Disclaimer: Stan, I'm about to say something to you, and I'd like to ask you not to panic. We need to talk.
A/N: For everyone who wanted more from John and Wanda during RBH, this one is for you.
About three years before Remy LeBeau executed his carefully plotted plan to win Rogue's heart, once and for all…
Lance looked up when he heard the doorbell ring and sighed. Not long ago, after Apocalypse had been defeated and the Brotherhood had collectively agreed to stop terrorizing humanity-for the most part-it had been decided by process of elimination and no real democratic means at all that Lance was the only Brotherhood member allowed to answer the door.
Freddy-bless him-frightened people with his sheer size-never mind that he was gentle as a kitten most of the time. Pietro tended to open the door and zoom off without properly greeting the visitor. Toad-well, they didn't want Toad answering the door even before they started trying to be model citizens.
And Wanda… Wanda didn't want to answer the door, so Wanda didn't answer the door. It was as simple as that.
Lance grumbled a bit to himself about angry teenaged girls who couldn't be bothered with common courtesy as he trudged toward the door and prepared to put on a smile for the poor soul who had chosen their house to ask for directions. Because whoever was knocking on their door was obviously not from around here. The X-Men didn't knock, on the few occasions they came over. They either walked in and made themselves at home-Rogue-ignored the door-Kitty and Kurt-or waited outside and laid on the horn-Tabby. And besides the X-Men, no one came to the Brotherhood's house.
They didn't get a lot of company.
He yanked the door open, pasted on a smile, and said, "Yes? What can I do for you?"
"Got a room, mate?"
Lance blinked as his vision was assaulted with orange. "Pyro?"
"Pyro's me workin' name. Call me John." The orange-haired man grinned at the shocked young mutant. "Ya gonna lemme in?"
Too surprised to even consider saying no, Lance stepped back and opened the door wider. Pyro's grin grew and he stepped inside with a cheerful, "Thanks, mate," and slung his duffle bag off of his shoulder.
"What are you doing here?" Lance finally found his voice.
"Lookin' for a place to stay," the other man answered distractedly.
"Well, you can't stay here!" Lance burst out before he thought better of it. John turned to him with a frown.
"Are you forgetting who lives here?" Lance hissed. "Tall, dark, a little psychotic? You really wanna live with Magneto's daughter?"
"Aren't they getting along now?"
"John, they may be getting along now, but the very nature of their family dynamic insists that that won't last long. Those three can't go ten minutes without getting into it over something."
"And with that shining example…" Lance muttered as he turned to face the damage.
Wanda was standing at the top of the stairs, glaring down at her twin brother, who was sprawled untidily at the bottom. Pietro turned his head to look pathetically at Lance.
"Am I broken?"
Before Lance could stop him, John leaned over and poked him in the side. "Nope," he pronounced. "Just bruised. You'll live."
Pietro stared. Wanda snarled. Lance just covered his eyes.
When the crashing, banging, yelping, and acidic smell of burning flesh had cleared, Lance opened his eyes to find Pietro sulking, John nursing a black eye, and Wanda standing two feet away from him with her arms crossed over her chest and a cool, collected look in her eyes.
"He can stay," she said.
Pietro didn't like the Aussie, and he made sure everyone in the house knew that.
"Freddy," he said, "I don't like that Aussie."
"Yes, Pietro," Freddy said patiently. "You said that three times already."
"I know, Pie. You don't like John. I heard you the first time."
"Toad, I have something really important to tell you."
"Really? What up, dawg?"
"I don't like Pyro."
Todd stared at him. "Seriously, yo? That's the 'really important thing' you had to tell me? Yo, I got that already!"
Wanda did not want to hear about how Pietro did not like the man that-in Wanda's opinion-he had no real reason to dislike. If Pietro had disliked Pyro on the principle that he had helped their father give her amnesia, well. She might have been touched then. But no, Pietro didn't like the Aussie for a much shallower reason than anything resembling loyalty to one's family. Pietro didn't like him simply because he was a child of Magneto, and thus lived in a state of constantly believing that he was better than everyone around him. (See above: Wanda, door.) Pyro wouldn't let him maintain even the illusion of this, which most of the Brotherhood would tolerantly allow him to keep.
John didn't really like Magneto the first time. He didn't care much for his son either. He did enjoy winding up both of them however, which was another reason Pietro did not like him. Pietro did not appreciate the humor in having his underwear set on fire.
Wanda didn't like John either, but she had an excuse. He had lured her to her father's lair and lurked about whilst the leering Mastermind looted through her hippocampus and caused leaks. She had had amnesia thanks to him.
So while Pietro was petty and Wanda was wounded, the other three boys were blissfully unaware of the underlying tension that had pervaded their home in the form of bright orange hair and sky-blue eyes. Pyro didn't fight with them for the remote, and that was enough reason for them to welcome him with open arms.
So far, the pyromaniac was settling just fine. It was just like being back on the Acolyte base. Only, you know, without Sabertooth trying to kill him every two minutes and without a man in a purple cape telling him what to do. The boardinghouse was a lot less shiny than the all-metal base too.
A typical day in the Brotherhood Boarding House went something like this:
They woke up at various times of the morning, usually once they smelled Freddy's cooking in the kitchen. Lance would brood, Toad would squabble some with Freddy and Pietro, hit on Wanda, and eventually settle down to watch TV with Fred. Pietro would zoom out, zoom in, get into a fight with Wanda, argue with Lance about who had shinier teeth, get into a fight with Pyro, and zoom out again. Upon this ritual being completed, Pyro would go up to his bedroom and… well, none of them were really sure what he did up there, but as long as nothing was burning down, they didn't really care.
Wanda took all of this in stride, a trick she'd perfected once it became clear she was going to need expert survival tactics to live in this den of testosterone. Generally, after Pyro went upstairs, Wanda went off to read or visit Rogue-whom she had become pretty good friends with-or fight with her brother again. Bashing Pietro into a wall just never got old.
On this particular day, the normal routine was interrupted by a somewhat unusual event: the X-Men came to visit. That is to say, Kurt and Kitty came to visit. None of the others were willing to come along with Kitty on her bazillionth "I'm really breaking up with him for good this time" trips anymore.
The two of them phased in without preamble, and it took a couple of minutes for the boys to realize they were even there. It was only when Kitty politely tapped Freddy on the shoulder and asked where Lance was that their presence registered.
"Upstairs. Brooding," Toad answered her question.
"Thanks," she told him, ignoring how they were ignoring her and bounding up the stairs.
Kurt stood in the living room feeling uncomfortable. He was starting to wonder why he came with Kitty when she did this. They'd only have to come back a few weeks later and do it again. Why not make it a collective trip and only do it once a month?
As Kurt was musing on the possible economical ways Kitty could break up with Lance, aforementioned break-up was currently occurring in a very uneconomical fashion.
When Lance got upset, the whole earth knew it. (Literally.)
The X-Men left hastily. Pietro glared after them, scowling at the blue boy's retreating tail. He wasn't sure why, but something about Kurt just made him want to run really, really fast.
Another squabble broke out between Toad and Freddy as Wanda graced the living room with her presence. She looked at them disdainfully and turned her attention to her brother.
"Pietro, why is the bathroom floor soaking wet?"
"Uh…" he pretended to think. "'Cause I just took a shower?"
"And you couldn't be bothered to clean up the water when you were finished?"
In a rare show of bravado, he got into her face. "No, I couldn't!"
She raised her hand, preparing to hex him, then stopped when Toad called out over the increasing din of the earthquake tremors they were all still riding out with ease born of long practice and of his fight with Fred. "Smoochy-Poo! If you want, I can clean up for your bath- I mean, clean the-YOWCH!"
Changing her mind, Wanda hexed Toad instead, the blue light shining briefly in the gloomy room. Glaring at her twin, she turned away, only to have to duck Toad, who had been tossed back in her direction by Fred. The earthquake was getting worse as Lance sank deeper into an angsty, brooding guitar solo. Pietro screamed something in her ear that she didn't understand or hear properly, and Fred bellowed as Toad bit his arm.
With a sudden screech, Wanda jerked away from Pietro and stomped over to the stairs, giving up her quest for a clean bathroom in favor of peace and quiet.
Unfortunately, upstairs wasn't much better. Loud guitar riffs and chords echoed throughout the hallway, and the seismic rumblings accompanied Lance like his personal drum set. If Wanda was in a better mood, she might've appreciated the angry feel to the music. As it was, she stomped down the hall, past Lance's room-where she was nearly knocked off of her feet-to her own, only to find the door hanging off its hinges.
Suppressing the urge to scream, and trying to keep her feet under her, she glanced around the hallway looking for a haven. There! Down the hall, way, waaay down, the last room-the worst one really. It was drafty, it was freezing in winter and blazing in summer, it was tiny, and it currently was occupied by an orange-haired man who could be practicing voodoo in there for all she knew. However, in spite of all these shortcomings, it did have one thing that made it perfect-for the moment at least.
It had a door that was still on its hinges.
She made her way down the hallway, stumbling from side to side into the walls, banging into the wood panels. She reached out a hand and hexed the door open, dove inside, and slammed it shut behind her.
Almost instantly, the tremors became less noticeable. For some reason, this room in the house, farther away, more isolated, was less subject to the results of Avalanche's temper tantrum.
Wanda straightened up with a sigh of relief and then remembered whose room she had just appropriated. She peeked over her shoulder.
St. John Allerdyce, otherwise known as Pyro, was sitting at a little desk by the window, staring at her. An old fashioned typewriter was on the desktop.
Idly, she wondered when he'd brought the desk up here. She'd never seen it before, and though she'd not been in the room since it became his, she was sure she would have remembered. And what was with the typewriter? It wasn't like a computer, he did know that right? All you can use a typewriter for is-
She came back to reality to realize he was still staring at her warily, bright blue eyes underneath an orange shock of hair surprisingly un-maniacal and sharp. She waved, stiffly.
He raised an eyebrow. "Hi."
She gestured behind her. "Lance is having a bad day."
John rolled his eyes. "The li'l X-Man sheila broke up with him?"
"Yeah," she gave him a curious look. "How'd you know?"
He rolled his eyes again. "Remy said somethin' about it the other day. Said the cat sheila was talkin' to Rogue an' said she was gonna do it."
"Oh well, that makes… sense," she said awkwardly, wondering why she couldn't talk to him. She never had trouble talking to him. Well, yelling at him, but still… Maybe that was it. Maybe because she wasn't screaming insults and trying to hex him into limbo right now was the reason she couldn't form a complete sentence. It wasn't like she could start yelling at him. She was sort of invading his privacy right now, and she really didn't want him to realize that and decide to kick her out into the shaking, crumbling hallway.
He was staring at her again, eyes shining with something she didn't quite understand. Amusement? Something else? Whatever it was, he didn't look like he was going to make her leave. She mustered a smile.
"Um, so the whole house is sort of crazy right now. Can I… do you mind if I just hang out in here for a while?"
He just looked at her for a minute before turning to his desk and addressing the lighter that was sitting next to the typewriter.
"Whattaya think, luvvy? Shall we let her stay?"
Huh. And for a moment there she'd almost forgotten he was insane. He turned back to her with a brilliant shining smile. "You can stay."
"Uh, thanks," she told him, giving the lighter a nod as well, since he seemed to expect it. Sinking down on the very edge of his bed with a sigh of relief, she watched him go back to what he had been doing before she barged in.
It wasn't voodoo. Or, at least, it wasn't any kind of voodoo Wanda was familiar with. It seemed to consist of random bursts of typing, followed by orange hair being clutched between long, slim fingers, and arguments with the lighter.
It took her a few minutes to figure out that he was writing something.
"What are you writing?"
He jumped, yelping out loud. "Geez, luv, I completely forgot you were there!"
It had been about five minutes. She would have been insulted if he wasn't insane. "What are you writing?" she repeated. He glanced behind him.
"Oh, I… I… just… writing."
She raised an eyebrow, totally not satisfied with that. "Writing what?"
"What kind of stuff?"
"Story stuff," he admitted in a rush.
Wanda knew her eyes had lit up. "I love stories! Can I see?"
"Uh, sure," he said dazedly, partially because she hadn't laughed when he said he wrote stories, and partially because Wanda Maximoff had just said "I love" in conjunction with something he did. He pushed the stack of pages sitting next to the lighter over towards the edge of the desk, and she got off the bed and came over to stand next to him. He held his breath as the smell of her invaded his senses.
Wanda knew, somewhere in the back of her mind, that she was acting like a silly teenager with a crush because she was nervous about actually talking to John, instead of screeching at him like a demented loon on repeat. She knew that, but she didn't do anything about it. She just sat back down and started reading the loose leaves of paper that had typewriter ink all over them.
Another minute went by, then John relaxed and started having a conversation with his lighter again. Wanda briefly considered hexing his mouth shut, just to stay in character, then decided that would be rude, especially in his own room.
The story he was writing appeared to be some sort of romantic suspense novel. It also had a lot to do with fire. Or, at least, that's what she deduced from key words like "flaming," "slow burn," "intense heat," and "fiery inferno."
A particularly intense seismic wave reached even this room, and the yelling from downstairs increased as a result. Wanda rolled her eyes and muttered something about "Stupid brother with his stupid shiny hair who can't clean up after his stupid self."
John glanced sideways at her before informing his lighter that the lady sitting on his bed liked the word "stupid." Wanda glared at him and flicked a warning hex in his direction. He shot her a little grin, mischievous and, whoa, cute. She found herself returning it. He ducked his head shyly and she bizarrely wanted to reassure him.
"This is good," she said softly, holding out the papers. He stared at her, blue eyes wide and shiny with… was he crying?
"Why are you-"
"That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me!" he cried, lunging forward before she could stop him and throwing his arms around her. "Thank you, thank you." His head was resting sort of uncomfortably on her chest.
She patted his back uncertainly. "Uh, okay, uh, John, you can let go now." Geez, that's the nicest thing anyone has ever said to him? Yeesh. I've been nicer to Pietro. Pietro!"
Speak of the devil… "I'm in here, Pie!" she yelled, forgetting momentarily that she was in close contact with one John Allerdyce and her brother was going to have a heart attack.
"Wanda, where is the-" he stopped short. Wanda gave him a smirk.
"Something wrong, Pie?"
"Guh! You, what… ah!" he pointed and sputtered incoherently.
Wanda stood up suddenly and unceremoniously pushed the Aussie off of her. "Are you boys done with your little hissy fits?" she asked as primly as possible.
"I'll take that as a yes. Thanks for letting me use your room, Johnny," she called over her shoulder as she sailed out the door.
Pietro turned to John and glared.
Pyro spent more time out of his room after that. He talked mostly to Wanda, and a little bit to Lance. He became Wanda's right-hand in dealing with and ordering the Brotherhood around. He didn't disappear so often. The house was a lot more boisterous, true, but also more friendly, as if the incessantly cheerful attitude the pyromaniac carried with him was contagious.
There were a lot more fires than previously, but Wanda figured they could deal with that. After all, they dealt with everything else from electrical failures and creaking pipes to natural disasters caused by brooding.
Lance didn't care. He and Kitty were back together-tentatively, and if he put one foot out of line that was it-and so everything else happening in the world was so much plasma. Toad and Fred just exchanged the occasional wary glance, questioning the wisdom in letting the only two of them who had ever spend time in an insane asylum run the show, but otherwise didn't worry about it.
Pietro still didn't like Pyro, but neither the Aussie nor Wanda cared.
A/N: So, the 5th was my birthday.
Hold for cheers, applause, and shouts of "Many happy returns!"
For my birthday, I present you with… an origins story of sorts. The birthing of the relationship between Wanda and St. John, as it happens in RBH continuity. Cheers.