VII. A Lost Childhood

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Chapter Seven

It had been a little over six years since I had been back to my home town. I had visited Hamburg a couple times on missions during the blip, but never for too long. It felt wrong to be there without Alex.

Before Thanos had come, Alex had taken Khari to Hamburg for their one year anniversary. So Khari has seen some of the sights and experienced a piece of our childhood. Bucky hasn't though.

Being back in Wilhelmsberg feels as weird as it did the last time. When I was here last, I remember feeling like a different person. Like the little girl who was taken that day after school died, and I was just there observing her life through the boxes packed in her aunt's basement. It didn't feel like my life; given how much I'd changed and how much had happened to me. I feel like each time I come back here, and each time I leave, I become a new person. I was born here and when I left I became an assassin. When I came here last time, I came as a purposeless woman on the run and left a hero. I come here now with mystery and questions clouding every corner of my brain. I hope to leave an enlightened woman.

Home always has a way of giving us answers. I hope mine will give me some now.

We are standing in front of my old family home once again, but joining Alex and I are Khari and Bucky.

"It's different than I imagined." Bucky remarks, taking in every detail of the house.

I have my arm linked with his. I squeeze it lightly, looking at him with raised eyebrows. "What did you imagine?"

He lets out a deep breath, pondering this question seriously. "I just...imagined it to just look a bit more old fashioned."

I look back at my house, shaking my head. "It was. This old couple who lives here now changed things. Alex and I were here a few years ago and it's drastically changed since then."

Alex laughs, gesturing to the house. "I mean, did their decorator have a stroke? They painted the window shutters lavender and the wallpaper inside is now olive green."

I nod, looking in through the window. "And now the old ugly curtains are replaced with new ugly curtains. What color is that? Greenish brown?"

Alex pinches the bridge of his nose. "These people are crushing our childhood memories with their questionable tastes. Soroya, I can actually hear Mama and Papa turning over in their graves."

Khari pats Alex's sympathetically on the shoulder. "I think they're happy that their children have come back home."

As much as I appreciate him trying to make us feel better, I think Alex is right. "Mama was very particular about how the house looked. I think the sight of the green wallpaper would kill her all over again."

Alex looks closer in the window and gasps, covering his eyes with his hands. "On the fire mantel they have ceramic cats. I-I can't handle this. Soroya I need to get out of here. I can hear our childhood dying."

I nod to him, feeling mortified as I indeed see nine ceramic cat figures on the mantel piece. I remember our family pictures being up there, along with a couple of snow globes from New York City. Now I can feel my childhood dying.

Alex turns to Khari, gripping onto his hand. "To escape this torture, I'm gonna take you to the park we used to play at as kids. You think our names are still carved in the big oak tree?" He then asks, turning to me.

I smile at the memory of us doing that as kids and shrug my shoulders. "You'll have to let me know. I'm gonna go take a walk around."

Bucky and I make our way down the sidewalk, not particularly going anywhere, just trying to take in the sights of my home. Alex and Khari make their way towards the play ground at a sprint; like they're ten year olds who were just allowed to play outside. I'm glad Khari could be here with us, as well as Bucky. It makes this day less sad.

"Did the chief say he would call you if they find anything else?"

I nod. "And vise versa. I worked with Chief Alfred quite a few times during the blip. He's a brilliant man. He knows how much Hamburg means to me, so he'll come back to me with any more news."

"Now that I'm here," Bucky says, looking around at the houses we pass by, and the parks that seem to mark the end of every street. A couple of kids ride their bicycles down the street, singing a song I'm not familiar with at the top of their lungs. This makes us both chuckle. "I can totally picture you growing up here. I can see you coming home after school and doing your homework to a Fred Astaire CD. I can see you eagerly waiting to go to your dance lesson, I can see you riding a bike down the streets like those kids."

I chuckle again, rubbing my hand over his arm. "It feels like that was another life time...almost like it wasn't even mine. That little girl is so different then who I am now."

He shakes his head. "I don't believe that for a moment. That little girl may have had a different life then she thought she would, but she's still in there."

I let out a sigh. "Some days it doesn't feel that way."

"What's that over there?"

I glance over to where he's referring to and see the cemetery. The one that has our graves. I tug on his arm and lead him over towards it, finding shock and confusion on his face as he sees my name on a gravestone.

The shock fades away rather quickly. His eyes scan over all four graves as he shakes his head. "I wonder what poor souls HYDRA buried under these graves."

"I try not to think about it," I tell him, starring at the graves of my parents. "When Alex and I came here last time we finally got a chance to say goodbye, even if it isn't them buried down there. It helped I think; to have that closure."

Bucky is silent for a long moment, before he turns his head to me and says; "I want to visit Olivia's grave."

I nod my head, slipping my hand into his. "I'll go with you. I know how much she meant to you."

I can see his eyes grow rather cloudy. "She was the only family I had left besides Steve. Now they're both gone. I just wish I could have said goodbye."

"I know. But you know your sister loved you very much. You know how proud she was of you," I tell him, squeezing his hand tightly to make him look at me. "And you do have family still. You have me and you have Alex. Khari, too."

He leans forward and kisses my forehead, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. "I wish you had gotten a chance to meet her."

I lean my head against his chest. "So do I. I'm happy you got to know my parents, if only for a little while," I smile to myself at the memory of our reunion, however bittersweet it might be. "I don't think I ever told you this, but I think my mama knew how we felt about each other."

He raises his eyebrows. "What do you mean?"

"When we were making our way out of the prison, she questioned if we were really just friends. She also remarked how handsome you were and how obvious it was that we liked each other."

Bucky chuckles lightly. I can tell he's thinking back to that moment, too. "It's clear where you got your insightfulness," As he stares down at the graves, I feel his grip tighten on my shoulders. "They may not be here, Lena, but they're always with you. Just like Olivia is always with me."

I absentmindedly grip the dog tags around my neck, kneeling down to the ground in front of their graves. I plant a kiss on my hand, touching the tops of both tomb stones. As I get back onto my feet, I feel my powers spike up again. From behind one of the buildings, I see a pair of brown eyes starring at me intently. I also see curled brown hair and a brown hand sticking out from behind the corner of the house. When they catch my eye, they don't move at all; they simply keep starring until they seemingly vanish into thin air.

I look back at Bucky, finding him to be lost in thought. I am as well; thinking back to what I had seen in the electrical company building and what I had been dealing with in Greece. I think I found my blouse stealer.

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