Better Left Forgotten (Part Two)
Disclaimer: Still don't own these characters. R/R, you know the drill.
It had been harder than anything she had ever done. She couldn't understand why though. They had lied to her and betrayed her. Why did she still care about them so much?
'Forget about them,' Wanda mentally ordered herself, 'You're free now. You don't have to worry about anything anymore. You don't have to get hurt again.'
She sighed as she sank into a seat. She unzipped her bag and began rifling through her CDs for some music. It was going to be a long trip after all. Her hand stopped as she stared at the last plastic page in her CD wallet. She ran her fingers fondly over one of the discs. It was a birthday present from Toad, one of her favorite CDs actually. She couldn't help but think of him every time she listened to it.
"Didn't feel like some music anyway," she mumbled as she continued to rummage around in her bag. Maybe there was something to read. Her hand bumped against something hard and metallic.
"What?" she mumbled. She pulled out a picture and stared at it. It was a group photo of them; she couldn't exactly remember when it was taken. Why had she packed that?
'I can always keep the frame,' she thought. She looked at the picture closer and focused on her face. Wanda had never seen anything with her smiling before. She had to admit she looked rather pretty when she smiled. She actually looked happy for once.
'You're better off without them,' said the voice in her head, 'They were just sleazy liars anyway.' She wasn't quite sure she believed that anymore. She had been angry with them but still . . .
"I'll keep it," she whispered as she put it back in her bag. She couldn't stop thinking about them, about how she would never see them again. She remembered what Lance had said earlier. 'You're our sister.'
It was true and Wanda knew it. They were the only people in the world who treated her like an actual human being. Sure they kept a huge secret from her but they had treated her a lot better than anyone ever had. Maybe she should forgive them.
'No!' screamed the voice, 'They lied to you and hurt you. You deserve better friends than that.'
'Let it go,' said a different voice, 'You know they're sorry. Forgive them.' Wanda wasn't sure what to do. She knew what they did was horrible but all she could think about was how happy she was around them. She pulled the picture out again and studied it. Was all that happiness she saw in her eyes fake too?
Wanda looked at each of them. They had all become closer to her than anyone in her life. They were her family in a strange way. Did she really want to leave all that behind forever?
"Lance," she whispered as she touched his image. Lance was a big brother to all of them. She admired him for taking it upon himself to hold them all together. She knew she couldn't have done it. She remembered how he used to help her if Pietro was acting too snotty or Toad was too clingy. He would always get them to back off and give her some space when she was about to explode. When her father was presumed dead and she was so distraught, he had talked with her a lot. She knew he understood about losing parents.
"Fred," she continued. Wonderfully naïve Fred. She couldn't blame him for any of this because it would be cruel of her to do so. She had to admit he was more perceptive than most would give him credit. He never really seemed to dislike anyone. She remembered that even when she first came to the house he was nice to her when they occasionally happened to interact. It wasn't his fault some things were complicated. She shouldn't be angry with him simply because he didn't seem to know any better.
"Todd," she whispered next. Sweet, loveable Toad. Sure sometimes he could be sleazy and gross but she was used to it by now. He was the first person to say he loved her and mean it more than in a familial way. He was the first person she ever kissed. She remembered something else. 'Man, they really did a number on your head. Let me enlighten you, schnookums . . .' He was the first to try and tell her. She hadn't remembered it before. It must have been torturous to keep such a secret. She was sorry she broke his heart when she left.
"Pietro," she finished. Pietro, the big brother she thought she never had. She had wished a horrible, violent death on him more times than she could count. Maybe it was time to let it go, to try and make amends. They had been so close when they were little. Was it possible to get some of that back? Since she had been reunited with him, he had tried to talk to her but he never knew how. She remembered when her father was gone he tried to help her remember but she wouldn't listen to him. He really did care about her even if he was selfish a lot of the time.
Wanda could feel the tears welling up in her eyes. They all cared about her, enough to come to her rescue in Mexico. She felt so ashamed for thinking they would just let her go off to die, for writing them off as heartless jerks. Now she had done it again, jumped to the conclusion that they only wanted to help themselves when really all they had been trying to do was help her. She looked around. What the hell was she doing running away from the only family she had? How could she have been so monumentally stupid?
"Oh God," she whispered as she started to cry, "I made such a terrible mistake." She took it all back, every single mean thing she had said to them. Sure they were rotten, lying scumbags but they were her rotten, lying scumbags. She just wanted more than anything to tell them that they were the closest thing she had to a real family, that she loved them all and was sorry for everything. She just wanted to go home.
The loud bang made Wanda almost jump straight out of her skin. She felt her heart flutter as the bus rolled to a stop. She tried to regulate her breathing back to a normal pace as the driver told everyone to stay seated. She looked around and dried her eyes. Everything suddenly seemed a lot clearer now.
"Everyone remain calm," assured the bus driver, "Couple of flat tires is all, folks." Wanda ignored the various groans from her fellow passengers. She suddenly understood everything. Lance had been right. No one else was going to care about what kind of life she had led. They were all too wrapped up in their own personal tragedies to listen to hers. They certainly wouldn't care about her like the boys had, wouldn't risk their own lives to make sure she didn't get hurt.
"That's it," she mumbled as she grabbed her bag, "I'm outta here." She began walking up the aisle and started to step off the bus.
"Where ya goin', miss?" asked the driver.
"Home," she replied with a little smile as she turned to face him, "I need to tell some people something." The driver nodded knowingly as she stepped off the bus and began walking back towards Bayville. She guessed it wouldn't take her too long to get back to the house.
"Wait a minute," she said as she turned around and gave the bus a funny look, "I didn't do that, did I?" She knew she sometimes subconsciously hexed things. Had she wanted to go home so badly she had given herself a way out? Usually when she was casting a hex she felt this weird, prickly, tingly feeling all over. She hadn't remembered feeling like that although at the moment she had been more concerned about what was surely the collapse of her entire world. Two flat tires were way too much of a coincidence to not be suspicious.
Wanda stared up at the sky. Maybe some things were bigger than probabilities or chance or luck. Maybe some things happened for a reason, were meant to happen.
"Whatever," she sighed as she cast a hex towards the bus, "There, just in case that was me." She knew her hex would fix the tires. She wasn't about to have that riding on her already overburdened conscience too. She sighed as she continued to walk home. Would the boys take her back? Would they forgive her after what she had said to them? She hoped they would. Whatever the case, however they reacted, she would tell them she was sorry and forgive them for this whole mess. She knew she had been given a lot of second chances in her life. Maybe now it was her turn to give some people she cared about a second chance for a change.
Toad couldn't help but stare longingly at the door. He couldn't help but hope that any second Wanda would come back. There were so many things he wanted to say to her, to apologize for. He was afraid that he would never get to tell her those things now. He was afraid she would hate him forever.
"Todd." He felt Lance's hand on his shoulder but refused to tear his eyes away from the door.
"Look man," said Lance, "I tried, you tried, we all tried. Some things you just can't fix, you know?" Toad shook his head sadly. They could have fixed it, if only they had just told her.
"I miss her already too," admitted Lance as he patted Toad on the shoulder. Toad nodded and turned away from the door. It was stupid to think she would come back. Wanda's track record in the forgiveness department was non-existent. Lance watched him head towards the stairs. He had to admit his belief that Wanda would come back was starting to wane. He thought for sure after their talk she would understand. Now he wasn't so sure.
"I'm sorry," said Lance to Toad, "I know you loved her. I know how it feels."
"No," replied Toad sadly as he shook his head, "you don't. You got Kitty, even after she dumped you once you two got back together again. I never even had Wanda once." Lance was about to respond when suddenly he heard the door click. He stared at it for a few seconds and then looked at Toad.
"You locked the door, right?" he asked. Toad nodded. With as much anti-mutant sentiment as there still was even after Apocalypse's defeat it didn't hurt to be safe.
"Then what?" asked Lance as he watched the door unlock itself and open. He smiled as Wanda stepped back into the house.
"Well," she said as she looked at them, "I'm back." Toad catapulted off the landing and hurled himself at her. He managed to wrap all of his skinny, spindly little body around her in one huge hug.
"I'm sorry," he told her, "I'm so sorry for everything."
"Oh stop it, you little sleaze," sniffled Wanda without her usual venom, "You're gonna make me cry." She could already feel her eyes watering and she didn't think it was because of Toad's close proximity. She instinctively let her arms wrap around him to return his hug.
"It's okay," she said to him, "I forgive you." He looked into her sapphire-colored eyes and could tell she was serious. He never thought in a million years he would hear those words come out of her mouth. He had never been so happy to be wrong.
"What's up?" asked Freddy as he came into the living room.
"Wanda's back," replied Lance simply. Freddy looked at her as she tried to pry herself free from Toad's vice-like grip.
"Told ya you'd be back before dinner," he said with a grin. Wanda stared at him with a somewhat dumbfounded expression on her face. That was what he had meant earlier. He really was more perceptive than she gave him credit.
"Geez," said Wanda, "am I that predictable?"
"That's why we love ya," said Toad happily.
"Yeah," she agreed, "Hey, I need to talk to you three for a second before I beg forgiveness from my brother." All three boys sat on the couch while Wanda settled into a chair.
"I just wanted to apologize," she explained, "It wasn't fair to you three to get dragged into my family problems and it was wrong of me to blow up at you like I did. I just wanted you to know that."
"Aw, that's okay," said Freddy, "We're kinda used to it by now."
"Yeah," agreed Lance, "and we were in this just as deep before you showed up as we were after you came here."
"We're sorry for not telling you about your memories," added Toad, "and we're just glad you didn't leave us forever." Wanda smiled.
"You mean you're happy I didn't leave for good," she corrected him playfully.
"Well yeah," admitted Toad, "but we all woulda missed ya too."
"I know," said Wanda, "Is Pietro still in his room?" Lance nodded. She sighed as she headed upstairs.
"How did you know?" asked Wanda as she looked at Lance, "How did you know exactly what I was feeling?"
"You're not the only one who's felt like running," replied Lance simply, "and you're not the only one who's found the way back home."
"I love you guys," said Wanda, "and I'm sorry again that you had to hide something like that from me." They all nodded as she turned to go up the stairs. Her pace was deliberately slow as she tried to figure out what to say. It had been a long time since she had a real talk with her brother. She stopped at his door and hesitantly knocked. There was no reply.
"Pietro?" she asked weakly as she cracked open his door, "Can we talk?" Pietro gave her a somewhat surprised look as he moved himself from laying on his bed into a sitting position.
"Thought you'd be half way across the country by now," he said, "or did you come back to make the other half of Bayville's female population depressed by taking another shot."
"Oh please," said Wanda as she came into his room, "I seriously doubt one kick will destroy your ability to procreate." She dropped her sarcasm before she continued, "Please, I really want to talk."
"Okay," he said as he patted the empty space on his bed next to him. He could tell she was serious and that she really was sorry.
"I'm sorry I did that," said Wanda, "but it just irritated me that you were trying to stop me. I wanted to hurt you in the worst way possible because it infuriated me that you picked now to notice what was happening with me instead of back when we were kids."
"Back when Father took you away," added Pietro, "No Wanda, I deserved that kick and probably a lot worse. I never blamed any of what's happened between us on you, never."
"Why didn't you stop them?" asked Wanda sadly, "Why did you abandon me?"
"What was I supposed to do?" countered Pietro, "Father would've stopped me and probably beat the hell out of me afterwards."
"That doesn't matter," said Wanda, "I just wanted to see you try, Pietro. It didn't matter whether or not you succeeded. I just wanted to know for sure that you cared." She knew this conversation was long overdue. It was time to get everything out of her system.
"I wanted to try," replied Pietro, "but I was so scared. You don't understand how I felt that night, Wanda." She stared at him, into his eyes. He was hiding something, keeping something from her. He knew she could tell.
"I used to resent you," said Pietro shamefully, "You kept getting special attention from Father because of your powers. Sometimes I would get jealous and secretly wish you would go away forever. Then I would feel so disgusted with myself for thinking that way. You were one of the most important people in the world to me. How could I not want you in my life?"
"That's not the kind of attention I wanted," said Wanda, "Father would yell at me and make me feel so worthless. I used to lie in bed and wonder why I couldn't make Daddy love me. You were the favorite, Pietro, and I felt like the reject."
"I'm sorry," said Pietro as he hugged her, "I thought I made you go away. I thought that because I wished so hard for it that I somehow made it happen. It scared the living hell out of me."
"I missed you every day," replied Wanda tearfully, "It hurt so much to think you wanted me gone. I really did love you and Father both. I really tried to be a good daughter and a good sister."
"I'm sorry, Wanda," said Pietro, "I know that no amount of apologizing can fix the damage that's been done to the bridge between us. I know it'll never be like when we were kids but I'd like to be your big brother again if you'll let me."
"I'd like that too," said Wanda as they hugged again, "I've missed that Pietro so much."
"And I missed the Wanda that was my little sister," he replied as she finally released him. They both sniffled a little as they tried to dry their eyes.
"Are you going to forgive Father?" asked Pietro. Wanda hadn't thought about it. She knew it would be harder than anything she had ever done. She had never really hated Pietro, not deep down like she did her father. She knew those wounds would take a long time to heal.
"I don't know," she replied honestly, "Maybe some day but it still hurts to think about it." Pietro nodded as he put an arm around her and squeezed her shoulder a little. She found that to be a wonderful comfort to her.
"Dinner's here," yelled Lance.
"I'm glad you're back," said Pietro as he slowly got up to leave.
"Me too," replied Wanda as they walked downstairs together. She sniffed the air and sighed. Pizza again. Sure she liked it and all but every girl needed a little variety now and again.
"What happened to Chinese?" asked Wanda, "Why'd you get pizza?"
"You said whatever we wanted," explained Freddy as he inhaled three slices of pizza at once, "You weren't gonna be around and the only reason we woulda got Chinese is because of you."
"Me and my big mouth," sighed Wanda. She saw Freddy and Toad snicker as Lance reached behind the couch for something, "Well what am I supposed to eat then? I'm not touching that and there's nothing in the fridge."
"Guess you'll have to starve," said Lance. Wanda eyed him suspiciously. What was he hiding behind the couch?
"Oh Wanda," said Lance casually, "Catch." Wanda barely had time to grab the white paper bag as it sailed across the room at her. She stared at it, confused for a moment, and then smiled.
"We ordered that especially for you," explained Toad, "for when you came back." Wanda smiled. How on Earth was she lucky enough to find people who cared about her so much?
"Wait a minute," she said, "None of you guys really like this stuff. What if I never came back at all?"
"Well, I woulda ate it I guess," admitted Freddy, "but I woulda felt real guilty." Wanda smiled again as she watched them return to their food. It was good to be home, to be with her family. She forgave them all for what they had done. Now she just wanted to be with the people she cared about and put everything else behind her.
"Better eat that before it gets cold," advised Toad as he came up to her, "I used up the last of my money getting that for you."
"Thank you," replied Wanda, "for everything. Thank you for loving me, for being there for me, for making me smile, and for caring so much when it seemed like no one else did."
"Did you really mean it when you said you forgave me?" asked Toad.
"Of course I did," replied Wanda, "Todd, I didn't mean what I said earlier about you not really loving me. You tried to stop my father from wiping my memories in the first place and I know you must've wanted to tell me."
"Every single day," answered Toad, "I never wanted to hurt you, Wanda."
"I know that now," she stated, "and the truth is I couldn't ask for someone better to love me."
"That all?" asked Toad with a little smile, "You sure there's not more you want to say?"
"That depends on whether or not you count this as talking," replied Wanda as she pulled him into a kiss. They both enjoyed it more than the first one. They had gone past everything now: the illusions, the secrets, the lies, the masks. They were just Todd and Wanda now, two people who loved each other. Neither of them would have it any other way.
"Hey, no making out during dinner," ordered Pietro, "I have a very sensitive stomach and you'll upset it."
"Oh shut up," teased Wanda playfully as she separated her mouth from Toad's.
"I love you, Wanda," said Toad as he stared into her eyes.
"I love you too, Todd," replied Wanda in an equally sincere tone. She gave him a little kiss on the cheek and returned to her much neglected Chinese food. Toad grabbed another slice of pizza with his tongue and sat down to eat next to her.
As she began to eat dinner, Wanda wondered about what Pietro had asked her earlier. Could she ever forgive her father? She wanted to think she could. Perhaps one day in the future they would sit down and talk and maybe then she would forgive him. She sighed a little as she thought about it all. Maybe some day that would happen but right now Wanda wasn't concerned with it. She had experienced enough hurt for one lifetime and it was time to just let it all go and move on. After all, there were some things that were just better left forgotten.