The Devil You Know

July 02, 2018:

Dated to a day or two before the Hell's Kitchen bombings. The Devil of Hell's Kitchen introduces himself to his Brotherhood neighbors, and brings them some vital information about the man with whom they have all been dealing. Particularly, what he has been doing to mutants.

Hell's Kitchen, NYC


NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Kingpin, The Defenders

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The recent summer swelter has taken the night off, leaving the streets of Hell's Kitchen temperate and even unseasonably chilly when the breeze strikes just right. That's doubly true of the darkened rooftops above those lamp-lit streets. The summer breeze is a cool caress up there, and a spur that help carry the Devil of Hell's Kitchen from rooftop to rooftop in what has become a relentless ritual over the last six-odd weeks.

Every night he's out there, what with his social life now a largely cauterized wound — still painful and tender, but not openly bleeding. Each evening has been punctuated by dramatic and at least temporarily soothing violence. A street-corner made safe, a drug safehouse emptied. But as it's gone on, the opportunities for release have come fewer and farther between. The Russians are broken, in many cases literally; some maniac a few steps further down the dark road he's gone than he himself has dispatched the local Irish gang; and the rest are taking a very big hint and going to ground.

Has Daredevil made Hell's Kitchen safe again? It seems unlikely, at least in any long term sense. Especially not when the man he believes the mastermind behind all of the neighborhood's woes is still out and about somewhere. Or when there are several pieces of unfinished business and blights on the streets still at large.

To wit, he isn't looking for Russian voices as he leaps and bounds. Not tonight. It's two voices he's trying to suss out, ones he heard more than half a year ago amid the pandemonium unleashed a borough away in Queens at Tony Stark's ill-fated expo.

Hell's Kitchen may have been cleaned up in some respects in recent days — in some cases quite brutally, as with the recent destruction of the local Irish gang — but one 'blight' in particular still lingers persistently on, and likely in no small part due to a devil's deal made with a certain Someone. The Brotherhood still has its tendrils through the neighborhood, and though they aren't as directly poisonous as many of the street gangs which form the main bulk of the Defenders' beat — their main focus isn't on the area itself, after all — their activities still present a danger-magnet that the neighborhood could really do without.

After all, they came here in the first place, to ensure that any negative attention that would fall upon them wouldn't fall upon Mutant Town.

It's safe to say, as such, that an average night — that is, one absent of any explosive news pertaining to the terrorist twins — might yield them 'at home' somewhere in the Kitchen, so to speak. And tonight, Daredevil is in luck — well, for given definitions of the word luck.

It's when he passes over the roofs of an old, long-condemned but never-torn-down tenement building not far from the Hudson River that he would hear it. Though it's been half a year since Matt first heard these two particular voices, they are very distinct ones that it isn't difficult to pick out again once heard again. The Eastern European lilt of Transia is strong in their speech, and whatever else one can say about Hell's Kitchen… Transian immigrants aren't exactly a big part of the demographic.

It's a male voice who is speaking, from a room of what sounds like the top floor apartment of the building. Not surprising — from all evidence, it's the male who is mouthier. Closer focus allows the words to be picked out.

"Come here."
A pause.
"Wanda, I told you, put that down and come here. And take that off while you're at it."
Another pause.
More exasperated: "Ćerxai!"

The fact the apartment appears to take up the top floor of the building, at the least, opens up multiple angles of approach. If one still wanted to approach, anyway.

Every so often, Wanda Maximoff steps into the shadow of one of her morose moods, and refuses the light for some time.

The past two weeks have been a significant one-two punch: an attack by Trask on their Brotherhood, executed in the form of a Sentinel forged from the future that they could not fight — could barely even escape — and now a run-in with two younger mutants, similar in every way, with an imprint on their souls that have left the Witch sleepless in confusion and unrelenting question.

She is usually so obedient to her twin brother's words — his every little demands on her day. Habits, from years ago, when Pietro's many commands, chides, and cautions were the only things what kept Wanda alive.

But tonight she sits in one room of that tenement, unresponsive and stubborn, one of her shawls pulled up to cover her head in the old Roma custom of mourners dressed in white.

As Pietro calls for her, Wanda remains silent. Silent, almost perilously so, with her heartrate faster than it should be: a body pushed into a constant state of anxiety. She holds there, her unfocused eyes turned out one darkened window, as if beseeching it to let her out.

Finally, she tenses to Pietro's last shout — not the volume, but the word he says.

"I don't want to," she answers lowly, though still she rises obediently, defeat in her back. "A different hour presses on me. We shouldn't be in here."

There is duty and then there is something more. For Frenzy, she has transcended beyond her typical stalwart commitment and can now be found to hover. Insomuch as she can or rather, as much as the Twins allow her to.

The blame, for this over-protectiveness, can be solely placed on the NIMROD Sentinel that attacked the Brotherhood - for Frenzy that day showed her a could-have-been of Pietro and Wanda Maximoff's lives being snuffed out.

And from that Frenzy felt a spike of fear, which has led her to lingering nearby. It's why she can still be found this evening in this particular upper echelon apartment, her obligations keeping her seemingly rooted to the spot.

Though even with that hovering Frenzy still strives to give the illusion of privacy. That's why the Bruiser of the Brotherhood can be found in a more 'public' room of the apartment complex. Studiously keeping her expression blank when she hears Pietro's raised voice and then likewise at the more murmured response of the Witch's.

It's only Frenzy's eyes that move, as they automatically twitch in the general direction of the Twins and their conversation.

But like the good soldier she is, Frenzy resolutely turns her attention away after a few seconds and then shifts her weight slightly, settling into a stance that might see her through a potentially long evening.

What did Daredevil expect when he found those voices on the wind in the dead of night? Would they be engaged in furtive planning of their next plot or strike? Conferring with their super-powered lieutenants? Commanding the deaths of those who dared to trifle with their mission?

It is safe to say that, whatever he had imagined, it wasn't this. Not that he's any stranger to catching stray bits of other people's intimate moments, though he's worked throughout his life to turn it into so much static and background noise. But this one still gives him a moment's pause.

But only a moment's, and all the sensory data he takes in — so much more than just their words — prompts him to only slightly adjust his plans. He would, were he not burdened with a Catholic guilt, make the world's best cat burglar. Some versions of him in alternate realities make a small fortune doing exactly that, in fact. Scaling a wall and slipping into the tenement building proper is the easiest thing in the world — just a matter of a little grappling, the quiet opening of a window, the slip of a shadow, and the slow and quiet trek up a flight of stairs.

All that stealth for what amounts to the most straightforward entrance ever. He takes a breath, cricks his neck right, then left, and gives two solid knocks on the their apartment front door. Into all that push and pull of the twins, and Frenzy's stoic watchfulness, Daredevil…

…clears his throat. "Excuse me," he says through the door, conversationally. "Friend of Jessica Jones here. I hear you're really into drop-ins, so I didn't think you'd mind."

It is not often Wanda is disobedient with Pietro. Rare enough, in fact, that he rises with no small amount of indignation when she actually refuses him out loud. "What do you mean you don't want to? And where exactly should we be if not here? You haven't slept for days, and we're not doing anything until you've rested properly."

Wanda continues to ignore him.

Wanda!" he persists, starting towards her. "I said, take that thing off your head. You'll bring bad luck."

And soon enough, even that superstitious statement is proven true, because some bad luck certainly comes to their door. Pietro's head whips around at the sound of the first knock, and by the time the second finishes, he's in motion. The door whips open right in front of Daredevil's face, too fast to be seen — though the man wouldn't see it, anyway — and something slingshots past him at dizzying speed, coming to a stop standing at his back. Once still, his heartrate can be heard, the unique hum of his metabolism. Faster than a hummingbird. Faster than anything that lives in nature. A man living at that rate of speed should be dead.

"We are," Quicksilver says, "but we prefer to be the ones doing the dropping in."

There is a distinct pause at the mention of Jessica Jones, however. He cocks an eye at Frenzy, a 'watch him, but no killing yet.' "Since you've come all this way, however, you may as well come in…"

As Frenzy very diligently does not listen one room over… Wanda valiantly attempts to do the same.

Not that it ever lasts long, with a personality as demanding — as it is noisy — as Pietro Maximoff. Not often to the twins disagree in public — if ever — the closest may ever come that, in privacy, Wanda makes a resistance in not heeding as quickly as she should.

Always and ever obedient to him, her twin brother usually has a reaction to even her slightest hesitations. Or, tonight, her stubborn refusal, as her lips press in rebuke as Pietro declares she needs to rest.

How can one sleep when she's already sensed the shape of their future, slouching toward them, and steeled to murder? "I don't want to rest," is her soft complaint.

Then he accuses her shawl as bad luck.

"I am bad lu —" Wanda starts to retort, only to have her words drowned by a — knock at their door. Argument already forgotten, her blue eyes turn on Pietro. Immediately, in his familiar blur and breeze, he is gone.

The elder Maximoff twin opens the door in all his declarative impatience, out to reveal their night guest. As for Wanda, much more slowly, she drifts up to stand at the doorway of the bedroom, looking out, her shawl lowered down from her dark hair, her arms looped into the fabric.

There is a hum about her flesh that, in many ways, rings with that same frequency of magic. But it's not magic, not its smell — something else that cloaks her, coats her, is her, forming of her far more deeply than any pulse of blood. The rest of her is cortisol: anxiety, restlessness, fear, a too-long-steeped sadness.

"You are the Devil," speaks the Witch, sharing her brother's faraway accent.

The arguing is almost like hearing your parents argue.

Almost, though not quite. Perhaps family is a better way to describe it. You want to listen, but you don't, but neither can you completely tune it out.

That's the boat Frenzy is currently in. Studiously trying to ignore, though for altogether other reasons than Wanda.

The knock at the door (thankfully) pulls Frenzy's attention away from the arguing and swiftly to the door. Her stance and weight shifts again, her body angling towards the door, her pace quick, but not (alas) quick enough to beat a certain Speedster.

Frenzy's features crimp to a frown as the door opens and it's only when Pietro slows to a speed more manageable that Frenzy's gaze slides over to the young man. While never one to show actual disapproval to the Twins, one might see or sense it in the vague tightness around her mouth, or the flare of nostrils that hint at the disquiet she currently feels. She should be the one opening the door - to take the potential bullet that might possibly be waiting there behind it. No matter that both Twins are quite capable of protecting themselves.

Still, it is what it currently is, and when Daredevil is revealed Frenzy's eyes go to the infamous man. The silent message from Pietro isn't lost on the tall Bruiser of the Brotherhood either, as she acknowledges it with a slight dip of her head. That, however, doesn't mean she's staying in one spot. No, instead, the woman continues to step closer to that doorway and the man and while she's rarely one to interject during official 'meetings', Frenzy does add quietly, "How is Miss Jones doing."

A rhetorical enough question, meant to jab versus actually inquire.

Quicker than you can blink the door he was knocking on is open and a man is behind him — close enough to stick and twist a knife in his back. A woman is slowly approaching, buoyed by forces his senses can't begin to tease out but leaden by fear and sadness. Ahead of even her is the enforcer; every footstep she takes registering something nigh on implacable.

He's hopelessly outmatched. Any one of them could end him, and all four of the people in the room know it.

But if the so-called 'Devil of Hell's Kitchen' is wary of being suddenly surrounded by supremely powerful metahumans, he doesn't show it. "Oh, it wasn't too far," he says lowly to Quicksilver there behind him, angling his head sideways to give the man a view of his profile. "We're neighbors, right? But thanks."

And then he steps in. How is Miss Jones doing? Frenzy asks him. To which Daredevil gives the guard a passing — glance? "Never looked better," he says, as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth." Still, it's slow steps that carry him inside their space.

Then Wanda is naming him. You are the Devil. There's a joke to be found there. 'How'd you guess?' the red-clad, horn-helmed man could ask. Or a brash: 'Wow, you're psychic.' But for all of Matt's recent downward spiral and, aheh, devil-may-care attitude, a continual side-effect of his peculiar condition is intense and abiding empathy. He can sense the stress and weariness emanating off of Wanda Maximoff every bit as much as those waves of quasi-mystical power.

And it's that which has him tipping his head forward a touch towards the terrorist, in a gesture of respect. "I suppose I am," he answers quietly. "I feel as though we were due for a talk, but I'm admittedly harder to find than some of my friends."

I am bad luck, Wanda starts to say. Though they're interrupted, her brother shoots her the quintessential 'we're going to talk about this later' look.

If he subsequently notices the way Joanna's expression tightens up, certainly. It's likely he guesses at the reason why, too; it's been a point of contention between him and Frenzy before, mostly ending in Pietro admitting it's just a habit he can't quite break, which stems from long years of having to look after himself and his sister alone. They're not used to having anyone else who cared to put her own body as a shield before their own.

If nothing else, he subsequently does ask her to keep an eye out for his sister — wordlessly — his gaze tracking briefly to her before averting back to the Daredevil in their midst. The question about Jessica Jones' health thins his mouth, but he does not add to the question and does not seek elaboration on the Devil's brief answer.

Brief suits Quicksilver. "You wanted an audience, plainly," he says, kicking the door shut behind them with a ringing finality. "So speak."

For Pietro, this is polite. Perhaps because — instead of choosing those sarcastic replies — the Devil of Hell's Kitchen approached his twin with respect.

Her brother shoots her a look; Wanda wilts a little under its familiarity, miserably resigned, not looking forward to it.

But such things are shelved for much later: there is a devil at their door.

As Pietro introduces himself with his blurring speed, more than a little aggressively, Wanda holds back, unwilling to get too close, with her distance under the close watch of their enforcer.

Frenzy's question earns her a glance from both Maximoffs, and Wanda's half from the corner of her eye. She does not rebuke, but she is watchful, in the way of suggesting: "Frenzy," she entreats kindly, "let's be gracious to our guests who know how to knock."

Even guests dressed in a full Devil's costume, every bit of him clad in red. Wanda tilts her head, curious, then approving. The Scarlet Witch enjoys red — obviously.

The gesture of respect does not go unnoticed, and some of that tension unspools from her body. She folds her hands together, her own gesture of disarmament, still and serene, not even an eyelash fluttered when her brother kicks the door shut.

Wanda is more than used to Pietro. Her twin's brusqueness is met with her eminent tolerance, as if she cannot conceive him any other way — this is Pietro being nice — even as she plays his foil, meandering as he sprints for brevity.

"Miss Jones is special," is all Wanda has to say to that, a warmth to her words of someone who means it. "Her friends are our friends. We will be happy to answer any of your questions."

Daredevil can discern the lay of the land, including the three other occupants of the room. Sounds and scents and shifting air currents. There's a man behind him who could snatch his life before he took an untoward step. A woman who could likely snap his neck (the weak link in Jane Foster's armor) with one hand, and another who has settled into repose, but still has an eerie menace all her own.

Still, parlay is requested and accepted, and the Devil seem as at ease as possible. If anything sets him ever so slightly off balance, it's the fondness with which Wanda speaks of Jessica Jones. There's no falseness there, to judge from her slower heartbeat, nothing to remotely suggest that she and her brother hadn't had Jones beaten and left like so much trash — literally in a garbage dump. And it echoes the pause his name-drop of her gave Quicksilver.

So, of course, that's where he goes first. "I'm glad we're all so friendly," Daredevil says evenly, his lips pressing together into something short of a smile. "Though it's a shame it didn't start out that way. I suppose I'm — curious? — more than anything. About that opening salvo."

Though, for a man driven to the edge, and even for a man as famously protective of his neighborhood and the people in it as he is, he addresses the matter with remarkable equanimity.

Wanda's approval of the Devil's red outfit draws an askance look from Pietro. He eyes his sister a moment, before he lets it go. For now.

His attention simply focuses back on Daredevil as the man makes that wry remark — and notes how their interactions didn't exactly start out friendly at all. So what changed? Why that opening salvo, only to seemingly alter course?

Pietro glances at Wanda. There is a brief moment of silence.

"You and your friends have many enemies," he finally says bluntly. "She was one kind of coin with which we could pay the price of something we needed. So it began. A means to an end."

He folds his arms, impatient at finding himself having to discuss his thought processes aloud. "We changed our minds. It did not… comfort me to use that particular means, even for an end I found that important. What we want, at the core, is not your lives. We want your engagement."

Pietro glances again at his sister, troubled. "Ultimately, all we want is for people to stop being indifferent to the plight of our kind… and Miss Jones has that potential. As we found." He frowns. "She is no mutant, but her abilities bring her close enough that she should take an active part in these matters. They will concern her, in the end."

Wanda meets Pietro's look of askance with sheepish contrition.

No one ever wears red these days, bemoans the witch into her twin's mind.

Outwardly, she says: "My brother speaks the truth."

The impatience that radiates palpably off Quicksilver negates in the patient understanding of the Scarlet Witch. Her still-twined hands press the pads of her thumbs together. "Even in our bargain, it was not our intention to break Miss Jones. Certainly not a body and spirit as strong as hers. She survived our strongest enforcer, and this is with Miss Jones still untested, unproven. As my brother says, she is not our kind, no. But she is close enough. Close enough to share an upcoming war with us. Close enough we would take great interest in helping her become stronger. There is only so much humanity can do for our kind. Their fires, their gunpowder — small to the miracles we can perform."

The witch tilts her head, curious, her blue eyes half-lidded. "Perhaps you might not understand the potential we see in violence. Or perhaps you do. We have heard stories of the Devil. His ruthlessness. They fear him, fear they will find themselves broken by his hands. Does he wield violence to punish, or is it to save? But the violence, itself, is something to him — far more than his means to an end. It does to most creatures, with lives marked by suffering."

No judgment in Wanda's words, only a quiet familiarity. Her eyes pass from Daredevil and onto her brother, meeting Pietro's with a brief look of love.

"We have no reason to harm Miss Jones, if that is your concern. Not unless she asks, and purely in the realm of her own elevation. Tell me, Mr. Devil, are you like her? We could go through your mind, though you seem very protective of your secrets. We respect that."

Daredevil came seeking answers, and he's getting them, in every word and in every pause between the words. That's true even when said silence simply a telepathic exchange beyond his superlative sensory powers; their minds may commune unseen, but their bodies can't lie.

Not that they're being particularly secretive. Most of their cards seem laid plainly on the table — even when their thoughts travel unusual, circuitous routes, like Wanda's seem to. But the violence, itself, means something to him, she says of the Devil, and will no doubt see the devil shift and re-shift his hard jawline in some measure of discomfort at the assessment. Still, he recovers his balance nimbly enough. "My mind?" asks Mr. Devil dryly. "Respectfully, Ms. Maximoff, I don't even let people see my face."

He pivots, so that he can face both Pietro behind him and Wanda in front of him. "We have one enemy, Mr. Maximoff," Daredevil corrects knowingly, and with the sudden inward satisfaction of a hunch being rewarded. "Or at least one enemy that thinks of Danny Rand, Jessica Jones, and me as some kind of unit." The man spreads red-gloved hands, like a lawyer delivering his opening arguments. "The reason he thinks of us that way is because we undertook a joint mission together that strikes on everything you're telling me about yourselves, about Jessica Jones, and about what mundane people with violence on their mind can do — even to people who can perform miracles."

Wanda's sheepish mental reply narrow's Pietro's eyes. I could wear red if you're that into it, is the short response.

But his attention rivets back on Daredevil when the man makes his response to all they say. His accelerated perceptions don't miss it when the Devil of Hell's Kitchen responds with discomfort to the assessment of his fraught relationship with violence. You pin him, sister, he observes. I wonder what it is the violence means to him?

Yet the Devil does some deducing of his own. Pietro looks annoyed at the correction. "You could have fooled me with the number of people we have seen going after Miss Jones," he says, though it is transparent he takes the general thrust of Daredevil's pointed statement. As the red-clad man starts to get into why it is Fisk holds such an enmity for this ragtag little group, however…

What mundane people with violence on their mind can do even to those who can perform miracles.

Quicksilver's features calcify into a hard sort of look. "Explain."

The elder twin speaks into his sister's mind.

Wanda has a strange physiological response to that: a brief quickening of her heart, and the pleased smile that quirks her mouth, before she must bite her lower lip to sober it away.

Not that her blue eyes miss the little reactions in Daredevil to her words; Pietro, with his time slowed to allow him a perfect witness to these sorts of things, is the first to speak of them, through their psychic link. Her own thoughts steep with mild curiosity.

A mystery, for now, she answers Pietro through thought. But theirs is an intimate relationship. It is not common among their kind. The Avengers, the Titans, Xavier's pupils — we hear of them, and while they are a deterrant, they seek to inspire hope. They do not instill fear. The Devil does. Fear and violence always share a loving bed.

A brief, eely smile curls up her mouth at the Devil's talk of his covered face; despite her curiousity, Wanda does not pry. There may be greater advantages here than to know if a man exists beyond the Devil.

Then, at mention of a joint mission —

The play numbs off Wanda, and she straightens into a listening sort of seriousness. One of her hands move, a curling of her fingers; she wants her brother closer.

'Explain,' orders Quicksilver. The Scarlet Witch says nothing, does nothing: she is a perfect, cutting silence. A meaningful pause, one that fully expects her twin to be heeded.

It's not that strange for him, really, bearing witness to a conversation he can't hear. How many silent exchanges to people share with the quirk of their lips, the shape of their eyes, the play of facial muscles that for all his powers he can't begin to see? And yet, how much do they betray with the rhythm of their heart or the cadence of their breath or the subtle shift of their posture.

They hide less of their exchange and their observations than they think.

All that is beside the point, really. What's unfurling now is the reason he came here. High risk, high reward — it's his kind of game. But it all hinges on what comes next. "We shut down his big investment," Daredevil answers forthrightly, hands aloft and on either side, come at me, bro, style. "A private prison, Moterary Shock, had been converted into a lab and designer drug manufacturing plant. But these drugs weren't supposed to get people high. At least not the usual way. They were supposed to let people do what you do, for a little while. Some people who took it were permanently changed, but that defeated the point."

He puffs out an angry breath, short and derisive, filled with caustic contempt he can't begin to hide. "He wanted it to be temporary, because that monetized it. Kept people coming back for more." The Devil of Hell's kitchen lifts his cleft chin and says, "But like I said, it wasn't just a plant. It was a testing lab. Who do you think was fodder for his R-and-fucking-D?"

Indeed few things can hide from the perceptions of the Devil of Hell's Kitchen. Not even the way Wanda's heart races just a little faster at her brother's words. If Pietro has a response to that, it's less easily discerned; his heart races at an unnatural speed to begin with, and it's a bit more difficult to read the difference between 'a hummingbird's breakneck heartrate' and 'a hummingbird's breakneck heartrate, slightly sped up.'

He does seem pleased with her, though, and perhaps there are other ways to discern that.

Less pleasing is the confrontation before them. Dispassionately, he listens to his sister's assessment of Daredevil's unique modus operandi. A man after our own hearts, perhaps. He has learned what many have not. When hope and peace fail, force must step in. She curls her fingers after their exchange, a needy request for him to come closer; he makes his demand of the Devil, and then he complies, leaving the door to step lightly to his sister's side.

Daredevil begins his story. A sneer crosses Quicksilver's features at the idea of humans trying to drug their way to the ascendancy of mutantkind — he has barely acclimated to according metahumans any basic regard — but even he can tell this is not the time for a screed on that particular point. Especially not when the Devil drops the bomb. So to speak.

Pietro might not care about a few petty humans trying and failing to attain what was never their birthright, but he cares very much about what Daredevil is implying.

"Unacceptable," he declares, lowly, hotly. "If… what you say is true."

So much can be gleaned off the Maximoff twins from so little. But, even then, the vague undernotes among actions and expressions and behaviours — this secret world is where the Devil lives and rules.

Rumours speak well that the Maximoffs are close: a combined leadership, though the brother is visibly the far dominant one, that maintain an unbreakable union. They are rarely, if ever, seen alone — and the Witch, barely ever beyond her brother's presence — and exist closer than siblings should be. Closer than twins.

A dependence translated into how, when Pietro finds Wanda's eyes in moments like these, he commands her entire attention. He occupies all her world. And as conversation shifts to the serious, the twin sister seems to need her brother physically close, and when he draws closer, she takes his hand in hers, brushed close to his taller side.

Wanda's eyes are on the Daredevil, fierce and sharp, as he tells his story. Her fingers tighten on Pietro's.

"You suggest something unspeakable," she says to that, her voice brittle, dry and hollow as bird bone, and so tense it may soon crack. "We'll need to verify what you say. But what of the victims? You said you shut it down. Are there survivors? Were they freed? Are there more?"

He has their attention. Even without his eyes he can feel it on him, the way he can sense the careful, quietly assessing focus of a jurors when he's at trial. They want details; they want proof. And more, Wanda says: Are there survivors? Were they freed? Are there more?

"There were some survivors," Daredevil answers, some of his brashness ebbing as he remembers the horrors of Monterary Shock. "When we raided the lab, Fisk's guards began executing the test subjects in their beds, but we saved many of them — mutant and metahuman alike. We worked with an agent at SHIELD to see them identified and safely relocated to their homes. As far as I know, that was the end of Fisk's attempts to create the drug. He came within millimeters of arrest over it."

He fixes his attention on Pietro, cool and assured: "We have proof. Thousands of pages worth of electronic documents on the experiments Fisk ran, and on who, and on how they were acquired." A beat, and a quiet self-correction: "Abducted. I can share the relevant parts with you."

The Twins were never precisely dismissive before, but it cannot be denied that whatever regard he had from them before pales in comparison to the utmost intensity with which he's captured their attention now. Two matched pairs of blue eyes study him, one searching his physical tells and expressions, and the other seeming to look through his skin.

Disquieted, the sister seeks her brother's hand. He lets her have it, twining his fingers with her own in reassurance.

He listens intently as the Devil explains further on what happened at Monterary Shock. The fact there were some survivors is noted, as is the fact that an 'agent of SHIELD' was worked with on the matter of seeing said survivors safely home. A thread to chase, perhaps. Later. Here and now, the Twins want proof of all the Devil claims.

They have proof, he assures. Thousands of pages worth of documents. A supercilious smile crosses Quicksilver's features. Daredevil can't see it, but he can doubtless hear the slight scoff of amusement that accompanies the look. "Only thousands?" he inquires. "Is that all? Bring them to me. It is a five-second read. Ten at most."

There is a slight pause after. The young man glances at his twin, his wordless inquiry flickering in their joined thoughts.

A lab. Executions. Mutants used like animals to replicate their abilities. Shunned and maligned by humanity for what they can do — only to have their miracles stolen. Processed like meat off factory beasts.

Wanda's hand trembles around Pietro's. Not in fear, not in pain — but in fury. Scarlet sparks in her blue eyes, shining its dangerous, ambient light.

Did we ally with a monster? seethes her voice through her brother's mind.

When it comes to words, the Witch is silent, biting her tongue as she struggles to compose herself, wresting for control that wants to dance beyond the reach of her fingers. The dark thoughts roll through her, images that would not take much of her will to forge into reality: ripping Hell's Kitchen apart, brick by brick, until she finds its master. Energy prickles along her skin, quickening along with the faster beat of her blood.

The Devil promises them evidence, leagues of it — that, at the same time, is no more than light reading to Pietro's ability. Wanda seems to allow it — but she meets Pietro's eyes in a long look.

"That verification works in your world," she finally speaks, her voice hard, "but I require more. I want the specific memory. I need to see it for myself. I will not concern myself with the rest of your mind — but I will have that. If it is true, it changes everything."

Pietro replies with customary arrogance. Bring him the documents, and he'll scan through them. Daredevil can, and will. Slightly redacted, the names of people he cares about removed, the hows of what IGH did scrubbed clean so that no one can think to replicate them for any reason. He's willing to give them the thumb drive of everything, the keys to Wilson Fisk's empire, to enlist their support.

But then Wanda ups the ante. I want the specific memory, she tells him. The man in red's body goes suddenly still, absent even the gentle and unthinking rise and fall of breath. To let her in to rummage in his mind is to reveal the strange way he makes sense of the world — and consequently, reveal himself. To terrorists, whom he saw first-hand bring down an entertainment complex on hundreds of New York City's elites. Make himself vulnerable to them.

Is that worth it, to make them the enemy of his enemy?

Another memory comes to him. Alison LeGrange, bloodied and brought low by the imposter Daredevil, murdered at the order of one Wilson Fisk — like the nine other women he'd rescued over his whole shoddy career as a vigilante. For weeks now he's been willing — eager — to give up his life to bring down Fisk. If he's willing to yield his life, then why not his name?

The breath he's been holding exhales. "You wanted our 'engagement' with these collars, and registration," he says, tone deathly quiet. "If I do this, and you get your… proof… then I want your engagement."

A beat, a slow draw of breath, and then the Devil of Hell's Kitchen lifts his chin. "My memories will not be easy to parse," he says, finally. "I see the world a little differently than most."

It's as close to assent as she'll get.

That familiar, taut-string body of the body in response to violation of the mind: Wanda Maximoff sees it, without surprise or offence. It is familarity to her. Never has any sort of soul welcomed in her intrusion; who ever wishes for a witch to see their secrets laid bare?

Under specific circumstances, she might be more sympathetic. Now, the Scarlet Witch waits, a threat of inevitability bound into her facade of patience: even if not invited, she may well take. There are few things in this world that earn her full focus, and the implication of mutants suffering under her nose by experimentation —

And by a man with whom the Brotherhood broke bread? The guilt nettling her heart makes up her mind.

The terms of the Devil's assent flicker against Wanda's eyes; she shares a glance with her brother, her hand tightening, her index finger running the longer line of his.

"You will have it," she promises. "Beyond all human comprehension of the word."

With that, Wanda relents to let her hand slip free from Pietro, needing both, though she does not stray from her twin's side. Matt Murdock may not be able to see it — the rising allegro of the scarlet off her skin, coaxed by the weaving motions of her curling fingers — but it comes to him in different ways.

The world is sound, smell, texture, spatial orientation — until, by the senses, it all seems to be humming — spinning on a sub-quantum level — like the very reality is being sung off its seams, whispered into new ways.

He can feel it in his mind, a pushing, unpeeling force — powerful and painful — as the Witch invites herself in. Her eyes flare red, an open conduit as well for Pietro to share — bridged always into her head.

"Curious," whispers Wanda of Matt's last words. "I welcome it. I see things differently, too."

Did we ally with a monster? Wanda asks in their heads.

We did, comes Pietro's cold answer. His hand tightens on hers to press away her guilt. But it is an easy mistake to make. There are so very MANY monsters among humans that it is impossible to even walk a block without tripping over a few!

He can feel Wanda's anger. Normally he would be attentively calming it, controlling her instability the way he has all their shared lives, but this time? He is so furious himself he finds himself not bothering to restrain her as he usually might. "We should have torn his head open for the truth of him the moment we set eyes on him!" Quicksilver rages aloud. Only the needy cling of his sister's hand to his prevents him from tearing loose to pace; as it is, he is so tense with barely-restrained energy that the air about him shimmers as if from a wave of heat.

Daredevil has a price for Wanda's demand to view his memories, however. Quicksilver gauges him in a long, searching look of those hard blue eyes, no doubt engaging in a private exchange with his twin. Fisk offered considerable resources, to be sure — certainly more financially considerable than this ragtag group — but at what cost? That price may have become something they cannot — will not — pay.

Wanda eventually speaks to accept the terms. "If… my sister verifies the truth of it in your mind," Quicksilver reminds. "Commit to our cause — you and yours — "�he spreads his hands in a brief, mocking gesture, "and we are at your disposal in return."

That haughty look on his features adds a sardonic smile, even as his twin begins her invasive work. His own eyes bleed red as she begins to share all she perceives across their link. "You should be pleased. We are a considerable resource to have."

"I can't speak for the others," Daredevil says to Pietro's amendment to the terms. "I won't." A beat, while his jawline works beneath stubbled skin. "But I can speak for myself, and will promise to carry that message to them and ask them to join me." It is a non-negotiable, apparently, because he turns from Pietro as soon as he says it and faces the sudden swirling cauldron of shifting particles and energy that is Pietro's twin sister.

I see things differently, too, she murmurs to him. And while he's been unfailingly courteous to the both of them up to now, here some dark bit of humor curls the corner of one lip into a smirk; almost a sneer. "Not. Like. This."

He feels the pressure, the pain, upon being breached. Years and years ago an old man taught him how to guard against people who did this. Preparing him for some war against a nameless enemy. To this day he knows nothing about the whys of Stick's training, but he remembers the lessons. There are safeguards. He could resist. He chooses not to, and to accept the abrasive intrusion with a swallow and the tightening of the cords of his neck. He lets her in, and focuses on the memory she seeks with a yogi's power of focus, excluding all other thoughts from the forefront of his mind….

….while Wanda Maximoff suddenly finds her world on fire, a shifting kaleidoscope of sensation. Matt Murdock has had nearly twenty years to make sense of the madness the loss of his sight and the heightening of his other senses have made to the world, and while she benefits from his level of focus, she can't rely on his expertise in parsing the chaotic scene — if it can even be called that. There's a stench of urine, feces, sweat, mildew, formaldehyde, iodoform, decay, and a hundred thousand others that can't be placed. Foosteps, gunshots, and the sense, somehow, of a corridor and a great cavernous space beyond the closed doors at the far end of it.

There are four guards inside taking pills and attempting to open one of the security gates en route to your position, comes a sleek, sibilant voice in her ear. The voice gains a sudden urgency. Ten guards in cell block A are mobilizing. Five are taking a lot of pills. The rest- they've started to execute the prisoners. Lowest floor. She barely needs anyone to tell her, because she can hear the gunshots as if they were being fired point blank by her ear. Moments later she can smell the blood, and taste the copper in the air.

More than that, she feels it in her gut. The wave of overpowering guilt and rage. I failed them I failed them I failed them I failed them I failed him I failed him, it repeats feverishly, and it's no longer the woman's voice but her own — no, a man's. The Devil's. Now she speaks aloud: "We're going in, Six, you can open — "

But 'Six' doesn't have to. The metal doors she can't see but still can somehow sense don't just open; they burst apart. Air currents and a million whistling sounds signal to her its exact trajectory. Rage consumes her, driving her towards the hulking, barely human guards who are storming towards her — her team.

To say she's without fear is a lie; she feels it in the pit of her gut. But it's not for herself. In this moment she is expendable, worthless. Her only measure is if she can gain that ground, beat those men, save those people.

Even with all this pandemonium swirling around them, even as she is outright demolishing people who are stronger and faster than she is, powered by sheer rage, training, and a zealot's commitment and lack of self-preservation, her attention is hundreds of feet away. She can hear the shots fired, the entry of bullets into soft tissue, the jolt of unconscious bodies on the gurney. Each shot spurs her on. Faster, we need to get there faster, she thinks as he drives the baton that just bounced off of the back of the guard's head into a knee-shattering blow directed at his stunned opponent.

Of course, centering one's attention somewhere other than the immediate field of battle has its liabilities. See the way a powerful fist slams into the side of her very human head. She can take a punch; her father always could and she's of that same stock. But she still sees stars supernovae behind her eyes, bursting a million capillaries at her temple. The force causes her to stagger back into a wall, numb for a moment.

Gunshot. The sound breaks through the ringing and the fog. There goes another. And she shoves himself away from the wall and back into the fray, only a hint of a stagger hitching her step as she races towards Wilson Fisk's victims, and the temporary metahumans butchering them in their beds…

The psychic confirmation off Pietro crystallizes Wanda's guilt. Such a mistake made, an oversight in their own impetus to see the Brotherhood succeed, as well as separate the innocents in Mutant Town from ever being caught up in their war —

Equally gutted by the implication, the Maximoffs suffer a balanced fury. As the brother's rage fans outward, into the world, the sister seems to withdraw and pull in, her heart beating a riotous, furious triple-time, her free hand fisted so tightly that the joints creak, that the Devil's ears can pick up the rake of her fingernails into her own flesh —

Of Pietro's snarled words, Wanda agrees. An oversight for her not to have torn apart Wilson Fisk's mind, however dangerous it would have been, and however fractious it would have made their business. Never again. It seems to double-down her decision to demand verification, her red eyes spearing Daredevil with that decision made: even if he does not agree, she will persist to find her answers.

Fortunately, perhaps even surprisingly, he consents.

Terms are negotiated between the Devil and her twin brother; Wanda's eyes turn on Pietro, satisfied, even if the vigilante before them cannot promise the complicity of his allies. Others can be convinced in their own ways.

In the end, her own mind made, she tilts back her head as scarlet smokes free from her half-shuttered eyes, the haze shrouding her, curling to fold into the light that shapes between her gesturing, writing, curling fingers. Not. Like. This, promises the Devil to the Witch, and her eyes unfocus, sightless, in wordless welcome.

"It will hurt," are the last, barely-whispered words off the Scarlet Witch, "and especially if you fight me."

Her voice changes. Still heard, but no longer localized — it is everywhere, in all places, whispering through the Devil's mind. It will hurt even if you cede. Let us in to see.

Us. Where one twin goes, the other follows. Wanda, through the intermediary of their twin-bond, allows Pietro similar access to see all within.

The first thing she sees is the world on fire. Even with her mind caught between astral anchors, she flinches, fearful of fire — reminded, herself, the last time it overtook her world and burned her mother away. There is no heat off this fire, no screams, but it still hurts to adjust; even her witch's sight, which holds her in a constant darkness, cannot adjust to so much light. Her scarlet folds in its corners, offering a screen to better buffer the hurt, shrouding Pietro and herself both, to better parse through the sensory noise to reach that memory.

It repeats, in truth, before her. The Devil's thoughts, in the Maximoffs' joined mind. The Devil's words, repeated in her voice. The Devil's rage, blistering the blood in her veins. Rage so raw, in a state she's never felt before — a precursor to all of her angers, with Wanda to feel that if she ever loses it, she will feel all the colder. Rage that begs far more than expression, expulsion of its fire — rage that demands vindication.

The only thing what breaks it is, next, the pain. Wanda knows pain; Wanda is pain. This, she suffers far more gracefully, a lifetime of torture to prepare her, though the hyper-sensory shock staggers the Witch, dropping her down to her knees, her mental connection thinning, loosening, under the strain.

It barely hangs long enough to hold the final moments of that memory: it ends on the butchery of mutants.

The line of Pietro's jaw tenses when the Devil refuses to solidly commit to 'you and yours.' Ultimately, however, he cannot say he is surprised — no one man can order the actions of so many others when all operate in such a loose association — and with ill grace he cedes. They will have the Devil, at the least, and the degree of their engagement against this man 'Wilson Fisk' may be amended further if too many of Daredevil's compatriots refuse to lend aid.

Then again, Pietro finds himself not particularly wanting to dial back against Fisk. Being lied to — even only by omission — is among the things the older Maximoff hates worst.

His attention turns instead to his sister's by-now familiar mental tunneling. As she does, Wanda offers him, in turn, a means to peer through her eyes and see what she sees. Pietro keeps half his perceptions trained on the external world, eternally watchful, but half of his attention looks through the window his sister provides. And the first thing they both see —

Pietro jerks slightly in surprise, before he instinctively reaches to settle his sister's nerves against the roar of fire. With linked mental hands, the Twins weather all that sensory noise, slowly and steadily making sense of it. They are perhaps uniquely equipped to the chaos of Matthew Murdock's perceptions; Wanda has lived much of her life seeing far more than the mundane, and Pietro has lived his seeing the mundane processed at unnatural, unconventional speeds. Still… it is painful to acclimate.

The memories in and of themselves are pain as well. Both Twins reel to the recollection of phantom blows, the sister falling to both knees first… the brother soon staggering to one beside her. Wanda has lived a lifetime of hurt, however, and her resilience takes the agony, processes it.

Pietro? Pietro knows the anger. He knows the rage. He is the furious desire for vindication that burns through all the Devil's thoughts. That, he knows… and that he takes on for the both of them.

Together, they 'see' what the Devil 'saw.'

There is silence afterwards, for many long moments. Eventually Pietro rests his hand to his sister's back, a comforting gesture.

"I think we have seen all we need to see," he says, an echo of that rage taut in his low voice.

They learn a great deal about the so-called Devil of Hell's Kitchen in those moments. About his strengths and weaknesses, which are bound up in the strange way he makes sense of the world. But they aren't the only ones who learn. It's an uncanny thing, having your unfiltered memories pulled out by powers of sorcery, laid bare. You are at once reliving the thing all over again, and yet at a strange remove. You can see your own thoughts in a way you never can outside of, perhaps, meditation — and never in the heat of the moment.

Matt learns a lot about himself in that span of seconds, and if either of the twins could see behind his mask and not just behind his mind, they'd see his sightless brown eyes widen in shock. They'll have to settle for the rattling exhale that leaves his lips.

Time for stocktaking later, though. He's won a victory of dubious consequence by winning a potential ally of equally dubious morality. What does it mean, exactly, to have the Maximoffs on your side? He decides to test that theory. Pietro says they've seen what they need, and Daredevil nods solemnly. "Your first instinct may be to go after him right away," he says lowly in that span of silence that follow's Pietro's words and marks Wanda's recuperation. "I wouldn't, if I were you. Our greatest advantage may be that he thinks he's struck a bargain with you, and that we aren't talking. It may even be helpful to arrange some further conflict, or at least the appearance of it."

A beat, before he adds: "I know you're both powerful. But he's more than he seems."

The psychic intrusion unravels and withdraws.

ANd the Witch's eyes focus, brought back to this world from the last. She trembles under the touch on her back, shuddering, gazing down at the scuffed floorboards between her hands. Against the backs of her eyes burn that memory, one she will never allow herself to forget: her kind, their kind, used and broken and then no longer needed — butchered like old meat.

The Devil cannot see the Scarlet Witch's tears, but now there is salt in the air.

She curls into her brother's side, still sensitized from the images, from that shock of pain, and her chin nudges to Pietro's shoulder.

Daredevil speaks of first instincts. Wanda does not deny them. She is still, quiet, perhaps unresponsive —

"We cannot wait long," she speaks up suddenly, perhaps surprisingly — of the twins, Pietro is the one who cannot abide patience. "Not after what he's done. Do you plan to punish him within human law?"

Wanda is unresponsive at first, and for those many moments Daredevil might as well not exist to Pietro. Brother is occupied in soothing sister, his hand on her back, his body language protective.

He only glances up, and sharply at that, when the Devil finally breaks the silence. His gaze has the cagey quality of a wary animal — one accustomed to expecting attack when its sibling is vulnerable — but some of his defensiveness drains away when the Devil simply speaks. Speaks of how even if their first instinct is to attack, he would advise against such rashness.

Quicksilver's eyes glitter defiantly like he was thinking about just that. His sister speaks up shortly, for once echoing his impatience.

"We are more than familiar with how little our powers can avail us, against a human with all the backing of society behind him," he says, bitter.

As for the rest of the Daredevil's words? "He still thinks that," Pietro acknowledges, of Fisk's continued belief he has allies in the Brotherhood. "But you'll have to give us a very good reason to keep up any continued facade with such a creature. It may be an advantage… but how do you intend to use it?"

He urges a bit of patience, and they are — predictably — eager to settle the score with the mutant murderer. "I'm not saying you have engage in some kind of elaborate entrapment," Daredevil says, putting up a hand. "We're not trying to build a case against him at this point. Or I'm not. We tried that once, and it didn't work. If Wilson Fisk dies tomorrow no one will shed a tear, least of all me."

His devil-cowled head tilts just to the right. "But. I'm willing to bet good money you've only met this man once, if that. And he's not going to give you a second meeting without a good reason. He's ridiculously cautious, loves contingencies, and is well aware of how powerful you are." The man in red spreads his palms. "So what I'm saying is, no matter how angry you are, line up your shot before you take it."

A beat. A twitch of his lips. "And make sure I'm there for it."

In those quiet moments, the twins' world sieves down only to contain each other: Wanda withdraws into Pietro's presence, face buried to his shoulder, gone far beyond merely wanting him for comfort. She needs him, in every definition of the world, to help hold herself together against so many storms — most of them beginning within her own, unstable mind. She holds onto him as he protects them both, something feral in the way they do so; an old, old habit, the only way the Maximoffs know best to survive.

They listen together to the Devil's proposal. Her lips thin briefly to consider working within the boundaries of the law — humanity's law, no less — something she would not permit, or restrain herself. Especially with mutant lives lost already. Perhaps with more on the line.

Pietro's return, his voice envenomed with years of bitterness, bring one of Wanda's hands to his face, offering her own quiet soothe. She glances up, eyes on her twin, silent now in this exchange, probably retreated to that silent communication they share — twins never a step beyond each other's mind.

She agrees, but leaves it his call to make.

Either way —

The Witch closes one hand, and scarlet moves along her knuckles with that familiar, telltale spatial distortion — reality itself spinning, humming, rearranging itself at some primordial crossroads before matter and energy even take role. Opening her hand, where there was nothing, is now a small, innocuous coin. Something the Devil would not normally be able to see — but now, he can in other ways, with that telltale imprint of her scarlet, wreathing it in a constant hex.

"The world shows itself strangely to you," is all she says, detached, but not dismissive. Then: "If you ever need us, flip this." She tosses him the coin. "When it hits the ground, we will know where to find you."

If Wilson Fisk dies tomorrow, no one will shed a tear.

"I would have him die in the next five minutes," Pietro growls under his breath, his hand shifting along Wanda's back as his arm slides around her. He pulls her close with a quiet soothe, letting her bury her face into his shoulder and pull herself back together within the familiarity of his protection. The Daredevil may not be able to see it, but he can sense it; the quiet subvocal sounds of comfort, the rustle of two siblings clinging together against a hostile world. It is a primal sort of sound. The Twins console one another in the way animals draw comfort in close contact, huddled together for safety.

One can only imagine the sort of childhood that would yield two adults with such an interdependence upon one another.

Pietro only glances up when the Devil speaks the reasons he believes the direct approach may not work. A sneer crosses his features. "It is immaterial whether he will give it. "We will force it." A slight pause. "But we take your point."

He falls silent, already automatically looking to Wanda as she generates a means for them to remain in contact. The coin, produced and handed over, draws no more of a look from him than would any other mundane coin; Pietro has seen years of Wanda's miracles by now. "We will speak again, regardless," he adds. "We will see this man destroyed."

If you ever need us, flip this, Wanda tells Daredevil, before flipping him a coin that's wreathed — to his senses — in a kind of mystic fire. Once upon a time magic of any time startled him, but he catches it mid-air without thinking and nods, faintly, once. Offer accepted.

Hadn't he chided Danny Rand, months ago, for wanting to work alongside the Maximoffs? See if there were common interests that aligned? They're goddamn terrorists, he'd said, or at least said something like it.

But then, the Matt Murdock who said those words months ago feels very far away from the Matt standing there, exchanging plans, strategies, and trinkets with those very same terrorists. Wilson Fisk's revenge against him was the catalyst for some transformation in the man, which is still in the process of unfolding. Among the changes: the boundaries he is willing to push. Or even cross.

"Thanks," Daredevil says on the matter of the coin. "I don't have a bat-signal or anything, but get in touch with Jones if you need me." To the strange woman and her haughty twin, Matt murmurs: "Good hunting, then." Then he's stepping backward towards their front door with perfect accuracy and not a hitch in his step.

And then he's gone.

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