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keeping me keeping you keeping me warm

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The Vision wakes up in a field, someplace.

He wakes up empty in the chest, silent in all the places that he thinks might have once made noise. There was a heartbeat, at some point, no matter how false. A heartbeat and a switch that operated it. He couldn’t remember it before but he hadn’t been assembled to remember. 

Re-assembled to remember, perhaps. Yes, that’s right. 

He stares at a blue sky with eyes that he’s almost entirely sure are his. They feel different. They blink and he knows that he blinks them and they must be his because he controls them. Reassembled. Same parts and same body but… muted. The switches have been displaced or removed entirely. He blinks. He finds his way around this body. He finds his controls. They are covered in dust but they do seem to function.

He lifts a hand. It takes him a while to remember how. Surely it is his hand. Surely it is him. He raises his arm and stares at the skin, there, pale and white as a cloud. Pale and white as something new. A paper to be painted or ripped or reformed. A paper to fit a story inside. 

Yesterday, someone flipped a switch and he opened his eyes and he couldn’t consider anything beyond a prime operative. There was a woman and she was to be neutralized. He was stopped by a reflection, he was stopped before he could kill. Red hand pressed to his head, fingers dipped into a code that pinched and dragged out a consciousness. And then he was given noise. Open the fist, close it back again. The fingers do not move smoothly. He feels rather cold. He opens and closes until the ice around his joints is chipped away enough, opens and closes until he is fluid. 

His chest is silent but his mind races. He watches moments and snippets of time that must have been experienced with the eyes that he has now, the body he has, stripped of color and all of the buzzing parts but not of the memories. (But you do have the data. It is merely being kept from you.) Yes, they can dismantle a body but not the time that rings inside its segments.

The Vision wakes up in a field, someplace. The data whirs to life. He learns who Vision was. Vision the name and not the operative. 

The name wore clothes and loved the non-neutralized woman. Loves. An emotion he had. Has. The man who lies in a field thinks he knows how to do that. The man in the files, the red one, was well-versed in the language. He knew how to move his hands and he claimed ownership of them. These eyes were seldom on anyone else when the woman was there. 

They feel quite useless without her. The sky is vast but it does not encompass him like she did. Does. 

He leaves his The in the grass when he pushes himself to stand, reclaims a name for himself. (I am Vision.) It is a tentative effort. Yesterday feels like a dream, a red reflection that gave him the courtesy of knowing who he was. In fact, it feels as though his reflection died again. Fingers on his forehead, humming and buzzing and loud, buzzing that stayed and echoed for hours before suddenly ceasing. 

He holds the data. He plays audience to every death that wears his face. He is an oracle for his own use. 

Vision knows what he’s meant to do. He sees the loss of himself and he mourns. He sees the woman’s mourning. She is missing portions of herself and Vision is one of them. The red one did not have an operative. He does not have an operative. He has a chest where a heart should fit, where a heart lacks, and yet he remembers what love tastes like. That must mean something. 

He is the container and he is the liquid inside. He melds to his own shape - is that not what she needs? Is that not who he was? Is? 

He trips over his feet, the first few steps through that field stuttered and messy. 

He writes a new operative - to say hello. 

Greetings seem simple, in his memory. If it is to be the last hello, of course, the last of many? He will understand. This body carries many tons of forgiveness, of understanding. It is heavy with the stuff. Perhaps that is what he trips over, the order after the chaos. 

This Wanda he pictures and fights himself forward for, The Wanda, His Wanda. He is unsure how much forgiveness she has left. She has spent so much of it in the pictures that the red one gave him. So much loss. What could she possibly still give?

He pushes himself off the ground. It is easier to fly than to walk. This has always been true of this body. 

Vision was brought back to life using the smallest inkling of Wanda’s power. He knows this much. He feels like somewhat of a blip on a map, bright white dot searching for a brighter red one. The signal fades in and out. He is close and then he is far. Too left, too right, too high, too low. 

He reclaims his name and he reclaims the feelings that drip from it, the feelings that are unable to be recreated within a synthetic structure and the feelings that have found a life anyway.

Feelings. He feels… nervous. He feels dread. He feels guilt and, almost as if they are paired, the love follows closely behind. They all flutter on the tail of his cape, attempting to cause a crash yet too light to do so. Light in weight and heavy in value but value is often not the thing to drag a man down to earth. 

There is a cabin. A cabin in the center of a valley of snow. A cabin and a sea of white-tipped trees, concealed within the bowl of a mountain range. He doesn’t land entirely, not wanting to soil the blanket with footprints - especially not if Wanda doesn’t wish to continue beyond a greeting. He’d hate to leave a trace of himself here if it isn’t wanted. 

The chimney blows smoke toward a blue sky but he can’t feel her inside. The blip of her power resides somewhere within the woods. Vision finds her own trail of footprints, wide and rounded soles of heavy snow boots, and he floats just above them as he follows. It feels for a moment as if they are walking side by side. Vision holds her hand in a memory.

The buzz under newly recovered skin returns as he gets closer. That must be their connection. It feels nice, a remaining connection on the atomic level. His cells ache for hers. They pull themselves forward faster to find her. Atoms don’t have brains, though, and cannot accurately project whether or not their matching pieces will want to interlock as they have in the past. They are enthusiastic and stupid, his cells. Some further assembly required. 

Vision expects, at the most, a greeting. This seems to be somewhat of a safeguard. A protection. If he enters expecting only a single word, he will not be disappointed at the lack of a second. So odd, to protect the feelings of a heart that was deliberately left in retrograde. The feelings lack an organ. Perhaps that is why they weigh so little. 

He stops when he sees her. 

She wears a scarf and hat. Her nose is pink, her lips are parted and she breathes little clouds that sputter and disappear and make room for new ones. 

Vision doesn’t make clouds. He tries. His breaths are silent and cloudless because they do not exist. Envy is a crisp emotion. 

He sees her but she doesn’t see him. She walks and gathers wood from an already-chopped pile. She dissects it into smaller piles of random categorization. She doesn’t see him because he blends in. He is lost in the snow. He floats forward a few feet. Even the movement is blurred by the sun that reflects off the ground. 

A greeting, that’s all. The beginning of a conversation, no matter how long it lasts. 

He opens his mouth. It feels odd. There’s no voice box and yet something inside inspires sound. Something that is not a speaker. 

“Hi,” he says gently. Gentle. It is a different voice from yesterday, muddled by technology. It is his voice. It is no recording. It is not programmed. The red one gave him consciousness and the consciousness sounds meek. Nervous. 

Vision is nervous. 

Wanda’s head snaps up. Her arms are full of logs. Her eyes are wide and green. 

He hesitantly plants his feet on the ground. He holds out a hand, his hand, his ghost hand, snow hand, it is his hand, he thinks, “Please don’t scream.”

Wanda screams. The logs drop and clatter and thud into thick snow and she lifts a hand to her mouth to smother the sound. The noise rings in the air. Vision hesitantly takes a step back. 

“Hi,” he says again. He sounds like the red one. He sounds remorseful. 

Wanda stares. He waits for the surprise to melt into fear as it had before when he lifted her off of the ground by her skull. He waits for the surprise to melt into disgust as it likely should have yesterday. Disgust or anger or one of the heavier emotions. The emotions that, when they occur within Wanda’s heart, often explode. 

Wanda’s heart is fascinating. Musical and far larger than should be capable. Far more powerful. The red one wrote poems. The red one kissed her bare chest and smiled when he could feel the thrum on his mouth. The red one recited poems against her skin. The red one was warm. 

It feels wrong to remember those nights. Vision is reassembled and the body is the same but certainly something has changed. 

Vision stands and stares and waits for Wanda’s hands to glow through thick black gloves. He is excited to see her power again, at the least, the power that brought him back again. He said his greeting. He expects a sharp blow to the chest that sends him back, sends him into the ground, the soil breaking and shattering around him. He will fly back to his field and think some more. 

She slowly faces him. The ground crunches beneath her boots. Her hair curls out to the sides under the hat, spills over her shoulders, vibrant. Unbrushed. Her nose is pink and he doesn’t know why he stares at it. Why he wants to reach out and touch it. 

Her arms are at her sides and she sees him. Her hands do not glow. In fact, they go quite limp. 

“Your eyes,” she says, voice raspy but kind. Kind. She has not said hello yet. Perhaps the conversation is not yet begun. She takes a step forward. Vision does not flinch as he had when his own reflection reached for him. He is too nervous to do much other than stand perfectly still. “They’re different than they were.”

“... Ah.” Vision doesn’t know what to do. He was almost certain that these were the same ones that she knew before. The eyes she loved and stared into for hours. He would not have come if he knew otherwise. “I apologize.”

She tilts her head. “Different than they were yesterday, I mean.” Another step forward. “You look more familiar today. Your eyes are different and they’re yours.”

Vision nods once. He is supposed to be in the ground by now. The red one was more forgiving of the two, new and naive, and he threw Vision into a caravan all the same.

“Thank you,” he says. There is a memory of a curtsy but certainly it is not appropriate in this moment.

Wanda bypasses measly steps and begins to walk toward him. There is no breath in his chest that can hitch but something hitches anyway. She walks until her feet are between his. She looks up at him. 

She lifts her chin. “You didn’t come to kill me, did you.” 

She looks between his eyes. He looks between hers. 

She sees him. She sees the fear, likely. It is seldom well hidden on this face. If she peers within his thoughts, he can’t feel it. He trusts that she finds what she needs. 

There are no memories that play like this. Vision feels as though he is at an auction of sorts. He feels as though he is meant to perform the personality of a man that she loves and yet he can’t seem to think of a way to do that beyond standing here. He was convinced that he was the man as he flew here. Under her sweeping gaze, under close investigation, he fears he was wrong. 

“I came to say hello,” he says quietly. 

He doesn’t understand why she reacts to that sentence in the way she does. Memories must be missing. There is a surprisingly dense sentiment to the greeting, something the red one must have created after he gave Vision his life. The sentiment is dense but it is blurred. Locked. 

And yet, he receives an embrace as if she doesn’t know otherwise.

Wanda’s arms are wound around him like vines. His arms must be the same arms he held her with because they move of their own volition. He does not have to remember how to bring her close. The atoms link and grasp and unify. 

She presses her cheek to his chest and he feels the warmth through the cloth he wears. She grabs at his cape and the warmth is implied through the gloves. She burns hot on the inside, so many things moving and breathing and clicking in there. 

The red one was warm.

“Oh, Vision,” she whispers, leaning back. She reaches up and holds his face. The gloves are coarse on the inside and soft on the back. He rests his cheek into her palm. Oh, yes, this is familiar indeed. He waits for her face to fall, for the man she searches for in his face to be absent, but she laughs breathily, bewildered, “You’re frozen solid.”

He frowns. “Yes, it seems so.” His hands are on Wanda’s back, the puffy material of her coat. He doesn’t want to freeze her. He doesn’t want to be so different. He is thankful that she keeps him close anyway. “I’m afraid I’d feel this way without the ice.”

Wanda presses her lips together. Her eyelashes are long and her eyes are extensive. He has a hard time focusing. He wrestles with two trains of thought - the red one and the new one. This body knows Wanda well, it holds memories of nights entwined, and yet the stomach that he doesn’t have fills with static. 

He is nervous. There is a sentiment inside his mind labelled first date. Excitement and worry and anxiety. The urge to kiss and hold and stay forever. She smiles. She must hear it. He is as enthusiastic as an atom. He is clumsy and stupid.

“Come on, sweetheart,” she takes his hand, her own feeling so much larger with the glove. She begins to walk. Vision hadn’t realized he started floating again. He is dragged like a balloon. He is her sweetheart. “Home is much warmer.”

Vision hadn’t planned for this.

The red voice in his brain offers conversation starters as they journey to the cabin: “Talk about the field. Talk about the grass. Talk about the clouds. Talk about her, you miss her. Mention the gloves, mention the hat, mention the scarf, mention the boots. Mention the various memories attributed to each article, mention the various memories attributed to taking them off.”

Wanda laughs. The noise reflects off the trees. The noise bounces around in his chest. 

“Wait until we get inside, at least,” she glances up at him, smile playing on her mouth. “I missed this.”

“My apologies.” Vision doesn’t know how to blush. His skin is cold. He is embarrassed all the same. “I believe I missed this too.”

The cabin smells like tea and smoke. She does not seem afraid. She does not seem hesitant. She does not seem angry. She accepts him into a one-day-old home with ease, leaving her boots at the door. His feet touch the ground. No time is given to look around before he’s being led through the main room and toward a door. 

A bedroom. A new one. The bed is smaller than the one back home - no matter which home he thinks of. He hopes he will still fit. One window, the dust catches the light and allows it to beam. One wardrobe. A fireplace. Lamps, dull yellow lights. Two pillows. He will take the left one. 

“You’re lucky that I’m sentimental to a fault,” Wanda says. The small cabin swallows her voice, muffles it, keeps it between warm palms. She releases his hand, leaving him in the center of the room, as she wanders over to a grouping of drawers. “I brought some of your old clothes with me.”

“My old clothes,” he repeats. He sounds fond. He is getting used to speaking on his own again. “Yes, my… mine.”

The drawer scrapes quietly against its wooden sides. Wanda bites the tips of her gloves, pulling them off, tossing them to the side. Her hat follows. Her scarf follows. Her jacket follows. Vision wonders if his body has always been this spectacularly unsophisticated. She wears so many layers. He knows what she looks like underneath.

He averts his eyes, scanning the room. The bed is made, two pillows at the headboard. He turns to face it, reaches out with a hand, skims his fingers across the blankets. Soft. Warm. Everything, he supposes, is warm in comparison to him. A man of ice. White as snow. Cold as an untold story.

There is a book on the nightstand. Vision pivots, peering at it warily. It seems heavy. Heavy and menacing and worrying. He remembers books. They don’t tend to have an outward presence. They don’t tend to breathe. The book is dark and yet it shimmers. 

There are warm fingers on his cheek, turning his head. 

“Later,” she says. She smiles tiredly. Her hands feel hot. “You really are cold.”

“I’m sorry,” he looks down between them. Wanda is wearing soft socks. They seem warm. “There’s not a lot left inside. I think… I think they took much of it out - “

“Later.” Wanda rocks up onto her toes. She kisses him. Vision feels, for the first time since being powered back on, that he knows where he is again. She is smiling so wide that his lips brush her teeth. “There are things to focus on now and there are things to focus on later. And now, my Vision, my focus is to get you warm again. Alright?”

He knows that he’s meant to smile warmly and take her by the hips. That is what the situation calls for. The room is small and warm and the air is shallow. Vision stares at her mouth. He knows it well. His own is the foreign one of the pair. 

“... Yes,” he whispers. An airy sound. His chest moves for no reason. If there was air inside before, there’s none now. And yet this body is rendered breathless by her anyway. It repeats old jokes. It laughs at itself. “Yes, I… Alright.”

Wanda runs her fingers across his chest. He drops his head to look. He forgot what he looked like for a second. 

“You act as though you’re too different to recognize,” she says calmly. Her voice is a balm and it is something Vision has known since his first day alive. 

She looked in his head and saw annihilation. She looked again and wanted to stay. 

He is having a moment of dissonance as he realizes she seeks to undress him. 

Vision remembers each poem. (Wanda Maximoff must be neutralized.) He remembers how the pen felt when he wrote and wrote until it was very much devoid of ink. (And he was told she was powerful.) He remembers reading them to her, tracing letters with a tongue that was not as numb. (His programming directive is to destroy The Vision.) Vision knows what love tastes like. 

“Am I not?” he murmurs. 

“Oh, no, my darling,” she smiles, “The look of you hasn’t changed. The feel of you. The insides. I could see the sameness of you with my eyes closed.”

Her fingers hook underneath the metal that stretches across his chest, the metal attached to his cape. It clicks as she removes it, lifts it over his head, tosses it to the ground. It clunks against the floorboards. He feels more free. He feels lighter. He may float away again. 

Vision attempts to give her an exit and yet he does not want her to take it: “But I am cold.”

Wanda kisses the place over his suit where the metal was detached. She melts the frost. “And I will warm you up again.”

The cuffs on his arms are loosened and removed. Two thuds. She kneels to unclip the tight material over his shins, undoes his shoes and helps him out of them. He could do it himself and yet he does not want to tell her that. He would like to stay here forever.

The fabric is tight across his chest, down his arms, down his legs. Firm mesh. She slides it down and away. She smiles as though there is a punchline. She smiles as though she has won something. It is a warm sort of feeling, being out of the loop. He trusts Wanda’s smile. He knows that language. He knows the way her breath and voice and love escapes through every single version. 

“Your mind is on fire,” Wanda stands again. She wears layers. Vision stands bare. He can’t feel the cold of himself but he can sense the heat of the air. Her touch feels like a flame. That must be an indication of his temperature. 

“I wasn’t aware I had one,” he admits. 

Wanda wrinkles her nose, the last of his fabric draped over her arm like a towel. The memories of the real world blur with the memories of a false one. The world Wanda created began to splinter and she still gave it plotlines, costumes, dressed it up, made it cozy. She still wrinkled her nose, even after she knew it’d fall. She still allowed herself happiness, even after she knew it would leave. 

“I can hear it. I think that means you have one.”

She bends. She scoops up the remnants of a uniform they both understand that he will never have a use for again. Metal and odd, rough fabric. A white cape that shines and reaches the floor. Wanda balls it up without mercy. Vision wonders if she will burn it. He wouldn’t mind. 

She leaves the room and he stays put. He spares a glance down at himself. He rocks back on his heels. Wiggles his toes. Reacquaints himself with the notion of a body stripped and disassembled willfully. Happily. He is happy to be broken down to his bare elements when the elements left will be accepted with care. Wanda wears layers and Vision wears air. 

“Mm,” comes a hum from the doorway. 

Vision lifts his head. Wanda is leaning against the jamb, wide grin, arms crossed. She looks at him with sparkling attention.

“Hello,” he croaks. She still wears the ring. Vision holds memories of a wedding. He is glad the pictures do not remain. He would not see himself inside them. 

“I missed you.” She smiles wider, “Coming back to you, like this. Things to do, places to go - and yet we’d always end up bare and brainless.”

Vision has a memory of a first time. The urge to cover himself as Wanda grinned at him from her cocoon of blankets, stumbling around in the dark as he gathered his clothes. He does not have that urge now. “We… do not have anything to do anymore.”

Wanda snickers. “You look beautiful, you know.”

Vision relaxes. “I think the same of you.”

The sweater she chooses for him is soft. It fits loosely on him. Their hands overlap as he pulls on equally soft pants. He worries that he’ll never get used to the sight of his own hands, his own feet, peeking out from dark fabric like unwanted headlights. Too bright to blend into a home. He looks more like a weapon now than he did when he was red. He was intended to be a weapon when he was red too, he supposes. And he managed forgiveness regardless.

“There we are,” Wanda sighs, stepping back, studying her work. She taps her chin. “How do you feel?”

He brushes his hands down his sweater, “I like it. I… I feel the softness and the weight of it but I anticipate that much of the thermal quality of these clothes is dependent on a level of body heat that I do not possess.”

“Don’t say it so solemnly,” she flicks a hand as if summoning power but nothing changes. “As long as you are comfortable, husband, that is all I could ask for.”

“I want to hold you,” he says. It’s somewhat petulant. He doesn’t mean to be. A clinical petulance, perhaps, as adult as it can be. He was quite respectable alone in that field and now he has devolved to this. “I want to be the body you remember.”

“You are.”

“I want to be the body you remember,” Vision repeats, “and he was warm.”

Wanda closes her mouth. She crosses her arms. She considers that. She looks over to the book. She dismisses an invisible thought. 

“Well,” she says, not at all as distraught by this as she likely should be, “I’ll stoke the fire and we’ll see what we can do about that, shall we?”

Her footsteps are muted. Vision glances down. 

“Oh,” he says. 

She stops. “Oh?”

He points at the ground. “I like those.”

Wanda follows his finger. She lifts a leg, bent at the knee, kicks her foot up behind her. “What, these?”

Vision hums. He pulls the sleeves of his sweater, his sweater, over his hands, his hands. Fidgeting is an unfamiliar action but it feels warranted. He tries his best to fidget. “Yes. They seem impractical.”

Wanda’s socks are thick and fuzzy. Fuzzy like a small creature. Fuzzy like Wanda’s hair after spending an entire day in bed. She has them pulled over her leggings, they are frilled at the top. So thick that they add about three centimeters’ worth of extra protrusion around her ankles. Nearly halfway up her leg. Deep blue. A memory of Wanda’s legs tossed across his lap, the demand of a massage. 

“You like them,” she echoes. She lets her leg fall. “I have more.”

Vision wrings his hidden hands. “I should quite like to borrow some, if you’re amenable.”

The pair he is given are pale pink, pale pink like the skin of a human incarnation that he isn’t sure he has access to anymore. He sits on the ground and pulls them on. They are remarkably soft. Remarkably impractical. He thinks he shall live in them. He rocks back onto his tailbone, lifts his legs, inspects them.

The red one wore grey and black socks. They were thin and practical and they’d reach his mid-shin. 

Vision rolls his pants up so that the entirety of his new socks are visible. They are pink. Vision thinks he has earned impracticality. They will live in the bowl of a mountain, obstructed by trees and clouds and sky and space, and Vision will wear soft pink socks to keep his wife warm. 

He wanders out into the main room. Wanda glances up from her fire work to check.

“They suit you,” Wanda claps her hands free of soot. “I have more. There are some that reach my mid-thigh. I never found them practical, I’d always overheat. Which… doesn’t seem to be a problem for you.”

He looks down again. It is easier to come to terms with his new pigment when it is hidden. He leans back on his heels as if to try them out again. He likes them. “I think I will get used to these, first.”

Wanda stands in front of him. She kisses his nose. Hers is still pink. He kisses it twice. 

“You can sit by the fire,” she pats his chest and he is hollow inside and she does not seem to notice, “Warm up.”

“It will only be temporary,” he warns. “My conduction is - “

“Warm up,” she repeats, face flushed from the heat of the fire she had knelt in front of. “You’re overthinking it. You surely have a mind, it races now as it always has.”

Vision smiles weakly. She kisses his lips. His palm rests on her waist. Two years they spent together, at the beginning, and he can remember several moments swaying in front of a fireplace. He had a pulse, then. He created a pulse. Whatever machinery was inside that assisted in that effort has been removed. He will have to borrow Wanda’s. Borrow her pulse, borrow her socks, give neither of them back. 

“Sit,” Wanda says against his mouth. “Melt the cold, unhappy thoughts. I’ll sit with you.”

He concedes. It feels nice to concede. His programming directive is to charge his warmth enough to embrace her for a little while. Warm his face until they have a moment of normality. Warm his wife in the circle of his arms. Warm himself in the circle of hers. 

He takes his place in front of the hearth. He folds his legs, rests his hands on his knees, stares into the heart of the flames. He shuffles forward until he can’t anymore. He cannot phase with Wanda’s socks, he doesn’t wish for them to burn. He can smell the wood and feel the crackle and it does seem that he’s home indeed. 

He closes his eyes. He listens to the roar in front of him. He listens to Wanda’s muted steps. He hooks his fingers into the cuff of one of his socks and pinches the material between his fingers. He feels the fabric. The red one never wore these. The red one was quick to wear an apron in the name of good-intentioned practicality. The red one was hesitant toward anything that would deface a reputation, but the want was there. The red one would have liked these socks, their feeling and their color. The red one would have liked to feel pretty. 

The metal on his chin is the first to conduct. It diffuses up through his cheeks and down his nose. The flow of energy is, in a way, very close to the flow of blood. He circulates. He lives. 

A hat is slipped over his head. He tilts back to see her, opening an eye. A scarf is draped around his neck, once then twice then three times wrapped.

“Wanda,” he says. Confused. Thankful. More gloriously soft material. 

She takes her seat next to him. Her arm presses to his. Her cheek rests on his shoulder. “Pink suits you.”

He nods shallowly, “I know.”

“You never let me wrap you up like this,” she snuggles, nudges, cheek adjusted for comfort.

“Because it was always you who was cold.” His teeth chatter. He does not know why. Wanda chuckles. “I never could understand what the matter was. It seemed fairly inconsequential, the cold.” The hat is so soft that it cannot grip tight to his head, slipping back a bit when he moves. “I am sorry for any past grievances I aired.”

Wanda takes his hand. She holds it up by the wrist to the heat. She interlocks their fingers. She sighs. 

“It’s been a while since we’ve sat by a fire,” she murmurs.

“Yes, it has.” Vision leans into her. He always has. Atoms move faster when heated. He melts into her. “Was there a fire in Edinburgh?”

She blows out a breath, “Oh, let’s not bring that up.”

“But was there?” he looks down at her, the hat slowly shifting, “He gave me things that I’m unsure even he could remember. There are empty places I want to fill. Was there a fire, there?”

“No.” She huffs out a laugh, “But we were... well-heated.”

“Mm.” He nods. “Yes, I remember that.”

“The last fire… was in…” Wanda’s eyelashes flutter, focused, “... Svalbard, I think.”

Vision laughs at a memory before it is formed. The laugh fits oddly but sounds familiar. It is his own, after all. Wanda follows. “Ah, yes.”

“That was a good single night stay,” Wanda brings his hand to her lips. They are the same temperature for a fleeting moment. “I don’t think I’d have been able to survive another.”

“I believe it was an attempt at seeking compatibility,” he says. It feels wrong to speak about the past. It is his own, he shared it with her, but they have both lost someone, recently. They lost the red one, yesterday. Vision wonders if the buzzing stopped for Wanda too. “If we could survive Svalbard, we could survive monogamy.”

“Survived Svalbard, at least,” Wanda nods. “Everything else proved much more difficult.”

His thumb stutters a trail down the back of her hand, down her wrist. He watches his own movement as if he isn’t certain what might happen next. 

“Nice fire, though,” he offers. 

Wanda kisses his shoulder. She pauses, breathes him in, and kisses it again. “It was a nice night, too.”

He smiles. It is easier to do so when she isn’t looking at him. He is afraid that he’ll do something incorrectly, that he’ll… that he’ll… be himself … wrong. He is afraid that he will smile and she will see it and she will find a clue within it. That the body is the same and the insides are the same but that their reassembly has tainted them. That the blank white of his skin carries a story she does not want to finish. 

“The wind was loud,” Vision says. “And the… the lights… went out.”

“Mhmm.” Wanda creates a trail of gentle kisses down his arm, the crook of his elbow, down to his wrist, his thumb, his knuckles. Vision is afraid that he will wake up in a field. Afraid. An emotion that is inherently non-synthetic. An emotion that they should have taken out alongside his pulse. “The two of us and a heap of Nordic blankets. Sleeping on the ground by the hearth.”

Vision watches her nuzzle into his hand. He narrows his eyes. “Am I remembering incorrectly?”

“Mm?” She kisses each fingertip. 

He crushed her with these hands. Yesterday’s memories coincide with a lifetime before that. He neutralized her with these. He led her across continents with these. He tried to kill his reflection, an entire life between two pale fingers. He helped her out of her clothes with these hands. She kisses each atom. 

“I may be.” He slides his hand around and into the nest of hair at the nape of her neck. She spills back into him, appetitive smirk on her lips as if this is what she wanted all along. His hand has cooled by now. She doesn’t seem averse. “I remember Svalbard.”


“And… I remember the wind. And the two of us.” Vision finds the curl, the cowlick at the base of her skull. It sticks out when she pulls her hair back. The red one always tugs it. Vision tugs it. “I remember the blankets. And the fire. And the floor.”


“I do not… in fact… remember sleeping much at all,” he concludes. 

Wanda laughs. She slumps into him, flips to lay across his lap, her spine draped across one thigh while her head rests on the other. She looks up at him contentedly. The fire flickers on the left side of her face. She is in love, in love enough to throw herself into a second chance. Or, a third. Fourth. Fifth. The memories collide. They exclude. 

“No, you’re… you’re remembering right,” Wanda says. 

She is heavier than emotion. She is… blood and bone. A body and human. She lays herself across him as though she is nothing more than a weight, nothing more than a method to keep him grounded. 

A lazy arm reaches up, fingers brushing down the side of his face. 

Vision had lived unconscious within the confines of a glass container for a number of weeks. 

Yesterday, someone flipped a switch and he opened his eyes and he couldn’t consider anything beyond a prime operative. 

Yesterday, he found out he was a father. 

(Wanda Maximoff must be neutralized.) She traces his lips with a finger. She seems pleased by the possibilities. (He does not have the Mind Stone.) She loves him so much and so quickly that he would assume she loves him blindly. But, no, it is too strong to be blind. (His programming directive is to destroy The Vision.) She traces the lines of metal down his throat. She traces them over his clothes. She knows where they are. (And he was told she was powerful.)

Wanda wraps her hands in his scarf and pulls herself up to sit snugly in the basket of his legs. She crosses her ankles, loops her arms around his neck, noses at his cheek. 

“I think we may be very happy here,” she says. She bites at his jaw and he can’t help but laugh. Yes, this does feel quite like happiness. She kisses him like she hasn’t seen him in years. It has been one day. It has been three weeks. They have children, two boys. They grew up in hours. “It’s been a long time since I’ve said I could fix something and actually did.”

“In all fairness, darling,” he tries on a red tone, “I think we surround ourselves with unfixable things.”

Wanda wrinkles her nose. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?”

“Try to be him.”

Vision closes his eyes as she leans forward, kisses the imitation of the Stone that they shared and the Stone that they lost. It does not hum like it would have. It does not live like it did before. 

“I am him,” Vision murmurs, “I thought.”

“You’re living too much in the memories he gave you.” Wanda leans forward, chest-to-chest. She is hotter than the flames. Vision tries to push closer. He is excited to be held. “Stay outside with me. You can know what to say without him directing you.”

He kisses her chin. It seems to be the correct thing to do. “I don’t think I know who I am yet. He helps. He… orients me.”

“I think I’d like to start over,” Wanda muses. Her lips are soft. He wants to touch and she hears his want and she brings his fingers to her lips to let him feel. Feel her mouth and the words she speaks. “Not from the beginning, of course. I’d like us to exist in these rooms and orient ourselves. Direct ourselves. Learn who we are.”

“You say it as if it is a simple task,” Vision says. His voice is shaped by the smile he wears. Happiness in an empty body is a fascinating experience. It fills him to the brim. He feels full.

“It’s a simple task if we say it is.” There is a light behind her eyes that inspires. “It’ll be alright because we say it’s so.”

Vision doesn’t know if that’s how it works. Then again, that is the beauty of starting over. The worries of the unknown blur with all the other unknowns. Everything is unknown at the beginning.

He knows that he loves Wanda and he knows that this is his body. He knows he has a mind. He knows that he enjoys these socks, enjoys these clothes. He knows that he will enjoy taking them off later. He knows that he is frigid and he knows that Wanda doesn’t seem to mind. He knows that warmth is not always tactile.

“It’s alright,” Vision says, then. He looks up at her to make sure he understood the task at hand. 

Wanda beams. “Yes. It’s alright.”

She pushes him back onto the floor. She blocks the heat from the fireplace but, somehow, he remains ablaze. Perhaps he is made of better metal than he thought. Perhaps he has just now come to life.

“It’s… it’s a simple task,” Vision tangles his fingers into Wanda’s shirt. It falls onto the floor next to him easily. 

“Mhm,” she takes her place on his stomach, “It is almost worryingly simple.”

They have started over. The poems the red one wrote are placed on a shelf for anthologies far in the future. Vision places his hands on Wanda’s thighs. She shudders at the chill. He does not apologize. 

Vision writes poems. New ones. He does not need a pen. He writes them thoroughly. He writes them in a new tone and an old voice and they hang on nails in an empty body. 

It is easy to recite them for hours when coming up for air is not required.