They were going to kill her. The thought repeats in his mind until the individual words start to loose their meaning, but the impact of the sentence never ceases to hit him. They were going to KILL her. Their friend. His sister. He clings to his father, but Eric's expression is metallic. 'What would you have me do?' He asks again. Pietro sinks to his knees. He doesn't see the pain in his father's eyes; it wouldn't have mattered anyway. He'd given up on her. Pietro understood that now. He weeps at his father's feet, beyond words. When had he ever been able to change his father's mind on anything, ever?
They were going to kill her. It was too much. The twins had lost so much already. Spouses, friends, children. But they had always, ALWAYS had each other. And now they were going to loose even that.
His father steps away from him, and Pietro lets him go. He falls forward against the floor and lets the tears come.
'You shouldn't yell at him, Pietro.' The voice is soft and fragile, but it breaks through the haze of tears. Slowly, so slow that his muscles scream with impatience, he turns around to find her awake. 'He doesn't respond well.'
Pietro moves to sit on the bed beside her. He pulls her close to him. She trembles in his arms. 'Did you hear?' Of course she heard. He could feel it in the way she leaned limply against him. Like their father, she'd given up. She didn't have the will to fight them. They argue; softly, without anger. Pietro can't find it in himself to be angry with her. Not now. She clings to him, and he can feel her fear, but also her acceptance, and the tears return because he can't think of how to save her. Not if she didn't want to be saved. Not again everyone. The x-men, the avengers… he couldn't take them all. And so he holds her close, and tries to accept it, as she has.
'It'll be over soon. I can already hear Xavier's voice in my head. He's checking on me.' He almost didn't hear the added whisper. 'I wish I could tell if any of this was real…'
He can't imagine life without her. She was the only one who understood his struggles. And in his depression, he slips back into the old, dark thoughts of blame and hatred. None of this would have happened if not for their father. 'Magnus chose his "mutant race" over us… we fought so hard to get out from under is all.'
'How was it supposed to be?' Pietro might have smiled. Wanda knew all too well how to focus his mind. Draw him away from the circular thought patterns of blame and on to the wonders of 'what if…' scenarios. But even as he tells her, they drift back to the matter at hand. The avengers. The awful thing that had happened to them. The terrible thing they would now do in return.
'I would do anything to take it back.'
The idea buds in his subconscious. Slowly, more slowly than any other thought Pietro has ever had, it blooms to the surface. He hesitates a moment. A moment that, to him, could have been a year. 'You could…'
She lifts her head from his shoulder. 'What?'
He didn't ask for anything for himself. He could have convinced her to give him back his wife and daughter, but he didn't. He could have asked her for anything, and she would have done it, but all he wanted was for her to live. And so he woke in a bed that was far too large for one person, and he remembered how things had been before, but he also knew how things were now.
He dresses in formal, unfamiliar clothing, so different from the uniform he's used to, and goes to breakfast with his sisters and their father. It is a quiet affair, except for the twins throwing corn pops at each other. His nephews. He manages a smile for Wanda, who looks happier than he's seen her in months, but there is a sadness behind her joy that reminds him what they'd done. What he'd convinced her to do. What the cost had been. But then she turns to the children and the sadness is gone, and Pietro understands then that she does not remember creating this. She does not remember anything.
Lorna tries to keep the conversation up. She mentions again her surprised that Victor Von Doom agreed to come to the gala that evening, and Magnus makes some half-hearted attempts to be engaged. All of Wanda's attention is on the children, completely absorbed by them. Pietro watches her. Watches them all. Alone in the knowledge that, not yesterday, they had been prepared to kill his sister.
He finds his father in the garden. It surprises him how hard Magnus is taking the Professor's absence, but their friendship ended so long before Pietro ever met his father that he can only think of them as enemies.
Magnus does not turn. He puts his hand on the memorial stone. 'Tonight is for you, old friend,' he says. 'All of this… it's for you.'
'Pietro, what do you want?'
Deep breath. Some things never change. Why would he expect his father to appreciate him in this world any more than he had in the last? 'Nothing, father.'
Lorna. Pietro turns and sees her approaching, and so he leaves. Let Lorna tell him the guests would be arriving. With effort, he smothers the rising jealousy. It doesn't matter. So long as Wanda is alive, and safe, and happy, his own petty feelings don't mean a thing.
He stands beside his father for the pictures, but he does not smile. All his life, he'd felt isolated from the rest of the world because of his gift, because his whole life begged to move at a faster pace than the world allowed, but now he held the secrets of the world within him, and he stands still and silent, not daring to speak lest he betray the truth.
But it wouldn't have mattered anyway. He sees it coming a split second before Lorna cries her warning. It is a split second that should have given him plenty of time to act, but the shock took too long to wear off. Much too long. And yet… hardly long enough. Why were they attacking? Why couldn't they just accept the gift his sister had given them? Why did they insist on fighting all the time?
It would break Wanda's heart when she woke.
He held her in his arms again, but something was wrong. She was… dissolving. As though she'd never really existed at all. The twins dissolved, too, but he wasn't worried about them. They'd never really existed in the first place.
And then the rage takes hold. The rage he'd suppressed since he first learned they were planning to kill her. The anger. The hatred. The injustice. And the rage gives him the will to fight. He'd kill them all if he had to. Friends or not, he'd kill them all. Anything to make the pain of loss go away. He moves so fast he doesn't even know who he is hitting.
He stops and faces his father, and the rage grows. Anger pent up over a lifetime of abandonment, neglect, and sacrifice.
'WHAT HAVE YOU DONE IN MY NAME, BOY??!!'
What had he done? Only tried to save his sister's life! And to his humiliation, he realizes he's crying again. 'You were going to let tem kill her!'
'You've destroyed everyone and everything!' Pietro didn't even have the will to move. He could have dodged. He could have run. But he stayed put, and he let his father hurl a Sentinel head at him. 'And you used my name to do it!' Another hit. 'What right?' Pietro took the blows. He was done with running. He was done with all of it. Wanda was dissolved. Like she'd willed herself out of existence.
"Do you think I'm a coward for not wanting to end my life, even though I know I should?'
No. Never a coward. She was never the coward. He was.
And, through the haze of death, he hears her scream. Wanda. Alive. She was alive...
The blackness lasts for only a moment. A moment he isn't even aware of missing. His vision returns and he sees her, tears streaming down her face, and he hugs her. He'd always sworn to look after her. Protect her. But she reciprocated in kind. Twins.
He is too weak to even thank her, but he clings to her, lets her stroke his hair, reassure herself that she's succeeded in bringing him back. He wants to explain, now. As everyone gathers around, too afraid to move and provoke her. He wanted to tell them why he'd done what he'd done.
'He… he only wanted to make you happy,' she whispered, and he smiled. Twins. He didn't have to explain. She would.
Still too weak to move, Pietro listens to his sister. Her feelings, her hate and rage and anger, finally, after all this time, come spilling out of her. 'We're freaks! Mutants! You chose this over us and you ruined us!'
And then he knows. He can't speak. He can't move. Wanda, no, please, not that!
'Daddy…' her tears fall from her cheeks to his face. Please Wanda. 'No more mutants.'
And she hugs him close and closes her eyes, and Pietro can feel the changes inside him. Like time was slowing down. His bones and body weakening until… until he was nothing more than anyone else. Homo Sapien. Human.
They were separated. He couldn't say how or when, but somehow between the then and the now, they were separated, and Pietro was alone. Powerless. And Wanda… Wanda at last found peace. Maybe if Pietro had known that, it would have made it easier. But he didn't, and she didn't think to tell him.