The Iron Goldendoodle

April 12, 2018:

The Maximoff Twins take the measure of another of the Defenders. …They don't really know what to make of Danny Rand. Also Wanda is a pancake.

19 Gramercy Park South, NYC


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Jones, Matthew Murdock, Luke Cage, Emery Papsworth, Owen Mercer

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

19 Gramercy Park South - the home of the Rand Family for three generations. Joy Meachum gave up the lavish home to Danny Rand after his miraculous return from the dead. She gave it up in exchange for a long list of conditions that the young billionaire has been trying his best to follow. She cleared out the bulk of her things awhile ago, leaving most of the 37 rooms sparse or completely empty.

In fact, Danny actually occupies only about a tenth of the house. The giant gourmet kitchen has a bedroom off the back. There's a basement gym that he's actually fairly conscientious about locking when he's not using it. Then there's the living room to the left of the front door, which has a flatscreen, some Early Modern-style furniture and a giant welcoming fireplace. A few of the upstairs rooms look like something out of a design catalouge. They're guest rooms, each with their own ensuites. In all, it looks like someone started to move in and just kind of gave up, which really isn't far from the truth.

Danny? He's currently in the steam shower in the what is the ensuite of the master bedroom on the second floor - though he does not actually occupy the room.

19 Gramercy Park South. A place of wealth and decadence, an icon of the old blood New York elite. A lavish thirty-seven room affair, contained within a stately old red building.

Barely even a mile, as the crow flies, from where mutants struggle in discrimination and poverty in the neighborhood known as Mutant Town.

The Twins have been keeping track of all the Defenders, but the one known as Danny Rand in particular they have followed without truly engaging for some time, now. Perhaps because they knew it would enrage them to see what he has that so many others lack. And when finally they decide to help themselves to the home — to take a measure of this scion of Rand Industries — Pietro finds himself every bit as disgusted as he thought he might be.

It was not difficult for people of their powers and skills to get in. The Twins made a swift circuit of the home, room to room, and Pietro's disgust only grew more with each. The half-occupied nature of it doesn't escape him, either. "Sister," he says in one room, peering into the attached ensuite with deep disgust, "this is so excessive that he cannot even fully occupy it."

It takes them less than five minutes to find Danny Rand. Mercifully they do NOT look in on the ensuite. Danny might hear the slam of the door as the Twins exit the master bedroom again, however — they're aware he is there, and they certainly don't mind HIM knowing they're here. They want him to know.

They're not hanging around, however. They've gone back down to the kitchen, where Pietro set his sister up on the gorgeous countertops, and promptly started rifling around.

The Maximoff twins, over the years, have been the masters of many domains.

Most of them emptied, dilapidated houses in the months before they are torn down. Ratty hostels. Forgotten farmhouses. Back alleys. The broken-in back rooms of businesses, restaurants, mechanic's garages. And more often than that, the back wilderness bowled at the feet of the Carpathian Mountains.

Little have they ever experienced a place such as this.

Here and there, they have stolen into places of luxury, if just out of a bitter curiousity to see how the other side lives: their homes preserved and presented in museum-like care, like some sort of spectacle of grandeur than someone's home. Alien to her eyes, even now, as Wanda follows Pietro's lead from room after room.

The manor talks to her, in its way: the witch's sight is not immune to psychometry, reads off objects and rooms, most of its glean old and ornate.

Eventually, the brother guides them to the kitchen, and in his meticulous way, arranges Wanda to a seating on the counter top. She stares up at the ceiling, a little taken aback by it all.

This is the enemy to Hell's Kitchen's new master? What sort of man would that be?

In answer, Wanda sprawls back along the counter, dress and beaded headdress and all, flopped where she leaves herself. "Brother," she calls lazily, playfully. Even terrorists have their downtime. "Guess what I am."

The Scarlet Witch, spread out flat. "I am a pancake."

This was a happy home - and a home despite its lavishness. What fixtures are original echo with an almost Norman Rockwell-esque happiness. There's darkness, of course. There are many secrets Danny never knew about his parents. He still lives under the delusion that his father got to the top while not making compromises.

Truth is, you don't get to occupy the largest private residence in Manhattan by being a perfect human being.

People coming in and out of the house is not new to Danny. He's a very chill host, like that one rich kid you knew in high school who was super laid back and not possessive about his stuff. Or the one rich kid you wish you knew.

One would have to know that to get his reaction to the twins as he stands in the doorway of the kitchen, towel-drying his impressive mop of golden curls, wearing a black t-shirt and wide legged drawstring pants. He's barefoot. This is probably the least strange scenario, in fact, in which he has been barefoot.

"Pancakes? Uh, hey. If Emery was around, he'd make some. I'm not very good at them. They turn out too crispy, he says. But I kind of like them that way?" He looks at the two of them, shrugs, then goes towards the giant stainless steel fridge. "Oh hey! There's pizza in here, too. Homemade with pear and stuff on it. At least I thin that's what it is." He pulls a platter out of the fridge and pulls back the tinfoil to show a half dozen slices of prosciutto, goat cheese and pear pizza.

Only friends of friends end up randomly in his house. Ergo, they must be friends of friends. Thus is the logic of Danny Rand. He picks up a piece of pizza.

Sometimes even the Twins grow curious of what it is like, to have all the power, privilege, and wealth that was forever denied to them. Pietro perhaps more than Wanda. The curiosity rarely lasts long, though. It always transforms back into disgust. In the end, the Maximoffs were not a pair bred to sit comfortably on their laurels and enjoy luxury for long.

As it has happened countless times before, it happens here. By the time they retire to the kitchens, Pietro is in a black mood.

As always, his sister manages to lift it, however. The playful lilt to her voice draws his eyes, and they soften to see her flopped back along the counter, declaring her new status as a pancake. Abandoning his inspection of the drawers and drawers of silver, he saunters over to her, leaning over her where she sprawls across the luxurious stone.

"Are you?" he asks, eyes half-lidded, tilting his head. His long fingers drum the counter beside her shoulder. "I suppose I'll have to — "

And then, Danny Rand.

Pietro straightens up, frank incredulity mounting in his gaze as Danny happily joins the conversation about pancakes. His gaze follows Rand as he ambles to the fridge, and discovers pizza. Pizza with… pears on it.

"You are Danny Rand?" Pietro asks, his brows lofting towards his hairline. His voice still carries the accents of Eastern Europe. "You…" He glances askance at his sister, for once in his life completely nonplussed. He glances back at Danny. "…are not what I expected."

Blue eyes meeting blue eyes, Wanda's impish smile widens as she is swallowed in her twin brother's shadow.

And then —

At Danny Rand's very, very timely arrival, both twins simultaneously turn their eyes. While Pietro straightens up, Wanda merely goes very still, still helping herself along the countertop: her head leans back to get her first look at the man upside-down.

While he goes into a friendly, hospitable segue about the nature of pancakes, the difficulty to make them, someone named Emery, and then, as if humanity is not bewildering and stange enough, they have now committed some atrocity of putting pears on pizza.

There are very few things in the world that can shock the Scarlet Witch into total, absolute, stilted silence. This is one of them. She follows Danny with her eyes, still upside-down from her precarious, horizontal perch, though at one point while he's deep in the fridge, she flashes a meaningful glance to Pietro.

Seriously?! say Wanda's eyes. Him?!

She is silent a moment.

"You do not know who we are?" is her first question, with that same, distant accent. A sincere question, asked out the lips of one of two very wanted, domestic terrorists.

"Yeah, I get that a lot," says Danny as he goes back to the fridge. "You guys want a beer or something? There's wine, too." And enough hard liquor to stock a very fancy cocktail bar, but he keeps forgetting about that. He tosses his towel over the back of the barstool at the kitchen island, then digs around until he finds a bottle of microbrew. He squints at the label, then apparently decides it's fine because he twists the cap off. Normally microbrews don't twist, but he doesn't have much issue with it.

It's only after he has the beer in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other that he realizes something might be a bit…odd here. He looks at them both, swallows a bite and then goes, "Uh. I'm guessing you know Emery. Or Luke. Or Owen." His puzzled look is very much akin to a labrador who doesn't know why there's no ball to chase when its owner fakes out a throw.

He probably should know who they are. But the truth is, between being a vigilante and trying to figure out what the hell a statement of liability or what the report on the policy on policymaking actually says, his brain's kind of full.

Yeah, I get that a lot, says Danny Rand. There is a bemused pause. "I can't fathom why," Pietro finally says, his voice painfully dry.

As Danny roots around in the fridge, Pietro shares that glance with his sister. He seems as astonished as she is. Doubly so, once Danny offers them a drink along with the baffling pear pizza. "No… thank you," he says, temporarily and utterly defeated by Danny Rand's oblivious amiability.

Soon enough, Wanda asks the pertinent question. Danny's answer just deepens the bemusement of Pietro's expression. "Actually," Pietro muses, "we know Jessica. We had a bit of involvement with some of her recent… car troubles."

Pietro slants a glance at his sister. …I do not think this one presents a threat, he muses in her mind, completely baffled. The others must lead him. His wealth must be of use to them. In fact —

"How do you feel about the metahuman registration legislation, Mr. Rand?" he inquires.

No thank you, says the brother.

The sister bites momentarily down on her lower lip, writhing for a beat under his unspoken authority. "—I'll have a beer," she pipes up, a guileless sort of eagerness in her voice. "Thank you very much."

Wanda is not normally permitted beer, and is allowed even less opportunities under Pietro's eye to be offered such a thing. She's curious. She flickers a glance up at her brother, half-wary of his disapproval, half-pleading to be allowed this much. She's forgotten how it tastes!

Eventually, her throw-rug impression and upside-down view of the world hits its limit, and the woman rolls up onto her stomach, chin nestled against her knuckles, and her legs kicked up at the knees, ankles twined together.

The witch is still unsure what to make of this — one of the supposed "Defenders" who is either unaware or merely careless that two terrorists have stolen into his very home —

She could try to search his mind to see if his behaviour is a clever farce. But he would feel the intrusion. It may be easier to simply… adapt.

He does not seem worried. Perhaps a wolf in sheep's clothing? Could be a clever ruse, answers Wanda among Pietro's thoughts.

But her brother's mention of Jessica Jones? Wanda erupts in a sunny, ear-to-ear smile. Yes, they are all best friends with the Jones detective. "Brother, please," she calls playfully, smiling up at Pietro. "Already at work? We've not even introduced ourselves properly to our new friend. He'll think us ill-mannered."

She feigns a gusty sigh. "We're activists. We try to lobby for rights among the metahuman communities, and our work in Hell's Kitchen had us cross paths with Miss Jones. She had passed us your name."

Oh, hey! Something topical that Danny can actually talk about. It's come up in Rand meetings in terms of risk management and anti-discrimination laws yadda yadda yadda. The guy who was talking had a serious Tom Selleck 'stache and he got distracted, but the parts about the actual legislation were relevant enough to pique his interest.

"I think any legislation that tries to take rights away from one group of people is unhealthy and dangerous. And identifying who that group is is only the first step to trying to control them." He chooses his words carefully and speaks slowly and deliberately. A zen-like warble enters his already laid-back tone.

Like a good host, he goes to the fridge to pull out another beer. He has no idea that this is probably a bad idea. He takes in their words. "Jessica." Which…doesn't explain how they got in his house. She's never crashed before. He's starting to get suspicious, but he hasn't jumped right to malice yet. "Activists. Oh." He's not supposed to talk to activists. He's supposed to refer them to Sheila or Shonda or…Casey? in central marketing and communications.

No thank you, Pietro says, and he considers the matter closed.

Which is why when Wanda contradicts him, the swiveled glance he turns on her is completely scandalized. Practically outraged. In front of another person, Wanda?! he scathes. He huffs internally over this small defiance of hers, weighing the wary pleading in her gaze, before his oppressive presence… recedes, slightly. Very well, I suppose I do not allow you enough. But no more than half, Wanda. You know you must take care.

"…Well. Very well, then, if my sister is insistent on such indulgences," he says, because he would not be Pietro Maximoff if he weren't 1) confirming things unnecessarily for Wanda 2) being a damper on everyone's good mood.

He does consider Danny thoughtfully, however, as he feels Wanda shift to take a different tack with Rand. Perhaps a different approach is warranted, here. Wanda's light chide draws a snort. "You know I like to get to the point," he grouses, but he does listen as Wanda explains who they are — and as Danny gives his response on the matter of registration.

"As it happens, we agree," he muses, perhaps sensing that Danny is finally Getting Suspicious. "And we'd like to be able to count on your support. Rand Industries could do a great deal for the anti-registration movement… financially and otherwise."

We ought go. Best we discuss the collar with… someone else, Pietro asides to his sister. Perhaps the devil-suited one? A pause. Though I question him as well, now…

The look of scandal from one twin meets submissive deference in the other. If Wanda knows how to do anything, over years of practice, it's to appease her controlling brother.

We're not offered beer often, Pietro! I just wondered to have a taste! I have not tasted it in years! is her mental answer, as she glances down, apologetic. But if you do not allow it, I will obey. And then a pause, and a sulky, and very suffering reminder: I just wanted a taste.

Only when Pietro relents — just enough — does Wanda's smile eel back to her mouth, bright and hopeful. I'm so lucky to have a brother so good to me. I will always take care.

When offered a beer, the strange sister of the twin houseguests sits up, accepting with a diplmatic bow of her head. And turning it around curiously in her hands, like someone who is not allowed to handle many bottles — or glass, altogether — on a regular basis, Wanda takes a curious sip —

And immediately makes a face. She forces it down in an unsatisfied swallow.

Oh. Beer is awful.

Frowning down at it — surely the drink lied to her somehow — Wanda tilts her head back at Danny's reponse. It's a good one. A sympathetic one. Trying to swallow again the sour aftertaste of beer, Wanda meets Pietro's eyes in a thoughtful glance. She agrees with a quick exeunt. If just to save her from drinking more beer. It's terrible!

"It would be nice of all the community could receive the same hospitality from you as we did today, Mr. Rand," adds Wanda, extending a hand toward Pietro in signal to be helped down off the counter. "There are a lot of lives you could protect. They will be hurt if this legislation passes."

Danny is the living embodiment of one of those gifs with complicated equations superimposed over their faces and a 'does not compute' expression. They know Jessica, but they're in his house. And they don't know the people he thought must have let them in. So how are they in his house?

"I uh, I gotta say that what I say doesn't speak for all of Rand. There's a uh…" he purses his lips, arches his eyebrows, shifts, "…media…section on our website for statements…and things?" Damn. This went so much better when he practiced it in the mirror before his last 'life coach meeting' with Joy.

He's so busy trying to figure out the Maximoff Equation that he doesn't even notice Wanda's barely contained disgust at a fine microbrew double IPA.

Very well, Wanda, comes Pietro's response, frosty even in their mental communications… though he softens notably when she praises his goodness. He brushes a fallen lock of hair back from her face, pure affection in the gesture.

Duly allowed to indulge herself against her brother's wishes, Wanda receives her reward: the taste of beer. The face she subsequently makes puts That Look on Pietro's face. The look of an elder brother who knew what was right for you in the first place, and why did you argue with him? Don't you regret it now?

As if that look wasn't bad enough by itself: I told you so.

Fortunately he doesn't torment his sister too long. There's more important matters to attend… like the fact Danny Rand is Getting A Clue. Wanda takes her turn to make the pretty statements; Pietro contents himself with handing her down from her perch. He only speaks up when Rand makes his… really bemused response.

A smile knifes across Pietro's face. "I'm sure you'll figure it out," he says aloud, though his eyes kind of betray the fact that he has some severe doubts there. He takes his sister up in his arms, and within a wink — both are gone.

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