XXXVII. Gratitude

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Chapter Thirty-Seven

Slowly, the light from the machine begins to dim, and the blue glow of the radiation leaves Analiese's skin. Shuri gives me a nod, beginning to help me undo the restraints holding her to the table. Analiese stays silent during this time, only letting out a small sigh of relief once we take the IV out of her arm.

Everyone else stands towards the glass wall, with the exception of Bruce and Alex, who stand only a few feet from us. Shuri and I grab onto Analiese's arms, helping her sit up. She lets out a muffled groan as she moves for the first time in four days. I won't lie and say I don't slightly enjoy her discomfort after she had me strapped to a table for a week.

"Can you walk?" I ask her.

Her eyes meet mine, and for maybe the first time since I've met her, they aren't filled with hostility. She simply shakes her head. I wrap an arm around her waist, helping her off the table. Analiese rests one arm on my shoulder and the other on Shuri's. We help her over to one of the stools in the lab, letting her have a moment to catch her breath.

Analiese rests her hands on her knees, stretching out her arms and back, groaning slightly as she moves her muscles around.

"Lets see if this worked." Bucky says, his arms crossed as he watches Analiese like a hawk from Shuri's work counter.

I look down at her, asking softly; "What can you smell? Can you smell everyone's scent?"

She shakes her head, muttering; "No."

"What about hearing? Do you hear anyone's heartbeat? Can you hear the other scientists in the next floor? Can you hear the machines working outside?"

She shakes her head again. "No."

T'Challa's eyebrows crease, looking between Alex and me with curiosity. "Can you really hear that well? You can hear all our heartbeats?"

"Yes." Alex and I say simultaneously.

"It can be very annoying." Alex mutters to himself.

"Try to shift." Bruce tells her.

All of our eyes go to Analiese, but she simply stares down at the floor, her eyes filled with frustration. I stare at her for a long moment, watching as she brings her head up. She looks angry...but not at us. She stays very silent, her jaw flexing slightly. I glance over at my brother, finally realizing what the issue is.

"She doesn't know how," I tell them. "All of her shifts were involuntary. Even when she planned those attacks she made sure something would set off the beast so she would shift...but she couldn't command it herself."

"Well what's something that can set off your animal side?" Okoye inquires.

"The smell of blood, anger, any kind of pain..." I say.

"A threat on your life." Alex chimes in.

"Another predator." I add.

Okoye nods. "Alright, how about one of you shift and charge at her."

Analiese shifts in her seat uncomfortably, looking between my brother and I with apprehension. I share an unspoken conversation with Alex, and he nods his head, activating his suit. There's no way Analiese would believe I would hurt her, but with Alex it's a different story.

Analiese's eyes are on Alex the entire time he makes his way towards the others. I realize now that throughout her whole plan to take me captive and kill me, she never knew that Alex had shapeshifting powers as well. She's looking at Alex through narrowed eyes, with hints of curiosity etched in her features.

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