Roleplaying Log: Liberation
IC Details

Backscene, 2015. After the Chitauri Invasion and their father's disappearance, Pietro's first act is to free Wanda from the cage in which she has been kept.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 13, 2018
IC Location: Corona, Queens
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 13 Dec 2018 05:50
Rating & Warnings: R
Scene Soundtrack: [* ]
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

New York still smokes in the wake of the Chitauri attack, and the world is none the wiser why.

Nonetheless, the threat has abated, driven off by the combined efforts of heroes from around the world — and some not-so-heroic types. It was an all-in sort of situation. There were losses too though, of course. There always are losses.

Down a quiet street in the largely residential neighborhood of Corona, Queens, far from the epicenter of the invasion but not so far that the air is free from ash, a single figure walks. Normally this figure would not be out in the open like this, walking slowly with no thought to who might be watching, but in this particular hour it is assured: no one is looking at him. No one even dares emerge from their homes.

The one concession he makes to any thought of disguise is a hat which covers away any sight of his hair.

His usual speed and energy is absent as he turns a corner and approaches a single detached home at the end of a cul-de-sac. There are a pair of people sitting on the house's porch, who sit up as he comes into view; he removes his hat, and they pause and subside again. Neither says anything as he passes.

The house, like most in this area of Queens, is a cramped old thing that creaks with a homey sense of lived-in age. The young man stands in the kitchen a moment, as if still transfixed in a certain state of shock, before he turns to the stairs and begins to ascend.

There is a room at the top of the house which does not match the rest of it, and it is to this room he goes.

The floorboards rock and creak under his feet; the wood stairs groan at the barest application of weight and pressure.

The house stirs noisily beneath his forward step — until, past some unseen boundary, all goes quiet. The aged hardwood, nailed underfoot, does not even make a sound.

Thick metal struts, invisible, unseen, run an unrelenting reinforcment. Nothing creaks as he follows the hall down the upstairs level; every inch of the weathered, wilting home is welded as securely as a barrack.

The first incongruity is the door at the end of the hall. Family homes, with loving parents and laughing children, do not keep solid steel bedroom doors.

On rare, prior visits, there always loomed the shroud of low-frequency white noise, the metal quiet, inert, and staid, but at the same time… alive. Listening. Responsive. Reacting at all times, all moments, to every small movement within that closed-door room.

Now, it is gone. The distant hum and pressure of magnetism has left this house behind. And the steel door, what was usually sealed by that same force — is no longer held locked.

It pushes open, heavy, but now without any restriction.

Inside is an old loft, and the look of someone's ancient bedroom grafted into the lattice-work of a steel frame. Metal to support the entirety of the room, whether it is to keep something out — or hold something within.

Seated on one of two lonely chairs, hers turned in a way to give her vantage to look out the window — Wanda Maximoff turns up her head.

There is a look on her face like she does not expect whom she sees at her door. But, always with the witch, even when startled — she has never looked surprised.

Her eyes run him up and down. They tighten. Then she rises, a little desperate, crossing the room to wrap the man into her arms. Her heart hammers too-quick. "I saw it from my window."

Pietro Maximoff received the dubious gift of his father's face and features, and a near copy of his father's rage, but in most other respects he inherited little. In powers he is nothing like Magneto, except perhaps in the fact that a deep understanding of basic physics enhances efficacy in both their cases — and except in this one sliver which son received from father.

Pietro has always been able to dimly feel magnetic fields. Their directional guidance has always helped him navigate, as he crossed the earth at speeds which break beyond the bounds of what normal senses can support. It has always given him a vague sense of where his father was.

It has always given him a keen awareness that Magneto was usually watching his sister. Ever since their father took them under his wing, Pietro has felt a magnetic shroud cast over his twin: listening, responsive, alive. He hated it. It was a thin layer between him and Wanda, barriering them away from one another where once they could touch with no obstruction at all. It was sheer, but for its mere presence it might as well have been a wall.

It is now gone. Pietro stands in the upstairs hallway, looking uncertainly at the thick steel door between him and his twin, and for the first time in years tastes nothing at all in the air.

Years of conditioning do not fall away as quickly. He is still hesitant when he reaches for the door, afraid that Magneto might suddenly re-materialize and reveal it all to be some elaborate test. But nothing happens when his fingertips brush steel. Nothing continues to happen when he finally pushes the door open.

The sight that greets him is not necessarily one he has not seen in a long time — his last visit to her, hurried and furtive, was only a few weeks ago — but since then everything has changed. That much is plain in the look on Pietro's face when Wanda turns her eyes up to him: dazed, still in shock, and unbalanced in a way she has rarely ever seen her assertive twin… yet with a feverish sort of light to his blue eyes that seems distantly familiar.

A thin trail of blood still weeps down the side of his face, and his clothes wear well enough the mark of what it was she saw from the window. He was out there… and now it is him coming to her and not their father.

He sways a little as she folds him into her arms. His head leans against hers.

"He is gone," he says simply. "So I have come to take you out of here."

Years of conditioning hold as fast as rusted chains.

That reluctance frames in the shock on Wanda's face; shock, despite all she's seen and felt from afar, to see her twin brother show up at her door so directly — so boldly. On any other day over the past ten years, it would warrant punishment for both of them.

But no guillotine blade falls. There is no nascent hiss of magnetism — the faraway threat the Maximoffs know well mean a displeased father — and the silence opens a gulf between them.

Feeling her pounding heart in her teeth, Wanda is the first to cross it. Within seconds, she clears the small length of her room, and draws Pietro close.

Her smaller body sheets on his, and her eyes close briefly to feel Pietro's head lean on hers. This close, he smells like fire.

Three words hang between the Maximoff twins. He is gone.

Wanda does not answer it. Instead, she draws back just enough to look up into Pietro's face. Her blue eyes path still-dripping blood. She disentangles one arm, and pulls her hand into her sleeve, pressing fabric to the wound. The stain rhymes into the red she wears.

Silent, she takes Pietro by the wrist, and contrary to his declaration, draws him deeper into the room, to encourage him to sit on one of her chairs; it is still warm from holding her.

"I felt you," she says, remaining standing, with gentle, searching hands, looking her twin over for the possibility of more injuries. "From here. Every moment of it. I was terrified."

Words spoken so calmly, almost contrite; Wanda, against the distant backdrop of smoke and debris, is a picture of control. "I no longer feel him. What happened?"

Pietro has tried to show up this directly before. It only happened a few times, and only towards the beginning of Wanda's confinement. The twins remembered well the consequences of such behavior, and after enough punishments did not repeat it.

Such it was that for many years, only the father ever appeared in that door. The son had to find other, more furtive paths. Ten years have conditioned Wanda to look up and see Magneto's cold, stern figure framed by the light spilling in at his back.

It makes it all the more eerie for her to look up and see Pietro instead, especially given how much he looks like Magneto at first blush: a slighter, leaner figure, less imposing, like an echo or faint shadow of what came before. To his credit, he enters without apparent fear — though the first step across the threshold does hesitate for half a beat.

No magnetism, he keeps telling himself. He can't feel any at all. He does not know whether the fact brings him joy or worsens the fear.

Either way, it ceases to be important the moment Wanda crosses the floor to clutch him in a hug. Touching him, she can now feel what was invisible to her from a distance: her brother is shivering, just slightly, still shocked from whatever drew his blood and soaked him in the smell of fire and ash. Still shocked from what he tells her happened, next.

Wanda has no answer for that. She only wipes the blood away, and leads him to her seat.

He resists a little, not wanting to enter deeper into the room when his declaration was to bring her out, but soon enough relents. Their usual roles reverse, and for now it is the sister who holds controlled and steady for the brother. He seems uninjured beyond that cut scraped along the side of his head, but she of all people can feel it: the damage is not physical.

"I don't know," he answers her last question first. "Alien ships came out of the sky. Father told me to go secure our people. In Mutant Town. Elsewhere. That was the last I saw of him."

His head droops, her twin passive to her ministrations. "He took half the Brotherhood with him. Most of them have trickled back. Not him."

And for a fleeting moment, Wanda believes it is her father at the door.

Her world has never offered her any other alternative; who else could it possibly be? What, in this existence, would cross Magneto's authority?

Missing or not, Wanda defers to the standing ghost of her father. Apprehension tightens her shoulders. The air about her changes, a woman forced by years of correction to draw in every ounce of her presence, compressing and narrowing it down as inoffensively and unobtrusively as possible. Seated at the heart of her cage, hands in her lap, she looks like a guest at someone's table, not yet permitted to partake.

In that same, fleeting moment, she waits in perfect obedience. It is not until her second sight reminds her of her error, and Pietro's too-close, brimming thoughts brush the edges of feelings against hers, that Wanda eases out of her conditioning, and attempts a second look.

Not the father. The son. She wastes no time to go to him.

And now Wanda wastes no time to usher Pietro in, urge him to sit, and see to him; he wears the attack on every inch of his body, and holds it burnt to his fraying mind. Her careful hands run his limbs and brush his sides for hidden injuries, and satisfied to find her twin unharmed, she hovers in closer, her hip close to his shoulder, encouraging him to lean his head to her abdomen.

Wanda's busy hands ghost near the cut on his face, and her curling fingers seed with a flicker of scarlet light. The wound is no more, calculated into non-existence, and her fussing hands wipe away the last of the drying blood.

Still, she shrouds him, giving of herself a constant soothe. Her hands card through Pietro's hair. Her eyes look down on him, blue, deceptively peaceful. She listens.

And Wanda answers with a near-silent exhale. "Time will give us answers. For now, they will be looking for their leader. It will be you, Pietro. You are ready."

Their link, now unclouded by any interference from their father, tells Wanda enough about her twin's state of mind. His thoughts are normally so decisive, clear and sharp and clean even despite whatever distance might separate them, but now they are a muddle… a confused melange of shock and uncertainty. He has come to rely on his father, and all by Magneto's design; he did solid enough work, over the last decade, to control much of his son's natural domineering nature. There could not be two, after all.

Now the father is gone, and Pietro has not yet remembered his onw voice.

There is one thing that Magneto was never able to take, however, and that one thing means the first thing he does with his newfound freedom is run to his twin to take her from her cage. Here on the threshold, however, he hesitates; he falters. The shadow of their father stretches long in his thoughts. Wanda's own insistence on seeing to him combines with that to keep him momentarily passive, sitting at her instruction and cosing his eyes when she draws him in to lay his head against her.

For the last ten years, Wanda has existed within a very specific world… a set of parameters laid down by their father that were inviolable, and that were expressed quite literally in the form of the isolated rooms in which she has been kept.

In contrast, Pietro was not kept in literal cages — his expected place was at Magneto's side, obeying his will unquestioningly — but he was kept in enough metaphorical ones. Even now he moves palpably with the bounds of some invisible conditioning — a training laid down over the past ten years — and that cage is what brings him to stiffen when Wanda tells him who must now lead.

His right hand reaches reflexively, without thought, for her skirts, holding on absently to his twin in a habit even Magneto was never able to break from him. He hesitates palpably before his answer; for him, such a pause might as well be a lifetime.

"What if he comes back?" he asks. "Tomorrow? The next week? Next month? It could be a test."

What if he comes back?

Wanda's fingers go still against Pietro's hair. Her eyes unfocus.

She remembers the instant it happened, hours ago. Smoke billowed from the Midtown Manhattan skyline. Flying things — ships, beasts, or both — slithered out of a hole in the sky, coiling their vast shapes in and through skyscrapers, screaming sounds that carried across the river. Her heart squeezed to hear it. Tears ran her cheeks to witness destruction she'd never before seen.

It all fed into Wanda's window, where she watched helplessly, feeling the rip in reality, feeling the greed and aggression of their invaders, feeling the fear of the city pulled apart under their siege. Distant, she felt her twin brother, equal parts panic and desperation. She felt the sparks of life among her Brotherhood. And she felt her father — seething with fury.

She felt her own despair. She shouldn't be here. She should be at their sides, helping them. It was her fault for being so weak.

She felt the void seething with power, reaching to bridge the fabric of this world with another far beyond. She felt —

— her father disappear.

Gone. No more. Every sense trace of his life, his soul — not alive, not dead, but gone.

She rushed for the door of her cage, still shut, though no longer wardened by that stifling wall of magnetism. She reached for the handle. But, in the end, she could not bring herself to touch it.

Wanda blinks clarity back into her eyes. She feels Pietro's hand tangle into her dress. Drawing closer, she leans over him, bending down just enough to take her brother's face into her hands. Her thumbs run his cheekbones.

"Then let him return, and see your victories," she declares. "There is no other way the cause will survive. And no time now but to act. It has to be you. You are his son."

Pietro goes still when Wanda does.

He knows these stillnesses of hers, and over the many years has become accustomed to quieting when he senses them so he can listen to the strains of her thoughts. Often, they were dangerous, and he needed to be watchful. Wanda usually went still when the current of life was straiting too-fast through her head, and many was the time he needed to be on hand to pull her back.

This time, however, it is only a recollection — a remembrance of all she felt, even from afar, as the Chitauri descended. After a moment, Pietro's watchfulness abates, and he leans back against his twin, hand twining in her skirt.

It gives him time to actually consider what he sees flickering in his twin's mind. To contemplate that unmistakable sensation of their father just — disappearing. That proof, filtered through his sister's senses, reassures him a little, but still Pietro has his doubts. Magneto proved himself capable of feats far beyond most other men, over the past many years, and Pietro regards him with the mingled awe and resentment of a son drowned thoroughly in his father's shadow.

Even this might just be a test, some orchestration of Magneto's own design. Even this might be an obfuscation or trap. He says as much.

Wanda's cool hands take his face. It is tired and pensive and uncertain, when she turns it up to her own, but his blue eyes are attentive. He listens to her declarations, her inciting words, and the doubt starts to drain away. A different sort of light flickers in his eyes, familiar and too-bright.

Yes. And why not? No one could do it but him. There is no one else to do it. People have already automatically begun to look to him, eyes turning in his direction, ears listening for his word… and something about that resonates with an unmet need in him. An inherited urge to control in his blood.

Besides, Father would want him to. Wouldn't he?

"You're right," Pietro says eventually. He lets go of her skirt. Rising back to a stand over her slighter form, his head tips to continue staring down into her face. "Someone has to. And when… if… he comes back, he'll see what I've done." And then maybe, finally…

Pietro takes his sister by the hands. "The first thing I do will be to take you out of here. Come."

In one look, Wanda Maximoff embodies frailty.

She has always looked in this way, in some form or another: sick from sleeplessness, sick from madnesses, sick from a life that saw fit to give her nothing but enless torment. The last decade has grown Wanda into a holding balance — stable in many ways now what were never possible before.

But at a cost. She comes to Pietro fine and fragile, her dark skin without the deeper gold it had in her youth, and the rest of her calcified into arrested into tininess — a body that was never allowed to grow past these four, confining walls. And it never did.

Her hands, too, are small, as they take his face. But there is a knowing firmness in Wanda's touch, as she tilts up Pietro's head to link their same blue eyes. Her touch on him is steady, and surprisingly strong — a will, for this moments, to support his weight, and let him lean on her. She knows the burden he has taken on for many years.

She knows the burden, even more now, what awaits him. So for here, and for now, he can rest and let her carry them both.

Wanda's voice murmurs through all of Pietro's doubts. Her thumbs run his skin. Her eyes look on, and down, barely blinking, her twin brother's face reflected in their lenses.

"He'll now what you had to do," concedes the witch, lowering her head to nudge her forehead to his. "He could not anticipate this happening. Now, it will all end with him. Everything you fought for. Everything you sacrificed. If not for you, Pietro. This is your time now."

In response, his hand loosens off her; Wanda feels the release of Pietro's hand, off the fabric of her dress. The chair creaks, free of its weight, and in one smooth, single move, he reverses their heights. Now the sister must tip up her chin to hold her brother's eyes.

She looks on at him, equal parts calm and encouraging, the staid rock holding in the restless, moving tide of her twin. He takes her by the hands; her fingers curl to hold onto his, hungry for the contact.

Then Pietro speaks.

It seems to break Wanda from that reverie, and the role she assumed for him — calm, in control, and meant to be confined within these walls. In an instant, he declares her free, and she doesn't seem to know how to deal with that.

Her hands try to pull out of his, as she dares an unsettled step back. "Pietro — please," Wanda answers, and her low, anaesthesized voice stutters. Her blue eyes beg. "You know I can't. I have to stay here. It's what keeps us safe."

Pietro has only seen Wanda grow in snapshots, over the last ten years.

It was a jarring state of affairs, after what had heretofore been an entire lifetime of watching her every second of her life. There were days he watched her so closely, so intimately, and while so lost in his own powers, that he could swear he saw her hair grow longer like the slow crawl of a plant's roots through the earth. There was not a single millisecond of her life that he missed.

All that changed with their father.

Weeks might pass between him seeing her. Months, sometimes. He would come to her window, and she would not be the same as she was the last time he saw her face. And now, at the end of that long confinement, she comes to him wholly different than how he left her ten years before. He looks upon her, and sees her healthier, more stable — but more faded, too, confined into a sunless tameness within her imprisoning four walls.

He looks deeply into her eyes, and feels shame for his own weakness — and the nascent beginnings of a new and uncertain anger. Their father — changed her, so much, beyond his view, without his input…

Wanda reassures him. She soothes his uncertainties. For once, sister takes the burdens of her brother, and whispers an incitement down into him. The Brotherhood will indeed be lost, all that their father built and bled for withered away… unless he chooses to save it. It is his time, now, to take it and make it his. To prove that…

He stands up, something unfamiliar burning in his blood that was in truth… always already there. He already knows his first command.

Wanda balks. His head lifts slightly, and his hands do not let hers go. In fact — they tighten.

"It's mine now," he says, lowly, repeating her own crowning back to her. His blue eyes are dark under his lowered lashes. "I say you will not stay here."

His left hand lets her go, but his right is strong on hers as he insists to lead her to the door. "I say what is safe now."

Wanda's watch of Pietro, over the years, was both different and similar.

She never got to meet with him often. Sometimes, it was only a handful of minutes between months, and what little time they could cross their father's authority beyond his notice. Yet, no matter how distant or how removed, she was always able to see her brother.

He was always an array. Thousands upon thousands of possibilities at once, reaching out from him like a great oak's branches, bearing variables that shrivelled and sprouted by the second — by his ever-changing thought.

And, over time, the arrays changed.

The first change, Wanda felt, came at the proclamation of Magneto's will, and that first, lonely month she spent in custody. For all of her life, there was always Pietro, and she was never alone. She suffered to exist beyond his presence.

Pietro's possibilities — their possibilities — were always bittersweet, marked in pain, and so many despairing ends. With little else to do, Wanda reached out ephemeral hands and lost herself in his soul's tarot spread. It was the closest to him she could be — and it had changed on her.

There was less danger than before. Less instances of him dead, him grieving her — him broken under some sort of emotion she could not source or name. His possibilities were stronger than before, healthy, no longer wandering, but directed on a clear path —

He grew. She grew too. The years imposed that gulf between them, and Wanda accepted it. Seeing Pietro, every day, reinforced what she had always feared:

She was breaking him.

So when Pietro's hand tightens around hers, Wanda tenses up, terrified. Not terrified of Pietro, but for him, and all the things that exist beyond that threshold — all the vague probability that will change the moment she sets foot past Magneto's cooling authority.

"Pietro, you know I can't," Wanda keeps pleading, her free hand circling his wrist. She tries to pull back on his arm, urging, but he's the stronger of them both — always has been. "You know I can't! It's safer I stay here! I'm not well!"

Her eyes skim the four walls, as if begging her prison to help her; they're all Wanda's known for years, all she can think to implore. In her desperation, she loses her calm, controlled English, and her voice fragments back to Romani. "I'll kill you!" she snaps, Magneto's words out of her mouth. "I'm only a burden!"

Pietro began their ten year journey with their father as a spreading tree of possibility. He ended it as a sword. In Magneto's hands, all of Pietro's potentialities wound down to a single directed point. The Master of Magnetism made a concise weapon of his son, and while it made his futures safer, stronger — it made many of them colder and bleaker as well. Many of them ended in blood.

Still, it was the blood of others, and not his own. And to see Pietro's life stabilize, Wanda came to a certain conclusion, helped along by their father; she was the reason he was never safe, never whole. She was the reason so many of his paths ended in death: his, or hers.

For that reason, she resists when Pietro dictates she is to be freed from her confinement. Her pull against his arm is negligible to him, her brother barely seeming to register it at first; it's what she says that stops him cold. Her pleas give him a distinct pause, though he doesn't at first turn back to look at her. His expression flinches to hear her lapse back into Romani. I'm only a burden, she insists.

"Who told you that?" he finally asks, his voice hard and sharp as flint.

Pietro turns back to Wanda. He doesn't let go of her hand. "Was it him? Was that how he kept you in here? Is that what he let you believe?"

His grip tightens unconsciously. Never to the point of pain — he is virtually programmed never to harm his twin — but harsh enough for his anger to be clear. "If so," he says, his voice taut, "then I'll make him account for that lie if he ever comes back!"

He leans forward, his gaze capturing hers in an attempt to hold it. "You, a burden? There were many days you were the only reason I had to stay alive." Something in his eyes turns pleading. "I will need you."

Dark, bleak. Everything soft about Pietro, everything gentle, everything warm — smithed down and honed to a hard, razor's edge.

Cold as their father's steel. Cold as the metal necklaces that hang around her neck, their pendants heavy brands on her collarbones.

His permutations reordered and shuffled themselves; her spreads witnessed his futures fall under a lengethening shadow. But, in all of them, he was safe. In all of them, he explored lives that existed beyond merely supporting her, enduring their wretched fates, and outpacing her witch's curse.

Magneto's words hang a heavy ceiling over Wanda's memory.

I am ensuring that you both have a future, carries his voice, powerful, inescapable. No direction. No control. That is all you are. That is all you shall ever be, if you wish it, Wanda.

Her hand tightens on Pietro's wrist. Rarely has Wanda ever resisted Pietro; rarely has she ever made any open defiance against any of his dictates, any manifestation of his will. Now, she even struggles, trying to pull back against his forwar insistence, her movements urgent with a rising panic.

The words fall out of her; she needs to make him understand.

Something hits true. He stops, an she stops with him, breathing hard. This little exertion has already taxed her, the caged Scarlet Witch whose atrophied wings have never spread to fly in years.

Pietro speaks suddenly, harshly, and Wanda goes silent. When he looks down on her, she has trouble meeting her eyes. Guilt burdens her face; the daughter feeling forced to apologize for their missing father. "He was right," she whispers back.

Wrong words, they come answered by Pietro's tightening hand. It doesn't hurt — cannot hurt — but the pressure forces her gaze, arrested where it meets his. The threat hangs on that gulf between them, before he closes it, once and for all, ending ten years of distance and coming closer.

"I'm not ready," still Wanda argues, though her voice is small. "I'm still sick."

Her hand still curls on his, as it still clasps her fingers like a vice. Their father's rhetoric doing war with her own heart, which remembers what it wants —

Wanda looks at Pietro through his quiet confession. Through his plea.

Her hand comes off his wrist, and touches his face. Her fingers tighten, and she lifts up to her toes to kiss his mouth.

"Are you sure you want this?"

Pietro was not natively a violent boy. He was controlling, certainly: dominant, and assertive, and abrupt, with a certain bloodline in his veins that would predispose him to rage and a thirst for power. But he was rarely violent. He dictated many things to Wanda over the course of their lives, but he never once hurt her, and nor did she ever see him hurt anything else if he did not have to.

Unfortunately, he started to 'have to' more and more often, over time. It was the only way to keep her safe, over the years.

And then… then they met their father. Magneto had no use for a son who was weak, and he made that plain from day one. It was the end of any hope for Pietro to keep his hands clean. But in exchange for the hardening of his heart and the tarnishing of his soul, Pietro received a more certain future. Fewer of his life paths led, now, to death or an eternity of laboring mediocrity.

Early on, Pietro argued more with his father about all of it; Magneto's confinement of Wanda, his expectations of Pietro, his obsession with ensuring their futures via scourging the weakness from their minds and bodies. He argued up until his father gave him a gift: the bullet that would have killed his twin, had Magneto not arrived in time to save them both.

Even now, Pietro still wears that bullet on a chain beneath his shirt, as a reminder of the price of weakness.

It slides against his skin even now as he turns to face his sister. Wanda confirms his question with those damning three words — 'he was right' — and a familiar fury beats against the corridors of her mind in response. His hand tightens on hers. "You are not sick," he says. His hands lift to take her by both shoulders. "You are not sick. I have been without you too long, and if I am to do this I need you."

She looks up at him in answer, and reaches to kiss him. He closes his eyes, and his right hand slips up to take the back of her neck, cradling her nape, as he returns the gesture.

"I know exactly what I want," he murmurs, taking one step back. He reaches for her hand again. "We were together, before father. It was just us. We can be again."

Fury seethes off him. The anger was always a piece of Pietro Maximoff, his dissatisfaction and bitter vehemence, but a terminus point stopped most of his rages. Violence was never a function of his soul, but here, now, Wanda can witness her twin brother's transformation close, clear, and true.

Its corruption spreads through his spirit. Its pulse beats his blood.

Part of her wants to drop her eyes and mourn the boy lost. Part of her cannot look away; he draws her in, every last thought in her head. His violence reaches into her, and resonates something Wanda did not think true in her — something dark, and destructive, taking seed in her years of suffering. Gestating in ten years of monotonous, mad sameness.

Something their father saw in her, years ago, and never once bid Wanda Maximoff to suppress, or hide, or even deny. Only control.

So many things draw her close, but throned above all of them is the plea in Pietro's eyes. Domination, fury, and violence all lure the witch, but it is the twin brother who sources them all that brushes her fingertips along his face. Wanda takes a deep drink of his eyes, reading all they beg her — before she closes hers, and answers with her mouth over his.

She kisses him. Her thoughts run a soothe over his, though they do not snuff the rage — only press reassurance in its hitches and breaks, where she can feel the undertow of desperation.

Wanda feels his hand take the back of her neck. She exhales noisily, curling closer, nudging their foreheads together. The Maximoff twins, eternally dependent on each other — with no existence but to remain inseparable.

She swallows as he argues — twice — against Magneto's dogma. She is not sick. Wanda is not sure which authoritarian in her life is right. Perhaps she is sick, but not sick when she is with her brother. Damned to drag him down with her.

It is why she asks that last question; the words are soft, brittle, hollowed-out. Pietro has a way out. He has a contingency that works. He does not have to chain himself on her, like last time, and work himself to death under her burden. He does not have to —

Pietro's answer opens Wanda's eyes. He pulls away, enough that she can look at him, stricken, awed. For heartbeats, she says absolutely nothing. When he reaches for her hand, it is limp in his, stunned to docility, and no longer resisting.

"You will become this room I leave behind," she tells him, be it in threat, warning, or prophecy. Her fingers curl on his, dark where her brother's are pale — clasping with the first hope in many years that dares believe they will not be parted. Wanda does not want to ever let Pietro go. "And I will become whatever you need of me."

There are certain breakpoints in a man's life, where certain things happen that strike the spark of an irreversible change. Certain points where all the possibilities of his future fracture, and fall away to leave one singular path.

This is one of them, for Pietro Maximoff. A point at which he will decide to embrace his father's legacy — and more than that, to transcend it and eventually make it his own. To finally, someday, see the acknowledgement in his father's eyes, if he ever returns…

To do that, he must become something other than what he once was, and something other than what he could have been. To do that, he must let in all the things their father taught him, and kill the last vestiges of the gentle boy that might have instead gone on to be a superhero. Wanda, seeing the shape of that decision, speaks up to her brother in something that sounds like both warning and prophecy. His eyes darken briefly, as if for a moment he too could see that bloody future forking out before him like the fan of a tarot spread.

"I won't become this room," he contradicts her gently. The darkness is gone from his eyes again, when he takes her hand. "I will become better than this room. I'll be everything that it did right for you, without any of the pain that Father put into it."

His grasp tightens on hers. "And I want you to tell me everything he put into it. Everything he did to you." It was obfuscated from Pietro for ten years. He will not tolerate not knowing any longer.

She promises to become whatever he needs of her. Her brother is silent a moment, the bullet worn beneath his shirt a cold weight against his skin.

"There's nothing more for you to become," he presently replies. "You already are what I need."

He urges her forward, pulling her towards himself even as he steps towards the door, encouraging her to take her own first steps towards the exit of her cage.

"So be my right hand, my word, my shield and sword," he says simply. "Be my twin, who I love."

I won't become this room.

The words bring Wanda to silence. She tilts her head, confused, uncertain, facing her last ten years in that brief declaration: but she needs a room. She needs a cage. She needs confinement, watch, and a constant warden, because their father is gone — disappeared before he could promise her total control.

He takes her hand, and she looks down, eyes on their linked fingers. Her twin's promise, spoken aloud, flickers her lashes. Pietro vows to be better than a cage — one that comes without pain.

Pain is essential. Pain is a function of what she is, and the witch must bear it. She is not sure she believes what her brother promises, not when her curse nearly broke them both so many times before — but to hear him, feel him, she cannot resist trusting in his every word.

More importantly, Wanda has never been able to resist Pietro — not a single one of his requests. And he has always known best for her.

"You will keep me," she consents. She looks back up. "I've missed you."

Her hand tightens on his, as he lastly speaks of their father — and his unknown relationship with his daughter. Wanda's expression flinches. "He made us stronger," she demurs, already apologizing for the absent Magneto. She hesitates a beat, knowing she cannot stall Pietro's demands for long. "Soon, I will. I promise."

Whatever their father has done, evolution has taken Wanda into someone else this last decade. That timid girl of before relent into passivity, tired and unable to control any facet of her environment: give up and hide herself in Pietro's trust, and let him care for her.

This Wanda needs more. She needs to promise reciprocation; she needs to be assured her last ten years are for soemthing, and for her to leave this room, she will begin as someone worthy to hold herself at her twin brother's side. Her blue eyes hope; she has to be needed.

And she is.

Pietro's words are as much a lure as the tug of his hand, and Wanda follows both. He leads her beyond all she's known for so long, and thought it aches deeply to see her small, safe world recede, her brother keeps her eyes forward — is the guiding light to draw her forward.

She pauses on the threshold, heart pounding, faced with her decade of learned helplessness. She looks back on her life; it guts her to see it behind. She had to learn to love those walls, that furniture, and all her little things — and deeply.

But Pietro asks her to be his hand. Word. Shield and sword. Wanda's eyes find his. She crosses the doorway, one foot, then the other.

There is silence. No slither of moving magnetic fields. No fury of their father come in to separate them, once and for all. Only the Maximoffs, and their twined hands.

There are tears on her face that Wanda does not immediately realize. Their father did not allow her to cry. "Pietro. In a million lives, I answer you the same. Always."

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