1964-10-31 - Wolf Tracks: There Lies Madness
Summary: Guilt for the failures of the past consumes Pietro.
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Theme Song: None
pietro-maximoff wanda 


.~{:--------------:}~.


Pietro recovered from his seeming attack of the previous week, but wasn't quick to talk about it. Perhaps it was something on his mind, perhaps he needed to work some things out. But he stayed in for a few days, which indicated something was truly wrong. Pietro didn't like being cooped up.

Today, he's taken Wanda out with him for some fresh air, walking around Mutant Town. He has a cup of coffee, the paper cup steaming in his gloved hand, his shearling coat pulled tight against the crisp fall air. He's lead her near the community center, taking a small table outdoors. He looks about with a hint of paranoia, almost. He's on edge.

"You know I've been looking into the disappearances of a few of the local mutants, right? Undesirable types, the kind that usually find themselves on the margins in any society," he says.


Wanda knows when to offer silence and space to a man used to vibrating at the speed of sound on most occasions. Her only diversions from routine behaviour include a box of Twinkies appearing out of the blue, one of the inevitable junk food offerings to that wild-haired creature in hopes it might restore him to a semblance of normalcy. The rest goes far less obviously, but being naturally attuned to her twin helps. The witch need only meditate in a quiet space now and then to find the room in her being he occupies, at some level.

To hell with sitting still, though, on the great blot; one of the highest festivals in the pagan world. Hello, Scarlet Witch, pagan priestess and sorceress. "Is this how you welcome the new year? The ghosts are out after dark." It could be a joke, but then, given her ability to see deep into the otherworld, maybe not. Creatures creeping up behind them probably have much more physical show.

Her head tips in a nod, and she sits against the table rather than on a seat soaked by frequent rain. "The forgotten ones. It is good to look for them. They fall too easily into the dark."


Pietro Maximoff sighs as he takes a long sip of his coffee, shaking his head, "Can it truly be a new year? I feel the fingers of the past on the back of my neck, like claws, cold as ice and sharp as steel," he says. "I felt them last week when…" he says, then shakes his head.

"I'm getting ahead of myself."

"I noticed a pattern, after asking questions for a bit. Most of the people either worked or lingered near the place where you found me, an abandoned machinery. No one supposedly had been operating there since the 40s," he says.

"But it was no unoccupied when I went," he says.


"We left Berlin a year ago." Thirteen spins of the moon and a little more than that, when they crossed the Atlantic Ocean under SHIELD's aegis. How much has changed since then? Her arm brushes his, the love and sororal devotion exposed in that rare enough gesture. Otherwise Wanda prefers to be silent. Pietro is the talkative one, the face, the brightest and best of their line while she represents the dark, brooding willingness to stab someone in the face.

Well, it's clear who got all of Mom's better traits. The dregs from Dad(s) ended up in the brunette tapping one of the crystals suspended against her temples, nail clicking off the facets. The heart of the gem, no bigger than bobbypin tip, glows dully. "Empty building. How does that property go with no one living there? This ghetto is too crowded to let it go."

But then, the rhetorical question already has an answer, an ugly truth stretching out between them.


Pietro Maximoff nods, "Apparently, it had something of a bad reputation. Haunted, some said. Perhaps it is - you would know better than I. But I think the strange sounds they heard were something else entirely," he says.

"When I found the entrance, I discovered machines. They were gone, by the time you found me, pulled out. Perhaps because I'd discovered them, perhaps because…I don't know," he says.

"But there were people in those machines. And I went to free one, a young girl with scaled skin, tubes running through her nostrils and then…"

"Then they took me by surprise and I was out. Until you found me," he says. "But Wanda, those machines, their designs…they were all too familiar," he says.


Too much exposure to horror keeps her stomach fairly iron clad against the need to vomit. Wanda experiences horror in different ways, now, the pickling sickness running up the back of her neck and her spinal column abruptly stiffening. Fingers curl spontaneously into fists, but no mistaking the leached pomegranate light percolating up from her irises, fireworks and popping bubbles that presage inevitability. Her mouth hardens into a line and she looks away, in the vague direction east. "They always come back."

A brutal truth that, for all their weeding and pruning, the roots go so deep that years will be necessary to hack them free. The smaller of the twins rattles with suppressed anger and not a little fear. For all their power…

"How many?"


Pietro Maximoff shakes his head, "At least three, maybe twice that," he says. "I was fast, but they were so…" he says. Many people think Pietro is cold, uncaring, unfeeling. In truth, he has a great deal of compassion - he puts on his sharp, empty demeanor because he's been hurt so many times and so often that he no longer trusts others with his true feelings. Wanda, of course, is the exception.

"I didn't want to hurt the worse. And it made me vulnerable," he says. "Medical experimentation, at its worst," he says. "And I couldn't stop it, Wanda. I tried. But I…I couldn't save them," he says.


"They might punish the others," agrees the witch, a nod alighting on one bitter fact after another. It's a lot for her to swallow. Eventually even her reserves will give in and she's bound to suffer the upset physically rather than in psychosomatic echoes. Her shoulders ratchet hard under the lines of her crimson coat, shaped stiff and hard. Those dark eyes burn all the hotter, losing their amber resin in favour of the unholy light.

"You can't be caught," she murmurs under her breath, every sound traitorous to a cause. "You know we could both… He cannot come in. Not through you. Not me." The leaden pang can't keep the emotion out, the despair that's been worn smooth and lead soft over the years.

"We can help them. Not if we are captive ourselves." Terrible secrets in the blood and the past never sleep, do they? She pushes her hands through the weight of her windblown brown hair, espresso foam rippling around her fingers. Her hand goes for Pietro's, a silent charge of support against the tide. "We can make this better, Pietro. Not for the lost ones, but for the others. The monsters never stop with one."


Pietro Maximoff accepts the hand on his and lowers his head for a moment, silver locks spilling across his forehead, "I know we will," he says. "But, for the moment, I feel the failure all too keenly. For as much as I often call others foolish, it was I who was the fool this time, made weak by my own memories, by the ghost of what we suffered," he says.

"I always said it made us stronger, but, in that moment, I felt that same childish fear down my back, cold sweart and blind terror. I do not like that they still have such power over me," he says.


How brutal the heart's lament, isn't it? The pain written in her eyes is a shared thing, an electrical current shot from one to the other even if they happen to be a mile apart. Grounded by the same faulty bedrock does not help her escape the pain. "Pietro, we are not perfect. You will probably not make the mistake again." Possibilities being what they are, she leaves that door open rather than offer false platitudes.

Damn if she's not offering him a hug anyways, twisting around to press her arms around Pietro's body and hopefully not disrupting the coffee. "Only broken people do not feel fear. Acting through the fear makes us better than them. Agatha and Father put us through those trials to teach us. They could not make you dead to the bubbling terror. The nightmares. The sweat on your palms."


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