The House That Outcasts Built
Disclaimer: Don't own these characters, you should know that by now. Like it says in the summary, this is my 100th fic so whether you're just tuning in or have been with me from the start please review.
Dedication: To anyone who clicked the review button and told me I was worth something. It does mean something.
He stared at the building. In a strange way, the boarding house was exactly the way Lance Alvers remembered it. Given the dilapidation of the place, that wasn't necessarily a good thing.
"Old place looks just like it used to," mused a voice, "Just like home." Lance glanced down at Toad. It had been a long while since any of the Brotherhood members had stepped foot inside the house. Lance guessed two or three years maybe.
"Never thought I'd miss the place," confessed Lance.
"It was home," replied Toad simply, "You never forget home." Lance nodded with a slight smile.
"Wonder if there's any food left," said Fred with a smile.
"You'd still eat it if there was," cracked Lance. The three boys walked up to the door and opened it. None of them had ever had a home before this place. Which was odd because this place probably didn't have any occupants before them. Lance pondered this thought. Perhaps they were meant to live here. The house with no boarders and the kids with no home. It was strangely fitting. He sighed and realized they weren't kids anymore though. Maybe that was why they had left this house, because they were tired of waiting to burn out.
"Where's Wanda?" asked Toad automatically.
"Sent her with John to get a couple things," replied Lance, "I'm not trustin' Johnny by himself with cans of gasoline." Lance looked around the living room. His eyes rested on the couch, the place where he and Kitty had first kissed, really kissed. He sighed. That was over now and had been since the Brotherhood took the job with SHIELD. But being back here made him think that maybe their old lives weren't really worth giving up.
"Everything looks exactly the same," cut in Fred with surprise, "Except all the clothes and stuff are gone." Lance looked around the living room then headed up the stairs where Fred's voice had come from. He looked in Fred's room. The bed had been permanently warped by the boy's size. It wouldn't have even held up if they hadn't have reinforced it a few times. He looked across the hall into his own room. There were still cracks in the ceiling from where he had almost torn the room down when he was mad once. He walked into the room and looked around. No clothes on the floor, no guitar by his bed, no posters on the wall. No trace that he or any of the Brotherhood had ever existed here. That's the way Fury had wanted it. As far as the public knew, the Brotherhood didn't exist anymore. Which was a sick joke considering no one really knew they existed in the first place.
"A lotta memories in this house," said Fred absently, "A lotta good times."
"Too bad we had to grow up," replied Toad as he hopped over to the two older boys, "Hey Lance, what were we rebellin' against?"
"Whatta ya got?" replied Lance with a little smirk.
"Did we sell out?" asked Toad, "I mean weren't we supposed to be against the establishment?"
"Everything changes," replied Lance moodily, "Even us." He heard the sound of a car pull up. He figured it was Wanda and John.
"Two hours," muttered Wanda as she exited John's car and angrily moved to the trunk to unload what they'd been sent to get, "Two hours to purchase the right brand of gasoline. This isn't some masterpiece, John. I don't give a damn what kind of gasoline we use so long as it starts a fire."
"There's a bloody art ta these things," explained John as he exited the car, "I tol' Lance ta let me handle it but no, I gotta have ya nag me while I'm gettin' us quality stuff."
"Gas is gas, John," retorted Wanda as she grabbed the cans of gasoline and began unloading them, "And for God's sake why'd you purchase so much of it? We're torching one house not half of Bayville."
"Geez, you two make a lotta noise," stated Toad as he hopped onto the roof of the car and watched John and Wanda haul the gasoline out, "No wonder Fury never lets you guys go on any stealth ops."
"You're not exactly Mr. Inconspicuous," retorted Wanda venomously. Toad gave her a little frown that made Wanda sigh.
"I'm sorry," she told him, "You know how I am when I get mad." Toad nodded. He knew all too well how she was when she got mad. They all knew.
"Relax," said Toad, "It's cool."
"Did you get everything I asked you to?" asked Lance to John. John nodded his head as Lance noted the excited look in his eyes. Lance could never understand what turned John on about fire. Sure he had his own elemental powers but it didn't mean he felt any special affinity towards dirt. He guessed it was just John being John. Certainly by now they had all learned to put up with everyone's idiosyncrasies. They were family now.
"Don't start sloshin' the stuff around yet," ordered Lance, "We gotta wait for Pietro and I think we'd all like to reminisce in the house without passing out from the fumes."
"Where's tha speedsta?" asked John.
"Paperwork," replied Wanda with a sniff, "He never does it till Fury gets really mad at him to the point where our job security is in jeopardy."
"Then he does it all at once," finished Lance, "And always at the last possible second."
"Sounds like when he was in school," said Toad, still perched on the roof of John's car.
"Would ya bloody get offa my car?" asked John, "I jus' had tha thing waxed and I don't wan' slime all ova it."
"Yeesh, cranky," replied Toad as he hopped down next to Wanda, "Somebody didn't take his meds today."
"I ran out two bleedin' days ago, sue me," retorted John, "Besides, I hate that crap anyways."
"Chill," cut in Lance. He was used to it by now. God knows he'd done it enough over the course of their time together.
"Wanna see your room?" asked Toad as he looked to Wanda.
"Sure," replied Wanda as she headed towards the house.
Everything felt out of place now. Wanda looked around the room and sighed a little. It was like stepping back through time and being someone she used to be. She had forgotten how fun it was being irresponsible and lazy and just being with people she cared about.
"We grew up somewhere along the way," said Toad as he came out of his room, "I barely even recognize my room anymore."
"Yeah," replied Wanda simply. She tried to remember. Bookshelf next to the bed, dresser in front of the mirror. First drawer was sleepwear, second was underwear, third was towels and sheets. The bookshelf had . . . Poe, Frankenstein, a few psychology books, some other ones she couldn't remember now. It was harder for her than it was for the others. Her memory was less than what a normal person's should be. But there were some things, the very important things, that couldn't be so easily forgotten.
"I miss this place," she said quietly as she sat on the bed. Truthfully, it was supposed to just be a thought but somehow it slipped into words that escaped from her lips.
"Me too," replied Toad as he came into the room and sat on the bed with her.
"Toad?" asked Wanda quietly, "Do you regret our decision to spend time away from each other?" Toad's eyes clouded a little. Yes, their decision that they needed space. It was something they had decided on before they agreed to take the job at SHIELD. But the truth was that Toad never really had much of a say in that decision.
"That was your decision," replied Toad, "Yes, I do."
"I kinda do too," said Wanda, "Being back in this place reminds me of how much I miss us being together."
"Yeah," replied Toad, "Me too." How many times had he gone out of his way for this girl? How many times had he comforted her after a nightmare or made her smile when she felt like crying or hurting herself? And now that he stopped trying so hard they found themselves drifting apart. What was the sense of that? He looked into her eyes and could tell she was thinking the same thing.
"I'm gonna kiss you right now," whispered Toad, "You can get mad if you want but it's gonna happen." Wanda opened her mouth to reply and felt his lips on hers. She sighed deeply as she kissed him back. They hadn't kissed in so long it seemed. She missed it.
"Wasn't so bad," said Wanda with a smile, "Todd, I know this hurts you but I . . .."
"I love you," said Toad as he pressed a finger to her lips, "That means I'll wait for you and do things at whatever speed you want me to." Wanda nodded as he kissed her on the forehead and then left the room.
"About time you got here," said Lance as the familiar slivery blur that was Pietro Maximoff came to a dead halt in front of him.
"Hey, those forms don't fill themselves out," replied Pietro, "Be nice if they did though. I was about to get writer's cramp."
"You could just fill them out when you're supposed to," replied Lance.
"Where's the fun in that?" asked Pietro as he looked at the old house, "Man, this dump hasn't changed a bit."
"I think that's partly the reason why they're demolishing it," said Lance, "You know, the whole reason why we're here."
"Yeah, yeah, sentimental value," sniffed Pietro as he read the sign stating that the house was to be torn down by order of the city council, "Better than fillin' out paperwork."
"Can I start with the gas now?" asked John. Both Lance and Pietro stared at him. He was like a child on Christmas Eve just begging to open one present.
"Sure, torch the thing," said Pietro.
"Your sister's in there," said Lance. He began counting as the words left his mouth. Three. Two. One.
"Touch that house and I'll kill you," stated Pietro, his mood changing so fast it would make a bipolar patient jealous.
"Relax, Pietro," said Wanda as she came out of the house, "Nobody's in there." Lance looked around to see all the team present and accounted for.
"Lemme bring it down first," said Lance to John. Before anyone could object, an earthquake began to build. Lance focused all the tremors at the house, causing the building to rumble and quake. It was mere seconds before the house caved in on itself.
"All yours," said Lance. John nodded and motioned to Fred to help with the gasoline. The two boys began opening the cans and dumping their contents all over the rubble of the house.
"So this is really it, huh?" asked Toad, "No going back now, no trace that we ever existed."
"Like the world would care," snorted Pietro, "We were six delinquent dropouts. As far as the world's concerned, we never existed in the first place." They all fell silent at his words, all of them musing on how easy it was for kids to slip through the cracks and go unnoticed by the world. It wasn't a pretty idea but they had all lived it.
"Did you get the other stuff?" asked Lance quietly as he looked to Wanda. Wanda nodded as she went over to John's car, popping the trunk with her powers and pulling out a duffel bag. She walked over and handed the bag to Lance.
"Almost done?" asked Lance as he called to Fred and John.
"In a sec," replied Fred as John was busy making a trail of gasoline that led away from the house.
"That's it," stated John, "Whatcha need, mate?"
Lance smiled as he led the group over to the sign. He studied it. Where it had once read, "Brotherhood of Bayville Boarding House" it now simply stated, "Condemned By Order of Bayville". But Lance had a different idea in mind as he unzipped the duffel bag and began rifling through the cans of spray paint inside.
"What Pietro said back there is true," explained Lance, "Nobody knows we exist. I'm not really happy about that. I don't like being told that all the crap I've been though didn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. So we're gonna leave everyone a little message."
"What kind of message?" asked Toad.
"This place was our home," said Lance, "I wanna remind everyone of that. So we're gonna sign our names to this little masterpiece here. Our real names." He said it mostly to John and Toad, the people whose codenames had almost become their real identities.
"Oldest first?" asked Pietro.
"Nah," replied Lance with a smile, "I figure we do it in the order we came here." He tossed a can to Toad. Toad caught the can with his tongue and removed the cap with his hand. He used his tongue to shake the can and then put the tip of it on the button as he idled up to the sign. He pointed the can at the top of the sign and pressed the button with his tongue. He smiled around his tongue as he wrote "Todd" in bright, green letters on the sign.
"You're next," said Toad after putting his tongue back into his mouth. Lance nodded and selected the top left corner. He wrote "Lance" in straight, slate-gray letters. It was Fred's turn next. They had all wondered whether or not they should've invited Rogue and Tabby to the reunion. But Tabby had disappeared somewhere and Rogue was too busy making the world safe for mankind. They figured it didn't matter. They were the ones who had stuck with each other through anything and everything. They were the Brotherhood.
"You need help spellin', Blob?" asked Pietro in an impatient tone. Fred shot the younger boy a glare as he wrote "Fred" in large, fat, black letters. As soon as Fred was done, Pietro immediately grabbed a can and wrote "Pietro" in messy, scribbled, white letters.
"Can we hurry this up?" asked Pietro impatiently.
"Chill," ordered Lance for the second time that night. It was true that Pietro was still the leader of the team but all of them knew that Lance was the team's peacemaker and its glue.
"I wouldn't bother," advised Wanda as she picked up a spray can, "He's been that way all his life, no sense in changing now." She wrote as she spoke, the name "Wanda" appearing in smooth, graceful, red letters on the middle of the sign.
"Best for last, eh?" asked John as he picked up a can. He began writing the name "John" in wild, jagged, orange letters. When John was finished, all six of them looked at the sign that was now covered with graffiti. From the looks of it, a group of delinquent kids had been here. The Brotherhood wouldn't have it any other way.
"Time for the main event," stated Lance as he turned and moved back towards the house a little.
"Shoulda brought marshmallows," cracked Pietro as he and John followed Lance.
"Mmm, we should've," agreed Fred hungrily as he lumbered behind them. The four boys made their way to where John's trail of gasoline ended. Only Toad and Wanda remained at the sign. Toad stared at it, a slight idea forming in his mind but one that he was hesitant to implement. He looked at Wanda and smiled a little.
"Can we. . .?" asked Toad. Wanda smiled in return as she realized they had been thinking about the same thing.
"Why do you think I put my name under yours?" asked Wanda, "And left a little space between them?" Toad hopped over and grabbed the can of green spray paint.
"You do half, I do half," explained Wanda as she picked up the red can. Toad nodded as he drew a shape in between the two names. Wanda smiled as she looked at the half of a heart and then drew the other half. The two stepped back and looked at it. Now it was perfect.
"Let's go," said Wanda, "The others are waiting." Toad nodded as he and Wanda walked over to the others, his arm unconsciously slipping around her shoulder. Wanda didn't move it off. She liked it there.
"Everybody's here," said Lance, "Finish the show, Johnny." John's eyes lit up with glee as he produced his lighter from his pocket and flicked it. A small flame appeared which soon shot up a little. The flame snaked out and down like a tentacle and connected with the end of the gas trail. It hopped and skipped down the trail and finally reached the remnants of the house, lighting the pile of rubble on fire.
"Best end for the old house," said Lance. He, Pietro, and Toad gave salutes as Fred whistled Taps.
"It was a good place," admitted Wanda, "A good home."
"To all good things an end," mused Pietro. The flame shot a little higher, increasing in intensity.
"Easy with it, John," warned Lance.
"Jus' gonna give everehbody somethin' ta remember us by, mate," replied John with a smile. A long line of flame shot upwards into the sky. When it was suitably high enough where most of the people in town could see it, the line of flame began twisting itself into letters. All six members of the Brotherhood watched as the message began to take shape. It was a bold statement, one burned into the sky by kids who were supposed to have burned out by now. But they were still here. Maybe they'd never save the world like the X-Men but at least they were doing something and still leaving their mark. For six delinquent kids who were destined for a dead end, doing something was better than doing nothing at all.
"You think they'll like it?" asked John as he finished skywriting, "You think they'll undahstand?"
"I think so," replied Lance with a smile. They all smiled as they read the simple yet powerful statement burned into the sky for all to see and know. The Brotherhood Was Here.
(Author's Note): No, this is neither my last Evo fic nor my last fic in general.