Chapter 1: New Philadelphia
Wanda felt her body slam onto the hard-concrete ground with a gasp. She couldn't breathe. All of the air had reared its way out her body. She coughed and spluttered, breathing heavily as she rolled onto her knees, both her pale hands resting on the concrete. She didn't seem to be in Wakanda anymore as brick city buildings stood tall beside her, the warm streetlights making out the roads and white pathways instead of the green forest of trees. It was no longer daytime, as she looked up to the pitch-black sky. From what it seemed like with the dead streets and absence of people, it might have been midnight. Flakes of snow danced over the back of her hands, but Wanda couldn't feel it. It was as if her mind and not had turned numb, lost in the silence. This was probably shock, she told herself as she tried to recollect her memories. She could still feel the raw untouched power that was radiating through her body when she destroyed the stone; the sheer terror she felt of seeing the rest of the people she called family giving it their all to bring down the armored Titan, only to swatted like flies one by one, and Vision...
The details of her hands had gone blurry as streams of tears fell on the ground. She couldn't stop it. Like a tidal wave, she felt everything all at once. Everything. The death of her parents in Russia, the death of her brother in Sokovia, and now death had visited the only being she truly loved. She couldn't take it. It hurts. She buried her head down into her knees and wrapped her arms around her neck, hoping to hide her cries from the cruel world. In anger and in grief, she let out a bloodcurdling scream, ripping apart the silence and tranquillity that the city offered her, yet she couldn't hear it.
"Dammit..." Wanda murmured to herself. The cold finally settled as she rubbed her hands across her arms. She tried to get up, only to fall back on her knees as pain shot through her side. She must have broken a rib or a few from the looks of it, and Wanda would be surprised if she did. Carefully, she stood in cold trying to maintain her balance, one step at a time. First, she needed to find a doctor or someone who knows how to fix a broken rib.
She stopped and held out her hand, and soon enough a small light of red matter wrapped and danced around her hand, twirling through her fingers like threads woven into a loom. This was a good sign, at least. She still had something of hers. Something that can't be taken away from her. She continued to walk along the streets, clutching her side in discomfort. Thankfully, she didn't cross paths with strangers that would be hanging around at this time of night. She looked around, her head now clear and precise in her surroundings. Street-lights were a good thing to see, as well as a fully functioning city, which probably means...
On her left, stood a gas station with a seven-eleven building. A large, neon red sign that read 'OPEN' hung on the entry door. The cold white lights flickered over the darkness around it. She lumbered inside and was overwhelmed by the smell of warm baked goods and cleaning supplies. It was empty, besides a teenage boy with an in a blue jacket and rainbow beanie near the freezers and the clerk. Aisles of different food stood before her, ranging from savory to sweets. Beside her, there was a cashier stall littered with trays of chocolate bars and colorful candy, occupied by a bored clerk leaning over the cashier with a phone in his hand, his silver hair lopping over one side of his face. Wanda walked over to the newspaper stand and grabbed a paper, flipping it over to the front cover. She expected to see the aftermath of the snap, headlines all over the newspaper, quotes of people screaming and crying over their loved ones. But there was nothing. It was just an ordinary newspaper.
"I don't...How can this…" Wanda stammered, frantically flipping through the pages. Once she skimmed over it, she tossed it on the ground and grabbed another from the shelf. The boy beside her must have noticed her strange behavior, as he turned to face her with confusion. All of a sudden, her side shot up her body with pain, causing her to yelp and fall backward onto one of the freezers with a large thud. Her head felt like it was going to explode, clutching her side for support. It was as if someone dipped a knife in fire and stabbed her ribcage.
"Woah " The boy exclaimed, motioning towards the gash. "Do you need to go to a hospital or something?" Wanda looked up at him, still in shock. She gave him a waving hand gesture to tell him its fine.
"No, I'm- I'm okay, thanks. I just need to- just rest for a little bit." Wanda tiredly replied, sliding further down the freezer.
"Hey, no drunks allowed in here, alright? I've already had to mop up after them this week, now get-" She heard the clerk yell out but was cut off by the doorbell ringing through the shop. She glances over the aisle to see a group of three big muscular men in black hoodies and ski masks. Her eyes traveled from one of the men's bodies to their hands, which seemed to be holding a handgun to the clerk's face. Wanda could hardly move her body. The teenage boy beside her seemed to understand the current situation, as he held his hands up to calm the offense.
"Empty the cash onto the bench, and get on the ground, now!" The gunmen said menacingly. Like a mouse in a hole, the clerk lowered his head and started to nervously jiggle his keys into the socket of the cashier. "Hurry up!" She stared at the exchange helplessly until the boy beside her spoke up.
"You know, you can't do that and just pay attention to one person. There are other people in this store as well, or that's just considered rude." The teenager whispered jokingly, even with hints of shock in his voice. Wanda would have shut him up if it wasn't for the overwhelming pain. She didn't have time for this. She faced nightmares one couldn't even imagine, and she's really expected to be scared of these arrogant fools? Pathetic.
"Shut up!" One of the other men commanded, pointing his own gun at the teen as a threat. Suddenly, a large bang echoed throughout to store but before the teen could comprehend what was going on, the bullet stopped in mid-air, captured in a red glowing barrier protecting them both. The teenager stared wide-eyed at the glowing barrier, until he noticed Wanda's bloodied hand up, surrounded in a deep red glow. With her other hand, she grabbed a nearby shelf to hoist herself up, slowly feeling the pain turning into a numbing sensation as power burned through her skin.
"Put. The gun. Down." Her voice seethed through her lips. Her eyes gleamed a reddish hue as she stared down the robber.
"Shut the fuck up, lady" He barked, changing his and his gun's attention to her. She took a few steps forward, noticing the robber waver his gun. "Get back to your corner."
"I've lost so many people in front of me, people who I called family. People who I loved. So trust me," Wanda growled, twisting and turning her hand by her waist as she gathered more energy in her fingers. "You really do not want to piss me off." Within a split second, Wanda whirled her hand around her body and flicked the energy blast towards him, sending him backward and painfully hitting the glass window. The other two started to open fire towards the two, only for Wanda to block the rain of bullets. A wave of red light echoed through her finger as one of them was thrown through mid-air into one of the shelves, while the other charged in for a punch. Luckily, she dodged in time and blocked his second throw, an orb of red energy formed over his hand and launched him across the shelves to join the other guy. They all groaned in pain on the floor. Slowly, she looked over her shoulder to find the brown haired boy gaping at her like a fish out of water. His head glanced from her to the masked men then back to her.
"You alright?" Wanda asked calmly. He slowly nodded his head in response in surprise, before his eyes flickered behind her for a second. She saw it for only a second, as his face switched from bewilderment to confusion.
Instinctively, Wanda flicked her fingers towards one of the men causing him to be tossed through the window, while glass shattered all across the pavement outside. The air finally stilled around her as silence flood through her ears. It was all so quick. She looked back in horror, feeling the high of her powers drain out of her as she snapped back into reality; the teen stood motionless, as dark red blood soaked through his jacket and started dripping onto the tile floor. He looked down at the right side of his chest in shock, his mouth slightly apart before his crutches fell along with him.
Wanda rushed to his side and kneeled down beside him, his breathing started to labor against the glass of the coolers. The blood-covered both his and her hands as they tried to stop the bleeding wound. The bullet had shot right through his shoulder and using her abilities she raised her hand over the wound where it softly glowed a reddish light. It was warm against his clothing, he thought, but suddenly he soon felt his vision blurred around him and black spots danced across his eyes.
"Hey, hey…" She gently but nervously cooed with a forced smile. "You're gonna be fine, okay? Look at me…" She raised her hand to his cheek, tilting it to focus on her. Wanda didn't know what to do. She was never good at healing, always ready to destruct, but she couldn't help but give a warm smile: the only thing she could give him. "You're gonna be alright." From the hand touching his skin, the energy passed from her through his temple as his eyes glared a familiar deep red rather than the soft brown eyes he held. Tears no longer weld in his eyes and Wanda attempted to dissipate the fear and confusion running through his mind. Glimpses of distant memories clouded her mind at first, but Wanda ignored them and kept pushing on.
She looked down at his pockets and reached for his phone, hoping it would have access to an emergency hotline. She didn't have her phone on her, and as much as it seemed like a good idea, she couldn't stay here with him. She needed to find a way back. A way back to Clint and Steve and-
"Nine one one, what's your emergency?" A female voice spoke through the phone.
"Hi, yeah, there's uh… there's been an armed robbery and- and someone's gotten hurt. I'm fine, but-" Her voice started cracking as helplessness clouded her head, holding back tears. The red streams seemed to have woven his wound until no fresh blood was found through his clothing. "There's a boy here, and he's- he's gotten shot somewhere in his shoulder."
"Okay, stay where you are. Can you tell me where…" Wanda removed the phone from her ear before the lady on the other end of the call finish her sentence and placed it gently on the teen's lower chest.
"They'll come any second now, but I've got to go and figure out what's going on. I can't be here when they come. Do you understand?" Wanda whispered. He breathed shakily before slowly nodding his head in response. She stood up beside him, a small smile gleamed across her lips as her figure made its way over the shattered bottles, littered food, and unconscious bodies. That was when her attention grazed off the boy as she stared around the store. The clerk must have run away when the kid got shot, which seemed like a reasonable reaction. The kid stared aimlessly at the walls, with her soft words echoing through his head as she walked into the streets and disappeared into the night.
'You're gonna be okay…'
Chapter 2: Cheese Pizza, huh?
"Billy stared down at his homework with his pen halted above the paper. The frosty wind roared outside his window, leaving silver snowflakes to rest on his window. He hated science, well science theory at least. The only thing he liked about science was when they would use their double lessons to use practical equipment and actually experiment with chemicals. One time a few weeks ago, he and Freddy accidentally mixed the wrong chemicals together and caused a small on-table fire. No one got hurt, thankfully, but Mr. Turner glared angrily at them under his rectangle glasses for the rest of the lesson. He glanced back outside his window, to see sheets of white snow-covered what used to be their grassy front yard and front porch. The snow falling down from the sky was so thick and windy, Billy could barely see past the house across the street.
He looked back down at his paper and sighed, unable to focus. He hoped Freddy was alright. It was only about a week ago when they got the call from the hospital. Billy still remembered sitting on the couch as he saw Rosa's face turn from happiness to horror, immediately calling for Victor downstairs and sprinting out of the door before Billy and the other kids could ask them what was going on. After a few hours, they had come back to the house and explained what had happened. Apparently, from what the police had said to Rosa and Victor, there had been an armed robbery in the same convenience store Freddy was at and had gotten shot through his shoulder. Luckily, the bullet had gone straight through shoulder so he only needed minor stitches and some painkillers for a couple of days in the hospital. Billy, Mary, and Darla had seen him a couple of times in the hospital with a sling around his arm and it seemed like he was fine. He wouldn't stop talking, so that was a good sign, but it honestly terrified him. He should have been there; to protect Freddy and to sucker-punch those robbers at the store.
His thought quickly vanished as he heard loud footsteps appearing from the hall, only for Darla showing up outside his door. Her bright wide grin had running through the hall had unbalanced her round glasses on her nose form the excitement. "Billy! Freddy's here!"
"Really? Oh my-" Billy burst out, scrambling out of his chair and sprinting out his room. All the other kids appeared behind him as they ran down the stairs. There, stood Rosa and Victor beside a young boy with a single walking crutch under one arm and his sling around the other.
"Guess who got an upgrade?" Freddy giggled in a singing tone. They all couldn't help but laugh while they came in for a loving hug, thankful that he was safe. Once they pulled apart, Eugene pointed to the sling.
"I thought you were allowed to take off the sling when you get out of the hospital," Eugene asked.
"Yeah, I am, but they wanted me to have it on for a couple more days until it completely heals through, just so I don't tear the stitches up" The kids nodded in agreement. Billy finally noticed his frizzled hair and dark eyes and chuckled.
"I gotta' say, you look like shit."
"Billy, language," Rosa said sternly, in which he shrugged his shoulders. Freddy chuckled in response.
"Well, the beds were not really comfy to sleep in so I kept on waking up at night. Also, the only food that didn't taste awful was the cups of custard they would serve at the cafeteria." He gently made his way through to the living room and lied down on the couch. "By the way, is it alright if we have pizza tonight?"
"Yeah, of course. I'll go order some now." Rosa reached into her pocket as she disappeared to the kitchen. That night, dinner was quick but probably one of the best they have had this week. Cheese Pizza was always the best, in his opinion, but Freddy somehow made it better. Whenever Freddy wasn't here, they would just eat in silence with nothing to say. It was always Freddy who started the conversations and made everyone laugh until their stomachs hurt. Without him, they all felt so lonely. Once he finished, Billy went back to his room to see Freddy sprawled across his bed on his stomach, scrolling through something his laptop.
"I see you've missed your laptop." Billy chuckled to himself before getting ready for bed.
"I started a superhero forum on Reddit a few days before the incident and Rosa didn't want to bring my laptop in case I would break it, so I haven't checked it since then," Freddy said. "It's getting so popular, like over a hundred replies and stories about people encountering Superman and Batman. Have you also seen our channel? Our subscribers have jumped from a hundred to a thousand!"
"What?" Billy jumped to look at the computer.
"I guess people really like-" Billy gave him a warning look before he could finish his sentence. "I nearly said it, but I got a hold of myself. I meant Captain Sparklefingers and the rest of his team." Commented Freddy with a big grin on his face.
"I guess so." As he said, the number had jumped from a hundred subscribers to nearly over a thousand. He couldn't believe that so many people liked the hero Shazam. He could still remember when Freddy uploaded their first couple of videos onto YouTube and it had only gotten about twenty to thirty views each, but now it had completely sky-rocketed and Shazam's name will soon make it onto the stars. Probably.
"Maybe we could do another short video tomorrow?" Billy heard him say as he put on his PJ shirt.
"I don't know. Are you up for that?" Before Freddy could answer, something caught Billy's eye for a split second. On Freddy's nightstand was a neon orange pill bottle that read painkillers. He held it in his hands as if weighing it. "Hang on, are they making you take these?"
"Jeez, you make it sound like I'm taking illegal drugs from a sketchy alleyway. But yeah, just for a few days. My shoulder still hurts, so don't worry about it." He grabbed the bottle and put it back on his nightstand before Billy made his way to bed.
It must have been somewhere close to midnight when he woke up to a small voice softly calling out to him. His bedroom only had the cold street light illuminating a soft light. Billy curled his knees closer to his chest under the covers, hoping to keep his body warmth a secret from the brisk air. Their shared lava lamp glowed ominously on their desks, creating shadows that danced along the walls. "Billy," He groaned in tiredness and hugged his pillow even tighter to his face.
"Darla. Go back. To bed." He wearily grumbled into the sheets.
Just when he thought she was gone and sleep fell over him, he felt a merciful poke into his ribs, causing his groan to get louder. "Billy!" Billy heard her loudly whisper again until a powerful shove pushed the limit.
"Darla! What the hell?" He snapped. Her small figure jumped slightly backward in fright, clearly not expecting him to get angry. Her curly hair was in two buns while she was dressed in a lilac onesie. She held her small teddy bear tightly in her arms while pushing up her glasses. "Why are you waking me up at-" He checked his bedside clock, which read two twenty-eight. He sighed and threw his head back in annoyance. "It's two in the morning, Darla. I got school tomorrow, and I really need to sleep." He knew that Darla sometimes had trouble sleeping at night, but she always went to Freddy instead of him. One time, he found her sleeping beside his bed with a blanket. "Can't you go back to your own bed?"
"I'm sorry, Billy, it's just-" She nervously looked at her toy and then pointed towards Freddy's bed. "I think there's something wrong with Freddy"
That's when Billy realized a series of low grunts and whimpers coming from the bed, as well as the little muscle twitches that would happen every few seconds. "Darla, wait here." He gestured for Darla to stay beside his bed for now as he got out and haltingly walked towards where Freddy was sleeping. His head twitched from side to side as if in a trace, but what freaked Billy out, even more, was that his eyes were wide open and glowing an eerily crimson red light in his eyes. Billy wanted to shut his eyes tightly then release so he could see if it was the trick of the light, but it wasn't. He continued to babble and mumble something that Billy couldn't make out, but his face distorted into distress. If it wasn't for his eyes, he would have thought he was having a night terror.
"Freddy!" Billy yelled out, shaking his body in his bed. But he didn't snap out of it. He just laid there motionless other than the short jerking movements, his red eyes staring blankly like a robot at the ceiling. Billy couldn't help but just stare at him in panic. Was he having some sort of seizure? Did the painkillers short-circuit his brain? Probably. He didn't know. He stared helplessly down at the whimpering boy. "Freddy!"
All of a sudden, Freddy gasped and screamed into the cold air as he jerked straight up from his bed. Beads of sweat dripped off his forehead as he breathed heavily. Billy also noticed that the mysterious red glow disappeared from his eyes, returning to his original doe-like brown ones. Once Freddy maintained his breathing back to normal, he turned his head to face a worried Billy. "Freddy, are you alright?"
"What-" Before he could finish his sentence, footsteps ran from the open hallway, showing Victor at the doorway with a baseball bat hanging over his shoulder. His eyes must have settled through the darkness because he gently placed the bat by the door.
"What happened? Is everyone okay?"
"I, um- I don't know." He said wearily. He shook his head and blinked his eyes a few times, getting rid of the sleep the still pulled him back to bed. "I don't feel good."
Victor sighed as he strolled sleepily to Freddy's bedside. "The doctor said you would have nightmares, remember?" Victor calmly spoke back with a big yawn. "Just go back to sleep. You two, as well."
"Nightmares?" Billy repeated in disbelief. "I don't think they were just nightmares, Victor-"
"Billy, I don't want to hear it right now. I've got an important day of work and you've got an important day of school, so just go to bed. Both of you." Billy instantly kept his mouth quiet as Darla looked back at the two boys before following Victor back to her room. Billy took one more glanced at Freddy, who gazed at his sheets in front of him.
"Are you sure you're alright?" He asked him one more time. Freddy nodded in a daze, squinting his eyes and wiping the sweat off his forehead.
"It was just a nightmare, I think," Billy heard him say, giving him one more worried look before retreating back to his own bed. "Yeah...Just a nightmare..." The words felt like a whisper coming out of his throat, as Freddy laid back on his pillow and rolled onto his side, his back facing where Billy slept. He swore it felt so real, in his hands. He didn't know why, but he felt like everything hurt inside of him. His lungs ached like a hammer had smashed into his own chest, and he could feel his eyes well up with tears without him wanting them to. It wasn't like he was sad or anything, but it was just there. Like someone else's emotions taking over his own.
Chapter 3: Now, you understand.
The dry dirt ground felt rough against his hand, as Freddy opened his eyes to a sight of green and brown. What the hell, he thought while he gazed wildly around him; big tall trees dangled above him and the warm sun peaked through the gaps onto him. The cold wind from Philadelphia was replaced with a humid heat that seeped through his shirt. At first, he thought it was beautiful, seeing a grassy meadow and a cliff outside the wall of trees. He thought he was completely alone at first until his eyes rested upon a big lilac figure dressed in golden and black plates of thick armor walked menacingly through the trees, turning the air still around him. He couldn't help but stare up in confusion, the creature's calm yet determined face sent fear down his spine. Freddy knew he wanted to run, but he froze in place. The man's hand where a gauntlet stood fixed onto his hand, chiseled out of pure gold clenched on his left fist with stones of different colors reflecting off the metal.
Just when he found the courage to run, a number of people in battle suits ran past him. A man in an obsidian black full body suit jumped towards the warrior, only to be halted by an electric purple wall and whipped across the brushes and dry land.
"Wanda," Freddy heard a voice whisper until his eyes rested on a red and green man kneeled down next to a log as a young woman in red leather stood defensively in front of him. The weirdly patterned headset on the man's head led to a brightly colored yellow stone in the middle of his forehead, while his turquoise green body suit and yellow cape rested on the ground. He looked closer at his body where there was a rip in his chest, illuminating bright yellow hypnotically. The woman, however, was different; her dark blonde hair rippled against her shoulders and back from the breeze and glowed healthy skin with a pink thin scar across her temple. She flicked and wove pure red energy between her fingers, shooting them at the brute warrior until the man on the ground pulled her arm to him. "It's time"
"No, " her voice denied in response.
"They can't stop him, Wanda, but we can. Look at me." The main grabbed her forearm again, making her face him. "You have the power to destroy the stone." "Don't-" "You must do it. Wanda, please." She looked down at him in speechless eyes as her lips quivered. Gently, he wrapped his hand around hers and desperately placed it on his cheek, as if it was their last one. "We. Are. Out of time."
"I can't." She violently shook her head as tears ran down her cheek. Freddy went to speak out to them, tell to run, but the sounds muted in the warm air. The woman walked backward slowly, her hand raised in front of his mechanical face. Freddy knew she didn't want to do it. He felt that she couldn't. It hurt so much. All this emotion and thought sprinted through his mind as he stood helplessly in the middle of the battleground; a war between two worlds. One where they survival, and the other where they wanted balance. Balance across the universe.
"Yes, you can. You can." The tried to reassure her, but the tears never stopped as she looked at him in horror. "If he gets the stone, half the universe dies. It shouldn't be you, but it is." She sobbed in retaliation and frustration, but his soothing voice hoped to whisk away the pain and guilt. "It's all right. You could never hurt me…" She looked at him with puffy worn-out eyes as she softens, finally tired of the screaming and the anger that controlled her for most of her life. "I just feel you. "
Her trembling hand extended towards him started to glow a threatening and hypnotic red light, with scarlet tendrils of energy wrapped around her wrist and fingers before a blinding red beam hit directly towards the stone on his forehead. Freddy could feel the electric force vibrate the air around him like it could crush him at any moment. His red man's face twisted in anguish and pain from the hot streams of energy. People in battle gear sprinted to the titan, one with a shield on his forearm and a woman in African gear holding a spear.
Freddy watched as one by one gave it their all to stop the warrior, only to fall to the ground with a heavy blow from a blue or purple blast. The woman looked over her shoulder again and locks eyes with the titan as he approaches through the trees. She swings her left hand around to fend him off with a stream of scarlet energy and pushes him back with a grunt despite his blue-purple energy shield. Finally, before the titan could reach them both, the yellow stone started to crack and spur within his frontal lobe. The man's face morphed from suffering into joyful peace as he closed his eyes, tears of his own falling to the ground. Suddenly, a powerful yellow pulse of pure energy exploded from him, shuddering the trees around him. The girl's body blasted into the air, landing on the ground with a hard thud. She gasped in pain and shock, finally exhausted from the immense power she conjured.
"I understand, my child. Better than anyone." The creature reasoned in a deep booming voice as he stood before her, impressed with her efforts. The voice had erupted a new kind of fear into his bones, as he waited for the adrenaline to kick in. The woman breathed harshly against the floor, writhing fearfully on the ground.
Finding her last remaining strength that stumbled through her exhausted bones, she glared up towards his face, her eyes only filled grief as the tear stains dried on her cheek. "You could never." The monstrous man simply tilted his head at her last threat. His hand caressed the entirety of the back of her head as she whimpered softly, finally defeated by the fatigue.
"Today, I lost more than you can know." He brushed past her and fixated his attention to the lifeless green and red body on the floor. "But now is no time to mourn. Now... is no time at all." He reaches forward, clenching the gauntlet in his hand which summons an emerald green disk surrounding his wrist. Around the disk shone foreign ancient symbols and transcripts as he turned his wrist clockwise. Freddy watched the body mechanically rise into its original formation with pieces and shrapnel that once coated the ground magically float, gathering together. Freddy and the woman's expression morphed into confusion and fear while the destruction of the stone reversed, solidifying into the once intact and conscious being.
"NO!" She screamed in fury, but before Freddy could process what he was viewing, she and everything around him disappeared in a sheet of pitch black.
Chapter 4: Frozen to the Touch.
"Here's one toast with butter for one kid," Victor grinned down at the kids, placing a plate with two slightly burnt toast in front of Freddy, who he silently thanked. He couldn't get the dream out of his mind. It was as clear and piercing as a memory, but the details faded away every time he tried to grasp at it. "Feeling okay there, buddy?"
"Startled, Freddy looked up and gave a tired but reassuring smile. "Yeah, I'm just really tired."
"Okay. Now, are you sure you want to go back to school? Like, this is the opportunity to stay at home for the year if you wanted." Freddy did like the idea of that, but he silently shook his head.
"No, I just want to go to school. I can't afford to miss any more schoolwork, or I won't pass the upcoming exams." Victor smiled understandingly at Freddy's words. Being the boy that he is, he shoved as much of the toast into his mouth and crammed in the rest of his textbooks into his backpack. Rosa speedily jogged into the kitchen and grabbed the keys from the plate.
"Hmmm, smells good." She hummed.
"Want some?" Asked Victor, hinting a plate for her but she shook her head before grabbing her coat.
"No thanks, I'm a bit late, but I'll get some at work. By the way, I'll probably take an overtime shift tonight so make sure everyone is in bed by nine-"
"Ten!" Darla interjected.
"Nine. Especially you missy," Rosa warned, before giving Victor a peck on the cheeks. "Also, Freddy, I know the doctor says that you're okay and all, but just take it easy today, alright?"
"Rosa, how many times have I got to tell you? I feel fine." Freddy grumbled quietly. As if on cue, a loud honk from outside could be heard. Grabbing his backpack and his crutch, he quickly jogged out the door to leave Rosa's and Victor's concerning eyes. He was fine with them watching over him for the first few days, but now it was just annoying and embarrassing.
Freddy groggily stepped into the yellow school bus, smiling slightly at the old man in front of the steering wheel only to return a scowl and a huff. It wasn't until he reached the rows of seats when the loud chattering had quickly died down. He guessed they already know about him. He looked around uncomfortably and gently clasped his hand together to ease the tension, which failed miserably. He hated being the center of attention. Yeah, sometimes it was cool, but moments like this when its dead-silent by the kids who would normally ignore him or glare at him in the hallway made him tense up. Kids filed up at each row of seats, some who were sitting next to the window slyly moved to the aisle seat. Low whispers crept through the cracks of noise in the small space, and even those who have a black sharpie in their hands eerily looked up to the young boy.
"Freddy, over here." He heard, seeing Billy wave him over to his seat somewhere at the back of the bus. A smile reached his lips as he tried to make his way to the back.
"Jesus, why is everyone so surprised about you coming to school?" Billy murmured to him softly, in which Freddy responded with a shrug. The trip was quick, and the bus was once again filled with chatter. He could see one of his classmates, Kaitlyn, laughing with one of her friends near the front, her short platinum blonde hair bouncing when she whipped her head around. She was one of the prettiest girls in school, catching the eyes of most of the boys in his grade, including him. He thought back a year ago when they first said hi to each other, which was probably one of the best days of his life. Now that he thinks about it, they have never had an actual conversation, but he figured it was for the better. She would still say hi and wave at him, and that was probably the only thing he was to her; a person to say hi to. Soon enough, they arrived at the entrance of the school, waiting behind those dropping their kids off. He could still feel the longing stares of the kids around him in the hallways as the bell rung.
Freddy sat back in his chair, observing the only light source in the room. Everything else was nearly pitch black if it wasn't for the bright screen in front of him and the rest of the class. From what he gathered and tried to pay his attention to, they were learning about the Civil War and the politics involved. Honestly, Freddy couldn't think of anything worse; not only did he have learned about one of the most boring and most obvious events in history, but he had to sit still and listen to Mr. Glavick for an hour. Let's just say that if there was an award for 'Most Boring Teacher', he would be first in line. Freddy lightly tapped his pencil on the desk, hoping to drone out the boredom.
"Freddy," A voice whispered around the room. It was hard to describe; faint but clear as day, and it seemed to come from a single point in the room which he couldn't figure out, or maybe it was all around him. From the way the voice talked, he thought it came from a woman in a soft yet creepy tone. He looked around the class in confusion, as the kids were all facing the front of the room. Billy sat quietly next to him, paying attention to the board like the others. He couldn't find anyone wanting his attention or looking at him, so Freddy just shrugged it off and went back to his pencil-tapping. Just when he got back to ignoring it, the voice repeated his name. "Freddy…" It was a bit louder, as the whisper soon shifted into a soft song, drifting and echoing across the room. Cold chills ran down his neck and his heart was beating faster in his chest.
"Mr. Gravick, can I go to the bathroom?" Freddy asked, in which the teacher nodded in an annoyed response. He couldn't remember what happened next, but he found himself inside the boy's bathroom throwing fresh cold tap water over his face. His chest felt like it could burst into a million chucks and splatter across the walls. Was he going crazy? Was this another anxiety attack? The walls seemed to close in and out over and over again, like lungs filling with air only to deflate again. It was getting harder to breathe. The air around him stilled to an eerily cold winter chill and the only light shining into the stalls was the small vent window at the top of the room, shining a frost blue light onto Freddy, glancing up at the mirror.
"FREDDY!" Suddenly, the voice screamed his name right into his right ear, so loud Freddy jumped backwards in fright, putting his hands over to cover his ear. The voices and the singing stopped abruptly around him, only being flooded by the silence of the snow falling outside and pounding in his ears.
A few blocks from the school where the Freddy stood, was a small but sophisticated internet café Wanda found with accessible computers, where she sat for hours analyzing the computer screen in front of her. She left her phone back at the Avengers headquarters and didn't think of bringing a laptop into battle, so she had no devices on her to help her understand what's going on.
She searched after magazines to websites to news articles from the past few days, but it was as if everything had been erased from reality; no Captain America, no Iron Man, no Avengers to help her get back home. It has been a week after the events of the Battle in Wakanda, and you would think if all of a sudden half of the population disintegrated into dust it would catch the attention of news reports faster than a bowling ball would hit the ground, but nothing. Wanda searched up all the names of her former colleagues she could think of: Iron Man, Captain America, Tony Stark, The Avengers. Next, she researched big events that should have reached across the globe: The Battle in New York, the Battle of Sokovia, the Sokovian Accords. After coming up with nothing she looked up simply 'superheroes' in hope to get a connection of some sort but came up with names and people that she's never heard of. From what she gathered, a man dressed like a bat roams the streets of a city called 'Gotham', and a man with a god-complex dressed in blue and red spandex protects a small city somewhere in Illinois.
Then, she figured 'What if I'm not the only one who was transported here? Surely, someone should be trying to reach for help somewhere.' So, she looked up the snap, or if people recalling that they had been turned into dust had located news stations. But no luck. She was the only one here, trapped in a foreign dimension where no one can help her. She raised her hand to her forehead, hoping to calm the headache and the stress that was building up. She needed them. They were her family, but now she's all alone.
Her fingers grazed over the scar just above her eyebrow. Over the week, It had healed nicely; now only shown as a pink scar. Even though Wanda desperately wanted to find a way home, she had to think realistically about new surroundings; she had no help from any known government, limited money, no friends or family and for all she knows, she doesn't exist. She's a nobody, hidden in plain sight. No way to identify her or track her down, so the best thing to do was to go under the radar and not cause any attention to herself or her whereabouts. Well, at least until she gets settled. It's what Steve would have done, after all.
Sure, Wanda could use her powers on people to give her cash, she had thought it over many times, but she didn't like playing dirty. So, leaning towards the more reasonable and less messy decision, Wanda hijacked a nearby ATM and took a few thousand to survive on throughout the next two weeks. She had found a small hotel near the café; safe and affordable, yet quiet enough to not be noticed.
Swiftly, she wiped her history records from the computer and packed up the equipment she had brought in, tipping the waitress. She did like it here: Good people, good service, so she left a twenty under the keyboard and exited the building and into the frost-white streets.