What Kind of Magic Spell to Use
March 2, 2017
There was something in the woods. Vision was certain of that. And yet, no security alarms had been tripped and the last three times he had checked the cameras there was nothing out there. It was…unsettling. A feeling of a touch, hovering over his skin, and the gravity of the two masses creating a pull between them but there was no contact. It was not unlike standing close to Wanda, but not as pleasant. Vision did not enjoy it.
He scanned the tree line again, hoping a large animal had somehow gotten through the fence or one of Clint’s trainees was practicing night maneuvers. It occurred to him, belatedly, that it was possible two or more individuals were staging an assignation. Human beings were driven by their biological imperatives, after all. Most of them. He shifted in his seat.
“Chortnistʹ,” Wanda muttered to herself and Vision brought his attention back to her. Swearing was common among the people closest to him, with the exception of Ms. Potts and Captain Rogers. Ms. Potts was far too poised and Steve had been raised with particular restrictions on language. Not that the same upbringing seemed to prevent Sergeant Barnes from cursing fluently. Outlying data in his ongoing analysis of others demanded his attention for a moment, but Wanda – as she so often did – commanded his focus.
“If you do not wish to watch the movie, I can go,” she gestured to the hallway and scooted to the edge of the couch. Her jaw was stiff and her eyebrows angry as if there was a particularly juicy leaf they were fighting over. “I wouldn’t want to bother you if there is something more interesting for you to do.”
He detected no tone of sarcasm, which was confusing. Vision always preferred to be in Wanda’s company. She was certainly never a bother, and he had yet to find any activity or intellectual pursuit that was as interesting as watching her and learning her behaviors, her actions, her thought processes. His side was warm where she had been leaning against him, but was now rapidly cooling. He tried to remember young Miss Stark’s instructions on the proper way to Netflix and Chill. He had prepared snacks that were tasty, but not messy, liable to get stuck in teeth or cause bad breath. The selected feature was neither graphically violent or likely to spur significant, personally negative emotions. The room was maintained at a precise sixty-eight degrees; it was cool enough to make skin to synthetic skin contact pleasant without causing discomfort. He had taken his seat first, despite what he knew was polite behavior when one had invited another to a joint activity, and propped his arms rather awkwardly on the back of the couch so that Wanda might choose how close to sit and the level of contact she desired.
Wanda did not seem particularly chill.
“My preferred activity for this evening is to be with you, here. If you desire differently, I will, of course, acquiesce to your preferences.”
“Humph.” She crossed her arms, frowning at him, but her shoulders relaxed a bit and she scooted back. She did not lean into his side again, but she did draw her legs up onto the sofa. Her shorts were inappropriate for the season, and also for the ambient indoor temperature. If Vision was not mistaken, they were also intended for sleepwear. However, he did not ask for clarification on her choice, as within a few minutes of returning her attention to the screen, Wanda tucked her knees against his torso and slipped her bare feet under his thigh.
He could feel delicate metatarsals when she flexed her toes to dig against him. He consciously reduced his density to something closer to human muscle tissue. The small points of pressure were almost uncomfortable to him. She sighed. Vision waited the instructed two minutes – Miss Stark was very specific – and then gently lowered his arm to rest across Wanda’s shoulders. He wrapped his fingers around her bicep and she sighed again, leaning her head back. He breathed in the cherry blossom scent of her shampoo and hoped she would look up so he could smile at her. She did not. His mouth formed the expression regardless. It was without purpose, since she could not see it, but Vision found himself unable to control his own face. Most disconcerting.
Ocean Creatures: Predators of the Deep (a film featuring animals as Sergeant Barnes had recommended) was two-thirds finished when Vision felt the unpleasant sensation of prickling on his skin. It could not be anything physically in the common room that was disturbing him; everything about his position next to Wanda was comforting and highly desirable. His eyes turned to the wide panes of glass that faced the training track and the woods beyond it. Even with his sharper than human sight, he could make out nothing unexpected in the darkness.
Wanda jerked away from him. She stood, legs braced apart in her unseasonably short shorts and hair very nearly vibrating with power, dancing around her bare shoulders and brushing against the thin gold tank top she wore.
“What. Is. Your. Problem.”
Friday had helpfully paused the film, but Vision was distracted – from both the sensation of being watched and Wanda’s words – unable to quickly form a response. She was amazing. Phenomenal. It’s the fire in my eyes, the flash of my teeth, he recalled a line from a poem Mr. Stark had taught him when he was still Jarvis. It had never before been so perfectly expressed.
“You got up,” he finally replied. It was the most true statement. If he were to make a list, in descending order of importance, of all of the problems in that current moment in time and perhaps even in all conceivable future moments, having Wanda leave him would first. That thought was significant. Vision reminded himself to make an actual list later, when he could dedicate his entire intellect and concentration to it.
“Chomu ya? Chomu tse?”
Vision puzzled over the translation even as Wanda threw her hands up and stared at the ceiling. Her nostrils flared and her lips parted. He wondered if her mouth tasted like the sour candy she had been eating. He did not like that candy, but he did not mind the scent on her.
Wanda was turning, moving to leave the room and Vision realized that she had been looking for a different answer.
“There is something in the woods.” She stopped moving, looking over her shoulder at him. Her face was no longer irritated, but had the expression he had come to associate with working. It was not his preferred Wanda face, but it was an improvement over her leaving. He continued, “I have searched the security feeds, and visually examined the area from where I perceive the…sensation to be coming from, but I can find nothing. And yet…”
“Sensation?” She faced him fully again, her eyes darting between his and the window. “Like…like someone watching us?”
Vision considered that. It was an excellent description. Wanda was always extremely apt at putting his experiences into words. He nodded. Her jaw tightened again and she marched over to the window, her usual grace replaced with stiff limbs and sharp movements. A dusting of red energy exploded from her fingertips and diffused in the air. The ends of her hair lifted, crackling with power and infusing the air around her with his favorite scent of cherry blossoms. Vision stood and drifted beside her, not quite protecting her – she wouldn’t appreciate that, but ready to take action if there was something nefarious happening outside.
“Nothing,” she stated after several long minutes. Her hair collapsed and the glow of red in her eyes dimmed. “There is no person in the trees. No people outdoors within the fence except for the scheduled security patrol and Jane Foster. She is setting up an…supra-atmospheric positron collector? Randall and Voriski are on patrol. Randall is thinking of the sandwich he left in the break room and Voriski is…” Wanda’s cheeks flushed a delicate pink. She cleared her throat. “Are you satisfied? Can we finish the movie now? Or do you need to go wander around out there to feel better?”
Vision did not feel better, precisely. He did trust Wanda implicitly, however. And he much preferred remaining in the common room to walking through the trees by himself.
“Thank you, Wanda. Shall we continue our activity? I have greatly enjoyed Netflix and chilling this evening.”
Her eyes went round and her cheeks burned brighter – enough blood suffused the skin that he could sense the change in her temperature. “You thought- This is your idea of-” She growled, and for a moment Vision wondered if he had irritated her again. But she returned to the couch, dropping heavily into her previous spot and grabbing a handful of sour candies with a savagery that Vision had previously associated only with her during battle. He carefully resumed his place, sitting close enough that they touched from knee to shoulder, but he did not put his arm around her again. He was not certain if she would accept it.
“Idiot,” she muttered as he restarted the movie, but she didn’t appear to be talking to him. “All of them. Idiots.”
Vision determined that this was one of the few instances in which Mr. Stark’s advice should be taken, and he should simply close his mouth. Even with the interruptions, he considered it to have been a highly successful endeavor. Miss Stark had been correct. Netflix and chill was an activity that he did enjoy with the person to whom he wished to be close. It was unfortunate, however, that there was not more skin to synthetic skin contact. Wanda was not seasonally dressed, and Vision liked how his abdominal muscles clenched and his chest felt warm when they touched.
He did not ever want her to leave.
*Chortnistʹ – Dammit
Chomu ya? Chomu tse – Why me? Why this one?