1963-11-12 - Blood and Fire
Summary: Something has befallen Pietro, who now goes looking for his sister, before oblivion claims him for good. Wanda's involvement brings Doctor Strange…
Related: None
Theme Song: None
pietro wanda strange 













Rainfall patters along streets and balconies, collecting in foul pools smelling heavily of sewage. The telltale odors of the deep sewers come to the surface here, percolating in sickly bubbles that pop in rotten egg profusions. Geysers erupt from the clogged stormdrains, leaving bubbling fouled water to gather in fountain pools that only the most bored, despairing children from the depths of this modern day ghetto bother to watch or splash about. Feral cats and thin dogs, usually so common in Hell’s Kitchen, are nowhere to be seen despite the darkened skies signalling another overcast night under torrential showers and that grimmest of wet blankets thrown over general fanfare: mizzle.

One night out from All Hallows Eve and the children of the city have little reason to believe they can go assault their neighbours with cries for candy or threats of violence. Though few would ever bother here; not for them, trick-or-treating or costumes. They would be lucky to see three meals a day, let alone square ones studded by candy corn and red shellacked apples.

Trash and broken promises a century old, that’s what Hell’s Kitchen offers. A fight in the streets to solve much younger scores about looking at a girl wrong in a bar, a body concealed in the dumpsters under heavy, leaking plastic bags, that’s just par for the course.

The three Puerto Rican men eyeing one another up for their dirty deeds slink off into the dark like polecats, leaving behind a groaning Irish fellow about 26, unconscious from the stomping to his vital organs. His breathing is, at best, uneven thanks to a cracked rib piercing his left lung. Not good odds by any standards.

His mother might pray to Mother Mary for her boy if she knew, but she doesn’t, bless her soul in Pennsylvania. The other man’s gone to be judged by Saint Peter and probably found wanting for the sin of poverty. The scent of blood leaking from his wounds is buried, but not completely.

And then… well, there’s that other balance to the equation, the girl they fought over, kicking her way out of a metal locker of sorts where she ended up. Not one of those inexplicable things, on the front of it. She would, in the old country, be called someone with the Sight or a bit too knowledgeable in the old things.

Her frantic kicks and cries are the sort of thing to be ignored, though not by the darkly dressed female about her age, give or take a year. A knife in her hand pries at the lock holding together the makeshift holding cell. Three men are coming back. Three vs two, the odds aren’t bad.

May they ever be in Wanda Maximoff’s favour.


If Pietro Maximoff had had the choice of 'hunting grounds' — since his transformation into a vampire — Hell's Kitchen would not have made the list. The blood of his victims thus far (a few people, who barely remember what happened to them, thanks to Maximoff's budding psychic abilities) has tasted vile. Dirty.

Still, the prey in Hell's Kitchen is far too easy to come by.

And who is going to miss a few thugs here and there?

A cloud of mist, moving of its own accord, wends its way down alleys and in and out of dilapidated buildings, seeking its next meal. Sustenance, however, is not the only thing on Pietro's mind.

He comes to a halt atop a building, squatting down on his haunches like a gargoyle (rather than a man), and he watches three ruffians converge on something… or someone deeper in the alley. He can count five heat signatures nearby, but little else. How easy it would be to zip down there, take control — resolve the situation — in a heartbeat or three…

But where is the fun in that, when he can play with his food for a while. Dispersing himself into mist once more, the Maximoff twin descends to the ground below, gathering around the ankles of one of the thugs…

This should be fun.


Three men worshipping their own bravado and youth hasten out of the alleyway where an Irish fellow bleeds out slowly, tipped towards merciful unconsciousness. They speak in Spanish, all but elbowing one another as a goad against regret, fear or the unfortunate need to turn back and check. Pride spikes and rises as they swagger down the trash-strewn back roads of their territory, small and ill-defined as it is.

One catches the other high on the bruised shoulder. He runs into the brick wall, cursing. “What the fuck’s wrong with you, eh? You want a piece? Think you’re the chief, that it? That it?”

Spanish seethes with little attempt to suppress the noise that might filter up to the rooftops where a blind man listens for trouble.

“Cool your heels,” snaps the biggest of them, grabbing the scratched and bruised male before punches can be thrown. “This ain’t respect. Carlos, take your hit and that settles it. I’m clear, Rodrigo?”

Glares shot past him turn into sullen nods. Rodrigo, the instigator of the trip, gets grabbed by the collar and hurled back into the boxes, and Carlos huffs, blood still hot.

Hot and thick with iron.

“Good,” the leader says, and jerks his head towards the fallen man. “Help him up. All settled.” Carlos grabs Rodrigo’s wrists, hauling him to his feet so they can carry on their circuit of triumph after settling a score. There’s a girl, after all.

In fact, there are two which they see silhouetted at the edge of the long passageway past tenement buildings. By this point, the frantic kicking and muffled screaming inside the locker grows louder as the object of this whole affair realizes someone is coming. She pleads and begs in muffled English, offering everything short of her firstborn to a faerie godmother who cares for none of it.

The metallic tattoo echoes dully. It’s a curse to any kind of subtlety. Wanda embodies the silent purpose in the face of chaos, and she twists the blade back and forth until the tumblers in the heavy old lock give way. Less magic the better under the circumstances.

Rodrigo and Carlos may be quicker on the upswing, muttering. They have no reason to look for anyone else, much less Pietro lurking in the dark. Carlos cracks his knuckles, muttering, “Someone comin’ to steal from the Red Dogs? Now ain’t that swell.”

Wanda’s fingers fly against the tumblers and she jerks away the lock, hurling aside. The door to the locker, dented and scraped, kicks open a crack as the trapped woman’s cries grow louder now she can see daylight.


Pietro the Vampire gathers around the feet of the three ruffians — criminals who seem to deal in human trafficking (children, no less). It strikes a chord in the newly-turned, Chthonic vampire, and the air in the alley seems to drop in temperature — noticeably.

As for his sister, Pietro hasn't recognised her yet. All he can think of right now… is punishing these three fools, and enjoying his next meal. To that end, the mist rises up and coalesces into Pietro's familiar form —

— right behind one of the three Puerto Ricans.

"Excuse me," says he in his light, Transian accent, his tone deceptively nonchalant and roguish. "Is this way to San Jose?" And with that, Pietro wraps his arms around the criminal as batlike wings sprout from his back — and he rockets straight upward.

The thug in question — Pietro's next meal — barely has time to scream, but his body makes a loud, sickening wet thud when it hits the ground a few feet from the other two.

Pietro laughs.

It echoes.

Wanda knows that laugh.


Poor Carlos. Maybe it was really a better idea to visit Mama this afternoon and listen to her carry on about her soaps. Rodrigo might be reconsidering whether he should have thought about that construction job over on 94th, even though everyone said the building site is haunted. They can hear the tapping under the foundations, and no one wants anything to do with it.

Hector, the leader of the trio, is quick to spin when a foreigner addresses them in the heart of Red Dog territory. His breath becomes a harsh laugh, and the response in Spanish unfriendly. “I don’t think you looking for a bus to San Jose here — .”

The rest will never be said. Batwings bursting out has him pulling a knife, striking at thin air ineffectively. He misses a leathery wing, while Rodrigo shouts in alarm, throwing the nearest thing he has at hand — a broken bottle — at Pietro. Maybe it hits. Too late, at any rate, for their brother.

Not a little down the alley clogged in darkness, the terrified office girl emerging from the locker shrieks in abject fear. She stumbles back against the door, cracking her head against it and falling to the ground. The crooked edge tears into her arm, leaving a ragged cut that immediately weeps dark blood. A scent that lies thick upon the air, temptation incarnate. She weeps, too stunned to move.

Wanda has a knife at the ready, a spell on the pull, when she hears that laugh. Her radiant gaze snaps to the greater airborne threat, gauging it worse than whatever lies upon the ground. Standing ahead of the fallen woman gives a measure of defense, but limits options. Limits are dangerous.

Run,” she hisses to the thugs. They deserve what comes, in a way. She won’t live with herself if her screaming instincts are true.

A rhapsody of carmine light bleeds from her fingertips, convulsing into a ribbon of energy.


Without even realising his sister is so close, the now blood-drunk Pietro acts in concert with her… as if their minds are in synch, whether they know it or not. As energy cackles at the Scarlet Witch's fingertips, Pietro drops out of the sky behind the thug furthest away.

"Hello," says he with a toothy smile to the poor meal — that is, man. "One burger and fries and a long drink…" Pietro's arms latch about the man as his teeth prepare to sink into the guy's throat. "Rare, yes? I like it bloody…"

And he bites.

The man screams.

But Pietro does not kill him.

A few moments after the screams, the thug wanders back down the alley in a daze… heading straight for Wanda and the girl. His neck is bleeding, but his eyes are glazed over as though in a trance. "Kill me…" he implores Wanda in a rasp. "Kill me please…"

As he draws nearer, Pietro's form can now be seen more clearly by the Scarlet Witch, with his back to her. He is grinning broadly, his eyes focused upon a space in front of him while he exerts his will over his most recent victim. His fingers flex and splay, flex and splay, showing long, wickedly-sharp nails, and his bat-like wings fold about him like a cloak.

He laughs.

And a moment later, vanishes in a puff of mist.


TITLE: Dead of Night

CHARACTERS: Lorna & Pietro

SYNOPSIS: Pietro, now a freshly-sired vampire, comes upon Lorna in the dead of night…




Lorna sat out on the green of the Frost Institute. It was late, the sun having set some time ago. She'd left and come back, having had little choice in the matter. Irritation sat heavy on her shoulders and she squatted down on the grass, muttering under her breath. In one hand she cupped a number of quarters, frowning down at them and trying to push them away from her. But all the metal did was cling even more stubbornly to her skin.

"Are you kidding me?" She snapped at her hand, throwing it out before her and standing up. Yet the coins still hugged her skin like magnets, unmoved by her now flapping hand.

A chill wind swept over the campus and a small shiver crawled up Lorna's spine and she burrowed into her coat even further. She was to irritated to sit inside, or even to try to sleep. Her mind continued to race over and over again. And she huffed, peeling off the coins from her skin and throwing them down.

"I can freaking float, I did it. I should be able to shove a few /quarters/ away." She groaned, smacking her forehead only to wince at the still nasty looking bruise on her forehead.


"I should get a camera for this, no?" asks a familiar voice from nearby. It is Pietro Maximoff, with a thicker accent, and looking… slightly different than he had several days ago — definitely hungrier than he was. At the very least, he looks at people the same way he used to look at Twinkies.

Right before stealing said Twinkies.

The bearded, silver-haired fellow holds up a finger, then disappears in a streak of blue before returning with a photographer's camera — which he has directed at Lorna. "Okay, give me frustration!"

He smirks again.


A startled yelp follows at the sudden voice and Lorna stumbled forward and twisted around awkwardly. Her green eyes going wide as she spots the strange looking man before her. "W-What?" She gapes at him much like a fish out of water, her lips parting and shutting repeatedly as she struggled to comprehend that someone had not only heard her mutterings but had appeared without alerting her at all.

"Who are you? What are /you/ doing out here?"


"Pietro," says he while clicking the camera at her from several different angles. "And taking pictures. That was a… how you Americans say, 'a swelling trick'. 'Swell trick'. Wait — just a moment!"

The young man disappears again, leaving a trail of blue and grey behind him, only to return with a folding chair, and a couple of lattes in takeaway cups. He holds one latte out to Lorna, smiling lopsidedly.

"Better! Hope you're thirsty." And his eyes glint dangerously at her. "I know I am."


Lorna looked even more confused, and partially blinded as the flash from the camera goes off and utterly destroys her night vision. She twists this way and that, a grimace pulling at her lips as she blinked repeatedly and rubbed at her eyes as he disappeared and reappeared.

"W-what? No! What are you—" She wrinkled her nose at him, her hands held up before her cautiously.

"Could you explain yourself? Please?"


Pietro appears in front of the young woman, camera around his neck, and a coffee in each hand. He indicates one of the drinks by lifting it a bit, then extends it to Lorna. Tilting his head to the side a fraction, the speedster's eyes glint.

"It's called a latte. Lah-tey. And you were supposed to give frustration — not confusion. Can't do anything with confusion. My name's Pietro, and that was a swell trick," he repeats before holding forth the steaming cup again.



A blink, and Lorna completely deflated, her hands falling back limply to her side as she stared at him and then the camera and down to the drinks. Then she smiled, and reached out for the offered cup. "Eh, I guess?" She tilted her head to the side.

"I'm Lorna by the way.." A pause, "Do you go to school here?" If he let her take the cup she would cautiously sip it.

"You uh… er.. what are you doing out here? With drinks like this?"


"School? Here?" he asks, raised eyebrows while he sips at his own coffee. It really does not hit the spot. "Oh, sure! Yes. Yes, I went to school here. I had Mister…"

And he leaves the sentence hanging, as though prompting Lorna to fill in the blanks for him. The more he looks at the young woman, the hungrier he feels, and any time she glances directly at his eyes, they seem oddly hypnotic.

He might even be trying to use them for that very purpose… and having some difficulty. The young man frowns, and drinks more coffee. His nose wrinkles.


Lorna turns as he starts to talk, bending to pick up the quarters that she had flung away from her, or at least trying to. It was dark outside after all. "Huh? Well, I haven't even started school yet. Miss Frost and the committee just accepted me for next semester. But I'm auditing and trying to keep up with the content so I don't fall behind."

A grimace pulls at her lips as she turns her green eyes skywards and pouts, shoving the quarters into her pocket.

"It's just so much harder with everything else going on. You know? I mean, I guess you've got powers and all too," She gestures to him. "But mine never want to behave. I'm still trying to control them. And well, there's a bunch of personal stuff going on too."

She trailed off briefly as she caught herself staring and seemed to have some trouble not doing so.


Pietro chuckles.

"Powers… yes. Behaving… boring." He tosses the coffee aside, and zips around behind Lorna — standing just a little bit too close for comfort. His nostrils flare and he swallows in his throat just a little.

"So, Lorna, why are you all the way out here by yourself, at night?" he asks as amiably as he can manage. Still creepy, though. "Aren't you worried?"


Lorna blinked as disappeared from her direct line of sight to whip around behind her. She stumbled forward to try to reclaim her personal space, nearly spilling the latte as she did so. She blinked, her brows furrowing as she looked at him.

"Well, I can't exactly practice my powers openly during the day.." She mumbled, heat rising her cheeks. "I can't practice them inside either, not unless I have someone to help me. I might sort of.. uhm.. rip things apart." She reached out a hand, turning her focus to the earth below her feet.

"I can manipulate metal I guess? I'm like a magnet, sometimes. Not always. It's kinda hard, but they really get out of control when I'm upset. I've been working on it though. And as far as why I'm out here really.. well okay, I'll admit, I was upset… personal reasons." She grimaced, and set the cup down.


"And here I thought it was just your personality," Pietro teases a bit, after hearing Lorna self-described as a 'magnet'. He still keeps trying to make solid eye-contact, to make his newfound hypnotic abilities work — he hasn't had them long — but is met only with failure.

And he's thirsty.

Frowning a bit, he takes a step back and spreads his hands in a 'let me help' gesture. "Anything I can do? My sister tells me I'm very good with… 'personal reasons' — helping, yes."

It's a lie.

He's terrible.

Too impatient. (i.e. get over yourself already, yes?!) Still, this 'living magnet' has him intrigued, so much so that he licks his lips. Instead of biting her, however, he flashes over to the chair he just 'borrowed', unfolds it, and sits down.

"Start at the beginning," says he with a grin, in a vocal tone not unlike a psychologist just as a session commences.


A crinkle of her brow follows and Lorna tries and fails to be able to follow him as he darts about. "Well, errr.. I guess.. I uhm.." She chewed her lower lip, fidgeting on her toes.

"I just.. well, it's complicated. Really complicated.. So, see, I met this person that has the same power as me like a week ago. And well, someone suggested that we might be related.. and my teacher looked into it, and found out that I was adopted.." She shrugged, raising her hands up as she paced a little from side to side.

"My parents, the people I thought were my parents lied to me, my whole life. So it turns out that this guy that I met, might actually be my father. Which is really, really, strange, because like what are the odds of that? Even more so since I'm apparently not even from the US. I was a war-baby! From Poland! For all I know my mother was a victim from those rotten Nazis and I'll never know who she was!" She throws up her hands and grimaced.

If the chair he sat on was metal, it might have just shaken as her voice warms to the story of what was bothering. Really, this girl was way too open.


The chair is metal.

And it shakes.

And a moment later… Pietro appears several feet away, standing, glaring in accusation at the chair. He is also standing awfully close to Lorna again. "Oh, was that you? The chair? That's a horrible story!"


"I really, you know, feel for you, Lorna."

You smell delicious…

He turns to look at her, leaning around and to the side as though trying to get her to look back at him. "I'm sure everything will be alright, in the end…"

Look into my eyes… You are getting very sleepy — wait, is that how this is supposed to work? Pietro, you idiot! You can't bite her — that would be… so tempting. Better than a Twinkie…

Thus goes his internal monologue, while trying to at least appear genuinely interested in Lorna's story — after all, he did just find another person with 'gifts' like his and his sister's. That's a good thing, right?


Lorna jumped as he appeared behind her, and the chair flew upwards flying over their heads and crashing into a nearby tree. She threw her hands up over her head protectively, but she was slow and then she was blinking back over her shoulder toward the chair, her gaze catching the intent stare from Pietro and she blinked repeatedly.

"Uhm.. what? Could.. uhh, sorry.. sorry. About the chair. That was me. I told you, I'm still learning. That's why I'm outside, to practice you know? Cause I can kinda float, if I was trying really hard. Like.. uhm…" She furrowed her brows, frowning faintly.

"I'm sorry, I've forgotten what I was gonna say."


"Shhh…" Pietro croons in Lorna's ear — or, almost. He's still a couple of feet away. "It's okay, draga Lorna." He slips into Romany briefly, referring to the young woman as something like 'honey', and then extends an arm in an attempt to drape it around her shoulders.

Pietro wets his lips.

"You were talking about floating…" His voice is all but a whisper now, and as he leans in a bit further, the young man's lips part, fangs slowly bared. No sense in rushing a good meal — like drinking a fine wine too fast.

Where's the fun in that?


Lorna tried, really she tried to ease back from the man, but then suddenly he was just there and his arm was around her shoulders. That more than anything had her jumping again, only this time, her hands were held out before her and she didn't just jump. A magnetic pulse jumped from her instead and she was tumbling backwards, landing flat on her back on the grass with a yelp.

A groaned 'ow' escaped her lips and she blinked up at the starry sky, the jolt clearing her mind oddly enough. "Sorry, what?" She blinked, dragging herself up to sit up.

"I didn't mean to do that! And stop sneaking up behind me! It's just gonna make me jump!"


"Am I making you uncomfortable?"

The question is rather superfluous — it's obvious that Pietro is doing just that. Still, in the asking he also adds a slight garnish of teasing, and he offers a hand toward Lorna, to help her back onto her feet.

If she wants.

But as he reaches forward, his eyes flash and the Thirst that so dominates his thinking now… ever since that 'Bride' kissed him… asserts itself. In that instant, Pietro moves in like lightning, using Lorna's arm to pull her toward him, while he hugs her with the other.

And his teeth sink into her neck.


A small sound of a 'yes' escaped her lips, a grumbled word, as she was trying to stand already. Yet when he bent to offer her a hand she accepted it, with a small roll of her eyes. "You're just — " And further response is cut off as he pulls her in close and sinks his teeth into her neck in the blink of an eye.

There was no mind control there, no calming to keep Lorna enthralled, and as such her body reacted violently to the sharp pain that exploded on the side of her neck more than the sudden body in her personal space.

A scream ripped from her lips, as she struggled in his grip, but more so — the metal chair that had been tossed about by her powers came rushing back with all the force it could obtain from the several yards it came soaring over. To smack him in the back. The frame instead so bent and crumbled that it hardly looked like a chair anymore.

Whatever metal was on his body pushed away from her at the same time, zippers, watches, anything and everything. And if the ground below them trembled with the threat of whatever was below it being ripped up, well, that could only freak out both the metal user that pulled the metal to her and the vampire-mutant that had triggered her powers to such a state.


He should have seen it coming.

He should have reacted — in time. Even reacting late would have been okay… embarrassing, but okay… but this? Not reacting at all? Utterly humiliating. The metal in Pietro's clothing (particularly his belt buckle) sends him flying bodily through the air across the open space, leaving Lorna on the ground — blood covering her neck from some vicious fang-marks — alone.

Pietro lands in a bush — prickles. Lots of them — half-chagrined for having been caught off-guard, and half-elated for having tasted fresh blood. The Thirst bothers him just a little less.

But he doesn't come back for more.

He doesn't pursue Lorna any further this night.

Instead, he vanishes in a puff of mist — and disappears into the night as if he had never been there. The gravity of what he has done gnaws at him, eats him, torments him. That was a friend — a new friend, but a friend nonetheless. They were bonding.

And he bit her. Big mistake, idiot.

And then she blasted him away. Should've seen that coming…


TITLE: Blood and Fire

CHARACTERS: Wanda & Pietro

SYNOPSIS: Something has befallen Pietro, who now goes looking for his sister, before oblivion claims him for good. Wanda's involvement brings Doctor Strange…




There is blood everywhere.

A human's? Mutant's? A monster's? All of the above?

Night falls over the East Village, and most (if not all) of its residents are oblivious as to the fate of a single man… who is both human and mutant… and monster. In a darkened alley not far from the Sanctum Sanctorum, Pietro Maximoff struggles to move forward.

He manages it in short bursts of speed, slamming into walls and leaving a smear of his own blood behind him. He is tracking something — someone — a single scent, a scent he has known his whole life, a scent that always seems to come back here to East Village, to this peculiar building.

Not that he knows anything about it.

He only knows that Wanda is most often here.

Across their twin-bond, she would feel it — his pain. She would feel his injuries, his confusion: why am I not healing? I know this vampire-thing — I'm supposed to have a killer healing-factor, no? Figures. She would feel the stake in his chest, the thing that should have killed him, and yet…

It hasn't.


If the stake doesn't do it, the blood-loss will. Pietro props himself up against a wall, trying to breathe; he can't even shift into mist or something at this point. His head hanging forward, he utters and word and puts all his dying thought-power into it:



Since the mists of childhood, their link bound them at levels English — and indeed most Western languages — lacks a descriptor for. Folktales recount the long history of a shared experience between those who shared their mother's womb. Science still has great strides to make to catch up. Faith is quite the opposite, something their father used to advantage.

How many nights was Wanda spent dumped shivering and barefoot in a forest, forced to navigate her way to Pietro with no more than her night shirt?

How many dark hours did Pietro claw his way through forgettable, ancient city streets searching for Wanda in a city given nothing better than his wits?


New York is no different than Krakow, Isfahan, Rostov-on-Don. Vibrations in the instinctive hindparts of the brain know exactly where something is. Pigeons home on magnetic fields. Twins have the blood, and the soul. Pietro's mastery over the one gives him a compass point piercing straight where she is.

Two storeys off the ground, a girl doubles over as another spell runs away from her. Fractal lines around her suppress the burning glow of sparks thrown in directions. She coughs ineffectively into the crook of her elbow, refusing even now to let anyone see the weakness in her form. Censers smoke, purifying herbs creating a sacred space.


Magic threads in and out of Wanda's grasp, the filaments of energy radiating through a shattered sixteen-layer mandala. Her brow pinches in concentration to pull back those strands of gossamer, and the fire she was attempting to conjure from nothing becomes a splash of water, a sinuous spray suspended midair.

A victory, if she cared. She doesn't. Her hands clap over the aching hole in her chest that misery owes no weight to.


Eyes burn red as the cherries of a cigarette, and she utters a sharp gasp. Her command tears into reality, and the floor falls out from under her. Reality warps, the wards chiming in protest behind her.

Smashing into the ephemeral dirt of the Witch Road on her knees, she sucks in a desperate breath, two, not enough to satisfy her drowning lungs. But here she doesn't need oxygen. The weight lifts a little before she opens another gateway and struggles to her feet, dropping onto a plot of grass and dormant chrysanthemums maintained by the Greenwich Beautification Society.


As if hearing his sister's return-cry with his literal ears, the speedster-turned-vampire looks upward, his face contorting in agony, and he tries to move along the wall. He practically claws at the bricks and cement, pulling himself with each step.

He should be healing.

Then again, with a wooden stake through his chest, he should be dead.

A few streets over, a pair of individuals — a man and a woman — scour the suburb for signs of the vampire. They are hunting Pietro, and their intensity sends ripples out across the Astral Plane as much as the physical. Theirs is a magical presence, although one would not think it to look at them.

And they will be on the Maximoff son in moments.

"Wanda…" Pietro murmurs, blood bubbling up in his mouth. Gathering himself up for a burst of speed, he manages to hit the far side of the alley — practically slamming into the wall — then does the same to the other side.

With the same result.

He groans.

Darkness creeps into his vision.

Another Presence is watching.

We are not done with you, yet… Pietro… it whispers in his mind, with faint echoes that Wanda will hear as well. A little more, my son…

"What the f — ?!" Pietro tries to exclaim, and speeds into a trashcan, making an awful racket.


They who hunt Pietro Maximoff transgress against the laws of kinship, as he violates the natural order.

Wanda is never without a knife, and she gathers the ragged remnants of her spell to herself. When opportunity knocks, she doesn’t tarry.

Throwing her hands outwards, she draws a circle and five concentric triangles pointed down to ground her with the energy of the earth. Flowers and soil filter bursts of power from the deepest magic, older than air and slower than fire, eternity offering steadfast support.

The shield falls on her, crystals reflecting a benevolent fire. It takes but moments.

Run like your life depends on it. She runs, wheeling towards the unerring certainty of that twin bond. Sound only affirms what intuition knows gut-deep.

But unlike Pietro, she has a little leisure to mind her whereabouts. The trash can lid helps orient as the unapologetic hunters swing from another angle, their destination the same. But have they spent every waking moment of the last twenty years running from threats? Tracking them?

She slows at the alley, so close, so far. It might be a trap. Pietro is a shadow on one side, and her quarry two more silhouettes back-lit by distant lights.

Hands deep in the pockets of her leather coat, her leather boots creak as she walks. How often have they been the twosome, the duo of avenging angels, cornering some unfortunate undead and its Renfield?

The irony is not lost on her.

“These hunting grounds are claimed,” she says in that arch, chill voice conveying so little emotion except fact and gravitas.

The point of destination is still the same.


He knows that voice.

Pietro struggles to move again — to speak, even — but manages only a wheeze as he topples to the side and lands in a heap. Just a little longer… says the voice in his head. Now is not the right time.

The two hunters approach both their prey and the woman standing just past him. The woman looks over at the man and drops her hands to her sides — in one hand she holds a wooden stake. In the other she surreptitiously palms a compact sidearm.

"What should we do?" the woman asks, in an Eastern European accent.

The man tilts his head sideways, the fingers of his free hand (he, too, holds a stake in the other) moving in the subtle patterns of spell-casting. "She interferes with a Hunt," says he in a similar accent. "Her fate will be his."

In that moment, the woman raises her gun to shoot, while the man slings a bolt energy at Wanda. Pietro opens an eye, and tries — not for the first time — to pull the stake out of his chest.


Time reduces to a crawl under stress. Flashes of the scene stand out to Wanda. How man and woman interact, if they are a team or more comfortable acting alone. The weapon pulled. The spell.

The caster makes the first mistake. Wanda perceives the world through the lens of the Sight almost perpetually. Magic tugs on her senses before its channeling even finishes form. Other noise assaults her, but not that.

She rips her hand in a circle, opening a wavering line. Her advancing run sets her colliding with Pietro, a shooting star hitting ground.

Her body strikes his, throwing both of them through the tear in reality beneath their feet.

They drop through the rent into a place she knows well, too well, for so reactionary a throw.

The wild forests of Estonia where it all began.

Where their father forced them to run unarmed, unprepared, from all manner of threats. Where Yaga taught her magic. Where they learned what it meant to be hunted and to hunt.


Pietro rolls clear.

Like a ragdoll.

Lifeless — well, almost.

He lies like that in the grass, eyes closed, unmoving, for some time before an eyelid flutters and he utters a single groan. "Ow." More moments pass, and he opens both eyes — and glances down at the stake still in his chest. He would chuckle, but lacks the energy; nevertheless, opening his mouth in a pained smile still shows teeth.

Fangs, that is.

And then he looks sidelong at Wanda.

"Is good to you too, Sis," he tells her, his voice so very weary and clouded with pain.


Assuredly they might try to follow through the gate, and Wanda is prepared for that. Not with Pietro’s unearthly speed that breaks the margins of inviolate time, but for the snub-nosed Walther PPK usually holstered at her back under the coat, where its flared skirt conceals the line. Not ideal, but these are not ideal times.

She disengages the safety with a thumb and points the eye of the barrel straight at the fading gate above them, prepared to shatter the silence with five precise retorts to drive home her rebuttal.

No one comes. The tears are too thin, the spell too simple. Maybe vengeance rides on crimson billows.

They stand in Karula, a section of the ancient primeval forest that once stretched from Lake Ladoga to Poland. Here the feared Lithuanian witches terrorized a pagan population until subdued by the templars and knightly orders. Ancient names dot the landscape, Latinized to bring order to dark moors and cold fens. Courland. Livonia. Dorpat.

Places where a man could drown in the bogs and never be seen, overrun by wolves in the grasses, turned to bleached bone where fox kits tusseled over a chunk of meat. It is not a forgiving landscape for all the beauty of the sky-mirror lakes, swaying grass-seas, and tranquil foliage embittered by winter’s much earlier onset.

“The dark comes soon,” she warns in Transian, unnecessarily. Surely his biology tells him that. The gun vanishes from sight, an errant gesture banishing it or tucking it behind her back. Does it matter? He’s the quicker. By bullet, she’ll die, not him.

Those burning eyes shine, pomegranate aril-red, gems in her tawny face. The sun to his moon, now enshrined in truth. The stake in his chest, the pain in his face, the smut from stolen lives in his aura: it all leaps out to her senses.

“What have you done?”


Pietro rolls onto his side, a stake in his chest, one hand around it trying feebly to remove it. Giving up, he rolls back, his head sinks onto the grass and he lets out a pained chuckle.

"I went exploring!" he replies in a deceptively bright tone of voice. "See the sights, meet new people, bite new people… It's a living. I think."

The speedster coughs, doubling over and clutching at his chest. "Someone… didn't like it. I think, I think I pissed them off." Craning his head forward, he peers down at the stake and then back at his sister.

"You should see the other guy."


Dark boughs stretch over them in a profound cathedral arch, light barely penetrated by sparkling handfuls of stars.

Deep shadows saturate her jacket and pants into a miasma of nightfall, the oval of her face alone illuminated to any depth. An absence of light robs her of the riches, golden skin and copper eyes and ruby lips. It leaves the timeless look of disappointment brushed light as foil over her features, a carnival mask to conceal despair, fear, and below it all, love.

One cannot deny the pangs of the twin bond between them, even if the spindled ultraviolet bar in her aura shows the wrongness of his state.

It hurts. She feels the tug to him. Her hands itch to touch him and assure herself he is real. Posturing to invulnerability is her default, but the look askance, the curl of her fingers, betray a lie.

At the end of the day, Pietro leads as elder siblings do. He is the elder brother, the other self.

“I expect to, in about twenty minutes.” Her throat clenches, bitter words and dark promises congealed into a lump. “You touch me for blood, I will put you down, Pietro, and you’ll sleep under the forest until I can heal you. Heal this.”

A bold, brave statement, but where’s the line between bravado and the dark necessity hammered into them by their father?

It’s not in the stake she grabs with both hands, and starts to pull on, if Pietro lets her. They can probably both imagine his voice.

Never give in to sentiment. You can’t afford to be weak. She falls, you leave her behind. He fails you, you carry on alone.

Which is why he’s probably dead.


Pietro laughs despite the pain.

"No biting, blood-sucking or anything that might get us both on daytime talk-shows," says he, his face contorting into both agony and anticipation of even more agony. Once that stake comes out. He laughs again, head falling back to rest on the grass, his back arching with the pain, his fangs bared for all to see…

"Is almost fun; you should try i — !" he snickers before more pain cuts him off mid-sentence. "Vampires… are supposed to heal, no? What's… what is wrong with me?"

And for the first time since he was bitten, turned, he has fear in his voice. Pietro puts a bloodied hand over Wanda's upon the wooden stake and gives her a fierce nod. Pull the damn thing out.


Under other circumstances Wanda might fail to react to the deadpan humour, meeting her twin's ineffable sense of sharp puns with a bland look or a light roll of her eyes.

Too many memories bleed from the cool, glacial-leeched soil and deep shadows of the Estonian forest. Time loses itself in the byways under ancient Scots pine and grim spruce, stumbling past decades of leaf moulder where Soviet and German forces lie in communal graves forgotten by man. Liberators melt into the thickening loam, lying in strata over the pagan tribes, the Hanseatic trading posts, dreaded witches and Teutonic Knights, Swedish princes, and Danish soldiers all come to a grim end.

Concentration carves out the woman's face, effort engraved on the sterling beam of her lips and under hollow cheeks. Her shoulders twitch and ratchet back, her fingers slipping on the smoothed wood. Without purchase, she loses her grasp and the sucking wound pulls in the precious few centimeters she gained. Another attempt follows, hastier than before. When it finally slips free, the stake gives way with a pop and she staggers backwards.

An aged nurse log crumbling to dust sends up a puff of moss and pine dust as she trips over it. Alarm strikes in a cry, and she rolls off her shoulder awkwardly, rising up in a crouch. The stake is lifted, examined, the blood oozing down the front worthy of staring at. Sight blazes at the ruby heart of her celestially-wrought eyes.

"Enchantment inhibiting you? Is it an imperfect transfer?" Her head turns towards him, scouring the blood of her blood and flesh of her flesh for the changing, the imperfections.


Pietro lets out an almighty cry when the stake is pulled free, his back arching, and pitching him onto his side. The wound does begin to heal, however — be it a perk of the vampirism or his own speedy metabolism — albeit the process does not happen in mere moments.

In spite of the pain… Pietro laughs. Manically.

As he rolls back into a facing-upwards position, his head turns to the side, and hungry eyes fixate upon Wanda — specifically upon a vein in her neck. He stares for a few seconds, then with more anguish in his voice closes his eyes and grits his teeth.

There… croons the voice in his soul. See, my son? Your destiny still awaits you… and your sister…

"No!" the young man cries out, sitting straight up.


Interlopers, especially ones dealing violence, are not appreciated by the Sorcerer Supreme, especially so near to his Sanctum and so soon after the wards screeched in sudden sharp pain at being forced open to allow for sudden departure.

Even as he shoves the dazed and confused second hunter through the Gate (hello, waste management facility on the far side of the river - the splat is most gratifying!) and dusts off his hands, Strange is already drawing up the Sight. Whether the Witch likes it or not, combined auras make for ease of tracking that's borderline disturbing.

There, farther down the alleyway…where the smears of bright blood are beginning to dry. Swallowing thickly and trying hard not to let adrenaline overtake logic, the good Doctor squints at the point in reality so recently re-sewn together. It's not difficult to tease at the point until he locates the so-very-far point of connection and glances over his shoulder, out towards Manhattan and knows that it's farther still. Across the ocean…?!

Drawing a Gate to the distant scarlet beacon is simple. It rips open the silent air of the frost-rimed forest with insulting ease and the crackling of chained golden lighting. Ozone precedes and sparks in the wake of his entrance. The crimson Cloak riffles as he looks around carefully, each sigh fogging thickly in the heavy, close stillness. A glance to the right and Strange is in time to take in a most bizarre tableau.

Wanda, ichor-stained wooden stake in hand, making her way slowly back to her stringbean of a brother, who has just finished straight up. Near his heart, a sucking puncture wound, clearly a result of the stake.

"What the hell?!" His voice snaps with great concern across the short distance to them. His hands remain gloved in that fire-hued magic.


A lifetime ago, lessons began in blood. Killing a rabbit with nothing more than an old knife stolen from an unmarked grave, a famished child's emaciated fingers shaking while trying to peel back the slippery hide. Then came feasting on raw meat, always the liver first, for the rich iron. What came down most often came back up. Fire was too rich a luxury, too dangerous in the night.

The next lesson was burning the meat between her palms, a flash in the dark often smothered by dirt or stone. When she got the trick, dinner became more palatable, but barely.

That's when they orchestrated their attacks to teach her the consequences for distraction. Wolves slipping out of the spectral gloom, bats on leathery wings sweeping overhead to drop out. Shots taken by men with long rifles and iron scopes, victors of Stalingrad and the Winter War taking casual aim. Bullet in the brainpan. Squish.

Their children's games were hide and seek in these very woods and shepherd-on-the-moor in the open spaces. Always the fleeter, Pietro held the physical advantage. Wanda never fought fair. She doesn't now.

She darts over the ferns and moss, drawing a sweep of her arm into a fencer's guard. A whisper, not a scream, casts its languid aspersions. "Legati-l, padure sora."

Sister forest, arise. And oh, she does, roots and vines springing up from the soil and branches bending downwards, a rising screen wavering in front of them. Strange coming too close is treated as another obstacle by the autumnal growth splitting out of the buried graves and terrestrial sepulchres awaiting spring.

Old, stony leylines tinged by the anoxic salt of the Baltic Sea run not so far to the surface and with an adoptive daughter's skill, she's plunged into them without a second thought.

Then, as now, the choice is the same: bleed, or be bled dry.


If he could have, Pietro would have sped across the wooded area to the apparent 'new threat' found in Doctor Strange's arrival… As it is, when he hears the words 'what the hell!?', he barely manages to get to his feet — fangs flashing — before he trips on roots, vines and other summoned flora to bind him. Pietro stumbles forward, rolls — slowed by his 'chains' — and collides with a veritable 'wall' of flora, also courtesy of his sister.


At the very least, it would appear the young man's strength is returning quickly enough, as heralded by his sense of humour. "I wasn't going to bite… your boyfriend, Sis," he tells her behind a toothy grin. "He smells — too much of you. Is weird, no?" He chuckles after that, his face still contorting in to a grimace.

He could shift into mist… or something else… if only he had that kind of control when this injured. Instead, he lets his head sink back to a 'cushion' of leaf and root, and lets out a sigh.

"Is so not fair."


Ducking the swish of rapidly-expanding foliage that snakes past him in brambly branches and gnarled roots, Strange high-steps and dodges. It's an eerie flashback to dancing beyond reach of the enchanted trees at the Hellmouth and when the Witch's spell coalesces around the rising form of Pietro, she averts disaster.

The Word dies on his tongue even as he sternly reminds himself that this is his beloved's brother and the fanged stringbean hasn't done a thing to him - yet. One wrong step and his mantle will not flinch an instant in allowing him action. Pietro's words reach him even as he begins striding towards them, heading specifically for Wanda. The air around him sparks with motes of suppressed Sorcerous power. Note that while the Gate has been collapsed, the faintest glow remains around his scarred hands, like candlelight.

"What isn't fair is how I wasn't aware of this until now." The growl is sure to reach both Maximoff siblings. The brother's fangs are noted with a wrinkle of obvious distaste and Strange's brows knit tighter still. "Vampire then."


"Suppose I taste too much of him for your liking," Wanda fires back in Transian, their milk tongue from the dark mountainside of their fated birth another shared facet of the same bond.

Her voice comes from the forest to Pietro's left side, but she does not linger there. Woodland stealth comes by old habit, the knowledge when to be still against the trunk of a tree for cover or a dash around a copse of silver birches wise. Nothing will halt her from going to her belly and lurking in a dip in the ground, concealed by ferns and leaves, though it seems uncalled for yet.

Her path stalks no predictable route, doubling back on itself, angling, circling. She spins the stake around, letting none of the blood run free, considering. "I would say bite me, but I am terrible at puns, and that would be too much an invitation we both know I do not mean."

Leyline energy bucks and dances in a glorious symphony against all senses. Unleashed from its proper formation, it saturates the foliage and enlivens the plants, shooting growth out to entrap Pietro within its tight embrace. Strands of old man's beard cobweb his chest and bushes in their lively advance lay shrubby hands upon him, giving no violation so much as an earthbound hug.

The brunette's secret garden reaches to the canopy, where vigilant boughs interweave for another domed labyrinth in the holy chapel of Mother Earth. She is no less dangerous than a vila or a rusalka, one of the eldritch spirits born of deep pond or still glade, the stake still in hand. It drips, and the soil purifies the stain of blight on the blood. English comes to her harder here, when memories crowd so close and Agatha's shadow practically burns through the veil even though the ancient witch isn't anywhere nearby, aware or to be seen. Instead there is the good Doctor, the dark tormented reflection of her brother, and the hole in his head where his conscience should be.

"Yes. The curse went slant on him. It should not have done this at all." Her eyes narrow, skimming deeper than souldeep. There are no secrets anymore, not from brother to sister, twin to twin. "He still moves too fast. He would lose it at death. You are singular, brother. A very bad thing."


"Yes, yes," Pietro responds in a lackadaisical, irritating tone of voice. "A very bad thing; what's a little sister to do — oh." More vines and roots and leafy-stuff covering him. Still, he cranes his head up to look at Strange.

"She's ashamed of me," he tells the sorcerer with a grin on his face. "Is the fangs, no? Too much? Hey — you have roots digging into my back, Sis. At least make it comfortable. Newspaper and cigarette — I want to read the sports."

For all his bravado, the elder Maxmimoff twin is highly distressed. He doesn't like being what he is, despite all he says. He especially doesn't like being seen this way… by his sister.

He is still a threat to her.

He knows it.

A simple shape-shift away.

And the boyfriend would likely kill him. Easy.

There is a certain appeal to the thought, which Wanda can no doubt sense in her brother. He'd never be a threat to her again… You won't do it, my son, says the darksome whisper in his mind. We both know you won't…

"Go to hell," Pietro tells the voice. Out loud.


Strange notes the meandering path that the Witch takes and shifts his attention back to the now firmly-entrapped Pietro. She's approaching him like…like he's an actual threat. A single, silent nod at her explanation. Now her disjointed explanation back in the Sanctum Loft makes more sense. The young man seems to be healing rather fast for having taken a stake near to the heart, another indicator of not-quite-true-to-nature vampirism.

His path is more direct and leaves him standing beyond reach of a normal human lunge. He has faith in Wanda's warping of the native plants. Pietro seems well and truly pinned to the hoar-frosted earth.

Clearly, he needs to amp up his Glare Game. Her brother is unimpressed by the ambient amaranthine glow in his irises and the Sorcerer slowly sighs out a dragon's breath of fog. To the Sight, the vampiric stringbean is a mess. A total mess. His aura is disjointed, mis-colored in splotches, webbed throughout in pulsating ever-hungry veins of ink. The threads seem to pulse bigger still for a moment, as if bolstered by a sudden influx of power, and take on a fleeting iridescence of black-blood-red.

It reaches Strange as faintest echoes, the Mystical impact of the mental speech that goes unheard to all but Pietro. The kiss of Darkness he saw in the Scarlet Witch so many months back. Oh yes…he'd forgotten until now. Twins. Of course.

He swallows thickly and reigns in the revulsion that churns his stomach. And then the brother speaks aloud.

"Go to hell…?" Strange mutters to himself.


The roots digging into Pietro's back are not the ones he has to worry about. Now, the splayed fingers under the soil formed by creeping taproots and shifting birch suckers are another matter entirely. They curve and straighten to the conjuration of the Scarlet Witch's digits, awaiting that one last call to burst straight vertical and prove a much more enduring stake than the one she ripped out of his chest.

Never show weakness they can exploit. Father's earliest warnings are, in a way, the hardest to break. Do not fret, do not sink to her knees and wail.

She does not dare cry. Her eyes show no tears. They shine with the light of blood and stars gone red hypergiant, they blaze with offertory wine spilled to gods and poppies crushed underfoot at a massacre. Damask rosewood drifts over myrrh and amber, shot by sandalwood and a heavy tincture of absinthe that blows on a wind with no source. It ruffles past the crimson Cloak and settles like a kiss on the brow, jolting into Strange's presence before she emerges through a wall of thorns that kiss her skin and reap their price in blood again. A few scratches, a willing sacrifice.

Rose petals drip from the stake, crimson made almost black.

The Scarlet Witch trembles, her skin responding to stormfronts under the surface, adrenaline dumped by the pint into her bloodstream making her a stamping charger eager to plunge into the battlefront. Only her hand brushing against Strange's wrist seems to restrain the incarnadine threads of her aura from crystallizing into arrows that spear Pietro through. His darkness sings to her light. His defiance rouses something that yearns to awaken from its stony sleep, the lion giving the cackling infernal hyena a pointed glare.

Fingers spread over Strange's wrist, witch meeting sorcerer, staring at brother partly entombed.

Sight surely flickers. The ultraviolet spindle in her aura, the fissure that is Pietro, is limned by the leyline energy, separated by a bleeding edge of radiant cerise distortion that barely holds it back. It's a doorway cracked open for a tsunami.


Pietro lets out a sigh.

"Newspaper… cigarettes… couch… room-service…" he murmurs in a tired-sounding voice, waiting like an impatient guest at a hotel, bored to tears with the lack of service provided. "At this point I'd settle for an explanation. And a drink, yes? Warm — just how I like it. And don't forget explanation — what the hell are you and your… weirdy, beardy, magiciany boyfriend going to do with me, Little Sis? If you're going to stake me — get the hell on with it."

That won't work… says the voice in Pietro's mind, chiding him. Mocking him. You can still free yourself, my s — .

"I said shut the hell up!" Pietro snaps angrily, eyes and fangs flashing — apparently at no one. Of course, to the Sight, there is more than one Presence at work inside the soul of the elder Maximoff. That darkness he shares with his sister has a voice; something has lent it power, opened a door — or at least a window — into shadow. Pietro himself might be standing at that window, shouting out into the night, his voice carried away by the chill wind. Gone.

Pietro's eyes then glare back at Wanda and Strange and he barks: "Well? What are you waiting for?"


Scarred fingers find and curl through trembling, seeking digits. Strange never drops his attention from Pietro, not now that the shuddering sensation, like a deep drum, continues to rebound within his ribcage. It's the war rhythm of the Dark Arts and the Eye of Agamotto, hanging from his neck, clicks into light with a faint ringing sound. Citrine winks, but does not blind, a warning of deitic presence. Foreshadowing of a clash of the god-touched?

He can feel her aura intermeshing with his as easily as breathing. Warmth with the caress of oud and spice of intoxicating herbs distracts him on some level and causes the Sorcerer to lower his guard a smidgeon more still. Her presence, next to him, is solid and unyielding.

The sudden explosive shout from Pietro is more than enough to make him raise a single hand in a mudra of withheld magic. A flash of fangs means an equally-white flash of teeth from him as well, in a snarl of instinctive protection. But he does not cast.
"Wanda…?" he asks, ever so quietly. "What do you want me to do?"


"I want to be good," whispers the witch. At some level she is distraught, hollowed out to perform the task without considering the emotional toll it ought to lay on her. Pain-stricken tidings are for the privacy of the mind, faraway from the source of troubles. "I don't know what to do. Bury him and research a cure in a decade? Stake him and take his head?" Her fingers cling madly to that one shaking lifeline to a reality she does not truly know, a world that has been sheltered from her and cast in terrible absolutes. He knows this. They both do.

Her throat closes around the weight of her arcane burdens. Pressure from too much power under three atmospheres pushes down and seeks the outlet of least resistance. It hurts, not the sweet hurt of fatigue, but the dull crushing weight of a migraine. "Warp the curse. Jail it in a mirror. Take him to the Astral and tear it out. How do I fix this? Fix him? It cannot be you working alone. My brother. My fault."

So simple, and yet so hard, as she gazes at him in the throes of a war for hearts and souls. Sometimes it takes a simpler way, and waiting for Strange to answer, she reaches out her Sight to a straying black cobweb shot through her twin's being.

"Pietro…" A word, a vow, hangs in the air. He who moves through the world with mercurial glee and no qualms for his future shackles her like lead. "Don't be like this."

A dangerous imperative when one deals with a reality warping witch, and the tether on creation not exactly rooted all that deeply into the firmament, other than which the good Doctor represents. A dangerous imperative because that power, that will, that scarlet magic — not the black — wakes up. The dam falls and it rushes out, intent and wide-reaching, rolling right over their commingled auras. It pours through Strange in a wine-dark sea, and the muted back-eddying flood pours into her brother without trying. It surely feels odd, so alive and so warm, the essence of springtime sunshine. Amaranthine light glows around her fingers, visible to anyone, casting the forest into a bruised plum shadow.


Pietro's vampire-ears pick up the conversation between Wanda and the 'magiciany-man' beside her. He doesn't really know who Strange is — either that, or doesn't care. He's had other things on his mind — like blood-lust. And the voice in his head. Still, hearing Wanda talk about how best to kill him, or end his curse…

Causes Pietro to laugh.

Without mirth.

"'Don't be like this?'" he mocks her bitterly, now at last showing more emotion than impish glee and wisecracks. "You helped make me like this!" Oh, there's spite in that voice. There's spite in those eyes. The part of him that hates what he has become finally gets some decent 'airtime' over the wireless.

What are you trying to do, my son…? asks the voice in his mind, that Darkness rearing its head — now more visible than ever to the Sight.

"You put me here, Sister," Pietro bites back again — defiance for the Darkness, and blame for his blood. There is a point to it, no matter how painful. "I was there! I felt her bite, but I felt your magic, too! I'm your mistake — your mistake to fix! Or to bury…"

WHAT are you trying to do??

"Now I can hear Him…" Pietro goes on to say — although it takes effort to say those words, as though something were trying to hold him back. He doesn't want to die, but he does want the voice in his head to shut up. Somehow. He wants to be himself. Maximoffs stick together. They only have each other. And right now… too much of him belongs to Someone Else. Do something! his eyes tell his sister. Anything.


The name seems to ring with power and Strange has time to tear his gaze away from the struggling brother to take in - truly take in - the amount of incarnadine magic that roils at the very edges of their melding auras, at the gripping of hands.

A wheezing inhalation as the ripple across reality crashes into him and sets his skin ablaze. All around them, frost and loosely-rooted grass is ripped back, blown away in the backlash of the violet-hued Mystically-bolstered cataclysm. Both hands, steady as the earth itself, grip until his knuckles turn white in reaction to flashing nerves and containment of the intent-made-real.

Every loose bit of clothing writhes, down to the crimson Cloak as well as his hair; all conduct splintering arcs of energy laced with citrine. His cheekbones are stark with the force of his clenched jaw.

It's like attempting to control the tides. Another wave crashes through him and forces his eyes wide open. They shine with starlight and Sight and then the spoken command, tasting of scarlet and black roses and cosmic dust, strikes true.

The ghost of godly Darkness saturating Pietro's soul and locked into the stolen blood in his veins stirs to a touch. A physical caress plunges incandescent filaments dark as violets into Pietro's flesh, locking into the discordant anomalies. It stings and oddly vibrates to a high key, the warbling music of the planet Uranus, embodiment of change and disruption, filtering through his body with increasing violence.


Strange can impart no sense of sutures snipped, no - this is a removal with no numbing agent. A Mystic connection is far less gentle as the Witch seizes her augmented curse bestowed upon him, inheritor of Chthon's dread name, and rips it back.

Into herself.

Into them.

They aren't separate, she and Pietro, but her being is ticking towards merging into an eldritch union with the Sorcerer Supreme, and there is no telling where one ends and the other begins within the cloudy vastness of their seething heliotrope nimbus.

Unrepentant lightning, singing with the scarlet strains of vast eternity and the points of light that shine crystalline to allow vision in blackest night - it fractures through the mingled aura and into the ink-leaking ball of coalesced curse, of blight-taken-form. The rising shriek echoes across dimensions. Birds are set to panicked flight from the surrounding trees, deer crash from the beds in the ferns. On the nearby lake, the thin ice shatters and the air distorts to waver the faint light of the moon behind suddenly thinned clouds.

The ropy tangle of life-sucking death is shredded with impunity. Blasted away by rays of All-Seeing light in combination with pearly willpower.


In the end, her eyes burn white. The rest glows that deep, assured shade of the heart's true purity, the ninth step of qi, that last stage of the visible spectrum. Wanda is the centre for their circuit, the relay between Sorcerer Supreme to elder twin, and the vast spectrum of power on display leaves her almost insensate to the rest of existence.

Mystic energy sings through her, the celestial grounded in the bonded line to nature's beating and bloody spirit. Stars dance and the heavens rage in their sheer destructive force, and she laughs in spite of it.

Creation bubbles up out of her hands, sped through the coursing networks opened throughout her being for the first time on this scale. The warping effect around the curse folds and reforges it, refuting its grip upon living flesh, making something else out of the void. This, too, is cause for delight and quivering fear of the mother in childbed, the fledgling leaping from the nest.

Freedom comes with cost, and action with consequence. Pietro's pain is her pain, the wages of his sins hers to bear for taking a hand even if it was to save his life. There is no way to embrace him as they did when their father's twisted games were done, the two clutching one another under the black, chilly sky of a primeval northern forest.

Partly because the price of dancing in dervish beats to the primal forces of nature is accepting their deep, abiding price. Hands still in Strange's, she doesn't extricate herself in any obvious fashion. Not even in their amethyst halos, which remain uniform.

It's simply that Wanda fell asleep on her feet.



As the combined magicks of the Sorcerer Supreme and the Scarlet Witch rip into the landscape, and into Pietro's body and soul, the cry that erupts from his throat is both his… and not-his at the same time.

Definitely more not-his, than his.

He can feel the curse as it is purged from him — quite literally purged. He might as well be burned alive, like the witches of old. It rages in his soul: shadow and flame, the one against the other — but he also feels it on his skin.

Protected in part by the prison wrought of living root and bough, Pietro screams, his voice piercing the sky — so complete, so inhuman his agony. He is dying, he is sure of it. He goaded his sister (and Beardy, there) into doing so… and thus they have done.

They have killed him.

No, merely part of him.

When the torrent of fire and ice is over, and the elder twin finds himself spreadeagled upon the charred grass some feet away, face upwards — three things occur to him simultaneously:

1) he is alive.

2) he is no longer a vampire; the voice is gone from his mind.

3) he is stark naked.

"Ow…" is all Pietro manages to say.


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