Natasha had decided Wanda needed to learn how to get around the city by herself. At first Wanda had scoffed, only inwardly as she was quite certain Natasha would make her run laps or do squats or something equally fun if she'd seen the scoffing. "How many years did I live on the streets? I can take care of myself, even in New York City." she'd said instead.
Natasha nodded. "Yes. I know you can."
"So why is it a big deal to drop me off in the middle and hope I find my way back?" Wanda asked.
"I'm giving you a mission. It's more then just hoping you find your way back to the Tower. You're not an idiot and I'm rather certain you can find your way back to a point you can see from nearly everywhere on the island." It was something of a silly mission but Natasha wanted to give Wanda a bit of freedom as well as see if she could complete a simple silly mission by herself. She was banking on that the girl could do it.
Wanda took the folded paper Natasha handed her." These are my instructions?"
"Yes. You are to to follow them exactly. However, I expect you back home by three, with those items. Not three oh one, but three or earlier if you can manage."
Wanda opened the paper and took a few minutes to read the list. Reading English didn't come easily to her, which she knew was why Natasha had written it in English. She looked up in confusion." What is a pumpkin spice latte? "
" That's your mission. Go find out. Trust me, any coffee shop will know what it is when you ask." Natasha practically shoved her out the door of the car. She sped away as much as the city traffic would allow.
Wanda looked around. She had never been in this part of the city before. She glanced at her list. She was supposed to gather five things.
1. Metro card
2. I heart NYC t shirt
3. Avengers toy
4. Pop tarts
5. Pumpkin spice latte
She squinted at the fourth item. She didn't know what pop tarts were either. But the others she thought she could do fairly easily. Zipping up her jacket, Wanda made her way through the crowded sidewalk to the nearest subway station. She paused for a moment on the steps going down into the tunnel. She wasn't quite sure where this train was going but maybe it didn't matter since she only needed the card,she rationalized to herself. Walking down the steps, she read the signs carefully. Avengers Tower was midtown and Natasha had dropped her off down near Battery Park.
There was a line at the card kiosks and Wanda joined it, taking in her surroundings. It was so very different then Sokovia. She wished Pietro could be on this adventure with her. She felt he'd have been much better at being an Avenger.
When it was finally her turn, Wanda stepped up to the computer in the wall. She tapped the button that said begin. Hesitating when it asked for how long she wanted the card for, the list hadn't specified, she chose the one week option. Maybe Natasha would let her go on another mini mission before it expired. Swiping her Stark credit card, the machine spit out a yellow and blue metro card.
Wanda grinned. Item number one was procured and with it, she could go anywhere in the city she had a mind to go, as long as she could be back at Avengers Tower by three.
Boarding the number 6 train, which Wanda thought, if she'd read the signs correctly, would take her home to Avengers Tower, she found an empty seat to sit in and read the list to get the next item. She pulled the list from her pocket. An I heart NYC shirt the list read next. That should be easy, she thought. They were sold literally everywhere.
The train sped through the tunnel as Wanda studied the map on the walls on the train. It would take her home, if she stayed on. She mused over that for a minute. Natasha hadn't said where she had to get any of the items, only that Wanda had to make it home by three. If she wanted, she could explore the city a bit by herself.
She waited through four stops before deciding. The fifth stop she got off the train. The signs said it was Bleecker street. It sounded vaguely familiar, although she wasn't quite sure why.
It was busy on the street, which was nothing new in New York. It was also nearing lunchtime and people were queuing up at various hot dog and pretzel stands. Wanda didn't really like hot dogs so she kept walking uptown. At least she hoped it was uptown.
She kept an eye out for a shop or stand that sold the shirt Natasha had put on the list. She was getting hungry too. Lunch wasn't on the list but surely Natasha hadn't meant for her to not eat from breakfast til getting home. That was what her Stark credit card was for anyway, so she could buy things like lunch. Wanda mostly thought Stark had given her the near limitless card as a way of apology, which she couldn't quite accept but had accepted the card. Since he was trying, she would too. Also it was nice to have money and not have to worry about paying for things like lunch and NYC t shirts.
Cal's Pizza loomed on the next corner. The pizza scent wafting down the street was heavenly and Wanda immediately decided that's where she'd get lunch. She joined the queue, which wasn't very long, and waited her turn. She pulled out her phone, another Stark apology gift, to check and see if she had any messages. Clint was supposed to text her today. No messages.
"Next." called out the obviously bored teen boy at the register.
Wanda stepped forward and confidently placed her order like she had been doing it her whole life.
"You want a soda with that?"
That threw her a bit. "Um. Sure."
"Pick one from the cooler, 8.95 for slice and soda." his eyebrows went up when she handed him the Stark card. He gave her a better look. Torn jeans, funky accent, she didn't look like the kind of person to carry a card like that.
"I work for Tony Stark." she told him. That's what Stark had told her to tell anyone who questioned the card.
The boy shrugged and swiped it.
She took her pizza and soda can outside to eat and walk. It seemed like something Natasha would do. Walking along, she spied a tourist shop with I heart NYC merchandise. Second item found!
Standing outside, against the wall, she finished the pizza before going in. Wanda's eyes widened. Natasha should have been more specific. There were so many variations of a I heart NYC shirt! Wanda wondered if it was like the metro card, something she was supposed to figure out for herself although she was pretty sure Natasha had had something in mind.
Wandering the tiny shop, her eyes fell on a blue and grey shirt with white letters declaring I heart NYC. Pietro would've liked that one, she thought, wistfully, as she pulled it off the rack. It was definitely the one she wanted to get, hopefully Natasha would agree it was the right choice.
Wanda made her way to the front of the shop. There were so many I heart NYC items in the shop, she'd had no idea there were so many and all in one tiny shop!
"You wish to purchase the shirt?" an accent familiar to her ears broke into her thoughts.
"Yes." Curious, she then asked, "Sokovian?"
The shop owner, an older gentleman, squinted at her. "Who wants to know? After what the so called Avengers did, isn't much left of Sokovia."
"I am also from Sokovia." Wanda decided to not give him any extra information, like how she was now considered an Avenger.
"Huh." was all he said as he scanned the shirt tag and put it in a bag.
She realized her mistake when reaching for her wallet. Using the Stark card would be out of the question, if he was that anti Avengers, it could start a problem she wasn't prepared for. Using her powers to control his mind to let her walk out with actually paying was also not an option just in case someone noticed. She breathed a sigh of relief when she found a twenty in her wallet. Clint had given it to her and she'd forgotten. "Will this cover it?"
The man took it and hit a few buttons on the register. "10.00 is your change."
"Thank you." Wanda hurried out of the shop. Secretly, it did please her a bit she'd bought the shirt from a fellow Sokovian.
Wanda wandered down the street to the next subway station. She thought about where to get the next item on her list, an Avengers toy. Once again, Natasha had not specified anything else but Wanda suspected it would not go over well if she showed up with a Black Widow toy.
A toy store would be a good place to find but she didn't know where one was. The station had signs about the stops along the line, one of which was Union Square. That might be a place to find the needed toy, she decided and boarded the train again.
It sped quickly down the dark tunnels under the city, stopping every few minutes, but Wanda stayed on til Union Square was called out.
Stepping up into the busy city once more, Wanda held tight to the plastic bag containing the NYC shirt. She walked down towards the square, where she was very surprised to find a whole toy fair spread out. Surely someone would have the needed toy.
The various stalls and tables held more toys then Wanda had ever even dreamed of. Toys like this were not available in Sokovia. Dolls of every kind, trucks, robots, rainbow hued building blocks, it was like the Christmas story Lila Barton had had her read. Tentatively she reached out to finger a cloth doll that reminded her of the doll she'd had as a child before everything disappeared. With a start, she realized the booth also had Avengers dolls. "How much?" she asked the saleslady, pointing to the Hawkeye version. Clint would find it hilarious, she was sure.
"$25.99 each, two for $40." was the brisk answer. This lady had no time for lolly gagging people, only real customers. Her attitude changed quickly when Wanda pulled out the Stark card. "And what are you interested in? We have the whole team, you know, I could give you a deal if you buy all six. Each one is unique and handmade in Brooklyn!"
Wanda shook her head. "Just the Hawkeye." she paused. "And this one." she picked up the one that reminded her of that long ago doll. She hoped it was all right to buy herself something, since it wasn't technically on the list.
"Well, of course. Gifts, or keeping for yourself?" the saleslady was practically gushing with politeness now that she'd seen the Stark card.
"Nothing wrong with that!" the saleslady wrapped the dolls in tissue paper and put them in a paper bag with a rope handle. "Now, just in case you really enjoy this purchase I've put our card in the bag, if you should desire to complete your set of Avengers. We are working on a few alien dolls as well, for pretend play."
"Interesting. I will remember that." Wanda accepted her bag and tucked her card back into her wallet.
"Thank you so much for your purchase!" the saleslady called after her as Wanda hurried away.
The fourth item needed was pop tarts. It sounded like food. Wanda knew there was a grocery store not too far from Avengers Tower, she'd been to it once or twice. It was huge and overwhelming but it did seem to have every sort of imaginable food as far as she could tell. She wondered how far it was from Union Square, would it be faster to take another train or walk? Time was running out and the deadline was approaching.
Heading into the next station, Wanda studied the map on the wall. It did seem it'd be much faster to take the train, only a few minutes up the tracks. And then she'd not be too far from Avengers Tower. Surely she could find a coffee shop on the way there. She hoped.
Boarding her third train of the day, there was no sitting room this time, so Wanda had no choice but to hold onto the railing, and her bags. Thankfully they were both small bags and she could hold them close to herself as the train was packed.
It was a short ride uptown from Union Square but with a packed train it seemed much longer. Not many got off on the stops between the Square and Wanda's stop, but several did get on. It was a good opportunity to people watch and hone her skills at watching the situation as Natasha was always trying to tell her to do.
A person in the back of the train caught her eye. She didn't want to stare at him but was quite positive it was Cap in a lousy disguise. It seemed to be passing muster with everyone else on board at least. She sighed. It wasn't exactly a surprise Natasha had had someone following her, but it was a little disappointing. Cap wasn't paying any attention to Wanda, but just sat back in a coveted seat and scrolled through his phone, which made her want to laugh as she knew very well he could barely find Facebook on the thing.
Next stop was Wanda's - East 3rd st. The grocery store was on East 3rd and she knew if she followed it north, she'd hit East 43rd,which was where home was. Surely between the two streets there'd be some sort of coffee shop. New York had lots of coffee shops.
Clutching her bags, Wanda didn't look back to see if Cap followed her off the train. She had places to go and a list to finish. Time was running out.
The grocery store wasn't too far from the station but it still was a few minutes of walking. She pushed open the heavy glass door and stepped inside.
As Wanda remembered from her previous trip it was indeed huge and overwhelming. How was she supposed to find just one item in the place? Taking a deep breath, she thought about what pop tarts probably were. Tarts were pastries right? Pop could be popcorn, maybe, or soda pop, she mused. She decided they were most likely a form of junk food. Sam liked junk food and she kind of wished he was here to show her around the place.
Walking confidently, like she knew exactly where to go, like Natasha had taught her (always act like you know everything had been the lesson), Wanda went down an aisle with brightly colored boxes. Wrong aisle, they were cereal. So many different kinds in one place!
"Can I help you?" an older man in a green apron asked.
"I, I need to find pop tarts." she said, hesitantly.
"Next aisle over, this one is just breakfast cereals." he went back to putting boxes on shelves.
Grinning, because she'd been almost right, she hurried to the next aisle. Carefully going down the next aisle, she studied the boxes. It wasn't til the end she saw blue ones that said pop tarts on them.
Again, so many kinds! Also again, there had been no specific instructions on what kind. She reached for chocolate chip. Chocolate chip cookies were good, so surely these were, too.
Wanda took her prize to the front of the store and got in line to check out. She was relieved the list was almost finished and she still had just over an hour to get home. Nearly everything had been found or done. It hasn't been nearly as difficult as Natasha had wanted her to think.
"That's all you've got?" another man in a green apron asked, this one sitting at a register.
"Yes." Wanda wondered why the question, should she have gotten more items? The list hadn't said so and the grocery store was so overwhelming anyway, she hadn't even looked for anything else.
"Okay." he scanned the box. "You need a bag? Plastic bags are 5¢, paper is 10¢."
"No, I have bags." The pop tarts box would fit in the bag with the NYC shirt.
"Okay. $2.49." he seemed bored but his eyes lit up when Wanda pulled out her Stark card. "Cool. I wanted one of those but my credit sucks. How'd you score?"
"I work for Tony Stark." she quickly told him.
"Like as an intern or something?"
"Yeah, like something." she didn't want to give him anymore details.
"Awesome." he gave her the box a bit reluctantly.
Slipping it into the tshirt bag, Wanda stepped back onto the street. For the first time all day, she had a pretty good idea where she was. All she had to do with follow the road to the E 43rd street corner. It didn't hurt that Avengers Tower loomed overhead and she could easily see it even a few blocks over.
She walked uptown towards her destination. She decided not to take the subway again, even though she had enjoyed her train trips, as she was rather close to home already.
The street was busy with early afternoon traffic and tourists and the sidewalk was a bit crowded. It was a challenge to not get shoved off the sidewalk. It was a bit tempting to use her powers to mentally shove them away but wisely Wanda decided against that. It wasn't a long walk to E 43rd anyway and before she knew it she'd reached the corner.
Avengers Tower was easy to find but she still had one more stop. Pumpkin spice latte was the final item. Wanda was rather certain there was a coffee shop on the way to the Tower, hopefully they'd have what she was looking for.
It was getting a bit chilly too, and Wanda wished she'd brought the warmer coat Pepper had insisted on buying her instead of the hoodie she was wearing. It wasn't the first time in her life she hadn't had warmer clothes but it was the first in a long time that she did have another warmer cost waiting at home.
A brightly lit up shop window caught her eye and she couldn't help but smile. It was a coffee shop with pumpkins in the window. Slipping her bags into one hand, Wanda pushed open the door, hoping to find the last item on her list.
There was no line, surprisingly, and the sales lady looked up and smiled back at Wanda. "Now, you look like you need a warm drink."
"Have you got a pumpkin spice latte?" she stammered, eyes wide at the decorations of the place. Pumpkins, scarecrows, orange lights, nobody decorated like this in Sokovia.
"Well, of course. I've got the best darn pumpkin spice latte in Manhattan right here. What size you want?"
Another question Wanda didn't know how Natasha wanted her to answer.
"I'm thinking we'll go with a medium, maybe with a muffin on the side?" the sales lady made her pitch.
Wanda nodded. It sounded fine to her. She watched the lady pulled a lever here, hit a button there, and before she knew it, there was a cup with warm steam sitting in front of her." I have never heard of a pumpkin spice latte before. I was told I had to get one today."
"Well, you picked the right place to get one." the lady smiled at Wanda. Natasha had told her of the Sokovian girl who might be coming to her shop today.
"I will need a receipt," Wanda said, accepting a small paper bag with a divine smelling pumpkin muffin, and handing over the Stark card yet again.
"Absolutely no problem." the lady took the card, swiped it, and said nothing about what kind of card it was. She handed it back to Wanda with a receipt.
"Thank you." Wanda checked the receipt out, indeed it listed a pumpkin spice latte, so Natasha should be satisfied with that and oh, the time! "I must go. I need to be home by three." she picked up the cup and began to walk towards the door.
"Thanks for your visit! Come again!" the lady waved.
It was two thirty. Avengers Tower was just down the street and Wanda felt pretty sure she could make it there by three. Clutching the coffee cup in one hand and the bags in the other, she started off briskly.
It was mid-afternoon and despite the wind picking up, the street was still crowded. Nobody seemed to notice or care about yet another person rushing through the crowd and Wanda was glad, it made it easier to hurry when nobody noticed her. She just looked like anyone else with shopping bags and a coffee cup.
It took her ten minutes to reach the entrance of Avengers Tower but it was the main entrance, not the one the team used so they didn't have to go through security every time somebody wanted to pop out for an errand or just for a walk. That entrance was on the other side of the building. She stood at the main entrance inwardly debating for a moment if it'd be faster to go through security or to go around the side.
"Well, now, you're an interesting sight." a familiar, but not welcome, voice broke into her thoughts. "They finally let you go?" Tony had just come through the front doors.
"I have to be back by three." Wanda told him, unwilling to make conversation and desperate to get upstairs before three.
"Ah. Natasha and her mini missions. She had mentioned wanting to drop you off somewhere. I kind of thought that she'd wait til Thanksgiving, when Clint drags you out to the middle of nowhere, also known as his secret farm." Tony was never quite sure what to do or say with Wanda, but he was, as always, characteristically verbal. Wanda didn't seem to know what to say to him at all." Well, then, go upstairs before Natasha has you doing something terrible because you missed her deadline."
Wanda nodded and scurried around to the side entrance to get away from Tony. She tried hard to separate Tony the person from Stark the bomb but it was difficult.
Tony watched her go. He hoped someday maybe she wouldn't see him as an enemy.
Once in the safety of the elevator and heading up towards the Avengers quarters, Wanda let herself lean against the cool mirrored walls. The mini mission was a success, she'd made it home by three, and she hadn't made a complete fool of herself in front of Tony. It seemed like it'd been a good day.
It was 2:55 the big clock on the wall said when she walked into the living quarters. Natasha was waiting for her.
"You're early. That's good." she told Wanda, taking the bags. "Let's see how well you did. First item?"
Wanda pulled the metro card from her pocket and handed it to Natasha.
"Good. A week, huh? Maybe I should let you go to the library next." it was put on the table. "Next item was the shirt." she held up the blue and grey shirt. "Good. It's yours now or gift it as you please."
Wanda accepted the shirt back. It was too big for her but it would make a good night shirt.
"Now the third item was an Avengers toy." Natasha didn't even hide her grin when she pulled the Hawkeye rag doll out of the bag. "Clint would love this. You have got to show it to him."
"I did think he'd find it funny." Wanda admitted.
"Oh, he will, he will. I'm going to guess this is yours though?" Natasha had the other doll, clad in a blue dress, in her hand now.
"Yes. It was a deal if I bought two, and I, um," she didn't finish, she wasn't sure how to explain to Natasha.
"It's okay. No reason you couldn't have got yourself something." Natasha didn't make her finish. They all had reasons for things they didn't want to explain to the others. "Ah. The guys will be happy with this, you have replenished their pop tart supply." Pop tarts had only been on the list because the guys had run out.
"There were a lot of flavors."
"Eh, they'd eat any of them. Chocolate chip is fine. Snag one for yourself if you want." Natasha wouldn't touch them but the rest of the team did enjoy them. "Last item. Pumpkin spice latte." she looked expectantly at Wanda, who looked confused for a moment.
"Oh! This!" she gave her cup to Natasha. "I forgot to drink any."
"Really." she wanted to laugh but didn't. "Well, mission still accomplished. Good job."
I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope you enjoy it it too!