Pre-Edit Count – 1,659 Words
Song I listened to for this chapter: Try by P!nk
With that thought, the Swans make small conversation as they make their way to Port Angeles. Enjoying this last moment that they are together, but hoping that the separation will help heal Bella.
The goodbye hug is as painful as Bella expected, but she soon cheers up when she boards the plane. Bella lights up as she goes to hug her uncle, then turns to smile at her cousin, “How are you Hope?” The other woman hugs her cousin, then introduces her to Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man.
Noticing she is a little shy, he immediately puts his hand out for her to shake. “Hi! I’m Scott Lang, and I have wanted to meet you ever since Hope told me about you.” When Bella raises her eyebrow at him, he grins, “Well, how can I not want to meet the woman who is related to two of my favorite people?” At the same time, he is mentally tallying the changes that have been made since her last picture. He may not understand biology, but he has made some of the adjustments to the machines that Hope and Hank are using to try to find a solution.
When Hope raises her eyebrow, Scott replies, “Why you and Captain America, of course!” He placates his girlfriend. He just smiles at them, determined to have them laughing. They need it, not that they don’t have a reason not to be happy, but there is nothing that being happy won’t cure.
Unable to help herself, Bella starts laughing. She had heard of Scott from her Uncle Hank and Hope. To say the reality is funnier than anything that Bella had imagined is an understatement. She hopes he can keep his sense of humor in the next however long it will be that this will be happening.
They will all need it.
Sitting in his corner, Hank just snorts at the three younger people, smiling at their evident enjoyment. He too knows times like this are too often overlooked in the bigger picture. But it also reinforces why they all do this. The reason that they risk their lives to allow these everyday moments to happen.
The younger ones soon take their seats and the plane leaves Washington behind. Hank had pulled many strings to allow them out of the country, along with Bella’s personal invitation by the King, had made this an easy extraction from the U.S. And unless something happens, this will be one of the last times they will be here. The Accords are making it harder for people to be themselves if they are not ‘normal’ or feel a duty to help others.
Hank already had the experience of a governmental agency telling him what he could or could not do. S.H.I.E.L.D. Half the time, they have trouble determining what they need to do, so he is not going to trust a committee of government yes men to be able tell their asses from their elbows, let alone what an actual threat is.
Besides, though he mocks them for Sokovia, even he agrees that they reacted to a threat that the government couldn’t handle. Even though he personally thinks Stark should be locked up for causing the mess in the first place, they reacted as a unit to take care of the global threat.
Wasn’t it S.H.I.E.L.D. who fired a nuke at New York City instead of letting the Avengers handle the issue, even though the committee was in charge of them?
The chatter from the three pulls his attention from his thoughts as he watches his great niece talking with his daughter and protégé. He worries as he can see the small signs that even the newest creation is not stopping everything from affecting Bella. And he notices that she is paling slightly, which means she needs to eat again.
Signaling the flight attendant, he nods towards Bella. She quickly brings the young brunette a plate of food, which Bella thanks her for, and eats while listening to Scott tell her of his misdeeds. Hope notices her full plate of food and her eyes flick to her father.
For a while now, Hope had been helping her father with the serum for Bella. She loves her cousin and admires her for how she is determined to live life. Since she had been trained by master assassins, Hope plans to spar with Bella when they are at Wakanda, along with having Scott try to take her on. She figures they can train together in order to improve them all.
And she also has another reason for doing this. According to their tests, Bella is getting stronger. Both Hawkeye and Natasha had alerted them to the information as they saw it happen. Again, this is all according the information that Bella had given them about the vampires. They became stronger, prettier and faster. They developed another talent that had a basis in their human lives.
It all ties in to the fact that they believe the venom in her bite is activating. They think that being around the Cullen’s may have held it back, or it just took that long for it to start changing. There were two different venoms in the bite. It is also telling that Jacob and Billy visited her house a lot. Maybe, with the information that Sam’s saliva, and later his blood, were the only things that helped her at first helps substantiate that hypothesis.
But instead of just changing her, the venom is now killing her. This is not acceptable to any of them, so they are trying to find the solution. They have studied the makeup of the venom and Werewolf blood. In fact, Bella had the best minds on the planet on her side. Hank, aka the Beast from the X-Men, is working with her father, and when they arrive in Wakanda, another Avenger will be there to help. And this man is the one who may have a solution, but he needs bot Bella and Steve there.
The thing that they have noticed is the venom is a nasty piece of work that doesn’t look Terran. It acts as a mixture of a symbiont and a virus. Once the human is changed, the need for blood is to ‘feed’ the. It consumes the blood from the host, but at the same time, it gives positive changes to the host. Afterward, there is only the need for blood in order to allow the virus to continue to exist, and in return, they require nothing else. It even makes it hard to kill the host and therefore the venom.
It made them all start to become experts in biological warfare to see if it had any way to be human but soon came to the conclusion it had to be extraterrestrial.
Then there is the Bright Lady who appears to Bella in dreams and in between moments. She has denied or verified, after Bella has told them the information, if they are right or wrong. Or at least if they are on the right track. It had been disconcerting that she had been surprised by some of the stuff they had found out. But as she had explained, she knows the outcome, just not how it comes to be. Like someone trying to explain how a TV actually works. We know how to use it, but most couldn’t tell you the technology behind it.
On the other side, the Lady has taken a hand in helping Bella develop her shield in new and exciting ways. She has taught Bella that her imagination is the limit for what her shield can do. Bella has so much control over her shield, she can even mimic levitation and so forth. She is learning the difference between shielding people and objects to mental shielding. It had been the lessons of mental shielding that led to the discovery of another power: She has the ability to help those who have been brainwashed or are being controlled by sources outside their own minds. This has made Bella think of possibilities. The most important is to assist another future comrade in arms, the best friend of Steve Rogers.
The Winter Soldier.
The information that the man could pass on to them on combat skills alone is worth him being revived. The risk though is one that has him kept frozen so far. His state is only temporary until Bella can get there and start working on what the Lady has taught her in order to allow the man to be free. They are all looking forward to seeing what Bella can do for the man who has suffered so much over the years, being forced to do things which are against his basic makeup of what made him James ‘Bucky’ Barnes.
Hope does wonder about the Lady’s purpose in teaching Bella so much. No one helps out for the sake of it anymore.
In a modern airport, Steve is waiting, with his hands clasped behind his back, for his sister to arrive in the private area reserved for the King and his guests. Though he knows Bella is not his sister in reality, he thinks of her as one: It is the only familial bond name that it feels right to give her. He never looked more into the files Coulson had on her. He knows from talking with her that they are related through her mother, who is missing. Beyond that, neither are sure, nor want to find out how they are connected.
Steve shakes his head as he thinks about Bella. She is so like him it’s scary. Finding Bella standing in front of that desk, with children hidden under it, ready to defend it when he walked into Stark Tower had thrown him for a loop. He had greatly admired her, and still does, for the courage and determination she showed that day. He couldn’t believe that an average human (or so Steve thought at the time) would risk her life for others.
Steve had no doubt that she would have passed Dr. Erskine’s tests like he did.
Then to find out Bella is his relative? It made everything make more sense. The feeling of family he has around her, how he had done nothing more than look at her, shocked that she had protected the children, then how Steve laughed when the first thought he had after that is that she would have been one of those that his friend would have loved to meet.
Now he only needs to find a way to tell her what he has been calling her to everyone since he has been back after the fiasco with the Avengers. It had made him worry the entire time he had been helping Bucky if they are using time that Bella didn’t have. Bucky had overheard a call that Steve had made from the quinjet to Dr. Pym asking about Bella. It had relieved him when the older man had told him that he was ok for this, and good luck. And a reminder that he wants his protégé back.
Bella and Steve haven’t had much time together, especially with her problem getting worse to the point that she had headed back to Forks so they could figure out a new dosage. He had been working out with her, teaching her the oddball things he had learned to give her an edge. Steve had been more than grateful to Clint and Natasha for stepping in help to train her when he was worried about her going back untrained. They both agreed with his remark that if she is going to be as much of a danger magnet as he is, then she should know how to defend herself.
Imagine his surprise when they found out about her shield: It had surprised them all. He had, in fact, teased her that liking to use shields had to be in the blood. While he had a shield provided by T’Challa to replace the one that he had left for Tony, hers is actually part of her. But The sad part is that it confirmed their idea that she was changing due to the venom. Not that any of them doubted what they were seeing, but that had only made it clearer.
Basically, it fits with the descriptions she had told them of vampires. All her changes are meeting with the symptoms, except the need for blood only, and that her change is taking far more than three days. Why was it not acting the same? Bella had mentioned that even a trace will turn humans into vampires, and they knew it. Why did they leave Bella behind with that trace in her?
Then there was Banner’s arrival. He had spent a small amount of time looking at the samples from Bella. Then quickly asked for samples of Steve’s blood. Steve happily gave it to him and wondered, since he knew both Banner and Tony had looked at his blood before, if there were any differences between those first samples and the newest ones. Nothing had come of it, but why is it that since he had looked at both samples, the man had been a madman in the laboratory muttering about ‘how no one had seen it before’ and ‘how it all made sense now.’
No one knew what he was talking about, but he had told Steve that there might be an answer not only for Bella, but one for Steve and Bucky as well. One that will make all of them safer so that no one will be able to take their secrets from them.
Steve had been confused, but he had shrugged it off as he left to meet Bella and the rest of the people who are coming with her. Even now, thinking back on it, Steve has no idea what Banner is talking about. Both Bucky and he are stable as far as he knows, and no one has managed to break the formula for the serum in all this time. But to hear that Bella is lumped in with the two of them? It is making him wonder.
Turning to another thought process, Steve chuckles as he realizes that Wakanda is quickly becoming a place for those who do not want to be a part of the Sokovia Accords to find refuge. Many have ideas like Steve and others who do not agree with the Accords and the possibilities they could present. One of the people coming with Bella is very much against the idea of the Accords.
The possibility that they could be commanded by military people who only want to use them to win a war that the Avengers might not agree with: That they might be utilized for other’s gains, and not for the betterment of mankind, is a very real concern. Since that possibility may exist, Steve is steadfast that he and those who agree to stand by his side will be there to combat the risk.
However, as he had told Tony, if the Avengers need them, they will come to their aid. Not to the assistance of others, but only to the Avengers themselves. They will be willing to save the world, but not under the command of the governments, but under the need to protect humankind. It might be high-handed, but Steve just couldn’t go against his morals and actually use his gifts to fight against freedom.
Freedom is never free, and he is more than willing to pay that price. He never wants to be the reason that others pay that price to be free from him.
Steve snaps out of his musings as his ears catch the whine of the engines coming. When he sees it coming in for a landing, he smiles. He turns and heads down to the tarmac, the guards making way for him.
When the plane is done taxiing, he is loping across the last part of the tarmac quickly to the stairs which are being lowered so he can be the first to greet his sister. Steve has missed her, and hopefully, this time, she will not be leaving him for any medical reasons after this.
Bella is still talking with Hope and Scott while waiting for the flight people to do whatever they need to do before they disembark. Though, Bella is quickly out of the seat when Hank informs her amusedly, “Seems you have someone eager to see you, my dear.” She is at the door and down the stairs in the next second and in Steve’s arms. “Steve!”
Standing at the top of the stairs behind his girlfriend, Scott murmurs to Hope, “I want that to be her future: To be that happy.” While Bella is an adult, there is something innocent in her that makes him think of her as someone to protect, to care for. While he knows both of his employers’ care greatly for her, this is his first time he has met her. And she certainly deserves that future with all the trauma and simple adult life she had dealt with long before she came of age to encounter it.
Smiling up at the man who stole her heart like the thief he was, Hope answers back, “That is what we are fighting for.” She looks down at the Man out of Time, talking with Bella much more animatedly than she had ever imagined. The two of them look very happy as they are telling their stories faster than she thinks they realize.
Not wanting to break the ‘siblings’ happy greeting, but at the same time not wanting to stand in the doorway, Scott heads down the stairs, meeting Steve with a clasp of hands, “It’s a pleasure to be here, Cap! And thanks again for freeing me from that hellhole.” He had hated it worse than the prison he had been in the first time.
Steve gives a nod acknowledgement to Scott as he frowns, “Hank Prym?” He looks up at the man whom he had looked up once Steve found that Bella was his niece and that Hank was the one trying to find a solution for her. He wanted to make sure that the person whose hands his sister’s life rested in was qualified to save it.
Hank chuckles, “Shocked to see how old I am?” He is entertained since he suspects the younger man looked him up in the S.H.I.E.L.D.’s database when he found out who was helping his relative. It is what he did when he found out that Bella was related to Steve Rogers. Though, he had already known much of the man since he had looked him up when he heard that Peggy had loved him.
Steve nods slowly. The files that he had looked at made Hank seem to be a much younger man, he didn’t expect him to look older. He had read something in the files that the Ant-Man suit had taken a toll on him, but Steve suspects that a lot of what has Hank Pym looking older is the loss of his wife whom he loved dearly.
Nodding his head, Hank moved down the stairs, telling Steve, “Your bravery is what inspired me to help out any way I could. When I found that I could figure out things more quickly than others, it motivated me to take up the reigns of using what I had invented.” All of it was true, Captain America had been his hero when he was younger, and seeing that the man was more than he ever imagined once he read his files, it had made it a natural choice to fight for what The Captain believed in.
A slight smile appears on Steve’s face as he looks at the man he had to admit he admired, “From what I hear, you did a great job protecting the U.S.” Then he puts his hand on Bella, “And you did even better keeping Bells here alive for this long.” He gives credit to the man whom he knows has kept Bella alive all this time, and as pain-free as they could manage.
Hank nods slowly as he reaches the bottom of the stairs. “Now I hope that we can finish this process and get Bella to look beyond more than tomorrow.” He smiles at his niece as he puts his hand on her shoulder. He is very proud of Bella and is planning to do anything to give her those tomorrows.
Nodding, Hope smiles at her cousin as she says hopefully, “And maybe, just maybe, give love another chance?” She lifts her eyebrow as she looks down at Bella as she leans slightly into Scott who is behind her.
Giving them all a disgusted look, Bella turns Steve around and has him moving back into the airport as she asks him what all he has been up to. When he gives a look back with a questioning eyebrow, Hope nods to him, letting him know that they will talk to him later.
With that agreement in place, Steve escorts her out to his bike then hands her a helmet to wear. When she tries to protest he lays his hand on her shoulder, “Just humor me. After I see this shield in play, I might relax more, but I don’t want to worry about a mistake happening and ending your life prematurely because we didn’t take precautions.” Not that he would be easy with it, but he can understand wanting to feel the wind in your hair. Riding his bike gives him a sense of freedom, and it is one that he knows Bella enjoys as well.
Sighing as she rolls her eyes, she balances on the bike, flips her hair to the and slides the helmet on in a practiced move. Steve smiles and he gets on in front of her: Once her arms are around him, he guns it.
He grins as he hears Scott complain, “Why can’t I have one of those instead?” as they ride down the road to the palace and hopefully the solution to Bella’s problems.
Final count: 3,817