1963-11-29 - The House of S: Vol. I
Summary: The House of S: Vol I, assembled.
Related: The Maxim of Family, Part II: Obligations
Theme Song: None
strange wanda billy tommy 

The early evening is brisk, just before sundown, and the lean silver-templed man draws up his shoulders against a sudden rush of wind. Clad in black winter coat and crimson scarf, hands shoved deep into his pockets, he glances over at the young woman by his side.

"I can't believe it hasn't snowed yet. It's been so cold for so long. There's the scent of it on the wind," and he inhales carefully, looking off at the horizon over the buildings of Greenwich Village. "It always smelled like this, back in Nebraska, before it snowed. Plus, the frost on the brushes in the mornings." His sigh fogs like dragon smoke in the air. Walking back from the tea shop was Strange's idea, but he's regretting it slightly now. The chill is getting into the damaged nerves of his hands and making them ache.


Billy is SO SLOW. Tommy might be able to zip around town, but if Billy's gonna follow him— and lets be frank, he's not going to be successful at that— he seriously needs to work on some sorta something. Only Papa Strange is all blah blah stop changing reality kid, and Billy is being good. Sortakinda. So, he slooooooooowly flies through the air at like sixty miles an hour following Tommy, but Tommy totally has the lead on him. For his part, he's a thick bundle of fur lined coat and gloves. IT IS SO COLD.


Night comes so soon in this lengthening descent into winter. Electric lights come on earlier, banishing the true dark, though it's not enough to make alleyways and branch-shaded byways of Greenwich Village any warmer or drier. Wanda moves along at a double beat no one will call casual, the window blowing her rather upright for all her efforts to lean into it. Try as she might, the brunette lacks the size to overpower a nor'easter gale whining through the brick gulleys and canyons. Her leather coat, a shade of burgundy truer to violet than orange, gives some protection. Leather pants? Those do as well.

"It was far too warm at the start of last week. Is this revenge for one last fine day?" How it barely seems a week since a handsome president was shot in the head, and the world veered off-course. Her lips tighten slightly and she turns her face, golden skin attesting to a history somewhere in her lineage of living where winter might be monsoon or a balmy 10 degrees Celsius. (As if, Fahrenheit!) Silver plumes escape as she turns to face away from the bluster. She weaves closer to Strange, glancing down one of the alley ways. A flit of motion catches her eye, and there she pauses a moment. Fingers stray reflexively to a knife.


On the plus side, while Billy may be flying at a far slower pace than Tommy's running — tearing through the streets at full tilt - he has the advantage of going in a straight line. /Tommy/ on the other hand is going up and down /every/ street. The platinum haired speedster has never had anyone be able to run /away/ from him. At least, not without his expressly allowing it to happen, and that wasn't the case here. Making matters worse? The escape artist in question was a girl that had caught his eye. It's a fact that's resulted in a more lasting impression than most might make.

That flit of movement? Yup, that was likely Tommy. No stone goes unturned when he's on a mission; at least when it's one he's interested in. However, the boy /is/ distractible and extremely so. One of the best was do to so? A pretty face, a nice… well, everything else. These are things he notices on the first pass — along with the customary rush of air that accompanies the places he's been — by Strange and Wanda. However, doubling back is a bit much of a giveaway. So instead, he's going around the block.

Hope can wait a bit longer. She ditched /him,/ after all.

Which is why it's behind Strange and Wanda that Tommy appears; first as a blur as he slows, and then something far more visible. Ski goggles are pushed back up onto his forehead. Leather jacket smoothed into place. Well-practiced smile, dimples and all, worn on face. Flirting is go.

"Hey, miss… I think you dropped something back there." A pause for effect, and he adds. "My jaw, that is. Wow. Think your dad there would mind if we ditch him and do something a bit more fun?" The voice oozes confidence; this isn't his first time approaching a girl — even with an escort. It's probably not even his hundredth time. The law of averages works in the favor of the fast.


Strange laughs, the sound visible in the air. "No, I'm sure there will be one more day of heat just to make us all wonder about putting our gloves and coats away. It always seems to be…like that." And the Sorcerer is quick to note his partner's hesitation as well as to take a step nearer to her. Inky coat brushes against claret-hued leather and then someone's talking at them.

Someone young and annoying-sounding, with waaaaaay too much suave and not enough good sense. The good Doctor finds the source…and narrows his eyes in a distinct lack of amusement.

Ski-goggles, really? Huge dissonance with the lack of similar gear on the kid and the leather jacket screams nothing but trouble. Wait-wait-wait, did the mop-head just insinuate that he was Wanda's father?! One dark slash of an eyebrow rises in slow menace.

"Wow, that was incredibly original. Top notch," and the teenager is awarded a mocking golf clap. "Don't you have others to molest? Move on, kid." The pale-haired teen is given a sharp steel-blue glare and sharp sigh of dismissal, even as Strange turns to continue walking on. "Come, «Beloved», leave him to run off his steam elsewhere."


Sometimes words take a moment to parse the translation department of the mind for a foreigner. Second or third or sixth languages limit even the most brilliant mind, parsing data and dumping the block for conversion. Those split-second pauses focused inwardly can, to the uneducated eye, easily be construed as a measure of delighted modesty. 1963 is an era when the good girl blushes at a compliment and never insinuates direct knowledge of whatever that fresh young man is talking about.

Full mouth softening towards its natural line might be thought warmly responsive, doubly when her white teeth worry the satin of her inner lip. Say nothing of those fey, lambent honey eyes averted below thick black lashes, setting up the game of catch as one can. All she needs are pink cheeks, though her gilded complexion is loathe to supply that even in the nippy weather. Simply don't look too close at the wine-dark sheen rolling over her eyes and her fingers curling around the hilt of a stiletto knife to dispel the illusion of enchanted girl under escort.

Jaguars have the same way of pausing when observing prey at the riverside boundaries of their territory, intent on staring at an oblique anger. Something might just be there after all. The golf clap brings her up short, even as she glazes Tommy in the same measurement she stalks a spirit with. Slavic slants her English, there can be no mistake. "Is he trying to steal from you?"

Yes, actually.


In the distance, Billy can see Tommy come to a halt— and he'd recognize that pair anywhere. Billy's first thought: oh shit.

His second thought: oh shit oh shit.

He flies through the air, trying to increase his speed, to get there, to save the day. He never even thinks to teleport down there the rest of the way. He should. But he's too busy panicking: Tommy, do not hit on mom. He tries out his twin-psychic bond which totally doesn't really exist: TOMMY DO NOT HIT ON MOM. He's not going to get there in time to save the day, is he?


"Don't /I/ have others to molest, he says. This from the guy with 'bad touch' written all over him." is offered back to Strange; the teen's quick on his feet (and that's an understatement). Then his attention turns to Wanda. "Steal? Nah. That implies he's got you in the first place. See, you're still on the streets and not in his dungeon, darlin'. Personally, I'd recommend run fast, run far, in any direction you can. I can make sure he doesn't follow you and catch up when you're clear." …oh, and that accent is caught. Girls with accents are a nice little plus.

"I mean, seriously. This dude's the equivalent," Wow, four syllables! "of a rusty old Beetle to my Ferrari; and trust me, I can ride those curves of /yours/ at least twenty times better, and don't get me started on stamina. If he can even get it in gear."

Older men mourn. Viagra? Not approved by the FDA until 1998.

Poor Billy. He's trying so hard to catch up. But he's trying to catch up to /Tommy,/ and… well… that's not at all the easiest thing to do. So the fastest teen alive is blissfully ignorant of facts at the moment.


The Sorcerer draws up short, hesitating only for a moment…before he turns around to face the teenager once again. Nothing — nothing on this green earth irritates him more than teenagers. If the poor guy only knew about the impending discovery.

A sauntering step up beside Wanda, a congenial smile that shows way too much teeth to be anything other than edged and ominous, and it most certainly doesn't reach his eyes, now glowing around the centers with the Mystic Arts.

"As fast as you showed up, you half-plucked pullet, and loud as you crow, you're not fast enough to think twice about listening to your elders, are you? You get to the count of three to apologize to her," a head nod towards Wanda, "or else I'm scruffing you by that awful jacket and marching your skinny ass to the nearest police station for harassment."

Aside, to Wanda, clearly nothing close to true sotto-voce, "Kid compares himself to a Ferrari in terms of speed, he must be disappointing in bed."


Garnet-studded barrettes at her temples flicker-flash under the streetlights, throwing their own kind of bloody light. Wanda thumbs the unembellished hilt sheathed against the ink-tide curve of her hip, the burgundy leather jacket curtained over the knife sheath. Surprise could pit Tommy's quick wit against her adrenaline-charged reflexes. She's the antithesis of a modern girl, light drizzling across the oiled flexion of her knee and shadows caught on the shift of weight onto the balls of her feet in readiness. The conversation quarters her honed focus, words swirling over bowed head, while she eases slightly into Strange's shadow. A quarter turn might be the opening the cocky teenager's looking for, a chance to hook his arm through her crooked elbow and dance her away from the gentleman showing his true colours, silver and steel-blue. They're a powder keg about to explode.

That accent teases on placement between Russia and Greece, assisted by Latin subtleties. "Your first mistake, you think I do not ride. Your imagination is sadly limited to three dimensions." A slim glance strays up towards the overcast sky as the wind coils around them, making streamers of her dusky hair that, in this light, is a nest of spectres and entrapped moonbeams. "Ten, fifteen years will age you to a proper wine instead of grape juice." That smile could arrest planets in their wandering passage, confounding for someone so young. But she tips her head to Tommy, giving the slightest shake. "Too sweet."

Pupils flood poppy as she stands on her tiptoes, hissing under her breath to Strange. "Wrath exemplar, ten meters."


Billy finally remembers he can cheat: there's a quick thought and he snaps out of reality and is a moment later appearing right beside his twin, and he's grabbing the guy and pulling away, his expression looking deeply pained, "Hi, Wanda, Hi, Doctor Strange." He has no idea really what it is Tommy said, but he *knows* the guy. Sure, from the future, and sure, his memories are kinda scrambled, but he KNOWS Tommy.

And that was like a whole minute maybe he left Tommy in the presence of Wanda. The disasters that can happen in a minute. "Wanda. Doctor Strange. Meet Tommy. Speed." He grits his teeth, and murmurs to Tommy, "You remember I was going to introduce you to Wanda and Doctor Strange, bro?" Its so weird to call Tommy that, but still. He's hoping to get the point across, like: STOP HITTING ON MOM.


Hey, now, Wanda is a common name. It's the fiftieth most popular in the US, roughly, for someone who would be of equal age to Tommy and Billy. There might be a good many pretty brunette Wandas to accost while pretending to be a Mount Placid hoodlum!


"I'll listen to anyone who sounds like they've got something worth my time. Tick tock, ol' man. You're boring me. Tell you what, I'll get a pillow, you can wake me up when you're done trying to lecture me. If you need pointers, you can always start with the old favorite: When I was your age, and dinosaurs still roamed the Earth…"

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, you'll get none of that from he!

"Tch. Brain's already going out the window. Look, I feel bad for you. How about I get you some Jell-O, a copy of the 'Bulletin from, like, 1845 or whatever makes you feel young again, and set you in front of that," Crotchety old man voice, GO! "new-fangled motion-picture-box that you folks love so much." Nope, no threat of going to the police station can stop Tommy. Actually. Wouldn't that be the best way to meet Strange when he does? The same way he comes home to Frank so many times? It'd be pretty hilarious, wouldn't it?

Then to Wanda, "Oh, I /bet/ you do. You seem like the type. Take-charge kinda girl. I dig it. I—"

That's when Billy's voice comes into play. And everything in Tommy /freezes./ There's every bad feeling going through his head that he can imagine, conflicting with his previous modus operandi of Hitting On The Hot Girl and Hassling The Old Man. Who just might happen to be his parents.

That freeze lasts a second. Once it's done? "Nope. So much nope."

And he's off like a supersonic /jet./ A jet that happens to be screaming expletives through the streets. Oh, Billy, he's mad at YOU! …for the moment, at least. Like many things with Speed, it'll pass quickly.


So far, the Sorcerer has kept his hands in his pockets. Super bonus point multiplier for him. However, he's about those three seconds away from not just scruffing the kid, but emulating a future game with two Gates faced towards one another, up and down, and tossing the skinny snot into it. Fast-talk your way out of that gravity-trap, PULLET.

Wanda's sly insinuations are enough to turn that deadly grin into a sharky smirk. However, Tommy's gone past the point of no return. By the end of the kid's snarky tirade, the scarred hands have come out and the sleeves are literally being rolled up on his coat. Oh. That's how it is? A ripple in reality is all the warning he gets before Billy abruptly shows up and forestalls the next Word just weighted on the end of the Sorcerer's tongue.

"Wait a second, this little sh — " And zzzzzip, the Pullet is gone. Strange blinks and looks around. "Oh no, not like that. It's not THAT easy," he growls and then frowns at the air before him. A single pale-blonde hair wafts in the wind. Tsk. Pullet shouldn't leave pieces of himself behind.

With fingers steadied by thrumming magic, Strange plucks the hair from the empty space and holds it triumphant before him. If Tommy could actually see the expression of intense satisfaction on the Sorcerer's face, he'd probably run farther still.

"We'll have him back momentarily, folks, but for now, Billy, you need to explain." The pale-blonde hair is stuffed away into a pocket. Faint movement, visible to him beyond the young man's shoulder via the Sight, makes him frown and then grimace. "Oh great. That's what you meant earlier, «Beloved», the spirit. By all means, it's yours," he adds with a nonchalant gesture towards it. "I need to save power to drag the other one back kicking and screaming."

Was that a dark note in that statement? Yikes.


Times that suck for Tommy Shepherd:
a. His birthday
b. That one time with the girl in the rain on the flash floodplain (not Spain)
c. Now
d. Five years minus twelve minutes
e. 10:57 PM
f. All of the above

Already primed by an ephemeral presence flirting with her mystically-infused senses, the hot girl acts on lifelong experience matching wits with an impatient platinum stringbean. The pause lasts a second, maybe two seconds, a lifetime for a man gifted at breaking laws of space. She snaps her palm up, a speck of scarlet radiance fashioned and fired off at the speed of thought. Strange has the benefit of sympathy to work his magic with. Hers merely follows gaps in the laws of physics, in effect throwing a blood-red tracer through the distortions left by the rapidly departing teen. Its path gives any mage with the Sight a fresh trail to follow. The luminous dart flies into the alley after the intangible wrath spirit, striking it and earning an unearthly howl heard only in astral wavelengths.

Now, she can be polite, turning back towards the one who behaves himself. Her stance eases back slightly, knife in one hand, a wave offered afterwards. "Good evening, Billy. I am hunting." Her level movements bring her after her quarry, already stuck from phasing in or out fully. Over her shoulder, she asks, "You found someone you call bread? Is that a nickname?"


"That's Tommy. Speed. My friend from the future. My brother from the future. Brother. Bro. We just found each other— the magic that pulled me back pulled him back too. His memory is all screwy too, but his parents aren't. Just like mine." Billy frowns, his expression darkening, "And his parents suck, especially his dad, who … I think is more then just an ass, but maybe abusive, too." Well, back before Tommy couldn't run away from him. "He's really into cute girls." He pulls a face: ew, he just thought of Wanda as falling in the 'cute girl' class, that's so wrong. PURGE THE MIND. PURGE COMPLETE.

He eyes Strange, and shakes a finger at him, "Now don't you do anything to him, he's mortified! He'll run it out and get over it pretty quick. It's how he processes, at light speed. Anything less and everything is so slow."


If Billy thinks for aforementioned three seconds that his explanation and finger-shaking is going to stop the Sorcerer Supreme from doing something to Tommy, he's got another thing coming. Strange leans around the corner of the alley as another wavering screech wavers out, resounding to his ears as he's wreathed in the Sight, and ascertains that Wanda is doing more than just fine (ohhhh…that's gonna hurt later, right in the ghostly gizzard). The glowing eyes then rest on the teenager standing in front of him.

"So. He's the other twin. Wonderful. The 'cute girl' he just hit upon is Wanda, your mother. He's lucky that it's me responding to him instead of vice-versa. Hear that?" Billy might not, but it's the sound of a very juicy impact followed by another agonized howl. "If you can't, it's your mother brutalizing the spirit within an inch of its ectoplasmic existence. All I'm going to do is summon him back so she can speak to him as well."

Poor Tommy. Poor, poor Tommy. Strange never mentioned the side effects of a proper summoning to the unprepared.


Every last syllable out of Billy's mouth is a nail, driven into a coffin containing, among other things, Tommy's anonymity and Wanda's approval for her elder incarnation's decision-making processes.

Anger, however, is the one thing she cannot afford to maintain with a spirit consisting of that very emotion nearby. First things first: she paints a series of rapid motions with her extended fingers, precise slashes interlocking three downface triangles that end up contained by a circle. Banishing anger takes her several moments during which the Sorcerer Supreme can argue with her time-displaced child. Siphoning the life energy from her own pattern, she sends a needle-thin lance firing at the bound spirit. The impact is odd: it sounds like laughter. You know, the sound she never makes.

"I never would have imagined he liked girls. His attempts to persuade were awful." English is slowly improving with some use, if she can put together that particular sentence with her usual desert-dry humour. "Did you bring him here or find him first?"

For terribly jarring news, she's taking this fairly well. It could be the result of purging her own delight into a direct assault on a scrap of magical rage.


Billy bristles, and moves to put himself bodily between Strange and the direction of Tommy, and reality warps around him, bending and shifting as bands of pure force— the raw substance of reality itself— is formed and coalesces into what most people assume is telekinesis, but is instead the very nature of space being rewritten on the fly. He doesn't attack Strange with it— not that he would see it as an attack, but his expression is serious and grave. And intensely protective, "Leave him be. He'll be back soon enough and when he's ready. You will not force him to talk before he's ready, do you hear me? That's my brother." He's known they were brothers for what, days? And Billy's loyalty is absolute already.

He glances sidelong to Wanda, serious, "Sometimes his thing work, sometimes it doesn't. He's Tommy." He says that like its all the explanation in he world. But he goes back to staring down Strange, and for once? He seems quite seriously to mean to stare him down, and Billy Kaplan ain't backing down on this. Not when it comes to protecting Tommy.


Speed is a fun thing. Ever since he got his, it made life so much easier; he was able to run away when things got too hot. Sure, a lot of times he'd stay just for the reaction, but there's certain lines he doesn't cross. The one that he flung himself over? That's one of the bigger ones. Tommy has a type, you see. They have to meet very specific standards in order to catch his attention:

1) Female
2) Breathing

The news that /that/ was Wanda, who very much doesn't /look/ like someone old enough to have kids — though Billy warned him about that, he remembers, if not the fact that Strange was /old/ — was jarring. So yelling at the top of his lungs was a good release. It didn't hurt that some of the people he ran by — victims of sound travelling /not/ at speeds faster than the speaker — got smacked for curses they didn't say. That was funny. Juvenile humor appeals to him.

When he comes back? It's much the same way. A blur to a solid form. Except this time he's far more vocal. "ckfuckfuckfuckfuck." Yup. This one needs mouth + soap. But, the words are spoken, not yelled. Energy, he's used it.

Eyes fall on Strange. He can't look at Wanda right now. "Look — before you say anything. I get it. I was wrong. I don't do /that./" Waving hands in Wanda's general direction. The pick up moves? Oh yeah, that's him. On his mother? So much nope. "I'm sorry. To both of you. I'll say it this time, because I /mean/ it. I'll even stand put if you wanna slug me."

Just don't get used to either of these things being true of Tommy.


Strange, in the moment, really does take the revelation of the second son with about as much fluster as he exhibits in his exasperated comment about the wonder of it all. It's later on, probably more towards midnight, that it'll all catch up to him and leave him staring blankly at the far wall. Maybe he'll even pull the covers up over his head completely and mutter something in some dead language, probably along the lines of 'Oh gods below, kill me already'. The boys need to grow on him. Like fungus.

The Kaplan boy is granted a look containing all the warmth of a glacier's center, Mystic glow to boot amped up a bit higher still. "Billy Kaplan…think hard about your next actions, because there will be consequences if you continue to change reality around you."

Newton's Third Law, in Mystical terms, though it will be skewed in the favor of the Sorcerer, unfortunately. A trip into the Mirror Dimension for a lesson is one thing. A boot into the Mirror Dimension for a stern talking to is another thing entirely.

The return of the pale-haired speedster saves Strange quite a number of unfortunate reactions, though he does mutter to himself, "Speak of the devil." His hands clench in his coat pockets, but don't leave them. It was all just words, ultimately. Not Words. The cursing, he can handle. He ate soap a few times as a teenage boy, he gets that.

The apology earns the young man a softening of his expression, as if he just might understand the difficult of expressing regret around a heavy lump of pride, especially in the face of such an utterly-embarrassing mistake.

Hitting on your mom? Awkward level 'Dead Baby Turtle'. Red zone. No forgetting it.

The comment about 'slugging' shapes the expression differently once again, towards a sort of suspicious confusion. All the while, those dark brows remain knitted. "Nooooo," the good Doctor begins slowly, "No one's going to hit you." Eyes flick and linger on Billy momentarily — he did catch the earlier revelation from the Kaplan boy regarding abuse — back to Tommy with a gracious nod. "You apologized. It's enough. We don't hit. I don't hit…unless hit first. Personal rule." And in perfect alignment with the regulations of his mantle. "And I certainly don't hit youngsters."

Good luck on the gods below killing you, Strange. That's their bloodline, either in actuality or borrowed truth, and all the Elder Powers are related anyway. Try not to murder the scion's sons; ask the scion not to slay the gods' chosen. The very pretty arrangement for a détente has worked well to the satisfaction of all parties except Billy Kaplan.

He might have to fear the Sorcerer Supreme. More to the point, he more than likely needs to worry about his mother, who swivels on her instep and pulls herself to her full height. Emotion bled out of her formed the arcane lance she just slew a spirit with; all the delight she could muster. The clear-eyed sorceress assessing him now shows all the consideration of a seasoned veteran of the elementary grades looking at a 6-year-old with a measuring cup of acid and the determine to throw it on another caretaker.

One Word, one power, is infinitely stronger than any spell even the Sorcerer Supreme can hope to throw. It lies on her tongue, able to transfix magic and twist reality in the same dreaded syllable.

A middle name.

Middle names exist only to differentiate the nine other Williams and Thomases from their peers in a certain age bracket, and the invocation of every maternal soul ever. Fathers can bellow it from the back porch. Only a mother can unleash it at her first (and second) born in a resounding tone of such disappointment even Chthon does an about face and yaps with the Beyonders about how their linear week went. Same as always? Maybe put some Doom and Chaos in your life? It hovers on her tongue.

Thank Stephen Strange for not forcing her to unleash it in those ear bending volumes, or else they might all be running for the hills.

"William." Soft. "Thomas." Softer. Her volume stays whispery; impossible to muster anything louder, still catching her breath and whirlwind thoughts. Atoms skitter like beads on an abacus around her, nudged away. "Family does not fight and hurt one another." Strange she trusts to keep his thoughts on that matter, knowing what he does of her mind-bending, abusive upbringing. Her knife points down, dripping evaporating puddles of spirit gore. "We do not harm each other. Yes?"


Billy sorta glares at Strange, then at Wanda, then at Strange again. Its the perfect picture of a teenage glare: he's not really mad, but he wants to be, and so he forces it. "Tommy is… Tommy." he says, voice grudging, "He processes things in his own time. You do not force him, that is harming him, and anyone— anyone— wanting to harm him goes through me first. You let him process and trust that it'll probably be done processing in thirty two seconds because he's faster then anyone, but you don't force him. No matter what. If family does not fight and hurt one another, then family respects things like that."

Billy hesitates, his expression softening, glancing over at Tommy a moment, "You guys might be our parents… okay… are? This is so weird. But Tommy and I have known each other for years and just found out we're more then friends, we're brothers. I still have to get to know you. You still have to get to know us. But I know Tommy."

Billy is seriously taking to this 'protective of brother' thing.


Now Tommy takes a moment to relax a bit; no, there's definitely things that will never be unseen, thoughts that will never be unthunk, and words never unsaid. That's something that Tommy will have to live with.

He'll deal with that the way he usually does. Hit on a hot girl. …but later. After he finds another one to hit on. NOT this one. Who isn't hot. …he's going to have to deal with that for a while, maybe MINUTES even.

"If you say so; offer expires in three, two…." Tommy won't admit the fact that he's thankful for /not/ being hit — or even having the punch thrown and dodged; he's too proud for that. Far too proud.

Then it's time to do /his/ part. A hand reaches out to pat Billy's shoulder. Slowly. Agonizingly slow for Tommy. "Dude, it's OK. I would've reacted much worse than he did if some guy had hit on a girl I was into. Actions matter more than words, Even /I/ know that." Pause. "Don't get in trouble with the parents. /You/ have a reputation to protect." Tommy points out, already starting to grin again. He too has one to protect. He's done a fine job of that so far, truthfully.


Strange will let it expire. Actions mean a hell of a lot more than words.

The glare isn't quite all there from Billy, so he doesn't get the full flat look in return from the good Doctor. "I'm the oldest of three, Billy. I understand the need to protect him. But I ask that you trust my judgment on the matter." He holds up a hand to forestall any back-sass. "No one did anything to Tommy. No one will do anything to him. He apologized and that is that. Wanda is right. Family tries not to fight and it trusts. Trust me, Billy. I don't get to be Sorcerer Supreme by acting rashly."

The Vishanti tend to frown on rash decisions, you see, and yoink mantles without warning. Holding the keys to the myriad doors to reality and his Realm means thinking of the outcomes rather than acting in the moment.

The hand is then extended and offered to Wanda, in order to draw her to his side once again. "I hear you, Billy, I do," he adds, glancing back at the young man. "Everyone here does. Are we all good? Can we move on?"

Secretly, this is agonizing to him. It reminds him of past spats with siblings and with those siblings long gone, it's a lonely sort of barrage of memories.


As announcing, "I know," in a peremptory sigh saturated by familiarity will go over as a supercilious gesture, Wanda shows the wit she was born with and keeps her mouth shut. Discretion taught by a lump of speeding Pietro moving at escape velocities is one way to gain an education; the school of hard knocks doesn't even count being thrown into the stratosphere.

She saunters towards Strange with all the insouciant devil-may-care grace of a twenty-something woman happy to flip a middle finger to reality as much as charm in. In this case, she lets the men talk, not adding much to the conversation except her stabilizing presence. Read that twice over and expect it will not be the norm, any more than Tommy inviting people to hit him will be.

The atomic scattergories game around the witch slowly settles, and she eases back into a classic contrapposto pose, her hip forward and length of her leather-clad leg supporting her weight. She makes it look so damn easy and effortless being that cool, sort of a Brigitte Bardot crossed Diana Rigg and, say, Athena. Her thumb hooks through the loop of her belt, where practical experience might inform all and sundry she carries a mystically infused knife that does absolutely nothing against anyone here.

Her other arm loops casually around Strange's waist, pulling in to the shadow of the taller man. It binds them together and might be a bulwark against the hard times gone by, a glimmer of empathy. "I make no promise that Pietro will not laugh at all of us. We can throw him into a pond at Central Park together." Family times!


Relaxing, Billy gives a nod first to Tommy, and a half-dimpled grin, before he looks to Strange a moment, and gives a bit of a shrug, slipping his hands into his pockets, "I'm the oldest of three, too." he points out with a sudden frown, "Only, shit, my little brothers aren't really my brothers then, are they?" That gives him a dark look.

He looks between Tommy and the parents, and he remarks to Tommy, "Hey, I have a reputation in the Kaplan household, yeah, as being the good kid and such, but they think I'm a menace to reality." he points out, thumbing over to the parents with a bit of a grin.


"Trust doesn't come easy, uh, Doctor." Tommy points out. That was his introduction; 'Doctor Strange'. Granted, this /does/ spare their entirely possible father the whole being called by his first name thing. 'Dad', 'Mom'? These aren't terms he's used in years. Not even with his own family.

"Doubly so for us, we've… seen things." Plus, the concept of family is entirely foreign to him. At least, the kind of family that these people talk about. This isn't something that he's going to say, though. Billy obviously knows best. Except for one thing. "I'm pretty sure I'm the oldest, Billy. I'm the quickest. I /had/ to have been the oldest." Tommy points out; yes, he knows what Billy means. But that doesn't mean he can't have fun with it. See? That's how quickly Tommy gets over things. As for Billy's brothers? Tommy can't really help on that end. He's thrilled internally at the concept that Frank and Mary might not be his parents. Pass to someone else!

Then Wanda gets an odd look. "Pietro?" That name sounds familiar. Billy mentioned him, Tommy thinks. He doesn't remember /why/ though. So he just grins. "Got a picture? That, and an idea of where he is /now,/ and I'll have him in the pond in the next three seconds." Pause. "That should be long enough for you three to meet me there, right?"


With the warm weight of Wanda's body against his side, he can already feel his frustration levels dwindling. Her outer shoulder is gently rubbed even as Strange listens to the two teenagers begin to banter in what appears to be a most fraternal manner.

Billy mentions three. The good Doctor's eyebrows slowly rise into his hairline. He interrupts the whole burgeoning conversation about dumping Pietro into a wintry pond with a sudden, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. Three? Billy, you mean your adopted siblings? Or Tommy and…?"

Ohhhhhhhh please oh please oh please let there not be a third.

The only thing he's learning to trust right now is the penchant for surprises from these two and surprises do not sit well with him.


The choice of title and name will come with time. Calling her 'mom' is not the same as 'Wanda,' or 'Maximoff' or 'Missus Doctor.' Try the latter, see the amused look or the shocked expression drizzling over dearest Strange's expression when he clues into the implied meaning.

The arguments about who is the oldest cannot be resolved short of divine intervention, and preferably the patron gods of the elder pair will not make a point of examination or discussion right now. The only voice Wanda wants to hear is her earthly mother, and that terrestrial goddess likely will not care. Truth. Arguments between the twins warrant a slight smile out of her, hidden by the long shadowed veil of her sienna hair curling against her collarbone and dashing off the slope of her chest.

"You will always be welcome with us," she murmurs towards Tommy, as much as Billy. "Pietro and I. He," a squeeze tightens subtly around Strange's waist, "speaks for us." It may be a tad old-fashioned for future generations, but the forfeiture of decision would rest with him even so. His sanctum, his rules.

"Pietro is my twin brother. Like you, he outruns time." Be put on warning; she knows what she deals with, and uncanny coincidences solidify in the worst kind of way. "I know exactly where he is. Trouble for you, he knows precisely where I am too." The slight arc of a smile enters that statement without question.

Questions dropping out of the blue upon her from that frantic confirmation meets a wide-eyed amber look. "You cannot ask me that, «Beloved». I cannot be sure without walking my dreams, the divinations or… Yaga." The name drops like a stone. "Yaga might know."

This is the equivalent of asking a dragon 'do I taste good with ketchup?' Yes. Yes, you do.


"Hey, I can teleport. For all I know I got tired of you kicking me in there for nine months— you KNOW you're a kicker— and so just said screw it and *pop* teleported out." quips Billy to Tommy with a little shrug and a deeper, dimpled grin.

Billy nods his head when Wanda mentions Pietro, "He's got hair like yours too, Tommy. She's twins: one does magic, one's a speedster. So she had twins: one does quote-unquote magic, one's a speedster."

But he blinks at the Doctor, "My little… Mattie and Mikey. I don't know if they're my real brothers or not anymore." And that pains him, "Or … I'm still deeply confused about the whole family thing. But they're both normal. No magic, no speed, no nothing else. They also look more like my Dad— err, Jeff— then I do. No dimples. So you're probably safe."


The temptation to mess with the Doc is strong. It's really, really, really strong. He could point out their sister. And her children. All twelve of them. Who happen to be time travelers. And unleashed a zombie horde upon the world. …and… okay, he'll give the man a pass this time around. There will be time to get the hair to go /all/ white.

The offer from Wanda? Is pondered. Pondered for all of not even a second. Tommy holds up one finger, and he's off like a bolt of lightning. She knows what she deals with. So does Billy. Strange may have to get used to this. It takes all of five seconds, but he's back — with suitcases. "Done. Weird I can live with." A pause, a glance over at Billy. "Does /everyone/ in this decade either run fast or use magic?" …that's been the entirety of Tommy's superhuman experience so far.

Then a wider grin, and a playful punch is tossed at Billy's shoulder, "Guilty as charged. I'm a kicker. And a puncher. Can't get away for /too/ long, no matter how far you teleport." …then there's alternate dimensions and other planets… but he's going to conveniently ignore that. "This guy, though, I've got to meet him." Pause. "Bet I'm faster. New hotness," a point to himself, then hands wave in a random direction, "Old and busted." …granted, Tommy doesn't realize he's not as fast as he /used/ to be. …and has no idea just how fast Pietro really is.


A mutter sounding very much like, "I don't want to talk with Yaga…" emerges from behind the hand slowly dragged down his face. Shaking his head slowly, Strange closes his eyes and takes a few centering breaths, all the while listening to the back-and-forth banter.

No dimples. Safe. Fabulous. Two teenage boys, he can deal with. He can, truly. Cross his heart. Not another one. Please.

The disappearance of Tommy is only noted about two seconds into his five second absence and the good Doctor has a moment to contemplate just what made the fair-haired teenager zip off when he's back. With a suitcase. Oh. BUT.

Give the good Doctor some credit. Now there's a goodly number of folks living in the Sanctum and his quiet time is becoming less and less likely to continue. He fights internally with selfish self-preservation for a few more seconds, looking between Tommy and suitcase, before finally glancing over at Wanda with a rueful half-smile. "Another one for the Sanctum, hmm?" Those steel-blue eyes shift to Tommy and the smile deepens a bit. "I can create a room for you, Tommy, on the second floor. You'll be comfortable as long as you remember to not touch anything. And I mean anything," he reiterates, already contemplating what could go wrong and feeling an ulcer starting.


Without seeing them, speculation achieves nothing. Wanda simply gives the faintest shake of her head, the flowing darkness of her hair held back by a spanned twist of scarlet threads that stretch in a crescent moon. The pattern is, incidentally, nigh identical to the embossed metal band that a certain reality warping superhero in a questionable striped black-and-red cloak likes to wear.

"The apartment," she murmurs to Strange. Oh yes, that has already been tacitly implied and now stated flat out. "Better for him not to be alone."

What she bequeathed to the wild one lies in another factor; decisiveness. The stack of suitcases, however many, earns an arch of her eyebrow. "Luxury, this," she comments dryly, the tone concealing what they will no doubt learn is her particular brand of smoky humour, so dry and oft dark it cannot be distinguished from sarcasm. Sardonic mirth is her hallmark, often with a mordant Slavic slant. "Pietro has not decorated. I cannot tolerate the blankness of the place yet. Make it your own. But no garbage."

No, her twin has no idea, and this is how the younger twin gets her revenge for twelve minutes and two decades of mischief. She mobilizes minions, which Pietro has yet to do. He'll come home to 1985 posters plastered ceiling to floor, a china mermaid collection, and whatever else the younger twins are into. Maybe a 3D wall sculpture of Pogs. And not one bit of food actually in its raw or natural state except possibly water.

"I can talk to your host families." By talk, probably determine what marks her future self left on them. Right? She does not want to speak with Yaga either, but that may be a requirement at this rate.


"Hey, I wouldn't at all bet against you, 'New Hotness'. Just be careful, dude's a hugger." warns Billy with a serious nod of his head, but he accepts the playful punch with a dimpled grin. He asides to his brother, "Yeah, don't touch anything. He's got all kinds of weird crap everywhere." On the matter of their host families, he shakes his head slowly, "The thing is, the magic that only half worked on us two, did work completely on them. Jeff and Rebecca Kaplan really believe 1963 is the time they belong in. That they've always been this way. Mom— Rebecca— thinks its perfectly normal she's a nurse and not a psychologist. So whatever it is they might know about how we got with them is probably just…. gone."


"Anywhere that's not where I got these from," He had to get his stuff from Frank's and from Mary's. Parents that couldn't stand him also couldn't stand one another very well. "Day I hit eighteen, I thought about bunking in the park. So pretty much anything's an upgrade from that." Maybe now he doesn't have to worry about college. Less school is /probably/ a good idea.

Then Wanda gets a Look. "You really don't need to do that. You don't want to meet Frank. Mary…" Tommy holds up a hand and waves it around. "…she's passable as a roommate, but nobody should have to talk to Frank."

Then there's a look offered to Strange. Then to Billy. Then to Strange again. "I have this sudden urge to touch /everything./" Mischief runs deep with this one; but subtle he is not. Much like a true hurricane, there's a warning of his antics. It's a just a matter of listening for it. "Gotta catch me to hug me; if he manages that, he's earned it, and I'll take the required seconds to fix my hair."


Oh thank the gods. In light of Tommy's teasing comment, he's extremely relieved that Wanda respects his need for preserving his sanity within his personal space.

"You'll be better off with Pietro, honestly, Tommy. He understands your power and how to take care of himself. Everything that applies to him will apply to you. It'll be some familiarity in this time." A subtle squeeze at her shoulder, signifying a thankful hug. "You can visit the Sanctum another time. And not touch anything." A rather gimlet look is given.

No touching anything in the Sanctum.


Wanda's brows arch slightly to the statement from Tommy more than Billy. She takes in stride many things. The pause and earlier statements surrounding one's family slot together in fine detail. Her pointed stare grows in magnetic force when ideas and Billy's protectiveness are summed up, one conclusion drawn. Nothing need be said here that was not already said, but her fingers still and tighten around Strange's waist.

"I have to show you the flat. It has an address." She probably hasn't bothered to memorize the address. She also arrives by window more often than not. "Do not gate at ground level. Use the roof." These facts are dispensed in fine detail while she watches them all obliquely, not out of sorts, but generally the quieter one until in her element. Acting as the wordless support to the man who calls her his consort settles calm around her, a welcome thing.

"Do you have any questions?"


Following along, Billy subsides into a thoughtful expression. If they're moving Tommy out of franks, why, Billy thinks that's the bees knees as far as news goes, "Wait so that means I don't have to figure out how to turn Frank into a newt anymore? That was totally on my todo list. Yes, yes, Doctor, I know, 'billy-don't-warp-reality-billy-don't-do-that'." He siiiiighs, long-sufferingly. Parents. God. "I could teleport us all there but I haven't figured out how to do that with anyone but just me. Which is weird because I swear it should work." The question of Questions has Tommy getting a long, go-ahead-its-your-turn look.


There's a brief glance offered over towards Billy as Strange speaks. The test. he promised to put them through the wringer and if they aren't trying to foist him off for being more trouble than he's worth…

…he's feeling just a bit foisted right now. He's going to keep his mouth shut. Test failed. That's really enough right now. Still, a way out of his 'parents' house is one that he's not going to turn down one way or another.. Just. Behave. For. One. Sec—

Then Wanda just has to ask the most loaded of questions. The question that opens up all the cans of worms and issues invitations to talk. … and Billy, for all his infinite wisdom, doesn't think to fill the empty space before the snarkbucket can; but /encourages it./ Thou hast made thine bed.

"Okay, sure. I wanna know /why./" Billy might know where this is going already. He got the same treatment from Tommy. "If you two are really our folks, why'd you decide to get rid of us? She get knocked up too early, or couldn't afford kids on a /Doctor's/ salary," Titles come back to bite one. "why'd you do it?" There's hurt in his tone; there's a part of him that believes the whole story. "…and why with /them./ Jeff and Rebecca are decent people, why didn't you just leave me with /them/ instead?"


The tall lean man is taken aback at the sudden question from Tommy, though shortly after, he seems to accept that this was, indeed, a possible query given the open-ended words from Wanda. He hears the pain and lets out a long, slow sigh.

"You aren't going to like my answer, Tommy, but I don't know. I sincerely don't know." The boys might not understand just yet, but this is one thing they won't hear very often, if at all, ever again, from the good Doctor. "I'm not entirely sure that I'm your father, either of you, though it won't stop me from giving you that kind of support, if you need it. The choice is yours. We…we're in the same boat. We're still learning about what happened, what brought you both back here, why now of all times." His glance lingers on Wanda and just when it seems like he's done talking, he swallows and continues. "I won't say no to you, boys. You are family, even if you don't want to be included as such right away. Remember what Wanda said. You are welcome with us."


Dark, terrible questions rain down from a bruised sky, needle-fine syllables piercing her psyche as much as her skin. Wanda acknowledges the inquiries without flinching, meeting Tommy's gaze with those wide, uptilted almond eyes going the shade of a dying sunset. Rarely does the girl ever look remotely close to her age; potentially vulnerable moments as these might leave Strange the younger of the couple in some respects.

"Now," she says, "we are before your creation. I cannot know yet." Her fingers still against the line of Strange's side, her thumb caressing slow lunar arcs, a silent reassurance as much as one can give. "Though I will." A finality in iron hammers down three syllables, vocally embedded her intention into the fabric of reality. Nothing so grandiose as wiping out all but a handful of mutants in the world, merely a promise whispered into the ears of messengers to the creator.

She rubs her palm over her nape, pulling her dark hair around her shoulder. "It would be something serious. Neither he, my brother or I take family duties lightly." Understatement flows around her quiet tone. "Here is not the place to share my stories." If they have trust issues, her own are at times nearly insurmountable; let it not be forgotten her ephemera-caked knife put down a spirit not that long ago. "You are wanted. Always would be. A life where we are secure and loved, together…" How can they possibly understand? What does the longing mean for someone who has always had a family? The merest traces of poignant reflection and scarred longing barely touch her voice, forcibly filtered out, but they are still there. "You cannot believe me without proof, ja? We don't ask you to. Tommy, Billy —" it almost becomes its Transian equivalent, Tamas; Vili. "A threat. It would be a threat to you both, or to his soul. Nothing else fits."

There's a name behind the words, a harrowed shade in her eyes. She has names for those threats, ones that will not be spoken. Besides, the elder sorcerer already knows them.


Billy winces visibly: he asked something alike, and though he explained to Tommy these were… too soon, he knew Speed would have to ask eventually. Some things will ride the mind and not leave until said. He sighs softly, and reaches out to sorta pat Tommy on the back and give him a kind of side hug, "We're just… too soon." he says a bit lamely, "They just haven't done it yet. But it had to have been an accident, you with Frank. I mean they wouldn't have put you with someone awful on purpose. And now maybe if they have us again — ugh time travel hurts my brain. Maybe next time we can help and make sure we don't need to get put with anyone at all." Which is making huge assumptions about timelines, but!



There's part of Tommy that knows that they're right. He doesn't want to admit it, but they can't /really/ answer the question right now. He'd love to hold future-them to task over the subject and get some answers… but he doesn't have availability to reach future-them. It just doesn't work that way.

"I'll go along with this for now. I'll give you two a chance. It's still probably an upgrade." He frowns, though, watching warily. "But I sleep with my eyes open; try anything to hurt me or Billy… you've seen how fast I am. Y'all won't have the chance to do it. Are we clear?" This time it's Tommy's turn to be protective of his brother, clearly.


Strange lets out a quiet 'hmph', but it's more amused-sounding than anything else. He leans in very close to Wanda's ear and whispers,

"Maybe they are related to me. They have an awfully-noble protective streak."

Aloud, for all to hear as he straightens once more, "I can't see either of us having a reason to hurt either of you, Tommy. Trust us. That's all I ask, with everything we do and say to you. Wanda mentioned threats. Boys…" He grows suddenly quiet but still pushes on, clearly disturbed by the thoughts crossing his mind. "Please trust us. Listen to what we say. We can't do anything more than our best at this point, since we don't know exactly what's going on. Believe me, boys, if I committed to you in the future… I committed," he says with a flash of a small, wry smile.

And he means it.


The response is even softer, and riveted by nothing remotely resembling doubt. She treads lightly on difficult subject matter, though it may leave someone asking what kind of moral compass she possesses. One exists; it's simply pointed to magnetic north rather than true. Wanda states simply, "Frank does something 'awful,' tell us." A beat. One, for that message to soak in. Then, she says, "He will not again."

Draw whatever conclusion they want from that. They did witness her go wandering off to cleanse an alleyway. "The flat is in Brooklyn. Near the gardens. I will write it out." Let Strange speak to trust; she speaks to the bitter reality of the situation before heading on. They have somewhere to go, after all.


"Actually, you don't have to write it out. I can teleport there and Speed can speed himself to Brooklyn, find me in no time, and I can show him." Billy doesn't remember the specific address, just the transspatial matrix coordinates, okay? "It's not like Brooklyn would take him any time at all to scout me out from. That said, he adds, "Trust is a process. But I'll start down the road and see where it takes me, okay?"

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