Amáro Dat

August 06, 2018:

The Maximoff twins confer after their father's visits. Directly after Forget-Me-Not and Primogeniture.

New York


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Frenzy, Polaris, Magneto


Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

A man like Magneto has a greater effect in his comings and his goings than normal men do. His arrival fills rooms; his departures empty them out. He has been gone five seconds, but even this room — one that does not belong to him, that has only played host to his presence for a few minutes — still seems to echo with his absence. The space waits, incomplete, for his return.

Of course, Pietro is still there, but when was he ever important to anything when placed beside his father?

The young man is uncharacteristically silent and still, his father's last words still echoing in his head. He only moves to his sister's sudden cry for him. Wanda's voice, begging his name, is as familiar to him as the sound of his own breathing.

With a whisk of his speed, he searches the room, scouts for threats, finds nothing, and concludes it's another bad dream. He reroutes to come to her side. All of it transpires so fast that he is already sitting beside her before she can even finish the last syllable of his name.

"What is it, draga mea?" Always a patient tone, and only ever for her.

The space sits empty in the absence of the king; the prince no longer feels like master of his own home, but a guest whose allowance comes only on the sparing mercy of a stronger man. Son cast in the shadow of the father.

Yet, in all of this, there persists one place in all this world where Pietro has always been important; one place whose ringing incompletion is only because is not there.

It comes in the way Wanda begs her brother's name.

Pietro reacts with speed so incredible, so unnatural, that not even Wanda knows all he does in the time she has to cry one syllable. All she knows, as she has every time before, is that without hesitation, her twin is here.

Here, in the bedroom. Here, at her side, filling the hanging darkness and silence with his presence before she even has time to move.

When Wanda does, in her own slow crawl of time, it is to cast the sheets aside and fall into Pietro, her arms hooking around his body to draw them closer. Warm from sleep, and shivering, she clings to him.

"Kham," she gasps, her voice thick. It comes out in their lost, childhood Romani, her first tongue — languages were always the first thing Wanda lost to her panics. "I can't lose you. I can't."

His father may have robbed him of stability in many other ways, through his visit tonight. But there is one constant that not even Magneto can touch. One person to whom he will always be everything, no matter how foolish and small his father may make him feel.

Pietro hears the familiar sound of Wanda crying for him, and reflex of nearly three decades has him immediately leaping to her side.

He checks first for external threats, unwilling to waste time in case his sister cried out due to some looming danger. None present, yet he doesn't relax nor take it as a relief; his sister is still distressed, and therefore there is still a significant problem as far as he is concerned.

Sitting next to her by the time she finishes his name, he leans in with a quick, urgent anxiety — only for Wanda to fling aside the covers and cling shakily to him. His arms encircle her by instinct, pulling her close, resting her head to his shoulder.

"Ćerxai," he soothes. "You aren't losing me." A hesitation. "Where did you get such an idea?"

The moment he draws her in, she responds, reflexively folding into Pietro's body — her favourite, only safe place found along that long line of him.

Wanda shudders against him. In her thin, sleeping gown, little is disguised off her, and less is lost — from the too-fast hammering of her heart, to the way she trembles. It's a familiar fear, harkening back when they were young children: he, on the very advent of his gift, and his sister, cursed with night terrors she could neither explain nor remember.

Nothing save plead that they were real. Children's stories, usually, until soon enough, Wanda would begin bearing signs of marks, bruising, raking cuts over her body. That was only the beginning.

It ends here, like some vicious, repeating cycle, with her head pillowed to Pietro's shoulder. She breathes in the smell of him, feels through his body the rumble of his voice; both seem to be the only reason her ragged breathing slows enough to find her voice.

It is brittle from crying.

You aren't losing me, promises Pietro in reply. Wanda's hands tighten on him to ensure that. Her tiny body folds around his, and the air charges with a familiar ozone — her scarlet is here, wreathing them both, as his sister's presence runs his thoughts, through the straits of his soul. Occupying everywhere, losing herself in him. He is alive. He is here.

"Magneto," finally speaks Wanda. "He spoke to me in an astral communion. He was here."

He is her only place of safety, her favorite refuge in the world. In turn, the feel of her in his arms, looking to him for comfort and protection, is the only sense of purpose that has ever seemed to mean anything to him in a hostile and largely indifferent universe.

Pietro's earliest memories are of this: Wanda, small and shivering and frightened by some nightmare, curled against him and confident in the fact he would protect her from anything that might hurt her. It has been the only constant he has known in a life of upheaval and uncertainty. For many years, it was his only reason for being. The one reason to get up in the morning, to work his hands raw to carry them through a worsening life, to endure the abuse of humankind when he was still too young and weak to fight back.

He was her only stability, too. The only person who believed her when she said her nightmares were real. One of the boys from the village said once that Wanda's bruises were probably just her brother attacking and ravaging her at night, the way everyone knew filthy Roma did.

Pietro beat the other boy nearly to death. It might have been to the death if he had been just a little older and a little stronger.

But the one thing that has kept his violence from escalating too far has always been the primacy he places on his sister's safety over his own sense of vengeance. Wanda needs him, and the world ceases to exist while he comforts her. The answering charge of her scarlet energy, as it tenses the air around them, should frighten anyone who has seen what it is capable of doing… but to Pietro, it is his comfort in the same way his arms are his sister's. It has never and will never hurt him. It helped him endure the madness that was his first few months with his own powers. Her powers almost seem part of him too, now.

He is glad of their presence, when Wanda admits what frightened her tonight.

Pietro tenses palpably against and around her. "What? He what?" He bristles, visibly unnerved at the idea their father would slip past him to corner his sister in such a way. "For what purpose? What did he do?"

Wanda Maximoff, a daughter of chaos, staring down her moving horizon of variables, knows only one constant: Pietro will always be there.

In her lowest moments, doubtful and self-deprecating, she calls herself a burden on him; yet, at the same time, Wanda never resists nor denies her own visceral need for her twin. Every time she reaches only for him, and every time he exists only for her —

They would call this a co-dependency in anyone else, she knows. But it's different for them, Wanda also knows — tells herself — they are brother and sister forged of a single soul. It was always his purpose to care for her, defend her, and be her anchor against the storm.

She does not know her own purpose, not entirely, but there is one thing she knows as her fundamental truth: she is here to love him.

Her purpose is to give him purpose; transcendent of that, her purpose is to make him center of the universe, even if it is her own. It is to elevate him in truth to all she sees singing in his soul. It is to worship and exult him, and trust beyond that — trust him to wield of her what she is afraid to do of herself.

It is to bandage his hands when he, as a child, nearly killed another. It is to kiss the blood off his knuckles, until it stained her too.

And now it is to curl into the safety of Pietro's arms, her head to his shoulder, as Wanda shrouds them both in her scarlet. Her gift ionizes the air around them; her red curls his arms, his sides, his soul — running its shape, caressing the seam point where she bound them together.

It all tightens when he tenses, perhaps expecting it — not to stop, but to soothe. Her head turns into the cradle of Pietro's shoulder, so that he can feel the rasp of Wanda's lips as she speaks, feel the whisper of her breath.

"He took me into his dream. His memory. Back in Wundagore, when he searched for our mother. He told me about her." Wanda is silent for a beat. "I don't know why. He said he'd go to you too. Is he making claim? He said I'd lose you. Because I'm afraid."

Others would call it a co-dependency. Others have called it a co-dependency, to Pietro's face. The remarks always slid off him like water. What did it matter what other people thought? They were not the ones living his and Wanda's lives. They did not know the truth of what they have had to do to survive. Would they judge if they had to walk a mile in either of the twins' shoes?

Let them but try to live the lives that Pietro and Wanda have lived. The twins have only lived this long because they depended upon one another. That Pietro knows for a fact.

Wanda may not clearly know her own purpose in the gestalt that is the two of them, but Pietro has always known. Her purpose is to be his purpose. He has always needed someone to need him. Her purpose is to love him — all the facets of him, down to his violence and the ugly deeds he would do in her name — because no one else beyond their parents ever has or will. He is three times cursed: once Roma, twice a mutant, and thrice the son of Magneto, a man whose mere name casts a long and soiled shadow.

Few things have ever been stable in the Twins' lives… but Wanda tucked into Pietro's arms, both of them shielded in her scarlet, is one.

If one thing could shatter that safety, however, it is the very man himself: Magneto, suddenly not so indifferent any longer. Pietro tenses against and around Wanda just to the thought of the man, equal parts compelled and repelled by it. Only the familiar feel of her scarlet around and in him calms him, and even then just barely. His shoulder is taut against her lips when she speaks.

He doesn't expect what Wanda tells him their father did. She can feel his head turning above her, looking down at her in puzzlement. "Our mother…?" he wonders. "Why show you his memories? Why tell you of her? He seemed to have… cared for her, but if he did, he does no longer. He gave up looking for her long ago. He gave us up too, even after he found us again — "

Yet here he is again, in their lives. Perhaps 'making claim,' as Wanda says. Pietro frowns to himself, thinking. "He did come to me," he admits. "And if he wishes to make claim," he eventually ventures, "then why leave again? He said he left us the Brotherhood. His legacy. Is it… some test?"

He rests his head atop his sister's in an absent gesture, when she says that last. "He said something similar. That I was… that I was being weak, and if I was weak, I would lose you." His arms tighten around her. "He said I was his blood, and his blood was not weak."

What others call unnatural, unhealthy, or simply wrong — Wanda calls peace.

It is something she cannot take from the waking world, something she cannot even have in her denied dreaming: something she has never been able to possess unless inside Pietro's arms, unless within his soul.

Even her brother tense, his muscles pulling more and more taut like turns on a rack, is solace to Wanda. He tightens around her, and she cedes all the more, her head dormant to his shoulder. He is rarely still for long, rarely gentled, rarely soft to the touch, and she is used to it; her scarlet sheets him in a running caress, its formless red curling like tendrils of smoke — its weaving presence creeping in living-and-dying motes of light.

Why show you his memories? asks Pietro.

Wanda is silent at that, as if forced to wonder the question, herself, for the first time. Her thoughts, linked with his, come up empty of any answer. "He loved her," she says, simply, lightly, but with finality — a fact she is now certain.

She is silent a moment more. "I don't know why. Even if I could, I don't want to look into his mind. I don't want to see inside."

Her eyes close for a beat, then open to a half-lid, her gaze distant. One of her hands finds the back of Pietro's neck, a brush of her fingertips through his hair. "He said she wanted us. I don't want to dishonour our parents — I think of her often. I look like her. He says I am so much like her. Yet we know nothing of her."

But Pietro makes his judgment known — whatever of the past, of the lost Magda, their father no longer cares for her. If he did, he would not have lost her so long ago. Wanda's hand runs through his hair, a slow, soothing stroke, but she says nothing, does nothing more.

Until he admits Magneto visited him too. Warned him that his blood is not weak. As if to imply —

The scarlet around them goes deathly still. Between instands, its harmless threads quill outwards, a thousand bladed ends, barbing the darkness of the bedroom beyond the Maximoff twins in its heart. A world of needles for anything to touch them.

Her eyes flicker, and it is gone, retreated back to nothingness. "He knows nothing," Wanda declares, voice low, soft. "He knows nothing of how we survived. We made our blood strong."

To others, the question might occur someday — when one has built an entire life around another person, what happens if and when, one day, they are gone?

To others — but not to Pietro. The idea that his sister might not always be with him, within his arms and within his control, is a completely alien thought. It has never once occurred to him. His worldview is built around the truth that is his caretaking of his sister. He has never pictured anything else. He has never particularly wanted to picture anything else.

Peace is something that rarely comes to Pietro, too, tormented as he is by his own temporal remove from the rest of humanity. Life is hard to live when lived so much faster than the rest of the world. But peace is his when his sister is beside him, her presence braided with his own, his every moment of boredom or impatience readily soothed by her singleminded attentiveness to his needs.

Peace is them together. The intrusion of their father only makes them cling closer together, the twins retreating into one another to compare notes.

Leaning his head against hers where it pillows on his shoulder, Pietro listens as Wanda considers the answer to his first question. Why show her his memories? Why reach out in that way? Her eventual frank answer brings a troubled look to his eyes. He loved her, Wanda says with all the surety her preternatural sight gives her, and Pietro tries to reconcile his image of Magneto — cold, harsh, cruel, and pitiless — with that of a man who could love. What could take a man from such deep love, to the depths of such deep hate?

"Best not look," he agrees, thinking of the many potential answers to just that question.

He speaks in turn of what Magneto had to say to him, and predictably he feels Wanda tense to the mere insinuation that her brother's blood might not match up to the legacy expected of such a man's firstborn son. Pietro winces a little as the scarlet goes still around them, his hand tangling into her hair to soothe her.

"He knows nothing," Pietro agrees, more cautious now, "but seems suddenly to want to learn. I only wonder to what end." He said I was his son, he admits to her, mind to mind, not wanting to even say it aloud. There is some appeal to the idea, to a young man who lost all paternal figures early… albeit an appeal all mixed up with a considerable resentment and lingering anger.

"He didn't hurt you?" he asks.

Despite Wanda's heated words, there is still no denying the trappings of blood.

While Pietro has the blessing of their father's impetus, Wanda suffers the burden of his introspection, drawing in, going silent, as labourous thought pulls her in its undertow.

Her twin brother confirms a visit no different from her own; astrally, she assumes, equally. The ease for a man locked in presence and duty to his island nation. Why visit both his estranged twin children alone, if just to deliver both of them a similar message? The aim of an warlord knowing only to divide an conquer? The yearning of a father to pay each child equal respect? But the Maximoff twins have never existed separately. Does he expect differently of them?

Why warn — caution? threaten? — both of them with a future of separation?

Wanda's thoughts turn circles, but arrive to no clear end. No answers can be gleaned from a man she knows so little about, past the mythology of the great leader who elevated their race from early extinction.

Best not look, Pietro advises. Wanda is quiet to that, her fingers momentarily still on his neck.

He soothes her down from a momentary pique, agitated at the thought of Magneto declaring Pietro weak — the one thing her brother is assuredly not —

Insult runs through her scarlet, entombing both of them in her reality of serrated, meathook thorns — and then Pietro pets Wanda's hair, and it all is gone. Just the darkened bedroom, and the emptiness hanging in the slanted bodies of its midnight shadows.

Finding some sort of focus in the storm, calmer, Wanda turns her head to find Pietro's eyes. His whispered thought reflects against her lenses.

His son. She can feel the bitterness and draw, both. She is not certain how to feel of it, unwilling to step beyond her own guardedness to consider what, if any, of his feelings find a mirror in her. Dangerous things, and Wanda is an expert when it comes to self-denial. Whatever comes of it, she speaks back into his mind, blood does not make a father. Only shelter and sacrifice. You were always a son.

Wanda reaches to run Pietro's cheekbone with her thumb. Her eyes lower. To his question, she thinks of that touch to her hair, and shakes her head no. "He didn't hurt me. I was only frightened." She pauses. "He wants something of us. Or perhaps just of you. Be careful."

Why separate them, indeed? Why visit them individually and alone, when the ultimate message appears to be quite similar?

Pietro has no answer to those questions. At the least, no answer that does not disquiet him. Because the obvious answer is that Magneto is well aware the twins are stronger in a unit, and it is to his advantage to divide and conquer. There are more charitable readings, of course — that he wishes them both to have their own time with him, or that he wishes to develop them past their codependency upon one another's presence.

Yet if he knew them, surely he would know that the latter is nothing either of them want.

Typically so decisive, this time Pietro finds no answer he wishes to settle on for now. Instead he cautions his sister to best not think of the workings of a mind like their father's, and then fails to take his own advice. In all his wandering thoughts about the nature of the man, however, it does not occur to him that his father stands as one potential end to his own story. An end where he himself loses Wanda, as his father lost their mother decades before.

He thinks about other things. The mythology of Magneto is one Pietro grew up with ever since he first arrived in America and began to hear of the Brotherhood — of this great leader of mutantkind, who stood fast against the hatred of humanity, and never let any abuse of their race go unpunished. With Magneto around, Pietro felt sure, no one would ever have dared to burn his sister. How he had admired Magneto! How betrayed and angry he had felt, when the man renounced his war against humankind…

And he is his son. That in itself spurs a whole host of mixed feelings he has yet to sort.

Wanda is not so divided. Criticism of her brother sends all her scarlet bridling, piercing outwards into a tangle of hooked barbs and thorns. Pietro, unperturbed and unalarmed, absently smoothes her hair, and soothes the scarlet away again.

What does perturb him is the uncertainty that Wanda feels. He is not accustomed to them not wholly agreeing on any given topic. Discomfited, he curls closer around her, as if he could substitute physical closeness for the slight divide their thoughts have reached. I know, his thoughts return to her reminders. I have not forgotten the parents who raised us.

His eyes close to her touch along his cheekbone. The only reopen to her quiet warnings, and then only to the barest slivers of blue. "Of us, I think," he replies. "He wants something from all of us. But is it absolution for the past, or an ambition for the future?" Frustration flickers in his mind. "Here I have cautioned Lorna any number of times not to trust his motives, not to let him close. But then he comes to us… and I start to wonder."

Wanda Maximoff, too, can recall the first time she ever heard the name, 'Magneto.'

How strange, she thought, to hear a man call himself such a thing — but it inspired many more of their kind to embrace their abilities — gifts some, curses other — as a facet of their identity. No more for them to hide, or even pretend humanity — but to be mutants. Society called her a witch for so much of her life, and because of Magneto, Wanda took the insult for her own — took the name for her own usage. The Scarlet Witch was born.

Magneto was a beacon that lured their first steps to America. Wanda thought herself eternally in debt to the leader, the revolutionary, the savior — if only for the hope he inspired within Pietro. Theirs was a life of brutal scarcity in every way, from food to faith, and it proselytized her brother beyond survival — made him believe in the Brotherhood.

Hurt him, too, when Magneto one day left it all behind.

And now that man, chained to his own legend, is none other than their blood father. For all his absence in their lives, Magneto has still come to shape his twin children — though not in the way they would want of him. Not as a parent, not as their father, but as that mythology, distant and cold.

And, still, he let them down.

Head to Pietro's shoulder, Wanda steeps in silence. Their thoughts take a rare divergence, as hers circle uncertainty: a daughter yet unable to decide how to feel about her father. She knows she wields strength in her refusal, and above all: she does not need him. Perhaps, once, she might have needed him — but there is no absence left in her left that Pietro has not taken on himself, filled, and revered with the utmost care.

But her father has answers to many questions. But what is her price to pay to have them? What does he want from him? Absolution against the silence of Wundagore Mountain, when he called for his wife, and she did not answer?

Pietro guides Wanda from her own thoughts with the sound of his voice. She responds to him, the closeness he demands of their bodies to reconcile the brief asymmetry of their minds, and turns her head to touch their foreheads.

"I don't know what to think of him," confesses Wanda in return. "What to anticipate. What to expect. If we should expect anything at all. Whatever he wants, it makes me wary."

Her eyes unfocus. She holds a beat of silence. "But he promised I'd lose you. For as long as I'm afraid. But I have to be — afraid. Afraid of myself.

"What other way is there?" Wanda asks aloud, her voice quickening, cycling back to the fear — ready to upset herself all over again. " Is he right? Will I lose you? What if I do? What if it's my fault —?"

In the end, Magneto was for all mutantkind, what Pietro wishes he had been for him and Wanda: a father. How many mutants, abused and isolated and alone, looked up and found in Magneto's violent defiance a beacon of hope and a standard of strength to admire and emulate? How many followed his example, even if only in such small ways as claiming names for themselves out of the abuses of mankind?

However many there were, his own blood son was once among them. The two of them came to America long ago with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the bone-deep exhaustion of having been persecuted across Europe for years. Pietro set foot on American soil at a nadir of his energy and will to carry on, pushed through life solely by the need to support his sister.

Magneto and the Brotherhood gave him hope again. Something to believe in. Something for which to fight. And then one day, Magneto walked away. Fitting, since it seems Magneto already walked away from them once before — walked away from his role as their blood father.

"It is strange," Pietro voices some of their thoughts aloud, "how even in his absence, he still managed to let us down in the ways a father would. We gave him our hopes and our dreams, and in turn he walked away and left us behind." He closes his eyes, letting his forehead lean against hers. "I think we should expect nothing," he opines. "We must take and learn it all as it comes. Who knows what he truly intends?"

Thinking back on her conversation with their father, however, begins to upset Wanda. Pietro's head turns to the telltale cues, concerned, and he gathers Wanda more fully into his arms, pulling her close and kissing her hair. "You won't lose me," he reminds. "Much less lose me through any of your fault. You cannot hurt me."

He rests his head atop hers, curled around her. "I am sure he only meant 'as long as you fear humans.' It is what he said to me."

You cannot hurt me, promises Pietro.

The declaration in itself closes Wanda's eyes. Like so many times before, she lets it again become her anchor.

They are not meaningless words, after all. It is a truth, to both Maximoff twins, and one Pietro had once hinged his own life.

Many years ago, Wanda was unravelling. One of her worst episodes turned her ability outward against reality itself, bending and distorting and erasing all within its field — matter, energy, innocent life — with the witch at the center of it all, lost to her own anguish, and coming to terms to ending it all. This was no longer life for her, no longer living — it was death, only death, in everything she looked at, everything she touched.

Pietro dared to come closer, as Wanda begged him to the last inch of her soul to stay away. She could not control it. She could not stop it. Don't let her last act be to hurt him. Let her die without that sin.

You cannot hurt me, he told her, and breached the torrent of her powers. He moved through chaos, itself, and found her, and Wanda found Pietro unhurt, unharmed — untouched. He stood at the eye of her storm, immune to it.

His courage changed everything, and that day, Wanda learned something about her ability she'd never thought possible: she did control it, after all. It could never hurt him because she could never hurt him.

To hear it again, here, now, soothes Wanda within moments, and she shudders free the last of her worry to his anointing kiss to her head.

Her breathing slows the longer Wanda listens to Pietro's heartbeat. It comes so quick, unnaturally so, but she has gone to sleep every night by its meter. No other sound is home. "Perhaps," she finally concedes. "If I ever do banish that fear, it will not be by his doing."

Wanda's hands curl into him. "We've never depended on anyone but each other. We've never needed to."

Pietro has had that same thing over and over to Wanda, ever since that first time he said it and made it their personal truth. You cannot hurt me. He will not let it be any less than a sheer impossibility. The day it becomes possible for her to hurt him is the day life ceases to have meaning, anyway.

It is not that he was not afraid, that day. Who could be unafraid, watching the world unravel and erase to the chaos of rampant probability gone mad? Yet greater than the fear were his faith and his love. Two things that enabled him to risk his own life on no more than a simple statement, a simple belief… one which he intended to make cold fact by nothing more than the sheer force of his will.

In the end, he guessed right. She could not hurt him. Even when she thought she had lost all control, she still had enough within her to ensure one last thing: to never do her brother harm.

That was the turning point. She realized she had control, after all. He has helped teach and refine her ever since then, patient with her in a way he is not patient with anything else in the world. She has had other episodes since then, but the one constant has remained true: Pietro has never suffered from the lash of her powers. The reminder soothes her, and he caps his practiced comfort of her with a kiss.

She evens out, listening to the rapid-fire beat of his heart. It's fast enough it's unnerving to most normal people, accustomed to the regular beat of a human heart, but to Wanda it is the sound of home. Leaning his head down atop hers, Pietro finds his own home in the way she fits in his arms, the way she smells, the way she always clings to him. Little else gives him purpose but to see his sister safe.

He listens as she speaks. As she says that if she loses her fear, it will not be anyone's doing but their own. "I do not propose we come to depend on anyone else," Pietro says. "But I am… curious what he wants."

He is silent a moment. "It is time to speak to Frenzy."

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