Wanda was astonished by the memory of Steve that she had seen. It was something he had never talked about. He had shared with her many memories of him during the war but not this one. Sometimes she noticed that he would look sad while remembering the past but she had brushed it off as missing his old life.
“I’m sorry, Steve,” Wanda said softly, gently gripping his shoulder.
“It’s okay. It’s nothing” he said trying to brush off. Wanda noticed the small tear drop at the corner of his eyes. Steve blinked back to avoid crying. Bucky had also noticed the change in Steve’s mood but he was lost on what had happened. When he moved closer to console him, Steve excused himself and left.
“I’m going after him,” Wanda said looking at Bucky.
Wanda went out of the lab to check up on Steve. She found him in a small room. He had his head buried in his hands. Wanda sat close to him and enveloped her hands around his shoulders. He rested his head on her shoulder. After some time passed, he started talking.
“What you saw back there…”
“That’s before the Council was formed. After the war, a group of mercenaries were the sole power across America. Every one of us regretted fighting the war but some were enraged that they were made to fight. Due to the war many new vampires were created. The older ones despised the newcomers. They decided to kill off the newcomers and establish their own set of rules. Foreigners were allowed to escape.”
“Well, Peggy asked me to save Sousa. She was free to return to Britain while Sousa was taken to be executed. That memory… uh… the one you saw was…”
“When you saved him.”
“You did the right thing”.
Steve sighed and looked away. “If it were only that simple” he said more to himself than to Wanda.
After moments of silence, he started talking again. “During the war, I lost Bucky in a mission. Or I thought I lost him. The loneliness was maddening. When the mercenaries came afterwards, I stood against them. I went for days without sleeping or feeding properly. I roamed the streets like a mad man.” New tears streamed down his face. His voice was barely a whisper, “I hoped that one of the fights would be my last.”
Wanda held on to him tightly and let him cry into her shoulders. It hurt her to see him in this state. She consoled him and tried her best to encourage him.
“Jiaying found me one day. Knowing about the state in America she had come here. She saved me. She gave me a purpose. I’m glad I met her.”
“I'm glad that you met her too. Or else I wouldn’t have gotten you as my family.” Wanda kissed his forehead wiping his tears away.
“I’m also glad to have you, kid. And I don’t want to lose you” The words ‘too’ hanged on the air without being uttered.
Wanda roamed around the Zephyr in search of Bucky. She wanted to talk to him. She found him assembling the necessary equipment.
“Could I just stay with you?”
“Sure. I didn’t know you liked my company” he teased her.
“Well. Daisy is getting advised by Coulson and Steve and Natasha are busy.”
“I’m the last option? That hurts” he chuckled. Bucky closed the bag containing the field kit. He kept it aside and hopped on the table.
“Spit it out.”
“What?” Wanda looked surprised.
“You want to speak something.” It was more of a sentence than a question.
Wanda had wanted to talk with him. She decided to get it out. “It’s just whenever I look into someone’s mind, I end up bringing bad memories.”
“Don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not something you are able to control”
“I can’t keep provoking everyone around me.”
“Then learn to control it. Whenever you had used your powers, the other person was emotionally vulnerable.”
“I think I’m done with this. The training was a bad idea”
“Two important things. First, I’m not going to allow you to give up on yourself. And second, the training was my idea. So, don’t blame it” Bucky said the second line with a mock insult making Wanda smile a bit.
“Give it another try, now” he continued.
“You are fine with it?”
Bucky nodded with a gentle smile. Wanda hesitantly took his hand in hers. She controlled her mind and tried to enter Bucky’s mind. This time it was easier for her. Wanda’s mind was filled with a similar sensation of cloudiness as she entered his mind. She found herself in an old apartment. She saw Bucky getting ready to go out somewhere. He was checking his appearance in the mirror.
“Come on, Buck. We are getting late” a voice called out to him. Wanda recognised that it was Steve. By Bucky’s clothes and hairstyle, she knew they were in the 40s.
Bucky and Steve shared a hasty kiss before they exited the apartment.
“Where are we going?”
They got into Bucky’s car and Wanda followed them. She had been to 40s memories before but only she was able to observe the things around her. She noticed that the street was filled with war propaganda pamphlets. The posters were stuck in every building. The street was filled with pedestrians rushing through their lives.
Wanda was intrigued by the board reading, ‘World Exhibition of Tomorrow.’ She was delighted when Bucky parked the car and the duo walked out to the expo. She excitedly followed to find that it was Stark Expo. She kept close to the couple not wanting to lose Bucky. They stopped in front of a large stage hosting a shining red car.
From the buzz, Wanda understood that they were waiting for Howard Stark. The crowd burst into cheers when the man of the hour walked onto the stage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what if I told you that in just a few short years, your automobile won’t even have to touch the ground at all?” Howard continued, “With Stark Gravitic Reversion Technology, you’ll be able to do just that.” He smiled at the crowd as he pressed the button and pulled up a small level.
The car buzzed and lifted above ground. It hovered in the air making everyone gasp at the marvel in front of them. There was a fizzle followed by a small explosion and the car crashed down.
“I did say a few years, didn’t I?” Howard gave a charismatic smile.
The crowd erupted applauding the genius in front of them. Wanda hollered to show her friend.
“Imagine really living in the future where there are flying cars,” Bucky said looking at Steve.
“Wishful thinking, Buck”
“It’s time. I got to leave.”
“Yeah, I know”
“Don’t do anything stupid until I get back” Bucky said his face serious. He walked away slowly.
“How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you.”
Bucky shook his head looking at his lover. He walked back and hugged Steve.
“You’re a punk”
“Jerk” Steve called out hugging him back.
The scene dissolved. Wanda felt herself being pulled out of the memory. She looked up at Bucky and gave a smile.
“That is a beautiful memory.”
“Yeah, it is” Bucky grinned like a fool reminiscing the past.
They noticed Steve leaning against the door, his arm folded in the front.
“Still standing here”
Both the men chuckled. Steve ruffled Wanda’s hair and slung his hand around her shoulders.
“Got stuck with her, uh?”
“Hey!” Wanda cried pushing him away. “It was him who convinced me.”
Steve laughed. He asked, “I was thinking of something. Instead of just looking into our memories, you can try showing one’s memory to the other.”
“Is that possible?” Wanda wondered.
“I get where he is going. Like Loki did.”
Steve nodded. “Yeah, he saw other’s memories with your aid. Then we could also do that”
“Okay” Wanda smiled with excitation. “So, who’s the scapegoat?” she asked, looking between the two men.
Steve and Wanda exchanged a knowing glance and turned their attention to Bucky.
“You have gotta be kidding me.”
“You agreed to help me.”
Wanda interlinked her hands with the two vampires. She first singled her thoughts and stopped her mind from wandering randomly. She slowly prodded it to enter Bucky’s memories. The Zephyr dissociated and the surrounding started getting clouded. She felt the familiar sensation. Wanda found herself in the back of a small van.
The place was crumpled and barely a place to stand. Various electronic gadgets were scattered around. Bucky and Sam were looking intently at a screen. Wanda noticed it was security footage of Scott going through a building. In the nearby screen, a static image was displayed. The realisation suddenly hit her. She looked back at the screen Scott was seeing. She recognised the place. She tugged on Steve’s sleeve and was surprised when she was able to make contact.
“You can hear me?”
“I did reply. So yeah.”
Wanda playfully nudged him with her elbow. She motioned to the screen and both of them turned their attention to the video of Scott. Steve’s eyes widened as he looked at the all too familiar corridor.
“What is he doing in my company?” Steve cried.
The duo followed Scott’s movements. He expertly disabled the alarms and set out to his destination. He came to halt at the back of the building. He accessed the secret panel in the wall which revealed a hidden door. Scott disabled the lock of the door and went in. He started working on the vault having the Draught.
“Draught of Frost Blood, here I come” Scott commented as he opened the vault.
“Wait! Isn’t it Draught of First Blood” Bucky intervened.
“What? No man.”
“I read it somewhere” Bucky shrugged.
“It doesn’t make sense”
“How does frost make sense?”
“Loki. Winter. Frost.”
“I agree with Bucky in this one” Scott spoke over the comms.
“Enough of chit-chat folks. Scott, take the vial and get your ass back here.”
Bucky playfully rolled his eyes and looked at the screen monitoring Scott’s moves.
“I knew Pym got lucky was just a bunch of bullshit” Steve swore.
Wanda chuckled. After we get out, it's going to be one hell of shit show she thought to herself. She watched Scott open the locker and take out two vials of Draught and pocket it.
“You never noticed the missing vials?” Wanda smirked.
Scott proceeded to close the lock and reset the alarm. He made his way out without any disturbances. Bucky and Sam high fived each other as Scott walked out of the building.
“Now everything is set,” Sam said, pressing some buttons. The original security video started playing and the loop was cut off.
Bucky climbed to the front of the van. Scott took the wheel.
“Where to?” Sam asked from the back.
“Let’s deliver it to Pym, then hit the bar,” Bucky said.
“I’m going to kill him once we get back,” Steve muttered, making Wanda laugh.
“What about our deal?” Scott asked eagerly.
“I will change you once Pym duplicates it” Bucky promised.
Wanda exited Bucky’s memory taking Steve along with her. They were back in the Zephyr sitting with Bucky.
“Steve, I can explain”
“You jerk,” Steve shouted, chasing Bucky around the lab. Wanda laughed at the playful fight between the two.