Cruel to Be Kind

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: Don't own. I haven't done Toad in awhile and I'm disappointed at the lack of Toad/Wanda in Season Four. This is my explanation for it.

A lot of things go through your mind when you're trying to go to sleep. You never really notice it when you're awake, all the things you think about. It's only when everything's quiet that your brain really gets noisy.

I stare at my clock. It's midnight. I should be asleep but I'm not. So far as I know everybody else is 'cept maybe Pietro who might've gone for a run. I roll over and close my eyes. A creak from the stairs tells me someone's still around. There's some noise from the kitchen. I would say it's Freddy but I can hear him snorin' already. I sigh and get out of bed. It's not like I can't just sleep through the day if I need to. I probably won't miss anything important.

As I walk down the hall I glance at Wanda's open door and notice that she's not in bed. I nod to myself and go downstairs to find her in the kitchen. She's been havin' nightmares lately, ever since her dad died. She tries to go ta bed earlier so she still gets enough sleep. Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the night to her screaming bloody murder. Pietro usually calms her down but then he winds up tryin' ta tell her about her memories and nearly gets his head blown off.

"You okay?" I ask her. I must've scared the hell out of her because the glass she'd just set down spontaneously shatters as she whirls around. Her look softens as she stares at me. She glances at the broken glass and then sinks to the floor with her back against the cabinet and her head in her hands. It hurts to watch her cry, to see her suffer. She's been hurt so much so often and usually no one's there for her. Not this time though. This time, just like always, I'm there for her.

"It's okay," I whisper as I wrap my arms around her, "I didn't mean to scare you." She buries her face into my shirt and sobs. It breaks my heart to see her like this. It makes me hate her dad even more. She's cryin' for him, because she misses someone who wasn't even a real father to her. I hate him for leaving her so screwed up.

"Toad," she asks as she sniffs a little, "do you still love me?" It's a question I ask myself sometimes. The answer's always yes. I haven't been all over her lately though. I figured this whole thing with her dad dyin' is enough. She don't need a loser like me buggin' her for a date every five seconds. She looks up at me for an answer. God, her eyes are so beautiful.

"Of course I do," I reply as I wipe a tear from her eye.

"Good," she replies as she returns her head to my chest, "I was starting to think no one did." It hurts to hear her say things like that. It makes me think she'll do something bad, something she shouldn't even think about doing.

"Don't ever say that," I tell her, "or think it either." She sniffs again and then we both get off the floor.

"Here, you sit down," I tell her, "I'll get ya some water." She nods and sits at the table while I get another glass and fill it. I decide that I'll clean the broken one up later.

"Thanks," she says as I hand her the glass.

"You wanna talk for a little bit?" I ask her. She sips her drink a little and then sighs.

"Another nightmare," she explains. I nod. Just like I thought.

"About your dad?" I ask. She nods and takes another drink. She told me once about her nightmares. Bad people come and take her away and when she tries to call out to her dad he fades away like a ghost and leaves her alone. Then the bad people take her into a place and everything becomes fuzzy but she knows they're hurting her and she starts screaming.

"I just don't know what's what anymore," she tells me, "It feels like everything's been ripped out from under me. I thought Pietro would understand but he just keeps telling me all these things that don't make any sense."

"It's okay," I repeat as my hand slides across the table to grip hers, "I know you must feel alone but I'm always here." I say it because it's true. I'd do anything to see her be happy again, really happy.

"Thank you," she replies as she holds my hand. She manages a little bit of a smile.

"I thought you'd given up on me," she confesses, "In a really weird way I was kinda hurt."

"I've never stopped loving you, Wanda," I tell her, "but I figured that you needed some space after all this." She smiles a little again.

"Toad, you've known Pietro awhile," she says, "Does it make any sense why he's telling me that I hated my father? Did something happen that I don't remember?"

I stare at her for a second and wonder something. The way she said that last part, it makes me wonder if she really doesn't remember what happened or she's just foolin' everyone. Does she remember and she's just waitin' to see if I tell her or not? Her brother's good at playactin' but how good is she? I stare at her face and I swear that something flickers like bad reception on a TV. For a split-second I can see the rage bubbling and boiling in her eyes like a volcano about to erupt. Then it's gone just as quick and I wonder if it was there in the first place. Hide-and-seek's not her style. There's no way she could fool us for this long.

"Toad?" she asks, "Are you okay?" She does look concerned but with her it's hard to tell what's real and what's just a nice paint job thanks to her dad and Mastermind. Would she be this concerned if she remembered?

"Yeah," I reply, "Sorry, I just was thinking about something. Repeat the question again."

"Do you know why Pietro keeps telling me that I hated my father?" asks Wanda, "I would remember if something bad happened, wouldn't I?" Oh boy, now we're inta rocky territory. What should I tell her? I've always hated lying to her about her memories. Should I tell her the truth, the whole truth? She'll just get angry again.

"Wanda, how much do you remember?" I ask her. She gets a puzzled look on her face and starts to think. Good, now I can buy some more time. I should tell her everything. If she finds out any other way she'll be royally pissed at all of us for not telling her. I know Pietro means well but he's not helping. Wanda's not like most people. The more you push the more she pulls back. You can't kick the door down with her. You just gotta wait till she opens it for you.

"I remember all of my childhood," she finally replies, "but when me and Pietro came here there's a big blank spot until that day in the mountains when we . . ." She blushes a little. I search her eyes and selfishly hope to see some sign that she enjoyed that kiss as much as I did.

"What happened that day?" she asks me. Here we go again. Sad, confused Wanda or angry Wanda? Pick your poison. Neither of them's the real her. The real Wanda's the one who hides her feelings of hurt and betrayal with rage. The real her just wants someone to love her, really love her. I hate to lie to her. I'm the only person she really trusts anymore.

"Wanda," I begin, "I know you probably don't wanna hear this and you won't believe me but please listen." She nods. This is how it's gonna have ta be with her. It's like she's a little kid. You just have ta go slow unlike Pietro who keeps rushing and hitting her with so much stuff she overloads and pushes away.

"When you first came here," I tell her, "your dad did something to you, something that hurt you very badly." She starts to say something but I motion for her to let me finish. She sighs and lets me go on.

"Pietro remembers your dad hurting you and how upset and angry it made you feel," I explain, "that's why he's not sad about him dying."

"Why can't I remember it?" asks Wanda. Now how should I handle this one? I should tell her the whole story but once again I decide to take the backdoor out.

"That day in the mountains," I tell her, "You had an . . . accident and it affected your memory. That's why there's a big blank spot there." That's another thing that helps, logic. She can't argue that there's some stuff she doesn't remember. If she can believe part of the story then she's more likely to buy the whole deal.

"I guess that makes some sense," she admits, "What exactly were you trying to do back there, give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?"

"I'm sorry about that," I reply a little sheepishly, "I just wanted to see what it felt like, to kiss you. I shouldn't have taken advantage of you."

"Oh, it's alright," replies Wanda, "It actually wasn't all that bad." That makes my lifetime, hearing her say that. I've always wondered how she felt about it.

"What did he do?" asks Wanda. I stare at her for a second, "My father, what did he do that hurt me and made me angry?"

Foul, penalty, flag on the play. I'm seriously callin' timeout on this one. Geez, I can't tell her the truth. She'll either think I'm lyin' about everything or she'll flip out again. Despite the fact that she likes her dad she's better off now. Should I bring back all those painful memories? She shouldn't have to feel that hurt again. Which way is going to hurt her less?

"It's not important," I tell her, "He's dead, Wanda, let's let it die with him, okay?" She stares at me, searching my eyes. She knows I'm keeping something from her. I don't mean to but it's a complete mess. I hate having to do this to her, really I do.

"Okay," she says finally. I don't know whether or not she believes me. I hope she does. There's no easy answer that'll fix all this. I'm trying to do my best and I can only hope it's enough.

"I'm never going to get back to sleep," she says with a sigh. I get another idea.

"Wait here," I tell her. I hop upstairs to the bathroom and open the medicine cabinet. Pietro keeps some sleeping pills in here sometimes when he's so amped up he can't get to sleep. There should be one left. Bingo. I grab it and come back to the kitchen.

"Try this," I tell her, "but don't make it a habit, okay?" She nods and takes the pill from me.

"It'll help you sleep," I tell her, "Go on, take it." She hesitantly takes her drink and then downs the pill. Hopefully that'll knock her out enough ta where she can get a decent night's sleep. Even though she's still gorgeous she looks terrible.

"Thank you," she says, "for everything. I can't tell you how much I need someone right now."

"Any time," I reply. She walks back up the stairs and I trail after her.

"I can do it myself," she states as I open her door for her. She sighs as I hop into a chair beside her bed.

"I wanna make sure you're okay," I tell her. She crawls into bed and I gently pull the covers over her. That sedative must be kickin' in. Normally, I wouldn't have even got as far as the door.

"I think I can take it from here," she says sleepily. She manages a real smile as she snuggles under her covers.

"Sweet dreams," I whisper as I lean forward and gently kiss her on the forehead. She closes her eyes. I stare at her for a little bit to make sure she's okay. She looks beautiful in the moonlight. I don't deserve her, not after the way I handled things down there. I sigh as I get up to leave and close her door quietly.

Maybe one day I'll tell her the whole truth. I'm just so afraid she'll hate me for it, for not telling her sooner. I don't wanna hurt her but I couldn't tell her about the asylum. She's better off now without all that anger eating her up inside. I chickened out again. I took the easy way out. I sigh as I collapse into my own bed. There are a lot of things I think about when I'm trying to go to sleep but now, just like always, the only thing I can think of is her.