Pen name: TheDarkestFallingStar
Picture Prompt Number: #20
Title of story: Trading Wishes
Word count: 3,316
Story Rating: M
Clint stared up at the house with an unreadable expression before tearing his eyes away to look at his team mate. “Are you sure this is what you want Cap?”
Steve honestly couldn’t reply, but he knew that this was the last option. They – the team – had tried everything in their power and with Thor in Asgard there wasn’t really anything but this left.
With a deep sigh he replied to the Archer. “Yes.”
“Okay then. There will be consequences, a price so to speak. If she asks for your life in return for his, will you give it?” Clint asked but still they didn’t move closer to the old mansion.
He had been here three times in total; the first time was for himself, the second for Natasha and now Steve. He asked for his ability to see when his eyes had become damaged after… well, he could see and see well. But in return She had taken his hearing, thankfully not all but enough for it to equate to the loss of his sight.
Natasha wished to be free, she didn’t want to feel the agony that the Red Room took from her and in return She had taken Natasha’s only prized possession.
He didn’t know what She’d ask for with the Cap.
Steve stared at the house, his heart for once pumping in fear. Fear for Bucky, fear for his life and fear of the house before him. It was an old mansion, five stories high with faded yellow walls and decaying trees. It looked dead, uninhabited for a very long time and yet something told him that that wasn’t true. He wondered how long it had stood against the test of time.
“Is there anything else I need to know?” He asked his hand clenching and not for the first time he wished that he brought his shield.
“Don’t lie to her, she doesn’t like it. I was warned by the person who brought me and he had seen what happened to the person who lied to her.” Clint stated before shivering at the memory.
“Don’t lie to her Barton. The last person I brought to her did and he ended up in thirty different pieces, slowly and she never let him die while she did it.” His old mentor explained, a tone of horror and fear in his voice that Clint had never heard before.
Steve jerked his head around with raised brows. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to know the reason behind that quiver in his teammate’s usual steady voice or not.
“Tell me, are you planning to come in or stand on my porch all night?” A soft feminine voice asked from the doorway, catching both men’s attention.
Clint didn’t even bother to react, he had gotten over his shock of her never aging unassuming face the second time he returned. Isabella was beautiful; a classic feel to her doll like features, but Clint has seen the power that resided under the frail facade. Poor Steve, I should have warned him.
“Sorry Ma’am.” Steve apologised with a nervous smile.
Isabella let her eyes roam over the soldier; to her it was obvious even with the chemicals running through his blood. His soul was that of a soldier, one who was born to be one. She could see his real form easy enough and understood why he put himself through that agony easily.
“This is the third time you have come to me Clint Barton.” She explained firmly with the sound of finality before gesturing to them to enter. Three was the limit, she would see and give no more favours if he brought anyone – including himself – again. A lesson she had learnt the hard way when she agreed to become what she was when her grandmother decided enough was enough.
Clint nodded in understanding. “Come Cap, time is limited.”
The inside of the mansion had changed somewhat, Clint couldn’t see what exactly felt off but it was something and it bothered him greatly. It felt almost suffocating, cold compared the warmth that it used to be and the smell of freshly baked food no longer lingered in the stale air.
“Is everything alright?” He blurted out once they got to the sitting room, now noticing that it no longer held the vibrancy it used to and the photos that once rested on the mantle were now gone.
Isabella turned, her brows raised in interest as she saw the Archer staring around her home with concern. No, all was not right in her home, she had gown colder over the years without companionship and love. No one to comfort her when the darkness in her mind began to push its way through and taunting her with all those she had lost and until she had and heir to take her place, she could not rest in the afterlife.
He was the first of her Wishers to notice and she didn’t know how to feel about that.
“All is well Clint Barton.” She lied before turning her eyes upon the soldier. “Tell me what it is you sought me for. Not many come when I have been offered.”
Steve hesitated as he saw a flash behind the woman’s eyes that made him uneasy and cast Barton a look before turning his full attention to the woman before him. “My… partner…”
Isabella frowned as the soldier trailed off, a hitch in his breath and tears pooling in his eyes. He was not the first who had come to her seeking help for a loved one but something about the soldier was different, the love she could sense was deeper and older like he.
With a deep breath Steve managed to control his emotions, forcing back the tears that threatened to spill as he thought about Bucky. “Our team are the ones responsible fighting against those that wish to destroy humanity. My partner, he had managed to be struck my something that is slowly killing him. There is no medicine, no power that can save him… I can’t… I cannot lose him again.”
She couldn’t help but hum as she took in the words before turning her attention to Clint. “Tell me Clint Barton, tell me the character of this man he wishes for me to save.”
“He’s had a rough life, they grew up together, served together and Steve thought that he had died in the war only… we found that he had been captured, mind controlled to be an assassin. He had managed to break free somehow but the programming is still deep inside and it eats away at him, the man he was still lay trapped deep within. His core is that of an honest man, a good man.” Barton replied honestly.
He had issues with the Winter Soldier long ago but after… well after they had found him and he had aided Cap in rescuing him, he had come to see the man that he used to be and respected all he had done and was trying to do to remember what he used to be.
“Tell me Steve Rogers, what will you trade with me for my aid?” She asked curious, a test if you will.
The reply was instant. “Anything.”
“Anything you say? Would you give me your life for his?” She asked watching as he clenched his hand and jaw before nodding.
But she dismissed that. Giving a life was too easy, too predictable for some. “Would you give me the serum that runs through your veins? Would you give up your—” She trailed off while gesturing to all of him. “— and be who you used to be?”
“Yes.” Steve replied without hesitation. To save Bucky he would give up his role as Captain America, would give up his ability to fight and everything the serum allowed him to do and become the sickly child he used to be. Bucky would do the same if the roles were reversed.
Last question. “Would you give up his memories and love for you?”
This gave both men a pause as the question hung heavily in the air. Clint was surprised and Steve… well Steve was devastated at the thought. Bucky was all he had left of his old life, of his happiest memories both now and then. He loved him dearly and to be forgotten by the man who showed him what love could truly be…
With slumped shoulders and a defeated air, he nodded. “Yes.”
“Then bring him to me and I will heal him.” She explained while taking a seat. She gestured for them to leave, a smirk twitching at her lips as they jumped with the opening door. “Bring him and your teammates, I wish to meet them Steve Rogers. I will extract my payment then.”
Clint and Steve left quickly and hurried back to the waiting Quinjet. Thankfully the base was only two hours away an hour tops of Clint pushed it to its limits, but thankfully for Steve he would do just that.
The trip back was not as silent as the previous, between the beeping of the life support, Bucky’s painful moans and the questions Clint was ready to throw them all out but one sharp look from Tasha had him lowering the com in his ear that doubled as a hearing aid.
“What is She exactly?” Bruce asked with a worried frown. The Hulk was rippling under his skin in unease about meeting another unknown creature.
“I’m unsure, but she seemed… different than a human, than us.” Steve replied while never taking his eyes off Bucky.
“Maybe she is like me?” Wanda stated while twisting her hands, a red stream following the movement.
“No, she’s something different, something closer to Thor.” Natasha informed over her shoulder. “I have met her only once and she seemed… otherworldly and old, quite old.”
Clint seeing Natasha speaking in the corner of his eye flicked the volume back on and listened to his team members speak. He had his own theories about Isabella, about what she could be and how she remained so young. Thor never seemed to age like them either and he had thought about it since meeting the Asgardian but it didn’t quite fit either. Even Phil who had met the woman dared not to utter his thoughts on this.
“We’re here.” Clint informed before frowning as his eyes flickered over the house. They had been gone for only five hours and yet something felt wrong, something was telling him that he needed to hurry as Isabella was in danger.
The second the Quinjet touched the ground he flipped the hanger door switch and got to his feet, he was out the door with his bow and quiver before anyone else could even free themselves from their harness. He was at the door to her home by the time his team got out of the quinjet and inside before Natasha could reach his side.
“Isabella?” He called, bow raised and arrow notched.
The foyer that was lit warmly with candles before was now dark and cold; the only light that spilled in was from the full moon that spilled through the open door. He moved silently towards the lounge as it was the only place in the whole house he had ever stepped foot in and scanned the room. If he thought it was unsettling when there was light, now it was downright terrifying. The shadows seemed to move and flicker away as if they didn’t want to be seen when he eyed them.
“Clint?” Tasha called with a touch of concern in her voice. Her gun was raised and she was alert, her eyes roaming the house and rooms for threats that Clint had sensed.
“Something isn’t right. She usually greets us but the house seems…” He trailed off and cocking his head to the side as a sound catches his attention. He was thankful that S.H.I.E.L.D and Stark had upgraded his Coms.
With a twitch of his head he gestured for Tash to wait while turning and making his way upstairs, each one creaked under his weight and he couldn’t help but wince at that but he didn’t stop nor did he change his pace. The upper halls of the house were darker than the main floor, older and less modern. It seemed that Isabella didn’t come up here often as everything was covered in dust including the floors and it was them that Clint followed.
Drag marks and splatters of something that seemed to burn the wooden floors. He followed them up and up to the very top of the house, each floor seemed to get darker and dustier and he could hear voices, one of anger and one of pain, it only spurred him to hurry.
“NO!” Bella screamed as the door flung open with a bang to reveal Clint. She threw out her other hand as the bastard cold one went for him, sending out a flash of blue and sending him flying out the window and onto the roof below.
“RUN!” She screamed pushing him out the door and down the hall, all the while looking back over her shoulder for the Cold One.
The dress she was forced into was ripped in several places and getting in the way of her feet, god she hated the thing but it was what the bastard cold one loved her in. At once upon a time, she had loved him but he turned out to be a cruel and controlling man underneath the charming façade, so she had fled. She had thought he died but he had only changed into the monster she had always seen him to be.
A deep growl reached her ears as they got to the last flight of stairs that was her protection and screamed, pushing Clint down and way while the Cold One tackled her. They both screamed out, one in agonizing pain as the magic began to burn through him and her in fright.
She couldn’t die, but she didn’t want to ever test that theory. Plus broken bones were a pain.
When they landed it was Steve who tore the man off the woman who was supposed to help him, even in his grasp the male struggled to get free but then by that time whatever had affected him so was fully in his system. Bella smirked as she got to her feet, the smirk turning into a toothy grin that had those on her doorstep to flinch.
“I told you.” She hummed before placing her hands upon the Cold One’s face. “I will never be yours.”
Steve jerked his hand back, letting the thing in his hands go as fire engulfed him. Bella cast him an apologetic look before casting another out and up into the night sky.
“Bring him in; we’re cutting it a tad close.” She urged before gesturing them all to the back room. It was the room she had done all her wishes in and all her grandmother and mother before her.
But of all wishes, of all those that had come to her, this was different. The man they lay on the table had only one arm, poison running rapid through his system and yet he still fought within. She could see all his pain, all the memories and mind control inside and it angered her. She hated people who did such things.
“You promised to help him, can you?” Steve asked, while shooting a look towards the others to stay quiet.
Bella nodded before placing her hands on either side of her patients head. “You wished to be a soldier and you offered your life in return for his.”
“Yes.” Steve replied unsure, he didn’t know if it was a question or not.
“You offered your power, your life and his memories of you… you said you would freely give it and if I needed all three?” She asked, her eyes taking in the stricken horrified faces around her. Mainly it was the Man of Iron, The Doctor, The Witch and the Agent but he was mainly stricken. How odd to see three people she had traded with in her home once more, she had never seen so many in one place and not for themselves.
“Do it then, for him I will give all that I am and can.” Steve replied just as quick before buckling, his hands grasping the table Bucky was on tightly as she stared down at him.
They who had never seen her before gasped as she changed before their very eyes, her hair darkening and trailing off into a flicker of fire. Her skin darkening to a black with flecks of red and blue like a dying ember, but it was her eyes that shone like a newborn flame and it was them that drew people in and kept them held captive in awe.
“Then a wish I will grant you Soldier out of Time for a price you will pay.” Her voice was hypnotising and they watched as Bucky gasped when her hand trailed over his body as she drew out the poison, the mind control and regrew his arm back once more, not of flesh but of metal.
Steve watched as her hand rose up and he willed his body to relax, he accepted whatever she had chosen to take as payment for Bucky, for his life. But her hand did not strike out at him, in fact it rested upon the Shield he did not know he held.
“Two things I ask for payment, one is the shield you hold dear.” She whispered, taking the shield from his grasp and a soft serene smile. “And a kiss.”
His heart clenched at the thought and his eyes flickered to Bucky that lay still as death on the bed, for him he would do anything, give up his shield and give up a kiss… but he couldn’t do that to Bucky. A soft laugh drew his attention back to the woman on the table, her hand patting his chest as she turned from him and made her way towards The Doctor.
“I require a kiss as a payment, will you trade a kiss?” She asked the doctor softly, surprising the others but she couldn’t help but be drawn to him.
So much pain and agony, the beast within him crying out in anger, always rattling the cage and yet such strength he had to contain it… to only release it when needed. But oh, he was not a beast either, it broke her heart.
“Yes.” Bruce replied, gasping as her lips met his and sending a spark of warmth down his body. His hands trailed up and grasped the woman’s hips and held her close as sparks lit behind his eyes, the other guy calming as her tongue traced his lip, soothing the bite she had given him a second before.
Bella smiled and stepped back, her hand trailing down the Doctor’s face in a soft caress before turning to face the Soldier. “Your wish has been traded for; he will be well when the dawn comes. Two more times you may come to see me, Clint will explain the rules.”
“Wait! What was that?” Tony demanded a second before Phil and Wanda.
“I am the last of my kind Tony Stark but my kind has legends all over this world. My family have lived this long by trading wishes instead of asking for your life as payment.” She explained with a saddened heart. “I am the last of my family, the longest who stayed in this position.”
“And what are you exactly?” Wanda asked this time her eyes wide and calculating as her brother’s smiling face reflecting across her memory.
She cast a smile over her shoulder. “A Djinn.”
Author Note: This is all there is folks, sorry!