Common Cause

April 25, 2018:

A potential solution to the Defenders' Maximoff problem arises of its own accord, when the Twins work out a way to maintain their agreement with the Kingpin via alliance instead of enmity… and visit Jessica with an offer.

Alias Investigations, NYC

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Frenzy, Wilson Fisk, Matt Murdock, Danny Rand, Luke Cage

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

For the most part, working as a private detective means being out of the office. Talking to people. Surveillance. Digging through records one can't necessarily just pull up on the Internet, even with access to the right databases. But eventually, office work does happen. There's some pretexts that can only happen over the phone. There has to be time for meeting up with clients who might want to hire her. Notes and work product need to be typed up and turned in to various clients. Etcetera.

It's this latter business that one Jessica Jones is engaged in now. The Stark Phone on her desk, with its holographic monitor and holographic keyboard, is almost out of place. Though the interior of Jessica's section of the crumbling 46th Street Building is nice enough, with a decent paint job and furniture, there's no hiding it for what it is. A tiny, cramped apartment that has seen better days. This piece of technology replaces a computer entirely though, and, for the most part, a camera, and recording devices…and…and…and. A sensible thing for a PI to have, especially since she was gifted with it instead of having to pay whatever insane price those phones go for.

Her fingers tap away on her desk; she's gotten used to holographic keyboarding. She has a Red Bull at her elbow while she types out her messy, handwritten, scribbly notes on some insurance fraud case. Sure, she gets really exciting, weird shit sometimes.

And sometimes, it's just the latest in a long line of people who think they can beat the system.


The thing about not having a reception desk… or a receptionist… or really, a proper office… means that when clients show up, it's typically rather unexpected. There's no warning that someone is here to see Miss Jessica Jones up until the sharp rap of someone knocking interrupts her solitude.

It's a polite knock. In fact, it's probably more polite than what she usually gets, because it's not someone pounding on the door in vague confusion shouting 'JESSICA JONES??' Whoever it is isn't announcing themselves. Not right away.


"Come in, it's open," Jess says. It's business hours. People can come in. And if she's thought, on more than one occasion, that this means just anyone can walk in and stick a gun in her face?

Well. That's pretty much just true of any other configuration of her life she can think of. At some point, she has to be accessible to the public.

She hits a button to collapse the screens back into her phone and sweeps it into her pocket. She's dressed pretty casually, in jeans and a black tank top, with a red and black plaid shirt over that, loose and bulky. Her feet are bare, her hair is loose. She looks like she might have some amulets tucked inside the outer shirt, tough to tell. A keen eye would see she's also got a gun concealed under there, a Sig Sauer 9 mm. She turns her attention to the door to see who might walk through it.


There is no gun, no violence. The door doesn't bust down, the walls don't turn into elder gods. There's only the click of the door opening, and the entry of a certain infamous pair. The brother steps in first, his gaze taking in the room in a wide sweep, before he turns and permits entry of the sister, as always an everpresent shadow at his heels.

"Good afternoon, Miss Jones," says Quicksilver. The Eastern European accent is very much in evidence, though likely that wasn't needed for identification purposes. He and his sister are infamous by now. "We would have made an appointment, but…"

He gestures vaguely, his blue eyes scanning the rather dilapidated surroundings with evident dislike. Maybe it reminds him of something.

"You don't appear to have a secretary," he finishes, his voice arch. His politeness is so exact it loops around into mockery. "Is now a good time?"


And just like that — no fanfare, no preamble, no grant pronouncements by some Brotherhood guard — the Maximoff twins grace Jones's threshold with their presence.

The brother is first, always in front, wearing their famous father's face in a mirror likeness, with a dominating presence so much that, for some time, the sister could be missed. To his sunny Apollo, she is a moon Artemis, like a shadow at his shoulder, and slipping in ghost-like among Pietro's announcing words.

Dressed in red and black, a wide-brimmed hat casting some shadow over her features, Wanda speaks no greeting of her own. Instead, and true to her name, she begins to wander. Slipping free away from Pietro's side with a silent touch across the line of his shoulders, she lingers, head turned just so to take in Jessica Jones from the corners of her blue eyes.

The witch reaches out to run the tips of her fingers along one of the walls, feeling as she explores.


It doesn't really take bursting down doors or elder god walls to put one Jessica Jones into a state of high alert.

Really. Them being who they are. It's enough.

Jessica tenses. There is every evidence of someone calculating whether she can escape before she's torn apart. Dark eyes dart here, there, and everywhere. Knowing what she knows, she really doesn't overestimate her strength versus Quicksilver's…quickness…and Wanda's…magical shit. For all that, Wanda herself, by virtue of those exploring fingers, might note the presence of some hedge wards here and there, just general, simple, buy-yourself-a-few-precious-moments things that any schlub off the street can do with no real magical talent. Real ones, though, not something Jones would have picked up out of a New Age shop. Effective in their way.

It takes the PI about three seconds immediately discard every escape route she can come up with as something that would simply allow them to pluck her up quicker. So she does what all private detectives do best when they are in way over their head, a position Jess finds herself in more often than not anyway. She fakes being totally fine with this.

She leans back in her seat, exactly like mothers everywhere say not to, two legs on the floor, two legs off. Pietro moves into mockery, and she moves into sardonic cynicism, even as her eyes tighten. She crosses her arms. "For you two? Any time. I mean. We're all such good friends now, and all."


Jessica's flickering assessment of escape routes does not escape Pietro. Few things escape a perception that can capture snapshots of a person's expressions and movements at a rate of thousands of times per second. "No need for that. If I wanted to kill you," Quicksilver offers, very kindly, but with the sort of kindness that flavors heavily of patronization, "I wouldn't be moving this slowly."

He's gone in the next moment, far faster than eyes can perceive, as if in a demonstration of that. When he reappears two chairs have been set before Jessica's desk that were not there before. For once, he is the first to seat himself between the Twins, leaving his sister to her curious explorations. The entire transaction takes less than a second.

"Of course, we never wanted to kill you," Pietro admits. "None of you need fear death from us, and that is an assurance you may convey back to the others. Allow us to express our regret for your handling. However… I'm afraid we have our own interests, and fulfilling them came with a price."

He leans forward. "While the Brotherhood remains the only force to oppose what humans would do to us all, we must do absolutely anything to ensure our power base is sound."


The witch's fingernails — manicured and lacquered well, and painted red — audibly run the drywall in a long, moving line. She walks on, making no desire to seat herself just yet, if at all.

Wanda's blue eyes turn, and to see them, sometimes they shine sharp, sometimes they dull with sightless, faraway vacancy. Hand still ghosting along the wall, she paces on, at least until she drifts to a temporary stop, distracted and fascinated by whatever little objects — even commonplace ones — ensconce Alias' space.

Without seeking permission, the red woman helps herself to handle some of them. Some of this reason is curiousity. The rest is her psychometry, part and parcel of her witch's sight, to help herself with a better glean of past thoughts, past memories — Jessica's, in particular.

What she can pick up so far?

"You run toward something," speaks Wanda, detached, offering nothing of value to Pietro's implication of business. Or perhaps offering something. "Or run from something. So much loneliness."


The woman flinches when Pietro does his zooming routine to put down the chairs. She never claimed to have nerves of steel. Of all her friends, she is pretty sure she's the most anxious, the most cautious, the easiest to send into an anxiety spiral, even if she has some nice Snark Armor to deal with it. Somehow she manages to get good work done despite all that, but she is one of those people who believes nobody ever died from overestimating the threat.

She exhales sharply and lets the chair thunk down. He says they're not there to kill her and never were. She'll take it for right now. Sure. Just a civil conversation she could get arrested for having, but people live in jail, and there's not much she can do about it anyway.

So. Jessica drains the Red Bull.

She digs around in her desk for a package of Marlboro Reds. She tap tap taps the package, breaking her 5 week streak of not smoking anything at all. One cigarette slides out. She produces a fliptop lighter from the desk as well, shields the cigarette from the slight draft that never seems to go away from this spot no matter what she does, and takes a deep inhale of the thing. A few ashes get tamped into the now empty can. Wanda's observations provoke a sharp look. "Stay out of my head, please, if that's your next move," she warns. "I have no control over the defenses there and they're meant to be unpleasant."

She hasn't felt them trigger yet, and isn't sure if Wanda can dig in her head…but if Wanda's reading loneliness from her shit— to say nothing of running to or from things or both— she aims to be sure. No need to cause an incident because she hurts herself on Jess' well-fortified noggin.

What's on the shelves? They're somewhat bare. The Complete Works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Comfort, friendship. Aspiration, maybe. Jessica admires the fictional Sherlock Holmes, perhaps even wants, on some level, to be like him. A Tibetan singing bowl that carries, for Jessica, a lot of warmth. Safety. Friendship. Security. No loneliness there, but definitely the memory of a spell. Protection. A…never again feeling that is so vehement it's almost discordant. A statue of Athena Ascendent, a little trendier than one might expect for Jones, and more expensive than seems to be the norm for her. Gift. Job well done. A thank you. Mild emotions. A hologram of a young Wakandan warrior, a sketch of an old Wakandan woman. Loss, sadness, melancholy. Guilt. A photograph of her whole family. Pain. Loss. Death. Piercing grief. Plenty of loneliness there. The last one standing, the only one left. More guilt.

Not enough photos of her friends, Jess realizes. She has all these people she cares about now. It never occurred to her to try to take photos. Funny how one can evaluate one's own life while watching someone else try to evaluate it.

There are other things to touch. The punching bag carries anger and determination and love for a friend well enough. The projector screen sort of yanked down between the two shelves the memory of…a party, maybe?

Meanwhile, Pietro's expressing regret over her treatment. Matt Murdock is probably gnashing his teeth somewhere in fury as she basically shows her belly, but she shrugs. "Sure. No problem. Just a sparring match. Water under the bridge. What brings you here today?"


Pietro seems well-accustomed to his sister's more witchy moments. He doesn't turn an eye as she helps herself to Jessica's things, reading something from them that brings his brows to lift. Her warning for Wanda to stay clear of her head due to the defenses brings a stronger mote of interest to his eyes, a considering glance given the detective of Alias Investigations.

"Not a lot of people would warn about that up front," he observes mildly. "They would let my sister try, and hurt herself in the trying."

What brings them here today, however?

Pietro reaches out his right hand towards his sister. It is a gesture that is half beckon and half request. They do not carry this item — dangerous and sensitive as it is — around in such mundane ways as 'physically, on their person.' His sister retains it in her keeping, in her odd eldritch ways.

"Clarification brings us here," he says. "Our purpose is not to kill, nor dominate, nor see the extermination of mankind. We are not our father." Something he seems to be saying more and more often, lately. "Our purpose is only to ensure all of us take a stand against our mutual enemies. To see who takes a side — or does not."

He puts a single collar, once pulled free, on Jessica's desk in front of her. It is not the conventional model, which they gave into the possession of Iron Man or Cable. It is a smaller affair, fitted into a gun with the apparent intent of turning it into a ranged device.

"We could squabble over territory," he says. "Or we could acknowledge this is what we all should be focusing our efforts upon. There will be no further undue hostility from us… if you make opposition of this a priority." And that would meet the letter of their agreement with Fisk… without requiring they continue to shed the blood of those who would better serve as allies.


The Scarlet Witch's hands run it all.

The wards, in particular, give her a moment's pause, knowing well enough of their shape and use to tilt her head, pensive. But she does not ask after them. Instead, she seems to delve far more deeply into Jessica's personal things, giving her light touch a chance to brush object after object.

In the end, what lingers her is the last of them; Wanda picks up that family photograph, and looks down into its frozen-moment scene. Her blue eyes learn the faces of the dead as she gives in, lets her head go briefly under the water of Jessica's echoed memories, remnant thoughts.

Her fingertip runs the image of Jessica's deceased mother.

Jessica's caution is what snaps Wanda from that reverie, and she glances over, patient and watchful. "You would know if I attempted it," she says, not unkindly, to the warning against mental intrusion. "And, I suppose, I would know too. Thank you for the warning. How fascinating — a defence."

She sets the photograph back the way it was, paying the object its proper respect.

The witch remains standing where she is, a turn of her head slanting her eyes down on the gift of an inhibition collar gracing Jessica's desk. Pietro's words bring something sombre to Wanda's face.

"In that device, we shall all share a future. Just as much as we share a past. You lost yours when you became different. As did we. We run away, run towards — we spent our lives running this world a thousand times. All it did was take us back to the beginning."


Jessica shrugs at Pietro and Wanda's response to her warning. "No need for people to get hurt unnecessarily," is what she says. "Though if I hadn't guessed it might be an issue I wouldn't have thought to say anything." No claiming false credit after all, it's not like she warns everyone who comes into the office doors. Plenty of people ram themselves up against them and then get warned, simply because she has no idea what they can do.

But then the collar, wiping all considerations and concerns in that regard out of her head.

The collar makes Jessica's eyes widen. She shifts back in revulsion, cigarette held to her lips, going pale as death. She reaches a finger out and then draws it back in the way someone does when they're absolutely revolted by what they're seeing. Her face contorts into a look of rage. And of fear, deeper and darker than anything these two inspired by their arrival. She glances up at the two as if questioning what she's seeing, inferring, is real, even as Wanda explains that it is the shape of a shared, dark future, just as they in some way share a past. Her voice is strained, and barely audible. "This thing. It's what? Some sort of high tech slave device? For people like us? Christ! Jesus fucking Christ! What sick fuck is doing this shit?"

Her hand half raises like she wants to bring it down hard enough to smash it, like an archnaphobe finding a particularly nasty and bloated poisonous spider on her desk. Her breathing picks up a bit of speed. "Jesus Christ, some cowardly motherfucker could just hide on a fucking ledge and just fire this around someone's neck!"

It's real Captain Obvious stuff, but the horror is real. She finds her eyes going to Wanda, with her speaking of endings and beginnings.

The shudder that runs through her can't be disguised or hidden. Something in those words hit a chord, big time.


Pietro's silver head lifts briefly in tandem with Wanda running a hand over the image of Jessica's mother. His head turns slightly, though not enough for his eyes to leave the detective entirely; even now, there's not fully trust. Trust has brought the Twins nothing but pain, over the years. And speaking of pain…

Nu te mai gândi la asta, Wanda, echoes in her head, Pietro's thoughts pulling at her own.

His attention returns to Jessica, as the collar — duly introduced — settles to the detective's desk. Pietro studies Jessica's reaction with interest, his head tilted. I did not expect this much vehemence from her, sister, he thinks. She is not like us, whatever she claims, but she has been made enough like us to fear sharing our same end.

"They did in fact attempt to fire it around our necks, when we took it from them," Pietro says aloud, his voice dry. The very sight of the collar seems to fray what little patience he has to remain still: he rises from his seat, turning away, settling into a restless pacing. "'They' being Trask Industries. So far as we know, this thing is designed to suppress expression of metahuman powers by keying into the genetic code. It is certain that they will refine it to suppress other forms of power."

He cuts a glance over his shoulder at Jessica. "We've spent our lives running," he agrees with his sister. "With this, it is clear we cannot run anymore."


Voi fi bine, Pietro, demurs Wanda, the tip of one of her fingers trapping between the edges of her teeth. She is a picture of innocence.

Until something steals her attention. There are few things that give the Scarlet Witch pause. The words that come out of Jessica Jones's mouth are one of them. Her eyebrows lift, and her hand turns to briefly press her fingers against her mouth, somewhere between surprised, shocked, and slightly scandalized.

A predictable reaction from an over-protected, over-sheltered, and over-smothered sister, perhaps learning for the first time in her Pietro-mandated life, that a lady can talk that way. My word!

Her eyes flicker toward Pietro and back again, absorbed in the way Jessica looks down on the collar.

A cold dunk, always, she answers, to learn that your world hates you.

"Our future," she concurs. "I deal in possibilities, Miss Jones. Sometimes, I even see the ones that are not yet here. Many of them end with those around our throats. The one they will force on you will never match your clothes."

Wanda tilts her head. Her meandering voice circles back to the now. "This is only the beginning. There are prototypes already in production that advance even that. They are bettering their design by the day. It is Trask, but think him not a solitary monster behind this crime. He is not alone. Backed by Genosha's expatriate Magistrates. Backed by foreign business. Backed by American politicians. The money to create that crossed many hands. This is only the beginning of something that has been building for decades."


Jessica, of course, has never understood all the differences and distinctions between metahumans. Mutants, Inhumans, Nuhumans, whatever genetic variant made IGH's goo turn her into a metahuman instead of killing her…she doesn't really grok them. Nobody's ever sat down to explain them to her. Some people can do weird shit. She's apparently one of them now. That was the depth of her education into these matters, and it's always worked well enough for her.

Meanwhile, though, the explanations make her bite down hard, and she suddenly splutters and makes a face. She's just bitten her cigarette in half. She plucks the ends loose and is forced to swallow some stray tobacco as she puts it out and dumps it into the Red Bull can. Looking even more uncouth, no doubt, and not even noticing Wanda's shocked reactions to her words.

But she's listening. She's listening closely, her eyes flicking back and forth between the two of them.

"How the fuck can making this shit even be legal? American politicians? Goddamn. What— I mean what's the plan? Is there a plan?"

Apparently more than enough in to ask that, at least for herself. Which makes her swallow. She's…allying with terrorists. The plan is probably…terroristy. Great.

And yet does it matter? She'd break a thousand laws, a hundred thousand, to spare anyone the slave's fate. Just one person, let alone hundreds. Thousands. A fair number of them people she knows and loves. She'd go to prison for it too, if she had to. She's sure as fuck risked prison for less.

At last…

"Look, I can't speak for the others. I'll talk to them. But yeah. Yeah. I'm in."

She pulls out her camera, snaps a picture of the thing (just a picture), and then waves a hand the collar, love of God, take it away, that wave says, slim fingers trembling. It either gets off her desk or the impulse to smash it gets followed. She won't be able to control herself much longer, she knows she won't.


Pietro's eyes blink a little wider at the spike of scandal and shock that transmits across their bond, at Jessica Jones' dirty mouth. Do not take that as -encouragement-, Wanda, he thinks, a little crossly. The things the world exposes his poor sister to. No lady talks in such a way.

But all involved sober at the sight of the collar. Pietro, even through his pacing, keeps half an eye on Jessica's reaction. Wanda's mental commentary draws his eye.

More should learn that, Pietro thinks grimly. We will make them learn it. Too many live ignorantly in their illusions of safety.

Now it is the sister who comes forward to speak more at length, and the brother holds his silence as she explains. It is not until she finishes that he resumes. "Many will say it was our actions which began all this," he says. "They will say no one thought ill of metahumans, until we attacked and lit the spark. History puts the lie to such shallow attempts to assign blame. Ever since the discovery of the X-Gene, humankind has hated us. That there was a lull in their hatred can be ascribed only to mankind finding more frightening things to hate — temporarily. I would say, rather, we simply took it upon ourselves to defend preemptively against what would inevitably resurge. What was already beginning to resurge, once aliens and gods ceased commanding the lion's share of human attention."

As for how it is legal? A thin smile crosses Pietro's features. "Anything is legal," he says, "if it is the lawmakers who are afraid. Read up on the legislation that is even now being debated on the Assembly floor. They will not only make it legal, Miss Jones, but they will profit off our suffering. The whole world will become Genosha. Their expatriates will see to that."

He turns back to face her fully. "The plan is to stop them by any means necessary." And it is those last four words which are all the distinction. Which have always formed the distinction between X-Men and Brotherhood.

Jessica says she's in. His eyes hood. "Good. In specifics… the first step is to develop counters to the collar. We gave Stark one, to that end. To put pressure on those attempting to pass the legislation through the New York Assembly is another."

He reaches to reclaim the collar. "My sister and I know how we intend to pursue that. How you and your friends do is up to you…" His eyes hood in disdain. "But make it effective. I have had enough of those of our kind who hide in their ivory towers, and practice appeasement instead."


It is just at that moment that some abstract thoughts, deep in Wanda's mind, begin to crystallize and shape into some of those colourful words —

When Pietro puts a stop to that, real fast. Wanda's moment of curiousity gets snuffed like wet fingers on a candle wick. Yes, brother, she obeys, chastened.

Tamely, she twines her fingers together, still standing tall, her blue eyes considering all the passion — all the emotion — that kindles and embers both the fire in Jessica's words. Underlying it all feels so much like desperation, and Wanda feels that emotion speak to her far more than any other. Finally, a metahuman who may understand?

"By any means," she says, echoing and agreeing with her twin brother's words. "The plan is mutable. Many efforts by our kind have been superficial, patchwork fixes: triage on a wound, but unable to cure the disease. That collar is the child of an old hatred. They will blame us, as Pietro says, as the cause for all this. But that device is the product of what has already been. Made by a society of mutant slaves for their masters' island paradise. Genosha is no longer theirs, so the infection disperses, folding into the hate long-lived here. Technology made from abilities such as ours, to be disseminated and upgraded and made legal. It will get worse for us. All of us."

Wanda's eyes follow the way Pietro retrieves the collar. He never permits her to touch it — and for reasons.

Her eyes bleed red, and the same light drips off her fingers — she snaps them with a circuit of light, opening a foot-wide seam in reality for him to store the device. One of the witch's many, many tricks.

"The plan is as far as you wish to take it, Miss Jones. But we know you are far too wise than to pretend it's not here. Too many of us hide behind a peace that is not possible. They fetter themselves and pass a worse world to their sons and daughters." Wanda appends her words with a glance to Pietro.

"And to speak further of fetters," Wanda adds to Jessica, as she retreats to her twin brother's side. She lays a hand to his forearm, just above the wrist. "Was there merit in loosening yours? Not often are you tested at the peak of your great ability. If you wish more opportunities —" her red eyes soften, "as allies, we can provide you a means to safely do so. Humanity can only do so much."


'Be effective, whatever you do,' says Pietro, and Jessica gives him a little nod of agreement as she tilts her head, thoughtful, speculative. The wheels are turning. The cogs.

How can she do it? Just running in and smashing the place really is a band-aid. There's a stroke of irony here, because Danny had thought to appease the twins by providing dirt on legislators. And now Jessica thinks that's exactly what she is going to do. Not to appease the twins, but to stop this horror. Dirt on Trask, too, and everyone else involved. And perhaps to enlist her sister, who can stoke fires of media outrage. Dirt is what she does, and dirt is a powerful thing.

"No. No pretending here."

But then Wanda is asking her a wholly unexpected question.

Speaking of fetters. Was there merit in loosening yours? Testing you to the peak of your great ability?

It's a startling question. One that causes her to look into the other woman's eyes for a moment.

Jessica spends a lot of her life afraid of her own abilities. Afraid of hurting people. She hardly ever lets loose. Matt, pacing furiously like a great red panther in her living room, furious that she'd had the shit beaten out of her. Jane, threatening to beat her with a medical textbook. She herself reaching for a gun, starting to carry because her response to feeling victimized is ever to seek ways to avoid feeling that way ever again. To learn and to grow and to become stronger.

And here, now, Wanda's question reframes the entire incident. It even sparks some of the confidence Jessica had felt after Wakanda, only to lose it to the demon bear. Tested. Loosening her fetters. Becoming stronger.

It's a dangerous game. A dangerous alliance. A dangerous thought to entertain.

A dangerous person to find herself beginning to like, Wanda Maximoff.

"Yes," she finds herself admitting. "There was. I think…I wouldn't turn down such opportunities, if they came my way again. With allies."

Dryly: "As enemies, my brain nearly got liquified." But now, in truth, she's less upset about it than she was before they walked through the door.

There are more to these two than she had imagined, when they'd first made it onto her radar by sending their bruiser, the woman whose name she still does not know. This realization fits neatly into a worldview which exists in shades of grey, never quite resolving much that's either black or white.


It is easy, from a remove, to paint the Maximoff Twins purely as black hats. They are terrorists, without a doubt. They are deadly serious when they speak of fighting for mutant rights 'by any means necessary.' In pursuit of that, they have attacked humans at will, in full indifference to all the laws of civilization. They have committed acts of destructive violence.

Yet they do not glory in killing. Prefer to avoid it, in fact — when possible. And nowhere in their end goal is stated a desire to subjugate humanity. Pietro may privately consider himself a superior species — how could he not, honestly? — but that sentiment manifests primarily as a refusal to submit, rather than a desire to conquer.

Their only end goal is equality. Safety for their own kind. The ability to live without fear. It is that which, on a closer acquaintance with the Twins, nudges them closer to shades of grey. Gives them more dimensions than that of a faceless enemy. To see the desperation behind the violence does not make it easier to condone, per se — to hurt one person to save another still leaves someone hurt — but it makes it easier to understand.

And there is plain desperation in the words they speak — the urgency that imbues their movements.

Wanda speaks, and Pietro is for the moment silent. He shares the glance she angles at him, muted anger flickering in his gaze — he knows of what and whom she speaks — and his hand turns to take hers when she brushes it to his wrist.

"That we are here speaking to you at all is proof of the mutability of our plan," he agrees. "Whatever best serves to secure the future of our kind, we will do." Along the way, it might have become clear that forging all concerned parties into allies was a stronger move than disorganization and dissension. For now.

As for the offer Wanda extends? Pietro glances at her, but doesn't countermand. Wanda was ever the likeable one, between the two of them, and he has been known to have enough sense — at times — to just let her work. "You will only ever truly test the limits of your ability against another metahuman. One of us." A faint derision salts his tone with distinct arrogance as he concludes: "A lion cannot reach its potential sparring with cats."

His fingers lace tighter with his sister's, a tacit cue for them to take their leave. "Talk to these 'others,'" he says. "They will not be safe if these measures pass. None of us will."

He turns away, transparently done with the interaction. "We will be in touch."

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