Carry the Answer Now
Roleplaying Log: Carry the Answer Now
IC Details

Rogue finally faces an interaction with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch that she's been dreading. But she's not just here to say good-bye.

Other Characters Referenced: Jean Grey, Xavier, Magneto
IC Date: January 12, 2019
IC Location: Pelham Bay Park, New York
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 12 Jan 2019 06:23
Rating & Warnings: PG
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

The Twins are not easy to find, by design and by necessity. For their Brotherhood, however, they are reasonably accessible, and there are certain ways in which any member might get in touch with them. Places, even where they might occasionally be found, if in disguise.

These things have not noticeably changed since a certain member left the ranks. Perhaps it's a sign of overconfidence; perhaps it is a hope that the prodigal Rogue will return home someday. Perhaps it is a small acknowledgement that as much as they oppose one another, the X-Men and Brotherhood do not ultimately differ completely in all of the things that they want.

Such it is that, looking for the Twins, it might occur to Rogue to trek out to the remote Pelham Bay Park, in the Bronx. It is the largest public park in the city, far from the riotous noise of Manhattan, and so is notable for its expanses of wetlands where waterfowl often rest. Most have gone south for the season, but there are some hardy species which overwinter in the city, and a flock of ducks has gathered on a particular pond in the park.

On the shore of the pond, a young man stands looking out over the water, hands shoved in his pockets. He stands like a sentinel, on guard. His hair is not silver and his eyes are not blue, but Rogue would recognize him nonetheless. This plain, brown-haired, brown-eyed guise is one he has worn before.

Here's the truth. Rogue both longed for the moment she'd get to see her friends again, and dreaded it. And not because she has any fear of it. At least, not in the way that outsiders who have heard of the often brutal and nearly always efficient methods of the Brotherhood might think. An outsider might imagine she fears physical violence of some kind. But she's neither worried that's coming, nor concerned if it does. That's old news in all their lives. Nothing at all.

It's the heart-level pain she fears. The reproach in their eyes. The loss of trust she expects to find there. Rightly. The disappointment, from people she gave her all to never disappoint if she could help it. The people who until so very recently had been her only friends, her only family.

When tracing the old ways put the thought into her head that they may have left them open for her, she actually had to stop for a moment. Push herself between two buildings, take a deep breath, and dash away tears. Perhaps it's fitting that her band t-shirt, worn under a faded brown jacket with threadbare darker parts where patches have been ripped off, is one from a concert by The Clash. Their signature song is pretty much her whole life now, its lyrics squared: what does one do when one wants to stay and go from two very different places and sets of people?

Apparently, one brokers a meeting. Between the three people she loves most, who represent the face of her entire dillema the most for her.

And so it is that she draws to the side of the man by the pond. Her hair is as it ever is, wavy and wild and streaked with white, though she's bound it in a ponytail that can only be described as 'floofy,' against the wind. Her gloved hands are in her pockets, and now her eyes are as downturned with Pietro as they are with most of the X-Men.

"Hey, sugar, hon," she says softly. She's not attaching two endearments to Pietro. One's for him. The other's for Wanda.

Sure, she surely doesn't see Wanda yet, but that means absolutely nothing. It's inconceivable that she is not exactly where her twin is. And if some circumstance had arisen to change that, she doubts she'd find Pietro standing so calmly, attended by the Court of the Ducks.

To know them, one would realize the Maximoff twins, for all their caution and paranoia, succumb to moments of predictability.

It stems from some of their most damning of weaknesses: Wanda, who can only tolerate the city in sparing sips, and Pietro, who will do anything to ensure his sister's peace.

It brings them often to places like these, where there's a moment's sanctuary from the noise beyond; it offers little to Wanda's over-saturated senses, but she takes whatever she can to ventilate the noise of billions of probabilities come off eight million bodies. She still misses life when it was just the forest.

Wanda Maximoff stands tonight, far closer to the pond's embankment, drawing into her shawl as her eyes cast over the play of waterfowl over the winter-cold water. She does not disguise herself as much as Pietro; not now, when it's dark, and the time of year has emptied Pelham Bay Park down to practically no one. She could be thousands of young women, wearing black, her shawl looped up to hood her hair and cast shadow to her face.

Then someone approaches — distantly, she senses the incoming probability set first, but even then, the witch cannot hide the way her back tenses up against Rogue's too-familiar voice.

Wanda turns, her eyes initially sweeping Pietro, before they turn back on Rogue, herself. The Scarlet Witch looks on her without a word. There is no hostility, but her expression is cold.

Pietro knows Rogue is there the moment Wanda knows she is there. It means he is aware of her long before his own senses bring him the sound of her steps — long before she comes up to stand beside him. Yet he doesn't move away, nor stop her from approaching. For a man of his speed, that sends a very pointed message.

Where they stand is slightly above Wanda's own position by the lapping water. Pietro glances down at his twin, meeting her eyes, reading the shape of her emotional response. Hey sugar, says Rogue. Hey hon.

Wanda looks up, her expression as cold and remote as the moon sailing overhead. Pietro continues to watch his twin, but his response aloud is this: "Hello, Rogue."

Pietro's own features aren't quite as cold, but they aren't pleased either. His expression is set in that focused, calm neutral that Rogue so often saw on the face of Magneto. Father, replicated in son. It's an alien look for Pietro… who Rogue can remember stealing little moments of normality with over the years. Even friendship. Pietro, who would try to cover for her when his father was angry with them both. Pietro, who pulled her out of any number of predicaments with his speed and a saucy, rude little remark.

He only has one remark today, to start. "Are you coming back?" It's a deceptively simple question.

The sound of her zipper tugged upward, the hunch of her shoulders in her jacket, are not at all because of the weather. Emerald eyes dart up from beneath lowered lashes. She swallows. And for one moment she's tempted to just say yes, she's coming back, that she'll do exactly what she needs to do to get back into everyone's good graces, that she can put this little incident behind her. And it would all be just a function of who she was, really. Pietro runs like the wind done forgot how to run, but poor dumb Rogue sometimes runs away, and when she finally comes to her senses it can all get back to good.

Probabilities swirl and storm around her. Four potential destinies twisting and churning out of the same decision-points, the big Question of her life outshining all the other, smaller ones: who she might meet, the adventures she might have, the lessons learned. There may be other strands that spring up later, but these four have to be resolved first.

And as things inside her scream yes, one of those strands snaps and dances.

Then things she's trying not to remember swirl through her brain like jagged metal bits, like throbbing pain, like guilt. Like a swirl of flames that warm but never burn, binding, briefly, two hands together in mutual promise. In people she has barely bonded to, most of whom don't even like her, who she fully believes would accidentally-on-purpose let her die if they saw the chance, with a few notable exceptions. And yet they embody an approach to their shared problems she has come to believe is the better way. The parts of her which have an entirely different answer, sending a second grey thread spiraling and snapping.

The other two are less likely, at least right now, less immediate, less central.

It's the jagged bits and the fire that win out in the end. She shakes her head, just a little bit. She makes no excuses, doesn't try to explain why. Others might try to convince or justify. She doesn't. She just lays it out there.

That is not to say she has nothing at all to say. And not just the ones that have made her a strange emissary this evening. Things that need to be said, even in the face of their displeasure.

"I love y'all. I miss y'all."

Absolute truth, spoken around the hard lump in her throat.

"And I can't."

Also absolute truth. And as deceptive in its simplicity as Pietro's pointed question.

That answer mirrors against Wanda's blue eyes, cold and unmoved. Magneto has been missing for three years, and yet, here he returns — steeped in his daughter.

He tolerated so few things, least of them a traitor. And Wanda, locked up with her father for ten long years, seems to have inherited the quality whether by choice or beyond her own will. Her expression is stone.

"Cannot. You speak as if you lost your right to choose. It was our father who gave that to you. Do you not remember? No, you know so little of love," she says to that, little emotion in her voice, though her accent is thicker than she prefers it. "It is, above all, sacrifice. What you nurse is fatigue and weakness."

Her eyes rivet to Pietro, before she inevitably turns away, back on Rogue, facing toward the water. She looks back on the far more deserving pond ducks, circling ripples into the dark water.

"So what is it?" invites the witch. The hemline of her dress and the ends of her shawl move in the same chill, winter breeze. The rest of her, tall and too-thin, does not bow to the wind. "Surely, you would not see us unless to beg a favour from our backs. How can we please our traitor this evening?"

Wanda spent ten years in a room alone with Magneto. Pietro spent ten years, too, by his father's side… but at the same time, he spent it by the side of the many others who had flocked to the Brotherhood's banner.

Magneto expected things of his son, above all usefulness, and usefulness often meant serving his father in all the day to day tasks with which the Master of Magnetism could not be personally bothered. Among these things was the handling of new recruits after Magneto's flair and rhetoric brought them in; it fell to him, his father's lieutenant in all ways, to do the intake, the basic training, to ensure they knew what was expected before they found themselves trembling in front of a far more frightening disciplinarian than he.

It is not to say that Magneto relinquished any iota of his control. If Pietro did not do things to his standards, he always knew the reason why quite soon.

This status both separated Pietro from the others… and also familiarized him with them, all at once. No matter the cold, clinical order Magneto sought to keep in his ranks, certain things always happen when young men and women live together and risk their lives together, so closely. Bonds formed. Bonds that were allowed to strengthen to things like real friendships, once Magneto vanished, and which were smithed in the subsequent years of hiding, and regrouping, and planning.

…and which then were, in some instances, shattered.

Rogue speaks, and Pietro — one of the first faces to take her in, who sometimes let her borrow his liberating powers to help her see the joy in her mutancy, rather than its curse — looks… disappointed. Not even angry. The lack of any anger in his gaze is in itself so abnormal as to be deeply unsettling; as long as Rogue has known Pietro, he's usually always been at the very least aggravated by something. "By your choice," he says, his voice brief and toneless, "you've judged us to be in the wrong, and my sister's sacrifice meaningless."

He drops into silence seamlessly to let his sister speak her own anger. He folds his arms; he hasn't moved away from Rogue, but something about the gesture seems to connote it anyway. "Let's just hear what you want," he agrees, some of that familiar curtness leaching back into his voice.

Wanda's words cut to the bone. Inside of her pockets, Rogue's hands clench into fists as she braces against them. The hostility she gets at the mansion was more than expected. Sometimes, it's even funny to her. Something that wears on her, to be sure. But not particularly painful. By contrast, Wanda draws blood with every one of her words. Every last one.

There's too much truth in them, really. Not the whole truth though, and that is where all the difference is made.

Wanda cuts. Pietro twists. The disappointment. The flash of pain on her face at that last accusation rockets across her eyes, that she rendered Wanda's sacrifice meaningless.

She wants to yell and rail now, to justify. They run cold. She runs hot. Warm in her friendships, hot in her fury. It ain't like that! She wants to begin just like that, raise her voice, shout at them until they see. Except that flash is there and gone again. The hurt just won't let it stay. The feeling that they are absolutely right, and she is an ignorant hick from the backwoods who couldn't make a good decision if it bit her on the butt, rips right through her like an electric jolt. Wanda's sacrifice. His sacrifices, too.

And yet. The same training tells her she can't sit here with her belly bared for one minute longer, letting them rip into it while she meekly accepts what even she believes she has rightly earned. It's just not in her. And anyway, what good would it do? Her course is set now. They probably won't never take her back now anyway. She can stop feeling ambivalent because by virtue of having this meeting and speaking these words, she's kinda slammed the door shut in her own face, hasn't she?

Once, for them, the smile that casts over her features would have been all sparkling genuine humor and delight. Mystique had coldly commanded her loyalty and twisted about her desire for approval until it became a near obsession with a singular blue target. Magneto had downright terrified her, truth be told. Mystique and Magneto built that good ole girl armor up, perfected it, but she never did wear it for the twins. Now she does. She knows they know what a thin defense it really is, but it doesn't matter. If all you got to defend against the stab of a knife is a real flimsy cutting board, well, that's about what a body uses, isn't it?

So she says, "It ain't no big thing, I promise. Jean Grey reckons she wants herself a meeting with y'all. Neutral location. Just to talk. No funny business. Maybe a mite of coffee and pie, cause ain't nobody can go wrong with that. Everyone can go back to their separate corners after if that's what's called for."

Therein lies the cage that builds out of extremism. Not an easy escape, lest one can rationalize away years of their life, their sacrifices, their suffering.

And, above all, lingering at the bars of that self-made cage, always the knowledge that moderation could grant an easier existence — or a far safer one, with its false peace. It is not wanted. It is rejected.

How Wanda, herself, wanted once to reject — how she hid her thoughts, even from Pietro, that would beg them away from their father, from this life, and where it was simple. Just them, surviving on the edges of society. She could have whispered her plea to Pietro's ear. She did not.

She spent ten years in that room, and she — did — not.

There is little describing the pain she feels to hear that, reflected unwillingly, in Rogue's voice. Wanda's own could-have-been probabilities, manifested similarly in another. It hurts, beyond belief.

It makes the most sense to compact that hurt, mutate it, turn it into those chilly, unforgiving words which Magneto would once skewer her. He would kill a turncoat, the way an officer would shoot dead his fleeing soldiers in the trenches of war. She knows this.

She keeps her hands twisted into her shawl.

Wanda does not so much as glance back, silent as Pietro speaks. She gazes straight ahead.

Jean Grey wishes to talk. The witch's blue eyes reflect the water. Internally, her thoughts braid with Pietro's, cautious, irritated, already tired of it — tired of talking. "Does she now," she says. "To talk of what has happened, or what shall happen?"

The pain that flickers across Rogue's eyes is not missed by Pietro or his quick perceptions. For a moment, there is something almost like pity in his. For all their outward appearances and external behaviors… it's not Wanda with the softer heart, between the twins. Relatively speaking, anyway.

"I miss the person that you were, but she is already gone," Pietro says, presently. He finally turns his head to look at Rogue, his blue eyes sharp and cool and remote as the distant peak of a mountain. His father would look this way when he was displeased. "Maybe she was replaced by too many others. Took in too many who think we're monsters for trying to save ourselves. Go be with them. You know the consequence; you know what you can no longer be to us."

At this juncture, Magneto would have dealt with the traitorous with an execution. Quicksilver, here and now… finally walks away from Rogue. He senses his twin's distress, and it is to her she will always go first.

He doesn't do so at speed. This is something he is perfectly fine with Rogue seeing in full.

At Wanda's side, he does not take her hand — not visibly. He comforts her only across their bond. The Twins showed one another small physical affections so often in front of Rogue before that their absence is jarring now, up until the realization comes; both Twins were trained well not to show weaknesses before an enemy.

An enemy who is, even now, putting her own defenses back up. Pietro makes the mistake of looking back, and to see Rogue wear that fake armor for him, now, creases his eyes.

It's a fleeting look. His gaze hardens at the mention of Jean Grey. "I would think we have already met," he says, with cutting dryness, "and said all there is to say." But he listens for how she will answer his twin's question.

"Well gosh, Wanda, she didn't put it in no highfalutin' terms like that," Rogue says, her eyes widening slightly. "What has and what shall and all that. And sure, Pietro. Seems like everyone's done met."

Even as she says it, his speculations ring in her ears. In her heart. Maybe you've taken in too many. Maybe she has. The uncertainty that she is her creeps in, even with Jean's psychic patch job. That flickers in her eyes too, and so she just leans harder into the 'her' she's chosen to wear now, even as she picks up on the subtle signals the both of them offer her. This silent declaration that she's the Enemy. And since she's doing it too, what's left but to just accept it and plow ahead?

"She's madder'n a hornet at a wasp rodeo though. And not at y'all. This point, we're all half buried in a cow puckey, ain't we? Even if folks can't usually agree on which way to go shovelin. Sooner or later everyone's just gotta shovel, or it's all cow puckey, all the time for everybody."

She shrugs her shoulder and says, "Anyway. Y'all ain't got nothin' to lose by a bit of jawin'. You might have somethin' to gain though. A whole lotta folks surely do look to her to figure out what they oughta go and do, when they don't know."

She picks up a rock and skips it across the pond, taking care not to disturb the ducks. And the twins. It skips with perfect ease. Blip, skip, bloop.

"So. Worst case. You waste an hour or two of your life goin' over the same old worn out track as he and their professor did. Everyone walks away frustrated, again. But things go at their maybe-best? You make your case real well on the foundation of that ole cow puckey common ground, and maybe you influence her just a lil' bit in the way you think things oughta be. And through her, a whole bunch of others. Somewhere in between…"

She dips down to pick up another rock to skip.

"I guess maybe y'all get together and find a way to shovel everyone can live with, and suddenly the whole lot of us are twice as strong overnight. Either way, two out of three happenin's are good ones for you."

She turns away from them, and says, "I put up a drop at that soul food place right on the edge of Mutant Town. The one that actually cooks it good. You'll know it when you see it. For your answer."

She hardly expects them to say yes tonight. Nor does she really wish to overstay her welcome. She, too, is aware what would have happened had Magneto been standing here. Then again, had Magneto been standing here she would not have even made this attempt. Even so, there's such a thing as pushing luck, and she figures she's gone and pushed it to the limit.

"Just noodle on it awhile, y'all."

To walk away with any speed would also betray weakness. So she ambles. She moseys. She even stops further down the bank to pluck up another half-decent skipping rock. Gives them time for further say, if they want it, but she sure isn't gonna stand here and press for it.

Pietro listens. Rogue would know well enough how unusual it is for him to stand still and listen for this long. He doesn't afford it to too many, and those he does afford it to are solely within the ranks of the Brotherhood — the only bonds Pietro has ever formed in his hard, ascetic life.

If he guesses that he's struck straight to the heart of her with his speculation, he doesn't say. He probably more than guesses. He knows exactly how her powers work, he knows her struggle with them. He knows her. This is something they have talked about before. Perhaps he wants something to blame for Rogue's changeover that isn't her, some quirk of her powers that turned her against them. Pietro always was a great hand at externalizing blame out onto other things.

At the same time… he knows it's probably not just her powers.

It's that, along with the lingering whispers of his father's voice railing against his weakness, which finally hardens his heart. He turns back to his twin, finding comfort in her familiar closeness. There is something about what Rogue says which does strike true; the opportunity to discover just where Jean Grey intends to lead her people, with all the influence she can bring to bear. What she intends to do about registration.

Not what she intends to say. What she intends to do.

"Carry the answer now," he says abruptly, with his trademark swift decisiveness. All at once, the brother re-assumes dominance, his resolve set. "We will speak, one last time. So tell her to choose her words wisely."

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