Mistakes Were Made

April 28, 2018:

Lorna runs into her brother in Mutant Town. Yes, yes, Pietro. You were right.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The afternoon was bright and warm, the perfect Spring time weather. Pollen was high, and even in New York, it blanketed the cars in the corners of windows and pipes were water ran down. Mutant Town was no different, just more crowded and poverty stricken as always. Smells of bodies pressed together, exhaust, and trash rotting in the alley ways hid most traces of the floral dominance of Spring.

For her part, Lorna looked every inch as sour about the sunshine as she did about the crutches she hobbled on. Her notable green hair was hidden under black dye and trimmed up shorter than it had previously been. Her makeup was heavy, attempting to hide a few bruises, though it only added to the shadows that ringed her eyes in a dark smear.

Her clothes suited this section of the city, a worn band shirt that had likely been a Good Will find, and a pair of sweatpants a few sizes too big to hang over the dark green cast that covered her leg. Though there was one other change that careful eyes could note, at least those that knew the woman.. she was decidedly not six months pregnant.

Lorna sank down onto a bench outside of a rickety convenience store, beneath a grease stained window. Music blared from a nearby car as it idle across the street. She sighed, breathing hard as she tried to catch her breath. Flying or levitating with a cast on was so much easier. But it also attracted attention.

*

The Brotherhood no longer conducts their operations in Mutant Town, in the interests of avoiding calling down negative attention on the neighborhood. They save most of their attention-grabbing activities for Hell's Kitchen, now, to the distinct displeasure of the Defenders. They still live within it and guard it fiercely, however, and while all mutants are permitted within these few run-down blocks so long as they cause no trouble, there are some who are watched more closely than others when they are here. Anyone associated with the X-Men, for example. Today someone stops Pietro and murmurs something in his ear, a heads-up that brings him to frown.

He adds it to his circuit. Pietro still walks Mutant Town regularly, even if many other things are clutching at his attention as of late. It reminds him of the places he's lived before, the places from which he came, and how far they have yet to go before there will be any true equality to be found between man and mutant.

Soon enough he can be seen coming down the street, listening to another mutant. The conversation is muted, and over quickly, the mutant taking her leave in a twisting portal of light. Pietro does not actually recognize Lorna at first, his gaze passing over her without recognition — and then it flicks back in an obvious double take.

"I could have told you the wedding was a terrible idea," he says, folding his arms. "It seems to me you had to learn that the hard way."

*

Lorna looked up at the arrival of her half brother, only turning her focus his way as he spoke to her. She grumbled, shifted on the bench, and adjusted her grip on the crutches. "This? This was.. yeah okay, fine.. you were right. Happy? To be fair, I did suggest eloping a few times." Her voice pinched at the end with no small hint of exhaustion and she tilted her head back to look at the rusty store sign that hung above her. She sat up, a grimace pulling at her lips as her gaze swung around them and back.

"Have any other worldly older brother wisdom to throw my way? Like don't live at Dad's or talk to strangers?" Her voice was dry and she struggled with what else to say as she sat there, a morose look on her features as she turned her gaze back down to the crumbling pavement between her feet. Crushed cigarette butts and a few mottled stains of old gum made a patchwork of the sidewalk. Gross.

"Cause I'd rather get that over with since I feel like shit already."

*

I did suggest eloping, Lorna says.

"You should have suggested harder." You could put Pietro's picture in the dictionary next to 'merciless.' Or next to 'asshole.' "That entire affair was a waste of time, attention, money, and resources. If it were up to me, all that useless opulence and pomp and circumstance would have been stripped long ago. What purpose to make a gaudy display to a world that hates us? All it does is present a convenient target."

He regards her, his blue eyes hard. Then his gaze blinks away. "But it was not up to me," he shrugs. "And I did not stay to make it up to me."

Have any other advice? Lorna will soon enough learn not to say such a thing around this man. "Don't trust father," he starts ticking off his fingers. "Don't let people talk you into foolish ideas. Don't trust father. Don't continue on once it becomes clear you're being used by multiple parties. Don't trust father. Perhaps saying it three times is enough?"

He folds his arms. "It's likely time to realize none of them had your interests at heart. Magneto wanted a pretty doll. The X-Men wanted a mouthpiece. Genosha's new elite wanted to sell an empty fairy story to cover up their problems." Pietro frowns. "Well, perhaps the X-Men cared somewhere under the use they made of you, they're bleeding heart enough for it."

His gaze turns to her leg. "You shouldn't be out here."

*

Lorna snorted, and rolled her eyes. "Noted." It seemed she was unruffled by Pietro's utter lack of sympathy or even mild empathy for what she went through. Compared to the looks those that knew her gave.. the pity, the mistrust, and the anger at what had happened? It was oddly refreshing and Lorna seemed content to just let it all wash over her and break.

The added advice on their father, seemed to amuse her and a faint smile crept onto her lips. Still she let Pietro speak without interruption or even argument. Perhaps that was more over a sign of Lorna's continued brittle mental state. Still, she shifted on the bench and as his gaze turned to her leg she yawned and leaned back. "I can fly if I really have to move. And I can throw cars at people that really piss me off. I needed to get out… I have been stuck in the medbay for days and given tons of the good painkillers.." She grimaced and her humor faded.

"I came down here hoping to see what apartments run at. Maybe figure I can get myself a fake ID and try to.. I dunno.. something. It sounds really stupid when I say that outloud."

*

Apparently mollified at being allowed to run his mouth freely, Pietro relents. Perhaps it also mollifies him that Lorna appears to have been chastened to some degree. It definitely mollifies him that he was right.

It's not the most empathetic thing, to think of things in terms of someone having 'learned their lesson' in injury and pain, but Pietro grew up with a hard childhood, and has little pity for those who buckle easily before the slings and arrows of life. No one will ever look at Pietro and regard him as someone with any sympathy for individual problems. Not when his gaze is fixed so intently and distantly on matters like registration, like collars, like the utter hatred humankind seems to have for the mutants who share their planet.

And not when he's just generally a dick.

Oddly, being allowed to scold her seems to soften him up. He is like a father in that way: give him his way to tell his younger relatives all the ways he thinks they were wrong, and eventually you'll get to the end and he'll shut up. He sighs, his attention drifting to her injuries, her general condition. "These were the product of the wedding? I had read there were deaths."

Her statement on trying to find an apartment here raises his brows. "Cheap," he says dryly. "The only place in Manhattan you will see rent under a thousand. No one wants to live among freaks. Are you so unwelcome at the Institute?"

*

A sigh and Lorna turned her gaze to the blue of the sky, seeming to enjoy the brief respite in being able to just sit and not have something horrible happen. She was sure Scott was going to yell at her about having a conversation with Pietro like this.. but things weren't black and white to her. They never had been. She neither gave away nor shared secrets that the Brotherhood kept or that the X-men had. Malice might've been willing to, but Lorna was not.

Still, as Pietro's stance seemed to relent, her own gaze swung back toward him. She shook her head when he asked about her condition. "No, they're just tied to it. I was physically fine when the Wedding was crashed.. I just.. someone decided to mentally play hop scotch with my head. Some.. asshole that goes by the name Sinister. Apparently he wanted my baby. And sent this thing, Malice to play around with my head to use against the X-men or something." She snorted and shook her head, her lips twisting.

"Didn't last too long, and instead Malice decided to try to fight the X-men and the Hulk.. and when I woke up, my leg was broken and yeah.. Shit went down." She paused, glancing toward Pietro and then down the street again.

"So yeah, I don't exactly know if the X-men will allow me to stay. Or if they're exactly.. the best solution for protecting Aurora. I'm exploring options.."

*

Pietro absorbs the words in silence. He studies her as she talks of possession, of a man called 'Sinister,' and of whether the X-Men will allow her to stay or whether they are even an option for the protection of her child.

"I cannot help you." Blunt as ever. "You have always put your child first before anything else, and what we are doing is the opposite of safety. If you want to stay in Mutant Town, we do our best to protect the area, but we mean to face registration and the matter of the collars in ways that will call down retaliation on us. It would be best for you to be far from us when that happens."

The anger is visible in him again, seething under his skin. "Mutants have enough trouble to face without being assaulted by these other parties. Are they human? Fellow mutants?" Last he checked, humans weren't really up on the 'possessing other people' thing. "How do you know you are clean of this influence?"

*

Lorna shrugged, "I didn't ask you to help, Pietro. I know you've got other priorities. I've been trying to catch up on the news." She grimaced and dragged her hands through the black dye of her normally green hair. Before she sighed and leaned back on the bench. "I just thought, perhaps, for a short while the laying low and false id might give us some time to figure out what to do." She pursed her lips together.

"The more I think on it.. I… I think Aurora might be better off lost to a system of adoptions. Raised somewhere far, far away from me and our family. I don't want to leave the fate of our kind up to chance or luck. I want to do something. But.. like you said. Her safety comes first to me." She crossed her arms, after arranging the crutches more firmly beside her.

"I don't exactly know what Sinister is. But he had mutants under his command, err.. pay? He does experiments on our kind. Because he can. And I don't think he's going to be easily stopped either." She rubbed her hands on her thighs, as if trying to hide how they shook.

"I'm sure I'm cleared. There are telepaths there that checked on me. A few times.."

*

I didn't ask you to help, Lorna says. Pietro blinks, some of his overbearing bluntness evaporating. Apparently it didn't occur to him, controlling as he is, that there could exist situations in which his opinions and input were not needed or wanted. He doesn't argue, however. As she points out — there are other priorities. Things that implicate the entire mutant race.

"You do need to disappear for a while," he finally says. "Far from Genosha and its fake peace. Your profile is too high. Even talking to me is something of a risk…" He looks around, at the crumbling buildings. "Though less so, here."

He lapses into silence as she starts to contemplate that the child might be better off left to adoption. "Perhaps," Pietro says. "Our father is who he is. Our mere association with him is a risk. Wanda and I have no intention of stopping, and so the Brotherhood is a risk as well." There is a pause. "She may be happier. Wanda and I were happiest when we were children in Transia, far away from the word 'mutant.'"

He shoves his hands in his pockets, his shoulders hunching. "That was a long time ago, now."

He shakes his head. "This Sinister is a problem," he says. "Mutants turning against their own kind. Now is not the time. Not with registration, these collars. So many metahumans did not even care about the issue until we forced them. We reminded them they can have their powers taken too."

*

Lorna nodded at Pietro's words, "There's a reason why I bothered to dye my hair this morning… I figured it would be worth the hassle. I've kept my head down before.. but never when my face was already plastered all over the internet. I could end up very easily taken by people that hate our kind for who I am. Or people that hate Dad. That list in particular is very long." She agreed once more, that Pietro's words made sense. It was her first instinct. To go to ground. Of course, that meant staying out of the action. Staying out of the war between mutants and those that wanted their kind destroyed.

That was easier said than done.

She fell silent as he spoke of his days in Transia. Of growing up without knowing who they were.. She had had a happy childhood. As happy as one could be with parents that forced her to dye her hair for fear of her being targeted for her hair color. As happy as she could be thinking that that was the most she had in terms of being a mutant. At least until high school had started and the X-men had gotten involved.

Perhaps Aurora would be safer in that imagined other home. Away from anyone that could track her down or use her. Away from any of the trouble being a relation of their family might bring. But she wasn't sure if that would keep her safe from Sinister. Wasn't sure what could be done that way. She was too in the dark. Didn't know enough.

"Metahumans are products of accidents.. we're born the way we are. It's not that shocking that they'd see themselves as different from us. We can be anyone, born to any family.. them? They exist because of the strange and unlikely accidents of life.. The reason people hate us Pietro, is because they can't stop more of us from existing and spreading.." She shrugged, "But I'm sure you figured that already.." She offered with a sheepish grin.

"So.. I was thinking.. maybe with keeping a low profile. If registration passes, there's gonna need to be a way to get mutants out of the country. Safe houses and stuff. Right? Maybe I could start working on that."

*

"I have dyed mine most of my life," Pietro says, his voice tired. His accent comes out more strongly this way, Eastern Europe rounding his syllables. "I stopped, when I came to America. First, because I thought I had come to a place where I could stop… and then eventually, because I realized in actuality I could not." First hope — and then defiance.

He sighs. "Genosha was a costly mistake for you. Even with how quickly humans forget things after they no longer saturate the media, you will have to wait to be safe. If you were to try, again, to help our kind, may I advise a stronger stance against being pressed into things?" His expression, all raised brows and sarcasm, puts the lie to his 'politeness.' "Refuse that which you know it is wrong to accept. That which you know only distracts away from the real problems, as they escape in all directions."

As far as the distinction between metahumans and mutants. It's Pietro's turn to roll his eyes a bit as Lorna gets into the reason humans hate mutants more. "No, Lorna," Pietro says, his voice deeply sardonic. "I had not figured that out at all up until your generous illumination of my ignorance."

Why does anyone willingly hang out with this man?

Perhaps because of the way that dryness morphs back to a deadly seriousness, his features slipping back into the telltale tiredness of a man accustomed to bearing burdens for those weaker than himself. He does so with ill grace, with cruel remarks and sharp words and harsh sink-or-swim lessons taught in blood, but his basic nature is one of protection.

Perhaps because of the way he says baldly, when she brings up the idea of a backup plan: "If it must come to something like that, then I will have failed."

He shrugs, after a moment. "I suppose it would not be the first time. Though it is not a common occurrence. The more options available if things turn out for the worst, the better — I should think."

*

Lorna tilted her head, trying to picture her half brother with his hair dyed some other color and found she couldn't possibly imagine it right. Not due to a lack of imagination, but due to how strong a presence in her mind he projected as he was. Much like their father. She couldn't imagine them any different looking. Not really. It had been an odd sensation to see their father not in his armor for her wedding… Perhaps he shouldn't have broken that either..

Still, Pietro continued on and she snorted. "Mistakes were made, I'm well aware. But I figured if I let Dad use me, at least then he wouldn't have to be sneaky about it and I could have a say.. Dumb, as hell. I get it. Don't bother to once again inform me. You were right. I already said it." She held up a hand as she spoke, knowing already that Pietro would repeat how she was wrong and he was right.

It was as if she was growing used to the over protective nature of her older brother. Or at least, coming to accept it as part of his personality. Even as he offered a sardonic response to her, she grinned and sobered just as quickly as he did.

The bench creaked beneath her as she shifted awkwardly with the cast on her leg. "I like having backup plans when I can't actually do anything else. Like you said, gotta lay low. Being prepared for a war, that's long and drawn out? That I can help with at least. It'll give me something to do that's productive at least."

*

Pietro used to dye his hair down to a more normal blond. It was the easiest way to make it look human. Sometimes brown, if that was the only color he could get his hands on, but the darker shades faded far more quickly, and struggled more to disguise the unrelenting white. It is a difficult thing to even visualize now, and to even try to picture him with normal hair seems to diminish him — make him ordinary. Especially given how fiercely he wears his natural color in the present day, boasting it as a plain advertisement of his identity. How can one be Quicksilver with drab brown hair?

He could do without the fact it makes him look even more like Magneto, but not everything is perfect.

Of course, hair might not be the only thing son shares with father, as he seems quite pleased to remind Lorna a second time of what she ought to have done and how right he was about everything. Her counter seems to surprise him — he always seems surprised at anyone actually resisting him on anything. Another inherited trait. "Well, I suppose you were the trial run for figuring out whether that would work," he says. "The answer is plainly no. No one gets a say around Magneto."

He seems content to not talk about their father, however. The topic drops, his expression turning pensive at talk of ways for mutants to escape if registration passes. "I loathe the idea of letting ourselves be driven out, yet again, from places we have every right to live. But if it comes to that.. We'll keep the action away from it. Attention off it."

Somewhere along the way, he's started pacing back and forth. At least he's not doing it at speed. "Just tell us, if you mean to do anything in Mutant Town."

*

Lorna pulled herself up, mostly by the magnetic fields. There was no pressure on the grungy bench as she stood. A creak of the crutches followed though, it was clear when she stood on her one good leg that she didn't really need them to keep her balance, much less to stand. It was weird, being down a leg and still being mobile. Of course, given their family… it was run of the mill odd.

She let the subject of their father die. To let it go when it became clear he had no interest in continuing that part of the conversation. Of course, then he picked up the thread of what might happen, and how wrong it was.

She nodded. "I know. It's wrong." She murmured, and she settled her crutches more firmly under her arms. "I'll let you know if I plan to keep my head down here. Or anything else." She smiled faintly, "You'll come see Aurora sometime, right? Your niece?"

*

To speak of odd physiology… Pietro's head tilts as Lorna pulls herself up by the magnetic fields, briefly turning in unconscious alignment with them. He can sense them viscerally, to a degree — his small inheritance from his father, and the way he keeps himself oriented north-south when running long distances, often across empty water, with no landmarks to guide his path. Not unlike the mechanisms of a homing pigeon, really, though he might take offense to being compared to one.

The sense fades, eventually, and he dips his head in a curt nod. "Do so."

As far as the child? His 'niece'? Pietro looks faintly uncomfortable with the word, his body language losing its dominant confidence: turning restless and shifting, like he wants to run. Some things are much easier for him than others. "Maybe," he says. "I am not a safe presence to be around." He pauses. "We are still mostly strangers to each other. We have lived this long by being alone, and habits are hard to break. Give it time. At least until the world is safer, for such things."

*

Lorna arched a brow upwards, noting how Pietro's head tilted but unable to gauge the whys. She didn't know him that well. Still, she eased her weight back onto the ground slightly, though not entirely. Less of a strain on her arms that way. A shift, and she was taking a step toward him, the crutches grinding against the crumbled pavement of the sidewalk before the store front.

"I want to know you, both of you better. And you have time, she's not out of the incubators yet. She's got a few months of development left to go through before she can survive on her own." She grimaced, and turned her gaze low for a beat. Then glanced back up to him.

"Don't wait for things to be 'safe', if I've learned anything in Genosha and onwards? Nothing is ever safe. Not really. If you get some breathing room though? You should meet her. In the future." She added the last, with a faint twist of her lips.

"I got a few more apartments to check out down here before I head out. You take care, alright?"

*

Pietro is silent for some time when Lorna expresses a wish to know them better. They haven't spent too much time together, but it's been enough for one thing to become readily apparent about him: this is uncharacteristic. Usually he's quite content to run his mouth about stuff, usually on the topic of 'things people already knew and didn't need him to tell them again.' Or just on assholish remarks.

"The way Wanda and I have grown up," he says. "We do not trust. Not easily. But I will tell you," he eventually allows. "In time."

He watches her, but does not try to offer her physical assistance. Perhaps he thinks it would be an affront to her sense of ability to take care of herself. Even Pietro can respect someone else's desire for autonomy, at times. And more than that — he is a stranger, himself, to most social interaction… to letting other people close. Instead, he just nods, a brief, "Take care," given in response, before he shoving his hands back in his pockets and turns to let her go.

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