(It's not much good, but then again, neither is the 'verse? But also I am so into Wanda's headspace right now, haha. We'll see if that's a thing that keeps happening. If so, it can only get better. Meanwhile, I'm just going to laugh at myself and also enjoy it, whatever.)
the romans are at the gate. pg. marvel comics, ultimates!verse (i apologize). wanda/pietro.
lehnsherrs in venice, ~800 words
Venice is full of birds, fat scraggly pigeons that limn the canals in surprisingly straight lines, formations so nearly coherent that Wanda can’t help but wondering if they’re on purpose. Their wings never touch the water. The sun breaks over the choppy surface of the canals around the gondola in prismatic patterns, refracting in facets that shift and change. When Pietro pulls the canal up to streetside and reaches out a hand to help her climb up (gallant for her and her alone), she steps and feels herself caught between the two states, between the flutter of wings on the cobblestone and the ripple of light on the water, neither one lasting long. Birds above her and diamonds below: these are the kind of things that Wanda notices. They exist in patterns, lovely and shifting and temporary, that most of all. Yet she puts her foot down and the instabilities disperse and the ground is solid beneath her feet, her brother’s fingers warm and still against hers.
The patterns outside fail to block out the patterns within, the queer skitter of her heartbeat that hasn’t calmed since Pietro stopped the gondola to pick up the call, the incremental dryness in her mouth, the drum of her fingers when they're not touching him. There are slow-growing but persistent fractures in the politics of the team back home—she can feel it already, whether she wishes to or no; she has an acute sense of the fragmentary. She does not tell him this, and her fidgeting fingers calm as they intertwine with his. She will be still, she thinks to herself, always ready to wait and ready to fight. She must remind herself to be still.
The day had been still itself, still and whole and wonderful until the call had come, and she is not ready to relinquish it: the back of her tongue is still steeped in the bitter velvet of good Italian espresso and the sun has already baked a handful of freckles onto the bridge of her nose. It is not enough. These are mementos for now, but they will fade by evening. She worries at what will replace it, what will push away the space they’ve made for each other today. She worries in hairline cracks and uncertainties. But not aloud.
Instead, she leans against him as they pass through the crowded streets. A family of sticky-handed children parts around them, and she turns her cheek up to him. “I really did want that ice cream,” she says. “What’s the point of an Italian getaway without gelato?”
He glances down over his shoulder and lets her hand go. She feels herself flinch at the absence, but then he is there again, as if the absence was nothing at all, no time and no space, a top-heavy coneful of vanilla already melting onto his fingers. She smiles.
“Think nothing of it,” he says, offering it to her.
Behind them, she hears a child wailing. “Did you take this from a baby?” she teases.
“We’re in a hurry.” He leans in, resting his head idly against hers, temple to temple. “And no one will believe a child.”
He laughs. It is a little thing—and her brother does not do little things easily. She smiles for him, then, and offers him the first bite of ice cream, which he takes.
They were meant to have the day, if nothing else—the ice cream, like the rest, was meant to be savored slowly. They had made plans to take the gondola down to Byron’s villa, to stay there until the sky had gone dark, a self-contained gem of a day, not hurried through. It was an unlikely promise: she had known that. It had been unlikely enough that she had hoped that it would endure. Twenty-four hours, at least.
She takes consolation, as they do hurry, moving in quick fluid tandem through the crowd, that there is a universe, trapped in nonexistence, where they are in Byron’s villa, where both of their mouths taste like ice cream when her brother kisses her slowly in the foyer, where there is time to get to the end of a full poem. The day exists somewhere else, untouchable and lasting forever. This she knows, all the more acutely for not living it.
Instead, they traverse the street and her brother’s hand presses into the bare skin at the small of her back. She is here, stuck like a pin in the complicated map of the present, but so is he, and she lets the gaps of possibility seal up behind them because of it.
Moving toward one of the crooked Venitian alleyways, they scatter people and pigeons like rolled dice in their wake. They do not look back.