Birthright

October 22, 2018:

Magneto has a "moment" with his son. Pietro kills the boy. Magneto emitted by Wanda.

The Spire, Genosha

Characters

NPCs: Magneto

Mentions: Wanda Maximoff

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

The first few hours after Wanda broke her brother free, they were allowed to spend together in relative solitude. There was a great deal for the two to catch up on, even if their renewed bond gave them instant access to one another's memories from the past few weeks. Some things cannot be fully expressed by merely looking at a recollection, after all. They need to be spoken aloud; they need to be felt with one's own hands.

But both of them remained aware that their presence here was not an entitlement. It was perhaps not even all that safe — at least, not as safe as being under the roof of a parent should be. It certainly does not come with the sort of autonomy they would enjoy elsewhere. Evidence of that comes soon enough in the shape of a pair of Acolytes, who are respectful but quite firm about temporarily separating the Twins again.

The purpose? Their father wishes to see his son — alone.

That is how Pietro finds himself led to a room a few floors distant from his sister, and left at the door. The young man is subdued as he slips into the room — which has the air of a study — with little of his usual bravado about him. Certainly none of the restive defiance he displayed the last time he spoke to Magneto… or more accurately, was spoken to by Magneto. He even shuts the door behind him.

He knows everything that happened now, after all.

He seems to expect his father may already be present. If he is not, however, even Pietro is prepared to wait.


Stranger still, was Wanda Maximoff's docility when it came to being separated from her returned twin brother. She did not make a single argument against it; she did not even put up a fight.

It was not out of any desire, on her part, to be away from Pietro. More, an overaching awareness casting a heavy ceiling down on her, and her station within Genosha; the few liberties Wanda may have beyond this island… do not exist here.

She is the eldest daughter of Magneto, veritable mutant royalty if any could be established in this world, but her gift and instability make her a perpetual threat. The weeks in their father's care have changed her; Wanda's distance and quiet, denying rebellion against their father has softened into a strange sort of compliance — perhaps not yet obedience, but something that comes close. An understanding.

And even more the shock in this change is her ability to be helped away. Perhaps too weak, too tired, in her state to lend any last energy to her paranoia. Perhaps something else, as if she has gained a better trust in herself, and her gifts, not to worry the way she used to. Perhaps neither of the two, and her cloistered world has opened just a little more — and Wanda trusts Magneto to keep both his twin children safe, sent apart in his kingdom.

She leaves, no doubt to rest. She can barely walk under her own power.

And Pietro, on summons from his father, is left on orders to see himself someplace else.

For the air of a study, there are very few books in this room. Perhaps no time for such a thing, and even less desire — Genosha's leader does not even care to decorate his space with the facade of a learned, read man. Magneto knows exactly who he is.

The books that exist are far and few, but old on their own — things that did not have the blessing to age as well as their master. Most of them are in German. "Der Process," is one, with the ink fading from its cover.

Seated alone at a desk, and surrounded by otherworldly Genoshan technology, Magneto prefers to see to his work through patient, handwritten cursive. Pietro's appearance does not turn an eye, and his father continues with his letter with the unhurried leisure of someone who knows he will not be interrupted.

It is some time for him to finish. Even more time, for his son. Maybe Magneto is aware of this.

Finally, his low, papery voice fills the room. He does not look up. "Your retrieval was quite the operation. Your sister reassures it was successful. No malingering effects. How do you feel?"


That change in Wanda did not escape Pietro. He had felt the outlines of how she was different, had seen the memories that had led to it… but none of it seemed real to him until he beheld his sister's sudden decreased of resistance to their father's demands. He said nothing, but his eyes understood. What happened in those few weeks, perhaps, taught her that her father could also do what her brother has done for so many years. For better or worse.

In this way, Magneto has done everything right in order to bring his twins just a little closer to him.

Pietro could resent his father for — even temporarily — supplanting his role with his twin sister. For many reasons, he does not, and there is no rancor or jealousy in his gaze when he takes those first few steps away from the door and comes to stand in the rough middle of the room, a few feet distant from his father's desk. Magneto keeps him waiting, and for once Pietro has no protest.

He occupies himself instead in looking around. His eyes travel the spines of the few books in particular. Most of them are in German, but German was one of the first languages Pietro learned. His blue eyes consider "Der Process" in particular. He read it years ago, in the original German. He knows why such a book would be here. He looks a little overlong, as if thinking about taking it from the shelf, but ultimately he makes no move.

After a few moments, he simply seats himself quietly to wait. In most situations this might be taken as a rudeness — to be able to sit is deemed desirable, and to take the liberty without invitation is therefore brazen. The opposite is true for Pietro. A restless creature, abhorring to ever be still, for him to sit and be silent — rather than remain standing and active — is perhaps a display of submission.

His expression tenses when Magneto finally speaks. Especially when it is to discuss how significant an operation his retrieval was.

There is the uncertain pause of one who senses a question with a right and wrong answer. "Well enough," he finally says. "My sister is thorough." He hesitates a moment, before he admits in a bit of a rush, "I hadn't expected you to involve yourself, but you looked after Wanda — "


Whether or not Magneto cares to notice his son's lingering looks on his few books — most of them look like first editions, and not selected deliberately so — he pays the process little mind.

Neither does he flicker an eye up as Pietro invites himself to sit; there is no pause to Magneto's moving pen, no doubt drafting treaty after treaty as Genosha takes her first, sovereign steps against the international political theatre. Such little things — family matters, one would suppose to call them — can wait.

But the son knows well not to speak unless spoken to. And the father, without yet a look, asks his first question.

Only late into Pietro's verbal onslaught, words released too-fast by nothing short than some great, emotional retention —

Magneto stops it with his own voice. There is no upswell in its volume, but each word is sharpened in frigid crispness. Now Pietro has his father's eyes, lifted up on him, watchful. "I had not expected my only son to forget himself so easily," he interjects, no heat in his voice, only fact. "Nor to have everything he was, is, or has not yet learned to become — stripped from him by the Rasputin girl. But here we are."

After a moment's pause, he clarifies Pietro's last remark. "I stopped a potential genocide. In your absence, Simon Trask issued a personal batallion halfway across the world for your sister. He wanted her alive. You should be astute as to why, and how easily Wanda in Trask's keeping can undo any work I've done — can undermine the safety of our race."

His chair creaks as he leans back; one of the few furniture here not smithed in steel. Darkness holds them among yellowy swells of lamp light. Genosha's grand, showcased sunsets do not exist here; Magneto keeps no windows in his study. Only steel and stone, heavy and final — like his next words. "I did what had to be done."

Magneto exhales. Carefully, tidily, storing his pen, he finds his hands to clasp them. "Your sister reported to my Acolytes what had happened to you. How it happened. But I wish to hear it from your own mouth."


Pietro falls silent once Magneto looks up at him. That in itself is a feat: few things get him to shut up.

Fewer things get him to stay shut up, but his father's steady recitation of fact certainly does. Were it not for the fact this entire debacle circulates around his failure to protect Wanda, he would be arguing against Magneto right now, stiff-backed in defiance — as he always has been before. But when it comes to failing to protect Wanda, Pietro can never blame anyone but himself. His hands tighten, white-knuckling, at the reminder of how close Trask came to stealing his twin away while he was not there to save her.

He looks up only to his father's final words. I wish to hear it from your own mouth.

Pietro Maximoff has spent the majority of his life running. He ran away from the village of his birth. He ran away from all the subsequent places he and his sister tried to roost. He ran away from Europe, eventually — ran to America in pursuit of a vague promise of equality, a distant hope that the land of the free might live up to its sobriquet. Perhaps it is his powers that keep him eternally looking restlessly to the future, racing away from his unhappy past to meet it head-on; perhaps it is just his nature.

With time, however, he has come to learn there are some things from which he cannot run away.

He could blame Illyana. He could blame the dark gods which drove her to her madness. He could blame the circumstances of his life, which include a father who has never been there. Who even now clarifies that he did not protect a daughter; he stopped a potential catastrophe.

He swallows. "I was… careless," he admits. "I did not do what I had to, when I should have."


The answer leaves Magneto unmoved.

No approval. No disapproval. He leads no right answer with the promise of honey; he dissuades no wrong answer with the threat of vinegar. There are some things a man must learn for himself. And if he fails even to do that…

From across the room, he holds Pietro with his pale eyes. He does not even need closeness, or the helping of an inches-away, mantling presence, to feel any less than the interrogation he is.

His thumb taps against his opposite knuckle, the meter slow like a metronome. Magneto does not grant Pietro any sort of clemency with that confession alone. It's not enough.

His eyes still hold his son. "What did you not do?"


It's not enough. Even now Pietro still shrank from saying it straight out. But he cannot shrink from it any longer.

He wasn't looking at his father when he made his earlier admission. He finally looks up now. His blue eyes cool of emotion, the look in them going blank as blue glass.

"I didn't kill her," he answers.

His hands curl into fists. He thinks about Wanda, frozen to a mountainside, slowly dying. "Now I'm going to destroy her."


The father orders, and he receives.

And yet, to Magneto, it is still not enough. The answers are not yet to his exacting satisfaction.

Or whatever it is, if anything, he expects of his eldest son.

He holds his eyes. "And what have you learned, Pietro?"


His name comes out of his father's mouth. He has never heard it this way before. Pietro's eyes widen slightly, surprise — and something else — coming and going in his gaze, but he does not look away. Magneto still expects more.

What have you learned?

"That… mercy was just weakness others would use," Pietro eventually says, his voice thinned down until it sounds distant, far-away.

He looks down at his hands. "And not to ever let it happen again."


Those words — and within them, that single vow — reflect against the lenses of Magneto's eyes.

He asks his son no more questions.

For a moment, the study holds with an ill met silence, weighted and confining — before it breaks with the wooden slide of a desk drawer. Genosha's self-sworn king opens it with no more than a turn of his hand, and his magnetic fields pull it by the alloyed brass of its handcrafted handle.

He takes something from that drawer in hand, and with a creak of his chair, stands.

Magneto offers no words the time he takes to cross the room, unhurriedly now as always. Set in the line of his back, the square of his shoulders, and the spreading cover of his presence, is an directive Pietro need not move.

His blood father, separated by thirty years, looks down on him.

Magneto extends his right hand, and turns it palm up. His fingers open, and slowly, an object rises free from his fist to hang weightlessly in the air.

It is no more than a few ounces — a twisted metal slug still painted in dried blood.

"I pulled this from your sister," Magneto explains, voice as soft as Pietro has ever heard it. "Take it."


Pietro looks up to the sound of that drawer opening, though his gaze is still distant — his mind far away. Off somewhere, no doubt, with thoughts on what more he has given up today, and how he has to change. How he will change.

His eyes only focus back to the present again when Magneto rises and approaches, his tall frame striding closer and closer. The urge to pull away, to stand and step back, comes and goes in Pietro's mind. He ultimately does not listen to it, and stays where he is. He waits, as he was bidden. And soon enough he receives his reward — such as it is.

Pietro's eyes lift to take in the shape that drifts into the air. His adoptive father gave him and his sister many gifts in the short time he was with them, but this is the first gift his blood father has ever given to him. His birthright, contained in a small slug of stained metal.

Blue eyes take in the bullet, still dipped in his twin's dried blood. The price of his gentleness. A reminder of a place to which he cannot return.

There is a brief silence. Then Pietro stands from his seat. He reaches forward, and takes the bullet. It is no more than a few ounces, but it weighs heavily in his hand as he closes his fingers over it, holding on tightly, until its twisted edges cut into his palm.

"Thank you, father," he says. The words encapsulate more than just the gift. "My sister and I will leave tomorrow, and deal with this."


Pietro's hand closes around the core of metal that would have — that did — bleed out his twin sister.

He does not hesitate. He does not balk from the touch of old blood.

For the first time, something so close to approval lids Magneto's eyes.

"It is yours," he concludes, speaking of that killing bullet as if it were a gift: perhaps the closest thing to one, come from a father who remade himself wearing the blood of weaker men.

"Leave it behind, if it is your wish. Drop it to the bottom of the sea. Forget it in the deepest drawer." His blue eyes unfocus, briefly clouded by memory, made distant with decades. Then they sharpen. "Or never let it go. Let the long years weigh it deeper, until it is a hundredweight in your hand. Until every passing day the burden worsens for you to hold on. Until you know letting it go will make of you a different man — a man you no longer are." He is silent for a beat. "And you are a man who is my son."

The longest stretch of words Magneto has ever given Pietro. And just as mysteriously as they begin, they end.

The spoken gratitude does not move the old man. Neither does the offered name of 'father.'

It is only Pietro's last remark, speaking to his future plans, his decision, his resolve — that Magneto's same right hand closes briefly on his son's shoulder.

The touch weighs as heavy as the bullet in Pietro's hand. Then, it is gone, and just like that, Magneto is finished, returned to his desk, his chair, his pen, his work.

"When you are finished," he speaks last, without looking up, "we will discuss where your future shall take you."


If Pietro sees that glimmer of almost-approval in his father's eyes, he makes no indication of such, and does not outwardly react. Magneto is speaking on, and it is the longest he has ever spoken to his eldest child, and Pietro knows something would be irrevocably lost about this moment if he interrupted now.

He listens until the very end. Such is the power of Magneto's presence — or perhaps, such is the power of a son seeking a father's regard. For those things, even this young man known only for his impatience, for his defiance, for his sardonic disdain… can wait. He is completely silent until his father finishes.

A man who is my son, says Magneto, and Pietro's expression flickers.

That is the only way in which his self-control fractures. It threatens to unravel more at the unexpected close of his father's hand on his shoulder, in response to his declared intentions. His own shuts even more tightly around the twisted bullet, until its sharp edges come within a hairsbreadth of breaking skin, and the slight pain keeps his composure in place.

"I'll keep it," he says.

It is all that needs to be said. He knows a dismissal when he hears one; his head inclines in acknowledgement, before he turns and leaves Magneto to his work.

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