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six kisses

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One

 

His is the first face she sees when she wakes up, his golden eyes filled with worry.

She has no idea who he is.

She has no idea who she is.

 

“Vers,” he watches her intently as she looks around in confusion, “how are you feeling?”

“Where am I?” she asks, and she notes her voice is hoarse, as if from disuse.

“You’re on Hala,” he tells her, his voice soothing and even in a way that calms her, “we were on a mission when we found you … it seems you were attacked by Skrulls.”

She tries to think back, to ascertain what has happened to her, but there is nothing there. Hala, Skrulls … all these words are unfamiliar to her.

And her head hurts.

“I … I can’t remember.”

Her voice trembles slightly. She doesn’t like this uncertainty and confusion. It makes her feel weak.

 

His voice is soft, “you were in bad shape when we found you, Vers. No one knows how severe the memory loss is, or how long it will last.”

She only nods. She doesn’t know what else to do, and she really doesn’t want to cry.

“Vers,” she says after a few moments of quiet, the word feeling unfamiliar on her tongue, “is that my name?”

He looks sympathetically at her, “we only found part of an identity tag. The Skrulls are brutal creatures and they revel in carnage so the damage is no surprise. I wanted you to have a name, so I chose the clue that we could find.”

 

She blinks away tears at the knowledge that her identity is currently lost to her, but her attention is soon caught by the sight of the tubes and machinery surrounding her.

A transfusion, her mind offers (identity issues aside, at least she knows some things, though she has no memories to go along with the knowledge).

But blood is red, she thinks to herself as she watches the blue liquid enter her body.

Or maybe that is simply something her mind has made up. She really can’t be sure.

“You needed blood,” he explains when he notices the direction of her gaze, “or you might have died. I wanted to help you, so I offered mine.”

His blood in her veins. Is that why she feels a connection to him, why she trusts this stranger she knows nothing about?

 

He takes her hand, and she finds that the physical contact is comforting in the sterile medical bay.

“We’ll get you all fixed up soon enough,” he tells her, “and then I’ll help you train so you can be sure the Skrulls will never get the better of you again. I imagine you’re eager to join the fight to end their tyranny.”

She feels a burning anger towards those who have hurt her and caused the loss of her memories. Skrulls, he calls them.

She will remember that name.

 

He offers her a small smile, “rest up, Vers,” he tells her, before giving her hand one last squeeze and standing up.

Before he leaves, though, he leans over and presses his lips briefly to her forehead, “I’ll be back tomorrow to check on you.”

“Wait,” she calls out just before he reaches the door, “thank you … for helping me … and I don’t even know your name.”

“I am Yon-Rogg,” he tells her, “and believe me, it was a pleasure to assist.”

 

When he leaves, the room seems lonely and cold.

When she sleeps, she dreams of golden eyes and blue blood running through her veins.

 


 

Two

 

The nightmares are almost normal now.

They began two days after the medics released her, the night following her first visit to the Supreme Intelligence.

The Supreme Intelligence, who wears a face that is both almost familiar and completely unknown to her.

She isn’t disturbed by the dreams every night, but they happen often enough that the memory of them always lingers in the back of her mind, a constant reminder of the mysteries of her past.

 

The first time she had the dream she moved on autopilot, out of her rooms and down the hall to the apartment that belongs to Yon-Rogg. And he answered then, immediately knowing how to distract her by suggesting some early morning sparring.

She always goes to find him and he always answers the door.

He’s reliable like that.

 

One night, though, she is more exhausted than usual.

They’ve just come back from a four day mission where she managed a grand total of five hours sleep. And now, with her regular nightmare waking her in the dead of night, she knows she won’t have the energy for the sparring that normally takes her mind off her confusing, frustrating recurring dream.

So while she stumbles down the corridor towards Yon-Rogg’s apartment as usual, she goes off script when he opens the door.

“Can I stay here … please?”

 

She doesn’t know how exactly he’ll react. The Kree aren’t known for being particularly emotional creatures, after all. And Yon-Rogg is nothing if not a conservative Kree warrior.

He looks closely at her, scrutinising the bags under her eyes and the way she can barely keep her eyes open.

“Come in then,” he says eventually, voice dry and barely the hint of a smile.

She wants him to smile properly. He does it so rarely that it always feels like an accomplishment when she manages to coax one out of him.

 

She looks around his apartment curiously. The furniture is well-made but sparse, the personal touches almost non-existent.

“I’ve only got one bed so we’ll have to share,” he tells her matter-of-factly as he gestures towards his bedroom.

She thinks of the anti-fraternisation protocols she was forced to memorise a few weeks after her arrival on Hala, and reckons that this is probably in violation of at least half a dozen rules. But it’s an emergency, really, and she’s sure Yon-Rogg would never do anything that could lead to their dismissal from Starforce.

She climbs in the bed fully clothed, and as Yon-Rogg gets in next to her she already feels calmer.

She falls asleep almost immediately, her commander a comforting warmth next to her.

 

When she jerks awake an hour or two later, shaking from another dream, he is immediately alert.

She’s shaking, breathing heavily and trying not to hyperventilate. It’s not often this bad, but every now and then the dreams throw her more off balance than usual.

“Vers … Vers, you have to relax.”

She can hear Yon-Rogg’s voice but she can’t do as he says, can’t seem to stop shaking.

“Vers,” his tone more forceful now, with just a thread of worry.

She takes deep breaths, but it doesn’t seem to help. She just sits up in the bed, trying desperately to calm her mind.

 

And then, without warning, Yon-Rogg kisses her.

“Breathe,” he murmurs against her lips.

And she does.

In and out, as the warmth of his lips distracts her enough that she finally ceases to tremble.

He breaks away from her after a few moments, slides back to his side of the bed and leans against the pillows, “better, Vers?”

She grins at him, the unexpected affection cheering her up, even though she’s sure he only kissed her as a last resort to try and make her shake off the vestiges of the nightmare, “thanks Commander.”

He gives her a wry little smile as she settles back against her pillows, “well don’t go spreading this tale around. Neither of us will be much use against the Skrulls if they bench us for breaking the fraternisation rules.”

“Pinky swear,” she offers her little finger to him and he looks at it with the same bemused expression he always wears when she says something that is clearly a vestige of her old, forgotten life, rather than something she’s learnt on Hala.

She wiggles her finger and he sighs before mirroring her gesture.

“Goodnight, Yon-Rogg,” she says as her eyes start to drift closed.

“Night, Vers.”

 

She sleeps until nearly lunchtime. She doesn’t dream.

 


 

Three

 

Vers is high on the success of their most recent mission, full of pent up energy that needs to be released.

Yon-Rogg takes her to the training room as soon as their ship touches down. Most of their team go off to their apartments to rest, but she wants to work through her post-mission high, hoping it will make her tired enough to sleep through the night.

And her commander, as always, is happy to indulge her desire to spar.

 

They go one, two, three rounds, almost dancing around the room as they kick, punch and spin in an attempt to get the better of each other.

Her hands glow a few times, but it only takes a brief glance from Yon-Rogg and she manages to push down the power. He likes her to fight normally, reminding her that she needs to be in peak physical condition as a member of the elite Starforce team, and that she cannot rely on a power that is made unwieldy by her fluctuating emotional state.

 

They are five minutes in to a fourth round when Yon-Rogg flips her over his head and she winces when she lands hard on the mat. She has no time to think about the pain, however, because she immediately has to fend off his attempts to make her yield this bout to him.

There is a moment of stillness when he pins her to the ground and then, suddenly, she moves, arching up to kiss him.

She’s not sure why she does it. Perhaps she’s just tired and worn out from fighting. Or because he’s handsome and she’s not blind to that. Or maybe it is simply that he’s the one who has been there for her ever since she arrived on Hala, and she just wants to feel closer to him.

Whatever the reason … she doesn’t kiss him softly.

She’s angry and riled up, and she pours all of that into this one rough kiss.

 

Part of her expects him to freeze up, to scold her about letting her emotions overwhelm her and breaching fraternisation rules.

She doesn’t anticipate that he will kiss back with even more fierceness than she is showing.

Yon-Rogg is always so serious and dedicated to the cause that she forgets he can get frustrated too – he’s just better at controlling himself than she is.

 

It becomes almost a battle of wills between them.

She’s never managed to win a fight with him without using her powers, and though this kiss is exactly the opposite of what she should be doing to practice control, part of her wants to beat Yon-Rogg in something.

She tries to manoeuvre out of his hold, but he just grins cockily and keeps her pinned down. In retaliation, she bites down on his bottom lip as he moves to pull away from her, and she can’t help but grin when she tastes blood.

“Vers,” he gives her a warning glance, before he shifts his body suddenly and manages to completely incapacitate her.

“Interesting technique,” he tells her almost conversationally as she fights vainly to get up, “but you’ve got to govern your emotions, not let your anger get the best of you.”

 

He stands and offers her his hand to pull her up from the floor. She massages her aching wrists while he steps forward to cup her cheeks in the gentlest gesture he’s offered her all day.

“I only want to help you, Vers, you know that, don’t you?”

She nods and offers him a small smile. She is well aware of how lucky she is to be able to work with Starforce, and to have a mentor like Yon-Rogg.

She only wishes that control came as easily to her as it seems to come to him.

 


 

Four

 

Vers knows she isn’t like the rest of Starforce.

They are such a serious group, always focused on missions and training.

And she tries to be like them, tries to emulate Yon-Rogg’s cool, collected demeanour and poise under pressure.

She wants to make him proud.

Still, she can’t help the emotions that always seem to be bubbling just under the surface, trying to get out.

 

Control it. Control it. Control it.

 

It’s her mantra, her way of trying to keep calm.

Sometimes, though, she just feels like she has to escape.

 

Her life is a strict regime, with very little downtime. Mostly, that’s fine, and she likes it that way. It means less time to feel lonely.

She’s cordial with the rest of Starforce, though she knows that Minn-Erva dislikes her (even if she can’t figure out why), but none of them are her friends.

Vers doesn’t have friends.

She’s just got Yon-Rogg.

Who else does she really need, though? She has comfortable rooms, exciting missions, and the chance to be a hero and save planets from the menace of the Skrulls.

 

She’d thought about making friends to begin with, back when she was new to Hala.

She never really got the chance, though. Yon-Rogg showed her around, but he was always wary of letting her out on her own.

For her own safety, of course. She can take care of herself, but the threat of the Skrulls is not to be underestimated, even by a member of the elite Starforce.

 

“I just thought I should get to know some more of the city, and some of the new recruits invited me out tonight.”

“I’m sorry Vers,” he says, “but you’ve got to be up early tomorrow for training. And it’s really not safe in the city right now. There were Skrull sightings a few days ago, and they have a particular hatred for Starforce.”

She frowns, “I didn’t see anything in the news bulletins.”

“We’ve kept it out of the news,” he tells her, “we don’t want to cause a panic.”

“I’ll be extra careful, then,” she pleads, “I just want to get out for a while.”

She loves her work, but she’s been feeling a bit boxed in lately. She wants to stretch her legs a bit.

Yon-Rogg shakes his head and gives her a consoling pat on the arm, “not tonight, Vers. Maybe next month.”

She frowns, but nods her head in agreement. Yon-Rogg only wants what’s best for her, but sometimes she wishes he wasn’t quite so protective.

 

Even now, after four years on Hala, her commander is still leery of her leaving the base alone.

The Skrulls have been getting bolder, and Starforce’s missions are constantly increasing in frequency and difficulty. It’s a dangerous time for all of them.

She still doesn’t make any friends, but on occasion she manages to slip away to visit one of the rowdy bars she feels drawn to. Sometimes she even sneaks out to fly one of the ships – she can’t remember her life before Hala, but somehow she knows with a bone-deep certainty that she loved to fly.

 

And it’s on her way to the hanger bay early one morning that she runs into Yon-Rogg.

He frowns at her, hands on his hips and disapproval etched onto his features at her deception.

She feels terrible, because she really does hate to make him angry, especially after he’s helped her so much since her arrival on Hala.

 

“I’m only concerned for you, Vers,” he tells her as he steers her away from the hanger bay and towards the training room, “I don’t want anything to jeopardise your place with Starforce.”

He lifts a hand to her neck, brushing the control disc there, “they could take this away, Vers, if you’re not careful. And you know I don’t want that to happen.”

The thought of being removed from Starforce, and of losing the control disc that keeps her powers from spiraling out of control, is an awful one for her.

Yon-Rogg clearly understands her thoughts, because his stern look softens, “I’ll help you, Vers, don’t worry. And one day they’ll tell stories about you, and how you helped end the Skrull’s vicious campaign.”

She gives him a grateful look, “and tales of her wonderful commander, of course.”

“Of course,” he agrees with a twinkle in his golden eyes, “now hurry up, we should be able to get a few hours of training in before the briefing later.”

 

They spar again and again, until she manages three whole bouts without her hands glowing once and he rewards her with the flash of a smile.

“I’m going on a short mission tomorrow to get some intel,” he tells her as they walk back towards their rooms, “minimal danger, too easy really, but the source is a bit skittish and prefers to speak to someone from Starforce … since you did so well in training today, perhaps you’d like to come and fly the ship.”

Her eyes widen in excitement, and she leans up to wrap her arms around him, grinning happily when he rolls his eyes but returns her hug, even if his movements are a little wooden.

“No crazy manoeuvres,” he warns her, as she starts to daydream about how much fun it will be to fly for a while, “we don’t want a repeat of the Torfa incident.”

Vers frowns at him, “that was Bron-Char’s fault,” she reminds him, “… mostly.”

He must be in an especially good mood today, because he actually laughs, a rarity for him, “just don’t get too overenthusiastic.”

“I won’t, I promise,” she tells him.

 

They reach her door and, without even thinking about it, she leans up and kisses him quickly, barely a brush of her lips against his before she pulls back.

He raises an eyebrow, “what was that for, Vers?”

She’s not great at finding the words to let him know how much it means that he’s trusting her to go with him on this mission, and how she appreciates that he’s always willing to help her with training even though she knows that as a highly-placed commander he has a lot of calls on his time. So, she keeps it simple, hoping he will understand.

“Just … thank you, Yon-Rogg … really.”

He says nothing in return, only taps her forehead, his usual reminder for her to let her brain, not her emotions, guide her actions on their upcoming mission.

 

She watches him head towards his own apartment, before hurrying into her own with a buzz of anticipation running through her veins.

And she knows, instinctively, that she won’t have nightmares tonight.

She’ll dream of flying freely through the sky instead.

 


 

Five

 

“Control your emotions.”

Vers has lost count of the number of times he’s said it to her over the years, the words usually accompanied by his tight grip over her fists until she manages to make the glow fade away.

It’s for her own good, that’s what he always says.

 

“I don’t want you to get hurt, Vers, and allowing your emotions to rule you is dangerous in a fight.”

 

Today is not a good day.

Her nightmare was especially long and confusing, and she’s just so tired, so angry.

Her hands glow again and Yon-Rogg holds her still, tells her to calm down, to let go of the past she can’t remember.

It’s not working. The glow intensifies.

She wants to be in control. She wants to make Yon-Rogg proud.

If only wishing could make it come true.

 

Occasionally, however, when she’s alone, she wonders what is really so bad about allowing her emotions out once in a while.

She knows that they can be a distraction when she’s in the field, but surely they are an asset too.

Would she work so hard if she didn’t feel so strongly that she has to help those oppressed by the Skrulls?

Would she be able to pick herself up off the floor time and time again during training if she was always as eerily calm as some of her fellow Starforce members seem to be, rather than motivated by stubborn determination?

 

Her mind is pulled back to the fight by the sight of Yon-Rogg’s fist heading straight for her face.

She barely manages to block the blow, distracted as she is, and it takes only a few more seconds before her commander’s next move hits its mark and she is sent sprawling to the floor.

“Get up,” he tells her harshly, clearly irritated by her poor showing.

She immediately goes on the offensive, his critical expression pushing her to prove herself.

She manages a little better now, but she knows she’s not at the top of her game and so does he.

 

When he calls a halt to their practice, she half collapses onto the mat, while he sits himself down opposite her with far more grace.

“Your head’s all over the place today, Vers.”

Frustration bleeds into Yon-Rogg’s voice. It’s been at least a year since she’s had a training session that went so badly and she’s sure at least part of him is taking it as a personal affront.

“I’m … tired,” she admits, “and confused.”

“Confused?” he asks.

“No matter how hard I try, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to completely master my emotions the way the Supreme Intelligence says that I should. Yet part of me wonders whether allowing my emotions free reign might help sometimes. I know that you say it’s a bad idea, but somehow I think it might help my powers if I wasn’t always suppressing everything.”

Yon-Rogg’s eyes darken for a moment, and there is a flash of something there … anger, or worry, she can’t quite tell. Then his expression clears and he looks at her with only worry.

 

“I’m being foolish,” she says quickly, before he can suggest a visit to the Supreme Intelligence, something which usually vexes her, as the shape it takes is the woman from her nightmares.

Her hands glow slightly, a side-effect of her heightened emotions, and Yon-Rogg sighs, “you’re no fool, Vers, and we all have … misguided ideas sometimes. I promise you that the Supreme Intelligence only wants you to be the best warrior you can possibly be.”

He grasps one of her hands in his own and brings it to his lips, placing a soft, almost reverent kiss on her glowing skin.

“I have faith in you,” he reminds her solemnly.

He keeps a loose grip on her hand as the glow recedes slowly, only letting go when it has completely disappeared.

 

A wave of exhaustion hits her and Vers lies back on the mat, tempted to close her eyes and go to sleep.

“Head back to your apartment,” Yon-Rogg tells her, uncharacteristically generous, “and we’ll continue tomorrow when you’re feeling better. We’re heading into Skrull territory in a few days and you have to be in top shape.”

The prospect of an imminent chance for a good fight cheers Vers as she walks back to her rooms. The Skrulls are a danger to Hala, the Kree and the whole galaxy, but at least her mind is blissfully unconflicted when it comes to the fearsome race.

A simple straightforward fight is just what she needs right now.

 


 

Six

 

“I’m so proud of you. You’ve come a long way since that day I found you by the lake … but can you keep your emotions in check long enough to take me on. Or will they get the better of you as always?”

He pauses for a moment before he speaks again, “I always told you, you’ll be ready the day you can knock me down as yourself. This is that moment … THIS is that moment, Vers. Turn off the lightshow and prove, prove to me that you can beat me with-”

She cuts him off with a blast.

“I have nothing to prove to you.”

 

She has been set free by the truth.

Still, despite the strong front she shows to Yon-Rogg, she finds herself shaken, only just beginning to process all she has recently discovered.

 

It was all a lie.

She’d thought the Kree were heroes. She’d believed that she was a hero.

She doesn’t want to look at her hands. If she does then surely she will see them painted in blood.

Skrull blood.

 

And Yon-Rogg is the architect of it all.

Every memory of these past six years is tainted for her. She sees it all differently now.

What she thought was protection and friendship and care and worry … it was manipulation and control, turning her into a weapon but ensuring she stayed under their thumb.

She was happy.

At least she thinks she was happy.

But she can’t trust herself anymore.

 

If she cuts her hand then she will bleed blue.

She’s not Kree, not completely. But she’s not human either.

Is this what Yon-Rogg did? He took Carol Danvers and turned her into Vers, into a weapon designed to aid in the Kree expansion.

The Skrull destruction.

It’s her hands, though. She helped decimate the Skrulls, and with the unyielding conviction that she was doing the right thing, that she was helping to save other planets.

Will her conscience ever be clean? All the good intentions in the world still don’t erase what she has done as a member of Starforce.

 

She drags a half-unconscious Yon-Rogg to the pod. He’ll make a good message for the Supreme Intelligence.

She looks at him as she straps him into the pod. For six years he and Starforce have been everything to her.

In an ideal world, he would be nothing to her now.

This is not an ideal world.

Feelings, emotions, memories. They all remain.

Even now she sees the truth, there is still a part of her that feels something for Yon-Rogg, even though she can’t work out exactly what that is.

He murmurs about how he cannot go back empty handed, but she doesn’t really listen.

Instead she simply presses her lips firmly against his.

 

This is what she allows herself to close this chapter of her life.

She doesn’t imagine she’s done with the Kree or Hala or Yon-Rogg, not by a long-shot.

But she won’t be ignorant, not anymore. And she won’t be a puppet.

This is goodbye to Vers, the Starforce warrior who trusted Yon-Rogg implicitly.

 

She blasts the pod away from earth, and watches as it becomes just a dot in the sky.

Vers is gone.

She’s Carol again.