Hello all! I'm back with chapter seven! Obviously, since this is a day later, I'm disregarding the previous AN. I don't even know when you can expect the next chapter, but definitely by this weekend. Soo, you can probably tell from the chapter title that this ain't gonna be good. So much thanks to nightmarehunter676, Diana Black 12, and DreamsAreMagical for your kind reviews!
Short note: It doesn't say who's nightmares are who's but it's pretty easy to figure out. Here's chapter seven! Enjoy!
Chapter Seven: Several Nightmares And Several Problems
"Fine. I'll kill them."
A gunshot. One collapses to the floor. Not sure which.
"Kill the rest."
A sucked in breath. "Never." Another gunshot.
"Two are dead. Kill the remaining."
"No." Choked out.
"Fine." A pause. "I'll make you kill them."
No, no, no.
"Longing. Rusted. Furnace. Daybreak. Seventeen…"
The cat jerks its head up. He's laying on something warm. A stomach...a human stomach. Alli's stomach. Alli. He knows Alli. And she isn't dead. That means...well, that means it was just a dream. They're all safe, there's nothing to worry about.
"Buck. It's me. It's Steve. Your best friend."
A frail, old voice calls out. "He can't hear you." The frail, seemingly kind voice turns sinister. "The monsters aren't listening." His laughter trails off.
"Buck. Come on, Bucky, I know you're in there."
"James Buchanan Barnes is dead." The words he fears the most. "I am the Winter Soldier."
The dog sits upright, then, spotting the cat awake, settles back down. It was just a dream. Just a dream. Everything is okay. It was just a dream.
"Alli! Alli, no!" Shot out of the sky. She falls. Can't save her. Sister...gone. Dead. Just as feared, while gone for the military. While working. Lights flash before eyes, falling, falling after her. Unstrapping wings. Plummeting towards the ground.
And being saved. Saved, while she is dead. Saved, while he couldn't save her.
The bird, the falcon, jolts awake, looking around, not sure where he is. He glances to his right. A...dog? He doesn't have a dog. He's pressed against something warm. He looks to his right. The face of his sister. She is alive. She is not dead.
The bird ruffles his feathers and settles back down, eyeing the awake cat and awake dog wearily.
"You cannot control their minds."
"I can control their minds."
"You cannot control their feelings."
"I can make them feel fear."
"They will only fear you more."
"So be it."
Flashes. Flashes of visions. Of Pietro dead. Of Vision dying. Of Alli and Nat dying. Of them all dead. Chose this. Chose to kill them. Dead because of the choice to kill. And not coming back.
The world in pieces. Ultron's mind. Flashes, bits and pieces, of what is feared the most.
Just as nightmares are designed to be.
The polar bear sits upright. It's safe. It's perfectly safe. Nothing is wrong. She glances around the room. Multiple of them are already awake. Only the snake and the human remain asleep.
She sighs, she'll never be able to fall back asleep after that. It's five in the morning, and was roughly three when they fell asleep. Guess they missed dinner.
"You are not good enough."
"Pitiful. Why I bother with you I don't even know."
"Average, at best. At worst…"
Pushing. Shoving. Lying. Cheating. Backstabbing. That is how the Red Room operates.
Good. Bad. Love. Hate. Alive. Dead. Here. Gone. Near. Far. Hope. Dread. Kiss. Punch. Try. Give up. Succeed. Fail.
"Natalia, you are a failure."
The snake jolts awake, hissing loudly. The polar bear gives her a skeptical look, silently judging. The snake buries its head under its coiled body and tries to fall back asleep. She is not a failure, after all. She passed out of her academy top of her class, the perfect assassin spy. And sleep does not come easily to her.
My hand drifts towards my brother's face, blocked by the stained-orange glass. His breath steams against the glass, which is cold to the touch. I turn, and see anyone I've ever cared about blocked by the same glass that is keeping Sam captive. Sam. Bucky. Steve. Nat. Wanda. Thor. Tony. Rhodey. Vision. Sharon. Clint. Bruce. Scott. Peter. Maria. Anyone and everyone I hold dear in my heart. And I know, in my heart, I can't save them. The man behind the bullet-proof, shield-proof, blaster-proof glass chuckles and echoes my thoughts.
"You can't save them."
"I can try." My voice comes out hoarse, not wanting to make a sound. In this dream - for I know it is only a dream, a skill I learned over the years from my brother - I am weak, not willing or able to put up much of a fight. I leave Sam and wander to the man behind the glass. "Why are you doing this?"
The man smiles. "I will tear them apart from the inside," he says. "Starting with you."
I give an outraged cry and my fists passes through the glass, shattering, and I fall through, into an abyss of darkness. Words echo around me, words in another language, followed by screams. Gunshots. Cries of no. Bodies. Bodies everywhere. No escape. I claw at the air, waiting to die-
And suddenly all is light. I'm standing atop a helicarrier, watching the world fall to pieces. I've visited this dream, this memory, again and again. There's nothing I can do as Washington D.C. is destroyed, nothing I can do as I watch two men plummet to the ground. I know one of them is Captain America, the other is the Winter Soldier.
I watch as they fall into the river, watching as they both surface and the Winter Soldier drags Captain America out of the water and walks away. I shift into bird form and know Sam won't be worried if I don't come home for a couple of days. Silent as a cat hunting it's prey, any predator hunting it's prey for that matter, I take off after the Winter Soldier.
I jolt awake and take in my surroundings. I'm not lost like I was yesterday morning - I glance at the clock. Five AM. I slept a good fourteen hours, something I desperately needed. Much better than my usual six. Everyone is awake, but none of them know I am. I take in all of them, since I haven't had much time to process all of this.
Natasha, a boa constrictor, huge enough to swallow an entire human whole. Her scales are a muted olive green, with black...specs? I'm not sure what to call them, but I actually think they make quite a lovely pattern. She's staring out my window, her thin tongue flicking in and out periodically, apparently deep in though. Wanda is huge and white. I don't think I noticed this before, but instead of the usual black her paw pads are a deep, crimson red color. Her breathing is heavy, probably because she needs cold. I'll turn down the heat in my room if they're going to stay, we'll all survive. Sam is brown, with tan flecks through his feathers. He's quite large for a falcon, actually, and his talons are razor sharp. I know if he had to choose one animal to be turned into for who knows how long, it probably would've been a bird of prey of some sort. Steve is golden, but more muted, like the same shade of his hair. He's panting slightly and I know he's awake, even though his eyes are closed. He's slightly larger than a normal golden retriever, probably because of the super soldier serum. Bucky is a chocolatey brown color, the same shade as his hair. His fur is slightly longer than a normal Shorthair cat's, but about the same length. He's also slightly larger than a normal cat, like Steve, because of the super soldier serum. His head rests on his paws and he's staring out the window, lost in thought, as well. Something I've noticed about all of them, though, are that their eyes are eerily human. Almost as if they're the same…
I shift slightly to let them know I'm awake. "I take it everyone had nightmares, then?" Bucky murmurs, still half-asleep.
"What makesss you sssay that?" Nat asks.
"I woke up first, then Steve was panting like mad, Sam was screeching quietly, Wanda was clawing at the air, Nat was hissing in her sleep, and Alli was having a conversation with herself," Bucky recites. I can tell he practiced it. "Also, we were all kind of screaming in our own way."
"I was screaming?" I ask.
"It was kinda scary, sis," Sam says. "We had to get FRIDAY to tell Vis to go away."
"Sorry," I say.
"Don't worry," Bucky says. "You weren't the only one. Sam, I do not want to know what you sound like when you're a normal human having a nightmare."
I try to sit up and find that Bucky has dug his claws into my stomach during his nightmare. He extracts them, revealing ten small holes in my shirt and a few bleeding cuts.
"Sorry," he says sheepishly.
"It's fine," I say. "Though you should all probably go back to sleeping in your own rooms."
"I prefer it in here," Nat says. "It'sss more...sssoothing, I guesss."
"Great," I say. "Then we need to make some changes." I sit up and they all look at me expectantly. "Tonight," I finish. "I'm gonna go get something to eat. Your food is in your rooms, FRIDAY had it delivered and-" pause for a yawn "-stuff."
"Fine by me," Wanda says, getting up and tenderly stretching her limbs.
"Let's get you back to your room," I say. "The rest of you, just, don't be seen." I guide Wanda out the door and hear the others start talking. Of course, trouble was bound to ensue.
Vision is standing in the hallway outside Wanda's door, as if debating whether or not to knock. I shove Wanda back into my room and lean against the door frame casually with a huge grin on my face.
"Alli!" Vis says, surprised. "What are you doing up this early?"
"Couldn't sleep," I shrug, shoving Steve back into the room with my foot.
"Tell him to bug off," Bucky advises. Vision's eyes narrow.
"Some friends spent the night," I say, knowing all Vision heard was meows. He nods.
"Is he gone?" Wanda growls. Now he raises an eyebrow - or he would, if he had eyebrows. I'm not really sure.
"That does not sound like an animal native to New York," he says slowly and carefully. Wanda pokes her giant head outside the door. Vis, sadly, sees. "That does not look like an animal native to New York," he says, slowly backing away. I groan and slam my head on the door frame. "It's not. She's not. It's Wanda."
"Er, sorry, but...what's Wanda?" Vis asks, confused.
"The polar bear is Wanda," I groan. "And the snake is Nat and the bird is Sam and the cat is Bucky and the dog is Steve."
"They're….animals?" Vis says as the entire zoo marches into the hallway.
"They're all animals," I groan. "I was one too, but I can obviously turn back." I slam my head on the doorframe again. Then I jerk my head up. "You CANNOT tell ANYONE," I say seriously. "Or I'll hunt you down."
Vis chuckles slightly. "I don't doubt it." He approaches us and runs a hand through the fur on the top of Wanda's head. She growls slightly and ducks behind me. Vis looks slightly hurt.
"Do you want him to stay with you?" I ask Wanda. "I can give him a pill. Speaking of which…" I quickly pass out pills to everyone. Vision takes one as well.
"And what will this do?" he asks.
"Just wait," I say cheerfully. He shakes his head as the effects pop into place.
"Can you understand me?" Wanda asks. Vision nods in surprise, looking confused and terrified.
"You'll be able to communicate effortlessly for at least six hours," I say. "Come find me if you need another. I'll be checking up and Loki." I turn back to leave a final warning. "If you tell the others, I WILL find you." Vis simply nods.
I rush to the stairs, pulling my hair back as I go. I burst into the training room in full stride to find Loki sitting and apparently waiting for me patiently.
"Oh, hello," he says in mock startled-ness. "I didn't know you would be here this early."
"Stow the crap, Loki," I snap. "I'm in no mood for your mind games today. We both know you're up to something. What is it?"
He looks at me with a falsely innocent look on his face. "What are you talking about?"
"You're too curious about my abilities," I start. "If there's something you want to know, just ask."
"Alright," he says bluntly. "What are your limits? The full range of your abilities?"
"I can shift into any animal at will, communicating with all animals in any form, understanding all animals in any form, and fluently go back and forth while fighting. Also, I can be wicked with a gun," I answer. Countless press have asked for an explanation of my powers, so in my mind it's pretty polished.
"Can you turn others into animals?" Loki asks.
"Not that I know of," I answer, then frown. "I mean, I haven't really tried…"
"If this doesn't work, you might want to think about that," Loki says. "Because I'm really not sure."
"What are you even making?" I ask. "I haven't seen the list of materials you requested."
"Half of it is Asgardian," Loki says. "It's most likely you've never heard of it before. Also, I'll need a drop of your blood."
"Alright," I say. "Probably not. Wait, you need a drop of my what?!"
"A single drop of your blood." He smiles sinisterly and continues. "For experimental purposes."
"No," I say immediately.
"Do you want this to work or not?" he asks.
"We'll see," I say. "When the times comes, we'll see."
I turn to walk out of the training room. As I do, I hear him mutter behind me, "Indeed we shall, Shifter. Indeed we shall."
I shake my head and head to the kitchen area for something to wake me up. Maybe not Sam and I's coffee-tea-assload of sugar combination, a simple frappuccino would suffice.
I'm surprised to see Clint, because I can't recall seeing him yesterday night. "Where were you?" I ask as he nods to me over a coffee.
"Mission," he says. "Trying to see where that van was going. Got back an hour ago. No luck."
I nod in disappointment and start searching for a frap.
"How's Wanda doing?" Clint asks. Everyone knows he's kind of like a father to her, and I'm surprised he hasn't been more concerned.
"Better," I say. "She let Vision in just now." Damnit, why did I say she let Vision in? Now he'll want to go in. "She's still really contagious, though," I add. Clint nods, he was probably expecting it.
"Anyways," he says. "We gotta birthday coming up." It takes me a moment to remember his family.
"Who's?" I ask.
"Cooper's," Clint says. "I was wondering if you knew when Nat was gonna be back."
"Oh," I say. "Um…" To be honest, I had completely forgotten about that lie. "I'm not really sure."
"Well, she still has a week," Clint says. "Hey, speaking of things being gone, is that snake still here? Spider?"
"Um...yes," I say, nodding to prove my point. I switch to a different cabinet in search of my frap. Clint continues talking. Damn, he's talkative at five AM.
"So, anyways, they were saying Tony would be fine by morning," Clint says.
"Uh-huh," I say, not listening to a thing he's saying.
"Technically, this counts as morning," he says.
"Yup," I mutter, moving onto another cabinet.
"I think I'll go check on him," Clint decides.
"Okay, cool," I mumble. I glance up. "Hey, do we have any frappuccino mix?"
Clint grins and holds up his cup. "I took the last one. We're out."
I nearly shriek. "You what?!"
That's chapter seven! And yes, in case anyone was wondering about this (a few friends were wondering so I'm putting this in the AN), Alli is African-American. It hasn't been mentioned because she doesn't think skin color matters, so why should we? Anyways, see y'all later.