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Pietro Maximoff

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Date: May 4, Y108
Location: The Farm, Sosamma Road
Tag: @Wanda Maximoff

Sleep didn't come easy this time. Tossing and turning as soon as he laid down, Pietro waited impatiently for sleep to take him. Sometimes sleep came easy, sometimes it didn't come at all, but he was determined to get some sleep tonight. He needed to recharge. The random freezing the Wastes, the disappearance and reappearance of Manfred and the talk of a Cult of ice freaks, this... frequent forced interaction with Wanda's 'temporary boyfriend' (as he liked to think of him), his relationship with the rest of the people in his life, was all wearing down on him. Sleep was for recharging, so why the fuck did it have to be so difficult?

Eventually he did, but he felt uneasy about it from the start. As he finally drifted off, his thoughts shutting down one by one, he could have sworn he felt a tightness in his chest and the feeling of someone watching him.

When he woke, he was confused for a moment. Loud noises sounded all around him, the air was colder than it should be, and the sounds of crunching and screams faded in the background. He knew as soon as he looked around where he was. He had dreamt it many times before, almost every night in the beginning, before his deaths started becoming more... creative, but always the same. He was in Novi Grad. This was the final hours of his life.
 
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Wanda Maximoff

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Ever since her mistake that would see her regressed into a child, Wanda seldom walked the otherworld on purpose. The astral plane, the dreamscape, that nebulous space that housed both dreams and the dream-adjacent -- she didn't understand it and had been too careless in her use of it. Lesson learned.

Sometimes she still couldn't help herself. Pietro looked like he hadn't had a decent night's rest for months, and though she tried to coax him into trying old remedies (placebos, really) like honeyed tea or a warm soak of the feet, nothing had stuck. So eventually she set to sitting at his bedside whenever she could, and willed the nightmares away with a push of her own power. This too proved unsustainable. Then all at once he was better, and still she had a niggling apprehension crawling up the back of her spine.

So finally, she steeled herself to begin venturing back into that space with intent.

The deafening sounds of artillery and mortar destroying cement and foundation struck her like an anvil to the stomach. Novi Grad was unmistakable despite the surreal quality of her surroundings, but she dismissed her own plunging heart and searched for her twin. "Pietro... Pietro!" she called, rushing past metallic sentries on the tattered, flying city.

[/box]
 
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Pietro Maximoff

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Pietro tried closing his eyes, tried blocking out the sounds, tried waking back up. His brows furrowed tensely in concentration, but no matter how hard he tried, nothing seemed to change the sounds of fighting around him.

He opened his eyes then. If he couldn't wake up, he would try changing his dream. Even though he tried every night, and the outcome was always the same, he would keep trying. There had to be a better outcome than dying.

At this point in time, everyone would be reconvening at the location of the device. He would find Wanda and convince her to come with him, or he would stay with her. He should have been more insistent - shoulda, woulda, coulda, but didn't - and all he could do to make it up was fix it in his dreams.

Which was why Pietro had bought those pills in the back alleys of Cascade Bay. Morpheus Drops. They were supposed to send you to the Otherworld, allow you to shape the course of what you dreamt. And all Pietro wanted to do was sleep. And it had worked. For the last week, he had dreamt pleasant dreams, or nothing at all. Whenever Novi Grad came up, he quickly avoided it. He had taken his pills tonight, same as every night, but this time, it was not right. He was not in control and his nightmares were back. But perhaps he could still control the outcome.

Pietro knew the ruined areas of the city by now like the back of his hand, every brick, every abandoned car, every police barricade. He knew exactly what time it was and where everyone would be because he'd relived it for months. Ever since he had woke up in Pandora. Ever since he had died.

Pietro took off through the city, the chaos around him slowed to a obstacle course of destruction. He still took out any sentries that he came across, dream or no, but a flash of red that shouldn't be there, caused his eyes to wander immediately, seeking out what was familiar. Out of place among the shower of debris, was Wanda. "Wanda?" he called out, immediately slowing to a halt, energy swirling around him as he faded back to a visible speed. This wasn't right.
 
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Wanda Maximoff

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With the knowledge that all (most) that transpired here were illusions, suspense was a terribly irrational thing. Wanda felt it like a vice around her heart nonetheless as she searched for him, drawn by the pull of his presence and striving to hope more than fear.

She grasped onto his arm as soon as she sensed it, appearing like a glitch in the system and with concern written in her eyes. "You've been sleeping better lately, but..." Was he aware? He seemed aware, which was only an inkling of an curiosity. More significant than that, she gestured at their surroundings, at the flying city which haunted them both.

[/box]
 
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Pietro grabbed her elbow, pulling her closer against the flying debris and loud sounds. He also needed to make sure he could physically touch her. He looked confused, and that's because he was.

And then she talked like she was not born from his dreams, like she was aware they were in a construction of his negative psyche. He felt his pulse jump into his throat in panic and he tried to think up a reply. What took him only a second to reply had given him enough time to think about it so it looked like he was not caught unawares. "Yeah, it's ... Novi Grad. Why are you here? How?" he asked, pulling her behind a building, a temporary fix from everything else.
 
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Wanda Maximoff

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If she paid attention to her attire, she would've noticed the red jacket Pietro had swiped from Natasha's supply closet on the eve of Novi Grad's last day. If she glanced at an old pool of rainwater, she would have spotted the familiar black kohl around her eyes or the tint of rouge on her lips.

"I used to do this more often," she replied sheepishly, distracted because she had more pressing matters weighing on her mind. "I wanted to make sure, if there was anything left here that was bothering you — have you been here all this time?“

[/box]
 
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Pietro Maximoff

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Pietro blinked slowly, thinking back to every night, trying to decide if any of the Wandas he had dealt with seemed different than she felt now. He couldn't tell because ever since he started taking those pills, his dreams had felt different, more real, more alive. "You have been... here in my dreams before?" he asked with a slight frown. He wasn't sure if he disapproved of that, or should feel comforted by it.

At the question of what was bothering him, his head dipped down at the ground, fringes of silvery blonde hanging over his line of eyesight. He had been trying to hide it from her for months now, but he should have known that eventually she would discover what was happening.

"Yes?" He responded, glancing up at her with a half-grimace. "Ever since I woke up in Pandora." he added when a look pressed him for more, which he was reluctant to give. She would just worried more.
 
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Wanda Maximoff

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She'd walked the astral plane before, and she had interfered with his sleep- if only to improve its quality. "Not like this," she said, and now she wished she had done it like this sooner. Lips thinning as he ducked momentarily away from her gaze, her hand reached for his shoulder. "But now that I'm here, I'm not going anywhere. Not until we see an end to this, whatever it is."

[/box]
 
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His expression turned slightly forlorn at her offer of help. He didn't want to outright turn her down, but he didn't see how she could help him. "I have tried all combinations. The end is always same, Wanda. I die." he said, frustration crawling up into his voice, grabbing her hands because he needed something to hold.
 
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Shifting her palms, she threaded her fingers through his and didn't know a single sign of being deterred. In truth she didn't know what she could to prevent his nightmares from unfolding, if there was something else at play, but surely their chances were better if they were together. "If you die, you'll get right back up. And you're not dead yet. Besides, I'm not sending you away this time."

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Pietro frowned, searching his sister's face for some kind of apprehension or clue that she was just as uncertain as he was that this would not play out like she was telling him. When he only found a soft strength being reflected back at him, he felt chastised. Not by her, but by himself. He shouldn't even be the one seeking comfort. He was supposed to be the rock, always steady, always sure, but since he had been here in Pandora, after the battle in Sokovia, he was slowly being worn down and he could feel himself breaking.

"Okay. We should find the others then.", he said with a small nod, reluctant to let go of her hands even though she would still be right there. There was a faster way to get there. They had already lingered long enough. He knew from several past nightmares what would happen if he refused to show up - and it wasn't something he wanted a repeat of.

Pietro placed his hand on her back and stepped to the side, pulled her close to his chest as he picked her up to take them both where they needed to go.
 
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They were following the script to see how it unfolded, or at least she was. Pietro carried her the way he often did, and as she rested back with her shoulder pressed against his chest, her thoughts turned to wondering. What would happen if they refused to be railroaded, if they willed the scenery to somewhere kinder, or if they simply ran in another direction instead?

The old church appeared after a blur of crumbling buildings. She thought she could spy them within, loitering about as if waiting for him. There underneath an arch stood Clint fiddling with a trick arrow, except as still as a frozen frame. Chaos should soon follow, but she barely had the patience for it.

"Let's fast forward," she proposed, and the battle in the church blazed forth like another glitch, an explosion of red and blue, lightning and splintering chrome whizzing by in a flew blinks of an eye. Until it was just them again, waiting by the machine.

She stood guard just like before, and she pushed aside a swelling need to process the resurgence of her anxiety from that day, the fears and deja vu. She wasn't here for that. There was something else that needed seeing through. Reaching out for him, she stared at him with unblinking green eyes and willed her heartbeat to slow. "Stay with me?"

[/box]
 
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Pietro brought them both to the rendezvous quick, but he dreaded arriving there. This part always stayed the time, but it was the part after that Pietro could never change. No matter what he did, the outcome was always the same: he died.

When the dust cleared, the rest had scattered to get the rest of the people off of the city before it would fall, and it was just them. Pietro wiped dust and sweat from his eyes and turned towards Wanda as she lifted a hand towards him. He took it, fingers slipping together as he stepped closer to her. "Of course."

His eyes were tight with stress but he turned around to face the opposite direction as her, waiting for something, anything. He wasn't sure what would happen because it wasn't only just him in this dream anymore, but the thought in the forefront of his mind was that the dream would just force him to take his place in his fate anyways.

As sentinels to converge on them, Pietro reacted, keeping close to Wanda in the crumbled space, but zipping around and keeping too many of them from getting close. It had to be getting close to end. If he didn't die, then did that mean Clint and the kid would die in his place? He felt a rising amount of anxiety that he transferred into more forceful punches, fists connecting with metal.

And that was when he heard it. The subtle whine of an plane engine. At first, it was distant and barely heard over the sounds of metal being destroyed, but then it quickly grew louder, more noticeable to him because the Quinjet was much faster than anything else around him. Then it appeared, clear on the skyline. That was impossible. It should not be here, but there it was, and it was gunning not for him, but for--

Pietro turned his head to follow the path of the bullets as they suddenly erupted from the front of the jet, shooting a line of fire towards Wanda. His heart dropped into his stomach and he let out a yell. His feet moved before he thought about what he doing. Pietro pushed his arms forwards, grabbing Wanda by the shoulders and shoving her forwards. When bullets stopped and the world dimmed, he looked at her. "It didn't work." he said, and went to grab her hand, but fell half way through to the ground.
 
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The noise rattled through her ears like a thunderclap. How could she have missed it? But by the time Wanda realized what had happened — another glitch in the system, surely, because they were within the confines of the church, which though battered should have provided sufficient shelter against aircraft turrets, it didn't make sense, but nothing had to make sense here — it was too late.

A strangled noise tore through her throat as she felt her twin brother die for the third time, seen it unfold like this for the first. Was this what Clint Barton saw? Her hands were already outstretched, vying to cushion his fall with a cloud of scarlet. Half of her, the part that was nearly caught in the thrall of the illusion, admonished her for the futility because it was too late, she should have acted sooner, and now he was dead again and it was all her fault, just like before. It had always ever been her fault. The other half clung to reason by the skin of its teeth.

She pulled him into her arms, letting his head rest over her lap amidst the rubble. His face already looked ashen-pale, blue eyes staring but unseeing. There were tears beginning to blink through her own green eyes as she tried to rouse him, her voice rising to panicked heights. "Hey, come on, you're not really dead. This is your dream," she called anxiously to him.

Remembering the quinjet, her eyes lifted heavily from Pietro to the thing — the illusion of the thing hovering in the distant sky. Then her eyes flashed a virulent red. If he was being haunted, if that thing was haunting him—

She reached out, palm facing upwards. The same hue of red engulfed the speck, drew it closer through the incalculable dreamlike distances. Her fingers curled, and it crushed and splintered in the air with parts raining down upon the collecting rubble. There was something real there, a specter, but not anymore.

Her breathing resumed with a shaky cadence, as Wanda tried and tried again to nudge him. "Come on... Wake up or get up!"

[/box]
 
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Pietro didn't know how long he was out, but when he did, he awoke in an explosion of air, gasping as air suddenly filled his lungs. He coughed violently, squinting as he was staring up into an ash grey morning sky. Long dark hair fell over half of his vision, the ends falling over and framing the face of a Wanda that had only gone away recently, but who previously since hadn't been in his memory for well over a decade. Blue eyes focused on green eyes that stared anxiously down at him, tear tracks staining her cheeks.

"Wanda?" he asked in confusion, suddenly not sure if he was dreaming still or not. The past events came at him in a rush - fighting with Wanda in the ruins of the church in Novi Grad, the sudden gun fire and then the pain. It also took him a second to recognize that his voice had changed. Younger, frailer, higher. He reached up to wipe a tear that still clung with his thumb and stared in disbelief as his much smaller hand.

Sitting up quickly, he stared down at both his arms, then clutched at his chest where the bullets had hit him. His dirty shirt clung to his frame, several sizes bigger than what he should be wearing, like back when he used to get forgotten hand-me-downs from foster homes. He took in several sharp breaths, still coughing a little bit as he tried to quell a sudden panicky feeling.

He was him, but much younger.

"What happened?" he asked, looking sideways at Wanda and then around him all in one sweep. He knew this place... He recognized the tagging on the broken brick wall and the door that led to the back of the cafe next to the dumpster where they would get the day before's stale bread. Pietro felt a sharp stinging in his knee, and he looked down, seeing the rip in his pants and the rawness of his skin where he had fallen. He reached up to touch his lip and winced as the cut and swollen skin throbbed where he pressed it.

This was another memory... Their first night running away from foster care. He had been laying there a moment before because a group of older kids had cornered them and tried to pick on Wanda. They had beat him in response and Wanda had then rushed to his defense.

Pietro struggled back up to his feet, limping a little bit, but not too much. "I know where we are. Do you remember?" he asked softly, placing his hand on the top of her head comfortingly like he always had.
 
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The swell of her raw and frenetic emotions had reached a bursting point, to where the tears began to flow like water from a broken dam. It was unfair that something she knew to be fake could trick her heart into suffering the same pain as the real ordeal, but perhaps this too was merely part of the dream mechanic.

Just like the way they were small again, like she was small again, surrounded by the refuse of a city that was oddly more whole than it'd been. Pushing aside a spike of paranoia over whether they might both be stuck this way now, Wanda took in a sharp breath and wiped her eyes with her threadbare dress sleeve.

Time hadn't stripped her of her vague familiarity of the astral plane, so she still had some sense of what had just transpired, in spite of the wretched heart pains and the sense that every minor speck of detail, aside from Pietro himself, was out to trick her.

"Yes." That was all she had to say about it. Her arms abruptly swung around his shoulders. She clung onto him with trembling limbs leaving no space in between, so that if that specter of a quinjet decided to reappear it would have to mow through them both instead of leaving one behind. "Your dream changed," she squeaked. "Can you change it again?" Could he bring them somewhere kinder, safer, if there was such a place?

[/box]
 
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Pietro had not seen the world from this viewpoint in a while, and for a moment he felt seriously disoriented, like the world's worst deja-vu. A hundred, random memories came flooding into him as he stared at an area that Pietro knew for a fact laid in ruin now. The soup kitchen that had fed them many days had been bombed. After feeding so many homeless or poor, it seemed extremely unfair that the same fate should befall that family also. Many hardships had changed many a Sokovian, and their own hardships had changed the twins too. From wide-eyed, round-faced orphans, to gaunt, hardened young adults, it was these streets that Pietro had lived for fourteen years.

His mentality almost turned back to those days, until Wanda reminded him that they were dreaming and her arms wrapped tightly around his shoulders. He had to pull himself away from survival mode, even as his own arms wrapped protectively around her waist as he stared at the street past her brown hair. "Do you want me to die again?" he asked, his voice higher than he remembered it. He was mostly joking, but without much of a smile. There had been nothing fun about it, and this dream was worse than any before.

He realized it might have been too soon to joke about it, and one side of his nose wrinkled in distaste. "Sorry. I can try." he said, closing his eyes and screwing them shut tight. He tried a technique he had tried many times. His brows lifted as he slowly pried his eyes open, his lids the last to open, trying to trick his brain into thinking his eyes were opening. He tried several more times before he gave up, letting out a growl of frustration. "No. Forget it. What are we doing, Wanda?" he asked, not trying to be as whiny as he sounded. It was the prepubescent boy voice, he swore.
 
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Wanda Maximoff

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Wanda performed her token brow scrunch in response to his attempt at a joke. For her part, she shoved aside the unsettling memories, the old unbidden feelings the familiar scenery might've provoked. She didn't want to think of all those few kindly faces they had lost, causing them to clutch all the more fiercely onto one another—until the day she lost him as well.

"Right now? We're sleeping." Knowing his was mostly a rhetorical question didn't prevent her from answering in kind. Some old habits were impossible to do away with completely, and they did manage to ease the stiffness in her arms a little. "And we're trying to diagnose why you've been having trouble sleeping. We're trying to fix it. Did you think I hadn't noticed?" She pursed her lips together and breathed in sharply through her nose, before her little hand snatched for his marginally less little one.

She still didn't look directly into his face just yet, though; she was sure there were still tears in her eyes, could feel the insufferable glassiness of them on her cheeks.

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Pietro let go of Wanda as he felt tiny fingers wrap themselves around his hand. Instinctively, he flipped his palm over and entwined his fingers with hers. It was a comfort they had never outgrown, because the truth was, they had been a bomb's drop or a government raid away from being separated. Of course, ten year old him hadn't understood this, but he wasn't only ten.

His eyes rolled in his head as the other answered his question unhelpfully. Yes, he knew they were sleeping. Reality didn't just change after you died -- or did it? He had woken up on the moon, after all. But no, this was a dream and his rhetorical question didn't need to be answered literally. If it had been anyone else, a biting dry remark would have followed. But instead, it was Wanda, and so the only thing he offered her was a slight roll of his eyes.

Which was good, because he had been caught in his cover-up. He should have known that Wanda would suspect and now she seemed disappointed. She wouldn't look at him, and just stood next to him. The shine on her cheeks told him all he needed to know. He didn't need to see her cry to know. Reaching up with his other hand, he wiped fresher tears from her face and then used the back of a dirty sleeve to dry what was left until she might have protested.

She was expecting an answer from him, but all he could do was just stare back at her as a voice from a recent memory not related to his childhood flashed across the back of head.

'…. I have PTSD. I got diagnosed with it last season. Beginning of February. Usually it’s just… nightmares. Lack of sleep.'

Pietro's mouth opened, as if to say something to her, but he closed it immediately as he pushed the intrusion out of his head. It didn't belong here because it wasn't. relevant. What had happened to him in Novi Grad had no bearing on his life. He was fine.

"I was just trying to protect you. I didn't want you to worry. They're just dreams, Wanda. You didn't have to come here..." he defended himself, tiny shoulders bunching in defense.
 
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"Alright, alright, I'm good," she whined thickly midway into Pietro smudging her face with his sleeve. Her lashes fluttered a few times as if to check whether she'd gotten that completely out of her system, and when her tears—dream tears—seemed like they were no more, she allowed her wide green eyes to drag back over to his face.

They're just dreams. Wanda sucked in a breath at that, her tiny shoulders boxing as she resisted the urge to retort and pull them both further down a spiralling argument. If they were just dreams, he wouldn't have had those dark circles underneath his eyes for all those weeks, and she wouldn't have a reason to worry in the first place. "I can't not worry. You know that," she urged, coming across forcefully at first... before her head dipped into a vague form of self-aware apology. An apology for being an incessant nag, because it wasn't as if she was ignorant to his repeated annoyance either. His return from the grave, it seemed, had made her a touch more sensitive to that latter part. "I thought you got better just this past week—but something didn't feel right, so I had to check..."

She might not have fully understood what was happening, but this, clearly, was not better.

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