September 15, 2018:

Rachel Summers and Meggan Puceanu confront the Brotherhood with evidence that the damning video about Tony Stark was false. Some unexpected points of commonality are overshadowed by overall ideological difference.

Mutant Town, New York


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Magneto, Xavier

Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Technically, Mutant Town is neutral ground. Meant to be a safe place for mutants of all stripes and beliefs, there's a tacit cease-fire within its borders between all mutants who enter, no matter their affiliation 'outside.' Of course, given the concentration of the Brotherhood in the area, for humans that is a touchier prospect… but overall, not even the Brotherhood wants to call more attention to the neighborhood than necessary. It would threaten the mutants who live there, after all.

Still, there's a different feel to the atmosphere in the neighborhood these days, after the Hell's Kitchen bombings, the increasing tension over registration, and the recent furor over the Brotherhood's attack on Stark. There is a nervous energy hanging in the air, even more so than usual. Many mutants choose to stand their ground in their homes rather than be intimidated away, but others have emigrated — whether to other cities, or as far as Genosha — and their apartments stand hollowly empty, tasting of defeat.

Of the mutants that remain, most go about their lives as usual, but some step a little more briskly than others, and their eyes are watchful in a way that seems almost militant.

There is no indication of whether the Maximoffs have returned to this, their customary roost — there would not be — but it is very likely. It has been over a week, and leaders like the Twins cannot stay away from their designated people for very long. Certainly, the eyes that watch for unfamiliar faces in Mutant Town do not seem like the eyes of an abandoned and leaderless people.

Rachel was told not to seek out the Brotherhood alone. To ask the permission of her mother, who isn't really her mother, or maybe she is. She has done these things. Twenty four years old, arguably one of the better-established superheroes in the world, and she's done these things.

It doesn't really matter how many people know she's here and are helping from the sidelines, or how many people she brings in with her. The key to all this is Rachel. She was at the tower. She saw the Extremis event through. She looked into Pietro Maximoff's eyes.

And she's one of the few people in the world who can seriously claim to hunt down anyone to anywhere. Especially mutants.

Rachel Summers does not come stealthily to Mutant Town. She's only sometimes a face in the crowd, but that just can't happen in a place like this. Excalibur was a heavily pro-mutant super team, and it doesn't help that she's been in the news recently speaking up against registration.

All the watchers get plenty of time to do whatever they want with what they see: a redheaded woman in a leather jacket, yellow crop top, and black jeans, and fancy red sneakers, stuck at the park thanks to a few gregarious residents and their hungry Insta accounts. She's got a friend, too.

The watches get extra credit if they notice that before she was stopped, Rachel Summers was heading at a good angle to run into the twins. It's hard to believe coincidences sometimes.

Meggan "God Damn" Puceanu did not come here in disguise. No, she went into the suitcase and she dug out the green and black bodystocking that she did not, in actual fact, obtain in this dimension. Maybe it has some unstable molecules, maybe it's just well made, but it is what she has in most of the famous pictures (except for the two where she was in a cocktail dress and the other where she was in the slightly regrettable but extremely cozy orange sleeveless blouse/pants/scarf combo).

Right now she is being photographed. She does not seem to mind it.

Of course those with psychic sensitivity such as RACHEL SUMMERS would be able to pick up the deep subcurrent of worry tempered with a certain degree of outrage. Meggan's expression had curdled into the 'is it time to fight the Germans again?' set when she had heard about the preconditions being set on this situation, but she had held her peace with some effort.

And it doesn't show here. Here, she is sunny as the sky!

"Right, so," Meggan says, "You say you've got a livestream going? Alright then - here, let me hold the mobile -" And so Meggan puts her arm around some neighborhood-scale luminary, making a cross-eyed duck face and then bursting into laughter as she addresses the Internet. "Hullo to - what did you say your stream name was again? Anyway! Hullo CHAT! I hope you're having fun. If any of you are down south be sure to take care and have lots of boiled water ready from the storm."

That's mostly right. The sentiment matters. After this Meggan disengages from the streamer, laughing and waving as he trundles off, before her head turns to look at Rachel. The smile stays but her eyes are a lot more determined and less smile-y. «You see 'em? I didn't get a 'feel' for either of them, or I'd help.»

There are eyes and ears everywhere in Mutant Town.

Even in this somewhat depleted state.

Those eyes and ears watch the women arrive. They watch them meander around and they likewise watch as they interact with the residents of the area.

And while they perhaps earn a few points with the street-level messengers, those points hardly translate to the woman who helps command and guide them.

Joanna Cargill aka Frenzy.

The Bruiser of the Brotherhood waits across the way. She waits for the would-be-insta-streamer-gramers to leave and only then does she step off the sidewalk and cross over to the red-head and blonde woman. Her suspicion radiates like a cloak around her mind, around her body, distrust that screams 'I don't like you', 'I don't trust you' and also 'how the hell were you on the right path for the Twins'.

Those words or rather accusations aren't thrown down like a gauntlet, instead the woman says, "The Twins will see you now." Then much more curtly, "Follow me."

With that command, Frenzy pivots upon heel and leads the way going forward, leading the women to where the Twins reside.

Rachel thought twice about wearing her spikes and everything. She thinks it sends a slightly different message than Meggan's bodysuit, which looks fabulous, because Meggan always looks fabulous.

The redhead exchanges a few more words with the two other young mutants — one of them probably propelled into activism by the fact that his head looks like a moai statue with a luminous pink afro — while Meggan hams it up for the stream.

The streamer catches up with his friends afterward, leaving Rachel to say her goodbyes right around the time Meggan slides into view and gets her attention again. Rachel trades her a smile for a smile.

"You're a little too good at that," she says, a laugh implied in her tone.

«Better yet. I think we qualify for an escort now.»

That's about when Cargill comes glowering her way over like a punchy stormcloud. Don't question the mental images, astral impressions are strange. Rachel offers a congenial expression that's difficult to find any kind of aggression in. She knows how to arrange herself for an audience.

"Thanks," she says. That seems like enough.

With one final look to Meggan, she starts off after Frenzy.

Rachel's encouraged them. What a lovely time. Something good will come of this.

"Oh, it's all from watching the experts," Meggan demurs, but she smiles as she does it. Then she's warned.

Meggan turns her attention to look at Frenzy. Her eyes are difficult to read. Her lips purse slightly, she puts a hand on her hip, and she nods once to her.

"Understood. Thanks," Meggan tells Frenzy, neither rude nor especially polite. She walks, feet bare on the cruel streets of Mutant Town, as she goes.

«Very dramatic» Meggan muses to Rachel. «I wonder if they've got thrones. What are the odds, you think?»

«Regular chairs but they both sit like they're posing for portraits,» Rachel thinks. Joking helps take the edge off.

The place to which Frenzy leads Rachel and Meggan does not mesh at all with the odd, Old World regality with which the Acolyte tells them they will be 'granted audience.' It certainly is a far cry from the palatial spires of Genosha, giving no hint of the bloodline to which the twins can claim.

The old tenement was probably one of the first to go up in this neighborhood, over a hundred years ago, and it shows its age with every threatening creak of the steps beneath them as they ascend — with every draft that pushes easily through the unsealed cracks in the walls. It smells of generations come and gone, of old dust and old dreams, of the shades of people who lived and died as best they could within these narrow halls and low-ceilinged rooms.

It is an almost claustrophobic walk, made worse by the fact it terminates in a windowless room with very little in the way of furnishings. Two small tables. A chair, which for some reason is tipped over on its side in a corner. No decorations, no accoutrements that would indicate any kind of settled or stable life. Only the few things that can be easily packed by people who live on the run.

No thrones.

Pietro Maximoff is seated on one of the tables. He appears to be hemming one of Wanda's long red dresses, repairing it after thorns tore it ragged, his hands moving rapidly as he pins and repins the hem and stitches it. His eyes are on his work.

"Say what you have come to say," he says, without looking up.

Up that long, creaky-staired journey, the acolyte Frenzy guides them true.

No stray psychic signatures — at least for now — save the familiar cursive of the Maximoff twins, and that peculiar way their minds seem to knot together, joined as one in countless bridges. It still wears that same shroud of scarlet, the Witch's work tying a cat's cradle all through their minds.

Similarly, her scarlet is everywhere.

Its sheen catches the walls of the old tenement, playing along its foundation no differently than it did Stark Tower — little leylines that feel not like thoughts, or feelings, or the aspect of anything real, or true, or alive —

— if there is any sensation, it is only the cold. The perfect void that exists before chaos is born.

It definitely leaves the sense that the Witch is watching. Well, that or —

The way eyes open up against the walls, their turning irises scorched red as arterial blood, turning silent glances, before they lid shut and disappear again.

In that same room, Wanda's matching eyes stay open. As Pietro fills the moments with restless work, she is utter vacancy, sitting on the floor beneath one window, wound in one of her dark shawls, and silent, red swirling at her fingers, and her eyes distant, unfocused. Here and not here. Finally, to Pietro's words, Wanda blinks back to the here and now; she looks up, but she offers no greeting of her own.

The Bruiser of the Brotherhood leads the small group into the building and then onward and upward into the dilapidated room. Her heavy frame prompts creaks and groans from the floor and automatically her gaze surveys the room once within.

The sight of Pietro and Wanda brings a faint sense of relief from the woman. Relief that her charges are safe. There might likewise be a vague softening to her features at the sight of Pietro hemming his sister's dress.

That softness is fleeting, however, as Frenzy's expression shifts back to something flat and hard.

And while Frenzy could stand behind the delegation from the X-Men, she doesn't. There's just not enough trust in Frenzy's heart and so, the Bruiser steps closer to the Twins. She angles her larger frame to partially obscure the line of site to the Twins. The protectiveness is quite clear in her mindset, emotions and her body language.

Rachel is silent on her way over. Apart from being a ridiculous font of psychic power, she's a very well-behaved interloper. She navigates the tenement without complaint, proving oddly adroit in avoiding most of the creaks. She doesn't even make a face at the smell.

Like many strange things about Rachel, there is a horrific story that explains the peculiarity!

It's even more impressive when one knows the trippy astral blood void eye dimension that she's walking through. Alas, she's not going to mention any of it aloud. Her major thought is that she hopes Meggan can't see all this. She probably can. Rachel shifts her major thought to hoping that Meggan doesn't spontaneously become Scarlet Meggan because of empath overload.

An eye opens near Rachel as she turns a corner. Rachel, expression blank, turns her head to look back. The eye closes. Rachel placidly moves on.

As they enter the dread sanctuary of the Twins Maximoff, Rachel decides that her best bet is to stay on this side of the room while the woman who ripped apart Stark's lobby goes wherever she wants. The redhead waits until it seems like all of the Brotherhood has had their initial says — or lack of them, as the case may be.

"I'm here to give you copies of the files on the holo-vid," she says. "The originals and the analyses from SHIELD and three independent forensics services."

Rachel waits. Her astral body is familiar by now — a densely-sparkling infinity of stars exploding and reforming. It's slightly extra. The threads of her possibilities are strange and sparse.

Meggan walks with the steps of a cat, watching Frenzy and lapsing into a sort of supportive silence in her psi-link with Rachel. She emanates a low-key radiance of encouragement - having learned long ago that mashing that button too hard can backfire even leaving aside its annoyance - but has no real content. She is looking at the place. Feeling it. Wondering, perhaps, who lived here, and why these twins are here now.

Other than the rent, Meggan thinks, which is probably very favorable.

Meggan enters the barren room. Her first thought - before the feeling hits her - is of Whitechapel, in particular the Whitechapel where a certain DEED was done in a pretty nasty room and oh yes the walls are turning red, right on schedule.

But, Meggan thinks, I won't -

Rachel has the mental feeling of being gripped onto for a moment. Meggan's hair sparkles harmlessly, is for a fleeting impression of a second an eerie mirror of Wanda's own - and then seems to flicker, before deciding, again, to be Meggan.

"Bit of an impact you have here, isn't it," Meggan murmurs mostly to Bruiser, eyes closing and staying that way for a moment. The sense of anchoring slowly fades. Meggan doesn't open her eyes right away because she is perhaps afraid of what she'll see, but she strives to be present.

Her eyes open experimentally.

«why's he sewing up her dress» is Meggan's naive thought, followed by her eyes flicking towards the open-face Scarlet Witchrito beneath her shawl. Her expression, now, is obscurely concerned. But she refrains from asking Rachel the obvious question: 'is she OK.'

At some point Meggan folded her arms. She doesn't remember exactly when.

The last time Rachel looked into Pietro's eyes, they were filled with a despairing, furious emotion of mingled rage and fear. All of that is wholly absent from his blue gaze in the here and now. He finally looks up as Rachel states her purpose, and for half a second his face mirrors a far more infamous one in younger, slighter form.

I'm here to give you copies of the files on the holo-vid.

"I thought you might be," Pietro says. "You would be eager to know the truth or falsity of it. As if that were what mattered."

He glances at Frenzy, before his eyes return to Rachel. "If that's what you wish to do," he says, "then do it."

Pietro glances back down at the cloth in his grasp. His hands move, completing one stitch at a normal rate… and then speeding smoothly into a blur that has the task finished and the dress folded and set aside, all within the time it takes to blink.

"But I must tell you that I already made my decision with Stark's metal heart in my hand," he admits, his head lifting, tilting to a cold angle.

Even steeped in silence, the perpetual wallflower of this world, Wanda Maximoff keeps busy.

Busy enough to let herself get lost, if just for a moment, in Rachel Summers' astral horizon. Probabilities spin, when they should scatter, taking shapes that aches her spiritual eye to follow. So much like Jean Grey in so many ways, though the Witch has avoided two-long looks at the former, just as she does the latter.

It's the fire, and she's always hated it. Especially a fire that has no beginning or end.

Pulling herself away from that starfield, she returns to the here and now, cursory looks both on Frenzy, and then her twin brother. The finality darkening Pietro's words shutter Wanda's red eyes. His will is hers, and she adds nothing, providing the complicit silence to make the throne for his declaration.

Eventually, her gaze swings last to Meggan. Wanda is silent for a moment, watchful, until her shawl pulls as her head tilts to one side. The action covers one of her red eyes with an inky tress of her hair.

For an empath as powerful as Meggan, the Scarlet Witch is a giving wellspring. At the surface, she is a devil's crossroads of intersecting emotion, probability spinning the barrel to chamber her next roulette shot — whether or not it'll be empty, and she docile, or if the lurking madness will put its bullet back in her.

Fury lurks along her seams in a pulling undertow, gentled for now, but not forgotten. An unventilated rage, yoked in her, wanting to be let go.

Above that secret current, there is a sea of sadness, deep and cold and still. Sadness not for any one thing, but sadness overall — quiet, holding, and constant, of a woman who has never learned how it is to feel happy.

Wanda still looks at Meggan, the look in her one, exposed eye like someone searching. She senses enough, and asks in an aside, in Romani tongue: "Katar aves?" Where are you from?

Frenzy is attentive to the nuances of the Twins. She keeps a portion of her attention on Pietro and Wanda and the rest of her attention on Rachel and Meggan.

The mention of Stark pulls a twitch of a frown from Frenzy and it's enough to cause her to cross her arms. She stands there, a tall figure, striving for imposing, as she listens to what Rachel and Pietro have to say and then the silence from Wanda and Meggan.

The look Pietro sends her way is seen. She nods at his unspoken instruction and proceeds to step over to Rachel and Meggan. A hand extends outward to Rachel and Meggan for the copies of those vids. The proof that Tony Stark was complicit.

Though whether he is or isn't doesn't seem to matter to Frenzy. There are too many strikes against Tony Stark for Frenzy to feel any type of sympathy or empathy.

'Rachel Summers is used to being looked at.'

That comes up a lot. She is. She really is. People look at her because of who she is, how she's built, how she dresses, how she acts. They look at her because of the situations she throws herself into. It's just her life.

Few people look at her the way Wanda looks at her. Few people can see her for what she is — something not quite human. A product of celestial will in a way a few steps more direct than the rest of existence. It's woven into her in a way that cannot be untangled.

But Rachel isn't thinking about any of that. She's thinking about how she could deliver the information and walk away, or walk right into the giant red X that Pietro Maximoff has painted onto the ground. Rachel exhales softly. Dammit.

«They're… close,» Rachel thinks to Meggan.

As Frenzy approaches, Rachel holds her hand out to her side. A flash drive floats out from her pocket and toward the other woman's waiting hand. It hovers near enough that Frenzy gets to make the final call on grabbing it from the air.

"You seemed pretty sure," Rachel agrees, speaking in the measured cadence of someone who is choosing their words with care. She glances briefly over to Meggan, who is getting a question of her own, but her attention ultimately rests with Pietro.

"Do you want to try to make me understand your decision?"

Meggan makes her arms unfold, gradually. She shifts from foot to foot. She regards Pietro as he speaks and she keeps her peace and her head tilts a little in a ghost of a nod as if to say: I heard you, but have little to add. Her lips do quirk back into a faint grimace as he speaks of Stark's metal heart.

To Frenzy Meggan says quietly, "She has it." Meggan has no pockets nor room for them. If she brought money into town Rachel is probably carrying it.

Wanda is an interesting thing to 'look' at for an empath. Layers are present in everyone, but hers are unusually bright, like the painted desert of human (well… intelligent) life. Meggan does not want to peep or to stare but it is like hearing someone's radio. She can't help but listen.

The anger, however harnessed or lashed to a psychological turbine. The swelling reservoir of sadness. She does remind Meggan of a power station, however obscurely. Then she speaks Romani, and Meggan startles.

The sudden squirt of pleasant-surprise-feeling may in turn startle Rachel. Perhaps this was Wanda's fell plan. Even so, Meggan bites her lower lip for a moment to avoid what she wants to do, which is to /chirp/ and to /bubble/. Because there's someone right there named Frenzy.

She answers Wanda in Romani… words, though the grammar probably seems screwed-up to her ear: "<Travelling, you know how it is. But I was born near Fenborough, in England. And yourself?>" she says to Wanda. «Rachel she knows Romany!» Meggan says, albeit in small letters (again metaphorically) - the equivalent of a low-priority instant message.

Now I have to remember it, Meggan thinks, but that one is to herself. Oh no.

Wanda is layers. Pietro is fury clear through, except at his core, where lives the sort of fathomless love that would bring a brother to guard his sister with his own body, time and again.

But that fury pauses briefly, his eyes turning, as Wanda suddenly speaks in their birth tongue to Meggan. There is a brief silence, as if the twins are trading silent words about the revelation, before his gaze settles on Meggan in a more contemplative way as she answers Wanda's question. "Romanichal. T'aves baxtalo," he says, in welcome.

His attention returns to Rachel as she gives Frenzy the drive, and asks her question. His eyes narrow as she asks if he wants to try to make her understand.

"We will speak," he replies, "and you will either understand or you will not."

There is a brief pause, more for the benefit of those who do not think or live as quickly as Pietro, than because he needs it. "Your friend knows," he finally begins. "Your friend knows gadje ways. She knows what is done to those who are hated… and what must be done to survive it.

"There is a point where truth or lies do not matter. The reality is that that farce was someone's game. Someone's private grudge match against Stark. If it is false, then we were used. If it is true… then we were still used."

Pietro looks at Wanda. "We are finished with it… and with them."

While Magneto's son and Jean Grey's daughter square off on the value of truths and lies —

Wanda, as is her way, meanders briefly off the beaten path. What she finds compels her past simple distraction, or detachment — sensing a parallel familarity in Meggan that has the witch dig deep into her own roots.

Her most foundational root. Before she was a mutant, before she was the witch — Wanda Maximoff was no more than a Roma girl. Even as her life has pulled her away from humanity's binds, positioned her to stand opposite of them, Roma she was, and Roma she will always remain.

She never speaks Romani, these days, save with her twin brother. A find of their own kind, Meggan, is the sole exception.

Wanda's red eyes turn to meet Pietro's silent glance. Then, looking back, they soften to see Meggan bite her lip. Her demeanour gentles to hear her childhood language — even if the syntax is rusty — and she lets a ghost of tension go. The brother answers first, gives a welcome to another of their people, and Wanda speaks after, answering the returned question.

"<Transia>," she says, and her accent is marked with that vast distance, among all the nuances of the Kalderash Roma. "<Outside the village of Dragorin.>"

Something so close to amusement reflects against her eyes — red that looks like it'd rather go back to blue — until Rachel's question of Pietro is a shutting snare on Wanda's focus. That little moment of connection… dimmed as the gulf widens between two discordant systems of belief.

And little survival of hope in the gutter of Pietro Maximoff's answer.

Wanda meets her twin brother's look. From across the room, she reaches one hand to him. "Are you not both tired of it?" she asks in English, for Rachel, for Meggan — for their side to answer. "Being their things?"

In the physical world, Rachel keeps her gaze set on Pietro. He has offered to speak for we. She will listen, and she will either understand or she will not. He pauses. Rachel has been ready.

In the secret world of the astral connection that Rachel and Meggan share, Rachel glances over at the other woman. There is a sense of closeness — like squeezing a hand, but if it were an emotion instead of a touch, the blurry outlines of it touching other gestures like a steadying breath or leaning on something for support. Feelings can get abstract and non-traditional when you're in this deep with someone.

«I think they already like you.»

Pietro finishes. Rachel, out of experience, waits a moment before beginning to compose her response. In this time, she catches the significance of the look between the twins. She holds her tongue further.

"I've been a thing before," she says, her voice quiet and sober. "I've been kept in a camp."

The way she says that word — camp — the chilling smallness of it, like she's letting bitterness drop from her mouth, makes it clear that she does not use the word in the ordinary sense. Rachel being from some kind of parallel universe isn't exactly hidden knowledge at a certain tier of the metahuman community, and a keen probe may have even learned that it was a terrible place, but the specifics have always been vague.

"I'm not a thing anymore. Never again."

Rachel's green eyes, hardened not but aggression but by the necessity of holding something in, linger on Wanda for a moment longer. Then, she turns her attention back to Pietro.

"You were used. You tried to kill the man who was helping us. The people who used you are still free. Stark developed an antigen for what they were doing to save the people they experimented on. He tested it on himself. You're telling me that he had to be made an example of? Him? You want information sharing? Aldrich Killian is still out there and he still has everything he needs to keep hurting mutants. Tony Stark is in a coma and he's still helping us try to find him and stop him."

The joy of being exposed to other Romani speakers is short-lived for Meggan, because it's not a cure-all, is it? It's a point in common; perhaps it means that she can be assured she and Rachel will leave here alive even if Pietro or Wanda takes offense. But that's about as far as it goes.

The drawing undertide of Wanda's soul tugs at Meggan's emotional legs. She has a firm place to stand now, not just wet sand, but it's there. Her eyes turn to Pietro and then back at Wanda, and she takes a deep breath and she lets it out because Rachel is rising upwards.

«I get that a lot. It's nice to know.»

«I'm going to try to talk Romany to them but I'll keep you in the loop. I think that'll work, won't it? I mean,» Meggan thinks as she raises her head, «It's worked before.»

She talks in Romanichal. "-When I was younger, I did not look like this. I didn't understand my powers, so I had a real freak look. I was swept up in a place like Rachel was. Smaller. Things were strange in England then. It was all-the-strange, not just mutants, so I don't blame you. But who got me out was Captain Britain.-"

Meggan is quiet for a few moments. There is a sort of sense that Rachel would surely get that some kind of huge wave just rose up in front of Meggan's self and moved forwards. If she was standing on sand she just had to try not to fall over. Her emotions twist dizzily towards Wanda before centrifugal force of the heart pulls her back somewhere nearer to true. Don't cry, she wills herself, you dumb wet woman.

Her eyes shut even so. She also ends up gear-shifting back into English. "So I know a little what it's like on both ends of the stick. I don't feel like I'm seen as a thing. Not by everyone. I won't say every gadje's a good person but I know some of them are."

"As for Mr. Stark, I hope you'll let him be. It's this Killian fellow you want. That we want, I think."

«I'm sorry I said that word, Rachel, it's a bit like flatscan.»

Pietro studies Rachel as she says she has been a thing in a camp before. That she will not be a thing ever again.

"I remember saying something like that before," he replies. "Many times, in fact. I remember saying it after we left our first home — and then, in short order, we were just things again. I remember saying it after each of the subsequent homes we were forced to abandon — and each time, we became things again… creatures to exterminate without a word or a shred of mercy. Once humans found a reason to hate us, we became theirs to dispose of as they willed."

He looks at Wanda, as if the sight of her stirs the memories he speaks of. "It was my insistence we come to America. I convinced my sister, look — there is a country which is so diverse that we will not have to run any longer. There is a land where we can be among people and not be afraid. I promised her a place that would not hate her."

There is a heavy pause, in which the specter of registration sits. "And here we are."

He finally looks back at Rachel, his features as cold and impassive a mask as his father might manage on his best days. Only the tightness to his jaw, the slight here-and-gone desperation that flickers under the anger in his gaze, betrays the fact that here is only a shadow — only the son. "I learned that we may declare ourselves to be whatever we please, but in the end we are not the ones who decide our designation. Not while humankind continues to see that it can simply do what it pleases to us with impunity."

Nonetheless, despite his hard words, he transparently listens as Meggan speaks. As she pleads the case for those humans who are in fact good people.

"Some of them are good," is his response. "Not enough."

His gaze turns away, that moment of fragility gone into a haughty dismissiveness. "You talk like we plan to stop with Stark. Aldrich Killian will answer for his crimes soon enough. Whether by your hands or ours, though I know whose solution to him I prefer. If it is mercy for Stark you ask for with your illumination of his many merits — " the sarcasm is thick enough to slice, " — you may as well save your breath. I don't care, and I don't care because the impassioned defenses are frankly unncessary. I already accounted for the potential of the video's falsity by not killing him outright.

"Now, if you are here to ask us to stop…" Wanda reaches for him; he immediately rises from his seat and goes to her side, taking her extended hand. "The answer is no. We tried to live with humans, and they burned us. We tried to conciliate to humans, and they used us." He looks, again — always — at Wanda. "No more."

For the longest of times, Wanda Maximoff remains silent.

Her eyes eventually find, again, the middle distance, and slip unfocused — perchance to lose herself again in another of her thousand mile stares. For the times the Witch can find force and reckoning — even that to match her brother — it never lasts for long. Lucidity comes and goes to a mind like hers, lost at times between the paces of possibilities, slouching perpetually towards the chaos state.

Rachel's declaration closes Wanda's red eyes, a tired old gesture, because it still doesn't save her from looking on the afterimages of fire. A thing. A camp. She's tempted to narrow her sight down, and see if she can take a curious glimpse ever deeper —

But she has not the heart for it, right now. She's afraid what she may see. She doesn't think there's anything left to her that can endure feeling another's pain.

Meggan, in their similar, birth tongues, shares a familiar pain she does not have to, and especially not to the son and daughter of Magneto.

"<I am sorry you both have suffered,>" answers Wanda in Romani, lowly, sincerely, a worse sort of gravity pressing down her voice than sadness — a lack of surprise. It no longer surprises her to hear these stories.

Helped up to her feet, the Scarlet Witch looks no larger at her full height than she did curled on the floor. Her eyes escape their fog briefly, taking clarity as Pietro speaks. Wanda is silent to it, slipping into the shadow of his verses, seeming apt to recede to give more room to her twin's presence. She meets his eyes briefly, tenderly, in another one of their glances that communicate without words, before she wanders away.

Her fingers touch one of the cracking, water-stained walls, and with a current of her scarlet, immediately it is an expansive window, opening out into a vista of blue sky, meeting the horizon of an endless, crystalline ocean. The salt breeze comes in, in a tenement building in the middle of Mutant Town, and she silently faces it, looking out. "All we ever wish is for freedom. To be as the sea." Her voice is so tired. "Lie to me and say it will be true."

Frenzy's place is always at the side of the Twins and there she returns, once the thumbdrive is in hand.

Her attention is primarily upon Rachel and Meggan, but when the Twins talk, Frenzy's eyes drift over to brother and sister. It's to gauge their reactions, determine their moods and act accordingly.

As such, it's not missed when Wanda seems to take something of a shine to Meggan. This causes the Bruiser of the Brotherhood to shift her attention back to the blonde fae woman; to take measure at what she sees there.

It's only as Rachel speaks that Frenzy looks back to the red-head. The word camps brings a darkening to Joanna's eyes, along with a flattening of her lips and a slight stiffening of her tall frame.

Coupled with those signs of anger is something else, some emotion that lurks within Frenzy's eyes. Perhaps it's similar to kinship or possibly understanding. Either way, Frenzy looks at Rachel in a slightly different light.

Then Pietro speaks harsh truths. His words prick at Frenzy and burrow deep within her sense of duty and while she's not one to ever slouch her posture straightens as much as it can.

And as Pietro says those last two words of no more, Frenzy's dark eyes grow cold and hard.

Frenzy's expression doesn't last long not when Wanda's voice follows after her Twin's. There's a slight pivot as Frenzy turns in Wanda direction and the black-haired woman can't help but watch the wall turn from water-stained and cracked to a literal window that shows a beautiful landscape.

It's, however, Wanda's words that cause Frenzy's expression to twitch slightly with some emotion and purposely now, the woman returns her gaze to Rachel and Meggan. Waiting to see how they answer Wanda's last request.

Rachel's astral form is flocking with psychic contingencies. They are more subtle and less aggressive than they were at Stark Tower, but they are present. Considering Wanda's own magical preparations, whoever makes the first move will likely set off an extremely unpleasant chain of events and counter-events.

«It's alright, Meggan,» she thinks, her tone grim even on the psi-link. «I know your heart.»

Hard words. For a man who moves so quickly he may as well be the air itself, his words are hard. The mask of his face is only slightly less — the hints of emotion, the call of the void that snap-vanish seizes the tension in his eyes. In a situation as loaded with danger as this, a person of lesser surety might have grown anxious by now if they were in Rachel's position.

She listens. One chance. She, too, can be hard.

Pietro says no more, an imagined echo of his father looming behind him. Wanda says no more, hidden behind a veil that is perhaps as real as the one she parts in the wall to reveal the endless dancing sea. Rachel gazes out across the waters, feels the breeze on her face and in her hair, as easily as if Wanda had opened a window. They say Excalibur saw strange things. How could they not?

"Don't act like you did Stark any favors by stopping where you did," she says. "Don't act like that was measured."

Rachel glances away, downward. Her brow furrows.

"This is what it comes down to again, isn't it. Despair" Her voice thickens with a sentiment that she will not fully let speak. "The professor called it the dream. I still don't understand it. The dream that the world can be better for everyone, I guess, that rights aren't zero-sum and violence isn't the only thing people understand."

Rachel looks up, but to Meggan, who she shares a brief moment with. Then, after looking to Pietro: "I've seen what happens when people think that they can become utopia's executioners. I won't let it happen again."

Rachel glances to Frenzy. "I'm leaving now." She turns to go, but hesitates halfway. She casts one last glance back toward the ocean and its witch.

"I've seen a thousand futures. Freedom is… it's who pays for it. It's always who pays for it."

Rachel moves to go.

Not enough.

Meggan looks towards Wanda and her arms fold again as Pietro guides her thought as surely as he guides her own. Her face warms, lips quirking with a moue of concern, of worry. The springwell of warmth inside of her spills out all the more easily now that she has Wanda's turmoil and the counterbalancing, no - counter-accelerating - is that how it is? Meggan could not put her mind quite on it, but she can sense that there is interplay between the two of them, a positive feedback loop in the classic cybernetic sense.

(She knows about that theory: Brian explained it to her once in happier days when they were driving down the M1 from Scotland. It took some doing but she felt so clever when she understood it. It was a good day; like good people, they exist, but are they frequent enough?)

Wanda speaks. "-Thank you-," Meggan responds.

And then: The wellspring draws inwards. Meggan sees the window change and she hears the words and she has vague memories, ill-formed.

It is not the insertion of hostility but the withdrawal, perhaps, of sympathy. Wanda may even feel it directly, though 'the temperature of the room' is much closer to her control than Meggan's. She speaks then in English. "Lie to you?" she says to Wanda.

"Then I'll say nothing instead."

She shifts her position a bit to address Pietro. She sticks to English now. "Thank you. I'm glad I met you both. I hope we shan't fight again."

Their interactions have a cadence. She reaches for him, he comes to her, she lingers — then wanders away. Pietro lets it all happen with the ease of someone who has seen this all his life… though when Wanda makes to leave him, he reaches up and brushes his knuckles along her cheek in a minding caress.

The gentleness only lasts as long as he still watches his twin.

It's gone by the time he looks back at Rachel and Meggan. The breeze off the sea sifts through his white hair. "My sister has seen ten thousand futures," he says, with no inflection to suggest it is a boast. The opposite, in fact. "The only one which matters to us is the one we have decided to make real. Violence may not be the only thing humans understand, but it is the only thing they seem to respect. Freedom must be paid for, but it will no longer be our lives that serve as the currency."

I won't let it happen again, she says. To that, Pietro says nothing at all, his blue eyes steady on Rachel's own.

He only tempers, and moderately, to Meggan's thanks — and her farewells. "Latcho drom," he answers. He does not speak to her hope. "Think about what we have said."

Pietro turns a glance to Frenzy. "See them both out," he requests, before he turns his back and moves to join his twin in front of the window to the sea.

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