Happy Birthday to Me (Part Two)
Disclaimer: I still don't own this stuff. This one's pretty freaky but it's Wanda so what would you suspect? This part might push the PG-13 rating so don't be surprised if it gets bumped up to R. Anyways, R/R.
She felt restless. Wanda Maximoff didn't know why but she felt something nagging at her. There was something she had to do. She couldn't imagine what it could be. She pulled off her headphones and hit stop on her player. Much as she wanted to keep listening to the Evanescence CD Toad had given her for her birthday there was something more important. She just couldn't figure out what. She was missing something, a gift from someone. She ran through the list. CD from Toad, birthday cake from Freddy, locket from Pietro that also included a picture of him inside, pair of ruby earrings from Lance, and a necklace from Father. That was it wasn't it? Someone had been left out.
"Is Pietro back yet?" she asked as she came down the stairs.
"Naw, he's still out," replied Freddy as he and Toad were watching TV. Pietro had left earlier to do something very important. Wanda stared off into space. Suddenly she felt herself move to the door.
"I'm going out for awhile," she said absently. Freddy nodded and continued munching some potato chips. Toad, however, was a little more wary.
"I'll come with ya," he volunteered. Wanda shook her head. For some reason she wanted to be alone. She put on her coat and went out the door. Toad was about to return to the TV when he heard thunder.
"Storm's comin'," said Freddy, "Wouldn't wanna be out in it."
"I gotta go see about Wanda," said Toad as he hopped to the door, "Hey, remember if the Braves win you owe me ten bucks." Freddy nodded as Toad ran out the door to make sure Wanda was alright.
She stared at the foreboding structure defiantly as if daring it to make her angry. Wanda didn't know why she'd come to this place. She certainly hadn't been here before, had she? It seemed familiar, too familiar.
"Uhm, cupcake?" asked Toad, "What're we doin' here?" Wanda whirled around and growled in frustration. She didn't want anyone around her.
"I told you I don't need a chaperone," she replied, "I'm a big girl now."
"I know," replied Toad, "You're eighteen now but it's gonna storm soon and you don't need to be out here alone in the rain." Alone in the rain. She let that phrase bounce around inside her head. Why did that mean something?
"Well," she said, "Make yourself useful then and do what I tell you to." Toad gulped. She wasn't planning on going in there, was she? She couldn't go in there, anywhere but there.
"What're you doing?" asked Toad. Wanda shook her head as if to clear it.
"I don't know," she replied, "but something's in there that I want to see. Something's in there that I need, a late birthday present." Toad gulped again. She was standing right in front of the asylum she'd forgotten. It was the same one she had been in all those years.
"Keep quiet," ordered Wanda as she raised her hands. Instantly, everything electronic on the grounds and inside the building shut down. Wanda and Toad crept from the shadows along the side of the building.
"Guard," whispered Toad as he peeked around the corner. Wanda nodded and looked around for something she could use to knock him out with. She waited until his back was turned then came out and hex-blasted him into a wall.
"Grab his keys," ordered Wanda. Toad's tongue shot out and snatched the key ring from the guard's belt. The two crept inside with Wanda leading the way up the stairs. How did she know where she was going? She'd never been here before.
"Where we goin'?" asked Toad in a whisper as Wanda came to the top of the stairs. She had no clue. Something was drawing her into this place. What was it and why were images flashing through her mind? Lightning briefly illuminated the room. There were no guards in the hallway. Why?
"Lock the door behind you," she ordered as she opened the door and stepped into the hallway. She had to fight to breathe. Images flashed in her mind. Straightjackets, sharp syringes full of bad medicine, pain, torture. She heaved a sob as she walked down the row of cells. Why was she here? Why was she seeing these things?
"Here," she said as she suddenly stopped. Toad almost bumped into her. She stared at the door. It was so familiar. This was where she had been kept. This wing was empty now. Only the worst of the worst stayed here. Only monsters were kept here.
"Open the door," she told Toad.
"Sweetie, I don't. . .." began Toad but Wanda hexed his mouth shut. She hadn't asked for his opinion. Toad opened the door and she stepped inside. The walls. So close, so tight. Always closing in, always keeping her in.
"Why?" she asked herself. Another jagged arc of lightning split the sky. Rain was pouring now. The rain, oh God the rain. She never liked rain. Why not? It was just water, it couldn't hurt her. That was a job for other things. What other things? She wasn't sure.
"Toad," she said as she released the hex on his mouth, "You have to do something for me."
"Wanda, I don't think you should be here," replied Toad in a concerned tone. That was funny, Wanda thought the same thing. Well, at least part of her did.
"Toad," she whispered, "I want you to stay outside and lock me in here by myself."
"But, cuddles," said Toad, "Why?"
"I don't know yet," replied Wanda truthfully. There was something about this place that called to her. She didn't know why but she felt as though she belonged here.
"Just do it," she ordered, "and no matter what don't let me out unless things get real bad. I mean seriously bad." Toad opened his mouth to object but Wanda glared at him. He said nothing and closed the door on his way out. Wanda heard the eerily familiar sound of the bolt sliding into place. Where had she heard it before? In here? Had she been in here before? Yes, that was why she suddenly felt at peace. That was why she felt as if she'd come home.
Toad couldn't remember a time when he was more nervous. Not even final exams made him feel this bad. She was in there, the same cell where they used to keep her. Magneto was going to roast him alive if she remembered but he was more afraid of her than him. He was afraid that she would get angry again, go into that psychotic rage state where she couldn't control herself. He nervously scanned the dark hallway. How could his beautiful Wanda ever survive in a place like this?
It had been a long time, hadn't it? A long time since when? She couldn't remember. That seemed to be a recurring pattern these days. Wanda traced the bricks with her fingernails. The window. There was something outside. Rain and . . . something else. A crack of lightning flashed. Wanda swore she heard a car pull away. His car, their car. Whose car? Someone she once trusted with her life but had betrayed her and left her alone in the rain.
'Father! Don't' leave me!' Where had that thought come from? Father? No, he would never leave her.
"Father," she whispered and turned away from the window. There were other attractions on this tour of Hell. Wanda felt so strange, as if she were reliving someone else's life as her own. Why?
The bed. She sat on it and put her head in her hands. The bed, leather straps so tight they took away her breath. Pain in her arm, a sting of a needle and then everything spun in a haze. Tears, crying, then blackness. Nothing, nothing. Down, down, down.
"Stop it," she cried as she clutched her head, "No, no more hurt. Please stop." There was no relief, there never had been. No escape. She looked down at the sheets. Bloodstains. Her blood? Last year's birthday present. She had gotten her hands on some glass, how she didn't know. She cut herself to make sure she could still feel. It was her only birthday present. Everyone else had forgotten about her.
"No," she said, "I was with Father last year, wasn't I? He took us to the carnival." Didn't he do that? What did he give her? Why could she remember this self-mutilation more clearly? The walls closed in again. There were other things in here now with her. Ghosts, demons, monsters. Not just things that went bump in the night. These things ate things that went bump in the night for breakfast. These were the things that made you wake up screaming in a cold sweat. This building was the epitome of every nightmare she had ever had. She screamed a blood-curdling howl and curled up in a corner, her corner. They couldn't get her there.
Toad nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard Wanda scream. He realized he should open the door but he was scared of what he would find on the other side. Would he find Wanda or an animal? He looked back to the end of the hall. He heard footsteps coming fast. They had to leave soon.
Electro-shock, God she hated it. When had she ever felt it? She felt it now, the thrill of man-made lightning coursing through her veins. The sadistic tickle in her nerves. The smell of ozone. There was a chemical smell too. The smell of chlorpromazine as it shot through her blood. Bars, cage, she was an animal. God, how could she have ever experienced this?
She wanted to escape but she couldn't. No, wait. Her hands weren't tied this time. This time? She didn't care anymore. She pointed and the entire outside wall blew out. Bricks, iron, it all rained down while the rain poured in. The rain on her skin. 'Father, don't leave me!' That night, the rain.
Alarms flashed. She had forgotten about maintaining the hex on the security systems. Red lights, spiral, flash, danger. Suddenly everything in the room exploded. The door opened. Enemy, fiend, one of them. No, it was Toad. The rule, the rule she had learned. Learned when? Anyone who came through the door was bad, evil, cruel. They were a liar, deceiver, tempter with the apple of freedom. Freedom from what? No, this was just Toad. Enemy. Toad. She raised her hand to blast him. They could no longer cage her.
Toad was officially freaked out now. He knew they had to get out. He opened the door and almost got himself killed. Wanda had that look in her eye, that murderous gleam. She was about to blast him, probably kill him. She hesitated for a second and her face turned to shock.
"Toad, I. . .." she struggled. He didn't wait to see what happened next. He spat a small glob of slime in her eyes and prayed she would understand. She was stunned and he grabbed her. He jumped through the hole she had made and out into the rain. He hit the ground and rolled into some bushes. It wasn't the best landing ever.
"Wanda?" he asked. Her hand clamped around his throat. Her eyes, the psychotic gleam. She would kill him. Suddenly she shook her head. New images now. Carnivals and picnics with Father and Pietro. New sensations coursed through her. The smell of cotton candy, the crackle of fireworks. Happy times, happy Wanda. Happy Wanda.
"Toad, I. . .I'm sorry," she said as tears flowed from her eyes and she released her grip. She curled up into a ball. Tears mixed with cold rain. Tears and rain. 'Father, don't. . .'
"Wanda," hissed Toad in her ear, "We gotta get outta here. It's not safe. C'mon, let's go home."
"Home," she replied in between ragged breaths. She looked back at what she'd done. She felt a small sense of retribution, redemption, revenge. That felt like it had been a long time in coming. Why? The building, it had been home once. No, it was never home.
"Can you make it?" asked Toad. Wanda let the rain wash everything away. She stood up and nodded, agreeing that it was time to go home. It was time to forget about this nightmare.
Pietro had been worried sick. He had stayed up later than usual to see Wanda when she came home, if she came home.
"Where in God's name have you been?" he asked as Wanda staggered through the door, soaking wet with Toad on her heels.
"Hell," she replied as she collapsed onto the couch. Pietro looked to Toad for further elaboration.
"She had to go find something," explained Toad, "Something she lost." Pietro's eyebrows arched. He turned back to Wanda. She was asleep and shivering from the cold. He grabbed a blanket in two seconds and put it over her.
"Happy birthday, sis," he whispered in her ear, "We'll talk about it tomorrow." Both he and Toad watched her sleep before they headed up the stairs.
Tired. She was so tired. She had a headache too. Wanda felt herself slide into sleep as she dreamt of happy times. No more nightmares. No more bars or cages or bad men. Just happy peaceful memories of her, Father, and Pietro.
'Happy birthday to Wanda,' she thought as she drifted to sleep, 'Happy birthday to me.' When she woke up the next morning it all felt like nothing more than a bad dream.