1964-05-22 - What Monsters We Hunt
Summary: The twins have a reckoning to make of their past. It starts with a creamsicle.
Related: The Nexus
Theme Song: None
pietro wanda 

Summer finally dawns on New York, a change reflected in the exodus of well-heeled people up the highway to their houses in the Hamptons or cabins in the Maine woods. If you can’t afford a getaway from the everyday, pay twenty-five cents and take the subway and two busses to reach the shoreline.

Wanda stands on the boardwalk overlooking a stream of humanity headed for the beach. Big hats, sunglasses, towels, and picnics feature large for those souls. She herself has a popsicle and a rolled up towel, not much more. The liquid is already starting to melt down the stick, red blending into a frosty white.

Somewhere nearby, the overwhelmed ice cream stands heave with activity as teenagers try to dole out popsicles and ice cream and every frozen treat to hungry souls.

Somewhere that way is her twin.


Somewhere that way was Pietro. He’s not now.

“Is very good, you know.” Muffled declaration approves of the cone. He rests against the old rail, taking a bite out of the triple-scoop. One is a bright rainbow. The other has chocolate in big chunks.

“Too bad you never eat it.” He licks another dribble of vanilla. “Or your boyfriend likes you skinny.”

The cadence of their banter forever flows according to ancient rhythms, his chattering and her silence, the stoicism a manual gibe to encourage him to keep up the good work. Wanda barely acknowledges the teasing, her mild amber gaze slanting under the thicket of midnight lashes upon the other person in the world molded to her likeness.

Pursing her lips, she taps the frozen side of the popsicle against her mouth, cooling rush absorbing the incipient heat of the day. “Enjoy the ice cream while you can,” she replies, shrugging the loose strands of her hair off her bare shoulders. Let him eat; he’ll need the energy, all said and done.


Pietro takes his time. He eats the ice cream in a few systematic bites so it lasts a minute, not a few seconds. Drips never get to the ground. He leaves no time for anything to melt too hard.

“You worry too much. Is nice day, Wanda. Sun shines. Two dollars can buy us five of these.” He hoists the cone. A loud crunch bares the tender middle.

His pale hair blows back in the breeze. He’s gone in a moment. Boards vibrate under his feet on the boardwalk. In the space of ten seconds, he passes his sister twice and retrieves paper napkins to tuck around the wooden stick and another behind her ear. He has another fresh pair of orange popsicles in both hands. “Is his fault if you are never happy, yeah?”

“Pietro, suggest he is responsible for this one more time and I will staple your toes together,” warns the brunette in the gentlest of tones. No affirmative voice hints of a bad mood, no supple ripple to identify the sudden vengeful strike from a toothy shark. What’s the point, against a speedster?

Her fingers are suddenly clutching a balled up serviette, and she squeezes the popsicle, hurriedly seeking to adjust her grip before the ice chunk falls away. An indigo berg clean calves away onto her tongue, captured immediately with two sharp bites.

Blue lips, blue tongue; the stain of colour dyes her flesh and a new stripe down her chin lends the look of a savage.

He stares at her.

Laughter boils out from him. Whistling with a chortle, up it goes. “Staples? Wouldn’t even notice, sis. Have to do better to stop me.”

Pietro slurps down one of the creamsicles. The chill sinks into his back teeth. He shudders at the cold and bites off a piece to melt onto his tongue. Sugar high and brain freeze are twin curses at the same time, so he stares at her. Suspicion shrinks the grin. “What did you do?”

“Nothing,” Wanda murmurs, pulling the sodden serviette from around her popsicle. Her nose wrinkles at the undesirable outcome of sticky, wet paper clinging to the crenellated underside of the rocket pop. An unfortunate outcome to have some kind of pulpy goo stuck to the popsicle, but it’s going to melt anyways.

Fine tension carves out the mask of her features, heightening her cheekbones and muting the fullness of her lips to a rigid concern. Melodies plucked from a broken instrument haunt her voice, a creeping lamentation in a minor key. “I am dreaming again. Disturbed darkness that robs the peace of my rest.”

Her chin lifted, she abandons her vigil over the water filled by surging waves and squeaking children, adults helping them along. “Take precautions. You need to be careful. The disturbances can be anything, maybe. You know they never are.” They would not this conversation if it were.

“Sis, you cannot be warning me without telling me what your nightmares tell you. What of the boyfriend?”

A passing blonde catches his eye for a long second, eons in his case, before he looks back at Wanda. The young woman suddenly pauses and placed a hand against her cheek. She looks bewildered and about her before continuing on.

“You maybe did not do something, but something did…er, happened anyways. Tell me, Sis.”

Wanda holds up the back of her hand against her brow, shielding the sight of the ocean from becoming too bright a glare. Sunlight dazzles the eye and fires sharp lances straight into the brain.

“You stand in the field of dust. A place we made dust. You stretch out your hands and the black ichor on them is coming from you. Not cuts. Something you grasped.”

A breath scales silent measures. “He calls. I think he is calling for us, Pietro.” Her words fail to proceed further than that.

The other creamsicle meets its maker in more thoughtful bites than its cohort. Pietro catches a dribble of orange that escapes notice with the speed of a bullfrog snatching a fly. Blip. Gone.

“You talk of the He of the boyfriend or the one who gives you the nightmares?” The accent might be strong, the attention span short, but Pietro watches his twin carefully.

He knows that one. The one from beyond the light. The one who touched them both in the womb.

Wanda gracelessly snaps the popsicle stick in twain, the freed chunks of coloured ice tumbling down to the sand below the boardwalk. Hopefully none are taken by surprise as one fat chunk plops down their shirt, or takes a seagull by surprise.

“Both of them,” she says in cold, razor-sharp eloquence that only their native language fully gives. “He the damned stirs. He my heart calls.”

Yeah, boyfriend was never going to cut it. “Be careful. Pay heed. You should feel the stirrings of the hellfire spark as much as I do.”

It would be a nice thought.

“And here I was thinking it was the tickling of too many Twinkies in one sitting.” He muses despite his twin’s destruction of the popsicle. A seagull flies off with a melting chunk of blue. Lucky bird. “I thought to eat three dozen and see if I could split the air itself. It seems I may split my stomach instead.”

Where does it all go? Mystery upon mysteries.

“You say the boyfriend calls. What call? He has the magic at his fingertips and those jealous…it rhymes with ‘lord’.” The word escapes him for the moment. “The ones that tie me upside down and threaten my very life when I am bored in his house.” Pietro does some awful mimicry of the gestures used by the Sorcerer Supreme.

Billy would be proud.

The brunette stares out at the folded waters offshore, the brightly dressed people gathered to frolic in the sea. They don’t think anything of the shambles of their lives. They do not fear the shadows leaking out from the moments before their birth or the haunted nightmares around every corner, the battles and the cults seeking to end their freedom.

Liberty tastes like bitter scorn on the lips of the younger Maximoff. He can be bright and blithe and hopeful because any less is a weakness. His laughter is her price, his hope her burden.

“Trouble. I hunt.” Her fingers open and close, the age old gesture of grasping the hilts of swords. Guns. It’s not that different. “Trouble I brought down upon others will be mine to fix, Pietro. Do not add to it if you will not fight.”

No humour there. The look on that face so akin to his is bleak.

Nothing like the forbidding lack of amusement on Sis’s face to puncture his happy balloon. Pietro deflates, gaining too the shadows of worry still much lighter than what seems to impart darkness in her eyes.

“You are my sister. I would fight the world for you. What is the line…from that American movie about the gangsters. Ah — you and me against the world.” The rush of air gusting by them coexists with a flicker of his body. A seagull perching nearby suddenly squawks in affront and takes off. The dandelion-haired young man laughs to himself before becoming very much serious again.

“If the boyfriend needs our help, what are we standing around for? I can hold it against him later. Maybe he will even make the spells stop bothering me around the house.”

Twins share a bond deeper, in some ways, than life itself. In some fashions they only exist in one another, an inescapable connection showing the light and the dark.

Wanda raises her chin slightly. A nod, that much, given to Pietro. Her hand touches his arm even as she turns, assuring they move in tandem through the world as they always have. “Let’s go.”

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