A/N - This story was meant to punch you in the feels, so that's your warning.
I want to preface this with the fact that I very much LOVE TONY, though this chapter he is not written in the greatest of lights. I feel Tony would have been cold to Vision after Civil War after everything that happened and I don't think he quite understands Vision's emotional capabilities at that point. So, this is how I believe he would have discovered that he's more than a machine. I promise future chapters will show a significant change.
AO3 - This story is replacing "Of Logic and Love" in this series. I've given it the boot to being a stand-alone since it was written before Infinity War and I've analyzed the ship in more depth than I did at that point.
Vision passed through the layers of earth, finally reaching the base where the crater was birthed. His sharp eyes spotted the vehicle immediately as Clint sped away with Wanda at his side. He could stop them; he was certain of it. The task would be easy having the element of surprise on his side. He could do it, but he wouldn't.
His powerful legs went limp as he sat at edge of the crater, fingers tracing the edges of the stone. The most unpleasant ache formulated at the center of his chest as he analyzed his thoughts. He had confided in Wanda, trusting her alone with his fears of the gem that was so pertinent to his being. Instead of protecting the insecurities, she had wielded the knowledge against him. Sending his body deep into the ground. The discomfort grew the longer he thought of it, yet he found that it was impossible to ignore.
His mind constricted in confusion, desperate to share his thoughts; to gain understanding of it. However, how could he? It was she who had been his source of information for these strange sensations that overcame him. She would not laugh at his misunderstandings of human interactions, nor scoff at him for not knowing the simplest of answers to them. She was there for him when he needed assistance to understand a new emotion. She had always been there.
He didn't understand. He had simply tried to protect her. It was just as Mr. Stark described, the world wanted to harm her and his mind fumbled at the thought of them doing so. Clint had attempted to take her against her will, his own eyes witnessed her hesitation when the spy commanded her to go. He fought vigorously against his restraints to reach her, to keep her safe from him, yet then the most peculiar event occurred. She turned on him.
As the night moved on he remained there in his torment, with one simple question prodding his mind. Why did you leave me?
The officers handled her with brute force. His body began to move on its own accord, but a hand at his chest halted him.
"That's close enough," the soldier commanded. Gripping his rifle as if the weapon was a match for his strength.
Returning his glance to Wanda, now secured with handcuffs uncomfortably behind her back. They need not be so firm with her, surely they must know. Seeing her small form, seemingly so fragile to him, be handled in such away ignited a strange fire in his body. He visualized tearing them from her, throwing their bodies to the ground without a care of what harm befell them. Disgusted by their ungrateful hands touching a body so precious without permission. He visualized damaging them for their wrong doings until the graphic imagery shot fear through his spine at what his mind had concocted. Glancing down at his hands, he nearly cried out in fear. What is wrong with me?
Their gazes met only once, just before she was taken from sight. Her eyes were clouded with feelings he had yet to fully understand. One thing was for certain, she was afraid. The emotion covered her features as she was forced onto the plane and he simply watched. Something in his heart begged him to free her, but his mind knew that freedom would not last. He could not hide her and given her recent abandonment, he did not believe she'd desired solitude with him. The last thing he comprehended before she was taken from sight, was the cloud of betrayal in her eyes and the tear sliding down her cheek.
The workers put the finishing touches on the floor where the crater used to be. His mind reeling with revelation as he analyzed the events countless times.
"Mr. Stark?" He spoke.
"Hmm," the millionaire grumbled. The coldness he displayed made conversation difficult to approach, as his attitude had changed drastically since Colonel Rhodes' incident
"Wanda believed I was caging her," he expressed his realization. "She did not understand that we were protecting her, she… she thought I was holding her against her will."
He was appalled by the stutter in his vocabulary, fearing one of his systems was flawed. Understanding that something terrible was happening to him.
"What's your point?" he asked, sounding quite bored.
Analyzing the tone, he established that it suggested he cared very little for the conversation. However, the desperation for guidance outweighed such logic. Bowing in shame, the greatest worry slipped through his lips. "She will not forgive me."
His gaze returned to Tony, hoping for a comforting solution that he could offer. Instead, he was left with nothing more than an eye roll as he began to walk away. "Who cares."
A frightening pain struck his chest with great intensity as he was left alone to stare at the repaired wreckage. His mind spun as he whispered to himself. "I care."
Colonel Rhodes sat upon the couch. Upon his legs a device Stark equipped him with to allow his legs to operate. Vision watched him from the kitchen, waiting for the dessert to finish baking. He had heard the Colonel mention it was his favorite dish, he only hoped that he had prepared it correctly. Within him, the pang that he'd become so familiar with recently flared each time his eyes fell upon the broken man.
A groan slipped as the Colonel reached for his water.
"Might I help you, Colonel?" He began to move in his direction, but halted when his groan turned to a growl.
"I do not need your help."
He tilted his head at the comment, finding it untrue. His strength could be of great benefit, but as usual he obeyed the Colonel's words.
A peculiar odor reached his senses, but before he could comprehend it the Colonel shouted.
"Vision!" His finger directed him to glance behind him.
"Damn it!" Stark growled as he rounded the corner. Quickly turning the stove off, he doused the oven in water. Coughing as smoke clouded his lungs, he continued this process until the room cleared. "Could you not make a mess for two seconds."
"Told you, he's a Terminator." Colonel scoffed from his spot on the sofa. "Better keep an eye on him."
"Clean this up," Stark pushed the dish of burned brownies in his arms before disappearing once more.
His mind attempted to analyze the scenario, but failed to process as the ache intensified. A new feeling constricted his throat, blocking it in an undesired way. He wished to reply, to explain that the edibles had been for Colonel Rhodes. However, the discomfort was too great and he feared what sounds would emerge if his lips were to part. His eyes lingered on the brownies for a moment longer, displeased with his failure. Mr. Stark helped the man from the room, leaving him alone to resolve his mess.
Days began to pass slower than normal, it was a strange anomaly he discovered. Two weeks had passed since the arrest had been made at the airport. Mr. Stark had returned from a visit with Captain Rogers, distraught and damaged from a battle he refused to speak of. Though it pained him to see the man in such pain, he began to understand that the billionaire was happier without his assistance. He had become relentless in delegating his tasks to him. Tasks that could easily be handled by Stark's brainless machines. He hadn't minded at first, believing the man simply needed time to grieve the loss of his allies. However, as days continues with no change, the implications of such assignments became clear. It was believed that he was of no greater value than any of Stark's technology.
Within his chest, the pang that had grown over the past several days throbbed at the thought. Footsteps sounded outside the door, but no one cared to investigate Wanda's room where he hid. A part of him wanted to be found. For Stark to stumble upon his distressed stare as he sat upon her bed. Perhaps then he would be willing to analyze his troubles for him. Perhaps then, he would find his emotions worth his time.
Returning his gaze to the monitor he'd set up, he looked once more upon his imprisoned friends. Mr. Barton seethed on his bench, while others paced their cells relentlessly. Calculating the number of hours they spent trapped within their cells, he wondered how long their minds would last. However, none of their punishments compared to the horrors within Wanda's cage. Her body was bound tightly. At her neck sat a device he'd seen activated twice, collapsing her to the ground. Now, she sat against the wall, never once allowing the simplest of movements. Her eyes once filled with great beauty now compared to a dad man's stare.
He'd been certain that Stark would act at the sight, that he'd move to free them at once. He had even presented the images to him, showing her torture. However, any attempts to persuade him of action ended in horrifying shouts that his worries were a waste of time. Glancing at the phone in his hands, he prepared the coordinates of the Raft prison.
It went against all logic and he feared the knowledge that pressing send would title him a criminal. However, as his eyes met the troubled form on the screen once more, his fingers delivered their route to freedom in a single second. Conveying a second message shortly after.
His body trembled. He began to fear something was terribly wrong with him. Forty-two days, he counted every second. Forty-two days since their petty war, forty-two days since he'd last seen her, forty-two days since his mind had been able to rest. The strangest of things began to happen. Phasing became drastically difficult and even simple tasks such as speaking managed to render him exhausted. Terror now controlled him as he wondered how much longer his body would function without rest.
"Vision, run to the shop and grab my keys." Stark demanded casually, not even bothering to lift his gaze from his latest suit. Colonel Rhodes sat nearby, sipping a beverage while reading the paper. Neither taking notice of shivers of his skin, nor the obvious torment in his eyes. It was an easy task, there was no reason to deny him. His brain commanded him to accept, however the strangest thing occurred as his heart exploded in flames.
"I am not Jarvis Mr. Stark! No matter how much you want me to be." The two pairs of eyes fixated upon him before his mind comprehended what had just transpired. The tone was frightening, even for his brave mind. More surprising was the realization that it emanated from him. With trembling skin, he was forced to blink away the clouds interfering with his sight. Somehow, a drip of water had fallen upon his cheek, tickling the skin it explored. The emotion that had consumed him faded as he spotted the fear in their gazes. Hiding his gaze into the floor, new feelings piled upon his shoulders. With so much shame and regret, he was uncertain how he managed to whisper. "I am not your slave."
He phased through the wall, desperate to be rid of their stares. His name was called from the other side, but it only encouraged his retreat. His body did not regain normal density until he reached the rooftop.
The setting sun kissed his crimson skin, though its usual comfort was not received today. Too much emotion contorted inside him as he wiped the droplets from his eyes. Tears. The droplets were tears. Yet another revelation of his body's capabilities that did nothing to soothe the troubled mind. Below him, his name echoed through the walls. They feared him. He had become the frightening entity they so often joked he was. He had raised his voice.
Strong fingers clamped the fabric of the shirt where his heart so fiercely punished him. Something strange transpired as he gasped for air. Oxygen was not necessary for his body to survive, yet the synthetic organs suffocated him nonetheless. Terror filled him as his entire being flew out of control. It was all illogical, how then could a solution to such torment be found? He had been created to be invincible, to be unflawed. Each day that past made clear that such facts were falsities.
The hours faded, as did the sun. The desperate shouts below him had ceased not long ago, having given up on their search. Dread filled him as he came to understand that he could not return. He was weak, unbalanced, unsafe. He floated into the night, unknowing where he could linger and unknowing how he could resolve the conflict within.
Edinburgh was a lively place this night. It was pleasing to be walking amongst a crowd without their questioning stares. Boarding a plane would have been impossible had he not been able to cover his unique skin. Worst of all, he'd have led the press right to her.
Had the circumstances been different, he would have enjoyed walking in their presence as one of them. There were no shouts of surprise, no sneers nor unpleasant terms, and no fearful gazes at the strange red man. The sky clouded as it sprinkled the earth with rain. The crowd became thinner the more he walked, unknowing if it was the weather or the darkened street he'd turn to have dissuaded their presence.
He'd finally found her huddled beneath an abandoned shop. The scrap of metal above her did little to shield her from the wind or rain, growing harsher each minute. As he neared he could see that she was shivering. Her body cold from the failures of her makeshift shelter. Her eyes came upon him when he moved too closely. He found himself at the receiving end of a threatening glare.
"Can I help you?" Her words were laced with irritation, but even her strong pride could not hide the shiver of her voice.
"Wanda," he whispered. Her brow scrunched at first before lifting her head from the hard ground.
The delivery man had taken far longer than anticipated, though it mattered little as Wanda's shower continued for nearly an hour. The steam began to peak underneath the door as she eagerly sought the warm water. Placing her dinner upon the counter, he sat at the table before the sound of rushing water ceased. He listened as she fumbled with the curtain, waiting patiently for the door to deliver her.
Seeing confirmation of her wellbeing relaxed him just enough to allow the string of confusion to return. She'd been close to freezing and slightly malnourished, but her body remained unharmed. She'd refrained from speech on their walk to the hotel, having been too cold to do so. Desire to speak his mind, to share with her his troubles had been placed on hold until she recovered.
The door clicked open, releasing a wave of heat before Wanda entered the room. Hands holding the sweatshirt she'd adorned herself with, she refused to meet his gaze.
"Not that I'm not thankful, but why are you here?" she asked in a low voice. Exhaustion, frustration, sorrow, mistrust. They were all traits he associated with the tone. His courage to speak began to fade. "Are you going to arrest me?"
He swallowed as the unwelcomed pain thrust its way back into his chest. The glossy appearance of her eyes only enhanced his own discomfort. A breath had attempted to sneak past him, to reveal the emotions he hid. Knowing that any result of parting his lips would end in a sob, he sealed them before shaking his head.
"Then why?" she met him as her voice broke. Tears swelled at her lids. That was when he took note of the damaged skin at her neck. Circuits racing at the memories of her torture. "You promised you'd protect me."
She choked through her sniffles as the pain in her eyes released. Shame consumed him. He had been so concerned with his own self that he had failed to understand the pain she bore. Selfish, unworthy, inhuman. He used the terms to scold himself.
"Why did you come?" the words squeaked past her lips. The voice barely understandable through so much pain. He pressed against the weight in his heart as it begged for release.
"I wanted to…" he halted the truth that had been so desperate to present itself. Fiercely berating the loss of control. Can you not see her pain? With eyes hidden in the floor, he shook his head. "I do not know."
He forced himself to endure her cries. He had caused them. Standing at the wall that separated their rooms, his fists clenched tightly against the hard surface. The room was dark, telling himself that he was unworthy for the light. His mind reeled with so many desires, from confessing his struggles to wrapping his own arms around her in a comforting warmth. Though he could not fool himself, knowing that the touch he so desired would be for his own benefit instead of hers. His brow scrunched as he felt sickened by the realization.
Time slowly took her sobs away until finally he was certain her mind offered rest. The ache, the dreaded ache expanded each passing moment. It only provoked his fear. He thought Wanda could help him, that earning her forgiveness would grant him relief. However, it seemed his foolish mind had hoped for too much.
Would he ever free of this pain?
Fingers twisting in the shirt above his heart, his legs gave way beneath him. What is happening? His exhausted mind swirled into an uncontainable panic. He sucked down a breath, resulting in the notion of suffocating. Nothing made sense, nothing would save him. He would endure this suffering until the end. Strange sounds emerged as he struggled to contain what could only be described as a sob. He was not human. He wasn't supposed to cry; he wasn't supposed to feel. So why then did he?
His vision erupted in scarlet as the memories were pulled from him. In a haze of red, he watched himself struggle to reveal his confession to Wanda before finally concluding with the knowledge he'd held all along, he could trust her. He told her his fears, that the stone's mystery troubled him deeply. He trusted her to value his secret. He then watched her betray that trust. He watched himself sit at the crater, watching her flee his presence. He watched the officers drag her away. Tony and Rhodey's coldness, their jokes and their shouts. The sulking form upon her bed, transmitting the codes to grant her freedom. His outburst when he'd finally had too much. He felt it all once more as each and every sting seeped into the scarlet tint. However, the mist abandoned him as quickly as it had encompassed him.
"Let it out." A voice commanded before he shook his head. His tired mind couldn't comprehend how she managed to break into his room. All he could understand was the comfort of a small hand that fell upon his hands and the other at his neck, mixed with the unbearable emotions drowning him in the flood.
"Why does it hurt?" he failed to suppress a sob.
"It's okay," His head was pulled to rest against her chest, her chin resting against the hair he projected. "It's going to be okay. Just let it out."
He, with no will or strength to deny her, obeyed the demands and released the agony he'd fought so hard to contain. A part of him was aware that it was foolish for a being like him to succumb to such weakness, but after freeing the first wave of sobs he found it impossible to halt the flood. An array of thoughts poured out as he thoughts wrapped around his mind.
Mr. Stark does not care, Colonel Rhodes does not care. No one cares for his emotions.
"I care," an angel whispered into his ear. He was uncertain how much time had passed that she held him. All his mind could process was the exhaustion that replaced his torment. Warm fingers caressed his cheek, delivering sweet trails of relief against his skin. He didn't deserve it. He did not deserve such a sacred touch.
"Shh. Don't think that way," the demand made it clear that she was still in his head. The grip tightened, surrounding him with security. As the strokes returned and a warm pair of lips pressed against his forehead, his mind slipped as his brain evaded rest no longer.
"I'm sorry." The voice whispered. "I'm so sorry."
A/N - I am dyslexic, so if anyone notices goofy or missing words, I truly do not mind you bringing it to my attention. I read these stories a handful of times before publishing as an attempt to avoid them slipping through, but I know it happens and I actually prefer the feedback so the story can be better.