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When it's Raining on Sunday

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Nothing ever happened in Westview, New Jersey. Peter was fairly certain that Westview was this world's most boring city to exist. Filled to the brim with downtrodden residents and half decayed buildings, he stared morosely out of the window of his ridiculous two story FBI assigned housing, waiting for time to pass by. 

The agent who had dropped him off had said something about the previous owner being “blipped” and choosing to leave when he returned, and the house was seized by the government.

Whatever a “blip” was, Peter was certain it wasn’t good.

But the house was furnished, it was livable, and Peter only had to go out every so often for his check-ins with the local FBI office. Randy was a good guy, even if he talked too slow for Peter’s liking and stared at Peter’s hair like it personally offended him. But he would tell Peter about the world outside of Westview, got him a “cellphone” that was shaped like a graham cracker, and about twice as thick, and helped him navigate the world wide web to read up on current and recent events.

The year was 2023 in Westview, New Jersey -- and Peter Maximoff was hopelessly lost.

Peter perked up when a clean shiny car pulled into the driveway of the vacant lot next door. A woman exited the vehicle and started to walk slowly towards the center of what would have been a house if the foundations were anything to go by. She had red hair, a shade so frighteningly familiar that it sent Peter’s heart racing.

She was crying. He wanted to go out and ask her what was wrong. Something in him desperately wanted to talk to the woman next door. She reminded him of someone, something he couldn’t quite place in his hazy memories. But before he could even make a move to leave his spot at the window, the world exploded in a flash of red light and Peter Maximoff knew no more.

---

Westchester, New York, 1984, a parallel universe away

Charles Xavier sighed and put down the helmet of Cerebro before turning his wheelchair around and facing his dearest and oldest friend who was tensely waiting with shallow breath and clenched fists.

“Still nothing?” Erik Lensherr’s voice was terse and controlled but his emotions were broadcasting loud enough for Charles to pick up on without having to poke around with his usual curious tenacity. Erik was worried. Erik was afraid . And Charles couldn't blame him -- he was starting to feel equally afraid.

“Nothing. Not even a glimpse in anyone’s minds. I can’t realistically search through every person’s mind but casting a net to see if any thoughts were close enough to Peter’s description… Even if he were shielding his powers from me, I would be able to see him through others eyes.”

Erik tensed further, his knuckles turning white. “What does that mean exactly?”

“It simply means it’s as if Peter has vanished off the face of the earth. As if he never existed at all.”

There was a tense groaning around them as the metal in the room seemed to begin to arc towards Erik. Before Cerebro completely dismantled itself, Erik abruptly turned on his heel and stormed out of the room, the casing of Cerebro quieting and settling back into place. Charles followed at a pace, watching his friend’s tense shoulders carefully.

When Erik had first approached Charles with a concern that Peter was missing, Charles had been certain the speedster was simply out somewhere blowing off steam. But after searching futilely for several hours and finding no indication that Peter had left notice he would be returning, the X-Mansion was placed into high alert.

That had been six months ago.

Not even Jean, with her incredible gift, was able to sense Peter. She had even tried searching with Cerebro -- a risky idea at first but Hank had assured them that her gift wouldn’t blow the circuitry and electrocute them all -- and while her resulting migraine had been manageable, her efforts yielded nothing.

Charles rolled into the elevator next to Erik. The doors closed and the lift began to rise slowly but steadily. There were several agonizing moments before Erik roughly exhaled.

“He’s my son , Charles. He exists. He was here . How is this possible?”

“I’m afraid that I don’t have the answers, my friend. But we will keep searching.” Charles laid a hand gently on Erik’s forearm, finally feeling the man relax slightly under his touch. “We won’t give up on Peter.”

The most disturbing trend of all, aside from Peter’s sudden disappearance, was that of the other missing people cropping up across the globe. While none of them had any personal connection to the residents of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Charles and Erik had both kept a tense eye on the news reports as more and more people seemed to vanish from thin air.

Hank was the one assigned to tracking the disappearances. Due to their sudden and untraceable nature, the world had once again begun to suspect mutant interference and the community was again under harsh scrutiny. Hank was searching for any kind of common denominator that resulted in those who disappeared being “chosen”. If there were a mutant behind it -- and perhaps a mutant behind Peter’s own disappearance -- Hank would be the one to crack the code.

“I’m sorry, Professor, there’s really no link between the missing people. No genetic components, no cultural or ethnic significance, and not even a regional factor. It’s truly a random selection,” Hank reported as Erik and Charles reached his office. Hank had upgraded recently, after the Mansion rebuilt, with better televisions that were all running simultaneous news broadcasts across the globe. He had a pin board filled with the images of the missing persons -- with Peter’s face dead center in the chaos.

“Other than Peter, there have only been fifteen reported mutants who have disappeared. The other seventy-six missing are genetically human of varying age, race, background, and even nationality.”

Charles studied the board again. He’d seen it through the stages as Hank added each new missing person to the list but he reviewed their names and faces again, counting. Three reported missing from China. Five from the United States (excluding Peter). Twelve from across various parts of Brazil. Nine from the general continent of Africa. And the rest from a smattering of countries across Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific

“Who is the most recent reported missing?” Erik asked, perusing the board himself. He had relaxed considerably from his state in Cerebro but he still held himself with tense anticipation. Charles doubted he would truly relax until Peter was returned.

“That would be this one,” Hank pointed to the farthest pinned face on the board -- a twelve year old girl named Cecilia Reyes who went missing from the Bronx three days previous.

“Mutant?” Erik asked, looking at the pinned identification card.

“Suspected, but not confirmed,” Hank replied, looking over his board again.

Erik hummed softly before stepping away from the board. Hank fiddled with a few dials on his desk and evaluated the readings before furrowing his brow.

“Now that’s odd…,” he muttered mainly to himself. Charles could practically feel the waves of confusion and concern radiating from the scientist as he quickly began to adjust more settings before grabbing the nearest television and hastily changing the channel to dead air before plugging in a cord from somewhere that immediately resolved itself into picture and sound.

The tinny sound of live-audience laughter reached Charles’ ears before the television glitched and went from a black-and-white 1950’s era sitcom to something that resembled recent television before glitching yet again to something that appeared to be current in the style and dress.

A woman with wild and frizzy red hair was walking to the front door of her home, confused and tense. As she pulled open the door the camera angle abruptly shifted and all three men in the room sucked in a collective breath as a very familiar head of silver hair came into view.

“Wanda? Wanda, who is this?” The camera angle shifted again to a man with startlingly scarlet skin and a glowing yellow gem at the center of his forehead.

An audience cheer rang out as Peter Maximoff -- dressed in clothing not dissimilar to things Charles had seen on Scott and the other younger students -- stepped forward into the foyer of the home.

“Long lost bro get to squeeze his stinkin’ sister, or what?” Peter’s voice was odd, forced but still surprisingly cheerful if somewhat out of character. The woman, however, looked gutted . Charles studied her face with intense interest even as he felt Erik’s powers warping around him causing sparks to fly from Hank’s workstation.

The whispered “Pietro?” was so quiet it was nearly inaudible but the room was silent and it echoed like a mocking call. The woman was close to tears, and whatever she saw when she looked at Peter, Charles knew it wasn’t bringing her any happy memories.

His heart ached for the young woman -- who looked to be the same age as Pietro, but had the same world weary, exhausted stance, as if she had shouldered the weight of the world already once before. Perhaps she too was a mutant, with a tragic past, in need of care and guidance.

Charles had never been one to ignore a soul in need.

The show abruptly glitched before rolling credits -- and what a strange set of credits they turned out to be.

“WandaVision, starring Wanda Maximoff as Wanda, and Vision as Vision?” Charles read from the screen before it was gone. A flickering RGB screen with the standard “Please Stand By” took the place of the absurd sitcom reality.

Erik’s head whipped towards Charles. “Did you say Maximoff ?”

“That’s the same as Peter’s last name, isn’t it?” Hank questioned, turning away from his slightly smoking devices. Erik was back in control but where there had been resigned sadness, he was now filled with a hard energetic determination. “Can we track this broadcast signal?”

“I’ve pulled up the readings but I’m not entirely sure if what I’m seeing is correct,” Hank said, grabbing the print out from under the desk where several needles continued to bounce erratically over a steady flow of paper.

“Did you know Peter had a sister?” Charles questioned, but Erik didn’t answer, his eyes trained on Hank who was consulting his scientific readings with concern.

“This came out of a massive spike of CMBR that my sensors picked up. I’ve been tracking anomalies in space -- not outer-space space, but the physical matter space we have here on earth and I noticed a concerning amount of CMBR centered around areas where our missing persons have been reported to have been seen last.” Hank tapped another screen that was still playing a CNN news broadcast.

“CMBR?” Erik’s tone was tense. “In layman's terms, if you please, Hank.”

“Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. It’s a kind of radiation that’s been tracked since the early fifties and theorized to have been around since the Big Bang. It’s harmless in small amounts, like the traces I’ve found in my research, but this wave…” He gestured to the screen still flickering with the Please Stand By notification.

“It had physical data encrypted in the code. Whoever sent this wave wanted it to be seen.”

Charles jumped on that rather concerning statement quickly. “Whoever? What do you mean? That video footage was sent to us? From where?”

Hank absentmindedly chewed his thumbnail for several long seconds before sighing and handing Charles and Erik the readouts. While neither men were scientists by any means, they could clearly see the beginning and end of the wave in the readout.

“Regular broadcast waves, outside of CMBR enhancements would land about here on the scale,” he placed a finger around a quarter of the way up from the baseline. “Theoretically CMBR enhancements would normally put a broadcast to about here ,” he slid his finger up about an inch on the page.

“This wave… it tracks like nothing I’ve ever seen… but it tracks like something I’ve theorized for a while now.” He tapped where the line bled off the page from the erratically bouncing needle. “It couldn’t even be measured by my instruments, Charles. It’s incredibly powerful and it was aimed directly at us.”

He pointed at the place where the line bled off the bottom of the page. “And this? Negative CMBR? This doesn’t exist.”

Charles could feel Hank edging on the statement he seemed afraid to make. Erik, ever impatient, dropped his corner of the page and glared at Hank.

“Get to the point, Hank,” he snapped. “What theory of yours is this proving? Where is my son?”

Hank took a deep breath and swallowed hard before pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

“Your son is in an alternate universe.”

Erik tensed as the words sunk in, barely breathing. There was a heavy pause and then the television with the flickering Please Stand By exploded.

---

Darcy Lewis wasn’t exactly sure when everything had hit the fan but she was sure it was sometime between Pietro being recast and her getting chained to a SWORD vehicle as Vision tried to escape the Hex and was slowly disintegrated. Or something. All the events had blurred together after the Hex washed over her that even after being woken by Vision she wasn’t entirely 100% sure what had happened the previous night.

Still, she was rocking the tight pant circus look, so at least Wanda had good taste in fashion for so-called Circus Escape Artists.

Also this episode was starting to feel like a bad rendition of Modern Family, if the wacky hijinks she encountered from the Circus to Town Square were anything to go by. Vision had long since taken flight to try and get home before her, and she pulled into the Square noticing it was surprisingly devoid of citizens.

Was it because the show always focused on Wanda? She’d theorized that the other residents were still going about their lives even when the “camera” wasn’t on them, but the more she saw the less she was convinced. If Wanda was unconsciously manifesting the Hex, did that mean her control only extended to a certain radius around her person?

Did that mean her kids disappeared if they were outside the radius after a certain point? Like those kids in that Doctor Who episode where the redhead got stuck in the computer with the AI generated kids.

Oh god, she was the redhead companion stuck in the AI generated television show now.

Darcy pushed back the nausea and kept driving. Until she saw the body lying in the middle of the street.

“Holy shit!” She skidded the funnel cake van to a halt before scrambling from her seat and down to the street. She didn’t recognize the clothes from any previous episode -- the figure looked male, probably mid-twenties, in some kind of icy blue jersey with shorts and tights… Oh no, did she miss the Halloween special?

“No, focus, Darcy,” she hissed out loud, deciding to approach the figure with caution. Until she was close enough to see his face, that is.

“Pietro!” Darcy rushed to the prone figure of Pietro Maximoff (maybe?) who was lying in the street seemingly unconscious in a very bad Halloween costume that looked like a bad rendition of a kids superhero from an old comic book. She reached a hand out and sighed in relief when she found a pulse.

“Pietro, wake up,” she shook his shoulder but the man was still. “Come on, Pietro, or whoever you are, you need to wake up and tell me what I missed and where Wanda is!”

After several long seconds Darcy took a breath. She wasn’t fond of this trope but if everything in the Hex played out like a TV plotline, well… Rearing back she stiffened her fingers and looked apologetically at the unconscious Pietro.

“Sorry about this,” she whispered, before slamming her flat palm against his cheek with all her might, resulting in a resounding crack that echoed around the Square before Pietro shouted and jerked awake, running a lap around the Square in what was probably a nanosecond before skidding to a halt in front of the kneeling Darcy.

“What the hell was that?!”

“I’m sorry!!!” Darcy wailed. “You weren’t waking up so I got desperate! What are you even doing out here? Why aren’t you at Wanda’s?”

Pietro scrunched his brow and looked around. A hand reached up to tug at the necklace she had seen him wearing in his intro in the last episode. It was actually kind of weird that he hadn’t taken it off for his costume, now that she thought about it.

“I dunno, one minute I’m joking with my sister and then the next -- wham -- out like a light. And I know it wasn’t alcohol because that Halloween party was disgustingly family friendly.”

“Does alcohol even work on you? Like, wouldn’t your metabolism -- okay, you know what? No, nevermind.” Darcy cut her own rambling short mid-sentence and took a deep breath. “I can science with you later. Right now we need to get to Wanda’s. I think she might be in trouble.”

“In trouble? From what, the neighborhood watch association or whatever?” Pietro laughed. “She’s got red wiggly-woos, I doubt she really needs our help.”

His hand absently scratched at the necklace again.

Interesting .

Darcy scanned the surroundings. There were no Westview residents in sight. Pietro had just referenced Wanda’s powers to a total stranger with no hesitation or questioning as to why she was questioning his own superspeed. And he seemed out of it -- not like in the ‘I just woke up from being passed out’ kind of out of it, but like he was lagging, for lack of a better term. Like he was slightly behind the pace of the conversation.

“Hey, uh, Pietro?”

“Yeah?”

“Oh my god! What’s that over there?” She pointed quickly to something behind Pietro and as the speedster took far too long to turn around (in reality it was about two seconds but knowing how fast the real Pietro had been this was far too slow) she reached out her pointing hand and grabbed the beaded necklace and yanked .

Pietro stumbled with a shout as the necklace snapped and the beads scattered in every direction, clattering to the pavement and hissing as a soft purple haze dissipated like steam.

“Okay, so that definitely wasn’t Wanda’s power, but I don’t have time to evaluate that right now,” Darcy muttered to herself as Pietro seemed to right himself. He blinked for several long seconds before staring at his hands, at his outfit, at Darcy’s outfit, and then at the beads on the ground.

“Okaaaaay,” he drawled slowly. “What’s happening now?”

“Um,” Darcy could practically see the gears in his head working as he waited for some kind of explanation. “So short version is you’re someone I guess -- well of course you’re someone, everyone is someone -- but you got put under some kind of mind control to pretend to be Pietro Maximoff. But not like everyone else in the town who were all put under a different mind control to act out a sitcom with a grieving Avenger.”

Pietro nodded solemnly for several long seconds. “Okay, I got like half of that. But I feel… I feel really good. Like… really good. Like better than I’ve felt in months good. There’s stuff in my head that wasn’t there before like some sort of alternate identity named Ralph Bohner --” at that, Pietro snorted and muttered boner under his breath with childish glee “but I’m actually… I’m finally me again.”

Darcy shook her head back and forth. “Yeah, okay buddy that made absolutely zero sense. Wait -- oh my god, you’re Ralph?! ” The mysteriously referenced Ralph from next door???

“Psh, no, I’m not Ralph. But I’ve got stuff in my head like I was told to pretend to be Ralph. Does that make sense?”

“No it really doesn’t,” Darcy groaned. This Hex was getting more complicated by the minute.

“Well if it helps, it just feels like my sister got into my head again and left some notes lying around. So that’s a relatively normal feeling, minus the fact that my sister’s been dead for ten years or so. But I mean… Before -- before whatever this is,” he gestured to the reconstructed Westview, “I didn’t have my memories. Everything was fuzzy. I remember not knowing who I am, but I do now? So that’s a weird, but nice, change.”

Darcy felt like her head was spinning. She didn’t know if she had time to sit here and hash out details with Pietro -- Fake Pietro -- Fietro? -- but she couldn’t just drive off and leave the poor guy behind. Especially if the superspeed was somehow connected to the enchanted beads she’d just ripped off his neck.

“Okay,” Darcy pressed her hands together. “Why don’t you start at the beginning, and make it as quick and simple as you possibly can.”

---

Agatha felt the moment her spell broke and sighed. Wanda was still perched on her couch and the boys were safely locked away in the vault so she supposed if Ralph woke up on his own it really didn’t matter -- he’d still have his Wanda chosen personality so it’s not like he’d remember being under the crystalline possession or even be interested in telling his not-sister.

Everything was going according to plan.

Chapter Text

Westchester, New York 1984

“So we’re going to go hop into an alternate reality, right?” Raven asked as if the answer was clearly going to be a resounding ‘Yes’. The established X-Men team, minus Peter, were gathered around the large dining table where Hank had laid out all the information he’d gathered on Peter’s disappearance and the parallel universe that was sending broadcast signals cloaked in CMBR to their universe.

Since their discovery of WandaVision, several other spikes of CMBR had come in with more footage, and some of it was incredibly concerning. The clip with the crackling radio asking Wanda who was making her do this was particularly disturbing and upon seeing it, Scott had shuddered and mumbled, “Woah, Twilight Zone,” under his breath. Even more disturbing was the garishly red blood of the PTA woman’s hand after the glass in her hand shattered.

Hank had recorded every piece of footage they’d received and began to keep a series of VHS cassettes labelled with emulated decade, event in the clip, and notable “characters” in the sequences. It seemed as if the show was not a traditionally man made event, which Charles had suspected from the beginning. For instance, the clips randomized the decade styles of the last four decades but the “characters” never changed except in their costuming and hair. No one was aging.

Which suggested either some form of time loop or perhaps that not that much time had truly passed at all.

“I checked the library for any mentions of a company under the name Stark Industries after that disturbing commercial, but couldn’t find anything,” Jean said quietly. “But I did find a note of a Howard Stark who died in a plane crash in the Second World War. He was a volunteer pilot with the Army. His family were all historically metal workers and industrial workers of some kind.”

Hank made a quick note and nodded. “That’s a good place to start, thank you Jean.” He turned to Raven. “And to answer your question -- yes we’re going to try and enter an alternate reality, but we need to find a doorway first. And Jean may have just found our way in.”

“How does researching a random name help us find a way into this reality Peter is trapped in,” Erik asked, his tone harsh and restrained. He was clearly forcing himself to remain seated and not pace around the room like he was prone to do in frustrated outbursts. Charles knew that if Erik could simply rip a hole in reality and climb through it to find Peter, he would be doing it this very instant.

“With information gathered from WandaVision , I’m going to try and track any form of timeline anomaly I can get my hands on. I’m operating under the assumption that, now the multiverse theory has been proven, major events that differ across realities are most likely where the force separating our realities is weakest. So, say this Stark guy died. In Wanda’s reality, he survived. He may not have been the exact same person in our reality but the resulting shift could have left a scar, or - or some kind of fissure that we can exploit with CMBR to make the jump into the next reality over.”

“Interesting theory, Hank,” Charles commented with pride. Hank was truly a genius. Charles rubbed his hand over his chin thoughtfully. “We don’t know for sure if Peter’s disappearance left any traces of CMBR, but if what you’re saying is true -- perhaps our missing persons have been falling through these fissures.”

“But why now?” Kurt spoke up from the end of the table, voice wavering slightly. “Why are people disappearing now? Falling into some alternate reality?”

“I don’t know, Kurt,” Hank said softly. “But I’m going to do my best to find out.”

---

Charles left the planning of an attempted reality jump to Hank and Scott, who had made himself at home in Hank’s labs over the last several months since Peter’s disappearance. While Scott didn’t have an overt interest in science, after Peter had officially been declared missing Scott had thrown himself into research with Hank with an unusual fervor.

It seemed as if somewhere between losing his brother and saving the world, Scott had grown attached to Peter as another older brother figure, and like the rest of the team was desperate to bring him back.

Charles wasn’t surprised though. Peter was everyone’s favorite. He just had a way of making everyone feel like they were family.

So as the meeting concluded, Charles followed Erik to the balcony where they could look over the front lawn where several students were playing some kind of game with altered rules to allow the use of their powers.

Charles felt more than heard Raven approach them from behind.

“We’re going to find him, Erik,” she said softly and as reassuring as she could. She moved to stand next to Charles where to his surprise she took his hand and entangled their fingers, holding tightly.

He refrained from commenting, lest the sudden familial expression of care should be withdrawn, and instead squeezed back gently as he watched Erik’s face slowly crumble from stone to something more open and vulnerable.

“This is all my fault,” he whispered into the warm dusky air. “This is all my fault.”

Despite his curiosity at Erik’s sudden insistence that he was at fault for Peter’s disappearance, Charles refrained from poking around his friend’s mind. Erik would come to him when he was ready. Until then, he and Raven would remain stalwart friends and supporters as Erik broke down into sobs, collapsing against Charles’ chair.

No words were spoken -- there were hardly any he could think of that would comfort Erik. Instead he placed his free hand gently on Erik’s shoulder and waited.

Soon they would be making headway into finding Peter. Soon they would be in an alternate universe.

Soon, whatever Erik was carrying would be resolved and he would have his son back in his life again.

---

Westchester, New York 2023, three days after the Day of the Snap

Of course everything was in chaos. Half the world had suddenly rematerialized in the exact same places they had disappeared five years previously. There were a lot of things happening all at once. The ones who had been brought back were confused, afraid, and searching for their loved ones. Eventually local areas set up Lost and Found stations much like they had when Thanos had obliterated half of the population the first time.

People eventually made their way to the stations confused, and lost, but volunteers and local authorities worked to find identification for those recently returned, reversing the death notifications, and helping the returned survivors attempt to find their loved ones if for some reason in the last five years they had relocated, moved on, or worse, passed away.

That was where Peter found himself now, staring at the pop up blue tent with nearly a hundred people bustling around, working on machines and clicking away at keyboards that had screens like typewriters attached to televisions. Someone noticed his bewildered look and approached him with a soft smile. She was young, probably his age, with bright blue hair and piercings and an equally wicked looking leather jacket. Very punk.

Not that Peter could recall what “Punk” was, but it still felt right saying she looked very punk.

“Hi, are you lost? Looking for a loved one? Having difficulty finding accomodation post-snap?”

“Um,” he looked around. “All of the above? I don’t… I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know who I am.”

If the girl was at all surprised by his declaration of amnesia, she didn’t show it. She just took him gently by the arm and led him to a folding chair next to a desk with one of the screened typewriters. She started clacking away at the keyboard before turning back to Peter.

“Do you remember your name?”

“I think it’s Peter, but that’s the only thing I can remember. And I’m not even sure that’s right.”

She typed quickly again. Peter saw a hint of a flower tattooed on her neck and that was pretty cool. He wondered if maybe he should get a cool tattoo. But he wasn’t in a position to know what he liked or disliked so he figured he’d have to wait before permanently putting something on his body. What if he got a tattoo while he had amnesia and then remembered who he was and whatever he picked was something he hated?

“Do you know what year it is?”

“I heard someone say it was 2023, but I couldn’t have told you that before they said it.”

She nodded sagely as if this was a common answer. Though given what Peter had been hearing people talk about, it probably was. People all around him were missing five years of their life and, well, Peter was missing all of his.

If he’d gone through what everyone else had, maybe he had some form of trauma amnesia. Was that a thing?

“Okay, Peter, I’m going to take a quick photo of you and upload it to the StarkServer we’ve been given loan use of. It will give us faster facial recognition results. If that fails for some reason, I’ll have to get the supervisor to give me access to other databases but I’m sure we’ll find some identification for you in no time.”

Peter nodded like half those words actually meant something to him.

“After that, we’ll work on finding your loved ones, okay?” Her voice was so gentle and reassuring Peter couldn’t help but nod back and force a smile for the rectangular thing with a lens she held up to his face. There was a flash and she plugged the rectangle into her box and started clickety-clack typing away again.

Peter didn’t have much to say and so he let her work, his mind drifting off track in spectacular fashion.

That was another thing he’d noticed. He seemed to think a lot faster than everyone else around him. He could get through conversations with himself in his head when making decisions faster than the person could get the question out. And, y’know, he was fast too.

Just plain fast.

When he’d tried running after skidding to a halt in an unfamiliar forest, it had seemed like normal running. Whatever normal was.

When he started running once he found people, it was like time stood still. He wove in and out of people who were frozen in place and when he skidded to a halt time sped up again and no one had noticed him move from one end of the street to the other in what seemed to be mere seconds.

That probably wasn’t normal for other people, so Peter kept that information to himself.

There was an angry buzzer noise from the volunteer’s box and she frowned.

“Okay, looks like I’ll get the supervisor. Peter, wait here and I’ll be right back, okay?”

He didn’t know why she kept asking him if it was okay, it’s not like he had anywhere else to go. He fiddled with the walkman he’d had in his pocket when he found himself alone in the wilderness. It had some good tunes on it.

The volunteer was back with a stern looking woman in tow who took one look at whatever was on the screen of the blue haired girl’s typewriter and raised her eyebrows practically into her hairline.

“Margaret, this is Peter. Peter, this is my supervisor Margaret. She works with the Westchester Social Services. We’re going to run your description through a few more servers really quick and that should hopefully lend us some answers, okay?”

Wow, she was just… really into asking Peter if he was okay with this. He really wasn’t but he felt bad even thinking of saying that he wasn’t okay that he just remained quiet. (It was almost painful but he persisted. He got the feeling that under normal circumstances he might be a bit of a chatterbox.)

Margaret sat down at the chair and muttered a quick, “Thank you Katie,” under her breath and Peter filed that information away in a corner of things he could say he knew. Blue haired girl was named Katie. Stern grey haired lady named Margaret.

Silver haired twenty something with no memory (probably) named Peter.

It took Margaret twenty minutes to look Peter dead in the eye and say, “I don’t know who you were before the snap, but it’s going to take some deep digging, son.” The endearment made Peter feel like his skin was crawling and he didn’t know why.

She unclipped a radio from her belt and spoke into it quickly. There was an affirmative in reply and someone in a white jacket with blue rubber gloves came jogging over to the tent with a small device that beeped as they clicked a button and moved towards Peter.

“Hi Peter, I’m just going to need to prick your finger really quickly, okay?”

Peter wordlessly held out a hand and the nurse/doctor/scientist set the device against his finger and he felt a small sharp stab before the device beeped and the white coat looked at the screen and read whatever had appeared.

All three volunteers stared at Peter with wide eyes then, and Margaret took a deep breath.

“Call Quantico,” she ordered with steel in her voice. “Now.”

---

Westview, New Jersey 2023, inside the Hex

“So, your name is Peter Maximoff? Like that’s actually your name?” Darcy stared at Pietro -- or rather, Peter

“Yep! The one and only! Born 1958 to the beautiful and wonderful Magda Maximoff, in Hungary.” Peter grinned as he propped his feet on the dash of the funnel cake van as it rumbled down the road towards Wanda’s house.

“I’m sorry,” Darcy’s voice squeaked as she whipped her head back to the road, “but -- what?! You can’t be serious! There’s no way you were born in 1958 -- not looking like that!”

“Guess I’ve got good genetics,” Peter quipped with a sly grin. There was some sort of unspoken joke in his words that Darcy really, really didn’t have time to unpack.

“Alright,” Darcy gripped the steering wheel tighter. “Let’s just say for now I’ll buy that you were born in 1958, how are you also a Maximoff? Wanda’s parents were named Irina and Oleg Maximoff and they were from Sokovia.”

“From what-a-what-ia ?” It was Peter’s turn to stare apparently because the silver haired man was openly gaping. “I have literally never heard of that...whatever that place is.”

“Ummm, it’s a country in Eastern Europe? Was basically still in the Cold War up to the late 2000s? Like full on revolutionary insurgency and civil war and communism and secret Nazis and just… It was bad.”

Peter leveled a blank stare at Darcy. “That sounds like it was made up by bad anti-Eastern European propagandists.”

She tilted her head in response. It was a valid critique. If Darcy hadn’t known about Sokovia since 7th grade geography and literally seen the footage of the country flying into the air during Ultron’s attack, she would have probably said the same thing.

“It’s real, alright. And that’s where Wanda is from. And her brother Pietro. Who you’ve been masquerading as.” She gestured vaguely to the costume and hair. “But he’s dead , like super dead. He died fighting Ultron with the Avengers.”

“I mean if you want to get technical, it says Pietro on my birth certificate,” Peter said nonchalantly as if that wasn’t the biggest bombshell Darcy had heard since the start of the WandaVision broadcast. Who the hell was this guy?!

Darcy laughed nervously. “Okay, so I’m just supposed to believe that you are in fact Pietro Maximoff?”

“Yes and no,” Fietro Pietro Peter Pietro??? said quickly. “So you said start at the beginning and this is basically the beginning right? You didn’t let me finish. If you want the story, stop interrupting!”

“Okay! Jeeze! Sorry!” Darcy threw her hands up and then yelped when the van swerved slightly before clutching the wheel again with a white knuckled intensity.

Peter nodded and continued. “I was born in 1958, and I had a twin sister. Her name was Wanda.” His tone drifted off into what Darcy would call “sad territory”. He wasn’t outright sad like Wanda’s overwhelming grief (that Darcy could still feel lingering in the back of her mind even after Vision woke her from the Hex), but more like he’d lived with this pain for long enough he was okay but it was still a sad reminder.

“Okay,” Darcy nodded after a pause. She knew she wasn’t supposed to interrupt but Peter had gone frighteningly silent. Since waking him, the guy hadn’t stopped chattering until now. “Freaky, but I’ll bite.”

“Long story short, we grew up, mom took us to the US, we discovered our powers, Wanda’s were out of control but she was trying… some bad stuff happened and Wanda lost total control before bringing the house down on herself -- right after she tossed me and mom out into the street.”

Peter took a breath.

“She died. I was fifteen.”

He paused again, this time his eyes stayed locked onto Darcy as if he was waiting to see her digest the incredible information just dropped on her. Her brain started to place things together and she had a running theory but she wanted to hear the rest of his story before attempting to draw any conclusions.

Longer story short,” Peter’s lilting voice was back and his slightly pompous attitude with it. “Broke my dad out of the Pentagon, he tried to take over the world, ten years later I tried to find him again but he’d just lost his wife and my half-sister in a tragic accident and then he joined a megalomaniac also attempting world domination and I helped fight him off and then we all lived happily ever after until one day I went for a run and suddenly I was in a forest in a place that should have been familiar but wasn’t, with no memories, and DNA that said I was an exact match to a dead man.”

Darcy put a hand to her mouth and refrained from screaming. Eventually what made it’s way out was a strangled, “ Holy shit .”

---

There was definitely something off about Agnes’ house. Monica had circled the entire thing and it was like the house was putting off some kind of aura. She wasn’t sure what was up with her vision lately, but at least it was helping her figure out what was really going on with Wanda’s probably not-so-friendly neighbor.

When she finally spotted the exterior entrance to the basement (on her third lap) she inwardly crowed. Now she had a way in. It took a second but eventually she worked the lock off and pulled open the classic storm cellar doors -- like the kind you’d see in movies when characters either had to hide from a tornado, or were going to get killed by a serial killer.

Great, Monica, she thought sourly to herself, way to lighten the mood. You’re about to walk into a creepy cellar, and you just had to compare it to a horror film.

With one more glance around the deserted street, Monica steeled her nerves and took a tentative step forward before being yanked backwards with extreme force by something she couldn’t see.

She landed on something soft that let out a grunt and a whine of pain before she was rolling off whoever it was and standing up quickly in a defensive position.

“Pietro?!”

“I mean, yes and no,” Wanda’s recast brother wheezed from the ground. “Peter is what people call me, but, yeah, Pietro is on my birth certificate.”

Monica glared. She didn’t buy that for a second. Maybe he was under the assumption he was Pietro Maximoff because of Wanda’s Hex, but she was pretty sure he was just another resident of Westview.

“Monica!”

Monica whirled around to find Darcy Lewis running up the street in the weirdest getup she’d seen yet (and she’d been in the 70’s episode).

“Darcy?! What’s going on? What are you doing with… Not-Pietro?”

“Really?” Not-Pietro whined, still on the ground clutching his stomach like he was an over dramatic soccer player. “I have to do this all over again?”

“Monica! It really is Pietro! He’s Pietro!” Darcy pulled up to the little group at the cellar doors and bent over breathing heavily. “Okay, running in a corset style jacket, not recommended.”

“What do you mean he’s Pietro,” Monica deadpanned. “He’s definitely not the one from Sokovia. I’ve seen his photos.”

Darcy straightened and brushed her long brown hair over her shoulders confidently. She still looked flush from her run, most likely to catch up to the Not-Pietro, and she nodded before taking a gasping breath. “No he really is, but like, he’s from another universe. Like a parallel one.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Monica looked directly at Not-Pietro. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

Not-Pietro, who was apparently actually Pietro, stood and brushed himself off. “No can do, compadre, I am 100% pure grade A, Pietro Maximoff. Most people just call me Peter though.” He glanced at the open cellar doors. “And I’m pretty sure whatever you were about to do is super dangerous, so maybe we should do it together that way you have backup.”

Darcy nodded. “He had these beads on, Monica, and I broke the necklace and there was like this purple mist? And he went from being the really annoying New Jersey brother to the… I don’t know, whatever this is,” she gestured to Peter who was in some kind of Halloween costume but didn’t seem to have the same air as the Pietro she’d seen barging into Wanda’s show back at Base Camp.

“First of all, I’m offended,” Peter said, a hint of teasing in his tone, “and second of all, I’m a Jewish-Hungarian immigrant with superspeed.”

“Purple mist?” Monica trailed off and glanced back at the house. As her vision shifted she took in the aura again. She turned back to Peter and Darcy who gaped. She wasn’t sure what they were seeing but she could worry about that later. “This house is covered in purple mist.”

“Well that would make sense because this is my house and Agnes stole it. So… I’d say she’s probably the bad guy.?” Peter shrugged. “Shall we?” He pushed his way past Monica with a grin and began his descent into the dark cellar stairwell.

Monica looked at Darcy who chuckled nervously. “Oh no, after you,” she gestured to the open doors. Monica grinned and turned to follow Peter down the rabbit hole and into the unknown.

Chapter Text

Peter remembers living in this house and he was fairly certain there weren’t creepy roots climbing the walls of the cellar before.

Actually, he’s pretty sure there wasn’t even a cellar. Just a two story house, with rundown siding and crappy landscaping and a backdoor that was a little crooked and an oven that started to smell weird if it got higher than 375 degrees fahrenheit. But no cellar.

Peter hadn’t been an active participant in this small universe Wanda had created for very long, but he remembered everything that had happened while he was wearing the beads. And now that he wasn’t under some kind of witchy mind warp, remembering the absolutely tear jerking expression on Wanda’s face when she found him at the door… It hurt.

She didn’t look anything like his Wanda, but she reminded him of her in so many little ways. The way she laughed, the way her eyes crinkled, the way she fussed and fretted over her family, the way she didn’t put up with Peter’s nonsense (even if what he had done wasn’t his particular version of nonsense).

And her powers were definitely the same as his Wanda’s, except even for what little control she had, this Wanda had control far superior to his own sister. Was it because she was older? Because she hadn’t discovered her powers until later in life?

If Agnes was the one who had put the beads on him (which he was nearly positive now was what happened) she’d been the one to puppet him through his interactions with the little family Wanda had created. She’d given him memories -- memories that weren’t his and he wasn’t entirely sure how she’d even given them to him in the first place. He remembered a life that wasn’t his, like he was viewing it through an old home movie. 

This world’s Pietro taking his sister under the couch as their little apartment was bombed.

This world’s Pietro following his angry sister into a hostile organization where they subjected themselves to be human experiments and their powers manifested (or were enhanced -- it wasn’t quite clear).

This world’s Pietro running manically around a country flying through the sky fighting robots before being shot protecting a man he didn’t even really like, just because that man was saving a child. This world’s Pietro’s last thought had been that it was worth it.

Peter wondered if Pietro was right, if it really had been worth it.

That morose train of thought started to steer Peter’s mind down another path of things that might or might not have been worth it and he abruptly jerked himself from that track and shook his head. He wasn’t going to think about that. It had been oddly blissful living as Peter the amnesiac because he couldn’t remember what he was running from in the first place.

So now he would just run from that by running to something different.

Wanda may not have been his birth sister, but she was family. They were cosmic twins. If he truly was an alternate universe version of her brother then he was going to step up and do what he knew Pietro would have wanted him to do -- Protect Wanda .

The roots were thicker the farther Peter walked and he had to wonder if there was some kind of spatial distortion going on. He wasn’t much for physics but it felt like he’d been walking forever and yet they hadn’t reached the cellar yet.

He glanced behind him and Monica and Darcy were still following, Monica’s eyes still alight with that strange otherworldly glow. It actually looked pretty cool in the dim lighting of the hallway, casting a rainbow hue like light through a prism.

“Is it just me or does it feel like we should have reached the basement by now?” Peter asked, looking at Monica and Darcy who both startled at the sudden noise of his voice in the quiet hallway.

Monica furrowed her brow and thought for a long moment. “You’re right. By my estimation we should be halfway past the block but it’s like we’re not getting any closer.”

There was a soft hissing noise that steadily filled the hallway and soft fluffy white mist began to float up towards the ceiling. Monica and Peter both looked at it with confused expressions, but Darcy’s eyes were locked on something behind Peter’s back.

“Um...guys?” Her voice was strangled as she raised a shaky finger.

Peter whirled around and found himself face to face with Agnes who tsk’d and shook a finger at the trio.

“You know what they say about curiosity and cats, don’t you?” She grinned. At their frightened expressions she laughed, a cackle reminiscent of every witch in every horror film Peter had ever seen. “Oh relax , would you? I’m not going to kill you -- I just can’t have you interrupting my little therapy session with Wanda.”

She snapped and purple smoke swirled around her raised hand.

“I’m just going to stash you away with the boys for now while Wanda and I take a little trip down memory lane.”

As her eyes began to glow, Peter felt himself growing drowsy and he heard Darcy and Monica hit the floor behind him, before Agnes tutted and settled a warm hand on his shoulder. He fought the exhaustion, straining to keep his eyes open.

“Oh dear, you’ve had quite the emotional upheaval too, haven’t you. I’d offer to take you on for therapy but unfortunately your gifts are a little out of my wheelhouse.” She brushed his hair, strangely gentle. “Sleep now, we’ll talk later.”

Peter was asleep before he hit the floor.

---

“Why are we doing this?” Wanda’s voice trembled as she stared at the image of her childhood home. 

“Because, Wanda,” Agnes -- no, Agatha , meandered around Wanda like a cat as she leaned closer. “I don’t know how you did this. You don’t know how you did this. It’s important to know what drives you if you’re going to master your magic.”

Wanda grit her teeth. “I don’t have magic.” Her eyes were locked on the image of her parents settled on their ratty old couch ready to spend another night watching old American sitcoms. Pietro was calling her and Wanda was living the worst moment of her life over again.

“Sitcoms, sitcoms sitcoms!” Pietro griped, and Wanda felt a moment of dissonance, adult Wanda feeling fond and nostalgic while the Wanda who had lived in the moment was embarrassed, but she still defended her choice.

And then the world exploded.

Wanda blinked, and suddenly Pietro had dragged Wanda under the couch and they watched a blinking red light against a Stark missile. Wanda was afraid, but she was calm. Pietro was gripping her hand with an intensity.

It’s not going to explode, Wanda thought, holding her breath. At the end of the episode, it turns out to be a dream. With shaking fingers, she reached out a hand and pulled against something she couldn’t quite see.

And just like that, Wanda was yanked from the memory and back facing Agatha in the rubble of her childhood home, the Stark missile still blinking away.

“Okay, so a baby witch and speedster survive a bombing. The speedster keeps them from being hurt and the witch stops the bomb.” Agatha nodded as if those words actually made any sense. Wanda shook her head and spluttered.

“No, no! Pietro and I didn’t have powers until we were adults.” Right? She strained her mind trying to view the memory through her adult eyes and not through reliving it as Agatha had somehow created.

“Oh, sweetie, really think about it. You were surprised by the first bomb but you aren’t a speedster. I think your brother reacted instinctively -- time probably slowed down for him as it reached him and he managed to get both of you safely under the couch before the second shell dropped.”

Wanda’s head was spinning. She looked around the ruined apartment and felt her heart ache. Had Pietro really rushed her to safety -- saving both of their lives in the process?

“And the second bomb?” She looked back at Agatha darkly. “It didn’t go off.”

Agatha waved a hand casually to the bomb. “Admittedly it does seem like Stark had made a dud but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t still live munitions.” She stretched her hand out in a similar fashion as Wanda and purple mist wrapped around her fingers.

“A basic probability hex, Wanda. You ensured it wouldn’t go off. You didn’t know that of course, leaving both you and Pietro alone for two days before help arrived.” Agatha looked at her sadly. “If you’d had a coven, you could have done so much more, but I’m just impressed that you even managed that.”

Wanda stared at Agatha who danced around the detritus and the rubble. “I’m not a witch,” she repeated.

“Sure you aren’t, sweetie. Let’s get to the next part of the story.” She waved a hand and another familiar door appeared and Wanda felt her stomach drop. There was a technical pad near the entire metal door.

Hydra .

“No,” Wanda’s throat was dry. “No, I don’t want to go back there.”

Agatha’s hand was surprisingly gentle on her shoulder. “I know you don’t, but the only way forward is back.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” Wanda snapped.

Agatha grinned and her grip on Wanda tightened. “Tough luck, sugar-britches, you need to learn, and I need to know what happened so I can help you.” She shoved Wanda roughly towards the door. “Let’s get it over with, the faster you’re in there the faster we’re out.”

---

Westchester, New York 1984

“I did some more research,” Jean’s voice was quiet as she entered Charles’ study. “I know you didn’t ask me to, but I had to know.” Erik looked up from the chessboard with feigned disinterest. Charles was only able to get Erik to sit down long enough for a game after promising that when they finished they could return to Hank’s lab to check on updates as to the plan to cross the multiverse.

“Yes, Jean, come in,” Charles gestured to the couch before aligning his chair to create an open space for conversation. Jean took a seat with a timid smile as she clutched a file folder to her chest. She kept darting her eyes between Charles and Erik, as if unsure she should be intruding.

“What kind of research?” Erik asked, voice kind. He was truly trying to endear himself to the students as he worked to correct his past mistakes. It was truly heartwarming. Charles could still feel the sting of loss fresh in Erik’s mind, tempered only by the children from the school he seemed to be taking under his wing -- and Peter.

“About… Wanda,” Jean practically whispered, clutching her file folder even tighter. “I had to know,” she explained quickly, urgently, with a slightly more confident tone. “If Stark existed here, and Wanda exists there in that reality, I had to know if she…” Jean took a steadying breath and laid the file folder in her lap.

“I had to know if she existed in our universe too.”

Erik’s voice was controlled, “And? What did you find?”

“She did,” Jean’s voice was small once again. “She and Peter were twins, born and raised in Hungary until they were seven. I found her school photos,” at this Jean reached into the file and pulled out a series of photographs, images of Peter and Wanda as children in elementary school photo lineups. Peter was round in his face and his hair was incredibly light -- much lighter than the rest of the class. And Wanda was slightly taller, with a thinner face and large expressive eyes, and hair that was toned dark in the sepia colored photograph, most likely an incredible shade of red.

Erik took the photos with shaking fingers, sifting through the small stack and watching as the twins began to progressively age through each new photo.

“What happened?” Erik’s voice was filled with grief, and Charles knew that Jean could feel it as well as he could as it steeped into the room, surrounding them in billowing clouds of regret and sadness.

“There was an accident,” Jean replied, pulling a small stapled stack of papers from her file. “It was ruled as structural insecurity… their house collapsed. But I did some digging and it seems like maybe the Wanda of our universe had the same powers as the Wanda from the broadcast. And her powers they…”

Erik nodded as a tear slipped from the corner of his eye. “They were too strong for her. She lost control.” It was a common occurrence both Erik and Charles had seen through the years -- young mutants with incredible power but no training being at the mercy of something beyond their control.

Jean was one of them. But she was one of the lucky few that Charles found in time. If only he hadn’t taken the suppressants for so many years. Maybe he would have found Wanda and Peter and been able to do something for them. Maybe Erik wouldn’t have been sitting in his study crying as he found yet another child he’d lost.

“I’m so sorry,” Jean whispered. She was weeping, tears streaming down her face -- clearly overwhelmed by emotions that didn’t belong to her. Charles himself was struggling to keep from drowning underneath Erik’s staggering sorrow.

“I failed them,” Charles spoke quietly. “I could have helped them and I failed.”

Erik’s tear filled eyes turned to him and he shook his head. “No, Charles -- I failed them. I spent so much time entrenched in my anger that I drove their mother away and left them alone. I should have been there for them.”

Erik’s fingers brushed over Peter’s face in the last photo gently. Peter in the photo was around the age he’d been when Charles, Hank, and Logan had found him and borrowed him to break Erik from his prison in the Pentagon. To break his father from the Pentagon. Charles couldn’t help but wonder if Peter knew then, or if it wasn’t revealed until later.

“And I continue to fail my family,” Erik whispered, before succumbing to his tears. Charles nodded to Jean who wiped at her eyes gently before placing the file folder next to the chessboard and taking her leave.

Charles simply stayed with his friend, waiting for Erik’s grief and pain to subside.

---

Westview, New Jersey 2023, in the Hex, in Wanda’s Memories

Wanda stepped through the door from the Hydra base into the Avengers compound. “What did Pietro see?” She looked at Agatha who had been surprisingly supportive as Wanda relived some of the worst days of her life. Agatha’s only critique had been about their choice to join Hydra, which Wanda refused to justify.

She knew it was wrong, but grief often made people do unthinkable things.

“Hmmm?” Agatha paused in her intense scrutiny of Wanda’s room. “Oh, I really don’t know. I’m only manifesting what’s in your head. But I imagine it was something similar. You both were born with great power -- touching an Infinity Stone only made it greater.”

“You really think I was born with this power?” Wanda asked, watching Agatha from the corner of her eye.

“Oh, I know it,” she grinned. “You’re like me, Wanda. Well, you might be even greater than me. But we are both witches on our own, no coven, unfortunate powers granted from an Infinity Stone -- you know how it is.” She waved a hand before Wanda could even begin to comment and question her words and Wanda found herself thrust back into her own memories once again.

Chapter Text

After what felt like an eternity of revisiting the worst moments in her life, Wanda finally opened a door that led her back into Agatha’s basement. Agatha flicked a wrist and the runes dimmed, a shining book floated towards her and she began to flick through the pages absentmindedly.

“Alright, so, a lifetime full of trauma leads to a bucket list of issues and all of those somehow turn into you pulling magic from the sheer force of chaos and forming it into this little reality.” Agatha sighed. “I really hoped it wasn’t true but I’m afraid it is.”

“What is?” Wanda was feeling twitchy. She wanted to find her boys. She wanted straight answers from Agatha for once. She wanted to get out of the basement that was giving her the creeps.

“You’re the prophesied one, Wanda,” Agatha turned the book in the air towards Wanda and she saw a page that seemed to be written in a foreign scrawl dancing around a figure with wild hair and a crown. “You’re the Scarlet Witch.”

“And what is the Scarlet Witch supposed to be?”

“Well, in one of two versions, you bring about the end of the world,” Agatha shrugged nonchalantly. “But I just don’t buy it, all that end of the world nonsense is never right. No one prophesied a giant purple alien destroying half of life on earth so I don’t take their words for gospel anymore.” Agatha cackled.

“What about the second version?”

“It’s generally been left to interpretation but…” Agatha waved her hand and another book appeared from nowhere -- though the book itself was much more mundane. She flipped through the pages and when she found what she was looking for she smiled -- the first smile Wanda had seen on her face that wasn’t obnoxious or hiding something.

“In some translations the destruction of the world means new life,” she turned the book around to show Wanda who took in the slanting cursive scrawl. The book looked like it had to be several hundred years old. “I took notes in my classes, so aren’t you glad I’m a studious girl,” Agatha winked before shutting the book which disappeared into thin air.

“That’s your book?” Wanda was reeling -- too much information in too little time.

“Mmm,” Agatha hummed. “Now, where did I stash my guests…” She muttered to herself, turning in a circle at the center of the room several times before snapping a finger and striding to a wall where there was another rune that she placed her hand over and the empty doorway immediately filled with...another room.

“Pocket dimensions are oh-so handy, aren’t they?”

“Mom!”

Wanda’s head jerked up as her boys rushed from the previously empty archway and tackled her around the waist. She placed her hands on their heads and hunched over trying desperately to hold them close.

“Again, I am sorry about that, Wanda,” Agatha drawled. “I hate having to lie, lie, lie, just to get what I want. It’s much easier to work together don’t you think?”

“What do you want?” Wanda’s tone was low and dangerous. “What do you want with me and my family?”

“I’ll be honest, honey, I really don’t want anything from you. I came here out of curiosity. You threw up quite the magical signal when you created this little Hex Universe of yours. The sheer structure and size should have been impossible for an ordinary witch, which clearly you are not.”

“So I’m just supposed to believe you wanted to help me?”

Agatha’s eyes grew haunted. “Is that really so hard to believe? Maybe I’m just as lonely as you, Wanda. Maybe I wanted to find someone like me.”

---

Salem, Massachusetts 1693

“Mother, I don’t want to do this,” Agatha whispered as she trailed behind the line of witches venturing deep into the forest. It was dark, the moon was full, and Agatha was afraid. Her mother whipped her head around to face Agatha and glowered.

“Hush, child, this is your duty to your coven and to your family,” she replied before turning back to the witches that trailed in front of her. Agatha cringed. Her mother had informed the coven that they were to meet with a man that night who offered them greater power than they could ever dream.

Agatha had learned a long time ago to not trust any promise that sounded too good to be true, but she was obedient to a fault and she followed along behind.

As the witches reached the clearing, Agatha noted the raised stone dais surrounded by blue flame. The witches took their place in the circle and began to chant, Agatha joining in, her voice barely a whisper.

The fires flared and died, leaving a man standing in center, regal and terrifying. His hair was black as the night and his eyes were red like burning coals, and Agatha could feel the sheer heat emanating from his mere presence. He held a box under one arm with a cape draped jauntily over his shoulder, disguising the symbols on the surface.

“Lovely to see you beautiful ladies,” he smirked.

“Mephisto,” Agatha’s mother called out with a firm voice, “You promised us a taste of power and I promised you release. Uphold your part and I will end the curse holding you in Hell.”

Mephisto rolled his eyes, and set the box at the edge of the flames. “As you wish, Lady Harkness. But I must warn you, power can be sharp as a double edged sword.”

Agatha’s mother scoffed before taking the box in her arms. She waved her hand and began to chant. A blue crown of magic began to take shape over her forehead as she and the other sisters cast a spell Agatha had never heard.

Before long the fires died down and Mephisto stepped over the borders they had created and he adjusted his shirt cuffs. He tipped his head in deference to Agatha’s mother before turning on his heel and striding towards the forest.

“I did warn you!” He called over his shoulder before disappearing into the dark.

“Mother, I don’t think we should trust him,” Agatha whispered, watching the box warily. “I fear we may be meddling in things far beyond our control.”

“Hush, child.”

Agatha shrunk under the frosty glare of her mother and kept her opinions to herself. She watched as her mother placed the box upon the stone dais and raised the lid, an intense light bursting forth from the sunken depths and illuminating the entire clearing in a purple glow.

Her mother reached into the box with her bare hand, pulling from it’s depths a stone of wondrous shine, the source of the light.

And Agatha watched in horror as her mother began to disintegrate before her very eyes.

The other witches of the coven screamed, and at the sound of their voices they too began to turn to dust -- dust that was steadily pulled towards the stone as if it were feeding on their very essence. Agatha turned to run but she felt a tug at her center that gave her pause. She turned and faced the glowing stone, now hovering in the air unaided, and it felt as if it were looking straight into her soul.

A rattling voice echoed through her head.

Worthy.

The light exploded and Agatha was propelled through the air until she was slammed into the trunk of a large tree. The stone began to swirl with light and mist and a vortex opened in the air behind it, swallowing the stone and the light and leaving Agatha alone in the clearing.

---

2023, Outside the Hex

Tyler Hayward wasn’t a patient man. He didn’t like waiting and he didn’t like relying on others to do things he could have done faster and more efficiently. But he was the head of SWORD now and that required some strict delegation -- like waiting for his idiot scientists to finally maximize the power radiating off the missile Maximoff had dropped back at the base and using it to create a portal into the Hex.

Behind him was an enclosed pod standing upright, sleek and black and sealed. All he had to do was take his men into the Hex, release the Grey Vision to take out Wanda and one of the worst offenders of enhanced humans would no longer be a nuisance.

And then when he was lauded as a hero for returning with the revived Vision, and a dead Maximoff, he would pitch his idea to the Senate and United Nations that would prohibit the creation and use of enhanced and powered humans.

Monica didn’t understand. She had been gone during the five years after the destruction of half the life on earth. She hadn’t had to live with the consequences of allowing enhanced individuals to act as a beacon to the universe, drawing in the power mad, despotic, alien life forms that lived only to prove their superiority.

If taking out the enhanced individuals that alien life considered threats, then all the better. There would be no more incidents like Lagos, and no more threats like Thanos.

“Are you still not finished?” Hayward snapped at one of the lead scientists who had helped revive Vision with the Hex power. 

“We’re sorry, sir, but this really isn’t the same area of expertise. If we still had Dr. Lewis --,” the man nattered before stopping at the murderous rage in Hayward’s eyes. “Apologies, I’ll work faster, sir.”

“We’re going to dismantle this Hex, take out Maximoff and her Alternate Vision, and turn the public opinion back against powered individuals like Maximoff and Danvers,” Hayward snapped. “So I’d appreciate it if you’d get us in there before the next century!”

The scientists scattered and Hayward turned back to the pod behind him, placing a hand flat on it’s surface.

“You will be the perfect weapon to execute my vision.”

Hayward heard a rumble coming from the Hex, and he smiled.

---

Westchester, New York 1984

Erik had cried more in the last twenty-four hours than he had in years. There was something about seeing his son’s face on the television screen, trapped in some warped reality that had pushed him to the brink. Finding out Peter had lost his twin, and Erik had lost a daughter he’d never even known, was like a blow to the sternum.

Because it was all his fault. Peter was gone, in danger, trapped, alone, and it was all Erik’s fault.

The Wanda of his universe was dead, destroyed by the very power that made her special, and it was all Erik’s fault.

Marya and Nina were dead , and it was all Erik’s fault.

Alone in his room he let another choked sob escape but he tried to keep it quiet. The students were asleep and he didn’t want to wake Charles or risk Jean picking up on the waves of grief that rolled over him.

He’d stolen one of Hank’s extra televisions two days previous and was now making his way through the tapes of recorded clips that had been picked up by Hank’s CMBR sensors. He’d been out with Charles investigating the disappearance of the little girl from the Bronx and he’d missed quite a lot of footage.

Wanda was an absolute darling. She was sweet and charming and beautiful. And she was also incredibly sad. Erik knew cognitively that she wasn’t his daughter but he couldn’t help but feel a vague sense of parental care as he caught glimpses of her grief and sorrow buried underneath the happy sitcom facade. 

Her powers were incredible though, and Erik couldn’t help but be impressed with the entire scenario. It seemed as if Wanda’s hidden grief over something no one in the mansion had been able to quite suss out yet had resulted in her powers creating a perfect world where Wanda could be happy.

The next clip began to roll and Erik ran his fingers over his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He had to collect himself. He was studying the clips, not just for reconnaissance on Wanda and any glimpse of Peter he might find, but to learn all that he could about the universe Peter had fallen into.

The next clip picked up in the middle of an ongoing conversation -- they frequently faded in and out of detection, and appeared randomly and never in any conceivable order. It was as if the wave itself was focused on bringing the most important information across the multiverse.

Wanda was seated at the edge of a large bed next to the man she called her husband in the television world. Erik wasn’t certain if they were truly married (or if Vision could rightly be called human), and the clip seemed to be from another time.

Wanda looked much younger than she did in the other sequences. Her hair was different, her makeup different, her clothes unusual and different from anything Erik had ever seen. Most of the scenes had been from decades he’d lived through and now he had to wonder if the universe next door was somehow ahead of his own.

Vision was saying something about humor when Wanda responded.

“No, he’s not really injured.”

Erik took a deep breath. Her accent -- she hadn’t had an accent in any of the other pieces of video in the CMBR as of yet. She’d sounded like Peter, American born and raised. Except, if Erik remembered correctly Peter wasn’t born in America -- he was born in Hungary, which was the last place Erik had ever seen Magda before he had left chasing after his demons. Was the alternate version of Wanda from Eastern Europe as well?

“It’s not that kind of show.”

Their conversation veered from whatever show they had been referencing as Vision asked Wanda about talking through her grief. Erik wondered briefly if “seeing him again” was a reference to her own version of Peter. If her surprise at Peter’s appearance on her doorstep was any indication, Wanda’s Pietro may have been dead for quite some time.

Like Peter’s Wanda.

“It’s just like this wave, washing over me again and again. It knocks me down, and when I try to stand up it just comes for me again. And I can’t…” Wanda paused and Erik held his breath. Wanda may not have been his daughter but it sounded like they were perhaps more alike than he initially believed. His own grief was a wave, never ending, and when he tried to fight it he always ended up hurting those closest to him.

Charles... Raven...

Peter.

“It’s just going to drown me.”

The clip ended abruptly there and Erik ejected the tape. He mulled Wanda’s words over and over in his mind, thinking of his own mistakes and his own grief that he had carried since he was a child. Perhaps Wanda also carried a grief so heavy she couldn’t fight it.

Erik vowed then, as he filed the videotape away, that no matter what happened when they reached Wanda’s universe -- he was going to protect her too.

Chapter Text

“Because I’m your son.”

...

“What?”

Peter jerked awake with a shout and flailed his arms around quickly as he looked around. He was getting really tired of waking up in strange and unfamiliar places. He was in an unfamiliar room that looked oddly similar to the cellar hallway covered in vines, but there were glowing purple and orange lights around the edges of the circumference of the dark cavern area.

“Uncle P!” A shout came from behind him and Peter was immediately tackled by Tommy, whose arms were thrown around Peter in a deathly tight grip. Peter could feel tears hitting the back of his neck and he patted Tommy’s arms with as much comfort as he could.

“Hey little dude,” Peter responded softly, finally catching sight of Darcy and Monica who were looking at him with concern. “Is your brother here?”

Tommy nodded against his neck and Peter turned as far as he could to see Billy off to the side, hugging his arms tightly around his middle. Billy was giving Peter an intense look as if evaluating Peter. To be fair, Peter was fairly certain the kid had developed some kind of telepathy so he must be very confused why Peter’s head was suddenly so very different .

“Mom said you weren’t our uncle,” Billy said stiffly. Tommy slowly let go, almost reluctant, but he stayed near Peter who stood and brushed himself off.

“Well, your mom is right, but also wrong,” Peter shrugged. “I am, and am not, your uncle. I’ll explain it later,” Peter waved a hand to Billy who nodded but still seemed suspicious. Peter glanced around -- the room was empty save for the current occupants and the glowing lights coming from nowhere.

“You alright, Peter?” Monica asked finally, coming over to stand by him. Darcy joined them and nudged Peter with her shoulder.

“Yeah, that was a pretty big yell when you woke up there.”

“Uh, yeah,” Peter scratched the back of his neck. “Had a bit of a bad dream, but I’m fine.”

Monica raised an eyebrow. “You sure?”

Before Peter could answer, a door materialized out of nowhere and through it, he could see light and --

“Mom!”

Tommy was the first out the door, tackling his mother around the waist, followed shortly by Billy. Wanda’s eyes were red from crying but she seemed firmer, somehow, more certain. Her hands immediately wrapped the boys into her arms and she hunched over, cradling their heads gently.

Wanda was a good mother. Peter felt the slight twinge in his chest from thinking about what his own sister might have been and he pushed it away. His Wanda would have wanted him to be happy, and his Wanda would have loved this version. She was caring, and kind, tough as nails, and still ready to throw down at a moments notice.

Agnes peered her head into the doorway.

“Well, come on lazy daisies! I haven’t got all day!” A resounding boom echoed all around them and the walls of the basement shook. “And that would be our cue!”

Peter rushed from the room into the basement with it’s very witchy vibe. He felt Monica and Darcy flank him and they watched Wanda’s curious eyes look them over before letting her boys go and turning to Agnes.

“Agatha, who is this?” She gestured to Peter, and Peter tried not to be offended. Really, he was right there. She could have just asked him. Also, who the hell was Agatha ? “You said he was your eyes and ears, but who is he really?”

Agnes -- or Agatha? -- peered closely at Peter and smirked. “Well, it looks like someone found my enchanted beads and set little old Ralph loose from the crystalline possession. Sorry again about that dear,” she said to Peter with a shrug. “You were the neighbor and it was just too convenient.”

Wanda looked critically at Peter. “Ralph? Seriously?” The accent was back to stay and Peter found he really liked it. It reminded him of the early days in D.C. with his mother and sister, when they were learning English and trying to assimilate to avoid mockery, fear, and denigration.

“Oh, what?” Peter did a quick double take. “Nah, my name’s not Ralph. Also your beads were really annoying -- putting a cap on my speed. If you’d just asked I would have totally volunteered to help you help Wanda,” he complained, rubbing a hand at his neck. 

“Name’s Peter, by the way. Peter Maximoff.”

Wanda openly gaped. Another echoing boom shook the walls.

“Shouldn’t we go deal with that?” Peter asked, pointing up vaguely.

Agatha’s lips pulled into a thin line. “Yes, unfortunately I thought I would have more time to prepare Wanda for this, but there’s really no time like the present! It seems we have an uninvited guest, dear.”

Monica glowered, and grit her teeth.

Hayward .”

---

As the little band of misfits made their way through the neighborhood (Tommy and Billy having been given strict instructions to stay in their room), Darcy continued to glance at Peter and Wanda who were awkwardly avoiding each other and any topic of conversation related to Peter in general.

“So Agnes, or Agatha, or whatever, actually isn’t a bad guy?” she hissed at Monica who shrugged. Really not helpful, thanks Monica.

“Guess not,” Monica finally said. “After finding out she was involved with the glitches and abnormalities in Wanda’s sitcom broadcast I thought for sure she was going to be out to destroy Wanda, not teach her control.” Monica sighed. “Boy am I glad I was wrong.”

“And she keeps calling Wanda the ‘Scarlet Witch’, which is awesome by the way and should totally be her new codename, but does that mean Wanda’s powers aren’t actually from the Mind Stone?” Darcy lived for theorizing but right now she just needed answers, and she needed them fast. They were about to face off against Hayward and his pet project -- the last file she had accessed before being enveloped into the Hex.

Hayward had Vision and he was bringing him back to life. Hayward had lied about Wanda stealing Vision’s body and everything about their mission to stop the Hex. Hayward wanted to destroy enhanced humans and he was going to use Vision to do it.

It did beg the question how there was a Vision in the Hex that looked and sounded and acted exactly like the real one, and also was still essentially made out of vibranium.

When they reached Town Square, Darcy swallowed hard and took a deep breath.

They were completely surrounded by SWORD, full teams in tac gear with fully automated weapons trained directly on the five of them. Hayward was leading the charge. Darcy wanted nothing more than to wipe that smug smirk off his stuipd face, but she was just a girl with an astrophysics degree, not an all powerful witch or speedster or...whatever Monica could do now with her wicked glowing eyes.

“Take aim!” Hayward called and Wanda’s hands immediately lit with red wisps of power. Peter’s hand came up quickly and held her back, and then he turned back to look at them and winked .

---

Peter was really glad he’d zipped back to the house to grab his walkman before anyone could notice. He put his headphones on and clicked play before feeling time itself slow down and himself speed up.

The beautiful sound of Freddie Mercury crooning a melody over a heavy bass drum beat began to play as Peter took a run around the perimeter first, checking for backup and tanks.

“Steve walks warily down the street, his brim pulled way down low. Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet, machine guns ready to go.”

Peter grinned as he quickly disarmed each of the SWORD agents guns, dropping the magazines down into a pile he started behind Wanda. Her hands were still slowly lighting up with her power and Peter felt giddy at seeing a version of Wanda who could do things his sister could only dream of.

Next he started handcuffing agents to each other, to their humvees, to light posts, and even one to a parked car that was sitting off to the side. He swiped that dude’s hat and blinked rapidly. His eyes were getting dry -- he seriously missed his goggles. He swiped an agent's sunglasses -- they would have to do.

“Another one bites the dust, hey, I’m gonna get you too, another one bites the dust!”

Peter rifled through Hayward's pockets and found a funny stick that he’d seen in the weird typewriters when he arrived in this universe. He pocketed it quickly and gave Hayward a wedgie for good measure before running back to Wanda’s side and slowing back down to enjoy the show.

---

Darcy swore she hadn’t blinked, and yet between one moment and the next the SWORD agents were being thrown around as handcuffs appeared out of nowhere cuffing them to each other, their vehicles, street signs -- and Hayward was unceremoniously knocked forward onto his face by something right as a massive clatter sounded from behind the group and Darcy shrieked and jumped nearly a foot into the air.

Behind them was a stacked cache of magazines -- that the SWORD agents guns were clearly missing.

Peter grinned and readjusted the SWORD hat that had just appeared on his head and the mysterious sunglasses that were suddenly over his eyes.

“Told you the beads were slowing me down,” he grinned.

“You… you have super speed?” Wanda asked tentatively. For the first time since seeing Wanda in person, Darcy finally saw a glimpse of hope in the woman’s face. She was staring at Peter like he held all the answers to the universe. Peter, for his part, looked sheepish.

“Yeah,” he said softly. “I know this is most definitely not the time or place, but I promise you Wanda that I…” Peter’s voice caught as he seemed to struggle on the words he wanted to say. “I’m not Pietro, and I never will be. But I’m… I’m your brother from another universe?” He shrugged helplessly and was surprised as Wanda reached out and took his hand.

“I knew I recognized him in you,” she whispered, and Darcy had to force herself not to cry. She remembered seeing Wanda’s tear filled eyes on the screen as Peter had shown up, looking so much like and yet not like Pietro. Darcy had wondered why Wanda so readily accepted this stranger with a different face.

Maybe twins across the multiverse just instinctively knew each other, no matter what universe they were from.

The moment was abruptly ended as a grey and white blur rushed down from the sky and snatched Wanda right from Peter’s fingers. Darcy whirled around with horror as she finally laid eyes on the one thing Hayward had no right to do -- the genuine body of Vision, now drained of color and lifeless, illuminated by a blue gem in the middle of his forehead, was strangling Wanda fifty feet in the air.

“Wanda!” Peter shouted, before disappearing and reappearing atop the closest building. “Hey Creamsicle! Let her go!”

The white Vision ignored Peter and continued to tighten his grip. Wanda was struggling, kicking her feet and prying uselessly at the alternate Vision’s hands around her throat. Before she completely lost consciousness, a gold and green blur slammed into the white Vision, knocking him from the sky.

Peter caught Wanda as she fell and she managed to use her power to steady both of them as Peter brought them back to the ground in mere seconds.

“Alright, looks like your husband finally made an appearance,” Agatha grinned. “Peter did us a favor and took out Hayward’s men. Now all we have to do is take on Hayward.” She cracked her knuckles stretching out her fingers. “I never cared for men who fear witches.”

Chapter Text

Westchester, New York 1983 Three Months After Apocalypse

Peter was a coward, and he knew it. Mystique didn’t let him forget it either. Erik had left for a month after the entire ordeal with Apocalypse, and then returned with no explanation before simply attempting to integrate himself into the school.

A lot of the younger kids hadn’t seen him on the news that day in D.C. so they were wary of him by reputation but got over it fairly quickly when they saw what an absolute dweeb the real Magneto was. Peter honestly couldn’t believe how quickly some of the kids warmed up to Erik, and how gentle Erik was with them. It was a far sight different from the Erik he’d come to know.

But it was also hopeful. Hopeful that maybe, even though Peter wasn’t exactly what he’d call a great kid, maybe Erik would be okay with finding he had more family still. (Though Peter wasn’t going to tell him about Wanda for a very long time. It still hurt Peter to think about, Erik could wait until Peter was ready.)

The active team members were actually relatively chill with the big bad Magneto coming to live with them and join the team in training and exercises. Though it was clear that Erik wouldn’t be leaving the house for a while as Charles worked to deal with the legal snags having a wanted criminal in his home would bring, the team integrated Erik as if he would always be there to have their backs.

Peter actually enjoyed it. Once Erik lightened up, Peter discovered the man had the driest sense of humor on the planet, and his stories of training the original X-Men were always a delight. Though the stories made Mystique look a little sad sometimes, she joined in with Erik telling stories, laughing, and being a generally fun person to be around.

When she cornered Peter about telling Erik they were family after a particularly bad day however, Peter couldn’t help the stinging reply he shot at her as he wiped tears from his eyes.

“Oh yeah? When are you gonna tell Kurt he’s your son?”

Peter was an observant kid (even though he was twenty-five and hardly qualified as a kid anymore). He could rifle through papers before anyone even knew he’d been there, and he could overhear conversations and be gone before getting caught. And he was also just smart. He saw the way Mystique looked at the blue fuzzy dude -- it was the same way he looked at Erik.

“That’s none of your business,” she snapped, eyes clearly filling with tears.

“Oh yeah?” he called to her retreating back, “Then stay out of mine!”

Things were stilted between the two of them ever since. It had been three weeks, and Mystique still wouldn’t look Peter in the eyes. He couldn’t help but feel a little guilty, but he didn’t know how to apologize without putting his foot in his mouth... again.

So Peter was moping on a bench at the edge of the property, eating chocolate ice cream, and generally wallowing.

That was where Erik found him.

Erik sat next to him on the bench quietly, hands folded in front of him as he leaned on his knees and looked out over the property. From this angle, Peter could see the slightly faded numbers down Erik’s forearm and his heart did a painful jerk in his chest. He’d known, but knowing didn’t really prepare him for seeing.

“Will you be joining us for dinner?” Erik asked, finally breaking the silence.

Peter shoved another spoonful of ice cream in his mouth. “Dunno. Not sure it’s kosher since I’ve been eating all this ice cream.”

At the word, Erik looked at Peter quizzically. Peter internally cursed himself. Kosher had become a recent slang word around New York, with it’s high Jewish population, for simply “alright”. So, Peter took a deep breath and explained.

“Because mixing meat and dairy, y’know.” He gestured vaguely with his spoon. “Mom always said we couldn’t have ice cream after a meat meal but I don’t know if it works that way in reverse?”

Erik’s eyebrows raised. “I didn’t know you were Jewish,” he said softly, his tone full of an emotion Peter couldn’t quite place. “You should have told me.”

Peter shrugged again. “It just never came up. I don’t exactly keep Shabbat with my high energy level and my mom was always understanding. But we kept the holy days and Chanukah and everything. I’ve just kind of been observing them on my own since I came here.”

Erik was silent for a long moment. When he spoke, his voice was heavy and still full of an emotion Peter was afraid to examine. “Well if you ever want someone to observe Shabbat with you, or any of the holy days, I would be extremely honored.”

Peter’s heart lifted and he smiled, finishing off the last bite of ice cream. “As long as you don’t make me eat arbes on Purim, I’d love to.”

Erik laughed at that -- a genuine laugh. Not one of his quiet fond chuckles at a memory, or a harsh bark of hurt laughter -- a warm and inviting sound that Peter wanted to wrap himself in. If he could bring Erik a laugh like that at least once a week, it would make Peter’s entire existence.

“No arbes ,” Erik was still smiling and Peter could see it from the corner of his eye and hear it in Erik’s tone. “Noted. Are hamantaschen acceptable?”

“Depends on if you can make them like my bubbe or not,” Peter teased. He was high on this moment, a light feeling enveloping his chest. He’d never really had alone time with Erik before and to be talking about their shared heritage was something Peter had never dreamed of.

He remembered growing up in Hungary with his mother and grandmother, observing Pesach and Purim and Yom Kippur . They were happy memories, even if his grandmother often grew sad remembering the time before -- before everything went wrong.

“I suppose you’ll have to try them and tell me if I measure up,” Erik’s smile was soft and warm and Peter just wanted to tell him right then. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t ruin this one good thing he had. What if Erik didn’t want a spastic twenty-five year old son who couldn’t even save himself?

They lapsed back into comfortable silence, watching the light slowly disappear from the sky. It was a nice night, there were crickets singing in the woods behind them and Peter could even see a few stars starting to appear. Erik leaned up and then backwards onto his hands as he craned his neck back to look at the sky.

“No matter where you go, the sky is always there for you,” Erik said softly. “Even if you’re far away, your family can look up and see the same moon, the same stars, and the same vastness of space.”

Peter thought about it for a long moment. “I never thought of it that way. In a way, I guess it connects us all -- to our ancestors, our present, and our descendants.”

Erik paused and stiffened. He glanced at Peter out of the corner of his eye and Peter felt a chill of anxiety sweep through his chest. Erik’s eyes were calculating, but not cruel. Not like he’d seen that day in Egypt. But they studied Peter as if he were a riddle Erik had yet to solve.

“You said you came to Egypt for family,” Erik said slowly. “And yet I haven’t seen your family since. Why is that?”

Peter briefly thought about laughing it off and making an excuse that his family had gone back to D.C. and left him to work with the X-Men. The truth was, his mother had died shortly after Wanda, leaving him to stay with his Aunt Matilda who only tolerated him out of duty to her sister.

But instead what came out was --

“Because I’m your son.”

There was a pause as Erik’s face twisted into an expression Peter couldn’t decipher -- anger? Mistrust? Confusion?

“What?”

Peter began to sweat. He gripped the spoon in his hand so hard he felt it bend slightly. “I’m sorry, I know you probably don’t want to hear that after everything you’ve been through, but I’ve been meaning to tell you I just didn’t know -- and I know I told you my mom knew a guy who could control metal, her name was Magda. Magda Maximoff.”

The blood seemed to drain from Erik’s face at the mention of his mother’s name.

“No, you -- you can’t… I can’t…” Erik muttered, his brow furrowed. And that was the last Peter heard, because at the sound of the word ‘can’t’ he had run. Peter was gone in an instant, tearing off into the deep forest, just needing to get away. He could deal with whatever Erik was feeling about this situation later, because he was an adult and he could cope.

But right now he didn’t want to feel the sting of rejection from the one person in the world he had left. Wanda was gone. His mother was gone. Peter really was alone in the world.

As his thoughts spiraled into depression, Peter stumbled, tripping across a branch and falling. He threw his hands out to brace for impact but instead he was engulfed by a flash of white light, a warm brush of air, and a single thought in a voice not his own, a woman with a soft low voice and a familiar accent --

I really am alone in the world.

And then Peter was stumbling forwards -- straight into a tree. He looked up and glanced around. Where was this? What was he doing here? It was night, and Peter wasn’t exactly sure why he was out in the middle of the woods holding a slightly bent spoon. Was that his name? Peter? He...he couldn’t remember.

He tossed the spoon away, confused, aching, with a sore head and no idea what to do next.

Peter started walking.

---

Westchester New York, 1984 Six Months Since Peter’s Disappearance

Erik stared at Hank whose face was grim as he held folded sheets of CMBR readings.

“Sixteen?” Charles repeated, aghast. “Sixteen people disappearing at once?”

Hank nodded and laid out the readings on the table for the team to view. Erik glanced over the wildly swinging lines. The needle had clearly jerked off the page with each wave. He wasn’t a scientist but this didn’t seem good.

“I don’t understand how this is happening,” Hank continued, pushing his sliding glasses back up the bridge of his nose. “By all accounts our current running theory is correct -- that the majority of CMBR radiation is an indication of timeline divergence. I actually went through several even older missing persons reports and I think this has probably been happening for some time.” He spread out a handful of missing persons reports next to the CMBR readings.

“The logical assumption would be that across the multiverse, people occasionally go missing -- falling from one universe to the next. But this…” Hank gestured to the faces of the sixteen missing people. “This is beyond even just standard statistical outliers. This is…”

Hank trailed off, staring down at the papers.

“Frightening,” Raven finished for him, reaching a hand out to look over one of the missing reports.

Jean tilted her head as she thought for a long moment. Erik watched her carefully, waiting for the moment she came to whatever conclusion she was debating in her mind. Jean was always one to watch -- she was clearly one of the most powerful among them, and her mind was brilliant. Erik had been drawn to her since the minute he’d seen her walk into the air and explode in a blaze of fiery power.

He wondered if it had something to do with how much he could see what Wanda could have been in Jean. Even before he’d learned of his daughter, Jean had stirred that protective parental side of Erik and now more than ever Erik found he wanted to keep all of the team safe and protected -- like family.

Finally, Jean spoke up, breaking the tense silence. “If these places where the division between our realities is thinnest are made from timeline fractures, maybe the reason we’re seeing more of these spikes is because something changed the other reality and this is the backlash.”

“What are you saying, like, something happened in the other reality that’s altered their timeline ever farther and it’s splitting into our reality?” Hank asked, evaluating.

“I mean, clearly something’s changed, so there has to be a reason,” Jean supplied.

Erik had to admit, her logic was sound.

“Unfortunately,” Charles sighed, “none of the most recent broadcast clips have been any help deciphering what has been happening in this other reality outside of Wanda’s sphere of influence.”

“It does seem like their timeline might be ahead of ours, however,” Erik added softly. “If somehow the time between universes has stopped running parallel due to some cataclysmic event, perhaps that’s causing the timeline disruption.”

Scott nodded along with Erik’s words. “Yeah, that or someone decided to time travel.”

The entire group focused on Scott who looked sheepish. “What? It’s plausible! If Wanda can create an entire reality, who’s to say they haven’t somehow found time travel in the future?”

“Scott has a point,” Jean said, rising to the defense of her boyfriend. “Time travel would explain the sudden increase of timeline anomalies creating fissures between our universes. Which would also mean it should be easier to find one to slip through to rescue Peter.”

“So, we just have to find a fissure large enough for the team to slip through, get Peter, and come back,” Kurt grinned. “I think we can do that, we are the X-Men after all.”

“Well then,” Charles smiled, that smile he got when he was up to something, “Let’s get started, shall we?”

---

Westview, New Jersey 2023 inside the Hex

Peter watched in fascination as Agatha began to cast spells at Hayward with ease. The man was instantly engulfed in purple smoke as he struggled to his feet -- and then…

He wasn’t.

Hayward stood with a terrifying smirk on his features as he reached for his cuffs and unbuttoned his sleeves. On his wrists were strange looking metal bracelets that now had a purple glow running through the fissures in the metal. Agatha seemed equally taken aback as she glared at Hayward, her hands still surrounded in a purple glow.

“You like my new toys?” Hayward smiled a predator’s smile. “I had my science team whip something up after retrieving the missile Wanda returned layered in Hex power. It turns out it’s quite easy to absorb your gifts and use them against you.”

Then he stuck a fist out and pulled his arm back like he was firing and Agatha was slammed with a jolt of crackling energy sending her flying. Peter glanced at Wanda who was staring wide eyed at Agatha’s prone form.

Agatha struggled to her feet and snarled. “Hayward is mine.” She glanced back at Wanda. “I think it’s time to take down the Hex, dear.”

“But Vision and the boys --,” Wanda looked heartbroken as she considered Agatha’s command.

“The house is the epicenter, Wanda,” Agatha replied. “We have time to save them, but you need to take down the Hex. Trust me.”

There was a tense moment but Wanda nodded before dashing to the gazebo and lighting up with a pillar of red magic as she began to dismantle the Hex. Agatha smiled softly before turning and resuming her fight with Hayward.

As Agatha tossed magic at Hayward and he tossed energy back, Peter turned to Monica and Darcy. He pulled the stick from his pocket and shoved it at Darcy who gaped at him. “I think this has something to do with the Vision that’s fighting my brother-in-law. Can you figure it out?”

Darcy looked around helplessly. “Not without a laptop, I can’t!”

“A what?”

“A laptop!” she repeated, staring at Peter confused. “Oh, right, 1958.”

Monica sighed. “I think there were some SWORD computers in the humvees. Peter, go grab a laptop -- it’s a flat folded screen and keyboard about this big,” she gestured with her hands. “It will have this symbol on the top,” she gestured to the logo on her chest. “I’ll protect Wanda in case Hayward decides to take the power from Agatha and turn it this direction.”

Peter grinned. “Alright team, are we ready? Aaaaand -- break!” He winked before dashing back to the Humvees with record speed. He found the item Monica had described quickly and he rushed it back to Darcy who wasted no time in booting it up and plugging the stick into a port on the side of the laptop.

“Aha!” Darcy crowed. “This is the code to the Vision’s operating system! If I can hack through the firewall I can get his body shut down!” She glanced in the sky where the Hex Vision was being tossed around by his grey counterpart.

Monica and Peter gave Darcy a long, flat look.

“What? I used to be a techie, before I got into astrophysics,” Darcy grumbled defensively before turning back to the keys and rapidly typing away.

“Okay, Peter,” Monica turned back to Peter who was grinning. Vision was getting tossed around but he seemed to be holding his own. Wanda was slowly dismantling the Hex. And Agatha was not holding her own, exactly, but she wasn’t losing to Hayward -- not yet. “Wanda’s Hex absorbed a majority of the on-site SWORD agents and now that the Hex is coming down, I think they’ll be coming in for backup.”

“Roger,” Peter saluted. “Watch out for my sister!” And then he was off, snickering at Hayward’s motionless face as he passed by at a comfortable run, heading out to where the perimeter of the Hex was currently crawling inwards towards them.

He found the SWORD Agents and laughed as he saw what Wanda’s Hex had turned them into.

The circus was currently half SWORD and half circus so Peter started from where the Hex had already reverted and began disarming and destroying their weapons and vehicles, adding a few choice wedgies and self-propelled knock-outs where applicable.

When the entirety of the base was set to erupt into chaos as soon as Peter was out of the field of vision, he let himself slow down and enjoy the show. Three scientists clocked each other in the face from their own momentum and Peter cackled. One of the soldiers was now tripping as he ran, his pants suddenly pulled down to his ankles.

And none of the weapons had ammunition and none of the vehicles would start.

Peter sped back towards Town Square and dropped the magazines and spark plugs into the creek at the edge of the woods before reaching the Square. He skidded to a halt with a manic grin -- there wasn’t much that had changed, Agatha and Hayward were still going at it and Monica was fighting off a few of the SWORD agents that had gotten loose from their cuffs.

Peter let himself slow back down with the intent to update Monica and Darcy and get suggestions for more things he could do to help, but as time resumed it’s normal pace, Monica’s eyes widened as she caught sight of him.

“Peter, watch out!” she cried, stretching a hand out towards him, but it was too late. Peter felt the energy knock into him from behind and he was blasted forwards before landing harshly on the asphalt and rolling ten feet. Groaning, Peter struggled to his feet to see Hayward holding Agatha by the throat with his hand encased in a sickly purple and green aura emanating from the wrist cuffs.

His other hand was outstretched towards Peter and Peter was slowly and steadily lifted into the air, unable to move. His costume was torn up from his roll across the asphalt and his hair was back to being a windy mess. He could feel blood coming from a cut in his forehead. And he could see clearly Wanda in the center of the red magic crying out as she watched.

Peter really didn’t want to make Wanda lose another brother, not so soon after they had reached an understanding and a truce. And Peter hadn’t ever gotten to go back and apologize to Charles and Mystique for leaving (accidentally) by falling into a parallel universe.

And his father….

As Peter felt the invisible constricting hand around his throat he let himself mourn a little for never having had the chance to go back and talk to Erik one more time, even just to see his face and hear his laugh and know that even if he wasn’t a son Erik wanted, he was still part of Erik’s life.

Chapter Text

Westchester, New York 1984

“Because I’m your son.” The words echoed around Erik’s brain on loop every time he closed his eyes, or when it was too quiet, or anytime he was left alone. Which was often, anymore, because the pain and anger and grief he was feeling were overwhelming and everyone in the mansion had begun to avoid him to prevent any unwarranted outbursts.

Except for Charles.

That man wouldn’t know self preservation if it bit him in the arse, and Erik was somehow still grateful for the man’s unending perseverance to being there for Erik. Since the day he’d been pulled from a rage that had nearly drowned him by an unfamiliar voice echoing in his head to allowing Erik back into the mansion and his life after everything he had done with En-Sabat Nur.

“I believe that’s a checkmate, Erik,” Charles hummed softly looking at the chessboard between them. “It appears your heart wasn’t in the game. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Erik knew what Charles was really asking -- was there something Erik needed to talk about? They were waiting on Hank’s results scanning the surrounding area for a fissure of high enough CMBR radiation to allow them through to the alternate universe where Peter was.

“You’ve never asked before, Charles, why start now?” Erik sneered. He knew he was being unreasonable, but the thought of coughing up all the things swirling through his head into the open, laid bare for Charles, was nearly unbearable. It would be easier to let Charles into his head -- but that also sounded equally painful.

“You know I respect you too much, old friend. This time I would prefer you to tell me when you’re ready. Something clearly happened before Peter disappeared and I can see it weighing on you.”

“Charles, let me ask you a question,” Erik turned the tables on his eldest friend as he tried desperately to hide from the pain. “How long did you know Peter was my son?”

Charles’ face fell and he sighed. He rubbed a hand across his forehead for a moment before nodding and turning his gaze back to Erik. “I’ve known since Egypt. But, I’m sorry Erik, it wasn’t my secret to tell.”

Erik nodded. “I know. I just wanted to be sure.”

“You had suspicions though, didn’t you,” Charles hummed as he began to reset the board for another match. Erik didn’t feel much like playing again but it was the easiest way for the two of them to discuss emotionally sensitive topics.

“I can’t say for sure I did, but there was always something,” Erik replied, glancing at the board after Charles took the first move. “When I returned, it was incredibly easy to get to know him. Instinctual, even.”

“There’s much to be said about the bond between parent and child that exists even without us knowing about it,” Charles said fondly. “I take it Peter told you before his disappearance, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Erik swallowed hard and made his move on the chessboard before answering.

“He told me the night he disappeared.”

Erik could remember with perfect clarity the moment those words came out of Peter’s mouth. Erik had always felt fondly for Peter, something warm and caring he couldn’t quite name. Discussing their shared heritage had warmed him to his very core.

“Because I’m your son.” Peter had then gone on to ramble an apology as if being Erik’s son was a burden to him rather than an indescribable blessing. Then Erik’s mind caught up with the momentary emotional moment and his brief glimpse of happiness came crashing down around his ears.

He could see in his mind's eye, clear as day, the moment when En-Sabat Nur had trapped Peter, twisting his arm until it cracked, and snapping the young man’s leg in two. He could hear Peter’s scream echoing in his head, mingled with the memory of Nina shouting at him not to go, and his mother reaching for him beyond a twisted metal gate.

Erik remembered his mouth moving, but he didn’t know what he said. He knew it was the wrong thing to say by the brief flicker of shattered hope in Peter’s eyes before he was gone, leaving Erik sitting alone on the bench in a gust of cool night air.

Thinking back now, he surmised he must have been saying something about not being able to be a father again -- Erik’s pain had overwhelmed his joy -- and he let his fear dictate his response to Peter.

All Erik wanted to do now was find Peter and apologize. He had spent the last six months agonizing over his mistake, of losing Peter before he ever really had him. Erik had never hoped to be a father until he had Nina, and after losing her and Marya he had been broken. Almost irreparably, or so he had thought.

The care he’d managed to show for Peter even before he knew the speedster was his son was definitive proof that Erik was wrong. Peter was his family and Erik was going to defend him until his very last breath.

“Oh, Erik ,” Charles sighed, and Erik knew Charles had finally succumbed to his desire to see for himself what was going on in Erik’s mind. Erik was too tired to be bothered. He simply nodded, wiped at his eyes, and made his next move on the chessboard.

“I’m going to make it up to him, Charles. Even if it’s the last thing I do.”

Charles patted his hand gently before taking his next move on the board. “We will see that it’s not, dear friend. You, and Peter, deserve to be happy.”

Erik had no response to Charles’ declaration so he kept quiet and continued to mechanically move the pieces in response to Charles. He heard the knock on the door and it snapped him to attention.

Hank peered into the study. “Professor? I’ve found the rift that can take us to Wanda’s universe.”

Charles smiled, a hard edge to his expression. “Wonderful. Gather the team. We’re going to save Peter.”

---

Ororo looked rightly terrified to be given control of the Mansion and the school while the team were going on a mission to hop into an alternate universe with at least a small probability of possibly never returning.

But Charles knew she would be good for the children and she had powers strong enough that should something happen while they were away the school would be safe, and she could also deal with any internal problems as the case may be.

Erik had to agree. Ever since meeting the fierce weather mutant when they were both under the sway of En-Sabat Nur, Erik had known she would do great things. When she turned against the titan of a mutant and prevented his escape, Erik knew Charles would snap her up with no hesitation.

She smiled at him as they boarded Hank’s newest jet and gave him a small thumbs up. Erik simply nodded before climbing the rest of the way up the ramp and taking his seat across from Charles.

Hank and Raven were in the cockpit.

Scott sat next to Charles, with Jean on his other side, and Erik had Kurt to his right. The former German circus performer was still a little jittery about missions and this one was rightfully terrifying. But Erik had little left to fear other than losing Peter, and that had already happened, so hopping into an alternate universe for the slightest chance of getting his son back…

There was never any doubt that Erik would have been on that plane.

Still, he felt bad that the teenager was facing down the reality of leaving his known universe for an alternate reality and Erik leaned over slightly to give Kurt a small smile and murmur in German, “Alles wird gut, ich glaub an dich.”

Kurt’s responding smile was timid but Erik knew Kurt was going to be fine.

Hank flew the jet to a spot somewhere over New Jersey that he said corresponded to the location of the WandaVision broadcast. The jet shook as they hovered near the anomaly and Erik could see blurs in the sky to the front of the jet much like heat waves rising off metal in the summer.  

“Alright,” Hank called back to the team, “Everyone hold on to something.”

Charles tightened his safety harness and Scott grabbed onto Jean’s hand. Kurt gripped the safety bar between the seats and Erik merely closed his eyes, feeling the metal of the plane around him, grounding him and keeping him in place.

The engines roared as Hank revved the thruster and the jet seemed to stand still as the air around them bent and then the jet was blasting forward, slamming into the waves of force and Erik could feel the resistance of the split in the universe give way under the pointed nose of the X-Jet.

The plane rattled and shook as if it was trying to shake off it’s own wings.

But then, as soon as they’d begun it had ended. Erik opened his eyes to see a wall of red directly in front of the jet that they slammed into, before suddenly passing through it like it wasn’t even there.

Below them was a town square in chaos. Erik recognized it from the broadcast clips. There were all black humvees scattered around the streets, and what looked like soldiers in various compromised positions. There was a pillar of red rising from the gazebo and a woman in a silver and grey bodysuit fighting off several soldiers who were still mobile.

And right at the very front of it all was --

Peter .”

Without even waiting for Hank, Erik pushed open the loading ramp of the jet and began a quick but safe descent towards the ground as he heard Charles, Kurt, and Hank shouting at him. It didn’t matter, he had all of his gear on so Charles couldn’t stop him, and Erik could keep himself from becoming a smear on the pavement with his magnetism.

He drifted to a stop in the air barely three feet behind Peter, staring down the man with murder in his eyes and metal cuffs cloaked in some kind of purple haze. He reached a hand forward and pulled, feeling the metal around the man’s wrists begin to give way.

Let go of my son.

---

From one moment to the next Peter felt himself losing consciousness to suddenly being able to breathe as the grip around his throat lessened and a low, dangerous tone spoke from behind him.

Let go of my son .”

Peter whipped his head around as his heart jerked painfully and he found himself face to face with Magneto -- his father . His father, who had just ordered Hayward to let go of Peter -- Peter, who Erik had just claimed as his son .

Peter thought he might faint even without Hayward’s strangulation.

Suddenly two brightly lit pieces of metal whizzed past Peter’s head and he was plummeting back towards the ground before a pair of hands grabbed him by the back of his shirt and began to lower him gently to the concrete below.

He heard the screeching noise of metal rending itself, and as he was settled onto his feet he saw the jagged pieces of Hayward’s cuffs clattering down next to him. 

An overwhelming sense of giddiness suddenly overtook Peter and he glanced at Erik’s glowering face before turning back to Hayward and crowing. Hayward looked stunned, confused, and furious.

“Haha! Suck it Hayward!”

Hayward glared daggers at Peter before looking at Erik in confusion. “And who are you? Enhanced humans are required by law to be registered under Section 46 of the Sokovia Accords.”

And, oh , Peter could feel the waves of fury rolling off of Erik now. This was the Magneto who had dropped a baseball stadium on the White House lawn. This was the Magneto who fought for mutant rights, even if the ways he went about it were sometimes questionable.

And above all, this was the Erik Lensherr who had survived the Holocaust and lost his entire family to men like Hayward -- who were just following orders to register and round up the people like Erik, all because they were different . The men who systematically murdered thousands of Jews every day because it was what they were told to do.

Hayward was in for it now.

There must have been more metal on his person somewhere because suddenly Hayward was choking as Erik twisted his hand into a fist and stepped in front of Peter protectively. Peter glanced around and saw Hank’s jet landing past Wanda’s stream of magic as she focused on bringing down the Hex.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” Erik’s voice was low and dangerous. Peter didn’t have an answer because no one in the Hex had ever mentioned something called the Sokovia Accords before, but he assumed it had to do with Wanda’s home country. And Hayward couldn’t answer while under the force of Magneto’s grasp.

Agatha stood from where she had been dropped when Erik ripped the cuffs off of Hayward and brushed herself off. “Alright, buddy, I can take over from here.” She grinned at Erik and Peter. “You must be from Peter’s universe, so it’s understandable that you’ve never heard of the Sokovia Accords. They’re a UN mandated registration for all humans with ‘enhanced’ capabilities or technology.”

“Oh,” Peter said finally, remembering the ten years after Erik’s attack on the President that many lawmakers pushed for a Mutant Registration Act but were eventually shut down on the basis of being a threat to the safety of the citizens. Whether that threat was from mutant citizens being targeted or a fear of retaliation from Magneto, it was never clear.

“It seems as if this universe is broken,” Erik muttered under his breath before releasing Hayward. He glanced at Agatha who immediately lit her hands with purple magic. “He’s all yours.”

The pair watched as Agatha advanced on a weak and gasping Hayward who was leaning against his humvee with a hand at his throat. He stared at Agatha with genuine fear in his eyes as she began to twist her hands in the air, purple light coiling around Hayward.

Agatha tutted. “My, my, my, how the mighty have fallen, Tyler Hayward. Reduced to chasing after rogue enhanced humans. Shouldn’t the director of SWORD have better, more important things to do?” She sauntered closer to Hayward. “Or is it because this is a vendetta, an anti-superhuman crusade meant to take down former Avengers and leave humanity helpless.”

Hayward didn’t respond and Peter watched with wide eyes as Hayward began to seize.

“You need to learn your lesson, Hayward, and I know just the thing.”

Agatha began to chant and swirl her hands around faster and faster as light began to envelop Hayward until he was shrouded in purple fire and smoke. When Agatha finished and stilled, the smoke dissipated leaving a pile of clothing that had once belonged to Hayward and…

“A rat?” Peter tilted his head as the rat chattered before dashing away under a humvee.

“Well, I was going to go with a snake, but I didn’t want to give him any more offensive capabilities than absolutely necessary,” Agatha grinned. “I figure if he doesn’t learn his lesson in a year he probably won’t make it. That should at least give him some time.”

“You should have just killed him,” Erik growled, glancing where the rat had escaped.

“Probably!” Agatha cackled. “But where’s the fun in that?”

---

Meanwhile, over by the Gazebo...

Darcy was having a really tough time with the firewalls. Monica was handling the SWORD agents like a champ, because she could now apparently absorb bullets and then just let them fall to the ground and she had some kind of glowy power from her hands??? Honestly, Darcy wondered when she was going to spontaneously develop superpowers -- pretty much everyone else in her life had already.

She glanced up at the sky where the Visions were still tussling, blasting light from their heads that continued to chop up the neighborhoods. Darcy really hoped that Wanda could fix that after she dropped the Hex.

“Darcy!” Wanda cried from inside her pillar of magic, and Darcy started. She hadn’t realized Wanda even knew her name. “Have you finished with Vision? I’m running out of time before the Hex is completely gone!”

“I can’t get the code to break! I need the grey Vision to stop moving, or at least move a little closer!” Darcy cried back, straining to be heard over the crackling of Wanda’s power. Wanda looked stricken but before she could try and do anything, Peter was suddenly at Darcy’s side.

“Did you say you needed Vision to stand still?” Peter grinned and looked over his shoulder at a man in red armor, a helmet , and a cape, who was walking warily towards them. “I know a guy. Darcy, this is my…” Peter trailed off and the man, who seemed to sense Peter’s hesitation, jumped into the conversation with a slight smile.

“I’m his father, Erik Lensherr.”

Darcy’s eyebrows practically tried to escape off her face as she stared at the man. “The one who tried to take over the world?” She was skeptical but if Peter trusted him… 

“Once, a very long time ago, but that was then and this is now,” Erik said solemnly. “Tell me what you need me to do.”

Darcy nodded and turned up to the sky and pointed. “Do you see that grey guy flying around? He’s made of vibranium. I need him down here, as close as you can get him without endangering us or Wanda, and I need him to stop moving ,” she grit the last part out with her jaw clenched.

Erik focused then, reaching a hand up to the sky before rising slightly off the ground, hovering about six feet in the air. Peter watched him with wide eyes, and Darcy watched Peter for a moment. Seemed like there was definitely some family drama to unpack, but Darcy would quiz Peter about it later.

With a groaning sound echoing through the sky, the grey Vision suddenly froze and Hex Vision backed off in confusion. Slowly the grey Vision descended, arms and legs stiff, and eyes forward in confusion.

“Will this do?” Erik asked, clearly straining against Vision’s strength.

“Yes!” Darcy crowed, quickly uploading her master key into Vision’s code and she watched with glee as the android powered down quickly and as the code Hayward’s people had installed was wiped clean. She ran a quick data backup and restored Vision’s original code built by Tony, modified after Jarvis, and ran a few more sweeps before looking at the Hex Vision who was now hovering next to the grey Vision in confusion.

“Okay, he’s clean!” She looked up at Hex Vision and smiled widely. “Vision, I got your body back for you -- well, Hayward built it, but I’ve cleaned it out so if we can get Wanda to merge your Hex consciousness with it, you’ll get all your memories back but retain the memories you built here in Westview.”

“And I’ll be able to leave the Hex?” Vision questioned, a tiny kernel of hope buried in his voice.

“You’ll be able to leave the Hex,” Darcy confirmed.

“Wanda!” Agatha called from where she was busy tying up the last of the SWORD agents who had followed Hayward. “You can stop now! Let the Hex hover over your house and we’ll go rescue your boys! But you need to merge the Visions before Hex Vision is gone for good!”

The pillar of magic surrounding Wanda abruptly cut off and she stumbled, but Peter was there quickly to catch her before she fell. She looked up at him gratefully and he smiled back warmly. Darcy felt a little spark of warm and fuzzy feelings looking at them. They both lost their other half and had been thrown together by the crazy universe… maybe they could be happy again.

“Viz?” Wanda turned to Hex Vision who descended to the ground to look lovingly at Wanda. This, this was the content that had made Wanda’s sitcom world so compelling to watch and Darcy found she couldn’t look away. “Would you like that?”

“I would like that very much, Wanda,” Vision spoke softly, brushing a hand against Wanda’s hair. “Do what you must my darling, I will see you on the other side.”

Wanda’s hands began to glow and she closed her eyes, tilting her head down as she concentrated. Soon both Visions were wrapped in rings of red power and slowly, ever so slowly, they began to combine. It was like the grey Vision was putting on a coat of paint in the colors of his original form, slowly filling with color and life.

The blue gem in his forehead cracked and was replaced with a glowing yellow stone that vaguely resembled the Mind Stone. Darcy made a note to ask Wanda how she’d managed to recreate the Infinity Stone later.

And when Wanda finished, she collapsed against Peter as Vision blinked several times, looked down at his hands then back up to Wanda and smiled.

“Hello again,” he said softly, and Darcy knew that the Vision was truly back.

Chapter Text

Charles was the first off the X-Jet. Not because he was faster than his compatriots, no, but because once Erik had disembarked mid flight, he’d undone the safety straps holding his chair and made for the ramp that Hank had closed. As soon as Hank landed, the ramp lowered and Charles was rolling off the jet into a scene of what seemed like a joyous reunion.

He could see Wanda and Vision tenderly holding each other, foreheads touching, and Charles felt warm that at least one thing had gone right so far. Erik was standing close to Peter who seemed anxious at his father’s presence, yet still indescribably happy.

The two women closest to Peter both looked up as Charles approached and they eyed him with mild concern, but as soon as Peter caught sight of him in his shining chair, he beamed.

“Hey Prof! You came too? Did you guys come looking for little old me?” Peter grinned. “That’s so sweet actually.” He glanced at Erik who was watching him with warm eyes then glanced away. “Who else is here, Ororo? Scott?”

“Okay, so are these guys from your universe too?” the woman with the box in her lap asked. She was wearing an odd jacket and pant combination and Charles remembered that he had seen the woman in one of the broadcast clips. Dr. Darcy Lewis.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Lewis,” he greeted politely. “Yes we are from ‘the universe next-door’ as that may be. We came to make sure that Peter was alright and see if we could take him home.”

“How do you know my name?” Darcy stared wide eyed. “Are you psychic?”

Peter guffawed, but before Peter could reply, Charles waved a hand. “Yes and no, actually. But the reason we knew where to find Peter was a series of broadcast clips cloaked in CMBR radiation that were picked up in our universe.” He flicked his eyes to Wanda, who was still whispering to her husband softly. “However, telepathy is my particular ‘gift’, much like Peter’s speed and Erik’s magnetic powers.”

“Wait, so you’re saying WandaVision made it all the way to another universe?!” Darcy shrieked. “I definitely need to talk to your science guy, the data from that anomaly alone could be huge for the astrophysics community! Jane would love this!”

Charles felt the team approaching warily from the jet now, watching the scene with interest. He smiled at Darcy and nodded. “I’m sure Hank would love to discuss his findings with you at another juncture. However, it appears we may have to wait for a proper reunion.” He looked over and Darcy, Peter, and Erik followed his gaze to a stern looking Agatha, who watched Wanda with impatience.

“Yes this is all well and good, dear, but we’ve got bigger fish to fry before we deal with visitors from a parallel universe,” Agatha said quickly, snapping her fingers. Wanda jumped, glanced around with wide eyes at the X-Men, then looked back at Agatha.

“The boys!” she gasped.

“I can feel your Hex from here, they’re still in the house. We still have time. We need to get there now.” Agatha’s hands began to glow and she raised into the air. Wanda followed suit with Vision and they took off in a direction unknown. The other woman next to Peter sighed.

“Suppose you want to go with them?” She looked Peter up and down and Charles could see the anticipation in Peter’s fidgeting.

“Yeah, kinda,” he smiled apologetically. “Thanks Monica.”

Peter then zipped to the team members in turn and hugged them tightly before stopping in front of Charles. “Sorry about this Professor, gotta rescue my nephews. But as soon as Wanda’s finished with that, I’ll introduce you.” He glanced back at Erik. “Actually, you could come with if you wanted.”

Darcy perked up and grinned. “I can get them there with Monica’s help. We just got word from Jimmy that the FBI will be here any minute to clean up SWORDs mess, so if you want to go on ahead…”

Peter grinned and zipped over to Darcy before grabbing her in an awkward hug and kissing the top of her head. “Darcy, you are the best friend a speedster could ask for! See you slowpokes later!” He winked and with that Peter had dashed off, leaving nothing but a small trail of air Charles could see brushing past Darcy and Monica’s hair.

Darcy folded the box in her lap and stood, sticking a hand out formally to Erik. “Hi. Sorry about before, Peter had to give me the super-fast version of events when he was catching me up on being from another universe. I’m Dr. Darcy Lewis, astrophysicist.”

Erik took her hand and shook it warmly. “I saw you on the WandaVision broadcast, you seem to be quite knowledgeable in your field.”

Darcy flushed with a pleased smile. Monica stepped up next and stuck her hand out as well and Erik took it confidently.

“Captain Monica Rambeau, formerly of SWORD and now of… well I guess I’ll figure that out later.”

“A pleasure, Captain. My name is Erik Lensherr, and these are my teammates.” Erik gestured to Charles who rolled up next to him. The team followed suit, beginning interesting introductions. Both Dr. Lewis and Captain Rambeau seemed astonished as each team member shook their hands and mentioned something about seeing them in the WandaVision broadcast.

Hank, particularly, looked the most excited to meet Dr. Lewis. “I can already tell the technology of your universe is far more advanced than ours. You’ll have to let me pick your brain and catch up on anything I might be missing.”

Dr. Lewis chuckled and rubbed a hand at the back of her neck. “Aha, yeah I mean as long as it’s not breaking some sort of future tech rule of dimension travel. What if I give you, like, the code to creating your own Ultron on accident or something?”

Hank looked mildly confused and Monica sighed. “She’s talking about something that happened here Hank, it’s a long story. But she brings up a valid point -- are we going to see some kind of cosmic backlash from the seven of you showing up here out of the blue?”

“Theoretically, no,” Hank answered. “But with how many of our people seem to be falling through cracks in the multiverse, presumably to this universe like Peter, it may already be too late.”

“Well said,” a new voice spoke from the edge of town and Charles turned to see a man in an FBI uniform next to a man in the most curious clothing. He was hovering about a foot in the air as if his very cloak were holding him aloft. His hair was trim, with a small goatee, dark eyes, and tan leather gloves covering both hands.

The air was silent and still, and Charles felt a chill creep up his spine. This man was dangerous on a level he did not quite comprehend and he knew whatever the man said next would determine the outcome of their entire visit to this reality.

“Hello, my name is Dr. Stephen Strange, master of the cosmic arts and current Sorcerer Supreme. I defend this reality. I think it’s time we had a talk.”

The FBI Agent waved. “Hey, Jimmy Woo, FBI. Nice to meet you.” The serious moment was broken as both Dr. Lewis and Monica laughed, Erik smiled, and Charles covered his mouth to hide his amusement. Dr. Strange rolled his eyes and sighed. 

---

Despite hanging back with the X-Men for a few minutes before following his sister, Peter was still the first to arrive at the house by about thirty seconds. What little was left of the Hex was now broken into pieces surrounding the little house that had once been nothing more than an empty lot.

As he reached the front door Peter was tackled around the midriff by two tiny terrors who clung to him with a desperation he hadn’t quite expected.

“Hey, little dudes!” Peter patted the backs of their heads gently. He could hear Wanda’s feet touching the grass next to him. One hand went to his shoulder and the others to the one he had placed firmly on Tommy’s head. 

“We were so afraid that we wouldn’t see you again, that something would happen to you or mom,” Billy sniffed. “I saw that man hurting you,” Billy whispered looking up at Peter with wide intense eyes. “I know you’re not our uncle, but I didn’t want to lose you.”

Peter glanced at Wanda who looked back at Peter with sad eyes. “I was wrong,” she said softly. “Peter is your uncle in every way that matters.”

“Cosmic twins,” Peter smiled. The hand on his shoulder squeezed it gently before letting go as Wanda turned to Vision who was watching them, face filled with curiosity. Well, as curious as Vision could look at any given moment. Peter wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to having an android brother-in-law.

“Yes, this is touching, but we’re running out of time,” Agatha pressed gently. “Why don’t we move this party into the house?” She gestured to the open door and the little family shuffled inside, Peter quite awkwardly because despite being assured Peter wasn’t going anywhere, the little rugrats just wouldn’t let go. So Peter dragged himself, Billy, and Tommy, into the house before collapsing as a pile of bodies on the couch.

“Vision had a body from outside the Hex,” Wanda said quietly. “So how…?” She looked at Agatha, helpless.

Agatha nodded, looked critically at the boys, summoned the creepy glowing book quickly and began flipping through the pages. She stopped on a page and her eyebrows rose dramatically. “Oh this could work nicely.”

Agatha turned the book around and showed it to Wanda who investigated it as if there were words she could see on the silvery pages. Vision and Peter glanced at each other then looked back to the book. It was clear that whatever Wanda was seeing, Vision and Peter couldn’t. Maybe it was a witchy thing.

“But how?” Wanda repeated, after she finished the page.

Agatha dramatically gestured to herself with a grin.

Wanda still wasn’t getting it and Agatha finally sighed. “I told you, I was touched by an Infinity Stone just like you. It wasn’t until I started doing research on the Old Magiks that I discovered I had been exposed to something called the Soul Stone.”

Peter had no idea what any of that meant, but at her words both Wanda and Vision exchanged intense glances.

“After more research I discovered the Stone was a remnant of the creation of the universe, the ultimate power. Obviously I knew something was up after the first hundred years, so once I was able to get my hands on some books from the London Sanctum I learned that the Infinity Stones could grant power to select individuals, without even needing to wield the stone itself. The Soul Stone granted me immortality, access to my own pocket dimension, and…”

Agatha looked at the boys pointedly. “Control over souls.”

There was a heavy pause as everyone considered the implications before Agatha turned back into her slightly manic and cheery self. “Not much, mind you, but with this binding spell and my little extra , and your Chaos Magic Wanda -- we’ll be able to tie the boys to this universe completely, freeing them from the Hex and allowing them to live a somewhat normal life.”

Agatha looked pointedly at the children and made the universal symbol for ‘I’m watching you’. “No more aging yourselves up after this,” she warned.

Wanda seemed to steel herself and she looked back at Agatha with determined eyes. “Teach me what to do.”

What followed was an exercise in witchcraft that felt like it had come out of every supernatural book or movie Peter had ever seen. Agatha instructed Wanda how to draw complicated designs on the floor which she did with a wave of her glowing hands, the symbols and lines burning themselves into the newly conjured hardwood.

Agatha had the boys stand facing each other at two edges of the circle Wanda had created and Vision then joined Peter on the couch, watching in fascination. Wanda comforted her boys with soft murmuring words and gentle touches before she looked at Agatha and nodded.

“It’s okay mom,” Billy said softly. “No matter what, we’ll be okay.”

Wanda’s eyes filled with tears but she stiffened her jaw and looked at Agatha who held her hands out. Wanda followed her example and they began to channel magic -- red and purple swirling dizzyingly around the boys.

“Focus the Hex into the circle, Wanda,” Agatha instructed.

“I’m trying,” Wanda gritted out. “It feels like it’s slipping through my fingers!”

Agatha glanced over to Vision and Peter and nodded. She reached one hand out while still focusing her energy on the circle and suddenly two small pieces of Vision’s vibranium skin broke away and floated into the circle. “Sorry about this, dear, we’ll fix the cosmetic issues after this.”

The vibranium pieces attached themselves to Tommy and Billy carefully at the center of their foreheads. Their eyes were closed, their heads tilted forwards, Tommy holding Billy’s hand tightly like he had when he’d taken his brother for a run on Halloween.

“Focus on the part of Vision I’ve given the boys, Wanda,” Agatha instructed calmly. “Bind them together, and focus the Hex into the pieces.”

“It’s fighting me,” Wanda replied, a tear slipping from her eye.

“It is you, Wanda, it’s only fighting because of your self-doubt and your fear. Let go. You can do this. You made this entire world, you can make it obey you.”

Wanda let out a strangled cry and the Hex magic was sucked into the swirling vortex of magic like dust through a vacuum before the power coalesced and the room was bathed in an explosion of light. When Peter’s sight cleared he saw the boys hugging Wanda as she crouched next to them on the floor, Agatha watching over them like a proud teacher.

Vision quickly joined the family hug and Peter zipped over to Agatha’s side. She gave him a long glance. “Sorry about the crystalline possession. If I’d known who you were I would have just asked.”

“Yeah, I figured,” Peter shrugged. “Thanks for the apology anyway.” He looked down at the small family embracing, Wanda crying tears of joy as the house around them disintegrated. “You really did just want to help her.”

Agatha’s responding smile was sad, and pained. Peter had seen a similar expression on Erik’s face when his family was mentioned, or his mother, or his time in Auschwitz. The pain of extreme loss, loneliness, and overwhelming grief.

“I’ve been alone for so long, Peter,” she sighed. “It’s nice to have someone to teach.”

Peter clapped a hand on her shoulder gently. “You’re going to be a great teacher.”

After a few long moments, Peter glanced back at Agatha who was waving her hands quietly, erasing the lines of the spell they had performed. The house was back to it’s bare bones foundation, leaving no sign that there had ever been a home there.

“Speaking of magic,” Peter ventured carefully, “how did you give me Pietro’s memories?”

Agatha glanced at Peter sharply. “I didn’t.”

Peter felt a slight chill travel up his spine and he looked out to the road where he saw Monica leading the band of misfit X-Men towards his house from witness protection. Erik was watching Peter carefully, and Peter felt that spike of fear hit him again. He didn’t know what was going on in Erik’s mind, but he hoped it was good. The man had saved him from Hayward with a declaration that Peter was his son , so it had to be good, right?

They were followed by a man in an FBI jacket who looked at the house numbers carefully before finding Peter’s and nodding thoughtfully, and a man that was genuinely floating with a magical looking cape that fluttered in an invisible wind.

Wanda looked up and smiled at Monica who had joined them first, Monica giving the boys a ruffle of their hair gently. She hugged Wanda and smiled at Vision. “You did it Wanda,” she said with a smile. “I always knew you could.”

“You knew I wasn’t the villain,” Wanda said softly. “I can never thank you enough for that.”

Monica shrugged. “I know why you thought that, and maybe the Westview citizens might think differently, but I know you Wanda. You’ve only ever been motivated by love, and by grief. Even back with Ultron. You’ve always made the right choice, even if sometimes the right choice goes wrong.”

Wanda began to cry and she hastily wiped at her eyes. “I needed to hear that, I think,” she said softly, touching Monica’s arm gently. The moment was broken as Darcy bounded into their space happily, throwing her arms around Wanda. Seeing the slightly smaller woman next to Wanda and Monica was a sight and Peter struggled to avoid laughing out loud.

“Wanda!” Darcy cried happily. “Oh I’m so glad you’re okay! And the boys! This is the best ending I could have hoped for!”

Wanda smiled, slightly confused, but her eyes seemed to light up with recognition. “Darcy? Darcy Lewis? You came to visit Thor once, right?”

“You remember me?!” Darcy looked like she might faint.

“I remember you, you were very kind,” Wanda said softly, hugging Darcy back tightly.

The strange guy in the floating cape settled onto the ground and greeted Wanda with a small wave. She stared back at him, suspicious. “Hello Stephen, it’s good to see you.”

“Wanda,” he nodded. He turned to Agatha and gave her an appraising look. “And Agatha Harkness, what a surprise. You know the London Sanctum is still missing several books you ‘borrowed’.”

Agatha laughed a witchy cackle. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, Strange.”

“Uh-huh…” Stephen Strange(?) turned back to the assembled group and sighed. “Well I think it’s time we had a talk about our visitors.”

Charles broke in suddenly, waving a hand at Stephen to get his attention. “Surely it can wait until morning, Doctor Strange? We’ve had a long day, the sun is going down, and it might be best to retire and rest so everyone may have a clear head when we discuss the situation.”

Doctor Stephen Strange (and wasn’t that a name, Peter thought amused) glanced at the assembled group who were watching him intently, then he checked the sun, a watch on his wrist, and he nodded. “Well, I suppose one night won’t hurt. I’ll be back tomorrow, 8 AM sharp.”

Wanda and Vision nodded. “We’ll see you then, Doctor,” Vision replied, before Strange stuck his hand out and began to trace a circle in the air. A sparking portal opened in the air and Strange stepped through, turning back to give the assembled group another nod and a small salute before the portal closed behind him.

“Well that was different,” Scott said, breaking the silence Strange left in his wake. “So what do we do now?”

“We don’t have a house anymore,” Wanda said sadly looking at the ruins that had existed before she lost control and built her perfect reality.

“Oh, that’s chill because I’ve got one,” Peter spoke up. Everyone looked at him with surprise and he shrugged. “What? You thought Agatha was your neighbor? No way, man, that’s my house.”

“Sorry again,” Agatha stage whispered before turning to head into said house, most likely to lock up any of her witchy items that would be dangerous to a sudden houseful of mutants and more.

“Wait,” the FBI guy said suddenly. “You’re my missing WITSEC guy?”

Darcy and Monica exchanged a glance and turned to the FBI guy. “Come on, Woo, we’ve got a lot to catch you up on.” They both took one of his arms and began to drag him to the house as he asked them question after question.

“Yes, I do believe it’s time we take advantage of this reprieve to have a few conversations,” Charles said finally. “Peter, why don’t you show us around your home and introduce us to your sister?”

Peter grinned and nudged Wanda with his shoulder. Even though things were unfamiliar and different now, somehow Peter knew it was going to be alright. “Come on, let me introduce you to my family.”