It’s warm, still early in the night, and Wanda tilts against her brother as they weave through the streets, business taken care of. They look drunk, she knows, and she leans into the assumptions, allowing her steps to wobble as she wraps her arm around his waist, her cheeks flushed and her smile wide. She keeps close; the press of her body to his will help to keep Pietro from racing away. He’s never done well with slowing down after unless she’s there to remind him what a body’s normal speed ought to be.
They're far away from the scene of their crime, and she knows with the certainty of practice there's nothing to be found on them: no blood on their hands or clothes, no sign of their activities at all, and they spill through the door of their tiny apartment, flush with success and adrenaline. She doesn’t expect there to be somebody there, hovering in the small space in front of their tiny kitchen table, and she slides into a defensive position, hands poised to strike, before she recognizes the shape of Steve’s hunched shoulders against the light and relaxes.
“We didn’t expect you,” Wanda says warmly, stepping forward. Pietro doesn’t have to race to beat her across the small space, clasping Steve’s shoulder in welcome, kissing his cheek before tugging at his jacket.
“Make yourself comfortable,” he insists, his movements jittery and his smile bright, and Steve allows himself to be moved about, jacket removed and pushed towards a chair.
“I didn’t know you were -- out,” he says, just a moment’s hesitation. “I was about to leave a note.”
“Then we got home just in time.” Wanda doesn’t answer his unspoken question, just brushes her hand against his shoulder as she moves to the kitchen. It’s answer enough for him, and she watches him shifting from the corner of her eye as she pulls down tea, fills the kettle. “Have a drink?”
“I’m good.” He smiles at her; Wanda remembers when it used to all but ruin the night when he’d figured out where they’d come from, and returns it with relief.
It’s been a process, getting Steve on board, but it’s one that’s worth the wait. She itches to see what he could bring to the fight, to show him what she and Pietro can do, working together without a word between them, his hands too fast to see and her light bright against the empty spaces where they were -- but he isn’t quite ready yet. Soon, she thinks.
“How long are you staying?” Pietro asks as he settles out of a rush of wind, his body leaning against the counter next to her, his fingers against her arm. He taps an aimless beat, still not ready to be still, and she strokes the back of his hand.
“Are you going somewhere?” Steve asks instead of answering, and she turns enough to shake her head in response. “I can stay a while, then. I’ve got nowhere else to go tonight.”
He has nowhere else to go most of them time, now, with the Avengers broken, SHIELD disbanded, but she doesn’t remind him of that. He itches, too -- for action, for purpose, for reasons, and it’s not kind to remind him he doesn’t have much of them, anymore. There’s too much of Hydra to hunt alone, without the kind of resources it takes to burn out an infection that deep in the world. Not until he finds it in him to sink into the dirt and leave them buried there, they way they do.
Wanda could show him what it is, to finally give up on dragging things to the light and let the bodies drop in the dark where they belong, but he’d turn around and leave after if she forced him into it. She’s certain he’d come back -- he doesn’t have much besides them, barely anything but his good name -- but it will be better, if she waits for him to get there himself.
So they’ll wait. Pietro is impatient, doesn’t understand it the way she does, but he’ll listen, whatever she says. She doesn’t have to look into his mind to know that, but she does anyway, sometimes, revels in the knowledge that there isn’t a corner of it that he’d want to hide from her, even if he could.
Steve isn’t there yet, isn’t devoted to the two of them they way they are to each other -- she’s not sure if he’ll ever quite be, if they can open the ties that keep them so close to each other enough to let in anyone else. But Steve cares, deeply, enough that it pains him; about so much, yes, but about them, too. It’s not the same as Pietro’s love, which settles around her like a coat, or closer yet, like her own skin, so much a part of her she can’t imagine surviving without it; it’s fresher, and more desperate, and sweeter than they’ve ever quite been, with each other or anyone else.
It’s good, it’s strong, and Wanda’s fingers twitch against the cup in her hand, wanting to feel it again, wanting to let herself loose somehow, to fill the world with red.
Perhaps it’s not so good, that they finished so quickly.
“--pick up something to eat?” Steve is asking as Wanda shakes her head, drawing herself out of her distraction and turning away from the stove to see them better. “Or go for a walk?”
“No,” Pietro answers, his fingers still beating against her arm, slowing as he speaks, then speeding up again as he turns contemplative, and Wanda realizes that Steve’s picked up on the oddness around them. Of course. He’s not a stupid man; they wouldn’t have kept him around long, if he had been.
She meets Steve’s gaze as she takes Pietro’s hand. “He doesn’t like to stay at our speed. Especially… now,” she settles on, demuring to Steve’s desire to talk around it. “It takes a while to get comfortable.” She presses Pietro’s hand to her heart, smiling up at her brother as she adds, “The contact helps him remember,” before reaching up to cup his face and pull him into a kiss.
It doesn’t last long, only a few moments, but she knows that's so much longer for Pietro than it is for her, and she keeps his hand clasped to her chest when she pulls away, letting his fingers twitch to the rhythm of her heartbeat.
“What about you? Your heart is still racing. It’s not much help,” he teases. His eyes aren’t darting everywhere anymore, sliding between her face and their joined hands against her chest instead, and it’s a bit of an improvement, but she has to admit he has a point.
“Remember?” Steve interrupts, and Wanda turns back to him, but Pietro beats her to an answer.
“How I’m supposed to move,” he says, simple, easy. Sometimes it’s bitter, still, washed with anger at the men that tormented him, but tonight is a good night, and his speed has been useful.
Their gifts are good, even if Wanda would rewrite what they went through to get them in a heartbeat, if she was powerful enough. Perhaps one day she will be.
“Slow, like you,” Pietro adds with a grin, and Steve smiles.
“Maybe I can help,” he offers, and Pietro glances at her for permission. Wanda lifts his hand to her lips, kisses his knuckles before releasing him.
She watches as Pietro settles on the edge of a chair, reaching out to press his hand against Steve’s chest; his eyes flick to Wanda, surprise in them as he leans a little more forward. “That’s strange. Why is it so slow?”
She tunes them out as Steve explains the serum, peak human endurance and physicality; Wanda doesn’t need to listen to know how his body works. She can feel how his body works if she wants to, blood in his veins and the way it wants to move. She busies herself taking the kettle off as it starts to whistle, fixing a cup of tea, inhaling the steam and trying to center herself where she is. The power that wants to crackle off her fingers settles a little at the familiar scent, the old routine telling her mind that she’s done dealing in blood and nightmares for now.
Of all the minds around her, sometimes her own is the hardest to control, but she does her best to settle. She doesn’t want to hurt anybody she hasn’t chosen to.
Pietro looks a little calmer when she turns around, the hand braced against Steve’s knee tapping what counts as a more subdued rhythm for him, his other hand still and flat against Steve’s chest. Another reason she’s glad Steve is worth keeping around; sometimes she isn’t steady enough to calm her brother. Steve is stiller than she is, slower. They both need that, she thinks.
It only takes two steps to bring her close enough to touch them, brushing her fingers against the back of Pietro’s neck with her warm fingers before reaching out, resting her thumb lightly against Steve’s temple. He looks up at her, raising an eyebrow in question, and she waves her other hand, letting the red dance carefully across her fingers.
“May I?” she asks, now that she’s sure she won’t hurt him, and Steve nods.
She slides into his thoughts like a warm bath, closes her eyes and keeps to the surface. He’s restless, as always, but it’s more settled than she expected, and she realizes just how good it is for him, to feel that he can be a help to them, watching them calm and ground themselves with his presence. She’d been worried about him showing up so soon after they were done, but instead it just seems to have helped him understand a little more. She lets out a soft hum, pleased, and sifts through, stroking her fingers through his hair lightly; nothing new, nothing important, although, oh, she realizes as something drifts through his mind.
“So that’s why you came,” she says, mostly teasing as she draws back, opens her eyes.
“Not the only reason,” he says, honest, and she leans down to kiss him gently.
“Is it for us, or for him?” Pietro asks, straightening up without moving his hand as he realizes there’s information to share. He’s so close to the edge of his chair she’s surprised he hasn’t given up on it yet, and she moves to lean against the arm, a hand on his shoulder.
“Both,” Steve answers for her. “Romanoff wants my help for a week, but there’s somebody I’m following. I can’t let him go.”
“I have the name,” she assures them both, and Pietro’s grin turns sharp, just a little. She bites back her own, keeps her eyes on Steve’s face instead. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, well. You’re the ones doing me the favor this time.” He’s still a little uncertain about arranging for a man to die, and they both know that she knows that, but he doesn’t look away this time as he shrugs. “Hydra has to come down, right?”
“Right,” she agrees, lying to his unspoken assertion without guilt.
Soon, she’s sure of it; soon, he’ll come around the rest of the way, join them. Soon, and then they’ll tell him about the others, as well. They’ll even tell him about Stark, once he understands that the lines are more complicated than that, that they aren’t the ones who drew them. Once he trusts what they’re doing, there will be plenty of time for the truth.
“When do you leave?” Pietro asks.
“Day after tomorrow.”
“You should stay with us tonight,” Wanda says.
There isn’t a hesitation before Steve nods, and that’s almost as good as feeling his agreement herself.