XXIV. A Brother's Love

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Two days later...

Chapter Twenty-Four

I stare at the butterflies flying around my head, each of them displaying Fred Astaire's face on their wings. I can't believe there are people who take drugs by choice, I can't imagine going through this everyday.

It was awful not being able to trust your eyes, trust what you see right before you. Not only that, but all of the senses I have relied on for so long I can't trust either. Every few hours or so Analiese gives me more drugs but she also gives me more serum. I still can't shift. I can't smell anything like I used to, I can't hear like I used to. I'm like a normal human being again. I hadn't realized how much I relied on my powers until now.

Analiese is currently starring at the wall next to her desk, clearly frustrated and in need of a break. She has been working day and most of the night trying to figure out the formula for a cure. She hasn't taken a sample from me in a little while. I think she realizes if she takes anymore I'll probably die from blood loss.

She lets out a sigh, and to me it looks like she just breathed out fire. I try to ignore my hallucinations, but the task is very difficult. At this point I can't even muster the strength to flinch when a hallucination gets horrifying, or strain against my binds, or even lift my head.

She leans back in her chair, glancing over at me. "When you shapeshift, does it still hurt? When I saw you shift, it was so instantaneous it seemed effortless for you."

"That's j-just because o-of my t-training. The-the pain would less-ssen the more I sh-shifted. I-I also h-had a s-suit that n-numbed the p-pain."

She nods, clicking what I think is a pen in her hand. To me the pen looks like a purple snake. "Your Avenger friends made that no doubt. HYDRA wouldn't bother to lessen your pain. They didn't care."

When I try to swallow it feels like my throat is made of sand paper, but I push through the pain and ask; "W-why didn't y-you go to B-Becker when y-you got y-your powers?"

Analiese gives me a look like it's obvious. "Either she would have killed me for stealing from her or would have turned me into a test monkey. I wasn't going to rely on her. Julian was helping me, and he was all I needed."

An edge appears in her voice once she mentions her brother. I recognize the look in her eyes, it's as clear as day, and it makes me ask; "I-I see the-the hate in y-your eyes. I-I know th-that look. I see ven-vengeance in y-your eyes. Wh-what did I...I ever do t-to you?"

Analiese looks away from me, finding a spot on the floor to focus on, continuing to click on her pen. "You have a brother. From what I saw, the two of you are extremely close. Even now, I can see the love you have for him in your eyes. That was Julian and I. We were twins after all. We were inseparable from the moment we came into this world."

An angry tone slips into her voice as she continues to talk. "You know what it's like to loose your sibling as well. It's yet another thing we have in common. It's like a part of your soul has been ripped from your body. You feel a part of you has died with them. I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone. Julian helped build this cabin to hold me while I shifted, to make sure I didn't hurt anyone or myself in animal form. When he was at work he would put me in there, and when he returned home he would try to teach me the tactics he had taught you that day. One day he told me you were being sent to Siberia to be trained. He took me with of course, and found a shack in the woods at the bottom of the mountain to hide me in."

I feel my eyebrows crease. "Y-you were in Si-Siberia?"

She nods. "Over the years he trained you, I saw my brother gradually change. He went from calling you the experiment, to calling you by your name. He went from complaining about your training sessions, to talking about them fondly. I kept telling him to find a way to get a sample of your blood out or kidnap you so we could create a cure ourselves. He always gave some excuse, saying you weren't ready or there wasn't enough data. It worried me, but I knew my brother would never betray me. About a year after we arrived in Siberia, I didn't see my brother for two days. I began to worry that something might have happened, so I snuck up to the base to find answers. I slipped inside because one of the guards recognized who I was and let me in. I heard two agents talking about a scientist that had been murdered the other day. I approached them, feeling this intense sense of dread flow through me, like some part of me already knew he was the one that had died. I asked them what had happened, and they said Dr. Julian Remington died. He died trying to free Soroya Roberts."

I see two tears slip down Analiese's cheeks. I find myself getting chocked up as well. I remember the days after Julian's death; how utterly devastated I was. I remember Bucky had to come into my cell and drag me out in order to get me to train. I remember screaming at him, feeling nauseous at the very touch of him. That moment, the moment of his death, haunted my dreams. What haunted me even more so was the fact that I would never see my friend again. My only friend.

Analiese looks back at me now, her eyes cloudy with tears, and her knuckles turning white from gripping the pen in her hand. "My brother died trying to set you free. My brother died, not for his own sister, but for you. You are the reason he betrayed me; the reason why I didn't find the cure all those years ago, why I have had to endure twenty years of constant pain. You ask what you did to me? I think a better question is what didn't you do to me."

A combination of this information, my exhaustion, blood loss, and drug induced mind makes a sob escape my lips. I muster the strength to shake my head. "I...blamed my-myself for his d-death for a l-long time. For so-so long h-his death h-haunted my e-every step, my every w-waking m-moment. Because I-I loved him v-very much. He...he was like f-family to me. But h-his death w-wasn't my f-fault, it w-wasn't y-yours, and it w-wasn't Julian's. He ch-chose to do the r-right thing. It w-wasn't about y-you or me, it w-was about h-him becoming the-the person he w-wanted to be."

Analiese wipes her tears away, her expression not changing. "He didn't question who he was until he met you. You got into his head and made him betray me."

"I-I didn't m-make him d-do anything," I say, feeling another wave of nausea go over me. "He-he m-made a ch-choice."

"You can justify it all you want. But Julian's death was your fault. You are the cause of all my misery," She tells me, getting out of her seat and walking over towards me. She places her hands on either side of the table, starring down at me with an intense mix of anger and satisfaction in her eyes. "When I'm done with you, I'm going to make you go through that pain all over again. Your brother died when Thanos came, just like I did. That death was painless and quick. I promise you the death I have in store for him will be excruciating until the very last moment."

I strain against my binds, ignoring the pain and ignoring the fact they look like licorice to me right now. I feel very lightheaded as I lift my head up, but I push past it, saying through my teeth; "D-dont you d-dare t-touch him."

She ignores me. "You know, I found you in Greece because the world was talking about an Avenger going on vacation. You were on the news. The return of your brother was on the news as well. The world rejoiced for two siblings being reunited. I wonder if they'll broadcast his death like they broadcasted the other murders I did; a documentation of your pain for the whole world to see. I'll make sure you're alive long enough to feel the weight of his death, to know that there isn't any hope for him coming back this time. Maybe I'll concoct something to kill your boyfriend as well. After all, he was the one that actually snapped my brother's neck."

I pull as hard as I can at my restraints, urging my powers to awaken. Nothing happens though, and all I can do is let the tears fall and whisper; "You're g-going to l-loose. I-I w-won't let y-you harm th-them, or any-anyone else."

Analiese smirks at me, her eyes cold and her words even more so; "You won't let me? Oh Soroya, look at yourself. You're on borrowed time right now, and that time is quickly running out. Pretty soon you'll be dead, and I'll finally be able to find peace."

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