|Wanda Maximoff (highlyconnected) wrote in avengers_logs,|
@ 2018-04-01 00:44:00
Stephen waited for Wanda's arrival in the foyer of the Sanctum, holding a ceramic cup of green tea. With extra, extra honey. It was an extra honey sort of day, following his conversation with Nick Fury, and knowing that Wanda wanted to speak about the timeline.
Off to one side, near the staircase, the Cloak of Levitation was hovering in standby mode. He didn't think he needed to make a big entrance by floating down the stairs, as that got old quick. He was just going to drink his tea while keeping an eye on the front doors, and listen to the sounds of Wong battling a possessed book of demonology in the library.
"Do you need help?" he asked, for the fifth time.
"If I needed help, I would ask for it," Wong replied, followed by the sound of portals opening and closing, and a whole lot of crashing and cursing in another language. From Wong. And the book.
Stephen sighed and took a sip of his tea.
Wanda had promised Pietro she would be back soon but he had insisted on accompanying her to Strange’s abode, heading off in his own direction to entertain himself until she was done. The door was familiar to her now, and she knocked on it, hearing the sounds of commotion inside but being largely unconcerned: if something serious were going on, Stephen would have contacted her and told her that it was not safe. She wondered if it was his refrigerator again- it seemed he had problems with it but so far she had not been able to help. She hoped that, in the near future, this would no longer be a problem and she would be able to assist as and when she was needed.
Waiting for the door to swing open - as it always did - Wanda stepped inside a moment later and closed it behind her. She saw Stephen’s cloak hanging in the air, and Stephen himself drinking a cup of what she assumed was tea. He seemed to drink a lot of tea, but everyone had their vices.
When she saw him, she offered him a small, tired smile. “Thank you for agreeing to meet me on such short notice,” she murmured, crossing the distance between them quickly, stopping only when there was a snarling sound coming from another room. She froze on the spot and turned her head, looking in the direction of the sound, and then at Stephen. “...not the refrigerator, then.”
At least his tea was decaf. Stephen nodded to Wanda and looked askance, lips pressed together.
"Nope," he finally said after a pregnant pause and growling from the library's occupants. "Wong's got it handled. Let's go upstairs."
He nodded at her and suddenly, in a whisk of air and the blink of an eye, they were upstairs among the mystical relics, seated across from one another in what looked to be old Victorian chairs. There was a hot cup of tea waiting on a table by Wanda's side, and Stephen's tea appeared to be gone, as he was currently folding his hands together.
"You mentioned the timeline," Stephen said. "Have you noticed anything different lately?"
Wanda was beginning to get used to being transported between places in the blink of an eye. She had felt extremely disoriented at first, but she was learning to accept the movements, not fight against it and the transportation was much more pleasant. Settling into the chair, Wanda picked up the tea and cradled the cup in her hands, enjoying the warmth as it sunk into her skin.
The thing about magic was that it knew what she liked, or Stephen had learned what she liked so the tea was always just right. She wondered if he ever did anything the normal, mundane way anymore or if he just magicked everything like this. It seemed like it would be easier.
“Yes,” she replied after taking a sip of her tea and looking at Stephen over the rim of the cup. Her rings clinked against the china as she put the cup back down on the small, antique side table. “Steve came to see me today, Steve Rogers, that is.”
She folded her hands together in her lap and twisted one of her rings on her finger. “He… he was missing memories after having been reabsorbed by the timeline.”
Nothing was mundane any longer. Everything was a source to be studied or manipulated with magic, to be explored with an almost scientific eye for detail. And not a lot was left unknown. Stephen had thrown out many nets, so he knew the coming and goings of those affected. This, though, was something new.
That was why he looked surprised, but not overtly so.
"I see," he murmured. "That's...unexpected. I'll have to tighten the spell I cast out there, to compensate. Was the memory loss significant?"
“Yes,” Wanda responded without hesitation, looking Stephen in the eye. “He has forgotten everything about what has happened since he arrived here except for some key events.”
She tapped her fingers together. “He remembers the timeline is broken, the events of Sharknado, rescuing Tony Stark from the R- from the Raft… And he remembers what happened to Thor. But he does not seem to remember anything else.”
Drawing in a slow breath, she added, “I learned from Steve’s mind that this has also affected Thor. And that the memories are not repressed, they are gone.”
Stephen noted the pause when mentioning the Raft, and wished he had some way to ease the pain of that memory from Wanda's mind. There was so much suffering there, from that and everything else she had endured. The weight of a journey through life, that was a heavier burden than most had to lug around. In fact, it seemed a lot of these heroes had the same thing in common, in varying ways. Himself included.
"Gone," he reiterated, a grave frown on his face. He looked off to one side, contemplating the implications of this. "That...is definitely problematic. I don't see how that can be helped though, if it's already happened, I can't reverse time to the point before they were absorbed by this timeline. I can't bring that back."
He tapped his index fingers together.
"Wanda, these gaps in their memory. They were completely empty? Not muddled or fragmented, but completely wiped out of existence?"
Wanda shook her head. “Completely gone. As if a partial…” she struggled for the word in English, settling after a moment on, “download was given of important events but nothing else is there. It’s just… empty.” She didn’t know how else to describe it. “They are not fragmented or repressed. As if his mind was told the story of the events without experiencing them himself.”
She frowned a little. “I do not like the implication that the timeline can do with us as it will, if it can remove our memories and replace us, how will we know?”
She wet her lower lip, “He was able to read the Network, however.”
"We wouldn't know. This may be something different. The timeline may have been compromised, but I don't know what by," Stephen said, more to himself than to Wanda. "I think this begs to be looked into."
He looked at Wanda, unsure. "I admit, the chatter on the network is kind of underneath my radar and I often don't keep up as I should. Is there something specific that might have been upsetting between you or Captain Rogers?"
Wanda tilted her head, her brow furrowing a little. “Further compromised than it already has been?” she asked, “Has something else happened recently? I saw that Nick Fury has also joined us.”
At his further questioning she shook her head, “No, nothing has happened between myself and Steve on the network that would cause upset. We did not really communicate following my arrival,” she offered honestly. “I feel there is probably more that would cause Thor some concern if he cannot remember a great deal of things.”
She wet her lower lip, picking up and sipping her tea once more. “I keep an eye on the network, though I find it… a weird way to communicate.”
"Nothing that wasn't already present," Stephen assured her, although that wasn't much assurance at all. There had been a lot of people unexpectedly joining them, so he let mention of Nick Fury slide. "As for Thor, Asgard's ultimate fate played a part in things. And Asgard having fallen is not good for anyone. Many threats were held back simply by Odin being alive."
He was gone in one blink and back in the next, holding an open book in his lap, idly flipping through pages.
"The network is an odd but useful way to coordinate or talk about things. It has its usefulness. Stark was right that it would be an unfortunate necessity when he came up with the idea."
Wanda shifted in her seat a little bit when Stephen mentioned threats that were held back by Odin. “So aside from dealing with a fracturing timeline, we could be dealing with other threats from… elsewhere?” She didn’t want to say ‘from space’ because that sounded childish. She thought Asgard existed in space, somehow, but she wasn’t sure how he got there. Only that he came from somewhere else. He was an alien, even if he didn’t look like one. “Are there any threats that we need to actively worry about right now?”
Because that seemed to be the last thing anyone needed.
“It is nice to have somewhere we can all talk freely,” she offered. “I just… feel that I have nothing to say on it that would be of any value or interest to anyone.”
"Other dimensions, other entities, and other timelines," Stephen mumbled, reading over a page. "It could be mind leeches. I fought some recently. If they've found their way onto the astral plane of this timeline, then that might be a problem...but it could be that other thing...."
He looked up suddenly, and then shook his head at Wanda.
"Wanda, you know, you can talk to anyone on there. You can say whatever you're comfortable trying to say, to whoever you feel you want to talk to. The experiences we are all going through are very significant, and that can be stressful. If you don't have a support group, then you run the risk of becoming isolated.”
Wanda’s eyebrow lifted. “Mind leeches?” she asked, “And what other thing?” She had a keener mind than many gave her credit for. She might be fragile, but she was sharp and curious and she knew that she was learning things others didn’t know. But she found that being around Stephen caused her to crave the knowledge that he had and was slowly sharing with her. She wanted to not only do the right thing by him so that he was pleased with her and what she was doing but she wanted to learn.
At his comment about her being isolated, she frowned herself, looking momentarily offended before she caught the emotion and lifted a shoulder, her eyes dropping to the tea that she sipped again.
“I am not isolated, Stephen,” she told him. “I have Pietro.” And as long as she had him, she really needed no one else. Despite the fact that losing him the first time around had nearly destroyed her - if you asked Clint, or Steve maybe, they would say that it did destroy her, that a part of her died when he did - she still believed that if she only had him she would be fine. It did not seem unhealthy to her, but no one else really understood.
"Mind leeches absorb memories or magical powers. They enter from interdimensional terrors, usually can be found on the astral plane. If not that, then some other tear in time's fabric might have lured in a larger and more purposeful predator that feeds on memories. Wong and I will need to hunt it, before it begins stalking any of our little group."
Stephen regarded Wanda, and it wasn't with any scrutiny or that he felt him above it all. But like he knew, from experience.
"Wanda, don't take this as me being unkind. But Mister Stark has, or had, Miss Potts," he patiently pointed out. "And Captain American had Mr. Barnes for a time. Or Agent Barton has Agent Romanoff. Or I have Doctor Palmer. You can still have someone, and still feel isolated. And they can, too. Sometimes it doesn't last. Sometimes it's a slippery slope. And one we sometimes don't want to burden our loved ones with. At the very least, we are all sharing this experience. For better or worse."
There was an awkward pause before he offered a tight lipped smile for a split second, to let her know that it wasn't said with any ill intent. Then his expression quickly went back to the serious and somber look that he wore so well most of the time.
"I'm not exactly chatty on there either," he dryly noted, "so take that with a grain of salt."
Wanda couldn't help how her nose wrinkled at the description of the mind leeches. They sounded particularly disgusting. She took a breath and put her tea down once again, folding her hands in her lap. "If you need assistance," she started, "I- I mean, I know I have a lot to learn but if you need help all you have to do is ask. I don't want anything like that coming after anyone else. If that was what came after Steve and Thor."
She thought about the possibility of a mind leech attacking her friends. Attacking her brother, or herself. It was not an outcome that she was particularly fond of. Especially if it resulted in the loss of memories. What if next time it was something bigger than just the past few months? What if it took something else?
When the topic of conversation moved to the network and her brother, she bristled a little. He may not have meant it as an attack, but to Wanda, anything that even felt like it was belittling her relationship with Pietro seemed that way. She narrowed her eyes almost imperceptibly and then shook her head. "You misunderstand. Pietro is my brother, my twin. That... there is nothing that would not last with that. It is not the same as a friend or a lover."
She pressed her lips together and then drew in a breath to calm herself down. Her powers were still on a hair-trigger and she didn't want to look any less capable than she did already.
"I appreciate your concern," she said finally. "I know the importance of reaching out," even if she had felt largely like there weren't that many people she could reach out to. "If it makes you feel better, I will make more of an effort."
"I'll bear that in mind, for future reference," was the doctor's judicious reply. What followed was Stephen watching Wanda as she waged an internal battle to rein in her own feelings and instincts to act or react. He knew that was likely a battle that the young woman would be waging a war with for a long time. The good thing was it was a war Stephen was sure she could win at later on down the line. But helping against mind leeches, or something much larger and more more dangerous to someone with powers or a mystical energy force, wasn't a task that she was ready for. There were even larger potential threats out there. This was a matter best left up to himself and Wong, because Wanda needed more time and more mastery, even if she was making great strides toward control when given a safe space in the mirror dimension for practicing in.
Even so, Stephen didn't pity her, even if he was sympathetic. He knew that he had been (and in some ways still was) his own worst enemy.
"It's all right, Wanda. If it makes you feel better, I'm in the same boat and I need to do the same thing. You're lucky to have one another again."
He left that matter at that, the book disappearing from his hands and going back to its space on a distant, unseen bookshelf.
There was an unearthly screeching from downstairs, and the sound of Wong laughing in triumph. Strange merely raised one eyebrow and smirked like that was music to his ears.
"That's one problem solved," he said, folding his hands together and looking rather sedate. "Did you have anything else on your mind that you wanted to talk about? Or would you prefer to practice for a while?"
Wanda just shook her head and got to her feet, pushing her hair back behind her ears, “I would prefer to spend some time practising, if that is alright with you?” she asked, “Though I won’t be long today; I have left Pietro to his own devices in the city and don’t want him to end up getting into trouble.”
She smiled a little and closed her eyes, waiting for the inevitable sensation of being moved into the mirror realm to allow her some time to practise, even if she was not yet comfortable fully letting go and embracing what she could do if she really put her mind to it.
“I am ready.”