Nais Tuke, Tati

October 25, 2018:

Wanda has a final conversation with her father before leaving Genosha. Magneto emitted by Pietro.

The Spire, Genosha


NPCs: Magneto

Mentions: Polaris


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Pietro told his father he and his sister would leave on the next day. He was quite serious.

That still left an evening for the Twins together in Genosha, and on much better terms than the last time they spent on the island. They are largely left alone, and allowed to roam where they please: the Acolytes about the Spire silently give way, none of them instructed to bar their path. Even so, Pietro and Wanda still spend the majority of the time cloistered in their shared room. Wanda is still too weak to walk too far, and besides they have business to transact. Magneto does not suffer their presence so that they can sit idle. He expects work of his son — and after the conversation they had, Pietro finally seems willing to do it. Eager, almost.

The first thing of importance is a missive back to their Brotherhood: they are safe and whole, and they are coming home.

Soon enough, however, Wanda's pallor worries Pietro. He takes her to sit on a balcony of the tower, overlooking Hammer Bay, until she exhausts and has to go back. He lets her sleep through the rest of the night after that, watching over her as she rests.

Early morning comes, and Wanda is still pale and wan. Perhaps it is from her long confinement, Pietro thinks; he carries her down to a garden to sit in the fresh morning air, hoping it will bring color back to her face. It doesn't — not before Pietro sighs, and determines: "I should go get our things together." He leans close and kisses her, a passing gesture of affection that doubles as a 'be right back,' before he flickers off with his familiar speed.

It will no doubt only take him a few moments; even so, it is telling that he leaves Wanda alone here, even for that short of a time.

Even the barest gain in control comes at a steep cost.

It is why legend gave immortality and divinity to mortals through ambrosia, through Idunn's apples — flesh is weak, and was never designed to vessel something that should not be.

These weeks brand their marked difference with the Scarlet Witch; Pietro thinks it Wanda's confinement, or undeserved hardship due to their separation, but Wanda believes it something else.

The Acolytes' best healers see her as nothing but mended, and though they have tried, can do no more — the malaise that has Magneto's eldest daughter seems set to run its course. Whatever that course may be.

Under Genosha's dawn, Wanda sits without complaint, docile as ever to wherever and however her twin brother wishes her. Her hand hangs onto his for a moment too long, unable to deny the urge to lose him — even briefly — after finally having him back, but it is her decision to let go.

"Be quick," she says, with an undertow of amusement — there's no greater joke in her world than to nettle Quicksilver to be hasty.

Left alone, Wanda shrinks into her shawl. The sun rises on an overwarm, tropical morning, but she still seems to feel cold, her turned eyes on the garden. She tilts her head, as if she were being spoken to — and all the vegetation were doing the speaking.

Pietro will scold her for doing this, but Wanda rises to stand. Her movements are heavy, too-slow, as if fighting against a great weight, and just a few steps forward seem to tire her.

But she makes her way to a creeping wall of gloriosa lilies, opening their vibrant, blood-red blooms. Stopped there, Wanda touches one within reach, but does not pick it for her own keeping.

Be quick, she says. Pietro smiles, an expression she has not seen in many weeks. "Always," he says, and he is gone.

Time passes. Pietro must have been delayed by something. But it is hard to worry about him here, in the heart of their father's de facto palace. Especially when the rising sun blankets down a soporific heat upon all the lush vegetation that cradles the Witch. Especially when the entire island whispers to her of growth.

All that warmth barely touches Wanda, however. Not even when she laboriously stands and makes her way over to that wall of lilies, an action that places her squarely in a shaft of sunlight. The radiance shines softly along her hair.

After a few moments, she might become aware that someone is watching her.

"They grow well here," comments the familiar voice of Magneto. A glance to the left reveals him standing at the entrance to the garden, hands in his pockets, the liberator of Genosha dressed simply — as if he were no more than its custodian. Looks can be so deceiving. "But so do most things. Flowers bloom year-round in a climate like this."

He watches the slow procession of light across her slight form. "Take one with you, if you wish one. I think you will find no such beauty in New York, at the moment."

And harder for someone like the Witch to worry — when she can, again, feel her brother's life presence radiating from any sort of distance. His is one prominent thread that stands out against the leyline braid that is the living, propagating Genosha.

Whatever the past few weeks, there is enough center back in Wanda Maximoff to lose herself, if just for a moment, letting her fingertips run the lily's soft petals. They are as thin and sparse as she is, and just as fragile — and she handles it with that careful empathy.

When that familiar voice runs the garden's growing alleys, Wanda turns back a glance. Her eyes find her father, stopped for a beat; it still surprises her just how similar he and Pietro look.

She has seen Magneto cold and authoritarian; she has seen him powerful and deadly. This is different.

His permission lowers her eyes, and Wanda turns them back on the wall of gloriosa blooms. "No such beauty there, ever," she remarks of New York, with a rare note of derision she's never spoken aloud before. Never to Pietro, who would only feel guilty to keep her there. But Wanda has never liked man's great cities — never will.

She considers Magneto's request, then, lets her hand slip away from the still-intact bloom. "It is content here," she explains. "At home — at rest, within its ecology. It feels wrong to disrupt it."

Quiet for a moment, Wanda draws her shawl closer. "The last time I was here, I thought ill of Genosha. I thought it a surrender. Now there is a part of me, admittedly, that feels a pang to leave her." Her blue eyes find Magneto again, her gaze tempered now in a new way — sure of things. Sure of herself. "Though I know my place isn't here."

Magneto appeared to Lorna, too, in this much more relatable manner: as a man with his daughters. As a father to whom they could relate. Only to his son did he appear in a manner to clearly delineate a hierarchy. Only with his son did he create the air of an audience held between general and lieutenant, covered in the trappings of authority and weighted with formality. Between men, between father and son, there is less comfort in connection. Expectation, and the meeting of that expectation, are enough.

For every person, for every relationship, there is a certain way to handle them in order to yield the desired result. Magneto's old eyes are keen enough to read people, take in what it is they want at a glance, and tailor to them.

Perhaps that is another reason he appears without the armor, without the helm, without the adornments of authority that make it much harder to see the physical similarities between father and son. Wanda has always been the child most inclined to simply drift away from his control; she requires a rather deft touch to keep her leashed. He seems more than willing to apply that deft touch. He is not fool enough to let the opportunity of three such assets, bound to him by blood, pass him by — especially not when their loyalty could be so easily coaxed.

They are your children, some might protest of him. All the more reason to expect more, he would answer.

"Perhaps," he says, of Wanda's derision regarding the beauties of New York. "I found a certain beauty to it myself, but I suppose you must see in steel and iron to witness it. Your sister would agree with me, I think." He offers her her pick of the blossoms to soften the ugliness of the city, nonetheless, though Wanda ultimately declines — refuses to move them from their appointed home. It is content here, she says: at rest in its home, within its designated ecology.

"As I would have mutants feel, in this country," he answers. "They already begin to. They walk this land as native creatures, content within the safety of a place meant for them. That sense of belonging is the reason for the pang you feel to leave."

His gaze turns away. "Though you are correct this is not yet truly your place. Not while we still belong only in this one corner of the world." Magneto's blue eyes are half-lidded. "I can assure you, what we build here is no surrender. It is a beginning — not an end."

He touches one of the half-opened blooms himself, fingering the delicate petals. "Perhaps in time, once you and your siblings finish your appointed business, we will speak more of that."

"Steel and iron have some of the noisiest voices," remarks Wanda, matter-of-fact. "A tree knows how to be a tree. A flower knows how to be a flower. Steel and iron know they can take many forms, many shapes — and they have demands. They are never satisfied. Do they whisper them to you too?"

Not the first time the Scarlet Witch has lost herself in her dreamier words — here-and-there things most people, mutants too, dismiss as her madness. Perhaps she's come to use it as a weapon of her own, invoking her oddities to incline others not to expect reason from her, or to leave her alone.

Or perhaps it's a genuine attempt on Wanda's part to share pieces of her world — how it shows itself to her, how she parses it, how she endures it. A small something she, too, offers to Magneto.

And an even smaller hope that in some way, her gift sources from something within her blood. Perhaps relates, in some way, to the only parent alive — and willing to speak to her.

Willing to speak to her on a host of many things.

Her father's talk of Genosha draws Wanda's blue eyes. Ever-watchful is the Witch, always seeing — seeing Magneto, and through him. Seeing the fabric of reality answer him, the shapes of his words manifesting brand new possibilities.

Her eyes unfocus for a moment. Then they blink back to the here and now.

Wanda lowers her head, demure, her eyes on her hands, small and pale and bundled into the ends of her shawl.

"Perhaps," she agrees.

She is silent for a time. "Did my mother ever talk of the future? Did she have dreams? Or did she look towards what was, what is?"

"Perhaps they do, in a sense," is her father's answer, equally oblique. "They know which way they wish to go, based upon their compositions and the forces placed upon them."

His blue eyes turn to her. "But ultimately I tell them what it is they should be."

Whether his answer is an acknowledgement of her attempt to reach out, or simply a factual reply to her inquiry to be taken at face value, or something else entirely… that remains uncertain. Wanda may finally realize where it is she gets her habit of half-truths and cryptic words. His eyes turn away again a moment later, having betrayed almost nothing while they met hers.

It means he is not looking back at her when his talk of Genosha draws her eyes, in turn. That fact gives her a glimpse of him in profile: distant, cold, but also pensive in a way. A man who lost everything long ago, and built himself back up in a wholly different shape.

He speaks in vague terms — for now — but it is not hard for someone to read between the lines. One does not even need Wanda's particular gifts to extrapolate a field of new possibilities from what he implies.

There is a brief silence. Magneto starts to lift his head, as if to speak again — to make another statement on his grand plans, perhaps, or simply to dismiss her as he dismissed her brother not too long ago.

Wanda's sudden question stops him.

His hand pauses on the half-opened blossom. It pulls away. Magneto's gaze remains averted from his daughter. He does not otherwise move, but nonetheless his entire aura changes. A certain tension charges his presence. This topic is a dangerous place for Wanda to tread.

"She spoke only of the future," he finally says, his voice so thin: as if he were walking a narrow path with a great precipice on either side. "There was nothing in the past of which we wanted to speak."

Those words of Magneto's — short and final — freeze Wanda still.

She goes silent for two reasons. One is to wonder, even yearn, to Magneto's confirmation that parts of the world speak to him with its same vagaries. Perhaps not in the same way — oh, but similar enough? Similar enough for Wanda to feel less like the migrant she is, even among her own blood family, and meant to belong?

The other reason…

I tell them, speaks Magneto, and it upsets all of Wanda's world. Always she felt like a lost witness to her own life, and a forced audience to the rest of reality, stepping the territories between worlds and never truly owning anything.

She lives her life visited by a billion realities. What if she were to tell them as it should be? As she wishes it?

The thought comes and goes. Wanda buries it, perhaps unconsciously, for now — not yet ready to face such an idea.

Instead, she tries to face something quite else — reaching out, in her way, to the memory of her mother.

Magneto reacts to so simple, even neutral, of a question. Wanda notices. She knows she treads thin ice, but she is no stranger to courting danger.

Her expression and open eyes absorb every last word, hungry to know more. Her lips part, perhaps to dare more questions — but Wanda knows to hold them at bay.

"I only ask you because…" she reveals instead, the ache in her chest undoing some knot inside her. Her bunched hands loosen on her shawl, drawn-in body language opening. "Because I…" Wanda searches herself, and comes up empty. Her eyes lift up on the sky, the sunrise revealing against their lenses a dangerous shine. "I'm not certain. I needed to know."

Her eyes return, and they only find Magneto, smithed with a newfound resolve. "The times I told you that you did nothing for us — I was wrong. Even before we met you, before we knew you, you gave to us. Because of you, we felt our first hope. Because of you, we felt our first sense of belonging… of meaning. We felt like we could endure, and survive this world. And even then…"

With those low, soft words, Wanda begins to move. Her steps are slow, laboured, weak, but insistent, closing the distance between her and Magneto. "I did not want to leave before saying this to you. I am changed by what you taught me. You have given me the most precious gift. Because of you, for the first time in my life… I feel like I, too, have a future."

Perhaps Magneto intended his daughter to take some sense of empowerment from his words. More likely not. Assuredly, a large part of his message was a reminder for his wayward children that he intends to be the smith which forges their raw steel into hard and useful shapes.

Either way, Wanda is not ready to face that level of revelation. The thought sinks into the back of her mind, left to sit — for now.

Adrift, she comes to think again — as she often does — of the mother she never knew. It is a topic that puts her father immediately on guard, she can tell; the idyll of the garden turns tense, almost dangerous. This is thin ice. She walks out upon it anyway, and presently her boldness is rewarded with a single terse answer.

It opens Wanda up. Her body language unravels, his most recalcitrant child finally letting her father into her cloistered world — if only a little. Magneto should feel some sense of victory for this — he has been on a silent campaign to coax his children to trust him, for his own obscure and potentially dark reasons — but as Wanda speaks to him so earnestly, places her trust in him as a father with such a look in her eyes, he cannot seem to feel anything about it but a sense of amorphous impending dread.

Too familiar.

The more her stance opens, the closer she draws, the more Magneto's closes and recedes.Yet the cold, canny part of him knows that it would be a misstep to push her away too hard right now. This trust was bought too tenuously for him to alienate her now.

"Our people needed hope and protection, and I gave it. I did for them what needed to be done," he says. "People have tried to make an evil thing of it, of me; but it was always as simple as that. That message reached you, even if I did not know of either of you at the time. Now I ask you and your siblings to join me in giving that hope to the rest of our kind. To help our race come into its birthright."

She feels like she too has a future, now. "You always had one," says Magneto. "Your eyes were simply not open to see it."

He turns towards her, aware of her closing in, and perhaps determined to do something about it. "Before you leave," he says, "you should visit a certain place in the city. It is named for your mother. Take your brother."

Easily the most guarded of his three children — and with reason, the Witch who suffered the worst of all of them, never learned to trust, never learned to reach out without the expectation of pain — Wanda is so rare to speak to anyone at length, to spill her heart, to move deliberately forward to close their physical proximity.

And least of all to Magneto. Not once, in all their short acquaintance, has she ever reached out to him. Has she, of her own choice and will, extended him more than one of her quiet looks, or too-few words.

Something is different now, changed, some wall come down, some rusted lock turned to let its gate creep open — enough that Wanda risks herself for anyone but her twin brother. Burnt in her blue eyes is resolve — she cannot stop, not now — and an atophied hope she's not let herself feel in decades.

She stops just before Magneto, her head tilted up to look at him. The colour of her eyes is his, but the shape of them, and the way they search — all her mother.

Magneto takes her quiet, desperate confession and folds it into his rhetoric — speaks down to her on meaning and belonging as they serve the cause. Wanda remains silent, listening, though with the hanging pause of someone who thinks her meaning missed. Or, who fears all she had to say, and how hard it was to say it, was either unacknowledged or misunderstood. Or just never wanted from her.

But this can be enough.

Your eyes were not open, Magneto says, and Wanda drops her gaze in answer, speaking nothing in her silent agreement.

And then — Magneto mentions her mother. More so, reveals he blessed some small piece of Genosha with her name. Kept her memory alive, in his way. And now invites Wanda and her twin brother to spend some time there — and to Wanda, it is a precious invitation that means more to her than even she is prepared. A way, of sorts, to feel close to the mother she lost. The mother who wanted her.

The impulse comes before she can even rethink it.

For the first time, the daughter reaches for the father, her hand on his, small, cold, and careful. And though weak, and tired, Wanda still pushes that last step forward, to lay her cheek to his heart. "Nais tuke," she whispers, "tati."

Magneto is an old, broken, bitter man. He has lost all he ever cared to lose in his life, and he has redefined his entire world and his entire nature until he can be assured he will never lose again. Until he can make the world feel even a fifth of the pain and anger he has had to feel over his long and hard life. Until he can ensure that none of his kind ever suffer the sort of atrocities he has had to suffer.

An important part of his self-protection is that he never form another strong bond with a child. It was a lost child that broke him to begin with. A lost daughter.

Another one stands before him now, looking far too much like her mother, staring up at him in a way too akin to the way Anya looked at him before she died. Wanda wears that same searching look — a child seeking, needing him, expecting everything of him that society ever placed upon the role of 'father.' Love. Support. Protection from hurt.

He cannot do it.

He has them hooked to his beck and call, sworn to his loyalty, and that is all he ever wanted or needed. Now he needs them far away. He needs them to be abstract ideas again, pieces bent to his will in distant chess moves, names he thinks of periodically and pushes from his mind in favor of more important matters. He will be balanced again then. Focused. Unswerving on his purpose: as he should be. He will not jeopardize all for which he has worked, over the years. Not even for his children.

He mentions something he thinks might distract her. It is a subtle attempt to disengage. It backfires.

She puts her hand in his. She leans in close. Magneto freezes for a long few, horrified moments.

His hand tightens. Then it leaves hers, and he pulls away. He steps back — not sharply enough to unbalance her, but enough to quickly regain his space. He looks up a moment later, and Pietro is standing not far away, at the entrance to the garden, watching his twin and his father with a neutral gaze.

"Your sister wishes to see the square," he tells his son, his voice distant. "You had best take her quickly. She is tired."

Magneto turns his back, and walks away.

A long few, horrified moments for him.

For Wanda, it is time enough for her to close her eyes and hear, distantly, the heartbeat of the man who helped form her. It is not the quickness of Pietro's heart, not with the up-tempo of her twin brother's fine-tuned body, but the cadence rhymes right down to her deepest embryonic memory.

There is no describing the sensation of grounding. There is equally no denying her own blood; Magneto is in every way Pietro, even down to the frame and feel of him. Pietro is in every way his father. That must make Wanda her mother, and she is no longer just some transient witch, watching on the wings of humanity, stepping between worlds and looking in. This is her little piece, something of her own. This is her blood. This is her foundation. This is who she is. And this —

Is over so soon.

No sooner she hears three beats of his heart, that Magneto pulls away, cold, severe, and completely removed. With no strength to argue, if even it was in her nature to hold on, Wanda pulls back.

Looking up, she barely catches one last look of her father's face, and he does not even try to meet her eyes. In that moment, it seems to dawn on her what she just did — reckless and unlike her — and her safer reserve returns, drawing Wanda in. A little unnerved, a little off-balance, and even a little ashamed.

Enough that it surprises her to hear Pietro spoken to before she even senses his arrival over their bond; her eyes find her twin brother's, her expression braided in so many things that no single feeling can show cleanly on its own.

Hands back into her shawl, pulling the fabric closer, her eyes turn only to catch Magneto's turned back. Their father, murderer, terrorist, cold authoritarian — and man who saved them both. In as many ways as they can be saved.

He leaves them behind.

Wanda's eyes slip back to Pietro's. Hers hood with silent acceptance.

Their father leaves them again. And as he always does, Pietro steps up quietly to take his place.

He comes to his twin's side the moment she looks for him. His arm goes about her waist in a half-hug, squeezing her briefly close in tacit reassurance. Pietro is as comfortable in embracing his twin as his father was uncomfortable.

"There is no need for shame," he assures her. "Never."

A silence falls. They could talk so much about their father. What they believe he wants of them. Whether they think he means them harm, or good. Whether he truly cares or not. Whether he can be trusted. Whether he was right to say all he said to Pietro; whether he was wrong in all he did for Wanda. But in the end, they don't say much of anything at all.

"Let's go," Pietro eventually says. Perhaps that's all that really needs to be said, in the end.

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