walked off. "I apparently have to talk to a bartender at a bar in New York."
"Yeah, that's a demon bar, Wanda, and there's probably one locally." She looked back at him. "It's down by the Coliseum. Back in one of the alleys. I'll drop you there?"
"Thank you." He nodded, taking her down there to ask. She walked in by herself, looking around before walking over to the bartender.
"I know of you," the bartender said.
"I just ran into someone who said I didn't have a Ka spirit." The bartender winced. "I don't know why. He referred me to a bartender in New York that could call someone named Mortimer. I wasn't sure if there was a closer source since I won't be there for at least a week and a half."
"There's others who can do what that one does. Including some chaos sorcerers." He stared at her. "I have no idea what they did to you to do that."
"Let me call one. Sit. I'll get you some tea since you're too young to drink." He walked off to start the water for tea then made the call. Almost an hour later an older African man walked in wearing a native patterned tunic and linen pants. "Her, Abrogard."
He sat down, staring at her. "Hmm. I can see you were a twin."
"He died fighting Ultron," she said quietly. She finished her tea and put the cup aside. "Forger said I have no Ka spirit for some reason but I never made any deals or anything like that."
"They could have done it when you were a newborn." He held out a hand. "I will not harm you, Wanda." She put a hand in his, letting him read her. He nodded, letting it go. "Both Ka spirits went with him but they were highly damaged and chained. I can call back yours. That would activate the curses they put on you to never get out of their control." She stared at him. "It will not hurt his spirit in the least. I would need the help of a shaman who can talk to spirits."
"Would that guy Forger be one of those?"
"He would but he's already left the area. He's up flirting with the local hellmouth." He looked at the bartender. "Can anyone find the Spirit Warrior?"
"I don't know that anyone has his number," the bartender said.
"He's up by our growing hellmouth."
"I'll see if someone up there can talk to him." He text messaged a few people up there he knew. One said they could talk to him. He'd arrange it with them. A few minutes later they got back a message and Abrogard took Wanda with him to meet up with the young one.
Xander looked at her. "If I had known there was local help, I would've stayed local for a bit." She nodded, looking at her hands. "Okay, let's do the hard part first. Then we'll free it." He looked at the chaos mage. "You can work around me? I know magic goes screwy around me."
"Yes, I can. You're a being of chaos and I'm well versed in that art." He smiled. Xander nodded, marking the protections around her while he did the magical ones. Xander burned some herbs and summoned the spirits back. He stared at the young, cocky thing. "You took hers too." He grimaced. "Sit with your sister." He worked to get the Kas together and exposed, smiling at her. "You forgot to stay." She glared at him. "We can remove those."
"She'll be in danger. She'll lose control," the Ka spirit said.
"She can't be worse than a suicidal witch wanting everyone to feel her grief." He moved closer, holding out a hand. "Come?" She shook her head. "I can make sure the deal isn't called."
"It's to a higher power."
"Sometimes higher powers just think they are."
"This one is a Destroyer."
Xander leaned over to look at the young spirit. "So am I." She blinked a few times. He smiled. "There's gods then there's Gods. Even immortal beings won't win this time. The next round maybe but not this round. Your powers aren't what he thinks they are." He held out a hand again. She took it. She screamed as the chains tightened. He and the mage got her free. She panted. "Let me introduce you to yourself." He walked her over, over the edge of the protections. "Wanda-Ka, this is Wanda, yourself." He linked them by joining their hands. Wanda shivered. "Let it go, Wanda. She's part of you." She let the feeling settle then started to cry. Xander knelt to help her. "You're safe and he'll be watching over you." He looked at the ghost of her twin, who nodded. He and his Ka were rejoined and healing. "Ghosts haunt those who are lucky enough to need them. Especially nosy brothers." He grinned. "Special twins are never parted, even if they're on different planes. Until you're reunited, he won't move on. He'll stay to nag you. Your Ka can talk to him and you can learn to meditate to talk to her." He gave her a squeeze. "It goes well with the magic."
She wiped off her cheeks. "Thank you." She looked at her brother. "Others will think I'm insane."
"Tell them I called your brother back to nag you about your clothes." She laughed, wiping her cheeks off again and standing. "Go rest. It'll seem easier in the morning when he nags you about eating." She nodded, walking off. The Kas and the ghost followed her. The Kas were about eight and skipping while holding hands to support and protect each other. Pietro was already nagging his sister about crying about him. Xander looked at the mage, shrugging some.
"Is it coming?"
"Yes. Not too soon but soon. Right when we're the most split." He walked off. "Let me disappear. Before someone tries to blame things on me."
The mage settled in to say a long prayer to his God. They'd need the help to channel the chaos of a mad god coming back to earth.
Xander woke up, staring at the man at the end of his bed. "Forger," he said with a smile. "Pleasant to see you again."
"I know damn well you're dead."
"Nothing is truly ever dead any longer. Marvelous secrets the universe holds." He grinned. "We have your weapons."
"I doubt you have all of them." He sat up. "And I doubt this stalemate won't end badly for you. I might end up injured but I'll blow the hellmouths before you can kill me unless it's a perfectly clean shot."
"I don't want to kill you. You and that one can summon back the Invincible One. Twice born I believe they called you."
"That was Andrew. That's why I got him out of here."
"I scried your realm. He was not born at the proper time. You were."
"Dude, no one knows when I was born. The date on my birth certificate is wrong. It happens when drunks raise you."
"I'm sure you were the one they spoke of. The Foresaken One."
"No. I'm the One Who Sees. The Foresaken One was Andrew." He pushed the button that was in his hand and tiny explosions went off around the room. Xander dove, grabbing his gun case and shooting the guy, then he grabbed the guy's wallet from his pocket and some clothes, heading out before the fire department got there. Abandoned buildings were highly flammable sometimes.
Xander woke up with a gasp, looking around the room he was in. He looked up. "Thanks for the warning and the lack of pain this time." He got up to grab his things and left, waiting on the idiot mystical wannabe to show up. He did need to loot him for money. Bullets and travel was expensive.
written to be winter soldier compliant, not more than mentions of ultron. definitely not civil war compliant.