Shattered (Part Two)

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer:  Don't own it.  Let me say right now that I didn't originally intend to do a part two but I had an epiphany this morning so here we are now.

WARNING: I may not be your favorite person by the time you finish reading this fic.  Just remember that I love you all whether you're mad at me or not.

            I must've said I'm sorry about a million times tonight.  I must've cried a million tears.  I can remember every time, every single damn time I was mean to him.  Every one of them with crystal clarity.  I tell him I'm sorry for every one of them.  It doesn't soothe my pain.

            I feel so raw, so naked, so alone.  There's something in me that's gnawing away at what's left of my soul.  I've felt this way before, in the asylum.  Then it was anger and hate that consumed me in flames.  Now, grief eats away at me like cancer.  Grief and the pain of things left unsaid.

            I stand and with a last look I turn to leave.  I'll be back.  I can't let this go; it refuses to leave.  I try to forget about it all but every time I close my eyes I just relive it all over again.  As bad as I'd like to I'll never forget that Toad died to save me.

            I open the door to the house quietly.  Everyone else is asleep.  I creep up the stairs, quietly hexing them so they don't creak and disturb anyone.  I stare down the long, dark, deserted hallway and a flash of the asylum runs through my mind.  I suppose now it's not that much different.  I've just jumped from one cage to another.

            "Enjoy your walk?"  The voice is familiar but I don't know the person, not anymore.  I had a brother once who was like this boy who stands in front of my door but he's gone now.  All that's left is a cruel, twisted version of him who lives down the hall from me.

            "Move," I order, "Let me into my room."  I'm in no mood to hear him talk.  His very voice is like acid in my ears.

            "Look, I'm sorry about Toad," says Pietro, "but you have to move on."  Move on?  I'd like to move him on into the afterlife.

            "I'm moving into my room," I state with cold determination, "whether or not I have to move you to do so."  Pietro won't back down.  He looks concerned for me but looks, like my brother, deceive.  It must run in the family, in the males particularly.

            "Please, sis," he pleads as he puts a hand on my shoulder, "I'm sorry, really.  He was my friend too."  That's enough.  The one thing I can't stand above everything about my . . .brother is a simple fact.  When I hate someone they know it but with Pietro he can be your best friend and your worst enemy all in one package.  I absolutely hate that.

            "Listen to me, you little weasel," I hiss as my hand closes around his throat and I slam him against the wall, "You better thank God, if He still listens to scum like you, that I don't have the energy for another funeral because if one more word comes out of your lying mouth I swear I'll make your skull pop like a damn balloon."

            Pietro tries to make some response but it only serves in making me want to rip his throat out even more.  His friend?  Pietro doesn't have friends.  He has tools, weapons, pawns.  Just like Father.

            "Get this straight," I tell him, "You don't talk to me, you don't touch me, you don't interact with me at all, and you make damn sure you don't tell me how 'sorry' you are about Todd.  As far as I'm concerned I don't want your particular brand of slime anywhere near me so back off."  Pietro nodded and let out another strangled gasp.

            "I'm glad we understand each other," I tell him as I throw him into the floor and slam the door behind me.  His friend too?  Todd was not a friend; he was someone I loved.  Pietro has no concept of love.

            He's sorry?  He doesn't know how I feel, he never did.  If he were half the leader, half the man, he claims to be he would've been watching my back.  He would've pushed me away instead of Toad.  He's so fast he could've done it and not even got hit.  Why didn't he?  Because Todd, just like the rest of us, just like me, is/was expendable to him.  The only thing he wants to do is impress Father.  Why?  Like our father is someone worthy of it.

            I slam my hand on the door in frustration.  I didn't want to do that, to hurt Pietro.  Had things turned out differently we would still be friends like when we were little.  But that was a lifetime ago and the Pietro I knew then is dead.  I no longer want to have any kind of bridge to this person I call "brother" now only out of habit.  That bridge is no more.  I blew it up, killed the architect, and shredded the blueprints.  Same with Father.  Everyone I've ever loved has either betrayed me or has been taken away from me.

            Salt stings my eyes again.  How much can one person take?  Haven't I suffered enough?  Dear God, I'm only seventeen.  I can't take anymore.  I can't be alone anymore.  I curl up against my door with my knees against my chest and cry again.  I sob and heave and cry.  If I could cry myself to death I would do it in a heartbeat.  If it were humanly or mutantly possible it probably would've happened to me by now.

            "It'll be okay."  That voice, it can't be.  He's dead, in the ground.  I know, I saw.  I look around and listen again.  I'm hallucinating; this is not real.

            "It's okay," says Todd.  Oh God, I can see him now too.  He's right in front of me.  I'm crazy but strangely I don't feel alarmed by this fact.  I just let it sink in.  This is what happens to insane people, they see things.  I'm insane therefore it's normal for me to see a dead person.

            "C'mere," he says as he wraps his arms around me.  This doesn't alarm me either.  My entire body tingles as he hugs me.  I'm strangely calm now.  I just let it all out.  Real or not he's here and that's all that matters at this point.

            "It's okay," he says again.  He repeats it as I keep crying on his shoulder.  I guess that's what it is.  Ghosts don't really have bodies.  I cease to rationalize.  Rational thinking went out my window a long time ago.

            "I'm so sorry," I tell him.  He knows and nods.

            "Listen Wanda," he tells me, "You gotta get over this.  You gotta start gettin' some sleep and eating more too.  You look terrible."  Health critique from the damned?  Well, that's a new one.

            "I can't," I reply, "Every time I close my eyes I see it, Todd.  I see you take the bullet, I see you die in my arms, I see you tell me you love me."

            "I know it hurts," he replies, "but it'll get better.  You have to believe that it will fade."  Fade?  Fade like him, like my memories of him.  It sounds insane but I'm scared, I'm scared to forget him.  I'm terrified that I'll forget the one person who truly loved me.  That's why I refuse to go on living.

            "I love you," I whisper.  He knows, he's always known.  I was the last one in on this little secret.  He just holds me and I'm happy.  For once in my lonely life I'm happy.  It's such a beautiful feeling.  I just close my eyes and lose myself until there is no him or me but just we, just us.  It's more of heaven than I can ever hope for.

            Wanda opened her eyes and looked around.  It was morning; she was in bed, in her nightgown.  She didn't remember going to bed.  She hadn't been sleeping since . . ..  Was that a dream?  She could've sworn it was so real.  Was it all a dream, everything?  Was Toad still alive?  Wanda looked around, unsure whether or not she was still dreaming.  There was a knock at her door.

            "Go away," she replied automatically.  Then she shook her head.  Dream or no dream she needed to change.

            "Wait," she said, unsure if the other person could hear her, "Who is it?"

            "It's jus' me."  That voice.  Another hallucination?  Wanda got up and went to the door.  She opened it and looked around.  There was no one there.

            "Toad?" she asked weakly, "Are you there?"  She looked down the hall and saw him turn around.  She could see him; she could hear him.  Time for the ultimate test.

            "Yeah," replied Toad as he looked at her, "You okay, Wanda?"  An image recoiled in her mind.  His eyes, his voice, lights out, dead in her arms.

            "C'mere," said Wanda shakily.  Toad shuffled over to her door.  Wanda hesitantly held out her hand and touched his cheek.  She could feel him, his skin, his slime, his body.

            "Oh God," she choked as she hugged him harder than she'd ever hugged anyone, "You're alive."

            "Well yeah," replied Toad, "Least I am unless you wanna crush me to death here."

            "Shut up and kiss me, you little wart," she replied as she pulled his lips towards hers.  It was better than the first time.  She felt so at peace, so content, so alive.

            "Wanda?" asked Toad as they separated, "You feelin' okay?"  This certainly wasn't the morning welcome he was used to from her.

            "Better than ever," replied Wanda, "Toad, I just had the most horrible dream on Earth but it made me realize something very important."

            "What's that?" asked Toad, clearly ready for anything at this point.

            "I love you, Todd Tolensky," replied Wanda, "I love you so much."  He barely had time to answer before she hugged him again and nearly crushed him.

            "I know," he whispered.  For Wanda, déjà vu never felt so good.

            "How?" asked Wanda.

            "I can see it," replied Toad, "in your eyes.  Every time you blast me or yell at me your eyes say 'I'm sorry'.  I know you love me, Wanda, but it's more important that you know it too."

            "I do," replied Wanda, "You have no idea how happy you make me feel.  I was scared of it at first so I pushed you away.  Now the only thing I'm scared of is losing you."

            "Then you're not scared of anything," replied Toad, "I ain't goin' nowhere, cuddles."  For the first time ever, Wanda actually smiled at one of his stupid little names.  She idly worried about losing her edge and then banished the thought.  If she had to shatter the image of the Scarlet Witch to get the real Wanda back then pass her a bucket full of bricks.

            "Let's go get some breakfast," said Toad.  Wanda nodded and relinquished her grip on him.  Suddenly she thought of something.

            "Get us both some and bring it in here," she said.  Toad looked a little puzzled until she winked at him.  He grinned and hurried downstairs.  Wanda turned back to her room and looked in her mirror.  For the first time in a long time she didn't see the Scarlet Witch anymore.  She saw herself, she saw Wanda.  She smiled and her reflection smiled with her.  He had been right all along.  She did have a beautiful smile, she just never got to see it.  She'd have plenty of time to make up for it.

(Author's Note):  What, you actually thought I could kill Toad?  Shame on you and after I already told you I loved him.  Anyways, don't be too mad at me.  After all, I did give you a happy ending.