Better Half

An X-men Evolution fanfic by Lavender Gaia

Editing by Lavender Gaia

First draft: May 7, 2005

Disclaimer: I do not own X-men Evolution or any of its characters. They are all property of Marvel.

Dedicated to Hilary, the biggest Pietro fan I know.

Everyone who met Pietro Maximoff was left with a lasting impression of him: He was a jerk. A fast-talking guy who didn't care about anyone but himself. Quicksilver probably didn't know the meaning of compassion or love. The day he put someone's feelings over his own was the day hell froze over.

Everyone had never been more wrong.

The truth was, Pietro loved his family more than anything. To the outside observer, the facts didn't add up. He let his sister be locked away, he double crossed his father, no one knew where his loyalties remained from day to day.

His teammates thought he feared the great Magneto. After all, they did. The word Brotherhood wasn't just a name to them, a club. It was a bond, between four people who were supposed to be there for each other when no when else was. It was their job to give their brother the time of day. That's why they were there.

But then he'd left. When they needed him to fight for him, he betrayed them and the trust that had been building for months shattered. Why was it so easy for him to walk away? Had he ever thought of them as brothers? Did he want to? No…those who got close to him got hurt. They weren't strong enough to get close to him.

His teammates, his sister, the X-men: they all wondered why he did it. Why had he saved his father? If the sentinel had crushed him, had killed him, then the object of his horror would be out of the way. The person that had broken up their family more times than he could remember would be gone.

Erik Lensherr was still alive and it was because of Pietro Maximoff. His son. The son he had neglected, abused, sent away because he couldn't be bothered. Magneto's own flesh and blood wasn't useful to him yet. Like spare change, he put it away for when he needed it, stripping it of it's worth.

One day, years ago, Pietro came home excited. This was a rare feat, but today was special. It was field day at school, and he'd won the track record, even beating all the big kids. They all got ribbons, but the teachers had pitched in to get a trophy for the winner. It wasn't plastic or anything and it was the first thing Pietro had ever won.

Wanda had not had a good day. To top it off, she and her father had ended up in a vicious screaming match. Pietro elected to curl up on the couch with his trophy. His twin needed Father's attention. He had his trophy. That alone made him special.

Magneto had stormed in the family room as the lights flickered again. His son, who only wanted to make him proud, rested the beloved trophy on the coffee table to show off as he leaned over to tie his shoes. There was a short black out before power came on again.

Pietro looked at the table in horror. The trophy was a twisted, distorted pile of metal and his father looked relieved, as if some tension had been lifted off his shoulders. Without regarding his son with so much as a nod, he left for his study.

"Pi?" Wanda whispered carefully as she entered the den. "Hey, what happened to your trophy?"

He didn't answer. The shock hadn't worn off yet.

His twin wasn't done and it didn't take her long to figure it out. "Did Daddy do that? Oh, no…It was because of me, wasn't it? I screwed up again! I'm so sorry…" She began to cry, causing the log in the fire place to burst into flame.

What he did next was pure instinct. Pietro, still upset about his prize, wrapped his arms around her, whispering soothingly into her ear. "It was an accident. You didn't do anything wrong. It's ok, Wanda. Everything's going to be alright."

Why did he save the man who did nothing but hurt him? It was more than just having more heart than letting the man die. Not all of the good memories in Wanda's mind had been constructed by Mastermind. In the dark depths of her consciousness, she must have been able to remember the fun times they had once had a family. Before the larks of world domination and the war against humanity turned into plans. Once upon a time, Pietro, Wanda, Erik and even their mother Magda had enjoyed each other's company without bickering or something gone wrong.

He would never admit it aloud. The truth was that he wanted his family back. His mind treasured those rare times. When he was eighty and suffering from Alzheimer's, he would remember those trips to the park, and the gentleness his father once had for him and Wanda.

Though his daddy was a superhero to him (he laughed at the irony of that now), Erik was still only human. The thought of power overtook paternal needs. After her growing powers got almost dangerous enough to kill him one night, he called Pietro into his study. Wanda had already fallen asleep and the little boy jumped at the chance for alone time with Daddy.

"Pietro, you're not going to school tomorrow," Magneto told him simply.

Bright blue eyes blinked. "Wow, really? Why?"

"We have to take your sister to the doctor," he leaned over and rest a hand on his son's shoulder. "You understand that she's been sick lately, don't you? She's too dangerous to have around. For us and her."

"I guess so," Pietro nodded. "So we'll go for a little bit and come home? She'll be all better. Or maybe we could go to the park and play?"

Magnus sighed. "She might have to be there a little longer than you think."

"Oh," was all that the child could say. He wasn't sure what his father meant, as there'd never been a time that he could remember where they spent more than an hour or two at the doctor.

The sky was filled with black clouds as they got in the car the next morning. It was as black as it could be without being night and the twins sat as close as they could in the backseat. They pulled up in front of a brown building her lower lip trembled; Pietro agreed that this didn't look like any doctor's office he'd ever seen.

Thunder rumbled in the sky as they exited the vehicle. For a moment, their father talked with one of the men. He beckoned Wanda over and as they struggled to put a jacket over her, she realized something was wrong.

Pietro was confused as their dad came back to him, letting them haul his twin inside. "Father! Father, don't leave me here!" She called as the rain began to pour down, mixing with her tears. "Please! Father!"

The small boy started forwards towards her, needing to save her, but Magneto held an arm in front of him. "You want her to get better, don't you?" his father whispered, tone set for deadly low.

He stopped, watching in horror as they dragged his sister away. She screamed out for them, but he didn't know what to do. The rain continued to fall on them, and he decided to blame his trembling on the cold rather than his fear.

Magneto opened the car doors with his power and he got inside without a single word. In fact, he didn't say a single word for the rest of the night, the two electing to eat in quiet before Magnus let the boy go off on his own while he worked.

The thunderstorm continued through the night as Pietro huddled in bed, wishing his sister was there. It had only been a few hours, and already his heart ached. They'd never been away from each other for too long; always in the same class at school, never bothered with sleepovers, and he knew that she was right next door every night as he went to bed.

Except for tonight. That night the other half of his soul, his very essence was missing. It was his fault, he let his father take her away. He hadn't done his job as her brother. He hadn't saved her. And now he was alone in his room, crying out of misery and loneliness.

Once, in passing, his father had mentioned praying. Asking a higher power to help you in your goals, however desperate they may be. Though he wasn't sure what to do, he did his best, "Please…I want my sister. I need Wanda. Bring her back to me."

After crying himself to sleep, Pietro woke up the next morning. Of course, Wanda wasn't there. From that day on he never prayed again, not even in desperation or passing.

His eyes never sprung tears after that fateful night either. It hadn't helped. His heart was still empty, lacking the sweet sunshine her smiling face brought him. He had to be strong for his family, be the glue that kept them together.

No more than four months later, Magneto had passed him on, put him in safe keeping for the time that he needed him. But Pietro had saved something from his father as well. He'd learned to hide your emotions. Let them think they know what you're thinking; your thoughts and feelings need only be yours. If your guard is down, you're weak.

The cocky, bantering barrier served him well as a mask. Everyone bought it easily, and no one saw the poor little boy who sat up at night wishing his sister would finally come home, wondering why his father didn't need them anymore…

Eighteen year old Pietro Maximoff leaned back in his chair and opened one light blue eye. It was at that moment he decided he liked Kitty Pryde. For a while now, Lance had been singing her praises. She was an angel among mortals, a goddess among angels. But until now he'd never seen her as more than an X-Geek who liked to toy with his teammate's heartstrings.

She'd been hanging around the house a lot after they defeated Apocalypse. Lance was happy that they were back together and surprisingly enough his sister enjoyed the younger girl's company as well.

"So, has Summers taken that stick out of his ass yet?" Lance asked as he popped the top of a soda can.

"Lance!" his girlfriend smacked his arm, causing the fizzy drink to spill all over him.

"Ugh!" Standing quickly, he moved to pour some on Kitty before realizing she had become intangible. "Oh, now that's cheating."

"Serves you right," Wanda smirked from her spot on the other side of the couch.

He splashed some soda her way, barely missing her, but getting it on Kitty's shoes. "You want some of this, Maximoff?"

"Watch it, these are new!" she screeched, leaning out to kick him while Wanda prepared to hex at any moment.

Apparently, Lance was smarter than they both though. To kick him, she couldn't use her powers. Tipping the soda can gently, he let the carbonation spill into her hair and down her chest.

She squealed at the cold liquid running down her skin, moving back quickly. "Of course you know…this means war!" Kitty leaped across the table, grabbing the five cans that were left from the six pack. Wanda stood to intercept her ammo, and the two girls faced off against Avalanche, shaking their cans of doom.

"Oh, shit…Pietro, help me out here!" He called, but the white-haired mutant shrugged.

"I didn't pour soda on anyone. You just went up five steps on the Pietro Maximoff chart of utter stupidity."

The girls were almost done shaking as he inched towards the kitchen. "Fred! Todd! Help!"

The two who had been eating left-over pizza looked at him, then at the two who were attacking. "I'll help you, Lance," Fred told him, starting to shake up an unopened two liter bottle.

"Sorry, man, I gotta go with my cuddlebumps!" Todd expertly jumped to get a few cans off soda from the refrigerator before standing off against his larger friends.

"Hey, three against two, that ain't fair!" Lance glared at his friend across the room. "Pietro!"

"You got yourself into this, you get yourself out of this. I can't always baby-sit you, ya know," Quicksilver said lightly.

"Plus, it's not like you've never been outnumbered before," Kitty grinned. "Of course, you did lose…"

"Or win," Wanda corrected her quickly.

"Oh, like as if these guys could win without you!" The two laughed, giving Lance a chance to bend down and rescue some cans that had been set aside. They weren't cold, but they'd have to do.

Fred exchanged a look with his teammate and nodded. "ATTACK!"

The girls released the tabs of their cans as the guys started towards them, while Toad assisted by hanging on the ceiling and just pouring the liquid over their opponent's heads.

Kitty phased through most of the spray, and Wanda attempted to knock everything away with her powers. Feeling that it wasn't fair that they could use their powers and they weren't, Lance sent a seismic shock towards them, knocking off their concentration so he and Fred could get them good.

This continued until it seemed they were out of sodas. Lance snuck behind his girlfriend, then tilted her head back and kissed her thoroughly. Her guard was still down when they gently pulled away and he used this opportunity to empty his can over her head.

"You are dead, Alvers!" She screamed and followed as he fled out to the backyard. "See if I ever let you kiss me again!"

Toad and Wanda quickly overpowered Fred, regardless of his many two liters. "Alright, already, I give up," the big man sighed.

"Whoo!" Todd cheered from the ceiling, hopping down. "We make a great team, baby!" Since she simply rolled her eyes, he took this as a good sign and handed her one of his last two cold sodas. "Cheers?"

Wanda reached for it, then knocked it lightly against his can. "Cheers."

The short green man looked like he had died and gone to heaven.

She sipped at the cola, and glanced at her brother who was seemingly sleeping in a chair across the room. An idea struck her and she carefully walked behind him. After a few more gulps to satisfy her thirst, she spilled the can's contents over his white head.

Pietro jumped out of his seat and whirled to see who had one that. What he saw made him stand still in shock. His twin was leaning against the wall, laughing at him. "Gotcha!"

He raised an eyebrow, "Oh yeah?" He ran upstairs and she wondered just what he could have up there. Carefully, she followed him, waiting by the banister in the foyer.

The next thing she knew, a waterfall had come from the ceiling. After she pushed her soaked bangs out of her eyes she realized it wasn't the ceiling. It was a bucket. And her brother was holding it and laughing. "Pietro!" She screamed at him, and he ran back downstairs and in to the living room.

He couldn't believe he was scared of his sister, but he was. The blue of her eyes seemed to darken as she stared at him, wet hair plastered to her head. Then, to his great surprise, she started laughing. Not just a light chuckle either. A gut-busting, roaring laugh. And it sounded almost like music to his ears.

Soon, they were all in the living room, laughing their heads off. Except for Kitty and Lance, who decided to make up by making out. She did giggle when he licked the sticky soda off her cheek though. Pietro glared at them after stopping to catch his breath. "Do you guys have to do that?"

Kitty checked her watch. "Ah, I gotta go anyway. Wanna drive me home?"

He got off of her slowly. "Sure, I'll go grab my keys."

"You are coming to the mall with us tomorrow, right?" she reminded Wanda. "I promise it'll be a ton of fun!"

"Yes, I'm coming."

Since they were both wet and sticky, Kitty just hugged her without thought. "Great! We'll pick you up around noon." Lance came back and she waved to everyone. "See ya, guys!"

Wanda took the bucket Pietro had put on the coffee table and went to the kitchen to fill it with water. "That's not to get me back, is it?" He asked carefully.

"No," she shook her head. "I was just gonna clean up. Everything's all sticky, I don't want it to attract roaches. Don't know how we're going to clean the furniture though."

"There's this place downtown that'll come and clean furniture," he reminded her.

"We can't afford that," Wanda whispered.

He held up an envelope that had come in the mail that day, "Actually, our dear father sent us some money and a letter to say he should be here next week. I guess he actually meant it when he said he'd actually try to be there for us after he settled some things."

"Oh…I guess we can call them tomorrow then…" She reached for the mop in the closet (which she actually hadn't seen in use since she moved in), when Pietro grabbed her arm.

"Um…hey, why don't you go take a shower? I can handle this. With my superior speed it'll be done faster anyway," He told his sister. She hesitated, then handed the mop over with a thanks.

He cleaned up the house downstairs in a matter of minutes, even remembering to recycle the cans. It was actually a calming experience and it helped him think. This was the first time in years that he and his sister had laughed together, enjoyed each other's company.

It made his heart ache to think that it might be the last time in another several years. He didn't want that. He wanted to same sister that would come in his room and talk to him in the middle of night, or would let him hug you when she was sad. Pietro wanted Wanda back.

There was a rumbling of thunder outside and Pietro briefly wondered if Lance was going to get back before it started pouring. It wasn't that he cared, but if he and his Jeep got rained on, it wasn't going to be very fun to live with him.

After Wanda got out of the shower, he climbed in, washing the sugar out of his white hair. The rain was falling outside, so he made it a quick shower, even for him. As he changed and toweled off, he noticed that she had left her choker on the sink counter. "Might as well bring it to her," he muttered.

Pietro knocked lightly on his sister's door. "Wanda?" There was no answer and no light could be seen from the crack under the door. He figured she was asleep and planned to leave it on her dresser.

A flash of lightning lit up the room and he saw his sister huddled in the corner. "Wanda, what's wrong?" He asked in fear, kneeling beside her.

She was shaking lightly, but managed the smallest of smiles. "I don't like thunderstorms. They scare me. I'm not even sure why, but they do."

Pangs of guilt hit his chest. It was his fault that she was scared of storms. Because he hadn't been her strong brother. And she couldn't even remember to hate him for it, even though he deserved it. Carefully, he folded her into his arms. "It's just a storm. It can't hurt you. I won't let it."

Her body relaxed as she leaned against him. "Thank you. Just…please, don't leave me."

The cries of his twin as she was being locked away sounded over and over in his ears. "Don't leave me! Please!" He gulped back the knot forming in his throat. "I won't. I promise."

She flinched at the thunder, but had stopped shaking when she whispered to him. "I know I don't say this but…I love you, Pietro."

"I love you too, Wanda," he choked out. His grip around her tightened and he couldn't hold it back anymore. Pietro Maximoff began to cry. "And I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for everything I've done. You've every right to hate me, but I love you so much. You're my sister, Wanda and I…" The sobs shook his thin body and his emotions could not longer be held at bay.

Before he even realized what had happened, she was the one holding him, murmuring softly in his ear. "I'm right here, Pi. Don't worry. Everything's gonna be alright."

A/N: I love the twins and I do truly believe that their love for each other is the strongest in XME, though neither of them care to show it too much. They're much too proud for that. But in episodes like Ascension II and No Good Deed (even though that didn't turn out as well as Pietro would've liked), you can tell that there is love there. Seriously, how could you not care about the person you shared a womb with?

Questions, comments, reactions and reviews are greatly appreciated.