I don't own Marvel.
Also mild Endgame spoilers, but if you haven't seen the movie yet then you're not a Marvel fan so this doesn't even really apply I guess. Also this chapter has sexual references and mentions of beating, prostitution. If that is a trigger for you or makes you uncomfortable, do not read this chapter.
Catherine Larson was not a sappy person.
Or sentimental, or loving, or anything that a normal person - no scratch that, woman - was supposed to be.
But then again. She wasn't a normal person.
Her parents were drug addicts and after her mother ran off with her dealer things got bad. Not that they hadn't been bad before. And she was a survivor. Catherine stole food for her and her little sister, she checked homework and made sure that they were always clean enough to not arouse suspicion at school.
She wasn't sure when her father had started hitting her. It had been early enough that she was able to tell when it was coming by the time she was around eleven. But late enough that she knew it hadn't started until at least a year or two after her sorry excuse for a mother had left.
She made sure that her father never touched her sister. She would provoke him as soon as he got home to draw his attention while her sister hid in the closet of their shared bedroom. Catherine started stealing makeup to cover the more severe bruises.
But it all collapsed.
It has been a bad night. And her father, high on at least three drugs at once, had taken a knife to her sister's throat before Catherine had been able to stop him.
Her blood had stained the tiles and her small eight year old body had fallen. Dead before she had even hit the floor. She remembered packing a bag and taking all the money in the house. It was hidden under the sink, like it has been for the last fourteen years of her life. On a last thought she took the handgun from her father's room and the boxes of bullets.
At age fourteen she walked out of that god forsaken house and never looked back.
Things weren't to bad on the streets. She found odd jobs to do for about a year when a 25 year old man walked up to her and said he'd give her two hundred to sleep with him. Four if she was a virgin.
And so a new life began.
A life of finding random men in clubs and dancing up against them. A life of playing sensitive schoolgirl breaking curfew and calling someone daddy on her back one minute to riding another with her face pressed into the wall the next.
This went on for some time, until Catherine was seventeen. Three years of barely scraping by and sleeping with a different person (man or woman) every other night. She was on a backroad bridge in Chicago when it happened. Catherine was looking for a good tree to sleep in for the night, not feeling the particular mood for sex that night, even if it did mean a bed.
A group of about three guys her age or a bit older had followed her to the bridge. They blocked her on both sides of it. Two and one with her in the middle. They closed in and smiled that sick smile she was all to familiar with. Her hand closed around the cool metal if the gun in her satchel. She had two bullets, cursing herself at not reloading earlier, and really didn't want to kill anyone.
"Alright baby," said the one closest to her, "You gonna have to do your thing tonight. Just get on the ground there and spread your legs."
"Maybe your mouth to." Said another, and they all laughed.
She shook her head.
The one who had first talked to her had her pinned against the edge of the bridge in seconds, his leering face way closer than she was comfortable with. "Do as your told bitch, or you and me are gonna have a problem."
She spit at him and snarled, "Go to hell." Her gun was stuck and so was her hand. But she struggled, trying to get it loose.
"Alright," he told her, holding up a knife near her throat, "Your gonna pay like a-"
And then the guns went off.
Someone fired onto the bridge and Catherine was dropped hard on her ass. The three boys ran fast. In a second hands were on her arms pulling her up.
It was a husky, male voice, and she would never forget it.
Her hands pushed away whoever was trying to help her up and she pulled the gun from her pocket. Holding it with steady hands she pointed it at the face of a black man with a black eye patch.
"Who the hell are you?!" She shouted at him. He just looked at her.
"You're bleeding and probably have a concussion. If you just come with me then I can help you." He was calm even with a gun pointed at his face, and he seemed smarter than her in just the way he was standing.
"I can use this."
"I don't doubt it."
"I'm independent." She told him, and started to feel the concussion he had mentioned coming on.
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
She blushed and was grateful for the darkness. "No pimp."
"I ain't a pimp."
"Then what are you?"
He laughed and looked around as if an answer would pop up out of thin air. "That's complicated.
In the end Catherine had gotten in a car with him. The gun was still out though and trained on him.
She was brought to some kind of government building and checked out by many doctors. They asked her many questions. What was her name, age, surname, last permanent residence or place of employment, does she have any family or someone to call who could come and get her. They went on and on. She was proud to say she didn't answer a single one.
Eventually the last doctor got fed up and left, leaving her in the sterile room. She couldn't remember the last time she had been in such a clean place. Eventually the man who had rescued her - she'd learned his name was Fury - came in and sat down across from her. He sighed as he sat down and folded his black jacket across his stomach.
"You want to tell me anything about yourself?"
She shook her head.
"Alright. Well, the doctors estimate that with your current health you're around...fifteen or fourteen years old."
"I'm seventeen," she corrected him quietly. He looked at her giving away zero emotion.
"So I'm guessing no one's looking for you" - A nod - "Well that makes things easier. Got a name?"
She thought about it. She knew she wasn't Catherine Larson anymore. And she'd be damned if she was going to carry her fathers last name and her mother's first name. She was someone else entirely. So she chose a name if the only teacher she had ever liked, a name of the only person who had ever cared for her and plucked a random word from the English vocabulary.
"Hill," she told him, "It's Maria Hill."
He nodded. "Well Hill, welcome to SHIELD."
They shook hands. And with that Catherine Larson died and Maria Hill was born.
---------- Many years later----------
Maria was in deep shit.
She had thrown up for the third time that day, and one of those times had been in front of Fury when he came into her office. She had at first pinned it on nerves. After all, being dead for five years and then suddenly reawakening would do that to a person.
But she knew it wasn't from nerves.
Or shock, or some illness like the flu. She had had her suspicions a week or so before the snap but hadn't really seen any signs until now. She sighed to herself and started to pack up her bag.
Computer, phone, charger, gun, bullets, important work that she could get finished, it all went into the bag. Fury came up to her office just as she was finished getting everything important packed up. He stood in the doorway silently and holding a file in his hand, not saying anything. Only watching. Finally he spoke.
Her brain landed on the first excuse she could think of, "I think it's time for me to take a vacation," she told Fury, forcing herself to look at him, "You shouldn't worry if I'm off the grid for a while, but if needed you know how to contact me."
She tried to exit the room but he stopped her. She glared at him. He only smiled back.
"Maria, I'm not dumb, or blind for that matter," She raised her eyebrows at that, "I know why you're leaving. What can I say to get you to stay?"
"I'm leaving Nick."
"And I really don't appreciate-"
"You getting involved in my personal life like you know anything-"
That shut her up. She slowly turned to look at Fury, and for the first time since she was fourteen she was sure her face displayed her emotions perfectly. He started to speak but Maria cut him off.
"You had no right!" She screamed at him, "No right to invade my privacy and go behind my back and-"
Fury cut her off, "I had to make sure that you weren't Hydra."
"Bullshit," she told him, "I was seventeen and on the streets-wait. You know everything, don't you."
A pause, and he nodded. Maria felt so much anger rise up in her. She had spent countless hours working up perfectly formed lies about her life, her family, and she had rehearsed them countless times. And all that lying, all that energy put into making sure no one ever found out about Catherine Larson was down the drain. Now the man who was her good friend, maybe even a father figure, knew about the horrible things she'd done. The beatings, the killing, the sex. She had never been so ashamed.
Fury held up the file to her. She looked at it suspiciously.
"It's everything, pulled it off of SHIELD's database long before the collapse."
Against her better judgement, Maria took it and looked at Fury.
"You coming back agent?"
She paused, "I'll figure it out."
With that she left the building and four hours later was on a plane to Europe. After she landed and was in her hotel room she seemed to get up the nerve and began to read the file.
She learned that her parent's never actually divorced and that her father was in prison serving a double life sentence for killing his two daughters.
Her father had admitted to killing her sister, and Maria. His testimonial was there. He had described Maria trying to run away after witnessing her sister's death and said he had killed her too, dumping her body somewhere in the woods along with her already packed backpack. The next page held a paper that looked like this.
Victim: Larson, Catherine (n/a)
Date of Birth: April 6, 1980
Date of Death: Reported missing on September 24, 1993 by Maria Simmons
Cause of Death: Murder, weapon and cause unknown. Killer biological father who gave a detailed confession of the killing. Body not found.
Maria sat there stunned. So the woman whose name she had taken had reported her missing. The one person who had ever cared about her beside her sister had cared enough to try and find her. At that moment Maria knew where she was going. She burned the papers in the fireplace in her hotel room and the next morning was on a plane back to the US.
Maria walked slowly into the building, it was after school hours and the last few stragglers were just being picked up. Maria carefully opened the door to the main office, and saw that a last secretary or whatever they were called remained. She was just getting her coat and looked up at Maria, she looked very annoyed at being held up.
"Is it urgent or not?" She snapped, "I was just about to leave."
Maria sighed, "I was wondering if you could tell me is one of your teachers still works here."
"Who? I don't have all day you know."
"Simmons. Maria Simmons. She used to teach History."
The woman turned off the lights and started to walk to the door. "Yeah she still teaches history. Has had the same room for years now. And if you don't mind, I'd like to go home now."
The woman gestured to the door and Maria stepped into the hall, watching the woman walk out the front door. She turned and started up one of the many staircases in the building. She knew the path well, having traveled it many times in 7th grade. She approached the classroom. The door was open and she could hear soft music coming from the room within. Carefully, Maria came to the doorway and entered the room. A woman sat at the desk in the corner, humming along to the music and doing something on the computer. Her hair was a darker red than when Maria had last seen her but other than a few wrinkles she looked the same.
"Excuse me." Maria said hesitantly, "Are you Maria Simmons?"
She looked up, "Yes. Are you a parent? You look very familiar."
Maria shook her head with a small smile, "No, I'm not a parent. At least not to one of your students."
"Then what do you need Ms...?"
"Hill. I was wondering if you remember a student of yours, her name was Catherine Larson." Mrs. Simmons face changed and she looked at Maria sharply.
"What about her?" She sounded distressed, "She was my student for a few months, then murdered by her father in a drunken rage." She shuddered, "It was a horrible time. What do you want to know? You with the police or something?"
Maria shook her head and took a deep breath, "My name is Maria Hill. But it wasn't always Maria Hill." Mrs. Houle stared at her, "I used to be called Catherine."
Mrs. Simmons shook her head, "Catherine Larson is dead. Her father admitted.."
"They never found a body though. And it's because she never died. I am Catherine Larson Mrs. Simmons."
They were silent for many minutes and then Mrs. Simmon started to speak, "What do you want Kathy?"
Maria flinched at the name, "It's Maria now, and I was wondering if you still...wanted a child."
She gaped at Maria. "What do you mean?"
"When I went here, there was a rumor that you couldn't have children, but that you wanted one. So, do you want a child?"
Mrs. Simmons still gaped at her. "What?"
"I'm pregnant. I was before the snap and I am now." She looked up at Mrs. Simmons with tears in her eyes, "I can't raise a child Mrs. Simmons, and you've always wanted one. I trust you, I took your name for gods sake, and you would be such a good mother. You have to take it. Please."
" Kath - Maria. If it is truly what you want...then I'll take the child. But I will give you a time to be sure, just in case."
Maria breathed a sigh of relief, "Thank you."
"I have just one question," Mrs. Simmons said, "Could I know who the father is?"
Maria hesitated, then answered. "Captain America."