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like father, like son; like mother, like daughter

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The sound of a key sliding into a lock sliced through the silence of the Queens apartment. The sound earned the competing noise of claws sliding against wood in their quick pursuit of the door.

 

As the door came unlocked and was pushed open, laughter flooded into the apartment as a dog released a quick bark.

 

“Frankie!” A man, with white hair and an accented voice, exclaimed. He crouched down and allowed the dog to jump into his owner’s arms.

 

The door was shut and another man, dark hair and cheeks flushed pink from the cold, grinned as he locked the door. He walked past the pair on the floor and tossed his keys onto the coffee table in the living room.

 

The apartment itself had an open floor plan, coming out as neither a large or small apartment, but the kitchen connected to the living room and the table they considered a dining room. A hallway led to what could only be assumed to be a bedroom or two.

 

“I told you from the moment that we got that dog that he’d love you more than me, Pietro.” The dark haired man commented as he sat down next to Pietro.

 

Pietro chuckled and leaned away from the dog slightly, trying his best to nudge Frankie in the direction of the other man, “He loves you too, you dork,” He countered, “Especially because you were the one to bring him home, Peter.” Which was correct; Peter was the one to bring home Frankie after he found him abandoned in some alleyway during patrol one night. The dog, a mix of some sort of breeds but maintaining a small size, had a collar, his name, Franklin, being proudly proclaimed, but after being called, the owners wanted nothing to do with their dog. So, Peter brought the dog home and got him a new collar and a new nickname: Frankie. Pietro didn’t have any complaints at least.

 

Frankie took the nudge easily and twisted towards Peter, running into his stomach and taking Peter’s pats and pets eagerly for only a few seconds before running back to Pietro.

 

Peter rolled his eyes and stood, “Told you.” He removed his coat, old and worn, and tossed it onto the couch. Behind him, Pietro stood. The white haired man called the dog’s name and opened his arms for the dog when he jumped into his owner’s arms.

 

Pietro gave a short laugh, “Maybe it's because I’m the birthday boy, Pete. Our dog knows how to treat a man on his birthday.”

 

Peter turned to face Pietro, “And I don’t?” He countered, a grin growing on his face.

 

Frankie jolted in Pietro’s arms, tilting his head in order to lick Pietro’s cheek. Pietro shifted the dog in his arms, moving Frankie to one arm, ignoring the small grimace Peter emitted at the dog’s action, “I never said that, моја љубав.” He reached forward with his free hand and placed a finger under Peter’s chin, tilting Peter’s head up, “You were absolutely amazing today.”

 

“Even with the whole getting called to my old high school because some Goblin copycat felt the need to cause a ruckus?” Peter filled in, placing his hands on Pietro’s hips.

 

Pietro hummed in agreement, “It was fun,” He admitted with a grin, “It’s not everyday I get to beat up asshole teens.”

 

“Y’know, you were one of those asshole teens once.”

 

“Yes, but at least I had reasoning,” Pietro replied, stepping away from Peter to let Frankie down. The dog scurried away to bite on a stray dog toy. “I had to watch my parents be killed and then got experimented on by HYDRA.” He continued, tone easy but the truth behind his words frightening, “We shouldn’t forget about the times I have watched you almost die, as well.”

 

Peter frowned at that, “Pie—”

 

Pietro waved his hand dismissively, “But we’ve already argued about that this week,” he walked back over to Peter and placed his hands on the man’s waist, “Now, I’d like to enjoy the rest of my birthday.”

 

Peter took a moment, pushing away his worries about Pietro’s concerns, before he smiled and responded by wrapping his arms around his boyfriend’s neck, “Big twenty six,” Peter reminded, “How’s it feel?”

 

Pietro pulled Peter closer with a snort, “No different than twenty five,” he replied, “I’ve already got the white hair for old age, but my body takes aging pretty well.”

 

“I'll say so myself; you look pretty much the same as when you were seventeen.”

 

“Just more handsome and rugged?”

 

Peter sighed and pressed a kiss to Pietro’s cheek, “Definitely,” He responded, aiming to please his boyfriend despite how he saw the man as the same boy he met eight years ago.

 

Pietro seemed pleased enough though, despite seeing through Peter’s loose agreement, as he smirked, “Good to know, моја љубав.” He leaned in towards Peter, “Happy birthday to me?”

 

“Happy birthday, Maximoff.” Peter answered easily, closing the distance between them and pressing his lips to Pietro’s.

 

Pietro grinned against Peter’s lips briefly before responding eagerly, pulling Peter closer. Peter’s hand trailed up Pietro’s neck, tangling into the other man’s hair. The feeling of affection and joy seemed to go both ways in the moment, especially with the reminder of the day in mind.

 

The kiss itself was slow, with no definite desire for a certain time of payoff.

 

When Pietro tried to lower Peter down onto their couch though, his side only repaid him in burning with familiar pain. He winced, not going unnoticed by Peter, and gently pulled away from his boyfriend. He seemed apologetic, which Peter hoped to ease away, “Maybe not tonight, huh?” He asked.

 

Pietro shrugged, mildly annoyed while his hand hovered over his side, “I suppose the copycat Goblin really made his point.”

 

Peter walked away from the couch and stepped towards Pietro, hooking a thumb under the hem of Pietro’s sweater and pulled the fabric of his top up in order to check in on the man’s bandaged side.

 

All seemed okay to Peter, but he stepped a slight step away and ran a hand through his hair, “Maybe we should call it a night and see how you’re doing tomorrow, babe.”

 

Pietro, despite his recovering of the shot of pain, smiled at the pet name, “Lead the way then, Parker.” He held his hand out towards Peter, glad when the man took his hand and lead him towards their bedroom. Pietro, before they entered their bedroom, let out a short whistle that had Frankie frantically running to follow after his owners.

 

Going through their nighttime routine was easy enough; Frankie waiting on the edge of the bed, his eyes close to shutting with sleep.

 

Peter took extra care with getting undressed, trying his best to not ruin his only fancy clothes. Once those were folded and placed aside as a reminder for laundry, he started the process of getting out of his spidersuit, of which he was still in the habit of wearing under his clothes most days.

 

Peter, Clint, and Wanda had planned Pietro’s birthday dinner weeks in advance. Pietro wasn’t one for expensive dinners, especially if others were paying for him, but the man knew when to accept something as a gift. Hell, he had to once accept Tony’s offer of peace with giving them a spot on the team. But, this restaurant was where the team had gone for James’ 38th (108th) and Pietro had been talking about his meal for weeks, despite not having to pay for it due to Tony’s stubbornness when it came to who was paying.

 

So, Peter had approached Clint and Wanda to request their help in making the day great for Pietro, something Peter had always done his best to do. Twenty six felt more special though, perhaps because of its leaning toward thirty and passing that halfway mark. Likely, it felt like this way due to the threatening careers both men led.

 

Peter had started the day with waking Pietro up with an excited Frankie and a bowl of cereal (they may be able to support themselves and a dog well enough, but that didn’t mean they could splurge for more than one expensive meal in a day).

 

After breakfast, the three met up with Wanda, Natasha, and their twins, who had all flown out from California, to go see a movie and to go for ice cream. Wanda, herself, had confidently told Peter and friends that she’d rather Pietro have the dinner to himself rather than share it with her. Apparently, she had invited all the same people attending Pietro’s dinner, mostly, to her own home in California for her own birthday dinner. It was the first time, that Peter knew of, that Pietro and Wanda were alright with having their birthdays separate like this, but maybe it was a late in life search for a shred of independence from each other.

 

So, seeing his sister and his nephews was enough to keep Pietro smiling for the rest of the day too, especially with the reminder that he would also get to visit Wanda at her home in a few days time. With that, meeting up with Peter (and Pietro’s) friends along with Clint and James made Pietro’s day even better.

 

This man, Peter had learned over time, loved to be social just as much as he loved his alone time (meaning: Peter and Pietro). It meant a lot to him; seeing the people he cared about. And now, after eight years, that list had gone from one Wanda Maximoff to more people than he could count on two hands.

 

So dinner that night had been loud and fantastic with the large group made up of the Avengers and friends. Until each Avenger at the dinner table, minus Wanda and Natasha due to their now living in California and lack of fighting on the team, got the alert about the fake Goblin and had to put the dinner on pause to go deal with the issue.

 

The only people who had to stay behind were Wanda, Natasha, their twins, Aunt May, MJ, Harry, Ned, Ned’s fiancé Betty, Peter (for only a few minutes to avoid revealing his secret identity to the rest of the restaurant. He had given in and revealed his being Spider-Man to his friends a few years ago), Laura, Garrett, Cooper, Lila, and Cassie. Scott had been torn about leaving his daughter alone, but she had taken to Cooper in the past years they had known each other, so Hope made sure to remind him of such a fact before they were off.

 

Peter had personally thought that bringing all the Avengers at the table was a bit overkill, until he saw the damage the goblin kid had already done. Apparently, he did a pretty good job at making his own bombs. Peter had also been concerned about Harry’s reaction to the event, but he only gave Peter a small smile, albeit slightly shaky.

 

Harry had come far since his… time as the Goblin. It was something that actually made Peter glad a man was dead. That Norman Osborn was dead.

 

Knowing that Harry had been sick and been convinced that becoming the monster his father dreamed about was what created the Goblin had torn Peter apart those few years ago. But, with the help that Peter forced himself to accept, he managed to help Harry and rid of the Goblin.

 

And yet, somehow, Peter convinced himself to not turn Harry in for the crimes the Goblin committed. Maybe it would always be the one time Peter let himself play both sides. Maybe he’d regret it later in life. He couldn’t tell.

 

But Harry was better now, even if he could never be the Harry he once was. He had made good friends with Clint and James especially after that; shared experience maybe, Peter supposed.

 

When the team returned from the unexpected Avengers call, bruised and accomplished, the remaining guests had ordered and finished dessert. Cooper and Cassie, both aged sixteen, had taken to entertaining Lila to the best of their abilities and Peter’s childhood friends had taken up conversation with the rest of the adults.

 

With dinner coming to a close after their return, Peter and Pietro had planned to pay for the dinner themselves, but were stopped when Clint announced that he had covered the meal himself. “You two have to support your little dog child,” he had loosely excused.  He let Pietro attempt to argue with him, waiting out the mild anger and frustration before Pietro gathered the archer up in a hug.

 

Pietro had denied gifts then, claiming that if anyone did get him anything, they had to send it to California so he could open the gifts alongside his sister like every other holiday they had in the past eight years.

 

So returning home to their apartment had gone pretty nicely for Peter and Pietro. They thanked everyone for coming and bid them goodbye before their own departure, but, now, preparing for sleep was welcomed after their busy day.

 

Pietro raised his arms above his head, stretching and catching Peter’s attention as he walked in from the bathroom. The white haired man’s back was facing Peter, the pale skin being a welcomed sight to him.

 

He grinned to himself instead, pulling on an old pair of pajama pants and Pietro’s hoodie from some concert he went to with Wanda a few years ago. As he sighed and pulled back the covers of their bed, Pietro was pulling on a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. After Peter laid down and pulled the covers over him, Frankie eagerly crawled over and settled down next to Peter.

 

Pietro flicked the light switch, plunging the room into darkness, before he settled down in bed next to Peter. Almost immediately, Pietro scooted towards Peter, moving to his side to face his boyfriend. Peter did the same, letting a hand come to rest on Frankie’s back.

 

The two got comfortable, Pietro’s hand finding purchase on a slice of exposed skin on Peter’s side and the other folding under his head.

 

Peter tilted his head forwards, catching Pietro’s lips in a sweet kiss. As the man pulled away slowly, Pietro leaned forward and caught Peter for another kiss, smiling to himself when he pulled away.

 

“Happy birthday, Pietro.” Peter said, quietly as if worried about disrupting the silence in the room.

 

Pietro’s hand trailed up further on Peter’s side, “Thank you for making it so amazing, kochanie.” He mumbled. “I love you, Peter.”

 

Peter smiled, expression soft and intimate, “I love you too.”

 

Later in the night, after the three had all fallen asleep with Frankie gravitating towards the end of the bed and Pietro having wrapped himself around Peter, a voice echoed loud and clear.

 

“Pietro”

 

Pietro startled awake, only jostling Peter enough to cause his brows to furrow momentarily.

 

Pietro’s heart raced and he looked around the room.

 

But it was silent. Absolutely silent.

 

Frankie hadn’t budged and Peter hadn’t awoken. For a moment, Pietro took a long look at him. Peter was Spider-Man, he had that spider-sense thing. If someone was in their apartment… Peter would know.

 

Pietro tried his best to settle down again, but he couldn’t stop thinking about how close, how real , that voice sounded.

 

But it must’ve just been some fucked up mind thing. Something he must’ve dreamt up.

 

⊗  

 

Peter had to work early in the morning the next day, working at the Daily Bugle for half the day and then heading to Stark Industries, but, overall, managed to get home around six that night. Pietro had gone to see Wanda, Natasha, and their kids off late in the afternoon, driving them to the airport with a borrowed car from Tony, despite favoring running, and bid them goodbye and a reminder of getting to see them again by the end of the week when he would be heading to California.

 

So, for the rest of the day, until Peter was home, Pietro had taken to visiting the mismatched Barton family. Since Laura, Garrett, Cooper, and Lila’s sudden and recent appearance in New York, the details Pietro never begged for but knew the gist of, they had taken to living in Clint’s apartment building in Bed-Stuy. He, James, and Lucky had moved into one of the apartments a few years ago after they wished for their own space away from the Avenger life, which meant Clint revealing the fact alone that he had purchased the apartment building years ago. The apartment building wasn’t much admittedly, not close to very large and rundown in some places, but it was overall homey.

 

Laura and family seemed like a tight fit in their apartment, but apparently they were in the process of finding their own, safe home soon enough.

 

So, Pietro had taken to visiting the crew.

 

Pietro stopped in front of Clint’s apartment door, already hearing the murmur of conversation from inside. He knocked on the door and barely had to wait at all before someone was opening the door. Pietro came face-to-face with Cooper.

 

The teen, which was weird enough to think about, was a startlingly sight even now.

 

Pietro had kept up with the life of Cooper since he was about nine and living consistently in Iowa. He had visited more than a few times between then and now, even a couple times on his own or with his new little sister, aged six nowadays.

 

Cooper had gotten his father’s height, but he had yet to slow in getting taller. He came in around Pietro’s height and, admittedly, the man was not looking forward to having to even look up slightly to look Cooper in the eye.

 

Cooper’s hair had only grown lighter in color over the years, making him look even more like his father despite his eyes being darker than his father’s blue. His hair was something like a mess: unusually fluffy, wavy, and seemingly untouched.

 

He smiled at Pietro, absentmindedly tugging his rolled up sleeves down. The kid was wearing a white short-sleeved shirt over a black long-sleeved shirt, something that Pietro had really only seen in television shows.

 

“Hey, Pietro.” Cooper greeted, “Dad was just sayin’ he was pretty sure you were gonna come ‘round today.”

 

Pietro grinned, shoving his hands into his coat pockets, “Then he knows me well.” He replied, walking inside of the apartment when Cooper stepped aside.

 

Pietro took in the sight in front of him: Laura and Garrett were sat on the couch, Lila asleep on their laps. Clint was standing, leaning against the wall by the kitchen, and James was slouched down in an armchair.

 

Cooper shut the door behind him and made his way over to the group, laying down on the ground in front of James.

 

Clint looked to Pietro, grinning, “Hey, kid.” He greeted, “We were just planning on how to quietly off you.”

 

Pietro rolled his eyes, coming forward to be closer to the group, “Good to know your humor hasn’t faded with old age.”

 

Clint rolled his eyes, “Someday you’ll be eighty and I’ll be there to remind you of how fuckin’ old you are every damn second.”

 

“Clint!” James and Laura hissed simultaneously, both pointing to the sleeping Lila.

 

Clint visibly deflated and he groaned, “She’s asleep though!” He defended.

 

James raised a brow, “Doesn’t mean she doesn’t just look asleep.” He shot back, although a grin was threatening to form on his lips.

 

Clint rolled his eyes and walked over, settling himself on the arm of the chair, James’ hand coming to rest on Clint’s thigh.

 

Pietro walked to the small table Clint had pushed aside and excused as a dining room and dragged one of the chairs over, sitting down and re-entering the conversation.

 

Lucky trotted in from the bedroom, yawning as he entered. He sat down on Pietro’s feet, leaning heavily against his legs.

 

“How was Cassie, Coop? I didn’t have a chance to catch up with her last night.” Pietro questioned, aiming for casual but possibly not succeeding.

 

Cooper sat up, hair threatening to fall in his eyes, “I tell you every time we see each other: Cass and I aren’t dating and aren’t gonna.” He fell back onto the ground.

 

Pietro shrugged and leaned back into his seat, “You’d be cute together in my opinion.” He continued, “And dating would be good practice for your future love.” He pushed, tone leaning towards teasing.

 

Cooper rolled his eyes, “Maybe work on proposing to Pete before wiggling your way into my love life.”

 

“Cooper,” Clint hissed, casting a concerned look at Pietro.

 

Pietro handled it well enough, “We’ll get married when we get married, Coop, and when we do,” He glanced at Clint and James, “It will be an actual wedding.”

 

Admittedly, Clint and Wanda had been the only people that Pietro told of his concerns about marriage. Peter was the man he wanted to marry, always and forever, but both himself and Peter had always been scared. Their lives were perfect with each other in the moment as just boyfriends, and soulmates, and maybe a part of them worried that marriage would… disrupt them in a way. But, mostly, the idea of a permanent commitment like that with their careers was what put the idea on hold.

 

But one day, they knew, it would happen.

 

Clint rolled his eyes, seemingly relieved by Pietro’s dismissal, “Neither James or I wanted a big huge wedding, Maximoff,” He answered breezily, “Too many people, too much money.”

 

“You’re practically rich, Clinton.” Laura countered, “And it would’ve been nice to watch you get married in a suit and everything.”

 

Clint shrugged, “I, for one, am not practically rich.” He nudged James, “That’s my husband. I am only practically rich by marital relations.”  

 

James snorted, wrapping his arm around Clint’s waist and tugging just enough to get Clint to fall back onto his lap, “You love me for everything but my money at least.” He commented

 

Clint bit his lip, looking up at James, “The money is a nice addition though.” He joked before grinning and tangling one of his hands with James’.

 

Pietro watched the two with amusement, hand drifting down to pet Lucky on the head.

 

“Laura and I are going to have a wedding at least.” Garrett supplied.

 

“Someday,” Laura added on, “When life isn’t this crazy.”

 

“Just don’t be like Wanda and call me in the middle of the night to inform us that she and Natasha were getting married in just a few days.” James commented, “Clint and I had to rush down to California immediately to offer help with anything they needed, like watching the twins.”

 

“Wanda gave me a week and a half notice.” Pietro added smugly.

 

Clint snorted, “So far, their wedding and the twins are the most spontaneous parts of their life together, so we can only hope that they won’t call us up one day and tell us that they’re moving to Alaska or something. My old heart can only deal with so much surprising news.”

 

“Well, we’ll hear about any big news in a few days I assume.” Pietro commented.

 

“It was nice of her to invite all of us, by the way,” Laura said to Pietro, fondly, “I know you’ve always been a little closer to us than she has, especially because of… Sokovia. And her thinking to invite us to her small little gathering was very kind.”

 

Pietro smiled at her, “Wanda thinks of you all as family as much as I do, Laura.” He replied, “And she wants to spend her birthday dinner with her family.”

 

From there, with a soft smile on Laura’s face, the conversation shifted to much lighter topics such as Cooper’s theatre endeavors and the cat Lila befriended in Pietro and Peter’s apartment building.

 

Pietro ” that voice called again.

 

Pietro flinched, immediately looking to Clint and James, who were both in conversation with Cooper about the play he was casted in. Neither seemed to have said anything to Pietro, especially not his name.

 

Pietro kept his eyes up, feeling a slight tingling at the base of his neck.

 

Pietro ” came the voice again, this time much louder.

 

“Got any clean cups, Old Man?” Pietro suddenly asked, feeling the need to do something . He had gotten good at keeping his high energy into something of more middle energy, but whatever was going on in his head was bringing it all up to the surface.

 

Clint took a second to look at Pietro before he nodded, “James just did the dishes.”

 

Pietro quickly stood, mumbling an apology to Lucky after making him move and moved the few feet to the sink. He got himself a glass of water and drank as much as he could in one take, setting the cup down slowly and quietly in the sink. Sometimes doing something would calm him down, but now, he only felt slightly better.

 

He forced himself to sit down though and flashed a smile at Clint’s concerned look.

 

The tingling didn’t go away.

 

⊗  

 

“Mama?”

 

A woman, young with dark hair pulled back into a bun out of her face, turned around. She smiled, although the action looked strained. She dropped the towel she used to dry her hands onto the counter and bent down to be eye-to-eye with her son.

 

“Yes, sweetheart?” She asked, the familiar language falling from her lips easily.

 

Pietro had been taught multiple languages by his mother: his country’s original language, his mother’s first language: Polish, and working on English. It was the same for Wanda, but she had always favored sitting and catching up on the news with their father rather than learning new languages by their mother.

 

Her question echoed in Pietro’s mind, but he found he couldn’t reply.

 

Suddenly, his world shifted and Pietro was watching himself, only a young child, and his mother.

 

“Mama?” Kid Pietro repeated.

 

“Yes?” His mother replied.

 

“I had a bad dream.”

 

His mother furrowed her brows, “Well, that is no good, Pietro,” She brushed a few stray hairs behind her ear. She opened her arms and hugged her son when he wrapped his own arms around her, “Would you want to speak about it?”

 

Kid Pietro shook his head and held his mother tightly.

 

His mother just nodded and shifted to sit on the kitchen floor with her son.

 

Pietro would never tell her that he dreamt of her dying and being alone.

 

The scene shifted again, now just his mother. Pietro, just a little bit older listened in on his mother’s conversation with his father. But from the way he peeked around the corner of the wall, he could only see his mother.

 

“Django,” His mother pleaded, “They can not ever know; the world is too dangerous for them to know!”

 

“Then why am I only knowing now?” He countered, voice low.

 

He only caught only the end of the conversation before his mother caught his eye.

 

The scene shifted and Pietro was sitting on his bed, his mother’s hand running through his hair. She sang a nursery rhyme to him quietly.

 

Then he saw his mother’s death.

 

He recalled the last words he said to her, the last look they shared.

 

His own name began ringing through his head, yet the voice wasn’t his mother’s nor his father’s.

 

“Pietro.”

 

Pietro gasped, a curse in Polish slipping past his lips as he sat up in bed. In the commotion, Frankie startled awake with a yelp and Peter slipped from Pietro’s grasp.

 

Pietro was breathing heavily, his own name still quietly echoing through his head.

 

“Pietro?” Peter asked, voice rough from sleep, “Pietro, are you okay?”

 

Pietro could feel tears starting to build in his eyes, the sight of his parents’ death stuck on his mind. He shook his head, letting Peter wrap his arms around him and hold him close. His hand found its place on the back of Pietro’s head, mumbling comforting words to his boyfriend.

 

 

A knock on the door pulled Pietro away from Peter, “Must we answer it?” He mumbled down to Peter.

 

Peter rolled his eyes and gently pushed Pietro off of him, “They’re our friends , Pietro.”

 

Pietro begrudgingly lifted himself off of Peter and got up and off the couch, grabbing his shirt from the ground and tugging it back on, “They interrupt right when it was about to get interesting.”

 

Peter stood, running a hand through his hair and picking up and pulling his own shirt on. He buttoned up his pants, “Everything we do is interesting,” He corrected, “And I wouldn’t have let that go past making out because I actually remembered that our friends were stopping by.”

 

Pietro ran a hand through his hair, not caring much if he looked a little rough. He sat down on the arm of the couch, “Liar,” He mumbled, catching Peter by the belt loop when he walked by.

 

Peter chuckled and faced Pietro, pressing a kiss on his cheek, “Make sure you’re a little less excited when our friends come in.” He mumbled.

 

“A little impossible when I live with you .” Pietro countered, earning another roll of Peter’s eyes.

 

He released Peter nonetheless, looking away from the man and letting out a long breath (and thinking about stuff that wasn’t Peter).

 

Peter unlocked the door, greeting his friends and stepping aside to let them in, “Thanks for bringing pizza, Har, you didn’t have to do that.”

 

Harry used his free hand to lightly pat Peter on the back, “Least I can do.” He said, the meaning behind the words obvious, but a sad reminder.

 

“You don’t need to thank me for that anymore, Har, I—”

 

Harry waved his hand dismissively, “You're too good for your own good, Petey.”

 

“I agree.” MJ commented, walking past Peter and dropping down onto the couch next to Pietro, “And nice look you’ve got going on, boys.”

 

Peter’s cheeks flushed and he glanced away, mumbling something under his breath.

 

Pietro grinned, “One of my favorite looks.”

 

Ned groaned, and sat next to MJ, “Didn’t need to know, Maximoff.”

 

Harry placed the pizza down on the coffee table, taking a seat in the nearby armchair, “Then you better get talking about Betty and you because MJ and I need to fulfill our disastrous dating lives.”

 

“At least I’ve gotten some since high school, Osborn.” MJ countered.

 

Harry shifted so his legs hung off one arm of the chair, “Kinda hard to find someone to fuck when you’re both dying and half insane, Michelle.” He said, almost too casually.

 

MJ seemed caught off guard by the comment, her exterior crumbling slightly, “Shit, Har,—”

 

“Its fine , MJ,” Harry cut her off with a dismissive roll of his eyes,  “If I can joke about it, then maybe it means I’m dealing a little better than you thought.” His continued, tone somewhat closed off.

 

A moment of silence passed.

 

“So Betty and I were thinking of having a fall wedding. But like, just at the beginning so it isn’t freezing yet.” Ned blurted.

 

Peter sat down on the coffee table, next to the pizza, “Now this is interesting stuff, I thought you hated cold weather.”

 

“I do, but I love Betty and that’s also why we agreed on a somewhat cold somewhat warm date.” Ned continued, “And it’ll be in New York, obviously, and we don’t want the wedding to be too big. Which is somewhat difficult because Betty’s friends expand way past my four friends, who are all in this room.”

 

Peter picked up a piece of pizza and handed another piece off to Ned, “Tony said he wants an invite actually.”

 

Ned nearly choked on his pizza, “He said that!?”

 

Peter nodded, “Along with the rest of the Avengers.” He said, aiming for casual but his growing smile betraying him, “And of course Wanda will want to fly in with the twins since she was the one to convince you to ask Betty out.”

 

“That’s so cool…” Ned trailed off, eyes wide.

 

Peter smiled at his friend, letting the man go off into his thoughts about his Avenger-invaded wedding.

 

“MJ? How did that interview thing go?” Peter questioned.

 

“You mean my very important, very big story done alongside Eddie Brock for his first appearance in New York in years where we wrote a story about Helen Cho and her biggest advancements as a geneticist?” She countered, “The story I nearly cried about getting?”

 

Peter paused before he nodded, motioning with his pizza, “Yeah, that one!”

 

She rolled her eyes but smiled nonetheless, “Went great; she’s incredible and Eddie Brock seemed somewhat insane but very cool.”

 

“Somewhat insane?” Harry echoed, a grin growing on his features, “Send him my way; maybe we’ll get somewhere.” He joked.

 

“By somewhat insane I mean I caught him in a conversation with himself more than a few times and he once mumbled something about not being allowed to eat somebody.” She explained, “Weird guy, but overall very cool.”

 

Harry hummed in agreement and nodded, “All I’m hearing is ‘overall very cool’.” He replied, taking a bite of his pizza.

 

MJ raised a brow, but didn’t comment any further, instead switching her attention to Pietro, “If you ever need to be interviewed, hit me up, Speedy.” She commented, “Because this girl right here will take any story that will get her a promotion.” She continued, tone cool and overall monotone.

 

Pietro nodded, “Noted.” He replied, gesturing with his slice of pizza.

 

Peter snorted, shaking his head to himself before he cleared his throat and let out a short whistle. Frankie came running from the bedroom, sliding to a stop at Ned’s feet. Peter smiled down at the dog, breaking off part of his crust and handing it off to the pet. With its snack in mouth, Frankie hopped up onto Ned’s lap, swallowing down the small piece of crust.

 

“You and Betty ever going to go through with getting a pet? It’d be good practice for kids.” Pietro commented, eyeing the scene before him.

 

“Says the guy who owns a dog with his boyfriend.” Ned muttered, scratching Frankie under the chin, “We were thinking of adopting a cat since Betty hasn’t had a very good experience with dogs quite yet.”

 

“She likes Frankie though.” Harry pointed out.

 

“Yes, she does, but apparently only because Frankie looks at Pete and Pietro here as if they hung the moon.” Ned shrugged, “Dunno man, but if she’d rather have a cat, then we’ll get a cat.” He continued, “I wouldn’t want her to dislike our pet and only be unhappy.”

 

Peter grinned at his best friend, letting out a quiet “aw” under his breath.

 

After another few minutes of wedding talk, Harry let out a long groan, gaining the attention of his friends. When he didn’t give an explanation for the noise, with Pietro’s asking of Harry, the man shrugged, “Wanted attention.”

 

Peter rolled his eyes, “Really, Har?”

 

Harry hummed and nodded, taking a bite from his pizza.

 

A moment of silence passed before Ned spoke, “Well, spotlights on you, man. You wanted attention so you’ve gotta pay up.”

 

Harry nodded, biting his lip in thought, “Well, I played piano for the first time in five years yesterday.” He commented, “And I bought a new painting.”

 

“Of which you stuck away in your dad’s old office?” MJ filled in.

 

“Correct there, Jones.” He answered, “Everytime I see some piece of shit, expensive painting, I buy it just to spite the old bastard.” He took another bite of his slice of pizza, waiting a moment before continuing, “I inherited his fortune when he died and you can bet your ass I’ll use it in any way that will spite him. If I die broke, rather than living off only my father’s money, I’ll be dying happy.”

 

“Spotlight successfully used.” Ned commented with an impressed nod.

 

“You can bet your ass it was.” Harry gave a short laugh, letting his head back off the arm of the chair.

 

Pietro chuckled, “What else have you bought with your father’s money, Osborn?”

 

Harry seemed to think it over, “Paid a lot of strippers and just had ‘em sit in my father’s office once when I was drunk. I also donated a good chunk to charity, which my father would have hated . Gifted a whole alpaca to his old assistant, too.”

 

“And you’ve still got your own personal funds?” Pietro was amused by Harry’s stories, and, despite the huge waste of money the spending was, Pietro pushed himself to understand Harry’s state of mind here. Anything that had anything to do with his dad, that he couldn’t manipulate and make his own, was something like poison. The closest he lets himself get to his father’s past is Oscorp, and even then he seemed to let the business run itself.

 

Harry nodded, “I had the equivalent of about three quarters of my dad’s wealth before I even inherited his fortune. Contrary to popular belief, I was a saver rather than a spender when I wasn’t celebrating something or someone.”

 

Pietro nodded, briefly thinking back to the times he had seen Harry drop a lot of money on purchases. Thinking back on it, he realized that most of the purchases weren’t entirely for himself, instead for things like gifts, group dinners, or celebrations.

 

With Pietro lost in thought, the sound of his name being called only pulled him from his thoughts.

 

Pietro

 

Pietro immediately looked to the men in the room, but found the three listening to MJ as she recalled why her coworker had been fired halfway through a workday.

 

“Peter?” Pietro asked quietly.

 

His boyfriend looked to Pietro, questioning, “Yeah?”

 

“You call my name?”

 

Peter shook his head, brows furrowing slightly, “Nope.” He answered easily.

 

Pietro nodded slowly before he stood, tossing his half eaten pizza slice back into the box, having abruptly lost his appetite. He took a seat on the coffee table next to Peter, wrapping an arm around the man’s waist and pressing a quick kiss to his mess of dark hair.

 

Who was calling for him?

 

 

Pietro

 

Pietro startled awake for the second time that week, his own name echoing through his head once more.

 

Pietro didn’t look around the room, nor did he wake or push Peter away from him. If anything, he pulled Peter closer.

 

This wasn’t normal, right?

 

One doesn’t just hear their name like this.

 

Pietro entertained the idea of calling Wanda up to search for any reasonings behind the voice calling his name briefly, but decided against it when he recalled what time it would be for his sister. He wouldn’t want to risk waking the twins either.

 

Maybe he was finally losing his mind. Could that be it?

 

Pietro trailed a hand up to Peter’s neck, tracing the familiar line of words that named them soulmates on the back of his boyfriend’s neck lightly. Peter twitched with the motion, but only pressed his face into Pietro’s chest.

 

Voices mean something, right?

 

Maybe… Maybe this was some sort of witch stuff that Wanda experienced.

 

She had mentioned before that sometimes she could get into people’s minds almost too easily and risked leaving a trace, such as accidentally giving the person a flash of a memory they couldn’t recall.

 

Maybe there was some telepath around that was trying to fuck around with Pietro’s mind, or someone’s.

 

From the moment the thought crossed his mind, Pietro shut his eyes and went through what his sister once taught him. There were things he could do, things he could focus on, that could push a telepath out of one’s mind, or at least attempt to.

 

So he did just that, although unaware if a telepath was even present in his mind anymore.

 

Eventually, he opened his eyes and shifted so he was facing Peter. He pressed a light kiss to the man’s forehead, smiling to himself when Peter pressed his head into Pietro’s shoulder.

 

Tomorrow, he only had to focus on packing for California and boarding the godawful redeye Peter had booked. Apparently running from Queens to California was just a little too much for Peter.

 

Pietro sighed contently, happy with the distraction of reminding himself of what needed to be packed.

 

Only a mere couple of hours later, Pietro startled awake once more with a call of his name. He squeezed his eyes shut and felt nauseous when he saw the sight of his parents burned behind his eyelids.

 

 

“You sure we can’t just run?” Pietro questioned Peter as they left the Avengers compound, having dropped Frankie off to stay with Steve and Tony, who were also watching Lucky and the rest of New York. Although they wanted to attend Wanda’s celebration in California, the two decided that at least some of the Avengers needed to stick around to keep their part of the world safe. Sam and Scott had stuck around too, although Scott stuck around because he was meant to spend the day with his daughter.

 

“If you run us there, you’ll have to take way more than one trip and, even though you hate to admit it, you’ll be exhausted after that and will hate yourself if you even nap for two hours during your stay with Wanda.” Peter replied, opening the door to the backseat of Happy’s car for Pietro.

 

Peter got into the car after Pietro, letting Happy in the driver’s seat know they were ready to head off.

 

“But it would be a lot more enjoyable of an experience!”

 

Peter rolled his eyes and buckled his seatbelt, nudging Pietro until he did the same, “That may be so, but you should trust me on this one, babe.”

 

Pietro sighed, rather dramatically, and tossed an arm around Peter’s shoulders, “Fine, I’ll listen to you, Petey,” He replied, “But just this once.” He joked.

 

Peter leaned into his side after pinching his arm in response.

 

From there, Pietro felt like time moved on even more sluggishly than usual. Everything took so long, from getting to the airport to getting to their gate.

 

By the time they boarded their flight, Peter had pulled up his hood (of Pietro’s hoodie) and was relying on Pietro to guide his sleepy ass to his seat. Pietro, on the other hand, was a ball of useless energy. After Peter was settled in his seat on the plane and their carry ons were safely stored, Pietro made the hasty decision to run a lap or two around the airport to work off some energy, coming back to his seat fairly quickly.

 

Feeling slightly more at ease, Pietro settled in for the long flight ahead of him.

 

 

“Did you sleep at all during the flight?” Peter asked Pietro as they waited for their luggage to come around.

 

Pietro shrugged, focusing on the way Peter leaned against him heavily. Truthfully, Pietro hadn’t slept at all besides a few minutes before he was awoken by the whisper of his name.

 

After that, he didn’t really want to risk cursing something in Polish or screaming when he inevitably woke up from the same case or a now recurring nightmare of his parents.

 

“Which means that when we get to Wanda and Natasha’s, you’re going straight for a nap, Pietro.”

 

Pietro shrugged again, tilting his head so it rest upon Peter’s.

 

 

Los Angeles, or really all of California, was still fairly unfamiliar to Pietro, despite visiting his sister constantly. For Peter it was even more so, as he didn’t have the luxury of being able to get to a destination within minutes on his own.

 

Peter also was the one with two jobs, kept by choice despite Pietro’s offer of actually taking up Tony and SHIELD’s full offer of payment for being an Avenger. In the moment, Pietro was paid handsomely, with equal payment with Scott, who wasn’t on constant call for Avengers business. Wanda, after having her twins, had made the decision to request a stable pay to support her new family well, as Natasha had stepped down as a main Avenger and with that did not receive as high of a pay as she once did, and had taken Tony and SHIELD’s new offer easily. Pietro, on the other hand, was still iffy on asking for so much as payment. He was doing something he enjoyed and requesting a high pay in the moment seemed… dishonest?

 

But this was a visit to his sister; money wasn’t a concern either way, not truly.

 

Wanda loved New York, she always had, but after she and Natasha had gained their grounding again after the twins’ birth, she and Natasha had entertained the idea of raising their children in a new place.

 

They had gone through with the idea quickly after they took in the difference in amounts of attacks made by both villains and assholes. So, California for at least the next few years, seemed like a safer option for two little boys.

 

Pietro wasn’t upset with either of them for the decision, but it took a long time to get used to not looking to his side and finding his sister.

 

Maybe distance did them well though. Distance had allowed her to blossom as a mother and only grow up even more. She had the twins young, hardly twenty, but Wanda and Natasha took it all in their stride and had become wonderful parents.

 

The story of the twins’ birth were all still a little… blurry to most people, even to Wanda herself. Perhaps Natasha was the only one who had ventured further on any ideas.

 

So then came another pair of twins in the Maximoff lineage.

 

Which meant Pietro got the job of Cool Uncle.

 

But maybe Wanda moving away pushed Pietro to get over himself and take the next step in his own personal relationships. He got closer to Peter’s friends and really felt that they were also his own friends and, more importantly, he and Peter finally moved in together into a new and cozy apartment in Queens.

 

So, Los Angeles.

 

That’s about all Pietro had to say about it. It was a nice looking place but he barely knew anything about the city. Wanda seemed to enjoy it enough though.

 

Peter ran a hand through his hair before he and Pietro walked up to the front door of the Maximoff-Romanoff residence.

 

The house itself was exactly what Wanda had always dreamed about: small, but nowhere near the same small size as their childhood home, one-story, cozy, and oozing with life. There was a plastic scooter laying in the short lawn and an abandoned soccer ball was resting on the porch. In the driveway sat Natasha’s preferred car from the compound, shining and lacking any visible damage.

 

Pietro and Peter walked up to the front door, dragging their luggage behind them. Next to the front door, a large, rust-colored rock held two pairs of small paint handprints with a name printed under each: Tommy Maximoff-Romanoff and Billy Maximoff-Romanoff, a new addition to their decor, Pietro noticed.

 

Pietro reached forwards and rang the doorbell, immediately catching the faint sounds of a little boy’s squeal, his sister’s familiar laugh, and the voice of Natasha.

 

After a few seconds, the door opened, only slightly at first, before opening fully. Natasha was stood in the door, hand moving away from her back (Pietro could guess well enough that she was hiding a little thing called a gun just in case if their guests weren’t ones they were expecting).

 

Natasha smiled at the men, cheeks slightly flushed from what Pietro could only assume was chasing down a couple toddlers. Her red hair was pulled back into a ponytail, the length of her hair obvious enough with the way it still drift way past her shoulders even when up.

 

She was dressed in what can only be explained as casual and child-safe clothing: a visibly worn t-shirt, of which advertised Stark Industries, and a pair of loose sweatpants that Pietro guessed were once Clint’s.

 

“Hey, boys,” she greeted, sticking a hand into her pocket.

 

Peter smiled back and held out his arms for a hug, “I know it's only been a few days since I last saw you, but hi.”

 

Natasha rolled her eyes, but pulled Peter forward by his hoodie and wrapped her arms around him, “Good to see you again, маленький паук.”

 

The sight of Natasha and Peter made Pietro smile. Motherhood looked good on the redhead. When Pietro first met her, she was all rough edges and muscles that could kill. Over time, she had grown softer. She smiled more often after Wanda and grew more comfortable with showing her “human” side to others besides Clint. And, admittedly, she had become more lean rather than muscled with motherhood, but Pietro wondered if she even had time to keep up with such an intense training schedule she once had.

 

Either way, she could still kick Pietro’s ass.

 

“Hello, sister-in-law.” Pietro greeted, waving slightly.

 

Natasha pulled away from Peter and was quick to pull Pietro in for a hug instead, smile still stuck on her face. “It’s good to see you too, brat.”

 

Pietro chuckled and hugged the redhead back, pulling away a short time later.

 

Natasha tucked some loose hair behind her ear after she leaned away, “Wanda is trying to get the twins dressed; they decided today was a great day to have a food fight during breakfast.” She explained, answering the men’s unsaid question.

 

Peter chuckled, “Sounds like them.”

 

Natasha grinned and rolled her eyes, “Just yesterday they were on their absolute best behavior,” her eyes shifted to Pietro, grin turning mischievous, “Sounds like a certain pair of twins we all know, huh?”

 

Pietro played dumb, humming in acknowledgement, “No clue who you’re talking about, Nat.”

 

Natasha smiled at the response before she stepped inside the house, waving for the two men to follow her, “You can put your luggage in the guest room like always and make yourself comfortable while Wanda and I get the twins ready.” She supplied, already starting down the hall to where Pietro knew the twins’ bedroom was.

 

Peter and Pietro waited a moment before following after her, stopping at the beginning of the hall and opening the door to the guest room.

 

Pietro shut the door behind them, watching Peter as he effortlessly tugged his suitcase up and dropped it on the bed, “Should I dress up to see your nephews?” Peter asked, twisting around to look at Pietro.

 

Pietro shook his head, “The only thing that would come from that is ruining your good clothes. Besides, the boys have already met you plenty of times; no need to look nice for them.”

 

Peter grinned and turned to face Pietro entirely as the other man came forward and placed his own luggage on the bed.

 

Pietro was quick to turn towards Peter again, tugging the man forwards by the string of his hoodie, “And,” He started, pressing a kiss to Peter’s lips, “I like seeing you in my clothes.”

 

“And that, we’ve already established years ago.” Peter supplied.

 

“So, I’ll take that as we should be heading out to the living room?”

 

“Look at you, guessin’ all the right answers, Maximoff.” Peter joked, taking Pietro’s hand and leading him out to the living room.

 

The other members of the family had yet to emerge from the boy’s room, so Pietro took a quick glance around, wondering if anything had changed since he was last here.

 

The house seemed all the same: open floor plan, dark wood floors and white walls, but the furniture serving as the pops of color. Wanda’s witch-y self seemed to peek through, within all the decor of the walls, such as the small, pinned up, colorful tapestry. The furniture itself seemed like a mix of Wanda and Natasha, with the modern design originating from the redhead, but the colorful designs and various plants were obviously from Wanda.

 

Natasha was a woman of necessity and basic designs, while Wanda yearned for an environment of color and the looks of things she could never get before.

 

Pietro recalled the time Peter pointed out the way the furniture was angled: all so that no one’s back faced an open window and nobody was left vulnerable.

 

Pietro ran a hand through his hair and chose instead to watch as Peter bent down to inspect one of the potted plants, mumbling something about Harry and Wade’s own plants.

 

Peter straightened up, pushing his hair out of his face, “Did Harry tell you that he got that big ass plant? He said it was because he couldn't commit himself to a person or pet like MJ suggested.”

 

Before Pietro could respond, he heard his sister laugh from the other room before a door opened and the sound of little feet hitting wood floor echoed down the hall. A mixed yelled of ‘Uncle Pietro’ and ‘Uncle Peter’ mingled in the air as the men in the living room turned to face the new occupants of the room.

 

A smile broke out on Pietro’s face as he crouched down, arms open for a hug. Almost immediately, two little kids ran out from the hallway, each showing their own way towards a desired uncle.

 

It was Tommy that ran towards Pietro, dark, wavy hair nearly falling in his eyes, while said green eyes were bright with excitement. Pietro’s smile only grew at Tommy’s outfit: a pair of denim overalls strapped over a white t-shirt (if Pietro remembered correctly, Natasha and Tommy had once worn the same outfit at the same time only a few months ago together, much to Wanda’s excitement).

 

“Tommy!” Pietro exclaimed.

 

“Uncle!” Tommy yelled right back, the word not moving out as well as Tommy must’ve hoped. It didn’t matter though, as Tommy threw himself into Pietro’s arms either way.

 

As Tommy’s arms wrapped around Pietro’s waist, Pietro stood up, scooping the child up.

 

Pietro hugged Tommy back tightly, “There’s the little speed demon!” Pietro continued, recalling the high energy of the child.

 

“Mommy said you were comin’ today, but Billy said you wouldn’ be here until later.” Tommy rushed out, gladly letting Pietro shift him onto his hip, arms coming up to loosely wrap around Pietro’s neck.

 

“Well, then looks like you proved your brother wrong, huh?”

 

Tommy giggled and nodded, looking directly to Peter when Pietro turned them towards the other man. Peter was in a similar situation, except he had lifted Billy into the air, having what seemed like three conversations with Billy all at once.

 

As if sensing their stares, Peter turned around, bringing Billy down into his arms. Immediately, Billy and Tommy wriggled around in their uncles’ arms, only stopping when they were placed on the ground. The two switched uncles swiftly, Billy stopping in front of Pietro with his arms raised in the air. Tommy, on the other hand wrapped himself around Peter’s legs, already starting a conversation about something his friend said about Spider-Man (“But I didn’t say a word about you, swear it!” He added on).

 

Pietro smiled happily as he lifted Billy into his arms.

 

It wasn’t until recently that Peter accidentally let his other identity slip, only because he was in the middle of the park in New York with the rest of the Maximoffs and was the one who had to pull the twins to safety and quickly change into his spider suit.

 

The twins had handled the information exceptionally well though, and swore to Peter every time they saw him that their lips were still sealed.

 

It was dangerous for the twins to know about their uncles’ other lives, but Natasha had said from the beginning that they wouldn't be hiding the basic details from Billy and Tommy.

 

Pietro shifted his attention to Billy, admiring his Black Widow t-shirt momentarily before smiling at the boy.

 

Billy smiled right back, “Hi!” He exclaimed. Just like his brother, his hair was close to falling into his eyes, but his brown eyes were just as wide with joy.

 

“Hey there, William.” Pietro replied, smiling wider at the way Billy’s face screwed up at the use of his full name.

 

“Having fun there, boys?” Natasha called. Pietro looked up, finding her and Wanda standing in the hallway entryway. Her arm was around Wanda’s waist and it looked that she had changed her t-shirt and sweatpants to a fitted, buttoned up tank top and a loose pair of cuffed jeans.

 

Wanda, on the other hand, was wearing a pale sundress that ended just after her knees and had a design coated in a floral pattern.

 

When she looked to her brother, her smile grew and she tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear, the color visibly lighted from the sun. What was surprising though was the new cut, the wavy hair ending a few inches below her jaw.

 

“Ah, new hair I see, sister?” Pietro commented.

 

Wanda nodded with a slight smile, “Do you like it?” She questioned, “Almost like your hair, no?” She teased.

 

Pietro snorted, starting towards his sister, “My hair is much nicer, Wanda,” He replied, “But I suppose your hair looks very nice.” With his freehand, he reached forward and flicked the end of her hair on one side, satisfied when his sister raised an unimpressed eyebrow at him, “It looks very nice short, if you wanted to know.”

 

Quickly, Wanda’s attention shifted and she started towards Peter, “Spidey-boy!” She greeted, “How was the flight, Pete?”

 

Pietro furrowed his brows, “Why not ask me?”

 

“Because,” Natasha cut in, pushing herself off of the wall and starting towards her family, “All you’ll talk about it how slow the flight was,” She lowered her voice to imitate Pietro, “‘I swear, they were flying at only two miles per hour! And don’t get me started on how long it took to get our luggage!’”

 

“It was alright,” Peter cut in, obviously trying to cut off any rant Pietro may start on, “I slept for most of it, but the end got a little bit rough because my senses were a little overwhelmed by the engine and this baby that kept crying.” He answered honestly.

 

“Well, at least it wasn’t absolute torture, hm?” Wanda replied, reaching up and ruffling Peter’s hair, “Thank you for making sure my brother got here in one piece, Peter.”

 

“It was no problem, Wanda.” Peter replied with a grin, shifting Tommy in his arms so the boy could lean his head on Peter’s shoulder.

 

“So, Pietro, Peter, Tommy and Billy really wanted to show you something…” Natasha trailed off, looking in between her sons.

 

With the look, each of the boys requested to be set down before each hurried off past Natasha to their bedroom.

 

Natasha crossed her arms over her chest, “The Barton-Barnes-Clark clan should be coming in later this afternoon. Unlike you two, they weren’t really up to staying up late and waking up early for their flight.”

 

“Understandable.” Pietro commented, straightening his clothes out absentmindedly.

 

Just then, the boys returned, each holding something in their little hands.

 

They skidded to a stop in front of their uncles, Pietro already drifting towards Peter.

 

The boys held up their items, which earned a laugh from Pietro and a large smile from Peter.

 

“Me and Mama found them at the store yesterday,” Billy explained. He glanced back at Natasha, “There was one of Mama too but we already have one of her.”

 

In Tommy’s hand, he held a stuffed Spider-Man toy while Billy held a stuffed Quicksilver toy. Pietro recalled Tony mentioning a long-awaited release of Quicksilver paraphernalia and a new line of Spider-Man paraphernalia. Tony had managed to get Pietro and Peter some sort of profit from the sales, but neither pushed too hard to get some great sum of money.

 

“What about Mommy?” Natasha supplied.

 

Tommy nodded, “We have one of Mommy too, but we got that awhile ago.”

 

Pietro hummed in acknowledgement, sitting down on the ground in front of the twins, Peter following suit soon after.

 

“I haven’t even see this little guy yet,” Peter commented, opening his arms for Tommy and taking the plushie from Tommy when offered. He eyed the toy for a few moments before he handed it back and let Tommy go on his toddler tangent about the Avenger merchandise.

 

Billy was much more calm about the situation, sitting in Pietro’s lap without an offer or request and holding the plushie up to Pietro. He didn’t quite let his uncle take it, but Pietro, unlike Peter, took a look at the paraphernalia being released before it's actually release, so he didn’t need to analyze the merchandise all that much.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, Pietro saw Wanda smile at Natasha, pulling her in for a quick kiss before they walked over and sat near the two men. Wanda chose to sit near Peter, leaning into his side.

 

Natasha sat down next to Pietro, not leaning into his side like her wife would, but instead angling her body towards her brother-in-law. Pietro knew that was the best she could do most days.

 

Eventually, the conversation shifted from toys to school and the group moved to the actual living room, specifically with Pietro, Wanda, and Tommy taking up the couch while Natasha sat in one of the armchairs with Billy sat in her lap and Peter at her feet. Pietro had always admired the familial relationship that occurred between Natasha and Peter.

 

Peter himself wasn’t sure how they grew so close, but he always jokingly put it down to being “spider family”.

 

Billy shifted in Natasha’s arms at one point, turning to face his mother and asking her a somewhat quiet question in a familiar language to Pietro: Polish.

 

The use of the language peaked Pietro’s interest, so when there was a lull in conversation he chose to bring it up, “How many languages are you two trying to teach the boys?”

 

“Lots,” Wanda answered with a chuckle.

 

“They only know bits and pieces of some languages right now. Right, boys?” Natasha asked her sons.

 

The two nodded, Tommy angling his head to look up at Pietro, “Mama started teaching us German but Mommy is teaching us French. Me and Billy know Polish and Russian too.”

 

Pietro grinned, glancing at the two. To Pietro and Wanda, their mother’s first language had always been important to them, but they hadn’t made an effort to speak it as much as they spoke English since coming to the Avengers.

 

Their mother knew many languages, as did their father, and, just as Wanda and Natasha were doing, they made sure their children knew at least the basics of each language.

 

Natasha had shown her knowledge of many languages, likely speaking more than she could count on two hands, but Wanda, at least before she met Natasha, knew as many languages as Pietro.

 

Thinking about it, Pietro knew a few : English, Sokovian, Serbian, Polish, most parts of Russian thanks to Hydra, and some phrases in German.

 

Wanda, from what Pietro knew, was able to speak all the same as Pietro, but knew much more Russian and had also taken to French after Steve had spoken it in front of her years ago. Pietro wouldn’t be surprised if she spoke as many languages as Natasha nowadays though.

 

“How many are you aiming for?” Peter questioned.

 

“As many as we can.” Natasha replied simply.

 

Wanda hummed in agreement, “Sokovian is next I think.” She muttered.

 

Billy perked up, “That’s what you and Uncle Pietro speak, right?”

 

Pietro nodded as Wanda hummed again. She leaned into her brother’s side, “It was the main language of where we were born.”

 

“Can we go there one day?” Tommy asked quietly.

 

A tense, brief silence settled over the room. The question, to this day, would be shocking in its own way. Half of the occupants of the room had been there on Sokovia’s last day and they had all been willing to and almost died then. Some more than others.

 

“No, мой мальчик.” Natasha replied gently, slight hesitancy present in her tone.

 

“Sokovia was…” Pietro started slowly, but furrowing his brows with the lack of words he felt were appropriate, “Sokovia is no longer around, Tommy.” He settled for saying.

 

Tommy seemed momentarily confused by the answer, but, possibly reading the room, he nodded.

 

Conversation shifted due to Peter, “So, Hanukkah?” He started, fingers fiddling with the strings of his hoodie, “Pietro and I are heading back after this week for some of our things, and Frankie, most likely, and coming back before Hanukkah while Aunt May’ll fly back with us after Hanukkah, right?”

 

“Yep,” Natasha assured.

 

Even if it was brief, the talk of Hanukkah had Tommy and Billy starting up a conversation about all of the times they experienced Hanukkah, or at least the ones they could remember.

 

Pietro held back a chuckle at how the religious part of his and Wanda’s lives played out. Somehow, they each had ended up with a soulmate who is, or once was, Jewish. Peter was raised Jewish and Natasha, although she had never expanded on the topic very much to Pietro, had her own time with the religion.

 

Pietro was sure his parents would be very proud with Wanda introducing the religion to her children, although Pietro could tell she would be in no way like their father with how much his life revolved around his religion.

 

As lunchtime floated around, Pietro stood to help Natasha in the kitchen. They worked side by side in preparing some food for the rest of the family, minor conversation mingling between them.

 

“So,” Natasha started at some point during their time in the kitchen.

 

“Hm?” Pietro cut in, cutting another slice of tomato for Wanda’s sandwich.

 

“You and Peter…” she ventured, voice quiet and near a whisper.

 

Pietro hummed again, knowing where the conversation was going but wanting Natasha to finish it herself.

 

“For Wanda and me,” She started instead, “Marriage was a difficult topic at first because of my… past, but once we went through with it, I knew it was one of the best choices I’d ever made.” She explained, “The boys were a good motivator too, since they came before the marriage, but even if we weren’t soulmates and we didn’t live in a world with that kind of thing, Wanda and I would’ve gone through with our marriage either way… if that makes sense.”

 

Pietro hummed in acknowledgement again.

 

“So Peter and you… you’re nearing ten years, yeah?” She didn’t wait for any acknowledgment and instead placed her final sandwich down on a plate and wiped her hands off on a towel, turning her body and full attention to Pietro.

 

Pietro finished Wanda’s sandwich and moved onto his own, “We are.” He confirmed, “Just short of it by two years.”

 

“You know what I’m asking here, Maximoff.”

 

“Yep,” Pietro agreed, glancing at Natasha.

 

“Come on, Pietro.”

 

Pietro sighed, glancing at the living room where Peter and Wanda were with the twins. He wondered if Natasha remembered that even if they whispered, there was no doubt that Peter could hear them discussing this topic. After a moment of thinking it over, he was was pretty sure that was her point.

 

With a sigh, he looked away from Peter and to his sister-in-law, “It’s different for us.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Peter… he has the whole secret identity thing and to him, marrying me would mean risking my life even more. For me? I almost died once and from then on, a lot of things became much more important to me. Some things that didn’t seem like a sensitive topic to me when I was fifteen became important to me by the time I was seventeen. Marriage is one of those things.” He admitted, voice quiet, crossing his arms over his chest, “I never thought I’d meet my soulmate when I was seventeen but then I met Peter and everything seemed to make much more sense with him around.

 

“Peter knows that he’s like this, or most times he does, but he has a tendency to get hurt emotionally easily, sometimes, or can get spooked by someone turning down a really big offer of his. I think he’s worried that if we do get married, what we have now will be gone and it will be his fault.” Pietro continued, “For me, I’d love to marry him, but I also don’t want him to worry about hurting me or losing me so much that he… leaves, I guess.”

 

Natasha stared at Pietro for a moment, seemingly a million emotions running through her head.

 

Pietro

 

Pietro ignored it.

 

“You two love each other a whole lot, Pietro, and that alone is fantastic.” Natasha started slowly, “So marriage for you two? I think it wouldn’t be anything more than a title. Some people think the title of soulmates is the same as marriage and maybe they’re right… I didn’t mean to try and pressure you to make a decision or pressure you into acting, biały Królik.”

 

Pietro shrugged, “It’s all good, Nat.”

 

She bit her lip and nodded, hesitating before she reached forwards and tugged Pietro forwards by the hem of his shirt. He got the message quickly, opening his arms and working on smothering a smile when Natasha slowly, lightly wrapped her arms around Pietro’s neck. He hugged her back easily, arms around her waist.

 

So, eight years ago, he wouldn’t believe that Natasha Romanoff would consider him family like this, nor would request to hug him.

 

Well, eight years ago he also didn’t believe he’d get to see Natasha Romanoff as a mother. But it was a nice look on her.

 

 

By late afternoon, everyone had shown up. Together.

 

It seemed everyone except Pietro and Peter decided to pile onto a quinjet. Even Aunt May.

 

Greeting everyone went as expected: lots of squealing over Tommy and Billy even though everyone had just seen them a few days ago. Aunt May was absolutely ecstatic to see the Maximoff-Romanoff house again, and she was quick to ask Natasha and Wanda about their newest plant. Pietro held back a snort at the joint interest in other people’s plants Parkers seemed to have.

 

The already smaller house seemed even smaller with the large amount of guests inside, but Natasha had explained to everyone that they’d be heading out in an hour to go to the restaurant that Wanda picked out.

 

Besides Peter and Pietro, everyone else got themselves a room at a nearby hotel (even Aunt May, who declined the guest room that Pietro and Peter were staying in after they offered to share the air mattress Natasha brought up).

 

Tony, on his own account, set Aunt May up with her own, nice room, much to her delight and slight annoyance as she wished to pay him back.

 

Besides her, the rest of the group paired off for their own rooms (unbeknownst to them, Tony had prepaid for the rooms after he had Friday inform him of who was pairing up with who). The group of people had really condensed just enough to only have Tony pay for four rooms at least. It was extremely kind of him, especially with his lack of visiting California with the group.

 

Wanda insisted that the crew walked to the restaurant, with Natasha claiming that traffic would be pretty bad since everyone was coming home from work at this time.

 

So, Clint had scooped up Lila and fell into step next to Wanda and Pietro at the front of the group after they left and locked up the house.

 

Natasha hung back in the end of the group with Bruce and Thor. Ahead of them was Peter and Aunt May with Laura and Garrett only a few steps ahead. Cooper was conversing with James and Vision just behind Pietro, Wanda, and Clint with Lila.

 

Pietro shifted his hold on Billy, making sure the child was comfortable. He held back a chuckle when he realized that the three leading the group were also the ones who were in charge of the little kids.

 

“So,” Clint started, “Separate birthdays.”

 

Wanda hummed in acknowledgement, smiling at Tommy when he flashed her his own smile.

 

“That’s new, isn’t it?”

 

Pietro nodded, “Wanda and I talked about it briefly and, after she heard about Peter’s plans, she insisted that the birthday dinner was my own.”

 

“Besides,” Wanda cut in, “I think everyone will love this restaurant, and you could all use a little more experience of California.”

 

“You talk as if you’ve lived here your entire life.” Pietro teased.

 

She shrugged, “My babies pretty much have, and that’s a very big detail in my life to me.”

 

Clint smiled at the response and briefly placed a freehand on her shoulder, “You’re honestly a fantastic mother, Wanda.”

 

Wanda smiled up at Clint and Pietro thought back to the conversations he and Wanda had had before about Clint Barton. Maybe he was something like a father figure to them in life. Hell, Pietro had nearly died for him, and to this day he didn’t regret it, so Clint Barton meant something to the twins.

 

“And you are an incredible father, Clint.” Wanda replied, tone soft.

 

From there, the conversations were merely mild, with Wanda teasing Clint about having kids with James, which ended with Clint joking about them being a little too unstable, but he wrapped it up with fondly talking about the time Lila had declared her official names for all the fathers in her life a couple years ago (“She told me I’m ‘Dad’, Garrett is ‘Daddy’, and James is ‘Papa’, and Jamie over there had to step out of the room to collect himself. It was adorable.”).

 

When they arrived at the restaurant, a simple joint that screamed casual and served both pizza and burgers (and had a kosher option that Aunt May was grateful for but reminded Wanda politely that she hadn’t ever been as strict with her food in public as her parents nor Peter’s parents had been, similar to the rest of the Maximoffs, remaining Parkers, and the Maximoff-Romanoffs).

 

The Maximoff-Romanoffs seemed fairly familiar with the restaurant and Pietro recalled having gone with them to the restaurant only once before. If his memory served him right, he really liked the pizza here.

 

Pietro helped Billy get settled in his seat before he took the free seat next to the child and next to Peter. How convenient, Pietro thought with slight grin playing on his lips.

 

As everyone picked a seat, taking much longer than Pietro would have thought, Pietro realized how many eyes they now had on them and the amount of noise their group brought into the restaurant. It didn’t bother him much, if anything it only made him sit up a little straighter.

 

So dinner passed peacefully, this time without any Avenger interruptions, and Pietro volunteered to give a toast to his sister that he was happily sober for (much to his sister’s enjoyment). If he got a little teary eyed, as did Wanda, no one seemed to mention it as Pietro expressed his pride in his sister as a mother, sister, teammate, and person overall. Before he could finish, he found himself switching into Sokovian as he expressed how grateful he was for her. Wanda hadn’t made a toast for him during his dinner, obviously because of the big interruption, but, instead, she stood after her brother’s toast, stepped away from her seat, and pulled her brother into a hug with tears in her eyes. She also whispered a short, but sentimental, note of gratitude and love for her brother to him in Sokovian.

 

As dinner went on, everyone seemed overall pleased and Natasha took the bill from the waiter before anyone could speak up, claiming that unlike some of the Avengers, she never really spent any of her paychecks.

 

By the time they walked home, the air had chilled even more and the sun had lowered from the sky entirely.

 

Pietro found himself holding both Peter’s hand and Tommy’s hand on the way home and for a few short seconds, Pietro imagined that as his future with Peter.

 

And he loved it.

 

By the time they reached Wanda and Natasha’s house, Billy had made his way into Peter’s arms, Tommy to James’, fast asleep.

 

Natasha took Billy from Peter after everyone had entered the house and she and James walked off to the boys’ room to get them ready for bed, each conversing with each other in quiet Russian.

 

Before Natasha could return, Laura and Garrett excused themselves with the show of Lila nearly falling out of Garrett’s arms with her tired state. Before they could finish speaking, Cooper cut in and quickly begged his mom to let him stay and let him just head home with his dad. She didn’t hesitate long before agreeing, bidding the group goodbye with a fond smile.

 

When Natasha and James did return, she was quick to order everyone to gather around her dining table once she noticed half of the mixed Barton clan missing.

 

Pietro and Wanda were pushed down into seats by Peter, who was grinning and basically vibrating with excitement.

 

A few moments later, the lights went out and Pietro swore he heard a couple guns get drawn before Natasha hissed something in Russian and cleared her throat. A murmur went around the room as Natasha walked in slowly, a large cake in hand. Slowly, ‘Happy Birthday’ was sung as Natasha made her way over.

 

After she placed the cake down, Wanda caught her hand and pressed a quick kiss to it, smiling up at her wife.

 

Pietro eyed the cake, finding the words, ‘Happy Birthday Wanda and Pietro!’, surrounded by ‘26’s. About ten candles were spread around the cake.

 

As the song came to a close, Pietro felt Wanda grab his hand and give it a squeeze.

 

They blew out the candles together, smiles wide on their faces while their friends (family) clapped and laughed around them.

 

Pietro

 

The voice rang through his head, louder than ever before, and Pietro held back a flinch, but saw his sister wince out of the corner of his eye.

 

Almost immediately, she looked to him and he found themselves staring at each other, wide eyed and both fearful and curious.

 

A faint echo of his sister’s voice rang through his mind, “ Talk later.

 

He nodded, barely visible, and knew that at the same time as he did, they plastered on smiles and thanked the people around them.

 

Cake was served, two pieces saved for Tommy and Billy for the next day, and with a quiet request for ‘inside voices’ by Natasha, the group spread about for conversation until they all regrouped in the living room. Quickly, Wanda and Pietro went through whatever gifts their friends had gifted them and thanked each person individually. The group regrouped once more and came to have conversation entirely in the living room, except Pietro and Aunt May, who took hold of her nephew’s soulmates’ arm and gently pulled him out the front door to the porch. She shut the door behind them quietly.

 

May tucked some of her long, brown hair behind her ear as she faced Pietro. The porch light and the residual light from the streetlights was all Pietro was given in order to see Aunt May.

 

“Sorry, but not really, to drag you away from the festivities.” She started, clasping her hands in front of her.

 

Pietro shrugged, “It’s fine.” He assured, “We still have Hanukkah to spend together and I still live in the area with the rest of those losers.” He continued with a grin.

 

May offered a smile back before she pushed her glasses up her nose, “I just wanted… just wanted to wish you a happy birthday on my own.” She admitted, “I know I’ve done that many, many times now, but I know myself twenty six is a big age. Some of my friends say it’s the beginning of the end for a person, but for you especially, this is only the beginning for you, Pietro.” She reached forwards and placed a hand on Pietro’s arm, squeezing his arm briefly in comfort.

 

“And,” She continued, “It’s somewhat of a big deal for me too. Peter and you, you guys have grown into adults together and I couldn’t be more grateful for you.” May’s smile grew, “Peter always wished to have what he said was, ‘an Uncle Ben to his Aunt May’ and when he was seventeen, he got it.”

 

Pietro blinked a few times, trying to will away the sudden tears that popped into his eyes.

 

“I know I’ve told you before, but sometimes I worry you forget it but you’ve become something like a son to me since Peter introduced you. And…” she hesitated before she reached up and wiped under her eyes, “Peter and I both agree that Ben would have absolutely loved you. Granted, we agreed on this years ago, but I have no clue if Peter’s ever told you.”

 

Peter had, but even now, it had those tears escaping Pietro’s eyes.

 

Pietro gave a weak laugh, accent growing stronger with the stream of emotion, “May, you have always been the absolute best to me, a-and it's been an honor and a dream to get to be part of your’s and Peter’s lives.” He admitted, doing his best to express gratitude in his flood of feelings.

 

May didn’t hesitate before pulling Pietro down into a tight hug, mumbling her gratitude and appreciation for him quietly.

 

When they pulled away a few minutes later, the two wiped under their eyes and each gave a small chuckle.

 

“Seems like a trend to hug me today,” Pietro joked.

 

“Just think of it as a reminder that I want great-nephews and or nieces someday.” She replied, tone joking but her words nonetheless truthful. She gave a weak smack to his chest and nodded towards the door, “Feel alright to head back in?”

 

Pietro nodded, allowing her to open the door and lead him back inside.

 

He was grateful for this woman as much as she was for him, truly.

 

Inside, the noise was still minimal, but the smiles on his friends' faces were enough to pull him back into the party spirit and even enough to make him somewhat forget about his and Wanda’s worrying plans to talk.

 

Pietro assessed the environment around him, watching as May went and took a seat next to Thor (smart move). Everyone was scattered around the room, such as Cooper making himself home across James’ and Clint’s laps while Natasha had seated herself in Wanda’s lap on an armchair.

 

Pietro walked over and sat down next to Peter, only to pull the other man into his lap and send a wink Natasha’s way. The redhead replied with a raise of her middle finger and a mischievous smirk.

 

Glancing around again, Pietro noticed that Vision had taken up residency on the floor in front of where Bruce sat in an armchair, much to his amusement.

 

“What’re we doing? Playing strip poker?” Pietro joked.

 

Peter pinched his arm with a laugh in response.

 

“We were actually talking about how much we hated your hair, speedy.” Clint piped up from where he sat, one arm around James and the other resting on Cooper’s propped up leg.

 

Listen, if Pietro ever has a family, he hopes he can be as close to his family as Clint is. The man was a source of comfort for many people, Pietro learned, especially for his only son (if you didn’t count the unsaid title Pietro held).

 

“So, so funny, Old Man.” Pietro said sarcastically.

 

“In all seriousness,” Bruce cut in, “We were actually talking about if Tony has any children wandering around the world from his bachelor days.”

 

“In all seriousness?” Aunt May echoed.

 

“Indeed.” Vision filled in, “From what I can recall, Mr. Stark was very… open back then.”

 

Peter snorted at the word choice, only to cover his mouth in horror, “Oh no, he’s like my...” He mumbled to himself, only to trail off before he could hit the word that Pietro was positive was a variant of “father”, “Let’s change the topic, please!” He declared hastily.

 

Thor chuckled and tossed an arm around May’s shoulder, which earned a small squeak of joy from the woman, much to Peter’s displeasure, “How about the conversation that Bruce heard the other day? About someone named Harley?”

 

Bruce snapped his fingers in remembrance and sat up straighter, “Looked into it,” He started, “And he’s some kid he met a while ago.”

 

“And?” James questioned.

 

“His name is Harley Keener and he’s about… twenty seven? At least now he is. Tony met him when he was about twelve in Tennessee.” Bruce continued.

 

Clint furrowed his brows, “What’s the deal then?”

 

“The deal is that Harley Keener just moved to New York and randomly showed up at the compound without warning. And he was let in.”

 

Cooper perked up, “Has Stark been in contact with the kid since he met ‘im?”

 

Bruce shrugged, “I think only Tony and maybe Steve know the answer to that.”

 

“Almost sounds like some estranged son.” Natasha joked.

 

Clint brightened and looked to Peter, “So, sounds like Pete has some competition then.” He teased.

 

Peter rolled his eyes, waving the comment off, “There shouldn’t be competition between sons.” After he spoke, Peter slapped a hand over his mouth again.

 

May was the first to laugh, commenting about how nothing’s changed since Peter and Tony got all close.

 

Conversation floated around the room for awhile after that, but eventually the guests, besides the ones living or staying in the house, left to their hotel.

 

Peter was visibly tired at this point, leaning heavily against his boyfriend for support, and Pietro was starting to think about the conversation he was about to have with Wanda, or at least he thought they would be having it soon.

 

Natasha shut and locked the door behind their last leaving guests. Wanda left her side then, coming towards Pietro and leaning into his other side that Peter wasn’t occupying. The three watched as Natasha traced the rest of the house, locking windows, and then locking them all again, checking over the door, and reviewing the little nooks and crannies of the home.

 

Such a routine was not something Pietro and Peter practiced in their own home, but he supposed they weren’t the ones who were trained to be that cautious nor had people who may be out for them someday.

 

Eventually, Natasha checked the front door one last time and turned towards her guests. She gave a long sigh and reached up, pulling the hair tie from her hair and letting her hair down.

 

As she walked towards her wife, she attempted to run her hand through her hair in an effort to try to release some of the shape it had taken from being up.

 

“Feel free to use the guest bathroom to shower,” Natasha said when she reached them, “Just make sure to be quiet and also,” she leaned in towards Pietro and Peter, “No noise .” She hissed.

 

Pietro raised a brow, “Noise? Peter and I can be as silent as mice.”

 

Despite his eyes having slipped shut, Peter slapped Pietro on the arm.

 

Natasha grinned and leaned away though, holding a hand out for Wanda’s. Her wife took her hand gladly, “Good night, Pete, and night, brother.” Wanda flashed a tired smile at them, giving Pietro one last look. A look that’s meaning had clearly gone over Peter’s head and, maybe, Natasha’s.

 

“Night, guys.” Natasha bid goodbye, letting her wife lead her to their bedroom, “And shut the lights off behind you please!” Wanda added from the hallway, not so much yelling but no longer whispering.

 

Peter hummed in acknowledgement and sleepily pushed away from Pietro, yawning as he made his way around the room to switch off the lights.

 

When he was finished, he came back to Pietro and held his hand out. Pietro went to grab his hand but stopped at the last second, instead crouching and hefting Peter up and over his shoulder. In his state, all Peter did was gasp and accept his fate, “No funny business.” He mumbled into Pietro’s back.

 

“No funny business.” Pietro repeated, already starting towards the guest bedroom. He kept to his word though. He dropped Peter onto the bed and dragged their suitcases off the other half of the bed. He took another look at his boyfriend before he went to Peter’s suitcase and pulled out one of many nerdy t-shirts and a pair of sweatpants.

 

Pietro settled for tossing the clothes onto Peter’s stomach, which went well enough as Peter made a move to grab them.

 

Pietro changed as well, trying to go fast as he felt that Wanda may just pop in to grab Pietro rather than wait for him. Peter and Pietro went through the rest of their night routine swiftly before returning to the guest room.

 

Peter made himself comfortable under the covers of the bed easily, whereas when Pietro was just about to excuse himself to find Wanda, the door creaked open and his sister popped her head in.

 

“Pietro?” She whispered.

 

Peter perked up and glanced towards the door. He flopped back down and waved a hand, “Go on ahead, babe, I’ll still be here.”

 

Pietro gave a quiet chuckle at the response and paused to press a kiss to Peter’s head, “Love you.” He whispered.

 

Peter smiled up at him, “I love you, too.” He mumbled back.

 

Pietro stepped away and walked to the door, which was now wide open but lacking his sister.

 

He stepped out and shut the door behind him quietly. The door to his nephews’ room was opened and Pietro risked a look inside. He found Wanda bending down to press a kiss to Tommy’s forehead, then to Billy’s. She must’ve known her brother had been watching as, when she turned around, she smiled at him almost immediately.

 

Silently, the two left the room and shut the door behind them.

 

Wanda led Pietro out to the living room and the two sat on the couch. Wanda flicked her wrist, fingers twitching and red flickering around her hand, as the lamp nearby switched on.

 

She sat, facing her brother on the couch, legs pulled up towards her chest.

 

Rather than speaking, Wanda reached forward, the familiar red tendrils appearing and swirling around her hand that began spreading towards Pietro.

 

He let the inevitable happen and let his eyes slip shut as the events the past few days played through his mind.

 

Pietro…. Pietro… Pietro… Pie—

 

His own name echoed through his head recklessly, growing louder with each passing.

 

Before it could get too bad, it was already over, his mind falling blank and his eyes instinctually opening.

 

In return, images flashed in Pietro mind, quickly and clearly.

 

Wanda with Tommy in the kitchen and the sudden call of her name with her flinch and furrowed brows.

 

Wanda and Natasha having dinner and Wanda squeezing her eyes shut when the voice rang through her head.

 

Wanda walking the twins to school and waving them goodbye as she hid a flinch at the sound of her own name.

 

Wanda doing this and Wanda doing that and hearing her name just like Pietro.

 

“You’ve heard him too.” Wanda stated, voice quiet.

 

Pietro nodded, “And so have you.”

 

“Since our birthday.”

 

“Me too.”

 

Wanda shifted and tucked her hair behind her ear, “Do you know the voice?”

 

Pietro shook his head and ran a hand through his hair in attempts to get it out of his face, “Can you…” he trailed off.

 

Wanda shrugged, “I don’t know… I haven’t tried that kind of thing before, at least not like this. I’ve only tracked a person to a location with you and even then I had a vague idea of where you were.”

 

“Can you try? Maybe?” Pietro pushed, hopeful for an answer.

 

She nodded, “I would have anyways.” She paused, “I don’t think this is something we can make into Avengers business and right now, maybe we shouldn’t worry Natasha and Peter until we have an idea.”

 

Pietro nodded, “So, what do you need to find this voice’s location?”

 

Wanda bit her lip in thought, “Time.” She answered.

 

“Time?”

 

“I can’t do much unless I can connect myself to the piece of information we have: that voice.”

 

“So, we wait?”

 

Wanda hummed in agreement, “We wait.” She echoed.

 

She shifted in her seat, scooting over and leaning heavily into her brother’s side. He tilted his head, letting his own head rest on top of her’s.

 

He supposed he could only hope they heard the voice again before his and Peter’s flight the next afternoon.

 

“Have you been having nightmares too?” Pietro questioned slowly.

 

She nodded, “Of Dad, mostly.”

 

“It has been Mom for me.”

 

“Their death too?”

 

He paused. “Yes.”

 

 

At some point, Pietro had drifted off. He had not dreamt though as he was able to be awoken by a board creaking in the moment.

 

His awakening came when his name was screamed in his mind.

 

Pietro lurched up, gasping, and hands flying to his head.

 

Wanda was no better, letting out a choked gasp and a broken Polish curse. She maintained her movements though and instead squeezed her eyes shut.

 

Pietro, despite his name echoing through his head so loudly , twisted to take a look at his sister. He saw her with her eyes squeezed shut, jaw clenched and red swirling around her.

 

She flinched and Pietro yearned to take hold of her hand or something but he felt he shouldn’t.

 

This was their chance for an answer.

 

But then Wanda let out a shaky breath and Pietro blinked and suddenly everything was… different.

 

They were no longer in Wanda’s home, no they were… in some sort of metal room. Facing a… metal door, with what seemed like a large ‘X’ in excuse of a design.

 

Before Pietro or Wanda could look around, that voice rang out, “Mind your step, please,” it, he, advised, “We’re in a very delicate position here, but feel free to turn around to face me. Just no moving, please.”

 

Pietro glanced at Wanda, sharing a look before they turned, slowly.

 

In front of them was a man sat in a wheelchair that was situated on a long, metal platform. He looked young enough, maybe nearing middle-aged, and he had a head full of brown, long hair. Dressed in a pale sweater and khakis he seemed nothing close to threatening. The helmet he wore and the metal control board it was attached to beg to differ.

 

Before Pietro could venture on the idea, the man spoke again, “You must be wondering who I am; where you both are.”

 

“Stating the obvious.” Pietro muttered.

 

Pietro swore he saw the man’s lip twitch upwards, holding back a grin possibly, but the man barreled on, “I am unsure if you’ve heard of me,” he started, “But my name is Charles Xavier.”

 

Wanda opened her mouth to speak but he cut her off, “And you, are named Wanda Maximoff and your twin brother there is name Pietro Maximoff.” His brows furrowed briefly, “I apologize,” he started, “Wanda Maximoff-Romanoff.” He corrected.

 

The correction only elicited an angry furrow of brows from his sister and Pietro curled his fists, “Where are we?”

 

Charles straightened in his chair, “You should feel honored, Mr. Maximoff. Not many people see this room in their lives, but to let you know, it is part of the lowest level of my residency of which doubles as a school: Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.”

 

“Why tell us this if not many people can know of it?” Wanda pushed.

 

Charles looked between them, “I assure you, you’ll know soon enough.” He answered, quite ominously, “Before then though, I request your presence here at my school.”

 

“We don’t do school assemblies, that’s Rogers’ gig.” Pietro quipped back.

 

There was the quirk of Charles’ lips again, “I have no need to employ your services for my school, no, I request your presence here in order to have a well-deserved talk.”

 

“About?” Pietro countered.

 

“I’m afraid the information I desire to give you would be better handled in a true face-to-face conversation.”

 

“This isn’t?” Wanda asked.

 

“I would think you could answer that question yourself, Mrs. Maximoff-Romanoff.”

 

Her brows furrowed again, head tilting slightly. Pietro watched as red flickered to life in her eyes.

 

Charles grinned now and Wanda winced, shaking her head and her eyes clearing.

 

“You’re quite a strong telepath, aren’t you?” He muttered.

 

“As are you?” She mumbled, possibly to herself.

 

“Well, right now you are wherever you are and I am here. All you’re doing here is entering a certain realm, in simple wording, that allows us to speak to each other telepathically but in “person”, so to speak.” He struggled to explain, obviously trying to explain the situation in simplest terms. He continued on, gaze shifting to Pietro, “And you, are the fastest man alive, hm?” He asked, “Your mind is… incredible in terms of speed I’ll say.”

 

“Stay out of my head.” Pietro hissed back.

 

“Trust me, I have no desire to be in either of your heads, even though all I have done is stay on the surface; insert an… idea into your heads that triggered a response. The response I have no clue of besides sending some sort of message to both of you.” Charles answered.

 

“Our names were the message?” Wanda questioned.

 

“You heard your names?” He asked back, clearly delighted by the new information. He hummed to himself, “Quite interesting; usually people hear my actual message rather than just a word.”

 

Pietro felt himself growing more tense with the conversation, “But what do you want ?”

 

Charles seemed to enter the conversation again, leaving whatever thought he had behind. He smiled at the twins, “Come to my school so we can speak more in depth and then a lot more will make sense to you both, let’s say.”

 

“How can we trust you, Charles Xavier?” Wanda cut in.

 

“I guess an eye for an eye, hm?” He mumbled.

 

Suddenly, a flash of a young boy, resembling the man in front of them besides the wheelchair and maybe thirty years off, in Pietro’s mind.

 

The young boy was sat in a large library, assumingly in a house, reading in what looked to be pajamas. Then a little girl walked into the room, all blonde hair and pretty clothes.

 

Charles didn’t glance up, “Good morning, Raven.” He greeted.

 

The girl smiled, “Morning, Charles.” She took a seat next to him, looking over his shoulder at the book in his hands. Her brows furrowed at the text and she leaned away, “Have you eaten breakfast yet today?”

 

“Not quite yet; I was waiting for you, sister.”

 

Raven’s smile grew at that, “So, breakfast?” She pushed.

 

Charles waited a moment and then placed a bookmark in his book, shutting it and standing only to place the book on a nearby table gently.

 

He held out his hand, “Breakfast.” He agreed.

 

She took his hand happily, and went to lead Charles out of the room, only to be stopped.

 

“You know you don’t have to hide here, Raven.” Charles said gently, giving her hand a squeeze.

 

Raven looked back and held Charles’ gaze for a few seconds before she nodded.

 

Suddenly, her skin rippled and blue skin overcame the pale, delicate complexion and her blonde hair turned orange, small bunches of blue scales decorating her body to create intricate designs.

 

She seemed embarrassed of this form of herself, but Charles gave her an encouraging smile, “You’re safe here, with me, Raven. I hope you’ll never forget that.”

 

Raven smiled back at her brother and tugged on his hand, “Breakfast?”

 

Charles nodded, letting himself be led away from his library.

 

And then Pietro blinked and was back in the metal room.

 

Charles cleared his throat, eyes flicking away from the twins briefly, “Think of that as my personal experience with family.” He said vaguely before he nodded to himself, “Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters,” He repeated, “Please, come when you can.”

 

And then Pietro and Wanda were “back” in Wanda’s home.

 

The two stayed silent momentarily before they met each other’s gaze, “Charles Xavier,” Pietro said.

 

Wanda nodded, “And Raven.” She added on. She bit her lip, “Maybe… Maybe he was trying to show us that he understands us, even slightly.” She thought aloud.

 

“Wanda,” Pietro started, straightening up and facing his sister fully, “Are we actually going to this man’s school?”

 

Wanda looked away from her brother and ran a hand through her hair, “I think… that maybe we might need to.” She answered, “Something about him was good, I suppose. I was unable to get into his mind, but he didn’t shut me out completely, he just put up a wall of some sort.”

 

Pietro nodded, “Did you see anything?”

 

“Vague memories. Ones I can only assume he was okay with showing the world. They were bits and pieces of his school and what I can only assume are his friends.”

 

“So, sister, we are doing this?”

 

Wanda nodded slowly, “I think so.” She answered, “This feels important.”

 

“Avengers level important?”

 

She shook her head, “Important to us, and only us, Pietro.”

 

Pietro nodded slowly before he held out a hand, taking Wanda’s in his and giving a comforting squeeze.

 

“When should we leave?” Wanda asked.

 

“Soon, I would think.” He replied.

 

Wanda sighed, “But the twins and Natasha and Peter...”

 

“We need to talk to them, Wanda.”

 

She nodded and glanced down the hallway. Suddenly, Wanda was on her feet, dragging Pietro with her and waving a hand. The lights in the living room all turned on and the door to the guest room and master bedroom were pushed open. A few moments later, Peter and Natasha peeked out from their respective rooms.

 

Wanda sucked in a breath as Pietro spoke, “We all need to talk.”

 

Minutes later, when Pietro and Wanda had done their best to explain the recent events to a wide-eyed Peter and a stone-faced Natasha.

 

“You’re going to the school?” Peter questioned once they were done.

 

Pietro nodded, “Whatever this is, it's important.” He explained, “But so are you and Natasha and the twins.”

 

Natasha looked between them all, “Charles Xavier, right?” She echoed.

 

Wanda nodded.

 

Natasha crossed her arms over her chest, “He’s a mutant, but I’m sure you two figured that out, but more importantly, he’s worked alongside Tony before for some of Tony’s private missions.”

 

“Well, that’s a little more comforting,” Pietro admitted.

 

“But, to check, should we be doing this?” Wanda asked.

 

Peter and Natasha shared a look before Natasha spoke, “You said this felt important, Wanda. Unless Xavier suddenly switched teams, I don’t think this will necessarily be a bad thing.”

 

“But Hanukkah and the twins—” Wanda started.

 

“Will be here when you come back, or at least the twins will be if you don’t manage your time well enough.”

 

Wanda looked to Pietro as she nodded.

 

Are we going? ” She pushed the question into his mind.

 

I think so .” He thought back.

 

“When would be a good time to leave?” Pietro questioned.

 

 

The next morning, early but not too early, Pietro and Wanda had packed some of their things and were standing on the porch to bid their family goodbye. Aunt May had shown up as well when Peter had shared the news with her on accident during their call earlier in the morning.

 

She didn’t know the entire story, but knew a much clearer and nicer version. She hugged the twins and wished them luck first, followed by Peter who gave Pietro a long kiss and a tight hug and another hug for Wanda. Natasha had done the same for the twins, only opposite, and then let the boys say their goodbyes.

 

They had been informed that their mother and uncle would be back in time for Hanukkah, a promise, so their goodbyes were helpfully less teary than Natasha had expected.

 

“Be careful.” Peter whispered into Pietro’s ear during one last hug, “And let us know if something goes south. Anything. Have Wanda do some mind thing or run back here and say a single word, just don’t leave us in the dark if things go south.”

 

Pietro nodded and pressed one last kiss into Peter’s hair.

 

Soon, Pietro had scooped Wanda up into his arms, their small bags held against her. The bags had been made up as a last minute decision, due to the sudden realization of the chance that this “discussion” may take more than just an hour or two.

 

He took a deep breath before he was off, heading to Westchester County, New York.

Chapter Text

The school was less of a school and more of a mansion to Pietro. Late the night before, Wanda had done a quick internet search and merely found an address for the school but never informed anyone of the looks of it

 

Slowly, Pietro placed Wanda down and let her collect herself.

 

Pietro pushed his hair back out of his face and tugged at his clothes. Because of the weather, despite running hot constantly, Pietro was dressed in somewhat layers. He wore dark jeans, a hoodie over a sweater that Peter had gifted to him for his twenty first birthday.

 

Wanda dressed similarly to her brother and had pulled her hair up into a small ponytail. Earlier, she had her brother entertain the idea of dressing up, but, after a realization of the cold weather, second guessed the idea.

 

The main gate to the school was left open, but Pietro doubted it was on any other day. Hell, Pietro wouldn’t be surprised if Charles already knew they had arrived.

 

You may make your way up to the door, I swear we don’t bite.

 

Well, speak of the devil.

 

Pietro briefly wondered who ‘we’ was but decided against questioning it all that much when Wanda took his hand and gently tugged it to get him moving.

 

With a deep breath, Pietro walked past the gate with his sister.

 

They approached the door and Wanda seemed to ready herself before she knocked on the door.

 

Less longer than they expected later, the sound of a lock unlocking from inside left Pietro and Wanda with little time to second guess or think too deeply about what they were doing.

 

The door was pulled open, revealing a man who was most definitely not Charles Xavier. This man was as pale as Charles, but his hair was cut short and gelled to near perfection. He wore large glasses on his face and seemed awkward with his large height.

 

“You must be Pietro and Wanda, right?” He asked.

 

The two nodded. “And you are?” Wanda asked.

 

The man opened the door further, pushing up his glasses and holding out a hand, “Hank McCoy,” he introduced.

 

Wanda shook his hand quickly, as did Pietro. Hank continued speaking, “Charles told me you two were coming, but I’ve gotta say, I didn’t think you’d show up so soon.” Hank said, but he stepped aside and motioned for the two to enter.

 

After a moment of hesitation, Pietro and Wanda entered as Hank continued on, “The school just started winter break so you don’t need to be worried about being bombarded by energetic kids and moody teens during your stay here, well, besides just a few of the ones who can’t really go home. Charles makes sure th—”

 

“Hank,” A voice called from down the hall. Soon, Charles himself wheeled down the hallway and into the entryway with a smile, “There’s no need to advise them of our current living situation for the students. I’m sure they will only be here long enough that they won’t have to worry about the rest of the students besides our team.”

 

Hank nodded and stuck his hands into his jean pockets, stepping aside to let Charles stop in front of the twins, “I will admit,” He started, “I didn’t quite expect you two to show up before the twenty four hour mark.”

 

“We felt showing up to this was important, Professor Xavier.” Wanda explained, pulling a title for the man that Pietro was unaware of.

 

Charles grinned though, “Already skimming my surface thoughts I see.” He commented, “I’m sure your wife would be proud.”

 

Wanda stared at Charles for a moment, eyes narrowing slightly before her face relaxed and she grinned back, “She would be.”

 

Watching the exchange, he could tell Wanda could feel comfortable around Charles much more easily in comparison to Pietro with the way she could try to weasel her way into his head in the same way he could attempt.

 

Charles’ eyes flicked to Pietro, “I would like to let you two know that mind reading is not something I particularly practice with the people around me.” He informed them, “But no worries for you two anyways; it takes a great effort to weasel my way into either of your minds. Mr. Maximoff, your mind is somewhat similar to static to me. Your mind moves so fast that it's a bit… dizzying to try to get into, and I could bet it would take a lot of energy to do so. Mrs. Maximoff-Romanoff here, her mind is just very well secured. She has defenses set and ready that seem very, very natural.”

 

Before he could venture further on the idea, Hank shifting switched his attention.

 

“Perhaps it would be good to set you up with your rooms before we talk, yes?” Charles questioned.

 

“I guess.” Pietro mumbled.

 

Charles sent a quick glance towards Hank, and the man nodded slightly before he waved a hand to motion for the twins to follow him, “Charles had two options prepared for you: two smaller rooms next to each other or a large room with two beds. I’ll show you both options and you can feel free to switch to the other option you don’t choose if you feel the need.” He explained.

 

Pietro and Wanda didn’t need to discuss both of their options before they stopped Hank and Pietro let him know that they’d be sticking with the larger room.

 

After showing them the room, he let them know to spend a little bit of time getting settled but then to come find Charles as soon as possible.

 

He shut the door behind him and Pietro spared a quick glance around the room. Nothing special, just two nondescript double beds, a somewhat large window, plain walls besides the simple painting on it, and two dressers.

 

Without speaking, Wanda and Pietro picked a bed each and Pietro stripped off his hoodie, tucking it into his suitcase and then facing his sister, who had done the same. He held back a smile at her choice in sweater, a simple, black turtleneck with the black widow symbol stitched in (something he had gifted her for her twenty-second birthday).

 

“So far, so good?” She asked.

 

He shrugged, “So far, nothing’s gone exceptionally bad at least.” He reasoned.

 

Wanda glanced toward the door, wringing her hands together. “We’re gonna get some big news today, Pietro, I can feel it.” She stated, “There was some foggy memory stirring around Charles’ head, but Hank was oozing all sorts of nerves when he saw us and when he mentioned finding Charles again.”

 

Pietro nodded, “Remember, I can always get us out of here in seconds if needed.”

 

Wanda hummed in acknowledgment before she faced her brother, “Something tells me that we won’t need to run.”

 

Pietro sighed and waved a hand towards the door, “Shall we?”

 

She nodded and opened the door, stepping out and waiting for her brother. He followed suit, letting the door shut behind him.

 

They had only walked a few feet in the direction of the stairs before a sudden blue puff of smoke had Pietro jumping in shock and holding back the burst of energy that begged to be released whereas Wanda went with her instincts and raised her hands from her sides, red already beginning to shimmer in the air.

 

The red quickly vanished and the energy disappeared when the blue faded to reveal what looked to be two teenagers.

 

One was as blue as the smoke, with… a tail? He was an awkward sort of tall, skinny, and had black hair with a blue streak falling into his eyes. Next to him, a teenage boy, with dark, neatly combed, gelled hair atop his head, and what looked to be some thick rimmed, red tinted glasses, and pale skin.

 

They stopped and stared at the twins when the blue smoke disappeared, a silence settling over the hall.

 

The blue kid suddenly looked from his friend to the twins and made move to walk forward, only to be held back by his friend. Undeterred, the teen raised a three-fingered hand and waved, “Hello! My name is Kurt!” He called, voice holding a thick German accent.

 

“Kurt!” The teen next to him hissed.

 

“What?” Kurt questioned his friend, confused.

 

The other teen looked to the twins again, “Who the hell are you guys?”

 

“Who the hell are you?” Pietro countered, snark leaking through.

 

“I live here!”

 

“So—”

 

Wanda cut Pietro off, “What is your name, kid?”

 

He hesitated, “Scott.”

 

Wanda tilted her head, “You are a mutant, Scott? As are you, Kurt?”

 

Scott raised a brow, “The blue skin and the glasses not enough of an answer for you?”

 

“No, no, they are, I suppose, but most people like to be asked rather than assumed of.” Wanda pointed out, “If it helps, my brother and I are… different too, if the word works.”

 

Kurt seem elated at the news, “You are mutants too?”

 

Pietro shook his head, “Lab experiments gone wild.” He corrected.

 

Kurt wilted slightly at the information, but nodded nonetheless, “What is your name?”

 

Pietro glanced at Wanda briefly, “Pietro.”

 

“Wanda.” His sister supplied.

 

“Hi Wanda! Hi Pietro!” Kurt greeted happily, giving a toothy, sharp-toothed, smile.

 

“Alright, Wanda, Pietro… What’re you doin’ here?” Scott pushed.

 

Suddenly, Charles voice rang through their heads, “ None of your concern quite yet, Mr. Summers. Now, please, stop attempting to intimidate our guests and please join me in the den. All of you.”

 

“Prof always knows when to push his way into a private conversation.” Scott grumbled.

 

“But we are speaking in a public hallway? Anybody could walk into it.” Kurt pointed out.

 

“But they wouldn’t stop the conversation.” Scott continued, exasperated.

 

Kurt thought it over, “Jean would, but I think Warren would use his fists instead of words if he walked into what Professor calls your attempts of intimidate.”

 

To Pietro, it looked like Scott must’ve rolled his eyes.

 

Kurt looked back to Pietro and Wanda, “Would you like a ride too?” He asked, gesturing to the hand that had wrapped around Scott’s arm.

 

Before Wanda could say nothing, Pietro’s cockiness had cut in, “I’ve got it.” He claimed, quickly scooping up his sister in his arms and speeding off. In his slower world, he got the beginnings of the taken aback expression on their faces.

 

So, maybe, Pietro didn’t really know where he was going, but the look on Scott’s face was worth it. Besides, he made it to the den anyways, even if it took a little longer than he aimed for.

 

In the den, Charles was already situated with Hank sitting in a chair by his side. Already in the room besides the two was a man who looked suspiciously similar to Scott.

 

Pietro placed Wanda down, flashing a smile at Charles, “Professor.” He greeted with a grin.

 

Charles nodded at him and Wanda, “Take a seat please. We’re missing a few people today, but I feel it’d be a good idea to introduce you to most of the remaining members of the house as to avoid another situation similar to Scott and Kurt’s.” He explained,  “Speaking of the boy, I’m sure we’ll be seeing them soon as I assume Kurt is gathering everyone to bring down.”

 

Wanda smiled, “That does sound like a smart idea.”

 

The two took a seat on one of the couches, choosing to sit closer rather than father to each other. As they sat, there was a sudden blue puff of smoke near Charles.

 

More than a handful of teens emerged from the smoke, some more shocking than others. First, there was Kurt and Scott, but, besides them, there were more than a few unnamed teens.

 

For instance, there was a blond boy that rolled his shoulders back and eyed Pietro and Wanda for a moment before mumbling something in German to Kurt, following him to the other couch. What was startling though, were the large, feathered wings that spanned from his back.

 

Scott lead a girl with bright red hair to the couch where the man who looked strikingly similar to him sat while a girl with white hair plopped down in an armchair nearby.

 

None of the teens had made any motions to sit on the same couch as Pietro and Wanda, much to Pietro's relief.

 

Before anything could be said, the door to the den opened and a woman walked in. Pietro twisted to look back at her, growing still as he watched as her skin shifted and rippled, turning a familiar blue.

 

Raven .

 

She, too, walked to Charles side, stopping momentarily to let her hand skim Kurt’s shoulder.

 

“Now that most of us are accounted for, I’d like to make something clear and introduce our guests.” Charles started. He waved towards the twins, “Pietro and Wanda, here, are staying here with us as my guests, so I’d expect you to treat them with respect and honor their privacy.” After he caught a few nods from his students, he continued, “Now, I suppose I should let our guests let you all know some things about themselves.” He gave a pointed glance to the twins, to which they understood easily.

 

Pietro stood and cleared his throat, rolling his shoulders back. He took in a deep breath before he zoomed off, aiming for the library he had once seen in a memory. He returned with a book in hand, only to toss it into the Scott kid’s lap. He sped off again, heading to the kitchen and quickly making up a bowl of cereal. He returned to his seat, having done everything within seconds. It wasn’t much, truthfully, but, unless he wanted to pay for some property damage or land someone in an infirmary, there was only so much he could do.

 

Silence settled over the room until the winged boy spoke up, “What the absolute fuck.”

 

“Language, Warren.” Hank warned.

 

The kid, Warren, rolled his eyes and settled back into his seat.

 

“And you, Miss Wanda?” Kurt questioned excitedly.

 

Somewhat nervously, Wanda stood, “I can do a lot of things, but only some are suitable for the indoors, I believe.”

 

“Go on ahead, Wanda.” Pietro muttered to her. Wordlessly, he tilted his bowl back into his mouth, having finished most of it much faster than otherwise expected, and lifted the bowl into the air. He figured he might as well assist his sister and her nerves. Mentally, Pietro apologized to Charles in advance and merely hoped the man heard the message.

 

Wanda raised her hands, fingers twitching in a way that was only familiar to Pietro nowadays. In an instant, the bowl was surrounded by a flickering red mist. The bowls suddenly began cracking, quickly, and fell apart within seconds. Next, the spoon inside the bowl twisted, folding over itself. Rather than let the pieces fall to the floor, Wanda tilted her head and her pointer finger twitched. Suddenly, the window in the room flew open and Wanda sent the pieces flying out the house.

 

Pietro held back a snort. It surely was a dramatic way of showing off just one of the things she could do.

 

All at once, the red dissipated and Wanda relaxed, hands lowering.

 

She hesitated, “I also am a telepath. That includes manipulating the mind and emotions and I can use that same type of telekinesis I just used to create force fields and… some… other stuff.” She cut herself off when she caught the surprised expression on a couple of the kids’ faces.

 

“Thank you, you two.” Charles stated, “Now, quickly, quickly, lets go around the room and introduce yourselves and if you feel the absolute need, tell us more.”

 

Next to Scott, the man raised his hand, “Alex Summers,” He introduced before he pointed at Scott, nudging with shoulder as he spoke again, “I’m this brat’s brother,” he explained before he tapped his chest, “And I can absorb energy and then toss it back out, in all simplicity.”

 

Scott went next, “You’ve met me, but I can basically shoot lasers out of my eyes.” He explained easily.

 

The redhead sitting next to Scott smiled at the twins, “My name is Jean Grey and I’m a telepath.” She intertwined her hand with Scott’s as she spoke.

 

Next was the winged teen, “Warren and I’m sure the rest is fuckin’ obvious.” He pointed vaguely as his wings.

 

Kurt waved at the twins, pleased when Pietro shot him a quick grin and Wanda waved back, “My name is Kurt and I teleport, and you got to see me do it, too!” The teen smiled abruptly, revealing his sharp teeth. Excitedly, he pointed behind himself, “I also have a tail!”

 

The white haired girl shifted in her seat, “Storm,” she paused, “And, uh, Ororo,” She introduced, a certain accent coating her words, “I manipulate weather and some other stuff.”

 

Pietro turned to look at Raven as she spoke, “My name is Mystique,” Pietro couldn’t stop his brows from raising in surprise. Suddenly, her appearance shifted and Pietro was staring at himself , “I can do lots .” She explained, in Pietro’s voice. Quickly, her skin rippled and then Pietro was staring at his own sister.

 

With one last grin, her appearance shifted again and she returned to her blue form.

 

Hank spoke next, skipping over Charles due to his previous introductions, “Hank McCoy.” He said simply, shifting uncomfortably.

 

As he finished speaking, Charles glanced at Mystique, who raised a brow quickly. Pietro could only guess it was some sort of mental conversation.

 

“You’re all dismissed then, besides Pietro and Wanda please. Now, we can have our discussion.” Charles stated.

 

All at once, the teens began speaking among themselves as they rose and left in their own ways (meaning all except Kurt and Warren walked out of the room. The two boys had disappeared in another puff of blue smoke).

 

“If you need me, I’ll be down in the labs, Charles.” Hank excused himself, following the students out of the room.

 

Raven, Mystique, made no move to leave though.

 

“Raven?” Charles asked, tone still rather polite, “I can’t believe I haven’t offered yet, but could you please make up a pot of tea and coffee for our guests here? I’m sure we’ll be needing it.” The request was an obvious dismissal, begging for privacy, but Mystique didn’t seemed pleased.

 

“Raven,” Charles repeated, much more strict. He looked at her for a moment before his head tilted slightly, “If you really want to join in on the fun, I suggest you go and sit down for a conversation with Kurt, dear sister. There is a lot for you to unpack there, I believe.”

 

Raven clenched her jaw before she started off, quickly, “Have fun meddling, Charles!” She called back, somewhat venomously, before letting the den door slam behind her.

 

“I get the feeling she won’t be sending the coffee and tea up.” Charles mumbled, attempting to joke.

 

Pietro opened his mouth, aiming to question Raven’s strange nature and name change, of which was a great contrast to the little girl he had seen in that memory, but Charles rolling his shoulders back and clearing his throat cut him off, “It seems my other… friend will be arriving within the next half an hour,” he looked to the twins, “Before they arrive, may I ask that you two explain your pasts? I don’t meddle like my sister says, but knowing what you two have grown up knowing would ease my mind, I believe.”

 

At the twins doubting looks, he nodded, mostly to himself, “Ask away then.” He stated, clasping his hands in his lap.

 

Wanda and Pietro got the meaning easily and Pietro wasted no time, “Is everyone here a mutant?” He questioned, vaguely thinking of Hank McCoy.

 

Charles nodded, “Everyone, even if they hate the word.”

 

“This is your mansion, no?” Wanda asked, leaning forward in her seat.

 

“It is. I was raised here and inherited the property.”

 

“Why make it into a school?” Pietro questioned.

 

“I wanted to help people like me: mutants. Young mutants who felt out of place and wanted somewhere that they fit. Some of these kids no longer have families, or have been kicked out of their homes. Here, they have a safe space to grow and be educated.” Charles answered, honestly.

 

A moment of silence passed.

 

“Raven,” Pietro started, “Or Mystique. She is your sister?”

 

Charles hummed and nodded, “Adopted, yes, although I have always held back from labeling her as adopted in my life. She seems to favor the divide much more these days.”

 

“You mentioned a team, earlier.”

 

Charles smiled, “The X-Men.” He explained, “The team mostly consists of the students you have already met, besides a few others. As students are educated here, we also help them learn to control their abilities and urge them to grow comfortable with their gifts. Those few individuals that are on the X-Men team are the ones who are being trained as well; trained to be on a team.” He paused, “They will be like the Avengers, only… different, in a way I love.” He settled for explaining.

 

Pietro nodded, sharing a look with his sister.

 

She bit her lip, “Mutants… they manifest their abilities, correct?” She waited for Charles to nod, “When did you manifest, Professor?”

 

“I was eleven at the time.”

 

Wanda nodded and leaned back in her seat. She was silent for a moment before she spoke again, “Well, I live in California now with my wife and—”

 

“No, no,” Charles cut in, waving a hand slightly, “Your pasts , Pietro and Wanda.” He corrected, “Although it is nice to hear that you have married and seem to live happily, the present is not as useful as the past to me right now.”

 

“Oh, you want the life story then?” Pietro asked, brow raised.

 

Charles smiled and nodded, “Not everything; only what you are comfortable sharing.”

 

Pietro looked at the man for a moment before he sighed, “Wanda and I were born in Sokovia and grew up there.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Charles noted, “What happened to Sokovia was truly terrible.”

 

Pietro clenched his jaw, “The ones who helped destroy their own country do not deserve your sentiment.”

 

Charles seemed to think it over, “A loss is still a loss, Pietro, and for that, I am sorry for you.”

 

Wanda took the comment in her stride, “We grew up well with our parents despite the political climate and everything that needed to be changed in Sokovia. We were happy with our parents and when we lost them,” She trailed off, breaking eye contact with the Professor. Her voice grew quiet, “It will always be one of the worst times of our lives.”

 

“Your parents, of whom also cause me to send my condolences to you both,” Charles started gently, “What were their names?”

 

“Magda and Django Maximoff.” Pietro answered, the names falling from his lips by instinct.

 

Charles nodded, “Thank you.”

 

“After our parents died,” Pietro pushed on, clasping his hands together tightly, “We waited to be killed in our home. It was shells that were hitting Sokovia that killed our parents. But it never happened; we were never killed. Instead, we were forced to live on our own when we were only kids. Nobody could help us though. The poor cannot spare anything for the poor it seemed.”

 

“We didn’t expect to survive the winter each time it passed, and sometimes it really seemed like we’d die on those streets.” Wanda added, reaching over and intertwining her hand with Pietro’s.

 

“But then we heard about this man who wanted to make a change in Sokovia. So, blinded by our situation and desire for change, we found him and signed ourselves up for making a change.” Pietro continued. He let out a breath and sat up straighter, “Long story short, we were tortured and experimented on by a group of bad people, convinced that we would make a difference in the world and for our country.” He shook his head, a humorless chuckle leaving his lips, “You know, one time, after I became fast and my hair turned white, they cut a long slit up my arm,” Pietro broke his grasp on Wanda’s hand and traced where he could remember the cut being, although no scar remained, “All so they could see how fast I could heal from it.

 

“And then they’d send me back to my cell and let me run into walls from all the energy I couldn’t contain.” Pietro blinked, hard, trying to will away the memory, “It was almost worse than the beatings, some days,” he thought aloud, “I felt uncontrollable, even to myself, and thought that maybe one day, if I was lucky, I’d flicker out and die like light worn out of energy. Or maybe, I crack my own skull when I ran into a wall as I tried to take a measly step.”

 

Wanda took hold of his hand again, red flashing in her eyes as she sent a more positive memory his way, one of a day in the park with Peter, Frankie, and Wanda.

 

“They were HYDRA.” She explained, “And they made us into monsters.” She kept Charles’ gaze, “Pietro put himself in front of me every time and they loved it, every time they could send him back to his cell bloody and beaten.” She pushed on, voice falling quiet, “They liked to torture me in other ways. With loud and high-pitched noises that messed with my head, stopped my use of my abilities. They sent the weaker experiments into my room, feeding off my fear and skittishness so that I’d snap their necks when they entered.”

 

Charles’ expression was unreadable, but his finger twitching only once was his only sign of emotion.

 

“But we aren’t here to talk about our time with HYDRA, hm?” Pietro deferred the conversation, suddenly feeling vulnerable. Every damn time he got to talking about his life, the bad things just spilled out as memories came flooding back. “Because after HYDRA, the Avengers gave us a home, a family, and since then life has only gotten better.” He rushed out.

 

Charles nodded, eyes growing sympathetic. Pietro found himself hating the sympathy. “Then I am glad you two have made yourselves a good life.”

 

Wanda blinked a few times, sucking in a breath and letting it out only slightly shaky, obviously taken aback by her and her brother’s slip of emotion, “Professor, what was the point of telling you all of that?”

 

“I was hoping to wait for our guest before I started our discussion, but I suppose he doesn’t need to know everything,” Charles noted. Pietro swore he heard a faint comment of knowing less being better for the guest in his mind, but he waved it off to not being of his concerns in the moment.

 

“Are you familiar with a Wade Wilson?” Charles suddenly asked.

 

At Pietro’s nod, he continued, “I only hope you already knew the story I’m about to tell, but Mr. Wilson’s time with the Weapon X program was startling to say the least when I heard it. He had been tortured until his X-gene was activated.” He continued.

 

Pietro started to notice where the conversation was heading but he tried to smother his concerns.

 

“And recently, I had sent Mr. Wilson and another associate of mine, Logan, to recover some information from an old Weapon X base.” He explained, looking between the two in front of him, “But what they found was evidence of a HYDRA base that was eerily similar to what Mr. Wilson and Logan had seen before. After a quick look, it was deduced that HYDRA had gotten clue of what Weapon X had been doing and had done their own experiments in the same nature.”

 

Wanda’s face dropped then and her eyes found Charles’, “Professor, are you saying…”

 

“There were files of patients there, all the patients ever involved in their program,” He pushed on, “And all but two were dead. One Wanda Maximoff and one Pietro Maximoff.” Charles let out a breath, “But what we found much more interesting was their connections to other individuals, more so their parents.”

 

“Our parents?” Pietro echoed, “But they died before we went with HYDRA and they—they never were involved in some fucked up experiments.” He rushed out.

 

“Magda and Django were not, you are correct, but, Pietro, did you ever ask your parents how they met? Or how long they had been together?” He questioned, “More importantly, have you ever known your mother’s past?”

 

Wanda leaned forwards, brow furrowed, “Are you implying our mother had some secret life, Xavier?” She accused, voice growing with fury.

 

Charles shook his head, expression all too gentle, “I imply that maybe she had a life before her family that she never shared with her children, and possibly her own husband.”

 

“But what—” Pietro cut himself, forcing himself to try and think through what was being told.

 

Weapon X and HYDRA, his parents, but his mom’s past.

 

He couldn’t connect it all. He didn’t want to.

 

“Wanda, Pietro,” He gained their attention again, “As I said earlier, I wished for my guest to be here when I shared the news, but I cannot bare to leave you two in this state.” He wheeled himself forwards to be in front of the twins, “We discovered at that base that your mother was not married before, but involved with someone, that she was connected to a powerful mutant.”

 

“And…” Wanda trailed off, although it seemed she already knew the answer.

 

“Django Maximoff, although he raised you, we discovered that he was in no way connected to your DNA. Those files had your lineage that you supplied them with, but then had another version of which they discovered by tracing back your DNA to older files.” Charles explained, “Your mother, Magda, was involved with a man at some point in life, but had her twins in the company of another.”

 

“Our father, Django.” Wanda filled in.

 

“But he wasn’t our father,” Pietro corrected quietly, feeling some type of horror, betrayal , clawing at his chest, “Not biologically, at least.”

 

Charles nodded and wheeled himself back by a few feet, “I will have Hank send the files we found to you, although he has removed your birth father’s identity temporarily in order to deliver the news to you much more gently.” He began wheeling himself to the den doors, of which, Pietro noticed, were slightly propped open, “But, tonight, I warn you that you’ll be given news that will be just as shocking as this.”

 

He looked back at them, “Please, take a look at the files before we meet again later today.”

 

And with that, he was off.

 

Pietro looked to his sister, taking in her furrowed brows, watery eyes and tight grip on her brother’s hand, “Wanda?” He asked quietly.

 

Suddenly, she was pulling him down for a hug, letting out a shaky breath, “ We lived a lie, Pietro, for our entire lives. ” She whispered into his ear, slipping into their first language.

 

Pietro hugged her back, finding himself replying back in the same language, “ Our—Django did well with raising us though, did he not?

 

Wanda nodded against his shoulder, “ He did, he did, but… our birth father is a mutant; a man who may have… ” She trailed off, but the meaning of her sentence was clear.

 

Maybe he would have survived, maybe he would have understood Wanda and Pietro more, maybe they would have never lost their parents at all,

 

Maybe they would have never gone to Ultron.

 

“There are no times for what-ifs, sister,” Pietro replied, trying to find a way to comfort his sister, “We just have to think of what Xavier has also told us.”

 

He pulled away gently and placed his hands on his sister’s shoulders, “We,” he started, unsure of the weight of his next words, “Are mutants, too.”

 

“Is that why we survived HYDRA? Because we were what they were looking for the entire time?” Wanda asked.

 

Pietro glanced away briefly, at the den door, “I feel that maybe our birth father has something to do with our surviving, Wanda. You heard what Charles said: we are the children of a powerful mutant. What we went through… I do not think just anyone with a, uh, X-gene could survive.” He explained, “Wade Wilson nearly didn’t, and I don’t think he would have if it weren’t for the fact his abilities had been his healing.”

 

Wanda nodded and wiped at her eyes, reaching forward and brushing away her brother’s own tears, of which he never realized had dropped, “May we return to our room? Take a look at those files, please?”

 

Pietro nodded, wordlessly standing and taking his sister in his arms when she had stood.

 

He sped off, certain that neither of them wished to be seen in such a vulnerable state.

 

 

The files detailed every bit of the twins’ torture, but also recalled the way their parents died, where they were born, date of birth, weight, height, age, and date of joining HYDRA.

 

It detailed their codependency, how they’re seen only together by others even when their parents were alive. There were details included that Pietro never recalled revealing.

 

But, more importantly, there were notes about the experiments and torture they endured. With that, there was the date marked in which Pietro had passed out on the examination table, only to awake seconds later screaming as his body convulsed and his hair shifted to white. It mentioned the way he was short of breath, how his hands and feet began shaking, faster and faster, with what Pietro now knew as pent up energy.

 

When he passed out again after the convulsing, they had been happy to switch gears and change their testings.

 

After that, it was all the gory details of his adjusting to his abilities. The nights of no sleep, the way his body couldn’t keep down food at first and then suddenly switched to demanding more food than he were ever given.

 

But, Pietro had never known what exactly happened to Wanda.

 

And then he knew it all as he looked at her file.

 

Wanda had “manifested” after him, during the days that they had kept Pietro totally isolated for observation. She had been in the corner of her cell, whimpering and holding her head since the early morning.

 

HYDRA didn’t care for their wellbeing, not until one was showing amazing progress and then suddenly dying.

 

And Wanda surely seemed close to dying in that moment.

 

Pietro, although weak and shaking at a speed he couldn't comprehend, heard his sister’s cries and swore he could feel the pain she was feeling (unknowingly experiencing just the beginning of his sister’s power).

 

But Wanda was noted to begin shaking and crying out, yelling things out in languages Magda had taught her. She begged for death, begged for someone to end the pain, end the screaming in her head.

 

But no one dared to enter her cell, in worries of being attacked.

 

Someone had to though, and when they did, they attempted to tranquilize Wanda, taking her manifesting as a breakdown.

 

The second the tranquilizer touched her, her cries and whimpers into her knees ignored, the room had exploded into red and Wanda’s heart wrenching scream echoed throughout the compound.

 

Pietro, nearby, fell to the floor, clutching his head as his sister’s scream echoed through his mind.

 

And then the compound went dark, disrupted by the surge of energy.

 

When the emergency, dimmer, lights came on, Wanda had been missing.

 

Or at least believed to be. They found she had run out of her cell, with newly renewed strength and fingers twitching with new power.

 

She had crumbled to the floor, eyes stuck to the torn apart man in her cell.

 

Pietro knew the rest of the story from there.

 

Once the files had been read, Wanda found herself seated next to her brother, heavy silence hanging over them.

 

 

A soft knock interrupted their silence and Wanda flicked a finger that unlocked the door and made it swing open.

 

There, in the doorway, stood the redhead, Jean, from earlier in the day.

 

At the sight of the two, she entered slowly, “Do you mind if I clean up for you two?” She asked quietly, “Hank figured he could collect everything by now. For safekeeping.”

 

When she was given no response, she did so anyways, holding out a hand. Pietro watched in faint interest as the papers drew into the air and recollected themselves into the correct files. Slowly, the remade files came towards Jean and ended in her arms.

 

“The Professor sent me to call for you two, as well,” She explained, visibly swallowing from what Pietro assumed were nerves.

 

She was a telepath, right?

 

Watching for a reaction, Pietro flimsy thought of the time he ran into the wall of his old cell so hard that his arm hadn’t been able to take the pressure.

 

Jean visibly flinched and Pietro glowered, “Stay out of my head.” He growled.

 

Jean looked away, tightening her grip on the files, “I can’t help it, you’re projecting really loudly. It’s the same for me like the Professor; I couldn’t get into your minds with no effort.”

 

Wanda placed a hand over Pietro’s and redirected the conversation, “Thank you, Jean.”

 

Jean nodded, sparing them one more look before she left, hand lifting slightly as she left, successfully shutting the door without touching it.

 

Wanda was the one who stood first, already grabbing Pietro’s hand and bringing him to the door, “I don’t believe Charles Xavier could tell us much else that could shock us, brother.” She stated, opening the door and taking a deep breath, “But do you wish to run to meet him?”

 

For once, Pietro thought he wanted to take things slow. He shook his head and instead allowed his sister to lead him down the stairs. He doubted she knew where the Professor was, but, when she passed by the Scott they met earlier in the day, she raised her hand slightly, the red appearing and disappearing just as swiftly.

 

He looks like a teacher’s pet. ” Wanda sent to Pietro’s mind, explaining her actions, “ And I was correct: Charles is in the kitchen and Scott was ‘redirected’ by the Professor in order to keep Scott out.

 

Pietro nodded, “Thank you.” He mumbled.

 

Wanda responded by flashing him a fast and small smile.

 

Wanda seemed to have also gained the location of the kitchen during her visit in Scott’s mind, as they stopped in front of a single, specific door.

 

Wanda’s head tilted and Pietro guessed she was trying to see what was happening in the room. She winced, as she had done earlier and visibly deflated.

 

“Ah, Mr. Maximoff and Mrs. Maximoff-Romanoff,” Charles voice sounded from inside the room, “Please, come join us.”

 

“Maybe I should hold back from trying to get into that man’s mind sometimes. He’s always so smug when he pushes me out.” Wanda mumbled.

 

Either way, she let Pietro take the lead as he pushed the door open without attempting to second guess himself.

 

The kitchen itself was large, and organized, but Pietro didn’t hold out for taking a long look around, instead eyeing the people in the room.

 

Charles was still in his wheelchair, but had positioned himself at the head of the small table pushed off to the side of the room. To his left was Raven, proudly sporting her blue form.

 

But, across from Charles, at the other end of the table, standing, was a man Pietro had yet to meet.

 

He was stood in a way so that he was facing the door, unlike Charles, and, upon the twins entry, looked directly at them.

 

Pietro swore the man was faintly familiar, but he oozed a certain type of threatening Pietro knew well.

 

Despite his clothing, of course. The man had one hand on the back of his chair, the other stuffed into the pocket of his brown dress pants, a gold watch peeking out from around his wrist. Like Wanda, the man wore a black turtleneck.

 

Charles turned to look at the twins, “Please, take a seat. I’m sure you’ll be needing it.”

 

As Wanda led them forwards, Pietro continued eyeing the man.

 

His brown hair was cropped short and there was the beginnings of a faint stubble growing on his pale skin.

 

Wanda gently tugged on Pietro’s arm until he sat down, finding himself on Charles’ right. Wanda sat down next to Pietro, conveniently leaving an open seat between herself and the unfamiliar man, of whom had yet to sit.

 

“Erik?” Charles questioned, giving him a pointed look.

 

So, now Pietro had a name.

 

The man, Erik, held Charles gaze, standing for a moment longer before he removed his hand from his pocket and dragged his chair out. He took his time getting seated, ending with clasping his hands on top of the table.

 

Pietro was starting to dislike the man’s cockiness, only to catch himself as he realized that he had the exact same kind of arrogance.

 

Guess you can really see your flaws in others, Pietro thought.

 

Raven had stayed silent during the exchange, sitting similarly to Erik as her eyes continuously moved from person to person.

 

He recalled the way Natasha, James, and Clint sat during meetings with possible allies or in interrogations. Raven was watching for possibilities of an attack.

 

But from who?

 

“Thank you for joining us, Pietro, Wanda,” Charles started, “I do hope that Jean was no bother. I made the decision to send her in order to save time, as myself and my wheelchair are unable to access your quarters in such a time as my students.” He smiled, but Pietro could only focus on the fact that he was sure Erik had flinched or something at the explanation.

 

“She was great,” Wanda answered, “She even helped clean up the mess we made of those files.”

 

“You gave them the files?” Raven suddenly asked of her brother.

 

Charles nodded, “Of course I did, Raven. The files were about them, how could I not?”

 

Raven seemed unhappy no matter the reasoning, but didn’t push the conversation much further.

 

“You wanted to talk with us?” Pietro attempted to bring the conversation back.

 

“Yes, I did,” Charles answered, “But, first, this is Erik Lehnsherr,” Charles gestured at the other man at the table, “He was the guest I was waiting on today.”

 

“I arrived though, didn’t I?” Erik countered, voice somewhat rough from what Pietro assumed to be disuse. Pietro swore he had some sort of accent, too.

 

Charles ignored him, “Erik, this is Wanda and Pietro.” He introduced.

 

All that occurred was a shared glance between the three.

 

“Pietro, Wanda, I hope those files didn’t trouble you too much, but still, I warn you to keep your minds open for this conversation and to.. prepare yourselves.” His gaze shifted to Erik, “You too, Erik.”

 

Erik furrowed his brows, opening his mouth to speak but cutting himself off.

 

“I don’t think I should waste any more time by withholding this information, of which concerns the three of you.” Charles continued.

 

Pietro took another look at Charles, then Erik. Trying to figure out what kind of information could concer—

 

Wanda’s hand suddenly found Pietro’s wrist, squeezing tightly. Her eyes had widened, Pietro noticed.

 

Think, Pietro, Think, please .” Wanda pleaded with him silently.

 

Pietro’s brows furrowed. Charles’ voice as he checked that Erik was meant to stay in town for a few days faded from Pietro’s mind as he recalled the day’s events thus far.

 

The files.

 

Pietro’s own eyes widened.

 

Erik was connected to those files; he must be, right?

 

Pietro entertained a few ideas: Erik had experienced the same thing, Erik was once apart of HYDRA, or Erik was…

 

“Please, I want you three to listen carefully,” Charles voice cut through. He didn’t wait for a response, “Erik, the files that Pietro and Wanda read were about their lives, I’ll say. It’s not my place to discuss why those files were created nor why they were found, but an interesting detail in the files had to do with their familial relations, Erik.”

 

Erik didn’t show much emotion to the news, rather impassive still.

 

“Erik,” Charles repeated, “Their mother gave birth to the twins in Sokovia and then met the man Wanda and Pietro had always believed was their birth father.”

 

“Charles, how could this concern me?” Erik cut in, although his hands tightened around each other.

 

Charles looked to Wanda and Pietro, “Please,” He started, “Could you inform Erik here of your mother’s name? I’m sure then, it will ring a bell.”

 

Pietro looked to Erik, surprised when he found the man already looking at him, “Her name,” He started slowly, trailing off and watching as Erik truly listened to the words coming from Pietro’s mouth much to the Sokovian’s surprise. Perhaps Erik knew more than he was letting off, “Her name was Magda.”

 

Erik’s impassive exterior dropped. His brows furrowed and his hands unclasped, “Magda?” He echoed, voice betraying him with bearing his true emotion.

 

Pietro shared a look with Wanda, growing uneasy with what he could only assume was the results of his emotions.

 

“You knew a Magda, Erik,” Charles stated.

 

“But she left me, Charles.” Erik stated firmly, not looking away from the twins, “And she never—we never—“ his voice stalled and Erik… he almost seemed to be the silhouette of a broken man.

 

Too much was making sense to Pietro.

 

“Wanda,” Charles continued, “Your mother was Polish, correct?”

 

Wanda nodded, looking between Charles and Erik carefully, “She never spoke of it much, but yes.”

 

Suddenly, Erik was up. His chair fell down behind him and Raven stood, seemingly ready for a fight.

 

But all Erik did was turn, lowering and covering his head with his arms. Under his breath, he mumbled something in what Pietro was sure was German.

 

A few seconds passed, “Erik?” Charles called, brows furrowing with the obvious concern for his friend.

 

Erik swiveled around, face a mix of rage and sorrow, “There is no way, Charles!” He yelled, “Magda left but she would have—“ he cut himself off again.

 

“Erik,” Charles started, “She left.” He repeated, “Do you really think she would let the man she feared know about her unborn children?”

 

“Feared?” Pietro echoed.

 

Erik flinched at the question and Pietro wondered if maybe the man already forgot that Pietro and Wanda were meant to be part of the conversation.

 

“I just need to ask,” Raven spoke up, “Is everyone on the same page here?”

 

Charles looked between each person in the room, but stayed silent.

 

Wanda glanced at Pietro, then to Erik, “Erik?” She asked quietly.

 

Erik’s gaze flicked over to Wanda, but he didn’t say a word.

 

“Erik,” Wanda repeated, voice shaky, “Are you… Are you our father?”

 

Pietro watched as Erik looked between him and Wanda. Erik looked like he made an attempt to regain his composure, glancing away as he stood straighter and tugged on the ends of his sweater sleeves uselessly, “I…” The man trailed off before he looked back to the twins, “I don’t know.”

 

“You do, Erik, and so do you two.” Charles pushed.

 

“How do we know for sure?” Pietro questioned, wincing when his voice bared his true emotions, voice cracking with the last word.

 

“Django Maximoff is only related to you two by marriage, Pietro.” Charles replied, voice quick and tone holding only finality.

 

With a sigh, Raven stood and started towards the kitchen door, “I can’t stand in for this any longer, Charles.”

 

And with that, Mystique left.

 

Charles let out a weary sigh then and ran a hand down his face, “Sit down, Erik.”

 

“Charles—” Erik started.

 

Erik .” Charles pushed, looking up at the other man with a narrowed gaze, “Sit down so we can discuss this like adults.”

 

Erik held his gaze for a moment longer before he sat, settling for the edge of his seat.

 

“Magda Maximoff is from Poland, correct?” Charles started, not waiting for any responses, “Erik, please let the Maximoffs know about what you know about Magda.”

 

“Charles,” Erik growled, glaring at the other man, “I can’t—”

 

“It’s not a matter of your emotions anymore, Erik, her children, your children deserve to know the truth.”

 

Erik clenched his jaw and shook his head, “She left me, Charles,” He grit out. Erik stood again, catching his chair before it could fall, but leaving it pulled out as he quickly made his way out of the room.

 

“Erik,” Charles called again, not having to even look to know the man stopped, “You can’t run from this, not again.” He stated, ominously, “This is a time where your actions won’t just affect me.”

 

Erik seemed to hesitate for only a half of a second before he continued on, leaving the kitchen.

 

Charles sighed and ran a hand down his face, “I’m sorry—”

 

“He's our father?” Pietro cut the Professor off.

 

“Yes, from what we’ve discovered, yes he is.” Charles answered, “And though I’d like to tell you, I believe Magda’s past is not something that is my piece to share.”

 

“There seems to be a lot you like to mention but cannot explain.” Wanda pointed out.

 

Charles gave a humorless chuckle, “Much of Erik Lehnsherr is like that.”

 

“I just…” Pietro trailed off, the previous conversation starting to hang over him heavily, “How could we have gone our entire lives without knowing about—about Erik?”

 

“Magda sounds to be a woman of many mysteries in a way.” Charles replied.

 

“Our mother—” Wanda cut herself off.

 

“Before we further these developments, I must ask,” Charles started, “Do you two happen to know of a Magneto?”

 

Pietro furrowed his brows, “My fath—uh, D-Django once mentioned him; he was in the news for weeks but wouldn’t tell Wanda and I anything about him. The names not very familiar.”

 

“I just need to let you know that Magneto was not a very… ideally good man. He hurt a lot of people, humans, in defense of mutants. In recent years, he has faded away, but during his time he was considered a villain. I was one of the men to help take him down.” Charles explained before letting out a long breath, “Erik Lehnsherr I’ve known for years and he has, as cliche as it sounds, burned me many times before. He makes many mistakes and I can no longer excuse his actions with much. But, compared to who he was when I first met him, Erik has changed, a lot; changed for the better. He is in no way an ideally good man today, but to me, he always has been.”

 

Pietro knew the words were coming before Charles uttered them.

 

“Erik retired the name Magneto years ago, but there are times I worry that he will revert back to those dark days,” He continued, “And Erik, he is a man of many demons. One of those demons is Magda, and I hope to avoid you two becoming yet another.” Charles sighed and tapped a finger on his armrest, “Just… don’t shut him out quite yet, alright? Erik isn’t here to replace Django in any way, but I couldn’t go another day without revealing the truth to you three. Erik deserved to know that there were more people in the world like him, in more ways than just being a mutant, and you two should know that your birth father was alive and real.”

 

Pietro nodded, although he couldn’t help comparing his mother to Erik, Magneto, the “not ideally good” man.

 

But his mother, she was so sweet, so kind. How could she have known, maybe even loved, such a “bad” man.

 

Charles rolling back away from the table cut Pietro’s thoughts.

 

Charles offered them a smile, “I don’t expect Erik will be joining us, but dinner should be served within the hour. Feel free to join us, if not I will send someone with your meals. And,” Charles paused, looking between the twins, “I promise you Erik is not all bad; he is hurt; he is… human, even if he won’t admit it. I can only imagine how you two must be taking this news, about your mother and Erik, but if you can, search him out and try to talk with him. He won’t do the same, and if you wish to discover more about your mother and yourselves, he is the man you must pursue.”

 

With that, Charles started towards the kitchen door, “I bid you two a goodnight, no matter if I see you two at dinner.” He called back.

 

Once Charles had left, Pietro let out a long, shaky sigh.

 

“I can’t believe we never knew about him.” Wanda muttered.

 

“How could she keep this from us?” Pietro added.

 

Wanda rubbed at her eyes, “ Why would she?”

 

Pietro shrugged uselessly, falling silent for a moment, “Wanda,” he started, “Do we know if this man is a man we should have in our lives?”

 

“No, we don’t.” Wanda answered honestly, “But… we can’t leave without knowing about this side of Mother, Pietro.”

 

Pietro nodded, distracted by replaying the image of Erik storming out of the kitchen in his head.

 

 

Wanda and Pietro had shown for dinner, as had the rest of the mansion besides Erik and Hank. Hank, at least, had the decency to let Alex know why he wouldn’t be showing up, as he had some science thing he wanted to pursue in the lab, unlike Erik.

 

His absence only seemed to be acknowledged by Pietro, Wanda, and Charles, though.

 

It didn’t matter much to the rest of the mansion, it seemed, as they continued on with serving themselves and taking a seat at the dinner table.

 

As Pietro looked around the room, it hit him that maybe the rest of the mansion didn't even know Erik was here. Charles had been waiting for him to appear, and maybe Erik still had yet to inform the rest of the mansion of his visit. Maybe he wanted it that way.

 

Pietro was broken from his thoughts yet again by the call of his name, made by Jean.

 

She flashed an uncertain smile at him and motioned to the two free seats between herself and Kurt.

 

Wanda made the decision for him, taking hold of his wrist and pulling him over. She thanked Jean for the seats, taking the spot next to the girl and pushing Pietro down in the seat next to Kurt gently.

 

The dinner, both large and delicious much to Pietro’s surprise, was filled with talk of the day’s events at the mansion and the upcoming holidays, although no one spared a mention of Hanukkah.

 

As some point, Pietro had taken a long look around the table, vaguely being reminded of the dinners he and Peter used to have in Peter’s childhood home with MJ, Ned, and Harry. This, to the students here, it appeared, was just another friend or family dinner, even with Pietro and Wanda.

 

At some point, Charles had asked Wanda about her family, attempting to include the Maximoffs in the conversation.

 

She happily spoke of her kids and her wife, although leaving out the mention of being married to Black Widow. She had Pietro retell a story of the twins as well, of the time he and Peter had taken the twins out for the day in New York when they were younger.

 

The table seemed amused by their stories and for a few long minutes, Pietro forgot about his mother, forgot about Erik.

 

 

Later in the night, after the mansion had gone to bed, Pietro found himself unable to sleep.

 

He kept thinking back to all the times he had seen Magda and Django Maximoff together. He was unable to imagine his mother with any other man, nonetheless running away from someone while pregnant.

 

Pietro tapped his finger on his knee quickly, feeling the need to do something.

 

His answer came in the form of a flash of Peter in his mind.

 

In a dash of blue streaks, Pietro was stood outside the bedroom with the door shut behind him and cellphone in hand.

 

It was late, even in California, but Pietro knew Peter would answer. For once, he couldn’t concern himself with waking someone up.

 

Pietro walked a few feet down the hall, aiming to not wake his sister with his phone call.

 

The hallway was drenched in darkness, but Pietro only let out a breath and leaned back against the wall and brought the ringing phone up to his ear.

 

Predictably, Peter picked up on the third ring, “Hey?” He asked, voice rough and deeper from sleep.

 

“Hey.” Pietro whispered back, “Hey, Pete.”

 

There was the sound of shifting sheets on the other side of the line, “How is New York? No disasters?”

 

“Not exactly disasters but a lot of drama, I guess.” Pietro paused, “Long story short, uh, my dad wasn’t actually my dad and Xavier learned who our father truly is and has even brought him to meet us.” Pietro considered mentioning the mutant thing as well, but, to Pietro, his daddy issues felt a lot more important. Mutant or not, Pietro wasn’t a regular ol’ human and that could be the end of it.

 

“What?” Peter gasped.

 

Pietro hummed, “And we aren’t at a very good start with him to be honest, but I think… I think Wanda and I are going to try to find out more and maybe we’ll do something about it.”

 

“But you’re okay? Mentally and physically?”

 

“I’ve been fucked up in the head for many, many years, Pete.” Pietro joked, “But, overall? I'd say I’m… stable and alright. Shocked and confused, but alright, I guess.”

 

Peter hummed in acknowledgement, “I get the feeling you’d rather talk about something else now.”

 

“Guessed correctly, Parker.” Pietro agreed, “It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, I mean, I don’t, not really, but right now… it's an even worse time to talk about it since I’m barely grasping everything myself.”

 

Peter hummed again, “Well, Aunt May and I are flying back to Queens together tomorrow morning like planned and then we’ll be flying back with Frankie and some more clothes.” Peter paused, “You’re still coming back for Hanukkah, right?”

 

“Wanda and I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Pietro confirmed, although he wasn’t entirely confident in his words just yet. If he and Wanda left for a few days and returned, would Erik still be here?

 

Was Erik Jewish, too?

 

Pietro’s mother had been, so maybe Erik shared that with her.

 

“Good, good,” Peter replied before he yawned, “You wouldn’t mind calling me again when its daytime would you? I love talking to you, and I love you, but I would feel terrible if I fell asleep in the middle of your venting, babe.”

 

Pietro chuckled, feeling better just because of his boyfriend’s personality shining through the phone.

 

“No, no, it’s fine,” Pietro confirmed, “I just needed to talk to someone about this even for a second.” He explained, “But, if it makes anything better, the mansion itself and the people here? It’s… pretty nice.”

 

“I’m glad,” Peter said honestly, “And I love you, Pietro.”

 

“I love you too, Peter,” Pietro replied, “Sleep well.”

 

“Same goes for you, Maximoff.” Peter replied with a chuckle.

 

With another goodbye, the call ended.

 

Still feeling on edge, Pietro let out a long breath and wasted no time as he started towards the stairs, only speeding off when his feet hit the first step.

 

He aimed for the kitchen first, snagging a bag of chips and a water bottle to ease his already growing hunger, before speeding off to the den where he remembered a television being.

 

But, when he entered, Pietro’s eyes immediately locked onto the hunched over man sat at the nearby chess table. Pietro had noticed more than one chess board around the mansion actually.

 

The man though, was more interesting. His turtleneck gave him away and Pietro realized he had accidentally stumbled upon the man he was trying to moodily think about, alone: Erik Lehnsherr.

 

His back was facing Pietro, but even so, Pietro could already imagine the scowl on the man’s face.

 

For a few seconds, Pietro entertained the idea of turning and leaving as quietly as he entered, but the Polish slipping from the other man’s lips in a mumble stopped Pietro in his tracks. Just like earlier, the words were too quiet for Pietro to catch, the language itself was pulling him.

 

Pietro shut his eyes for a moment, wondering if he was really about to go and try to make conversation with his—his father.

 

Pietro held back a sigh and opened his eyes, remaining silent as he walked forwards and plopped down into the seat across from Erik.

 

The man jumped at the groan the chair made by the new weight added and suddenly Pietro was quickly ducking as something flew at his face.

 

Pietro glanced up after he rose again, finding himself looking at Erik, whose hand was slightly raised and, upon further examination, was missing a chess piece on his side of the board.

 

Pietro’s brows furrowed, “Did you just throw a fucking chess piece at me?” He hissed.

 

Erik let out a long breath and shook his head, mostly to himself, “Yes, I did.” He muttered.

 

Pietro cursed under his breath and tried to regain his composure, “Note to self: don’t sneak up on the crazy dude.” He mumbled.

 

“Crazy dude?” Erik echoed.

 

Pietro nodded with a roll of his eyes, “You just threw a chess piece at my head; fuckin’ deal with the nickname, man.”

 

Silence settled over the room and Pietro took the fact that Erik hadn’t left nor kicked Pietro out as a good sign. So, Pietro decided to risk his chances and ripped open his bag of chips.

 

“You’re awake in the middle of the night just to eat chips?” Erik questioned incredulously.

 

Pietro hummed in agreement, popping a chip in his mouth, “Fast metabolism,” He started, “It can be a bitch, but the payoff is worth it.”

 

Erik seemed to be losing his patience already and suddenly Pietro was worried that he was truly about to leave.

 

“I also want to talk to you,” Pietro blurted, glad for the mostly dark room that could hide the way his face flushed in embarrassment. Pietro was great at confrontation, at least with all people except the ones who raised him (or should have raised him).

 

“Talk to me?” Erik repeated, “Why the hell would you be seeking me out?”

 

Pietro found himself growing irritated by the dismissal, “Because I wanted to talk about my turtleneck obsession,” He said, dryly. Pietro scoffed, “No, no, I wonder why , Erik.”

 

Erik fell silent for a few seconds before he shifted, likely uncomfortable, “I have nothing I need to say to you.”

 

“You see,” Pietro started, popping another chip into his mouth, “I think you’re lying.”

 

Erik glared at the man across from him, “I don’t need to say anything to you.” He corrected.

 

Pietro nodded, “Right, but I’m not letting—” he cut himself off, picking his next words carefully, “I’m not letting what happened today just go unsaid, I suppose.”

 

Erik crossed his arms over his chest, “Peter—”

 

“Pietro.”

 

Erik ignored him, “I never knew you existed and I think we can leave it there.”

 

Pietro glared at the man, growing angry, “No, we can’t.” Pietro insisted, “Maybe you can bury your feelings or smother down whatever shit you’re feeling but I just learned that my father isn’t actually my father and my actual father is sitting right in front of me, Erik.” Losing interest in the food in his hand for the conversation, he simply dropped the bag down next to him on the floor, hoping the bag didn’t spill out for sake of whoever would get stuck cleaning it up.

 

“What do you want me to say?” Erik hissed, “That we’ll make up for lost time? That I’ll pay some late child support?” Erik shook his head, “I never knew you existed and I could have gone the rest of my life the same way.”

 

Pietro scowled, glaring at the man who was supposed to be his dad. Suddenly, Pietro desired to get a reaction, whether it be negative or positive, “Could you have done that? To me, it seems like there’s something that would have torn you apart if you never knew about me and Wanda.”

 

Erik tapped a finger on the table, whether it be nervously or absentmindedly, “You do not know anything, Pietro.”

 

“I don’t!” Pietro exclaimed, throwing his arms up into the air, “And that is my problem! It feels like my mother had an entire life before me and she died without me knowing who my actual fucking father is!”

 

Then, something shifted.

 

The atmosphere seemed to grow heavy with the switch of Erik’s face. His once tense, angry look fell. Suddenly, the man looked almost... scared. His hand lifted from the table and his shoulders sagged, “Died?” He echoed, almost having to choke the word out.

 

Pietro realized, that maybe Erik had been just as out of the loop as Pietro.

 

“Magda is dead?” Erik repeated, “Sh-she died?”

 

Pietro nodded, slowly.

 

Erik looked away, angling his face away from Pietro, “When did she…” the words came out slow and quiet, heaving with emotion.

 

Pietro swallowed, not having thought he’d have to recount his mother’s death so soon, “Around fifteen years ago,” He pushed out, “She, uh, she died during a bombing in Sokovia.”

 

Erik squeezed his eyes shut at the news, turning back to Pietro only to rest his arms on the table and cover his face with his hands, “Charles… He never told me—”

 

“I don’t think he knew until today, when Wanda and I told him.” Pietro filled in, surprised with his defending of Charles.

 

Pietro found himself okay with the silence that grew again, mulling over Erik’s reaction. A part of him had thought that with Erik’s reaction from the mention of Magda’s name, maybe the man knew about his mother’s death.

 

Pietro realized with worry that maybe the history here was much more complicated than he might have originally thought.

 

“How old are you?” Erik croaked, having yet to look up again.

 

“Twenty six.”

 

This had Erik looking up with slightly widened eyes. His eyes skipped around Pietro’s face frantically, “You were only a child ,” He replied, voice only somewhat louder than a whisper.

 

Pietro nodded, wordlessly.

 

“And your father?”

 

Pietro realized that something had changed in his mind. Erik had become the “supposed to be and is my father” in his head much faster than anticipated, but Django had become “father but not father.” Pietro hated the change, slightly, because Erik hadn’t been the one to raise him, hadn’t been the man Pietro grew up calling ‘Dad’ and yet his title was already starting to shift in Pietro’s head.

 

“He died with her.”

 

Erik had the decency to seem shocked at the news and the man sat up straight again. He ran a hand through the short hair atop his head. Erik must have thought his next words over carefully with the time it took for another response, “You and Wanda, what happened after your parents?”

 

Here was the conversation Pietro had been hoping for.

 

“We were on the streets for awhile until we…” Pietro trailed off, words cutting out when it occurred to Pietro that he was almost embarrassed to reveal the path he had gone down to his father. “We got mixed up with some bad people.” He settled for saying.

 

“Pietro,” Erik started, “You need to know that I’m bad people.”

 

“Charles mentioned that.”

 

Pietro swore he saw the corner of Erik’s lips turn up at the news, but he didn't dare try to analyze whatever that meant, “Of course he did.” He muttered before switching his attention to Pietro once again, “Furthermore, I will always be a danger.”

 

Pietro risked it, “Charles also said that, to him, you’re a good man.”

 

Erik crossed his arms over his chest, “To Charles, I’ve always been a good man, even when I was leaving in the middle of the night to track down people who I only wished to hurt.”

 

“But are you still the man Magneto?”

 

Erik nearly flinched at the title, “What do you know about Magneto?”

 

“What do you know about him?”

 

“I know that he was a terrible man that never seems to die.”

 

“Pretty worrying to wish for yourself to die, hm?” Pietro dared to ask.

 

Erik didn’t seem to agree, “I retired the name years ago, but retiring a name doesn’t mean I’m suddenly equal to America’s sweetheart.”

 

Pietro held back a grin at the nickname, vaguely thinking about all the times Clint had let the name loose, “I never asked if you were a good man.”

 

“Doesn’t matter; I’m no fit to be a good father.” Erik pushed.

 

“Do you think you’re still Magneto, Erik?” Pietro asked instead.

 

Erik hesitated before he shook his head, “I don’t want to be that man again. Always so angry and sad and out for blood.” He answered honestly, “But it's only because of Charles I took that path.”

 

“You seem to really want to be that bad man still.” Pietro noted, nearly smug, “Yet you mention how you wish to be a good man. Shouldn’t that suffice for now?”

 

Erik shook his head, “You can be a good man but that cannot excuse your past.”

 

“If that were true, I’d be dead or locked up.”

 

Erik furrowed his brows at that, “How could you—”

 

“Wanda I got mixed up with bad people,” Pietro repeated, “People who made us into monsters and who convinced us to fight against the good guys. But, it was the good guys who took us in when we realized what wrong we had been doing.”

 

“But I—”

 

“Like father, like son?”

 

The words hung heavy over them, the truth ringing true.

 

Erik had been a bad man, but with the help of a good man, had made the effort to do better.

 

For Pietro, he had been the same.

 

Erik let out a long, weary sigh, “Pietro, I can’t promise you anything.”

 

Pietro nodded, despite his lurking concerns, “I know that and neither can Wanda or I.” He answered, “We have people depending on us, and if you decide that you just can’t deal with the world around you, we can’t chase after you.” He motioned between them, “Right now, this is Wanda and I’s only chance at finding comfort in the truth Charles gave us. And I think the same goes for you.”

 

Erik ran a hand down his face, mumbling something under his breath, “Shouldn’t your sister be with you for such an admission?”

 

“She is asleep, and she deserves the sleep. Me? I cannot sleep, not when I cannot wear myself out.”

 

“Nightmares?” Erik guessed.

 

“Sometimes,” Pietro admitted, “But most nights I feel like I will… combust if I do not get out all the excess energy.”

 

“Excess energy?”

 

It occurred to Pietro that there was the whole mutant thing he has yet to really think about.

 

“Erik, you are a mutant, correct?” Pietro asked instead.

 

Erik nodded, this time proudly, before he eyed Pietro, “And you?”

 

“Apparently,” He replied, pushing his hair out of his face, “I always thought I was some man-made disaster, but it turns out it was always genetic.” He attempted to joke.

 

Erik gave a short chuckle, which made Pietro grin at his success. Erik hesitated, “Like father, like son.” He mumbled.

 

“The excess energy is built up by my abilities,” Pietro shared, “My mind is always moving so fast and my body seems to be always moving in some way or another.” Just then, Pietro became aware of the light tapping his foot was making.

 

“What is your mutation then?” Erik asked.

 

“I run very, very fast.” He answered with a grin, “Faster than anyone else in the world. Time also happens to move slower for me, in a few ways.”

 

Erik nodded, interest peaking, “How fast?”

 

“Last I checked, I can run faster than light.” He answered before his grin grew, “Number wise, it was estimated I once hit, I think… seven million miles per hour.” He stated proudly.

 

Erik’s eyes widened, but with the man he was, his expression didn’t give much away until a smile slowly grew on his face.

 

Pietro watched the smile grow, holding back a snort when he related the smile back to one of a shark. Fitting, really.

 

“So more than fast, then?” Erik questioned.

 

Pietro nodded, leaning forward, “So,” He started, “What about you, Erik?”

 

Erik eyes flicked to the chessboard between them and the man lifted his arms off the table. Within the second, all the pieces began sliding across the board, switching places and some being knocked from the board. It occured to Pietro that Erik was… playing chess with himself.

 

Just as quick as is started, it ended, with one lone piece on the board.

 

“Metal,” Erik started, “I control metal to put it simply.”

 

Pietro chuckled and picked up the last remaining piece, “And yet you choose to play chess with yourself rather than,” Pietro looked around and gestured to the television positioned by the couches, “I don’t know, throw a television across the room?”

 

“That would be a destruction of property. This way, I’m not costing Charles money.” Erik explained and Pietro watched as the pieces began moving back into the places on the board, even the piece that had been thrown at Pietro earlier in the night. Yet, Erik didn’t remove the piece from Pietro’s hand. All he did was send a pointed glance the man’s way and Pietro, although surprisingly begrudgingly, placed it down in the last empty spot.

 

The moment was nice, admittedly, and Pietro found himself not wanting to disrupt it. But there were still a million unanswered questions floating around his mind.

 

He entertained the idea of waking Wanda and bringing her down for the talk Pietro was about to start, but then, knowingly selfishly, Pietro didn’t want to disrupt whatever comfort Erik had found.

 

And, Pietro wondered if maybe this was something he needed to do on his own. Wanda, she had seemed unsettled by the news but there was something about it that she was much more comforted by that Pietro had missed, he thought.

 

Pietro already had the feeling that Erik could take to Wanda easily. Everyone seemed to. There was still something lurking between Pietro and Erik that Pietro was sure would always remain. Wanda was all soft with a threatening nature that lurked just below the surface. She knew how to talk her way out of a situation without leaving a mark and maybe that’s what Erik needed, if Charles meant anything.

 

Pietro, though, his emotions could flood his view and he could ruin whatever progress he makes with Erik within seconds. But, maybe, Pietro would rather ruin it on his own than hide behind his sister and let her do the talking.

 

“Erik?” Pietro asked.

 

Erik looked to Pietro, expression back to being guarded, which was expected.

 

“I’m not asking for everything,” Pietro started slowly, “But… How exactly did you know my mother?”

 

And then came back Erik’s guarded everything.

 

“I think it's best you try to get some rest in, Pietro.” Erik stated coldly, “I’m sure Charles will be trying to convince you two to become teachers at the school in no time tomorrow.”

 

Erik stood, not sparing Pietro another glance as he left the room.

 

Pietro let out a loud, long sigh once the man was gone.

 

“Nice job, Maximoff.” Pietro muttered.

 

Pietro returned upstairs and stopped outside of door where he was staying. He sent a text Peter’s way, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to tell anyone anything in person until Wanda woke up (“tried to talk to my father and it went well for like 2 seconds before i fucked up :) lemme know when you can talk tomorrow b/c i rlly miss you love you”).

 

But, when Pietro opened the door and walked in, shutting the door behind him quietly, his eyes first came upon Wanda sitting up in bed.

 

“I never did realize how loud you project your thoughts until we came here.” Wanda noted, “It may be difficult to get into your mind for most telepaths but no one would have any trouble getting an idea of your thoughts with your projections.”

 

“Wand—”

 

“We should work on that, no?” She asked. She tucked her hair behind her ear, red flashing from her fingers as the lamps in the room switched on, “I am not upset, brother. You are not wrong; there’s something there when it comes to our father that upsets you more than me. Maybe it’s because I have my own children, but these days I try not to dwell on the what if’s of our past. I’d rather think of the what if’s for my boys’ futures.”

 

“Wanda…” Pietro trailed off.

 

“Erik is a mysterious man, but I do not think he is purposefully cruel at least.” Wanda continued on, “So I do not want you to be dismayed by his dismissal, Pietro.” She said, “And Erik has a habit of projecting when overwhelmed I think. He is very torn up by the news of our mother. Even after he left you, it was one of the first things he thought of. Right now, I actually believe he is seeking out the Professor.”

 

Pietro sighed and walked over to his sister, stopping next to her bed, “Do you think Erik will ever talk about our mother with us?” Pietro asked, surprised by his own dismay.

 

Wanda shrugged, “I couldn't say. But I am sure that this whole situation will not be resolved within the days leading up to Hanukkah.” She answered. She turned so her body was facing her brother, “Speaking of, we need to return home soon if we are going to be joining our family for the holidays.”

 

Pietro nodded, biting his lip in thought, “Do you think Erik is Jewish too?”

 

Wanda took hold of her brother’s hand, “We can return here after Hanukkah if Xavier allows it, Pietro.” She told him instead, “I, too, do not want to leave this mess with Erik unfinished.”

 

Pietro nodded, “We’ll talk to Charles tomorrow, then? We should leave by tomorrow night, no?”

 

Wanda hummed in agreement. Before Pietro could walk to his own bed, Wanda tugged on his hand, catching his eye, “We need to be prepared for disappointment though, Pietro.”

 

Pietro sighed. She was correct and Pietro was growing to know that more and more with each passing second, “I know.” He mumbled.

 

She nodded, releasing his hand, “Good night, brother.”

 

“Night, sister.”

 

 

Charles was very understanding of the twins’ reason for leaving and even more okay with them returning. Although unsaid, he seemed to have already made the promise to keep Erik around for them when they returned.

 

He wished them a happy holiday before they left, and the twins spent the rest of the day making their way around the mansion and stopping occasionally to talk to some of the occupants of the mansion.

 

Interestingly enough, most of the occupants of the mansion were pretty open people, besides the Warren kid, Raven, and Erik. Warren, though not very talkative, never seemed to leave Kurt’s side, of whom was the most talkative of the group so far, much to Pietro’s amusement.

 

Wanda had also taken a liking to Jean. Wanda happily shared with Pietro that Jean was seventeen and had been dating Scott for a year. She was a very strong telepath, Wanda learned, but was terribly sweet. Pietro, on the other hand, had taken to making Scott think he was losing his mind, up until Alex happened to catch Pietro in the act of replacing Scott’s framed picture of himself and Jean on his desk with a picture of Tommy’s favorite character on some children’s TV show. Alex hadn’t been upset, no, he had started laughing, which had pulled Scott’s attention from the hall outside his room.

 

Scott, all five feet and seven inches of his teenage self, was furious . He had even threatened to take off his glasses and shoot Pietro. It had taken both Storm and Alex to calm his down, having to remind him that it would be illegal to kill a man (Scott didn’t really care).

 

The entire situation had Pietro in stitches, having to support himself by taking hold of the edge of Scott’s desk.

 

Scott, Pietro learned, was simply a fiery ball of childish rage and it was amazing .

 

But, once that situation was over and done, Pietro found himself taking up a brief residency in Hank’s lab. Maybe it was just him missing his boyfriend, but suddenly science talk was at least somewhat interesting to listen to. It only got boring when Hank stopped paying Pietro any attention, and Pietro sped off to find someone else to busy himself with.

 

Which led to Pietro stumbling upon one blue Kurt and one winged Warren getting it up in the library. Or, at least, not so much “getting it up” and more like two teens trying to sneak a peck.

 

Pietro, being the loved and admired Avenger who saves people’s lives he is, found them because he stumbled over his feet when he got distracted trying to figure out if that book on the floor was something Billy had Pietro read to him once. So, he had landed as a lump on the floor at the feet of two surprised teens.

 

Kurt had booked it, disappearing in a cloud of blue, leaving behind his winged buddy. Warren simply rolled his eyes and tucked his hands into his pockets, glancing down at Pietro with an irritated look, “Thanks for that, asshole.” He told the man, wings twitching in what Pierto assumed was mild anger.

 

But, upon seeing the irritation, Pietro happily began following the kid around, daring to make the comparison of Warren, the leather jacket clad and Mohawk wearing teen, to a good ol’ Christian boy named Kurt (the Christian thing was a stab in the dark, but he learned later Kurt was indeed Catholic).

 

The joke fell flat, which was expected.

 

Perhaps it was his building energy that had Pietro following people around with the pure intent of annoying them, but, either way, Warren was the one to call out Jean’s name and shove Pietro out of an open window.

 

Which, overall, hadn’t ended very well for Warren.

 

Jean had gotten there in time and was able to use her powers to lift Pietro back through the window before he became a Pietro pancake, but Wanda had come with Jean and had used her own abilities to push Warren into a wall and then throw him out the same window.

 

Warren saved himself well enough, grumbling and swearing in German when he climbed back in through the same window. Kurt had entered the room as well and had gotten the rundown from Pietro and Warren had only been visibly upset when Kurt crossed his arms over his chest and began yelling at Warren in German. This had only ended with Warren chasing after a ranting Kurt while frantically yelling after him in German.

 

An entertaining day to say the least, but, upon Wanda noticing all the pent up energy Pietro had, had ordered him to run a few laps (how did Pietro not think of that?) and had also made Pietro realize that the mansion and the Erik situation was really starting to make him revert back to his seventeen year old self.

 

Maybe leaving for a week was a good idea then.

 

Dinner was fairly simple, surprisingly, but still lacked Erik while Hank made the effort to appear to wish the twins a happy holidays and to bid them goodbye.

 

No matter what, returning to California and being greeted by their family made up for the confusion endured at the mansion.

 

 

Wanda and Pietro made the decision that since they still had a day before they would really be preparing for Hanukkah, they needed to sit down and talk to Natasha and Peter about what had been happening to them.

 

Natasha shut the door behind them, walking over to sit beside Peter on the guest bed.

 

Wanda and Pietro stood before them and barely let a second pass before Pietro was blurting out the past events, “Django Maximoff isn’t actually our dad but this guy Erik Lehnsherr is and Xavier was able to get him to come to his mansion and share the news with all of us and none of us really dealt with it well at first but then I tried to talk to Erik about it and it only really worked out for about two seconds before he stormed off but also Wanda and I learned that we’re actually mutants and went through what Wade had gone through just instead we went through it with HYDRA and turns out our real dad is some really powerful mutant, which we still have yet to hear much about but I refuse to hear anything about him from anyone but himself, but besides that the mutant thing isn’t all that shocking in a way although it makes me realize now that I actually have something to talk to Wade with and now I have a reason to be friends with him like Peter has always wanted but anyways the whole Dad thing is fucking insane and the mutant thing not so much but I really want to not scare Erik away and learn more about my birth father.” Pietro spilled, his words coming out quick as if confessing. It only occurred to him after he shut his mouth that he didn’t think he had taken more than one breath to say everything. But now it was too late because his mind was running on overdrive and nothing was really sticking and Wanda would have to retell everything and—

 

“Pietro?”

 

Pietro flinched, his thoughts leaving him and a breath flooding past his lips.

 

“Pietro?” Wanda asked again, having taken hold of his arm.

 

Now, Pietro realized he had been pacing the length of the room and hadn’t acknowledged it. He had been speaking in one breath and his mind had switched into overdrive.

 

Yeah, that’s… that’s what happened.

 

Now, Pietro blinked and tried to work his way through the sudden come down in energy.

 

It had been a few months since the last time his mind had gotten away from him like that, but he supposed the recent events had been the cause of it this time.

 

He had been experiencing the constant buildup of energy throughout the day and had been avoiding trying to wear it out, a habit he had mostly practiced when he was just joining the Avengers. It wasn’t until Peter had noticed the abrupt drops and rises in his energy levels that Pietro had made a change. He had gotten used to wearing himself out when he realized he needed to, but had gotten used to constantly keeping himself at an even level after Peter pointed out the negative effects of his past exercising of his abilities.

 

“I’m fine; I’m alright,” He waved his sister off, “Just slipped up” he muttered.

 

And he had. The past two days were filled with lots of thinking and a lot less doing. That alone was unlike his usual day-to-day.

 

From where he sat, Peter reached forward and took Pietro’s hand in his.

 

Wanda took lead of the conversation on her own, “Charles Xavier called us to his mansion to reveal to us that we had been living our lives without the full truth. What we had signed ourselves up for with HYDRA was not just experimentation for creating the enhanced but was truly HYDRA testing and torturing individuals to activate their X-gene.” She explained, “And it was Wade Wilson and another associate who discovered this. They also found out that our father who we grew up with was not actually our father. In our files, HYDRA noted that they discovered a genetic match with each of our DNA and the DNA of Erik Lehnsherr.” She continued, “With this information, Charles called us to his mansion, along with Erik Lehnsherr.

 

“There, Charles revealed the information to the three of us and after that Pietro, Erik, and I tried to work through accepting the information but it showed that it was a lot more difficult than Pietro and I expected. Our father is a hurt and difficult man and this information, I can only assume, put him back to the thoughts of a hard time in life. For us, it had us rethinking our entire lives, especially the life of our mother.”

 

“Wanda, Pietro…” Natasha trailed off, looking between the twins with wide eyes.

 

“There’s no need to comfort us, Nat,” Wanda started, starting towards her wife, “This is something that I think we can only deal with. We just felt it was right to inform the two of you of this… development.”

 

Natasha nodded, but pulled Wanda down for a hug, whispering something in her ear.

 

Peter, on the other hand, stood and gathered Pietro in a tight hug immediately, “This is… a good thing in a way, right?” He whispered to Pietro, uncertain, “I don’t think you would have liked going your entire life without knowing about this Erik, Pietro. And think of it like this,” He leaned away slightly, “Maybe this is a chance for adding onto the family?”

 

Peter always looked at the bright side of things, especially in adulthood. This, though, was limited to all but his own experiences.

 

Pietro shrugged, angling Peter’s face and pressing a kiss to his lips in replacement of speaking. Because maybe Peter was right. But maybe he was wrong.

 

 

Hanukkah came and passed like every year. It was great to spend time with family, especially the ones who Pietro didn’t get to see everyday anymore (meaning everyone besides Peter).

 

It also meant making more memories for Billy and Tommy, which was a nice thought in its own. The holidays, for Wanda and Pietro, though, was a vague reminder of Hanukkah with their parents.

 

And even then, a reminder of Erik.

 

 

Sharing the news once more that Wanda and Pietro were planning to go back to the mansion didn’t go over as well as it went the first time.

 

The boys would be starting school again soon, but even when their mom had been gone for two days they had difficulty following their day-to-day plans. Natasha, although used to being separated from loved ones from her days as a spy, didn’t love the idea of not knowing when her wife would return home.

 

Peter, despite not saying it was obvious with his concerns of possibly losing Pietro to this possibility of another father. To Peter, it meant a new life.

 

Before concerns could be told, the twins were already comforting their family. They wouldn’t be gone forever; they would return; they wanted to talk to their father more, but they didn’t plan to change their lives entirely to accommodate a man who may not be permanent.

 

The plans were made nonetheless and both twins confirmed that they would be visiting their loved ones if their time in the mansion exceeded their previous time there.

 

Leaving still wasn’t easy.

 

 

Charles and Jean were standing in the driveway when the twins returned.

 

“We had a feeling you would be returning sooner than later.” Charles explained after greeting them.

 

Pietro nodded, wordlessly.

 

Jean smiled at them, giving a small smile and answering their unsaid question, “Mr. Lehnsherr is still around. Charles convinced him to spend Hanukkah here instead of leaving like he originally wanted to.”

 

Pietro wondered if he enjoyed Hanukkah this year like Wanda and Pietro did. Sadly, he doubted it.

 

Charles, after checking that Wanda and Pietro knew where there room was once more, informed them that winter break would be ending soon, meaning an influx of students.

 

Although all were unsure of whether or not the twins would be staying that long, Charles felt the need to let them know, especially since some students would arrive sooner than others.

 

Unbeknownst to Pietro, Charles also mentioned that there was a fair share of students still in the mansion that the twins hadn’t met. Jean had to quietly mention that the students who were not part of the X-Men felt slightly wary or shy of the two. Apparently it had gotten around that the mansion’s visitors were Avengers.

 

Pietro wondered if Erik was one of the ones to know.

 

Now that he knew that the twins were more than a one day stay, Charles gave them a better tour of the mansion.

 

As they made their way around the library, the sudden memory of their first encounter with Xavier wandered back to him.

 

When asked about it, Charles smiled while Jean was visibly surprised.

 

Charles gave a vague answer about what the room was. “Cerebro” he called it. Overall, it seemed like an interesting device.

 

Jean left them once they left the library, telling the three she needed to find Scott and Alex before they murdered each other. Pietro didn’t ponder long on how she knew such a thing was happening, but, either way, she said it with a smile, so Pietro didn’t worry himself.

 

Charles dropped them off at their room.

 

“Professor?” Wanda called after him.

 

He looked back at them, “Yes, Wanda?”

 

“Where can we find Erik if we wish to speak with him?” She asked.

 

Charles wheeled himself around to face the twins, “Surprising as it may be, Erik spends most of his time outside.” He replied, “He likes to sit by the lake or under the tree by the garden and think, or read. But, if you wish to talk about these things with him, it may be better to talk to him indoors where he can sense his surroundings more. Don’t tell him I told you so, but Erik feels much more at peace surrounded by metal, such as the den and the library.” He answered with a faint smile, “Have a good day, you two.”

 

After he was out of earshot, Pietro turned to Wanda, “You think there’s something going on here with Charles and Erik?”

 

“Pietro,” Wanda groaned, “You can’t be saying that stuff about the man who is our father.” She turned and opened the door, walking in and leaving Pietro behind. Before he could walk in himself, she poked her head back out, “But yes.”

 

Pietro chuckled, following his sister inside. He shut the door behind them, “Like best friends or past love type of thing?”

 

She paused, seemingly thinking it over, “Both.”

 

Pietro absorbed the answer before he paused, “You don’t think they’re soulmates do you?”

 

She furrowed her brows in through, “Maybe.” She said slowly.

 

“It would explain the way Erik listens to Charles and how Charles has convinced himself Erik is inherently good.”

 

“I think Erik is better now.” Wanda added, “I’m not sure where you stand, but I do not think he would be here if he weren’t a good man now.”

 

“I don’t disagree, Wanda,” Pietro replied, “But I don’t think I’d think of him as a bad man if I wanted to actually talk about the father thing with him.”

 

The two got themselves settled in the room, this time around actually putting things away in drawers.

 

At one point when Pietro’s hands were free, Wanda shoved a few framed pictures in them, “May made sure to give us these.” She explained easily.

 

There were four to be exact and Pietro smiled down at them. One was of Peter, Pietro, and Frankie, of a day a year ago when they had taken Frankie down to the beach in California for the first time with them. Natasha had taken the picture, and in the picture, Frankie was half-wet, as were Pietro and Peter, and had bits of sand in his black fur. Peter and Pietro were dressed in their swim trunks and smiling from ear to ear.

 

The other photo was the photo Tony had planned of all of the Avengers, new and old. It was taken a few years back, when Tony was sure that there wouldn’t be any new additions to the team within the next year or two. It was another family portrait to Pietro.

 

The third photo was of Pietro and Wanda at their eighteenth birthday, smiling widely and covered in glitter that Thor and Clint had doused them in to surprise them.

 

The final photo was of Pietro, Wanda, Peter, Natasha, Billy, Tommy, and Aunt May from earlier in the year during the summer when Wanda had taken her family up to New York to visit Pietro. They went to Times Square, like any other tourist and had gotten the photo.

 

Mentally, Pietro thanked May for the gift.

 

With a smile on his face, Pietro delicately arranged the frames on the dresser he had made his own. Having made sure the pictures faced his bed, Pietro stepped back and stuck his hands into his hoodie pocket.

 

Wanda stepped up next to her brother, “We’ll have to thank May when we get back. I was thinking maybe we make something with Peter.” She suggested.

 

Pietro hummed, nodding, “I’m sure he constantly has ideas in that head of his.”

 

Wanda crossed her arms over her chest and nodded, “I’m sure May has her ideas as well.”

 

“Of what she wants? If she’s anything like Peter, she doesn’t. Those two don’t like having people spend money on them.”

 

“I know what she wants.” She started, grinning, “Great-nephews and a couple of more nieces by marriage.” She teased, “Which, of course, means myself, my lovely wife, and perfect children.”

 

Pietro rolled his eyes, “Perfect timing, sister, I applaud you.” He deadpanned.

 

Wanda giggled and patted her brother on the back, “I’m only teasing, Pietro.”

 

Pietro hooked an arm around her shoulders, “I know, I know.” He amended.

 

A moment of silence passed.

 

“Feeling up to visit around the mansion?” Pietro asked.

 

“I was hoping to ask Storm how her search for a jacket went, so yes. She and Kurt had plans to go on a search for it a couple days after we left.” She informed her brother.

 

“Well, we better get going then, hm?” Pietro asked, already starting to tug his sister towards the door.

 

“Any plans, Pietro?” She asked with a laugh, letting her brother lead her out of the room.

 

“Might try to bother Warren again.”

 

“And get thrown out of another window?”

 

Pietro grinned, “He reminds me of an angry cat sometimes.” He admitted, “And it’s like messing with Clint; you almost always get a reaction.”

 

Wanda rolled her eyes and scooted out of Pietro’s grip, but staying at his side, “Don’t bother him too much, Pietro. And, if he seems tired of you, go find something else to do.”

 

Pietro nodded, “Of course,” He agreed, “But I plan to annoy Warren until he feels the need to throw me again.”

 

“Sometimes I truly do wonder if you’re insane, Pietro.”

 

“As do many.”

 

 

Although there were many new students wandering the school that Wanda and Pietro had yet to meet, the people who had attended that first dinner the twins shared with the X-Men were the same group the Sokovians ate their meal with in a separate dining room.

 

Alex had explained it as something revolving around team members and students. The place was still a school, after all, according to the man.

 

Very noticeably, Erik was still missing during the dinner, but Pietro was determined to not let it bother him too much.

 

Wanda amicably spoke of her children again during dinner and Pietro resolved to open up a little more on his own. He, too, didn’t reveal the heroic nature of his boyfriend, but he certainly didn’t hold back from boasting about how smart his soulmate is.

 

The members of the table took in the information happily and Pietro found himself smiling throughout most of the meal. Vaguely, he was reminded of his first dinner with the Avengers after he had healed up from Ultron.

 

Even if this whole Erik business went south, maybe… maybe he and Wanda could come visit the X-Men every once in awhile, for old time’s sake.

 

Later, when Wanda and Pietro had separated from the group, they took some time to call their family. The Sokovians listened closely as Tommy and Billy excitedly spouted the details of their day, Natasha laughing quietly in the background. After Pietro had taken his turn talking to his nephews and sister-in-law, he set off to call his own soulmate.

 

Calling Peter gave form to a heavy relief. Peter happily talked Pietro’s ear off for the next hour and Pietro easily listened.

 

So, once the calls had ended and he and Wanda were getting ready for bed, the room seemed slightly heavy with emotion.

 

They didn’t speak of it though, the reason possibly being fear of doubting their choices of coming back to the mansion. But this was important and Pietro knew neither he or Wanda could let Erik sneak away without settling their findings.

 

And when Wanda silently rose from her bed after the lights had been switched off and slipped out of the room, he caught the faint trail of thoughts she projected too loudly.

 

He didn’t chase after her. He had his own conversations with Erik; Wanda needed to speak to him too.

 

Pietro rolled over in bed and gave a long, tired sigh.

 

Please don’t run away, he silently wished.

 

 

Pietro had been asleep when Wanda snuck back into their room, but the moment she sat herself down on the empty space next to him in his bed, he stirred.

 

“Pietro?” Wanda asked quietly.

 

Pietro hummed in acknowledgement, shifting so he could face his sister. He didn’t open his eyes yet, though.

 

“Erik was in the garden.” She explained softly.

 

Silently, Pietro pulled his hand out from under his comforter and let it rest on the small space between them. Delicately, Wanda placed her own hand over his.

 

“We talked for awhile.” Wanda continued, “I told him a bit more about how we got to where we are today. And I talked about California and…” she trailed off.

 

Pietro opened his eyes here, forcing himself to sit up and push his hair out of his face. Wanda sat before him, not exactly hunched over nor sitting up straight, but was staring ahead at the wall. Her brows were slightly furrowed and her short hair was messily tucked behind her ears.

 

“Wanda?” He called quietly.

 

“I… I told him about the boys,” she replied, “He didn’t say much, not really at first, but I needed to tell him. Now he knows that there’s much more family out in the world for him than just us. He asked what their names were, how old they were. And he asked if their father was around. I wonder if that was him wondering if his own history had repeated, but I let him know that their mom was still around and well. He seemed surprised, at first, but I told him a little more about them and he looked almost… fond?”

 

Fond.

 

“Did he run off?” Pietro couldn't help but ask.

 

She bit her lip, angling her head down briefly before she faced her brother, shaking her head. “Our conversation almost turned onto him. He opened up slightly about how he met Charles, though. The conversation ended once I voiced my realization that I thought that maybe, just maybe, we had inherited his eyes. Mother didn’t have light eyes, not like us, but Erik… he does, you know? I thought that maybe… maybe he wouldn’t be so startled by the idea. But he excused himself rather quickly and said I should get some sleep; call my wife and children. Then he was gone.”

 

A part of Pietro, and ugly, small part, was jealous of Wanda. Of how easily it seemed she had gotten Erik to reveal details of his personal life whereas Pietro merely got to learn about the “Magneto” side. The mutation talk and about just how strong Pietro really was. Wanda had gotten Erik to talk about Charles who, no matter their actual connection, must be important to Erik.

 

Pietro wanted to know why.

 

Wanda already appeared to have an idea.

 

“I wonder if maybe you remind him of himself, Pietro,” she suddenly commented, “You both are impulsive, I think, and have a history of arrogance. We don't know him all that well yet, so maybe there is more.”

 

“What, and you remind him of Mom?” He spat out, surprised by his own negativity.

 

Wanda didn’t seem to care, “Possibly.” She mumbled, fingers tracing the design in her socks, “Father always said I was so like our mother.”

 

And of course that made sense, Pietro thought bitterly. Why would Erik lean towards his son who reminded him of himself? Why wouldn’t he lean towards his daughter who was able to seem more familiar?

 

“Why must he be so… complex?”

 

“Not complex,” Wanda corrected, “Guarded.”

 

Pietro was silent for a moment.

 

“Was he projecting?”

 

Wanda sighed, “Somewhat. He seems well trained in keeping his thoughts to himself but I have the feeling that the calm nature of the garden and the familiar environment of the mansion brought down some of those walls, unbeknownst to him. I skimmed his surface thoughts, and I think he may have known, but I think he wants to know more about this new part of his life, brother. But there’s something muddled there, dark almost, that keeps him back.”

 

“You learned a lot from some surface thoughts, Wanda.” He teased, enthusiasm barely there.

 

Her fingers curled around her ankle and only now did he notice how troubled she seemed.

 

“There are vulnerable places in his mind, places I think he can’t hide any longer. The true material of the memories, thoughts, or whatever, are well kept, but the emotions from them are very clear. I… abused those places, Pietro.” She admitted.

 

Shit.

 

As Pietro put an arm around his sister, pulling her towards him, she continued, “I feel bad , Pietro, but I couldn’t just not do it and I don’t know why . It’s like I’m back to when we first joined the Avengers, invading everyone’s privacy without meaning to.” She whispered into his shoulder.

 

His hand found the top of her head and he held her in the same protective hold he had taken up since they were little, “It’s okay, Wanda. You can slip up, it’s okay. This isn’t a normal situation, right? It’s not everyday you get your life flipped around like this.”

 

“But I feel bad .”

 

“And that’s fine,” he assured honestly, “But I’m right here, either way. These things can happen. Remember the time I had a bad day? I couldn’t go anywhere, my abilities felt so wrong and you were there for me. I will always do the same for you. Always .”

 

Her hand curled into his shirt and she nodded, “I know, Pietro, thank you.”

 

 

The following week lacked any more emotional conversations.

 

Classes were back in session, which also meant that it was merely Wanda, Pietro, Charles, Erik, Hank, Raven, and Alex that were the majority of adults that wandered around. There were some other teachers, too, but they very obviously avoiding Wanda and Pietro. Hank led a couple classes during the week, too, but not too many as he mostly secluded himself within his lab. Sometimes accompanied by Raven, Pietro couldn’t help but notice.

 

Erik was off doing something, as well, and Pietro forced himself to not try and seek him out just yet. He worried that if they put too much emotion on Erik, the man may just run off. Completely.

 

Charles, on the other hand, was pretty much always around. Although that didn’t exactly mean he was free for conversation.

 

So, with the lack of people, Pietro and Wanda had taken to Alex Summers. They learned that he was around their age, too, had once been a student at the mansion, and had been an X-Men since he was a teenager.

 

Unaware to the siblings’ pasts, he opened up and told the story of manifesting his mutation after showing them a fun little demonstration that Pietro nearly got burned by when he sped by. He hadn’t expected the twins to open up, likely more aware of his environment than Pietro may have thought, but he did pose the question if they were open to it.

 

Pietro let Wanda answer for him, telling the man that it was a complicated story. She showed him a few tricks though, the ones usually reserved for entertaining her kids.

 

So, conversation was easy with Alex Summers.

 

Later, on the weekend, Charles introduced Wanda and Pietro to what they called the Danger Room. He vaguely said the room was for training their team and helping young mutants control their abilities, and, after Pietro’s annoying begging, let the two watch the current group of X-Men train.

 

It was… interesting.

 

Pietro was used to metal, mere flecks of magic, webbing, and guns.

 

The X-Men relied on themselves and each other. It was almost like it was more colors and flashes than the mechanical sights Pietro commonly saw.

 

Kurt disappeared in shades of blue, Scott and Alex shooting with sights of red while Jean moved fluidly in flashes of orange hair. Ororo, with white hair and eyes, flew by with storms raising at her fingertips. Raven was there too, moving violently and blue skin rippling. Warren surprised Pietro, working so well with his team. He flew by like Ororo, an, dare Pietro say it, angelic sight.

 

There were mess ups, made easily by a new team. They quickly corrected them, although with mild arguing.

 

It was nice… Different, but nice.

 

Pietro also couldn't help but snort when it was revealed that Scott was the team leader.

 

He nearly got blasted by some laser eyes for that.

 

Pietro and Wanda called home again before bed, calling family in both California and New York.

 

 

It was the next Tuesday evening next time Pietro saw Erik.

 

Dinner was just beginning, food being sent out and places being taken.

 

Wanda was talking to Jean and Ororo while she helped set out napkins and silverware.

 

Pietro had avoided being trusted with bringing out the glass cups filled with water for everyone, despite his helpful speed, in fear of making a fool out of himself as he inevitably dropped one of them on the hardwood flooring.

 

He ended up being given the job of retrieving Hank from the labs instead.

 

It had been easy enough, especially seeing as Hank was passed out over one of his work tables. He easily went along with Pietro to dinner at least.

 

Wanda found her brother leaning against one of the counters in the kitchen. He was waiting to be given a new task, surprised by his own eagerness to help. Most jobs had been filled though, so he and Wanda settled on top of the counter and waited to be called for dinner.

 

Minor conversation floated between them, mostly revolving around the school gossip that Warren had been caught making out with someone in an empty classroom the afternoon before. Apparently , the other person involved in Warren’s “crime” was nowhere to be seen by the time Warren had been pulled out of the room.

 

Pietro had snorted in amusement when he heard the news. He wondered if Kurt and Warren actually thought they were being sneaky.

 

Being sneaky meant hiding out on your boyfriend’s fire escape while he frantically tried to assure his Aunt that he was completely fine despite the ruckus he had made in his room.

 

Now that is trying to be sneaky , Pietro thought amusedly.

 

Pietro leaned back against the window behind him, shifting his body slightly to peek outside. The sun was almost done setting, the rain sliding down the window succeeding in blurring the sight, and Pietro nearly smiled at the sight. Last time he had come close to seeing the sun set like this, he had been on a mission with Clint and Natasha in Florida years ago.

 

Pietro did smile alongside Wanda as she retold a story Jean and Ororo told her about the X-Men’s recent mission that ended up with Kurt leaving Alex behind in some metal room for about an hour due to not realizing that the man hadn’t taken hold of him before he teleported. Alex had been fine. Had just burned a hole in the wall and trudged his way out of the building the long way, but he didn’t avoid smacking Kurt upside the head.

 

As Wanda giggled at her retelling of the mission, Pietro still happily smiled alongside his sister. Despite their conversation, Pietro let his eyes wander outside. He froze when he caught sight of a man sat, hunched over, on the back porch of the mansion.

 

He was nearly sitting in the rain with how close he sat to the end of the porch, and Pietro was sure he was merely dressed in a short sleeved shirt and dress pants.

 

His smile dropped at the realization.

 

Wanda caught on and leaned back to look at whatever her brother was looking at as well.

 

“Oh.” She muttered in realization.

 

The kitchen had mostly emptied by now, besides Wanda and Pietro, merely holding Charles and Raven who were speaking quietly to each other.

 

Pietro’s mouth was moving before he knew it, “Xavier? I think Wanda and I are going to skip out on the big dinner tonight. Wanda needs to check in with her family because… ‘cause her house was getting something repaired last time she called.”

 

“Price checking,” Wanda added, “Avenging doesn’t exactly mean I’m rich. And California is expensive.”

 

Charles flashed them a kind smile. Pietro had a feeling he already knew what they were up to, telepathic or not, but he at least had the decency to look like he believed them.

 

“Of course,” Charles replied, “We’ll save you both a plate, no worries.”

 

Charles motioned for Raven to follow after him, seemingly already ready to jump back into their previous conversation.

 

She shot them an extra look, though, “Have fun with your price checking.” She carefully commented.

 

Wanda nodded, smiling brightly.

 

Her smile dropped the moment the door closed, of course.

 

She turned to face her brother, “Grab a blanket, please? He may not care, nor want to see us, but we can’t let him freeze out there.”

 

Pietro nodded, “I agree.” The words fell from his lips barely a second before he was gone and back in a blur of blue.

 

He held a large blanket close to his chest. He had to search through a couple closets for it, admittedly, so it had taken him longer than desired to return to his sister.

 

It didn’t matter though, as Wanda curled a hand around one of Pietro’s wrists and tugged him towards the door a few feet away. He had yet to use the door, but he supposed it made sense to have a door leading to the back through the kitchen. Possibly.  

 

Wanda pushed the door open gently and led Pietro outside.

 

Outside, it was much colder than it looked. Absentmindedly, Pietro held back a chill that threatened to run down his back.

 

Ahead of him, Wanda, although dressed in some plain black dress, tights, and some big, fluffy cardigan, seemed much less cold than Pietro in his hoodie and jeans.

 

She slowed down her steps as they neared the back porch, nerves taking the best of her.

 

Silently, she released her brother’s arm and seemed to trust he would follow after her.

 

Wordlessly, she stopped behind Erik.

 

She stepped up next to him slowly, smoothing out her skirt and taking a seat next to him. The wood of the porch was slightly damp, and if the mildly wet state of Erik’s clothes and hair meant anything, the rain wouldn’t be any more forgiving. At least he wasn’t standing out in the rain.

 

Just as silent, Pietro unfolded the blanket and stepped forward, hesitantly. Hoping for the best, he gently placed the blanket over his father’s shoulders. Erik didn’t make a move to clasp the fabric in his hand nor did he make a move to shove it off.

 

Wanda followed quickly by reaching a careful hand forwards and tugging the blanket tighter around her father.

 

“I don’t believe this is the best weather to watch the sunset in, hm?” She asked, tone light and reminding Pietro of the times she spoke to her family in intimate moments. A thought struck him. She truly was, in this moment, speaking to her family in an intimate moment actually.

 

The realization pushed Pietro to sit down next to Erik. Both he and Wanda had left some space in between themselves and the man, more so to keep him in some form of comfort.

 

Erik didn’t respond immediately, gaze trapped somewhere around the sun and the trees that bordered the school.

 

Pietro watched as the ends of his jeans grew darker with the rain that managed to hit him.

 

Wanda’s eyes skipped around her father’s face as she wrapped her cardigan tighter around herself.

 

“Did Charles send you out here?” Erik broke the silence, voice coming out hoarse and betraying his stoic expression.

 

Pietro shook his head, “He didn’t,” he assured.

 

Silence found them again.

 

Erik’s finger twitched.

 

Pietro shoved his hands into his hoodie pocket, sneaking a glance at the man next to him.

 

Wanda tucked her hair behind her ear, eyes finding themselves tracing the skyline.

 

“Why would Charles send us out here?” Wanda questioned softly.

 

A beat of silence passed, “It’s the kind of person he is,” he started vaguely, “He cares too much. Too much about me .” He let out a weary sigh, “It was his idea to bring you here, why would it not be his idea to send you both out here for me?”

 

“Because we have our own tendencies. Because we can find it in ourselves to care.” Wanda answered, words heavy with truth. It may have been a dig at Erik, maybe even Charles, but Pietro didn’t linger on it.

 

Erik shifted and the blanket began falling from his shoulder. Instinctively, Pietro quickly grabbed the fabric and tugged it back into place.

 

Erik shot a glance at him, his son.

 

“I can’t talk about her yet.” He suddenly said, “I may never and you have to understand that.”

 

“You can’t keep it to yourself forever either,” Pietro pointed out, “She was our mother.”

 

Erik could barely contain his flinch at the reminder.

 

The rain picked up then, wind picking up and pushing the rain towards the three. None moved away as the water fell upon their legs and left the fabric and skin wet.

 

Family, it seems.

 

“I looked into you two.” Erik announced, eyes stubbornly staying away from his children.

 

“Looked into?” Pietro echoed, although he was sure of the answer.

 

Erik hummed, quietly and nearly silent to the people around him with the howl of wind, “Beast, Hank, didn’t try to hide those files very well during the holidays. He got distracted.” He explained.

 

A part of Pietro felt… betrayed? Scandalized, maybe.

 

He knew there was a portion of his life on public display, what with his heroic status, but his time with HYDRA and before… it wasn’t all that publicized besides the summary, if at all.

 

Pietro entertained the idea of telling his father of those dark details on his own, like how he alluded to them so many nights ago. Passively, he realized he wasn’t sure he really wanted to be the one to tell his own father those details, Django nor Erik.

 

Charles got lucky hearing everything, although, now that he thought if it, Pietro was sure the man already knew everything that had come out of his mouth that day.

 

“You know everything then?” Wanda asked quietly, hands bunched up in the fabric of her cardigan.

 

His eyes darted to the individuals sat on either side of him, “Unless there’s more that was off record then yes.” He admitted.

 

“Do you understand us a little more, then?” Pietro countered, “What we’ve gone through? Maybe it tells you a little more of why we aren’t letting you walk away. We’ve lost a lot. We can’t just let you go, too, if we can help it.”

 

Erik nodded thoughtfully. Slowly, his hands inched up until they clasped onto the blanket around his shoulders. He tugged the fabric closer around himself gently.

 

“This entire family here seems to have lost a lot.” Erik muttered, “A curse upon the Lehnsherr bloodline.”

 

“You are not all we have left, Erik,” Wanda started carefully, “But that doesn’t mean we don’t wish to exclude you from our lives.”

 

“Not much holds me here.” Erik replied vaguely.

 

“Not even Charles?” Pietro dared to question.

 

Erik froze, only briefly, before he sat up slightly straighter, “He can always try. Sometimes he may succeed.” He admitted.

 

Silence came over the three again, staying for the next few moments.

 

Time for consideration, possibly.

 

Pietro broke the silence, “It was HYDRA who we joined, you know that?” He didn’t wait for a response, “We got out of there and moved on. With help. And now we’re here. Wanda is a mother, a wife, a hero. I am in a similar position, I suppose, parenting a dog with my Peter. There are the Avengers too, certain people more than others who have become our close family.”

 

He didn’t know why he shared the information, but it almost felt right in a way.

 

“Tell me about them, please.” Erik requested, fingers tightening around the blanket.

 

Unbeknownst to the twins, a million thoughts flowed through Erik’s mind. Wanda had informed him of her children, but Erik was only now accepting the fact. Not only was he a father once more, he was a grandfather .

 

The siblings shared a look over their father’s head before Pietro started speaking again.

 

“Peter is my soulmate, my boyfriend, whatever term you prefer. I met him when I was a teenager and, somewhere along the way, we adopted a dog, Frankie. I still live in New York with Peter and work alongside the other Avengers.” Pietro explained, mind wandering only slightly, “Peter is incredible, too. Very smart, very handsome, great at practically everything, and more kind than anyone could imagine. He does so much and gets back so little, but he doesn’t care, not really. He makes me better. And Frankie is great too. He’s our little, spoiled baby,” Pietro continued with a fond chuckle.

 

Wanda seemed to sense her brother’s words coming to a close, as she cut in, “I live in California now, with my wife and my boys. I met my wife, just before Pietro met Peter. She’s beautiful, inside and out, I swear. Graceful and threatening but so caring. An amazing mother, too.” She said with a smile gracing her lips, “And the boys are incredible . They’re seven years old, if I hadn’t told you that before. My Tommy and Billy. They’re twins, too, but fraternal.” Her brows furrowed briefly, “I’m not sure if they will manifest mutations though. They are related to me, but… it’s a strange situation.” Something in her expression switched and she turned her full attention to Erik, “Perhaps having Grandfather Erik around would be helpful then, hm? I think I am, along with my Natasha, fit to guide my sons through such a time in their lives, if it comes about, but I grew up thinking I was a product of a lab. Erik, you understand learning to control your mutation under knowledge of being a mutant, no?”

 

The man’s expression darkened, “Not in healthy ways.”

 

“Then you can bring help.” She commented lightly, although her gaze was assessing,

 

“Wanda—” Erik started.

 

“I wish for my children to grow up knowing more family than I entered my adult life with, Erik. But only if you are around, sane, and trustworthy .” Wanda pushed.

 

Erik finally switched his gaze, head turning towards Wanda. They shared a look before Erik’s turned and faced his son. He spared himself a moment to take in the sight of his son. His son . “What? Same standards to your… Frankie?”

 

A grin grew upon Pietro’s lips, “Of course,” he replied breezily, “Frankie deserves the best.”

 

Pietro swore that was a smile that had Erik’s lip twitch.

 

It disappeared as soon as it came.

 

“Magda was everything I wanted in life.” Erik suddenly started, tearing down the carefully built, light, atmosphere that was beginning to form.

 

And just as sudden, Pietro felt nervous . For what exactly?

 

Oh, just because he was about to learn about his mother, new things he never once knew before. Hopefully, at least.

 

“Was she your soulmate?” Wanda asked quietly.

 

Erik paused, shaking his head in what Pietro could only describe as sorrowful, “She wasn’t,” he replied, “But I believe she was lucky for that.” Erik shifted, loosening his hold on the blankets only slightly. “We met when we were young, back when she still lived in Poland. We were in love, then, and I would have happily lived the rest of my life alongside her.” He explained, “We never married but we…” he trailed off and Pietro saw the moment he put his guard back up.

 

Pietro was close to letting out an annoyed huff, only to stop when Erik abruptly stood.

 

Pietro readied himself to share a few words with the man, when his father pulled the blanket from around himself and suddenly laid the fabric across his children’s shoulders.

 

“I’m sorry.” He mumbled hurriedly, “I can't, not yet, but—but—”

 

“You’ll try.” Wanda finished for him, voice monotone.

 

Erik clenched his jaw, eyes flickering between his children before he walked off back into the mansion without another word.

 

Pietro watched him walk away.

 

Please don’t leave. Promise you’ll come back soon .

 

He didn’t ask for a promise from the man, but Wanda’s hand tugging him into her side showed him he wasn’t the only one hoping for a better outcome.

 

 

Another two weeks fled by, filled with minor events encountered within the mansion and two visits to California for Wanda and two for Pietro to Queens.

 

Charles was the first to assure Wanda and Pietro that Erik was still wandering around the property. He claimed he wasn’t planning on leaving any time soon, and Pietro forced himself to believe the news.

 

Today, on one of the first clear days within the last few weeks, Wanda quickly gathered up some girl named Jubilee and Jean and set off with them to a mall.

And, somehow, the outing had become a group outing.

 

Meaning, Pietro caught wind of the trip and dragged himself in and, after noticing some commotion by the entryway of the mansion, Scott had brought himself into the loop.

 

And, because Kurt liked his friends, he had dragged himself, Ororo, and Warren along too.

 

Alex almost came along as well, until Hank called for him and Alex’s priorities seemed to shift pretty easily.

 

So, with two adults accompanying, and another adult’s (Charles’, of course) approval, the group set off for the day.

 

It was fun, amusing too.

 

Pietro had to admit that Scott could be fun, sometimes, and could happily admit that the rest of the group was very enjoyable. Even Jubilee who Pietro was only now meeting.

 

The trip had been a nice “escape” from the current chaos of the mansion for Wanda and Pietro.

 

Scott and Jean had been like any other teenage couple and had been sickeningly sweet together. At first, Pietro wanted to tease the hell out of them, but Wanda had pinched him in the side and reminded him just how he and Peter had acted back when they were seventeen.

 

Almost immediately after they entered the mall, Warren had disappeared off somewhere and nobody had stopped him. Later, before they left, he reappeared with a small bag and a new leather jacket tossed over his already leather jacket clad shoulder. And, of course, Pietro didn’t see Warren shyly hand the bag over to Kurt. Nope. Not at all . He didn’t hold back a grin at that soppy look they shared either, nope. Because he didn’t see the two in the first place.

 

Before that though, Kurt had been entertaining as well. He was still a little lost on some American stores, styles, and a few foods found in the food courts, of which Pietro was familiar with, but he was so eager to learn about everything that even Pietro found himself walking alongside Kurt while he explored the neon colored shirts in some clothing store.

 

Wanda had come along too, having lost her telepathic bestie to said bestie’s boyfriend. Ororo wasn’t far behind, claiming having gotten tired of seeing Jean and Scott kiss every three seconds.

 

So, things had turned to introducing Kurt to some things they thought he may like.

 

It was nice, Pietro thought, seeing these friends, who had let Wanda and Pietro into their world, get along so well.

 

And if Pietro had shot a dark glare at a group of people who glared at Kurt, nobody needed to know. Nor did they need to know how he watched another person with that threatening look James taught him when they sent a dirty look Ororo and Scott’s way.

 

They were teenagers . Having fun. So, they look a little different than you do, leave them the fuck alone.

 

That night, when Pietro called up his boyfriend, he didn’t hesitate before he retold the stories of the day. Because they were nice stories.

 

And, after his call, he let Wanda drag him down to the den to watch a movie with Alex, Hank, and Scott.

 

 

“We have to head home soon, Wanda.”

 

Wanda sighed from where she lay, sprawled out on her bed. She had been feeling down lately, missing her kids and wife.

 

They had hit the three and a half week mark of their stay now and Pietro knew they wouldn’t, couldn’t, stay longer than four weeks.

 

Erik was running out of time. This entire fucking family was running out of time.

 

Pietro also really, really wanted to be back in his apartment with a sleepy Peter tucked in his arms and a dozing Frankie at their feet.

 

“Yeah,” Wanda agreed. Pietro didn’t doubt his sister had already heard his plan from his “obvious” projections, according to his sister.

 

“Is it time we look for Erik?” Pietro questioned, “We gave him his space, let him have the option to come back to us. And he hasn’t.”

 

He was met with a momentary silence.

 

“I think so, Pietro.” Wanda agreed, “This is the time to figure out if he’ll be involved in our lives.”

 

Pietro nodded, sitting up in his bed, “When does the dad hunt start, then?”

 

He looked towards his sister, just barely catching the red that flared in her eye.

 

“He’s playing chess with the Professor in his office, right now. Start tomorrow? Bright and early?”

 

Pietro hummed in agreement before he reached up and tugged his hoodie’s hood up and over his head.

 

“Should I take Peter to Paris for Valentines Day or do you think he would hate that?”

 

You see, finding Erik when he didn’t mind being found was pretty easy. Unsurprisingly, when the man didn’t want to be found, then things got a little difficult.

 

Wanda had tried to figure out where he was using her witchy powers, but, knowing how terrible she felt about it afterwards, Pietro put it to a stop before she could even get an idea of if Erik was still on the property.

 

Although it went unsaid, Wanda was pretty grateful.

 

So, he convinced his sister to take a break from trying to corral their father into talking to them. At least for the day.

 

Which, if Pietro were being honest, was pretty mature of him (right?).

 

Maybe it was, or wasn’t, but either way, Pietro was beginning to lose hope. And, what better way to spend this day of near moping than tagging along with a group of teenage mutants as they trained to take on the evils of the world?

 

Unlike last time though, Pietro was having a hard time sitting still and not getting involved.  

 

The training that day seemed a lot calmer than usual, admittedly, if Pietro was able to tell. More fumbles, though. But less flying, he noticed.

 

Charles, maybe even Hank, must’ve noticed his fidgeting either way because suddenly Charles was calling a break for the team and then rolling over to the twins where they stood, watching.

 

“I can’t help but notice,” the telepath started with, what must be, a small grin growing on his face, “You seem a little on edge, Pietro. And, Wanda, I keep hearing vague parts of your stressed and muddled thoughts. It’s come to my attention that you are particularly good with keeping your thoughts to yourself, so this is a little startling.”

 

“We have reasons to be stressed, Xavier.” Pietro pointed out bitterly before he could stop himself.

 

Charles didn’t give any show of being offended or annoyed by Pietro’s behaviour. If anything, his grin grew.

 

“Of course.” He replied, “I didn’t come over here to check in on situations I’m sure you do not wish to truly talk about. No, I was going to offer an idea to you two.” He explained. He lifted a hand, motioning at the mingling mutants behind him, “You two are quite experienced in this type of field yes?” He didn’t wait for an answer, “So I was wondering if possibly you two would like to participate in this training session. Liven up the day for yourselves and the team?”

 

Pietro quickly shared a look with his sister. Well, she certainly seemed to be on the same page as him. Especially with this whole family mess, Pietro hadn’t seen many Avengers missions as of lately, and, for Wanda, she hadn’t seen a mission, a serious, not a false call mission, since before the twins were born.

 

“Against or with?” She countered.

 

The grin on the telepath’s face grew, turning wicked. He must’ve already sensed the agreement in the question. “It’s been awhile since they trained against people that weren’t on their own team.” He said, already starting to turn and wheel himself back over to Raven’s side.

 

Hank was over there too, standing stiffly as if, despite his obvious years of being around this kind of life, he wasn't comfortable.

 

Raven, on the other hand, stood in a rigid way that reeked defensive tendencies.

 

Charles, in comparison to the two, came to a stop next to his sister and leaned back in his wheelchair, visibly relaxed.

 

“Change of plans,” he announced loudly. He lifted a hand and motioned for the twins to come towards him as the X-Men’s heads turned to face the telepath. “The Maximoffs will be training with you today. As most of you know, the Maximoffs, primarily known as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, within their team, are well experienced. Training will begin again once Hank returns with the Maximoffs after he has gotten them set up with appropriate apparel for the Danger Room.”

 

A few murmurs fled around the room at the announcement, but Pietro happily noticed the smiles that grew on their faces.

 

Wanda and Pietro easily followed behind Hank after he motioned for them to follow him.

 

“We get to train with them?” Pietro heard Kurt ask excitedly.

 

Charles chuckled, “Yes, and no.”

 

The spare suits, according to Hank, should fit Pietro and Wanda just fine since he was pretty sure Wanda and Jean were built fairly similarly while Pietro was likely able to fit in Erik’s suit that Hank prepared for him.

 

Pietro sighed.

 

And, well, the suit didn’t look touched. At all.

 

Hank stuck around outside the little room while the two changed.

 

Wanda huffed out a breath once she was done changing, “It fits well,” she admitted, “But remind me to work on getting off some of my parenthood weight.”

 

Pietro rolled his eyes, “You look perfectly fine, sister. No need to change. Besides, neither of us can compare ourselves to a seventeen year old. We may be young, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen some shit.”

 

Wanda let out a short laugh and glanced around before her eyes caught onto a skinny mirror pushed off into the corner.

 

As she walked off to examine the costume in the mirror, Pietro finished getting suited up.

 

And, shit, it fit nearly perfectly.

 

Like father, like son god damnit.

 

The costume was an echo of the suits the X-Men wore in the moment. Each costume seemed slightly different, most likely adapted to each set of abilities.

 

Erik’s costume, was made up of what must be a mix of Kevlar and some other fabric and was very, very skin tight. Full body too, but at least with a small zipper at the front of the neck that Pietro didn’t hesitate to unzip at least a little bit.

 

It was similarly dark blue, just like the other suits, but with some specific design across the torso that seemed reminiscent of body armor.

 

Alright, it did look pretty cool.

 

Pietro glanced down at himself, at his glove covered hands, the ‘X’ now stitched upon his shoulder.

 

Did he… could he look like his dad? Wanda mentioned…

 

Pietro turned towards his sister, “You think this can work with my running?”

 

She glanced back, away from the mirror. Her eyes skimmed his new getup before her eyes met her brother’s, “I’m not sure.” She held up her hands, lacking gloves, “Do you think I can get away with not wearing the gloves? I haven’t

worn them with my powers recently, so…”

 

Pietro shrugged, “We’ll find out soon enough.”

 

As his sister dropped the gloves back into their spot, he took in the costume. It was fairly similar to what he had seen on Jean, with minor differences, including the gloves.

 

He didn’t linger long on figuring out any differences, instead walking alongside his sister as they left the room.

 

Immediately, Pietro spilled his question, “Can this suit work with my speed?”

 

Hank paused before he slowly nodded, “It should. It can resist a lot more than friction. Do you usually wear specific shoes?”

 

Pietro glanced down, looking at his boot clad feet. They weren’t entirely uncomfortable, mostly flexible, and the sole seemed thick enough. He was also pretty sure there was some extra protection somewhere in there too.

 

The speedster shrugged, “These should work.”

 

Hank’s attention was stolen by Wanda, who explained the glove situation. After everything was sorted, Wanda still gloveless and Pietro hoping his costume didn’t shred to pieces once he started running, Hank led them back to the team waiting for them.

 

Upon seeing them, Alex let out a whistle, “Maximoff!” He called out, eyeing down Pietro, “Already dressing in our resident baddie’s clothes? You’ve more dumb than I thought.” He joked.

 

Pietro grinned back, “Well, it’s not like I can wear yours! And surely I cannot wear Scott’s suit. He’s too tiny.”

 

Scott’s affronted gasp was enough to get Pietro into a good mood.

 

“Is that my suit?” Jean asked as they neared the X-Men.

 

Wanda nodded, “Just like abilities, we seem to be a similar size.” She noted with a grin.

 

Jean flashed a smile at the Sokovian, “Just make sure it doesn’t get torn up. It’s one of my favorites so far.”

 

After some more comments were shared back and forth, Raven stepped forwards, “X-Men!” She called, “Back to your original positions. Maximoffs! Opposite to them.”

 

“Opposite?” Ororo echoed.

 

“The Maximoffs aren’t X-Men, Ororo. You six are getting good with working cohesively as a team. Adding two more people into it for only a temporary time wouldn’t do much good for you all. What you should aim for is to work as well as the Maximoffs will be working with each other.” Charles explained.

 

Okay, Pietro wasn’t sure if Charles was just talking them up, had managed a peek in someone’s mind, or reviewed some footage on them out in the field.

 

No matter, Pietro was feeling awesome .

 

The X-Men before them turned to face their new opponents.

 

Pietro saw various affected of determination, some even holding a look of amusement.

 

Just as most training sessions seemed to go in Pietro’s life, each side came to meet in the middle first, strangely enough. Is this what real life high school was like?

 

Pietro came face to face with Ororo, who smirked at him, “We'll wipe the floor with you, speedy.” She threatened, amused and excited smirk betraying her lack of attempt at a real threat. There was no bad blood here, thank god. Although Scott may be a little more aggressive with Pietro once things got started.

 

Pietro smirked back nonetheless, “Bring it on, Stormy.”

 

A huff of a laugh slipped past the girl’s lips.

 

Wanda, on the other hand, was facing Kurt. Kurt was smiling. Not entirely kindly though. Pietro smothered a shiver at the dark look in the teen’s eyes.  

 

Despite their friendly nature with each other, Wanda stared back with her own intensity. Her head was tilted slightly, her own twisted, evil grin pulling at her lips.

 

“We’re putting you in an environment, like always.” Hank announced, “Pietro, Wanda, this is usual protocol. It’s just a simulated set that you can interact with. Feel free to use your code names, as well.”

 

Pietro managed a glance Hank’s way. He noticed he was standing behind some… metal thing. It looked like there were a shit ton of controls on it and—

 

Holy shit.

 

Pietro shot up, “Since when are you blue!?” He exclaimed, eyeing Hank’s now blue and furry form.

 

Hank winced at the exclamation and Pietro heard Raven growl, “Maximoff—” she started to yell.

 

Wanda’s hand found its way into his shoulder while Charles lifted a hand in the air to catch the room’s attention, “It’s Hank’s mutation.” He explained simply, “It also makes him very, very strong, Pietro.” The silent warning was very, very clear as well, “Hank has chosen to use this form of his around the Danger Room. I hope you can accept that.”

 

Pietro’s brows furrowed, “I ‘m not judging him or something,” he countered, “Raven’s blue and I don’t care. Kurt’s blue and he’s cool.”

 

He pushed a smile down at Kurt happy gasp.

 

Charles nodded, “I didn’t say you were judging him.”

 

Pietro rolled his eyes and shifted back to look at his opponents, “Sure seemed like it.” He muttered.

 

He didn’t flinch when Wanda slapped his arm.

 

Across from him, Ororo raised a brow briefly, “We don't hate you now, if you needed to know,” she explained, “All of us are just protective of each other.”

 

Pietro shrugged, noticing that the other members of the room were getting into position. He started walking backwards, “I get it.” He assured, “I’ve got a sister, after all.”

 

Within the next few minutes, things started picking up. Hank explained a few more things, started up the simulation which, holy shit that’s impressive .

 

Pietro didn't immediately understand the scene around him until he actually slowed down a moment to really look.

 

Some destroyed city, it looked like. Kinda cliche.

 

It didn’t matter though, as part of a building suddenly crashed next to Pietro.

 

Things slowed down around him at his will and he analyzed the scene ahead of him.

 

Okay so some things were on fire and no one was in sight.

 

Time to get moving then.

 

He sped around, finding his sister quickly. She still had yet to move he noticed. In Pietro’s time, she was very, very, very slowly lifting her hands.

 

He took hold of her, glancing around before he sped off to a “safer” location.

 

Time came flooding back and Pietro was there to push his sister’s hands back down.

 

“Plan?” He asked.

 

She looked around, taking in the situation, “Look around a little bit more first.”

 

So he did.

 

It looked like the X-Men were spread out along the other side of the simulation. Warren had taken flight while Ororo had gotten up somewhere high up.

 

Scott had hidden himself behind a piece of rubble, hand resting on the side of his visor. Kurt was scaling the side of some building.

 

Alex, on the other hand, was in the midst of running.

 

It was Jean who he couldn't find.

 

A part of him worried about that.

 

He fled back to his sister and reported his findings. Soon enough, training took over and they had formed a plan. Pietro could outrun Scott and Alex’s laser beam things. Wanda could stop Ororo from using her abilities, and hold Kurt and Warren from moving. And, if he could get the height for it, Pietro could bring Warren back down to the ground with some helpful type of rope-like thing if he could find something like that. At least for a little bit.

 

Pietro grinned at the plan. Wanda, his sister, was one of the strongest people he knew. In comparison to the mutants around them, especially due to the lack of fully developed abilities in some, Wanda was a good match or even better.

 

Pietro was good too, of course, but everything he could do stemmed from speed. He knew, though, if using his time to his advantage, he could always push one of those crumbling buildings.

 

Jean was still a wildcard it seemed. Something about her now was irking Pietro. She was up for grabs though, to whoever found her first.

 

And then they were off.

 

They let the X-Men get close, running them around a little bit.

 

Warren got to Pietro first, diving fast and violently. Pietro didn’t move until the last minute, causing Warren to pull back and almost tumble into the ground.

 

At first, Pietro was planning to go easy and just keep Warren down without using dirty methods, but, as Pietro neared the teen and he used a wing to shove Pietro back into a surprisingly hard piece of cement, his plans went out the window.

 

He kept it fair, mostly, but he used his abilities to his advantage and used his slower time to land punch after punch upon Warren.

 

As time sped back up, Warren was pushed back into the building behind him.

 

He was living, breathing, maybe a little sore, and surely would be up in the air sometime soon, but he seemed to get the message. Pietro could have done worse. Warren was careless once his emotions got in the way,

 

Since when did Pietro notice that kind of stuff?

 

As if sensing his boytoy in distress, Kurt appeared in a puff of blue.

 

The predator-like smile made its way back on the teen’s face, tail rising behind him.

 

Well shit.

 

Pietro maintained his ground well. The fight was just annoying after a few minutes. Kurt very obviously wasn’t a fighter who aimed to maul or destroy. Neither could get a steady hold on each other either and eventually Pietro simply sped off as Kurt was in the midst of poofing away.

 

He knew Wanda would do more in keeping Kurt in one spot anyways.

 

He was off then, searching for a specific pair of brothers. He passed by Wanda at this point, finding her in her own bubble of red while Ororo was surrounded with the flickering red herself, still in the air. Oh, and there was Alex.

 

Alex, coming out from behind a half wall and chest starting to glow.

 

So that’s what he does.

 

Pietro sped over, kicking out Alex’s legs from under him. He sped back and watched as Alex fell to the floor, a messy blur of red spouting from his chest and aiming up.

 

Nothing seemed to come from the blast, nothing destroyed at least, and Pietro looked around.

 

Wanda’s hand moved through the air, taking Ororo with it. The girl flew backwards, only for a puff of blue to take hold of her mid air and disappear with her.

 

A fist punched the air just in front of Pietro’s stomach, missing only because Pietro stepped back.

 

He turned, facing Alex.

 

“Hey, man, long time no see.” He greeted before he allowed himself to actually fight Alex. May as well give him a chance.

 

Soon enough, Pietro had taken hold of Alex and stranded him atop a stableish looking building.

 

He moved along.

 

He caught Scott mid-jump and put him on another roof.

 

He checked back in with Wanda. Now, she had Kurt and Ororo stranded mid-air. They were moving and trying to push a way out of their red bubble. Within his slowed down view, he also caught sight of Warren flying at a snail's pace in the air.

 

Warren was flying downwards, aiming for Wanda.

 

Pietro managed his way up atop a nearby building before he wished himself luck and tossed himself off said building.

 

Well, he was able to grab hold of Warren.

 

And, it wasn’t Pietro first air fight rodeo.

 

It ended with Warren and Pietro hitting a wall though.

 

Pietro had the decency to make sure Warren wasn’t broken before he sped off again, at least.

 

Where was Jean ? He thought.  

 

His answer came in the form of what sounded like Kurt and Ororo screaming.

 

He followed the noise, coming to a full stop before the sound.

 

Wow. Shit.

 

Around him, Scott and Alex had managed their way down, but Alex had curled himself around his brother protectively.

 

Kurt and Ororo were laying in a pile a few feet away, unconscious, maybe, but hopefully not damaged.

 

Warren wasn’t around yet, at least.

 

But there, up in the fucking air, his sister was there, wrapped up in her own web of red. It swirled around her. Pietro noticed now that the blue of the X-Men suit wasn’t something of his sister’s. It never would be. Red was she and she was red.

 

Bursting, bright, and glaringly powerful.

 

He sister was awesome. She was powerful, she was strong.

 

Her hair was moved by the intensity of her own abilities. Her eyes, Pietro was sure of it, were gleaming red.

 

Wanda stared down at the rooftop ahead of her and only now did Pietro see her personal opponent.

 

Jean .

 

She was standing on the roof, gaze turned on Wanda.

 

Orange energy floated around the girl, but nowhere near as visible as the red that flew around Wanda.

 

The red emitting from Wanda was something chaotic, reaching out to everything around her. On the other hand, the orange coming from Jean seemed to just… swirl around her. Growing .

 

Pietro’s stomach dropped at the sight. It didn’t look right. None of it felt right.

 

Pietro looked around again and his eyes widened as he took in the frozen sight of the mutants around him. He didn’t do that.

 

He looked down at himself and barely let the confusion hit him before he was on the move.

 

He didn’t know what Jean was doing. He barely knew what Wanda was doing.

 

But now he had a feeling Wanda and Jean were even more similar than they originally thought.

 

Uncontrolled chaos building until it exploded. He had been around when the kind of thing happened for Wanda. It was horrible. She was at risk with it and so was everyone around her. Her power was unimaginable for many. There was so much power there that it was overwhelming for her. She was good at building up walls, good at keeping control

 

But sometimes it just slipped out.

 

Now, he had a feeling there was more to Jean’s mutation than she had let on and he was thinking she was experiencing the same thing Wanda was.

 

He got into his space and let time slow around him, only for everything to come rushing back as he took notice that nothing was slowing down ahead of him. Specifically, Jean and Wanda’s powers were still building.

 

And now he realized that Wanda was inching closer and closer to Jean.

 

He couldn’t just nab her out of the air safely , right?

 

So then he was moving.

 

He darted between buildings, pulled himself up to places, jumped from place to place until his feet landed on the same roof Jean had found herself on.

 

He saw Jean’s hand twitch at the light sound of his feet hitting concrete and Pietro suddenly found himself being pushed backwards by some invisible force.

 

He didn’t lose his balance, with his abilities he found that wasn’t always possible, but he did crouch down and catch hold of a loose metal bar nearby to keep himself from falling off the edge of the roof.

 

Now or never.

 

The pressure was still pushing against him, but he dug his feet into the ground and sucked in a deep breath.

 

He let go of the bar and swiftly pressed his hands against the concrete roof and let his speed flow through his arms.

 

Pietro didn’t take to this little trick of his often but now it was certainly needed.

 

Hands moving faster than the average person could see, the roof began giving way, cracks splitting across the concrete.

 

Jean managed a glance back at Pietro, gaze barren.

 

He forced himself not to react and instead tried to will his hands to move faster.

 

Pietro didn’t know exactly how it went about, more so why Jean didn’t stop him, but the roof gave way.

 

It practically shattered under his feet.

 

It caused the exact reaction he wanted. Jean’s attention was stolen, the orange energy diluting around her as she her face turned towards Pietro, shocked.

 

He didn’t care whose “side” he was supposed to be on or if this was supposed to teach her something, he still ran forwards upon the shatters of concrete falling and got right behind Jean.

 

And she turned around completely just as fast as he did.

 

Pietro didn’t think too hard, instead wrapping an arm around Jean’s waist and launching himself off the side of the roof, aiming for his sister.

 

He let time speed up as his free arm had barely curled around his sister’s waist.

 

The pressure reached Pietro first.

 

And god did it hurt.

 

But it wasn’t the pressure of hitting the floor, no, it was that built up power that had been swirling between Jean and Wanda.

 

The sudden contact had made something happen. Nothing deadly, Pietro thought, but surely hurtful.

 

His vision was clouded with that mix of orange and red.

 

As they fell towards the floor, the sound of concrete crumbling finally reached his ears.

 

But they stopped.

 

Abruptly, Pietro sucked in a big gulp of air, realizing that in the midst of the previous chaos, breathing hadn’t been all that important apparently.

 

Carefully, he took in the situation ahead of him.

 

He was on his back, the familiar pressure of a body held against his front.

 

Specifically, only one body.

 

Before he could startle too much, his attention was stolen at the dissolving scenery above him. The metal roof he had seen when he had entered the room slowly being revealed.

 

He glanced down, taking in the sight of his twin laying on him, chest heaving and eyes looking frantic

 

Pietro loosened his hold on her and, with the lack of hold, his sister rolled off of him and landed on her knees. She gulped in strained breaths, a shallow cut along her cheek and suit torn by her arm.

 

Her hands clawed at her neck and Pietro swiftly moved towards her. He took the short collar zipper and tugged it down, merely exposing her neck.

 

Pietro grasped Wanda’s hands, mumbling familiar Sokovian words to her as her eyes, wide and alarmed, tried to hold onto his face.

 

He heard a faint yell of Jean’s name, but he couldn’t care.

 

It wasn’t until Wanda’s hands took his own tightly did he calm down even slightly.

 

She shook her head at him, trying to tug him up into a standing position. He followed her lead, instantly pulling her arm around his waist and putting his own arm across his shoulders to support her.

 

He looked upon the scene before them.

 

It looked like he did more damage than he planned for. Half the building had crumbled and, even as the simulation broke down, he didn’t miss the rubble that continued to crumble.

 

He heaved a breath and turned away.

 

The X-Men weren’t any better.

 

Jean was laying on the ground, Scott and Charles hovering over her.

 

Hank and Raven were speaking with the rest of the team, checking them over for injuries. Everything seemed minor, besides the faint mention of a fractured wrist on Kurt’s end.

 

Wanda started forwards before Pietro could stop her. He walked alongside her until they stopped in front of the group.

 

It was Warren who noticed them first, “What the fuck was that!?” He exclaimed.

 

“Two powerful mutants losing control.” Wanda muttered, voice hoarse.

 

Pietro knew what Wanda was going to do before she did it, so he gently released his hold on her. Not as gently, she fell to her knees beside Jean. Scott didn’t hide his flinch.

 

Pietro took a longer look at Jean.

 

Her eyes were shut, hair splayed out around her. There were small cuts littering her jaw, one more noticeably larger on her forehead. Just like Wanda’s, the cuts looked shallow. Her own suit was torn along her collarbone and her leg.

 

She was breathing, although her brows were furrowed as if displeased.

 

A blue hand curled around Pietro’s arm.

 

“Did I place you down soft enough?” Kurt asked softly, “I had to grab you out of the air b-but I couldn't tell if you got hurt when I got you down.”

 

Pietro waved a hand dismissively, “I’m fine, Kurt.” Although there was a dull ache in his shoulder and he now felt cool air finding its way into his suit. So his, Erik’s suit, got a little destroyed then.

 

The hand left his arm, a muttered reassurance following.

 

Next was Alex who tugged in his other arm until Pietro distractedly followed after him.

 

Alex started speaking the moment they were a reasonable distance away, “Has she done this before?” He questioned quietly.

 

Pietro shrugged, trying to will down the memory of Wanda’s broken screams, “Twice. Once when… when we were in danger and once when she thought I died.”

 

Alex didn’t push for more backstory there, “Do you know why she does it?”

 

Pietro shrugged again, “First time was because she manifested and was scared. Second time was from grief. Maybe it’s caused from intense emotion? Being threatened? What about Jean?”

 

Alex, blond hair matted down from sweat and gloves newly removed sighed, “She’s strong, really strong. I’ve gotta feeling Wanda’s a little better at controlling her abilities from experience, but Jean doesn’t have that. This kind of thing happens sometimes, but not commonly on this level. First time, I wasn’t around but Scott told me about it. The team was almost beat, even Charles, and she just… let go, according to him. I can’t tell you everything, but I’ll tell you that she killed a really powerful thing with just her mind. A violent death, too.”  

 

Pietro nodded thoughtfully, “So something happened up there with them. They’re both strong and have almost too much power, yes? Maybe they triggered each other’s defense systems or whatever they are?”

 

Alex shrugged, glancing at his team, “Maybe.”

 

They made their way back to the group, Jean having woken up. Hank quickly whisked everyone away to medical.

 

Wanda stubbornly stuck by Jean’s side, the two stumbling along with Scott and Pietro supporting them.

 

Pietro was able to catalogue most of the physical damage done to the two girls, and himself, but, besides their cuts and destroyed suits, the two didn’t seem harmed too much physically. Mentally? He was sure of it.

 

Most of the team got dismissed after Hank found nothing injured within them, besides helping Kurt out with his wrist. Charles made sure to let them know he’d be calling them to his office later in the day to check in for a report.

 

Scott had to be dragged from the room though, as Charles claimed he needed to speak specifically to Wanda, Pietro, and Jean.

 

Wanda and Jean sat upon the metal examination tables across from each other, now dressed in some old looking hospital gowns as Raven and Hank had looked them over for any injuries and Wanda had quietly informed the group that her suit was making her feel claustrophobic. Pietro had to keep himself from dwelling on the dark reasons behind that.

 

“Tell me what you saw, Pietro, please, and what you did.” Charles calmly requested after Hank had convinced Pietro to change into some spare set of clothes Hank had around once he was sure Pietro, cuts already healing, was fine.

 

Pietro did as asked, describing the event to his best abilities.

 

Apparently, even with Charles state of being possibly the strongest telepath in the mansion, either Jean or Wanda had kept him from using his abilities during the simulation. At least until Pietro had displaced them.

 

Next up, Charles asked for Wanda and Jean’s side of the story.

 

Jean spoke before Wanda. Her hands curled around the metal table, “The plan was for me to sneak up on Pietro and at least try to get into his mind, though with how fast his mind works, it’s difficult. But I ran into Wanda instead. It started out like a friendly fight. We weren't even using our powers. But she caught my leg with her powers and something just... switched. I can’t really recall what happened but I know I felt… strong. Dangerous. All my power was just flowing through me and it felt right. I don’t even know what I was trying to do, but I know it wasn’t going to end well. When Pietro brought the roof down and grabbed me he knocked me out of it, mostly.” Jean explained.

 

Wanda spoke before a moment of silence passed, “I knew what I was doing,” she admitted, “Mostly, at least. Catching Jean’s leg was instinct, and anything after it was just that. I’ve felt this way before.” Her eyes met Pietro’s briefly. “I think one of my goals was to just get everything away. It’s hard to keep it all at bay when I’m thinking like this. There’s a lot bubbling at the surface, since I got these abilities. A darker part,” she admitted, “Jean may not remember it, but our friendly fight became an intense, violent mental battle. She invaded my mind and I invaded hers. The outcome of one of us winning would have likely been deadly, I believe. It’s a technique of tearing someone apart from the inside, I think.” Her eyes flashed red, gaze switching between Charles and Jean, “But I believe I’m not the only one here with that kind of experience, even before today.”

 

Pietro curled a hand around his sister’s arm.

 

Charles hummed, “And after Pietro took hold of you?”

 

“The power I build up has to go somewhere.” She said weakly, any remaining fight leaving her. “I was pushed out of Jean’s mind and the energy was pushed out from there too, in simple terms.”

 

Charles nodded, “I don't blame either of you. These things happen. Please feel free to excuse yourselves from tonight’s dinner if needed.” He looked to Jean, “Come by my office within the week please, Jean. I believe we need to have a further discussion about what happened to you today.” He told her before he switched his gaze on Wanda, “And, Wanda, feel free to stop by if you feel the need. We can discuss how your abilities have developed if you would desire.”

 

Wanda waved him off, “I’ve gone most of my life like this,” she started, “I think it’s too late to try and change my… methods.”

 

Charles gave her a doubtful look before he nodded, turning and starting towards the door.

 

Pietro stuck around with the two until they were excused within the hour. After that, he abided by Wanda’s request and let her go up to their room alone. He bid her goodbye with a quiet reminder to please call upon him if she needed help and a quick kiss to her hair.  

 

Jean was already gone by the time Wanda left.

 

 

Wanda seemed mostly okay by the next afternoon, in which she emerged from their room to join the X-Men and friend’s trip to the lake nearby.

 

It was such a childish activity , Pietro thought with a grin.

 

He supposed a childish activity helped with avoiding looking at the way the teens around them, besides Scott, had become wary of Wanda and Jean.

 

It was Scott who assured Pietro that the nerves from the team went away within the day after an “Event”. Pietro was reminded that they had the right to feel scared after such an occurrence. Not everyone had a deep connection with someone who was constantly seen as dangerous, he supposed.

 

But they invited Jean, Wanda, and Pietro along with them to their trip to the lake either way. He didn’t question them when they told him to wear a swimsuit even though it was below forty degrees outside. Of course, this didn’t stop him from speeding off to Alex and requesting to borrow a pair of swim trunks (“Or a little itty bitty swimsuit, if that what you’re into. I’m not self conscious.”). Alex rewarded him with an old pair of bright pink swim trunks to the face and a grin.

 

He later learned that Wanda also had to search for a swimsuit to borrow. Unsurprisingly, she borrowed something from Jean.

 

So they set out on what Scott proclaimed was their Swim Day.

 

Alright. If a frozen lake meant swimming.

 

It didn’t matter in the end apparently, as Ororo just used her abilities to just casually warm up the lake and the area around them.

 

Well, alright.

 

He pushed Scott in immediately.

 

Pietro almost got shot with a laser beam when Scott’s glasses fell off within the moment, but it was so, so worth it when Scott emerged looking like a wet, pissed off cat.

 

There was also Pietro losing at a diving contest between himself, Alex, Scott, Ororo, and Jubilee, but whatever, that didn’t matter.

 

What did, kind of, matter was getting to watch Wanda fall into her parental habits as she kindly taught Kurt to swim on the shallow edge of the lake. It was so sweet of her, and Pietro was such a proud brother.

 

It didn’t stop him from sneaking up behind his sister and Kurt in attempts to scare them, however, only to get slapped in the face by a blue tail.

 

Overall, a pretty good time.

 

 

After the last few eventful days they had had, Pietro actually felt kind of okay trying to talk to Erik about life and being his kid and all.

 

Except that feeling fled when he and Wanda actually started searching him out.

 

They planned to leave the mansion in two days. The time had come that they couldn’t stay away from their normal lives anymore. They didn’t want to.

 

Erik had one last shot to make an attempt to be in their lives. Maybe he didn’t want to, truly, in the end. Maybe they were just another pair of people who Erik Lehnsherr would inevitably pass by in life. That didn’t mean they couldn’t make the attempt to get to know him.

 

Pietro stood next to Wanda in front of the mirror in their room. Behind them, their bags were half packed, the picture frames they once brought out already packed away.

 

Rolling his shoulders back, Pietro reached up and pushed his hair out of his face. He crossed his arms over his chest, clad in some old sweater he didn’t even remember packing. Pietro watched as Wanda let out a long sigh, pulling her hair into a ponytail and out of her face.

 

Pietro tossed an arm around her shoulders, tugging her close with a smirk, “Time to force his hand?” He joked.

 

Wanda gave a small smile in response, reaching up and patting his hand. She wore another outfit made up majorly of a dress, this time dark gray and buttoned up at the front. Paired with this, a black jacket he couldn’t tell if was once owned by Clint, Pietro, or Natasha. Or maybe even in that order.

 

“He’s on the back porch, making his way inside.” Wanda revealed.

 

Pietro nodded, removing his arm from his sister’s shoulders and wordlessly starting towards the bedroom door. He pushed the door open, leaving it open for Wanda.

 

The two walked down the halls, reminded of their first day at the mansion.

 

Pietro briefly wondered if maybe he would have preferred life if he and Wanda had just never come to the mansion. He wasn’t all that shocked with how quickly he disagreed with himself on the option.

 

Because, once he thought about it, ignorance isn't always bliss. At least not for him.

 

If he knew that there was something waiting for him, news or anything, he could never just sit and avoid it. It’s not what he’s like, especially not since he was ten years old and lost his parents. Or, he supposed, his mother and step-father, right?

 

Pietro led Wanda down the first set of stairs.

 

They passed by Jubilee, who sent a joyous wave their way. Pietro returned it with a practiced smile.

 

They passed Kurt and Warren on the second set of stairs. Kurt called a greeting towards them while Warren managed a somewhat friendly nod.

 

Wanda flashed a quick smile while Pietro nodded back.

 

Jean walked with them through another hall for a few seconds, wishing them an almost silent good luck. Scott pushed himself off a nearby wall and took her hand in his, no doubt having been called on mentally by his girlfriend.

 

Ororo was stepping out of her class when the Maximoffs passed by. She grinned and tossed a small bag of pretzels at Pietro when she wandered by. He caught them, giving her that practiced smile again.

 

He didn’t have the appetite for them though.

 

He tossed them off to Alex as he spoke to Hank when they passed by him a few feet later.

 

The kitchen was getting closer and closer, now in their sights.

 

Charles and Raven exited the den nearby, only stopping in the doorway to watch them walk by.

 

Pietro felt a tug at his conscious, only an echo of a message, fleeting and vague, passing in his fast mind.

 

Good luck, you two. I only wish for the best for you three.

 

Raven didn’t smile, nor did she uncross her arms. She just watched them walk by.

 

The kitchen door was in front of them now.

 

Now or never… right?

 

Wanda opened the door and Pietro stepped in behind her.

 

Erik was sat at the table within the kitchen, sat so his back was facing them.

 

He was dressed in yet another turtleneck, with a smaller watch. Even with his back facing them, Pietro heard the dull sound of a glass touching the table.

 

Nobody spoke at first, or moved.

 

Erik lifted his glass and took a sip.

 

Pietro wondered if he drank vodka or whiskey.

 

“You may as well take a seat if you’re just going to stare.” Erik’s voice broke through the silence.

 

Wanda and Pietro listened well enough, each taking a seat in two of the seats across from their father.

 

He drank sparkling water.

 

“You’re our father.” Wanda stated.

 

Erik hesitated.

 

He nodded. He took another sip of his drink.

 

“What does that mean to you, Erik?” Wanda pushed.

 

Erik released his glass, first. Then, he let out a long sigh. He looked between Wanda and Pietro, “It means that someone is dependent on me. Multiple people.”

 

“Dependent?” Pietro couldn't help but echo.

 

“At least dependent until given answers, I assume.”

 

Maybe.

 

“Erik?” Wanda asked, “We thought the last of our family died when we were ten years old. Now, we’re here. We’ve found a family, made some of it. Now, we open our hearts to you, I believe. How are you going to treat that?”

 

Erik stared long and hard at his daughter, “However I need to.” He answered vaguely.

 

She stared right back, “I have Tommy, Billy, Natasha, Pietro, Clint, James, May, and a whole team of people. Pietro has the same. Erik, may I ask who you have?”

 

He curled a hand around his glass and took another sip, “Myself, Wanda.”

 

“Charles?” Pietro offered.

 

Erik set his glass back down.

 

Pietro leaned forwards, “ Us ?”

 

“You’re very brave, you know that?” Erik said instead.

 

“Brave for speaking to our father?”

 

“Brave for speaking to a monster .”

 

There it is.

 

Wanda let the words settle in the air, “Erik, we want to get to know you. We want to know about our mother, too.”

 

“Knowing the truth doesn’t mean things change, did you know that?”

 

Pietro nodded slowly, “But we can make the effort.”

 

Erik let out a long, weary sigh. He downed the rest of his fizzy water before he slid the glass aside. Wanda flicked a hand, sending the glass passed Erik’s head and landing in the sink delicately, making barely any noise.

 

“I met Magda when she still lived in Poland. We were young. We were in love.” Erik retold. He clasped his hands atop the table. Still guarded.

 

“My life has been terrible since I was just a boy. Her life was no better. She never… she never told me exactly why things had gone so wrong for her family, or why she moved out of their home the moment she could afford to. But she had to stay in Poland and she was alright with that.

 

“I was born in Germany, actually.” He explained. He paused before he spoke his next words, “My family died when I was young, but now isn’t the time for that story, now is it?”

 

He wasn’t wrong.

 

Erik continued, “I left Germany the moment I could. I wandered around until I settled in Poland. I was lucky to speak even some of the language, too. It didn’t matter though, when I met Magda.” Now, Pietro noticed how Erik spoke his mother’s name. With care. As if her name was something near and dear to his heart. And, well, it really was, wasn’t it?

 

“We met some night in the spring. Even on her own for the first time, she was so put together, unlike myself. We got along like a house on fire either way. And soon, we fell in love and moved into her little place together.

 

“It wasn’t until much later that we moved into our first, and last, house together.” Erik paused and eyed his children, “I need you to understand how much I loved your mother. Because she was my world, even if the universe didn’t agree. We made ourselves a life together, with our low paying jobs and little home.”

 

Erik shifted slightly in his seat, “She didn’t know I was a mutant then. I didn’t want her to know. I was raised believing that part of myself was dirty. That it needed to be hidden away from the world. Life had made me angry and… because of that I used the gift it gave me against others. Magda made me stop that terrible life, even if she didn’t know.

 

“I learned along the way that she was intrigued by mutants. Although her fear of the unknown was stronger. She was never bigoted towards us, though. But I resolved to never tell her I was a mutant unless it was forced out of me.” Erik admitted, staring away from his children and somewhere down at the table. “We never married, actually. We felt like it wasn’t needed for us. She was a smart woman for never doing this to herself, truly.

 

“It didn’t stop us from buying our first, real house. We became each other’s family and I was… I was happy with her.”

 

Pietro spared a look at Wanda, but he didn’t try to look into her complex expression. He found himself watching the time tick away on Erik’s watch as he spoke instead, forcing himself to listen closely to his father’s words.

 

“I was Henry when I met her, not Erik.” Erik noted, “Even at that age I had done bad things. People had known my name, but not Henry’s. So we were Henry and Magda, not Erik and Magda.”

 

Pietro couldn't see this man as a Henry, if he were being honest.

 

“And then,” Erik stopped himself, eyes fluttering shut for a brief moment. He opened them and Pietro was somewhat startled when he looked up to see Erik looking at himself and Wanda with a saddened gaze, “Then we had our Nina.” He said, voice almost a whisper.

 

Pietro sat up straighter and Wanda leaned forwards.

 

“Nina?” Pietro echoed.

 

“She was our little baby. She and Magda were my girls. My family.” He choked out, voice raw with emotion, yet his face mostly passive.

 

Wanda let out a shocked gasp while Pietro’s startled expression spoke for itself.

 

“We have—” she began shakily.

 

“Had.” Erik whispered before his he shook his head, “ Had .” He repeated, firmer this time.

 

Pietro leaned back in his chair, feeling grief for a child he never knew.

 

For his…

 

Fuck, for his dead half-sister?

 

Wanda lifted a hand, covering her mouth in shock.

 

Erik pushed on, even with their reactions, “My life was too perfect. Happy wife, happy little toddler, happy life.” He let out a shaky breath, “Nina showed signs of being a mutant early on. And Magda… she wasn’t scared of our daughter. She was an amazing woman… but even the best people have faults.” Erik said, “My past came back for me. The townspeople found out I was a mutant, found out what I had done, the people I had killed . They wanted me dead. So they—they came to my home in the middle of the night, and let the place go up in flames with my family and I still inside.”

 

Pietro held back any visible reactions. He couldn’t do that to Erik. Couldn’t add more onto this reminder of his daughter's life.

 

“We got out, out the back door.” Erik added, “But they were waiting. I had gone years and years without using my gift. And yet, it came back to me easily.” Erik pulled his hands apart, instead crossing his arms over his chest. He stared down at the table in front of him, “Within just a minute or two, Magda, Nina, and I were the only ones living on the property.

 

“Nina didn’t understand it all, but she was scared and she wanted her Daddy and her Mommy. But Magda… she was horrified . She screamed when it was all over. She called me a monster, called me evil, called me a disgrace, said that my kind was only bad news.” Erik let out a humorless laugh, “But I didn’t hate her for it and to this day I don’t blame her. She hated me, hated my powers, but I knew deep down she still loved our daughter, mutant and all.”

 

The man fell silent then.

 

Pietro, quietly, questioned him gently, “What happened then?”

 

“She left,” Erik said simply, coldly, “She took Nina with her and left. I didn’t stop her. I had no right. I keep this dark side from her and because of that, I hurt her. I terrified her.” He explained darkly, “I took an even worse path after that and left Poland. Things got worse when I finally checked in to see what happened to them.

 

“I couldn’t find out where Magda went or what happened to her. But Nina… my little girl. She was—” Erik choked on his own words. He recovered quickly and Pietro knew it was only him trying to smother his vulnerability, “My little Nina was dead. Her picture, her name was there and she was dead . Magda, the woman I loved, the mother of my child, left Nina with her sister. A woman who Magda hadn’t spoken to since she left her childhood home. A woman who despised mutants. I don’t know why she left Nina alone, I wish I did know, but this vile woman saw Nina use her gift, her beautiful abilities, and abandoned her. She was taken in at an orphanage, a cramped, worn down place that I found was known for its disappearing orphans and… and there she was killed. I still don’t know how, but—but she’s gone.”

 

Erik uncrossed his arms and clasped them together once more upon the table. “I didn’t blame Magda for leaving me, or for taking Nina with her. But I’ll always blame her for abandoning our daughter, you must know that.” He stated, “I don’t know why she did it, I wish I knew. But she raised you both well enough, I hope. But I also assume she never knew you both to be mutants?” He didn’t wait for a response, “I still see her as that incredible woman, mostly. And I understand she was your mother, and you loved her. But you asked for the truth. Maybe my truth is muddled, maybe it’s missing pieces, but… it’s the story of Magda and Henry, of myself and Magda.”

 

Silence fell over the room, only the dull sounds of activity inside if the kitchen leaking through.

 

Pietro and Wanda took in the information. And it… it was a lot.

 

His mother had…

 

And he had a half-sister once?

 

And—and his mother had left his father, left Nina. She started a new life and…

 

Pietro didn’t hate her for what she did. He merely wished she hadn’t kept this from him and Wanda. Would she have ever told them the truth?

 

The Sokovian forced himself not to ponder too long on the thought, it wasn’t the time for that. No, right now he needed to listen .

 

“But you never knew we existed, correct?” Wanda asked carefully.

 

Erik shook his head, “I never knew she was pregnant, never knew she had twins, never knew any of it.”

 

Only now did Pietro take a long enough look at Erik to see the raw emotion bleed from his expression.

 

And then he knew what it had taken for Erik to open up like this. To expose such intimate details and open himself up to his children.

 

He was tired. Tired of being alone like he had been. Tired of drowning in his guilt. Tired of putting up so many walls.

 

Tired.

 

Erik was so tired.

 

He never knew Pietro and Wanda had existed. Knowing that they did didn't mean he was going to be a good father. It didn’t even mean he would stick around forever. It didn’t mean he would ever meet Peter or Natasha or Tommy and Billy. It didn’t mean everything.

 

But the truth Erik let them know? It meant more.

 

It meant hope. It meant a possibility for Erik letting his children know more. It means letting his children into his own life, even if not all the way.  

 

Erik Lehnsherr was a father, shit, he was a grandfather. Pietro and Wanda Maximoff got to meet their birth father, even if they had never been looking for him.

 

Wanda reached a hesitant hand forwards until she rested her hand upon Erik’s tightly clasped ones. She watched him closely, as if waiting for him to pull away.

 

He didn’t.

 

Pietro was faster, reaching forward and laying a hand on Erik’s wrist.

 

He didn’t shake them off.

 

 

On the other side of the country, a woman, red hair tied up into a bun, with a little boy tucked upon her hip and another walking alongside her with a small fist curled around her pant leg, walked towards the couch where her ringing phone lay.

 

She smiled upon seeing the name displayed on her screen and she easily answered the call.

 

“Hey, Wanda. How’re you doing, sweetheart?”

 

On the other side of the line, a tired, but pleased voice responded. She will be home in two days time, she confirmed. A smile graced the face of the redhead.

 

Over in Queens, New York, a phone rang as a window was slid open.

 

A man crawled through the window, already bringing the phone up to his ear as he pulled his mask off his face.

 

He shut the window behind him, smiling as he spoke, “Pietro, Hey.” He started joyfully, “How are you and Wanda doing?”

 

Standing outside a large mansion, a content breath leaving him and a grin pulling at his lips, a white-haired man spoke, voice accented, tired, and happy, “I have a father again, Peter. We… finally found him. Finally got to know him for real this time.”