A/N: Alright, this is the first in a series of at least three, but this is the only one I have finished right now. I tried to use comics canon along with movie canon, but I might have some things wrong because I used Wikipedia for their histories. I think the only warning is that there is some cursing, because Peter, duh. Also, there might be some minor spelling errors, because no matter how many times I went through it, I still keep finding mistakes, so just bear with them, please. Alright, enough from me, enjoy!
In Peter's mind, the only truly terrible thing about his mutation was that it made everything else seem so very, very slow. It was nearly excuciating how sluggish everything else around him ran, every day, all day, all the time. He knew he annoyed the crap out of everyone around him, but he couldn't help it. It was physically painful to stay still for too long.
And he knew it made dealing with him difficult. His first real inkling had been when he was ten, and his mom had caught him running around in their small back yard. They had a high fence surrounding the house, but his mom was so paranoid that she refused to let him or Wanda test their abilities anywhere the neighbors might see.
She was paranoid about a lot of things, really.
She had yanked him back inside by the collar of his shirt and screamed at him for what felt like years before she finally sent him down to his room in the basement. He had run as fast as he could, tears stinging at his eyes as her words reverberated around in his head like rapid-fire ping pong balls. Irresponsible! Do you understand what might happen if anyone saw? What about your sisters? What about me?
The fear that had struck in him had kept him nearly immobile for days, forcing himself to keep to the slowest speed he could maintain, like he was walking through molasses.
He knew that his mom had been stuck in Germany during World War II, he knew she had been in those camps, but her fear of being put in one again had been passed down to her children. She never spoke of the horrors she had seen, but she showed them in the little things she did every day; how she hid her heritage, her accent, her language.
Peter had been born Pietro Django Maximoff, but since the first day he had started school, he had been called Peter. At first, he hadn't understood what the big deal was. It was only a few letters, what was the problem? The teachers called him Peter, his classmates called him Peter, and eventually even his mother had started calling him Peter. He hadn't realized until a few years later, just what that meant.
His twin sister Wanda had always had it easier, he thought to himself. She wasn't the most outgoing person in the world, but she had friends that were good for her, that enjoyed her presence. Unlike Peter, who had far too short of an attention span to deal with anyone that wasn't his own sisters. His closest friend had always been Wanda, but even she had left him.
Granted, she hadn't really left him. She had gone off to college, because she was crazy smart and that was the logical next step for her. Peter, on the other hand, was not book smart and had not even passed high school, let alone qualified for any type of scholarship. No, he had often joked with Wanda that she had sucked all of the brains from him while they had shared a womb. He thought it was a great joke, but it always ended with her hitting him.
It was after Wanda left that things really started to go downhill for him. He was so bored without her at his side anymore, and the weekly phone call home was not cutting it for him. She had really been the only person who could keep up with him. So, he had started other extra-curricular activities, which ended with him possessing two arcade games, a ping pong table, more TVs than he knew what to do with, and an entire wall of Twinkies and other assorted snacks all free of charge.
It was this way that the three odd men that's weren't cops (he had checked because, paranoia, obviously) found him, lazing about in his horde like a fucking dragon, because why not? Their proposal was interesting, as was the fact that they were mutants like him. He had always wondered if he and Wanda were the only ones out there.
And then they had told him the thing that had cinched the deal: the man he was going to break out of the Pentagon could manipulate metal. And he knew it was a long shot, but his mom had said, in one of her more sharing moods, that their dad could manipulate metal.
He had only seen one picture of their dad, in all the years he had been digging through old mementos from his mom's time in Germany and Poland. The single photo that hadn't been lost or destroyed was in splotchy black and white, and the faces were hard to distinguish. He could see his mom, looking young and happy (far more happy than he had ever seen her). She was smiling from ear to ear, holding a little girl in her arms. He knew he had had an older sister named Anya, and that she had died in a fire when she was little. The man that stood behind her was smiling like it was the best day of his life. The smile was shockingly similar to a shark, and it made his spine tingle; yet it was also full of joy and happiness, like he was bursting with it. The man's arm was wrapped around their mom's shoulders and the little family just looked so goddamned happy.
He had spent sleepless nights staring at that picture, wishing he could know just a fraction of that joy.
So, the man in the photo would be a bit hard to identify in real life, but if he could get the guy to smile, he just might be able to match them up.
Anyway, he jumped at the opportunity. It didn't matter how slim the chances were that this guy was actually his and Wanda's dad. Even if he was, Peter wasn't really sure what he was going to do with that information.
He kept up a nervous, relentless chatter all the way to the Pentagon. Though he was sure that it came off as annoying, he was too expectant and worried to care much. He knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that he was pushing it with these guys he didn't even know, but he couldn't find any other type of release while stuck in a car that could only go sixty miles an hour the whole way there.
They told him the plan, which he then committed to memory before promptly dissolving into a tightly vibrating ball of nerves. He felt like there were a million little ants crawling beneath his skin.
Getting inside was actually pretty easy, for it being the Pentagon and all. Peter was totally diggin' the security guard outfit, and knew Wanda would be laughing her ass off right then if she could see him. Actually, she would probably be chewing him out, but he chose to think of her laughing instead of yelling.
He had a little too much fun with the duct tape, but he couldn't really be blamed for that. Then it was one long-ass hallway and he was finally staring down at his dozing could-be, possibly, maybe (and that's a big maybe) father. The guy looked about the same age as his mom, but that didn't mean much. He had short brown hair, was pretty fucking pale, and was really fucking tall. Other than that, he wasn't sure if he matched the guy in his mom's photo.
He shoved the plate through the slot and waited for the guy to notice. When he did, Peter couldn't help but grin. The guy's eyes were similar to his own, and he was slowly building a better case that this guy just might be the guy. His vibrating glass trick did the job, and the guy ducked as instructed, before jumping up and pulling himself out like it was nothing.
"In three seconds, those doors are going to open... and twenty guards will be here to shoot us," he said, and his voice was so gravelly and deep that Peter felt momentarily jealous, his own manhood threatened. His voice was still slightly high and totally not that deep yet, though he tried.
Peter could only grin, halfway hoping that the man would return it, but he didn't have much luck. The guy just continued to look royally confused. "I know. That's what I'm waiting for." And then he reached out and braced the man's neck, to his mounting confusion.
He was having fun screwing with this guy, he decided, even if he might be his dad. "Whip-laaassssshhhh," he drawled, right before the door opened and they zoomed down the hall to the elevator. The guy looked green, and like he might possibly spew at any moment, but Peter pressed on, wondering if the momentary show of weakness might get him better results. Plus, this was goddamned important. "So, they told me you control metal. You know, my mom once knew a guy who could do that."
He trailed off, and waited for his reaction. If possible, he paled further, his eyes widening slightly, but the moment was broken by the doors opening. The second hippie-dude saw the guy's face, his fist was connecting with it.
Peter was pretty miffed that he hadn't gotten an answer to his open ended statement, but was also equally entertained that the hippie was beating up the guy they were there to break out in the first place. If they had brought him there just so they could beat up somebody already left for dead beneath the Pentagon of all places, then he might just have to complain. Loudly. For long periods of time.
And then the fucking security arrived, and Peter had to save the goddamned day (again), like a badass boss, because his mutation was the best mutation and he wouldn't listen to any argument to the contrary. As he was deflecting bullets and moving guards into very awkward positions that would prove to be quite hilarious in a few seconds, he paused in front of the three men. As he moved the bullets that would have gotten both Charles and Erik in their heads, Peter stopped long enough to grin at his probably-dad; a cheeky, proud little thing that he would never admit to. He hoped the guy was at least a little grateful.
When he let time catch up with him, he watched with glee as he took out all the guards, and they fell to the ground as the bullets he had moved flew through the walls harmlessly. He stood at the other end of the room, trying not to grin but look chill and bored as he waited for them to say anything.
It was a bit of a letdown that both Erik and Charles simply stomped past him, glares locked onto each other's faces. Logan was the only one that said anything, even if it was only a gruff, "Thanks, kid."
He sighed and tried not to pout as he followed the guys back up through the building and back outside where Hank was waiting with their getaway car. The backseat was a bit of a tight fit, but they made it work.
Peter was squeezed between Erik and Logan the whole way to the airport, because he was pretty sure that sticking those two right next to each other was a terrible, horrible idea, if the looks Logan kept sending Erik's way was any indication.
And when they pulled up to the airstrip, Peter very nearly burst with interest. "So, what's in Paris?" he asked, bouncing on his toes. He kinda wished they would take him with them, just so he could figure out 100% if this guy was the guy or not.
Charles just gave him a look of astonishment, and then shook his head in amusement. "Do me a favor and return it for me?" he said, side-stepping actually answering him. Peter sighed internally, but smirked outwardly.
"And Peter? Take it slow," Charles cracked, and Peter grinned.
And then they were all gone, and he was alone in a crappy rental car, returning it for the craziest people he had ever met.
He didn't really regret that day until a few days later.
His mom was crying, and she never cried.
Lesser beings might be moved to tears now and then, but his mom was a badass and strong and capable and fearless and scary as shit, and most importantly, did not cry.
So, this situation was incredibly worrying, and it made his heart seize in his chest as he held his baby sister in his lap. They were huddled around the TV, his mom hovering in the doorway, one hand over her mouth as her tears streamed down her cheeks.
Peter was getting hysterical in his own mind, as he watched his mom's reflection in the TV screen where the guy he had just broken out of the Pentagon was now trying to murder the President.
He had seen his mother chuck more than one guy out on his ass and never shed a tear over them. Hell, he remembered when she was in labor with Sarah and instead of crying through the pain, she had been spitting fire at any and everything nearby, threatening the EMTs and the hospital staff until they had given her drugs.
And now there were tears. Coming from her eyes. And she wasn't bothering to wipe them away or hide them.
This phenomenon was only half observed as he held his little sister in his arms, staring in horrified shock as the mutant terrorist Magneto held the President at gunpoint.
Peter couldn't cry, he couldn't panic, he couldn't even think. If anything happened, anything bad, then it was all his fault. Without him, those guys wouldn't have been able to break this Magneto-guy out of jail. He hadn't even asked what the guy had done to be down there in the first place; he had been too busy worrying if the guy had given him half his genes or not!
Maybe Wanda was right, and he really needed to start thinking things through before doing them.
"Oh no, Magnus," he heard his mom whimper, before collapsing bonelessly onto the sofa.
Peter totally agreed. Though he wasn't really sure who the fuck Magnus was.
A few weeks later, things were still tense. Though Magneto had been thwarted, he hadn't been captured. He was still roaming around, doing who knew what (probably planning mass genocide again, or something else equally evil, that made Peter feel sick just thinking about). And it didn't help that Peter had come clean and told his mom what he had done.
"What do you mean you're the one that broke him out of prison?!" she shrieked at unbelievable levels. Peter winced and scrunched himself down as much as he could, thinking maybe if he decreased his surface area, there would be less chance of his mom eviscerating him. "Pietro Django Maximoff!"
And that was the worst part. After they had moved to US when the twins were only five, their culture (everything from their language to their accents to their names) had been Americanized, just to fit in. If she was breaking out his real name, he knew he was in deep shit.
"I'm sorry!" he shrieked back, wishing more than anything that he had Wanda there with him. Actually, he was wishing that his mutation could turn back time, so he could go back and kick his ass before he broke the maniac out of jail, no matter how curious and hopeful he had been. He had found that when he hoped for things, it always came back to bite him later on.
"That's not good enough, Peter! What were you thinking? I mean, the man was in prison for a reason."
The argument had broken down from there. His mom had stormed off, muttering to herself in Romani and had given him disappointed, unhappy looks for days.
And then they got a call.
Now, at first they didn't really worry about it. It had become a regular occurance for the cops to show up at their door for one thing or another they suspected Peter had done, but couldn't really prove that he had.
But now, instead of the usual city cop showing up, there were intimidating men in black suits asking questions about the Pentagon. And Peter was starting to panic.
"Peter, I don't think it's safe for you to be home right now," his mom had blurted out one night after she had put Sarah to bed. Peter stared up at her, slightly shocked, before he nodded mechanically. He had always known that eventually he would do something stupid and unforgivable and she would get sick of him, but he had held out hope that this wouldn't be that time.
But hope and Peter had a terrible relationship.
"It's okay, Mom. I get it," he said quietly, his jiggling leg the only indicator of his nerves. He took a deep breath and then raced down the stairs to the basement, packing everything he thought he would need before racing back up to the living room. He stared at his wide-eyed mom and waited for her to call him back, to tell him that she didn't mean it, that he didn't need to leave right away. When all she did was stare at him mournfully, Peter bit his lip, glanced up the stairs towards his little sister's room, and then he was gone.
No matter how fast he ran, he couldn't get rid of the chill that wasn't just from the cold night air. His mom's rejection of him left a gnawing, aching hole in his chest, and it took him a while to realize he wasn't running as smoothly as he usually did, mostly because he was crying too hard to run.
He hadn't really realized where his feet were taking him, until he came to an abrupt halt beside a gathering of trees, dim yellow light shining from the building in front of him. He had found his way to Wanda's dorm, but he couldn't bring himself to take one more step towards the safety of his sister's presence.
For the first time in a long while, Peter took a minute and thought about the consequences of his actions. If he took refuge with Wanda, they would come after her, too. But if he left without speaking to her, even if they came to her, she wouldn't know anything, wouldn't be able to tell them anything, and she would be able to tell them the truth. She couldn't get in trouble, too, if she she doesn't know anything.
With mind made up, Peter spun on his heel and zoomed away, following the road out of town. He knew Wanda would be angry once their mom finally told her what had happened, but he thought she might understand. He was only trying to protect them, now.
As he came to a halt at the border to New York, he stared up at the sign post welcoming people to the state in deep thought. New York, there was something about New York. Something important. With a sudden jerk of realization, he reached for his wallet and pulled out a wrinkled business card. The name Professor Charles Xavier stared back at him, with an address in New York.
Well, the guy had said if he ever needed anything, and he guessed now was a pretty good time to take him up on that offer. With a new destination in mind, Peter replaced his goggles and took off.
What he found when he finally wound up at the right address was the biggest fucking mansion he had ever seen. He had always thought that mansions like that were just things in movies and old books, and that no one actually lived in them anymore. "And you live here?" he grumbled to himself, whistling lowly in appreciation. Just then, the door opened and the tall, lanky guy he had met a few weeks earlier stepped out and stared at him in confusion.
"Peter? What are you doing here?" When Peter didn't answer and just stood there staring at the blatant opulence before him, Hank walked down the steps and looked him over. "Peter, are you okay? Hey, Peter." Peter still wouldn't answer, so Hank took his shoulder with a sigh and guided him inside. Peter wandered in warily. He had never been somewhere so big and expensive-looking before. Wanda would just love it, he knew.
Peter was still distacted when the hippie dude who no longer looked like such a hippie spoke from the doorway. "Mr. Maximoff. To what do we owe the pleasure?" Peter jumped, throwing a startled gaze to the guy. He had cleaned himself up since the last time they had met, and looked far more like a professor. His hair was cut shorter, his beard had been shaved off, and he was wearing a sweater and slacks. The other shocking thing was that the guy was in a wheelchair, of all things.
And of course, Peter's brain to mouth filter had never been fully functioning, so the first thing out of his mouth was a confused, "When the fuck did that happen?" He flinched back the second the words had left his mouth and waited for the professor to throw him out on principle alone. When all the man did was chuckle, Peter risked a peak up to see that he was genuinely amused.
"It happened many years ago. I was taking a serum to help with the paralysis, but the price was too much, so I stopped taking it recently. Now, Mr. Maximoff, what brings you here? Are you alright?"
The guy sounded so worried, and Peter couldn't tell if it was because he actually cared about Peter, or if he was worried whatever Peter's problem was would follow him there to the professor's house.
"Some government guys were hanging around my house, asking about the Pentagon. My mom, um, well. She sorta kicked me out. Told me it wasn't safe to stay there anymore." Peter felt like such a failure when he said it out loud, and he was dreading the look of pity on the men's faces.
"Oh, Peter! I'm so sorry." Charles rolled closer and took Peter's hands in his own, causing Peter to start in confusion. "I am very thankful you came to us for help. I'm glad you took my offer to heart. You are, of course, welcome here."
Peter stared in downright befuddlement. "Why?" he blurted, tugging his hands out of the Professor's a little harshly.
Charles stared at Peter for a long moment, his fingers fiddling near his temple, before the man in the chair sighed and reached out for the younger mutant's hand again.
"Pietro," he murmured calmly, and Peter visibly flinched back, staring at the Professor with wide, frightened eyes. How did he know his name? His real name, not the one everyone used for him. What was going on? "Pietro, calm yourself. Everything is alright now; you are safe, and among friends."
Peter took deep, harsh breaths, his gaze jumping from the small professor to the silent doctor near the door.
"Just as you are extremely fast, I have abilities of my own. I am a telepath, which means I can read your mind. I found that little tidbit running through your thoughts, and I understand the history behind your fear, but you needn't fear anything here. You are safe," the Professor stressed, rubbing Peter's freezing hand with his own.
In that moment, Peter felt all of five years old. He was being called Pietro without it being an insult, a chastisement. He was among people who were like him, who understood that something in his very genes made him different than everyone else, and that others might not understand. They also seemed to understand his fear. Though he had been shoving it back with a baseball bat in his mind, the fear was ever present, a terrible burden passed to him from his mother. Her fear of the concentration camps equaled to his fear of being found out as a mutant and taken away.
And here were these mutants, offering him safe harbor in their own walls. Where the Professor said it was safe, it was alright to be himself. He found himself smiling shyly, a tiny bubble of hope growing in his chest.
"So. I can stay? That's-That's alright? You're okay with that?"
"Of course, my boy!" Charles enthused, smiling brightly. "For a short while, this was a school. When they started drafting all my teachers and some of the older students, we had to shut down. However, now that things have started to quiet down again, we were thinking of re-opening." With a great, wide grin, Charles said, "You'll be our first student, Pietro! That is, if you would like."
Peter found himself nodding, though he felt he might regret it later. "Anything, man. I have no where else to go." Charles watched him for a moment before tugging him down so that they were face to face.
"You do not have to do this if you don't want to, Pietro. We will not force you into studies. This is a safe place, as well as a school. You have been through much, and I would hate to add to that burden."
Peter felt his heart swell at the man's words, and decided in that moment that he would make the man as proud as he could. If Charles could be so understanding and caring about a near stranger, then Peter could put some effort into making the man happy by becoming a student. He had never graduated high school, after all. That should keep the guy happy, enough.
"O-Okay, dude. You know, I never did finish school." Charles smiled warmly before wheeling himself backwards, beckoning the younger man forward.
"Wonderful. We'll have you caught up in no time. For now, let's have some dinner. We were just about to sit down."
Peter followed them through the doorway and felt a weight he hadn't realized he had had on his shoulders lift. He could start a new life for himself here. Within these walls, no one knew much about him at all. They knew he was a bit of a kleptomaniac, and that he ran fast, listened to loud music, and had an odd taste in clothing. But other than that, they knew nothing of him as a person. Just like Wanda had gone off to college to better herself and make herself a better life, Peter could do the same here. He could choose to leave the worst behind him, and build on the good he had in him.
The first few weeks Peter resided in the mansion, he still couldn't get over how big it was and how expensive everything was. The vase that stood outside his door cost more than his mom's house; the table they ate all their meals at had been in Charles' family for two hundred years; even the bathroom looked like it was better suited for a palace.
Charles had dove right into Peter's schooling, finding that it distracted him as he waited for Hank to finish repairing Cerebro, so that they could start looking for new students again.
For a long while, Peter couldn't get past the wheelchair his professor was confined to. Everytime Charles wheeled up to him with a big smile, Peter couldn't see how he could be so happy. He didn't know the story behind the injury, but his mind was really good at imagining worse and worse senarios.
Finally, Charles had stopped in the middle of a math session to fill Peter in on the story. Peter had been in a wild daydream in which the Professor had lost his legs in a freak boating accident, with a blatant rip off of the shark from Jaws swimming about in the water. The idea made him laugh, but Charles decided that if he was ever to have his pupil's full attention, he would have to put his curiosity to rest.
"Pietro," Charles called, waiting for the young mutant's eyes to meet his own before continuing. "I've noticed you staring and daydreaming about my injury for weeks now. Would you like me to tell you what happened?"
Peter looked guilty, but nodded slowly, biting his lip. When Charles told him exactly who had hurt him, the ensuing explosion from the grey-haired youth had not been expected.
"Are you kidding me? That rat-bastard just doesn't know when to stop, does he? Is he even sorry? He just left you there, after he knew he had shot you, and didn't even get you to safety or anything? What kind of friend does that?" What kind of father would he have made? Peter's mind screamed at him, but he bit it back. He still hadn't told Charles or Hank about his ponderings concerning Erik Lehnsherr, and he wasn't about to after this little story. What if once they knew his suspicions, they decided to kick him out? What would he do then?
"Pietro, calm down," Charles ordered, wrapping his hand around Peter's wrist. Charles staring at him with so much focus smothered his mental anguish slowly but surely, until he was leaning against the table, a thin sheen of sweat coating his face as he grimmaced in sympathetic pain.
"And you still had me break him out of jail. Why?" he asked warily, staring up at his Professor in confusion. If any of his friends had been such a dick, he would have let them rot.
"We needed him. It seems that he didn't get the memo, though," Charles joked, stroking Peter's wrist calmly. The man never seemed to get ruffled, and was a constant source of calm for everyone around him. It was just so hard to get angry when you had the man sitting there exuding calm like a mist.
"Are you okay now, though? He's not coming back, right?" Peter felt like a little kid asking his daddy to check for monsters under the bed, but he couldn't help it. Though he had had high hopes for Erik Lehnsherr, the man scared him.
"I don't know where Erik is now, but I don't think he'll be dropping by anytime soon. He probably went into hiding to lick his wounds for a while, but he'll be back with something crazier before long. But we'll stop him, because it is our duty. The humans can't hope to capture him again without help. Sometimes I wish that he would listen to me like he used to; let me try to sway him once more. But there is more to Erik's life than most understand, and I can see why he thinks the way he does. That does not make him right, though." With a heavy sigh, Charles stared out the window for a long moment, before turning back to the sheet of math problems on the table.
"So, calculus," he continued, and Peter groaned, still feeling emotional whiplash from the conversation.
Peter had been given his own room, down the hall from Charles' and right next to the library. It was large and quiet and gaudy and far too luxurious for his teenage palate. Charles had allowed him to remove any excess furniture that he hadn't liked and let him decorate any way he pleased. That's why there was a Pink Floyd poster on one wall, a well-used grey quilt on the bed, and a picture of him and his sisters hanging in his vanity mirror. He had stuck it in the corner of the frame the first night he had gotten there, staring at it for hours. Wanda was smiling shyly at the camera, Sarah sitting in her lap with a gap-filled grin while Peter was giving her bunny ears. It had been taken about five years earlier, when Sarah had just been a little toddler.
He had debated long into the night before deciding to put the other picture in the opposite corner of the mirror. The picture of his mother, sister, and father watched over him night and day, and he found himself glancing at it every time he entered the room. He always focused in on the smudged face of his father, wondering if Erik knew of his suspicions if he would even care. The man scared him to death after what he had seen him do on TV, but now he had Charles and Hank with him. He knew that the two older mutants would keep him safe if Erik ever did drop by, but he wasn't really ready to test his speed against fast moving metal projectiles.
He was slowly getting into a routine, though the school work still made him want to stab his brain with a pencil. Sitting still for hours on end was making him go creepingly insane. It helped that he got one-on-one attention from his teachers, though. Charles taught him ethics, philosphy, history, and english. Hank took over the science, social studies, and math classes while he wasn't trying to fit Cerebro back together.
Peter found himself relaxing around the other two men, looking towards Hank as a sort of surrogate older brother, while Charles took on a more paternal role. The Professor he spent the bulk of his day with now was a far cry from the drunk, bleary eyed hippie he had met two months earlier. He really did prefer this version to the other, though he would never be square enough to say it out loud.
And then the day Peter was dreading came to pass. Just as he was finding his place, just as he felt he belonged, Erik dropped by out of the blue. Peter still wasn't sure if he should tell anyone about his suspicions about Erik and Magnus being the same man, and he wasn't really sure he wanted to. The guy had just tried to kill the president on national TV.
As Peter was munching away on his third bowl of cereal, the man practically fell through the ceiling. Okay, he didn't literally fall through the ceiling, but he did bring enough ceiling along with him that he might as well have.
The guy stumbled through the giant hole he had smashed out, and dragged himself towards the breakfast bar where Peter was eating his cereal. He didn't seem to notice Peter sitting there, though his eyes were unfocused and hazy, so Peter guessed he couldn't really blame the guy.
"Dude. You okay? You look like crap." Though Peter's heart was pounding in his chest he tried to sound as nonchalant as possible. Though the glare he was leveling Erik's way might have thrown nonchalant right out the window. Erik didn't respond for a long moment, but then he raised his eyes to look at Peter, before promptly throwing up all over the floor.
"Woah, dude! That's disgusting, what the hell! I'm eating here, c'mon." He took one more look at the man sprawled on the floor before stepping over him and scampering from the room. "I'm going to get Hank. Don't die. I think, anyway," he grumbled as he left.
Hank was tinkering away in his lab as per usual. "Hey, Pietro," he greeted, eyes never leaving the microsope he was studying.
"Man, Charles told me Magneto wouldn't be popping up anytime soon, but the creep's crashed out in the kitchen right now. He was sick all over the place right after he smashed a giant fucking hole in the side of the house. Come take a look at him," Peter explained, tugging on the doctor's arm until he was standing.
"Are you alright? He didn't do anything to you, did he?" Hank asked, wrapping a protective arm around Peter's shoulders. A few months ago, Peter would have said that having an older brother had to be hell, but now that he had Hank, he couldn't believe he had been so blind. Knowing someone older, with more experience, had your back was the best feeling in the world.
"Naw, I'm fine. Just go check out the super villian, okay? I'm gonna go find Charles." Hank nodded and went into the kitchen, audibly growling when he caught sight of Magneto.
"What is the boy doing here?" Erik rasped, wiping his mouth on his sleeve as he tried to sit up. Hank didn't bother answering as he yanked Erik up into the air, shoving him against the wall.
"What are you doing here, Erik? I thought Charles made it clear last time he saw you that we were done with you." Hank was practically snarling, and Peter found himself stuck to the floor in fascination. It felt surreal, like he was watching a bad day time soap opera and not real life.
It seemed that he hadn't needed to alert Charles anyhow, as a moment later the man rolled up beside him. "Oh dear," he grumbled, before rolling into the kitchen. He took in the shattered wall with nothing more than an exasperated little huff before turning to the spectacle before him. "Hello, Erik. What brings you by?"
He sounded so fucking calm, Peter grumbled to himself, while Peter was stuck hovering behind him, sweating it out as his heart continued to hammer against his ribs. He had never felt like more of an unexperienced kid.
Erik turned just enough to glare at Charles before gunting out, "We need to talk." Then, frighteningly, Erik turned his laser-intense gaze onto Peter, and he felt his breath still in his lungs.
"Uh oh," Peter mumbled, before he turned tail and fled the room, deciding to lock himself into his closet. He felt like a little kid doing it, but it was dark and small and comforting. He scrunched himself up into the smallest ball he could before fitting himself into the closet in the corner. It was a bit of a tight fit, but it felt comfortable and familiar, a common hiding spot of the Maximoff twins.
When his heartrate started calming, he finally dozed off after waiting tensely for what felt like hours for someone to come looking for him. Maybe he was wrong, and that sudden, intense eye contact hadn't meant what Peter thought it had meant. Maybe Erik really didn't have any inkling about their maybe, sorta, possible relationship. Maybe Peter had shoved himself into a closet for no real reason at all.
He had fallen asleep in the most uncomfortable position, but when he woke, it wasn't suddenly or with a start. He felt fingers running through his hair, like someone was stroking it. That was odd in itself, as even his own mother found his hair disconcerting, and she had seen it everyday for sixteen years. It also kind of threw him off that any of the men in this house might be playing with his hair for any reason at all. Yeah, they had become closer, but they'd only known each other for a few weeks.
It felt good, though. His mom had never really been the touchy-feely sort of mom. She loved him, he knew, but she had always kept her distance. Somewhere deep inside, he knew that he and Wanda scared her sometimes with their abilities. She was always so tired and busy, too, that it didn't leave much time for cuddling with her nearly-grown son.
Leaning into the touch ever so slightly, Peter grudgingly opened his eyes. Someone was blocking out most of the light from the doorway, but as his eyes cleared, he realized it was Erik. His heart rate sped up, and his eyes flew wide open. Scrambling further into the closet, Peter squeaked out, "Stay away from me, man. Seriously, I mean it."
Erik looked pained but he did take a step back, allowing Peter to fumble his way out of the tight space gracelessly. And there they stood, two feet away from each other.
"What did you talk to Charles about?" Peter snarled, feeling his world crumbling once more. Would Charles kick him out if he knew what Peter suspected? Or would he just be treated with suspicion and distrust if he was allowed to stay at all? Frustrated tears pricked at Peter's eyes as he worried over the possibilities. "What did you say?"
Erik stared at Peter for a long moment, taking in his angry stance and fearful eyes, and flinched away from them. His eyes travelled around the room, instead, taking in the tiny personal touches. A poster here, a blanket there, a photo stuck in the mirror. Two photos, actually, but one caught his attention more than the other.
Without answering Peter, Erik took a step toward the mirror and plucked the picture up. It was faded with age but he would never forget that day. To him, it had been the best time of his terrible life.
"Where did you get this picture?" Erik asked, his voice choked and strained. When he turned to look at Peter once more, he saw him almost radiating fury.
"You come into my room, refuse to answer me, and then touch my things. Don't touch that, don't even breath on it! Get out! GET OUT!" Peter shouted, his voice carrying outside the door to where Hank had obviously been hovering.
"You heard him, Erik. Out. Charles said if Pietro wanted to speak with you it was fine, but he obviously doesn't." Hank held the door open and waited for Erik to do as he had been told.
With the picture still held carefully in one hand, Erik took one last look before passing it back to Peter. "I'm sorry, Pietro." The second the words were out of his mouth, Peter snapped.
"Get out! You don't get to call me that, you don't get to speak to me. Get out, now!" Hank wrapped an arm around Peter, and watched as the older man swept out of the room, looking more pasty than usual.
Once he passed the threshold, Peter collapsed against Hank in exhaustion. Did this prove it? Did this mean that Erik really was his father? Oh, crap! Did the others know? He turned panicked eyes up to Hank, but all he saw there was compassion and understanding. Hank smiled calmly back at him and then hoisted him over to his bed.
"He told us what you said to him at the Pentagon; that your mom used to know a guy who could control metal. Why didn't you come to us if you had your own suspicions?" Hank ran a hand through Peter's hair, and he felt dirty. Erik had done that not ten minutes earlier, and he had enjoyed it then. Now it just felt like he was taking comfort he did not deserve.
"I was worried. I don't know you guys really well, but I assumed that the bastard son of a mutant terrorist wouldn't be accepted with open arms in a place like this." He could feel tears pricking at his eyes once more, and swiped a fist across his eyes to clear them away before they began. "I didn't know what to do, really. I was kind of hoping it would all disappear if I didn't say anything."
"Pietro, you can't just ignore things like that. I offered to do a paternity test, if you really want to know. He's just as confused about all of this as you are, I'm sure."
"And, you and Charles won't care, either way? I can still stay, even if he is my dad?" Peter asked, hope filling his chest.
"Of course! It wouldn't change anything. Over these last few weeks, I feel we've gotten to know you fairly well, what kind of person you are. You're kind hearted, smart, and funny as hell. You don't have a vindictive bone in your body. Knowing who your father is isn't going to change any of that."
With a huge smile, Peter darted forward to wrap his arms around Hank. He flew back just as fast, pretending he had not just damaged his image by showing, ugh, feelings.
"Alright, man. Let's get this over with then. Better to know than worry about it forever, right?"
Hank smiled knowingly, then patted Peter on the back before standing, tugging the younger mutant up after him. "I need a blood sample from you and Erik. C'mon."
They went down to the kitchen, where Charles and Erik sat bickering. "You're paying for that, you know," Charles grumbled at Erik, pouting slightly at the giant gaping hole in the side of his house.
Erik just grunted in reply, nursing a half cold cup of coffee in the same seat Peter had been in earlier that morning. When Peter and Hank stepped into the kitchen, Erik's gaze flew to them, taking in Peter's disgruntled face and Hank's eager science-eyes.
"I suppose this means you've agreed to the test, Pietro?" Charles asked kindly, a smile on his face. Though Peter knew that smile (it was the smile he got when he did exceptionally well on his homework), it sent a sick slickness through his stomach. What if the results changed the way Charles saw him? He knew that all the promises in the world didn't mean squat next to someone's subconcious. Charles may not want to treat him differently, but he might become more wary, less caring, and Peter wasn't sure if he could suffer through another parent-figure that was just waiting for him to screw up just a bit too much again.
Pietro, I would never! Charles projected into his mind, his face scrunched up in unhappiness.
You can't always control how you feel, man, Peter responded, before turning back to Hank. "Let's get this over with, yeah?"
Hank agreed, and led them all down to his newly rebuilt lab. He set Peter down next to him and quickly drew his blood, then had Erik sit down on his other side before doing the same to him. He set the blood to centrifuging, and then turned to the group. Erik and Peter were giving each other looks, Erik's one of interest and Peter's one of fear and contempt. Charles sat between them, looking extremely exasperated.
Hank understood the feeling, but he had to be the objective one here. The centrifuge pinged, and then Hank removed the samples, placing them into another machine to break down the DNA. If they were similar enough, then they were father and son.
The silence in the lab was deafening, no one willing to speak until the results were read out. As the genomes printed out of his computer, Hank bent over them and compared them as quickly and thoroughly as he dared.
With a heavy sigh, Hank removed his glasses and turned to face the expectant pair. "Well, congratulations Erik. It's a boy," he said sardonically, and enjoyed the look of pure shock that filled the metal bender's face. He had never seen Erik anything less than composed before.
Peter looked like he might be sick, his face paling to something lighter than chalk. Before Hank could say a word, Peter was a blur exiting the lab. Erik sighed, turning to Charles.
"Does he always run away when something happens?"
Charles glared at the man. "He's never run away from us. So far as I know, the only times he's had to run away from problems was when his mother told him to leave because the CIA was asking after him, and now, with you."
Erik frowned, glaring down at the floor. "What do I do now?" he asked the room, though no one really had an answer for him.
Peter ran back to his room, his mind reeling. When he had first met the man in the Pentagon, he had had such high hopes. Sure, he hadn't known the first thing about the guy, but he had been real, he had been right there; he had wanted a dad for so long, he had been willing to look past practically anything to have one.
Well, anything but what he got. A terrorist fanatic crazy person that scared the shit out of him. Peter was used to the tough-guy act, badasses and bosses, but Erik was something entirely different. There was danger around him, something frightening and unreliable and unstable that he didn't trust.
He was scared, and he was confused, and he didn't know how he was supposed to feel. He collapsed back down on his bed and held his mother's picture in his hand. It was true, then; the smeared face he had been obsessing over since he was eight years old now had a real life counterpart, and he had no fucking clue what to do.
He took one last look at the picture and then replaced it back into the mirror. Even if he never had anything to do with Erik fucking Lehnsherr, he could remember that at one point, his mom had been able to smile like that. That she had been happy at one point. The fact that he hadn't existed yet at that time was not lost on him as he moped in front of his mirror.
The picture of him and his sisters drew his attention away from his morbid wallowing. They had been happy at one time, too. When they had all been together, but now they were all seperated, in all directions of the wind.
Sarah was stuck at home with Mom, and Peter didn't begrudge her that. She was still so little, only eight years old. He wouldn't tear her away from their mom when she still needed her. He wouldn't be so selfish.
Wanda was at college, oblivious to everything that was shaking his world. She didn't even know that Peter had been told to leave, unless Mom had told her. Probably not, though; Mom was paranoid and wouldn't say something like that over the phone if she had even a tiny inkling that the feds might be tapping their phone. It was the same reason that Peter refused to call home.
And here he was, at a school in New York with two other mutants, that understood how hard it was to try and fit in. His struggles had been their struggles, were their struggles. He wasn't alone anymore. He couldn't help but think, for probably the millionth time, that Wanda would love it here.
What was he going to do? What was he supposed to do? Usually at a time like this, he would have Wanda to bounce his worries off on, but she was obviously unavailable.
The knock at his door was not wholly unexpected, but it still made him jump. "Who is it?" he asked, his voice gravelly and strained.
"It's me, Pietro," Charles responded. Peter sighed, but stood to open the door for him. Charles wheeled himself in with a small smile, settling himself beside the bed that Peter fell down on.
"Would you like to talk about it? It must come as quite a shock to have your musings be proven true."
Peter frowned, playing with his fingers in his lap. "For years, I dreamed of finally finding my dad, and he'd be great and he'd love me and everything would fine. Mom would be happy, and I would be happy, and our family would be fine." He reached over to pluck the old photo back up and showed it to Charles. "I found that in my mom's stuff from before we moved to the States, back when I was a little kid. She never knew I had it, but I kept it hidden in my stuff, and she never asked after it." Peter reached out and pointed out the people in the picture. "That's my mom, and that's my older sister, Anya. I never got much out of Mom about what happened exactly, but I know that Anya died in a fire when she was real little, and then Mom moved away afterwards. She didn't come to the States until I was five, though."
Charles stared at the picture, tracing the peoples' faces in deep thought. His attention seemed particularly captivated by the little girl. "Your family has been through many tragedies, Pietro. But you're being given your chance to fix it, now. You know who your father is. You don't have to keep wondering, anymore." Charles passed the picture back and took the boy's hand. "Erik may have his faults, but when he cares about someone, he does it with all of his being. He has a bit of an obsessive personality," Charles admitted with a chuckle.
Peter squirmed in apprehension. "Why are you trying to tell me to give him a chance? I would think that you would have me running for the hills away from him. I mean, you two don't seem to have the best relationship."
Charles looked a bit self-conscious then, and Peter realized that he wasn't really that old, maybe in his early forties, but people were living into their hundreds now. Forty was nothing, and in that moment, he looked half that.
"Erik and I were close friends for a while. I taught him how to hone his abilities, and in turn, he put a bullet in my spine." Though the admission hadn't been meant to sound quite so bitter, it came out that way. Peter stared at Charles, wide-eyed, and scooted away, looking fearful once more.
"Then why would you want me anywhere near you?! My dad put you in that chair, and you're okay with having me around?" Peter was breathing too fast, his vision tunneling, but Charles' voice in his head brought him back before he could black out.
Pietro, calm down. Come back, now. That's it, that's it, he coaxed mentally, until Peter turned his eyes back to his Professor. "I am not angry with you, and I'm starting to forgive Erik, as well. He didn't mean to do it, but it still left me paralyzed. It's taking me time, but Erik is persistent."
Peter could see that. He just hoped the guy didn't turn that persistance on to him, before he knew exactly how he felt about the situation.
"I believe that part of the reason Erik is the way he is, is because he has nothing to ground him. Everything he has ever cared about was torn away. His mother, his father, his freedom. His childhood. Apparently his wife, daughter, and now you, as well. Even though he didn't know about you, your mother obviously knew that you were Erik's child. If he has you, I believe that he might be coaxed into changing. Erik views the world as full of enemies, of people who want to hurt him and his own. But if he has you, he is more likely to listen to reason, don't you think?"
The more Charles talked, the tighter Peter's chest grew. So that's all he was, then? Leverage against Erik, to make him change his viewpoints that apparently had been beaten into him from childhood, that the world was against him? And Charles wanted to use Peter as emotional leverage to change a man Peter barely knew?
He jerked away from Charles' calming hands, not wanting to be calmed right then. The man was a brilliant manipulator, whether he did it on purpose or not.
"Stop it. Just, stop." The look Peter leveled Charles' way shocked the older man, and he had to take a dip into the teen's mind to understand just what was happening.
"No, no! Pietro, stop. That's not what I was getting at, and if you could think clearly right now, you would know that." He gave Peter his best stern Professor look and waited for his wary shoulders to relax before he dared to touch him. One hand on his shoulder and one in the boy's own, Charles tried to explain. "I'm not trying to use this relationship against Erik, I'm simply stating that we might be able to calm Erik down enough with your mere presence. He holds his family as near-deities and I'm sure you'll be no different. Like I said, when he loves it is with his whole being, with everything he has."
Peter felt the tears threatening again, but didn't have the strength to stop them. He didn't know what to do! He wanted Wanda so bad it hurt, but he couldn't drag her into this whole mess. It would be selfish and terrible and she would hate him for it, but he couldn't help wishing he had her support.
If he let Erik into his life, what was to stop the man from stealing him away, or worse, convincing him of his own views. Peter liked to think that he was a good person, that he wasn't so easily swayed, but he knew the truth. He was highly suggestable, because he always wanted people to like him. Everything he had done at the school so far had been to make the Professor and Hank proud of him, happy to have him take up space in their lives. What if he fell into the same mindset as Erik? Charles and Hank had had no prior relationship to him, but Erik was his dad. Peter had spent a good portion of his childhood fantasizing on what his life might be like if he ever met his father.
He was afraid of the lengths he might go to to make Erik like him, want him around.
But on the other hand, he wasn't totally alone. Hank and Charles were there to keep him on the straight and narrow, right? He could trust them to keep him good, to keep him from doing anything stupid. Right? Right.
With a body shaking sigh, Peter nodded, his arms wrapped around himself as he rocked on the bed. "Okay. We'll give it a try, but I need you to promise me that you and Hank will keep me from doing anything stupid. I don't want to be a terrorist, I don't want to be feared like he is. I don't want to do anything that could hurt somebody." The tears in his eyes and the earnestness in his voice moved Charles, and he didn't even think before pulling Peter in to his arms.
"Don't worry, we won't let you do anything foolish. You're too good to become that thing which you fear."
With that promise, Peter wiped his face and stood, tugging Charles out of the room with him. "I guess I have to go talk to him, now, huh?"
Charles grinned, glad that their conversation had helped. "Of course. But you won't be alone, don't fear."
They went back down to the kitchen, and found Erik there alone. He didn't bother turning as he heard Charles' chair on the floor. "Hank went back to the lab. I haven't touched anything, don't worry," he grumbled, raising a glass that definitely did not contain water to his lips.
"Woah, dude. I know finding out that you have seventeen years of child support to pay must be tough, but I didn't think it'd be that tough." The amber liquid sloshed in Erik's glass as he slammed it down against the counter, and he flew around, staring at Peter with wide eyes.
"So you'll talk to me now, hmm?" the man asked, looking Peter up and down once more like he was seeing him for the first time. Peter shuffled uncomfortably but his courage was bolstered with the knowledge that Charles was right behind him. Trying to go for nonchalant, like he hadn't disappeared twice on the man that morning alone, Peter walked up to the counter and poked at the remains of his soggy breakfast.
"Aww, cereal," he moaned, before turning around and dumping it in the trash. He busied himself with making another bowl, feeling Erik's eyes boring into his back as he did so. Once he had his replacement breakfast in front of him, he fell into the seat across from Erik and started munching away.
"So," he said with his mouth full of cereal. "What's up, dude?"
Erik's eyes seemed to be bugging out of his sockets as Peter waved his spoon around. With visible restraint, Erik stood slowly and turned Peter so that he could look at him eye to eye.
"What is your name?"
Looking confused, Peter responded, "Pietro Django Maximoff."
The breath Erik took in was monumental. "Django was Magda's brother's name. It is fitting. He never liked me, either," Erik said with a lopsided grin that made Peter flinch. That was his lopsided grin. He had seen it enough times in the mirror and in pictures to recognize it.
"How old are you?"
Peter's face scrunched up unhappily. "What, are we going to play 20 Questions, now?" he snapped, slipping out of Erik's grasp as he went back to his breakfast with a scowl.
"Pietro, they're simple questions. Perhaps Erik will stay true to the game and give you information about himself in turn," Charles placated, turning a stern gaze on to Erik, who frowned but nodded his agreement.
"Of course. Since you answered my question, ask one of your own."
Peter had to think hard. He didn't want to waste a question on something stupid like what's your full name? That didn't matter. What did?
"Why did you marry Mom?"
The question seemed to take Erik by surprise, and he fell down into his chair, suddenly looking years older. "We had been in the same camp. Once we were liberated, I had no family to turn to, but Magda's family took me in. Her mother was very sympathetic towards me. I wound up spending a lot of time with Magda, and we grew closer. After a year we married. She was the best thing in my life for many years." Erik paused then, and looked at Peter once more. "Where did you live, before?"
Peter, still reeling from Erik's information dump, spit out, "D.C. since I was five. We lived in Transia before then." He thought about his next question. "Did you ever want kids? I know about Anya, but before her, did you want to be a dad?"
"That is two questions," Erik mumbled, before he thought about the question. "When I was young, I never thought I would want children of my own. Even as a boy, I did not like other children. But then Anya came along, and I found myself getting excited at the idea of having a child. Anya did not disappoint. She was a wonderful little girl. Her smile lit up my days, her laugh filled my thoughts. She kept everyone happy, because no one could stay angry around her. After she died, I didn't think I would ever want another child, because how could I replace the hole that had been burned out of my heart after she died?" His eyes softened as he gazed at Peter. "And then you made that comment in the elevator. I didn't think on it much until later, but it was enough. It got me thinking again, about fatherhood and children. I would like to... to try, if you would but allow me," Erik explained, reaching his hand halfway across the table, leaving it open for Peter to take if he chose.
Peter's eyes were wary, though. He didn't exactly trust Erik. "Just one more question; you're a terrorist, it's a proven fact. It doesn't matter what reasons you have behind what you do, the simple facts are that you hurt people because you're afraid that they'll eventually hurt you, so you act first. My question is, do you want that for me? What are you going to do if I don't agree with the way you see things? I can't become what you have. I won't."
Erik looked like he had been slapped, and Peter's eyes seemed to be glowing with fire. The boy was extremely passionate about this, and he wanted an honest answer. But Erik didn't know what to say; how would he feel if his own son disagreed with the way he saw the world?
"I honestly don't know," Erik admitted.
Peter stood, shoving his chair back and then he stomped to the doorway. "Don't come back until you do," Peter demanded, and then he was gone once more.
Erik met Charles' eyes over the table and frowned. "Well, that could have gone worse." Charles had to agree. It could have been much worse.
Erik could have found out about Wanda, too.