Which Witch are you calling Crazy?

Efforts had been made at some point long ago to establish this as a recreational room; there was a red felted pool table in the center and cabinets for darts and games mounted here and there. But now there was a palpable sense of brooding that came from the very walls themselves. Theo stood in the dark, then the light, then the dark and the light as the lamps and LEDs flickered on and off sporadically. She was lurking in the corner, her head hemmed in by the metal walls. Occasionally she’d look up from the almanac in her hands and had taken to unintelligible mumbling or perhaps it had been meaningless muttering. This is how Niko found her the previous evening and though he’d settled her into a bed and she remained there throughout the night, come morning she returned to this same room, this time with almanac in hand.

With each strobe of light the walls could be seen to be defaced with red paint; absolute nonsense and absurd words in nonexistent languages were written out in beautiful, dripping penmanship. Theo had reproduced many of the charts and diagrams from her almanac and they bore even less significance enlarged than they had tucked away safely, in secret where no one else could witness such insinuation. Paint still wept from the brush in her hand and she had it smeared across her face and through her hair and on her ruined clothes. And while she was finally smiling, it was contorted, devoid of mirth or reason.

“They don’t want me to do it that way or I’ll never make it through.” Theo dropped the paintbrush and flipped through the pages in her hand as she continued arguing with the empty room or herself. She moved about comparing the scribbling on the wall to the scribbling in her journal that she insisted on referring to as an almanac.

“I’m not afraid of them, Mother. I’m afraid of this mind inside my brain,” Theo pommeled her forehead with her hands, dropping her book in the process. “A profound dread overwhelms her when you make me…. I know they talk, but I can’t grasp the meaning of their words. They use metallic directions without color and snippets of bugs with never to repeat angles until BAM! BAM!” Theo was yelling at the pool table and slinging billiard balls around the room.

The lights grew steady and there was a rush of wind, much like in the wake of Niko’s dashing about. “My beautiful girl. I knew you would find a way.” The voice that spoke was decidedly different from Theo’s and indeed even Theo was startled to hear it.

“Mother?” Theo asked, turning around to see Wanda Maximoff standing just feet from her. Theo had seen enough pictures and video of her mother to recognize her, but some would argue a daughter always knew her mother’s face. But you should never argue with madness. “The computer lady said you were dead. How are you…”

“If a baby can be dead before he's had a chance to be born, then a witch can remain living even after she has died.” Wanda reached out with warm fingers, cradling them against Theo’s face. They both had similar builds and facial structure, but Wanda was noticeably the older of the two. Their wild hair was nearly identical, though Wanda’s lacked the streaks of red paint.

Theo backed away quickly and put the pool table between them. “But … what if I’m just making you up? How do I know…”

“No Theodosia. That’s what they want you to think. That you’re crazy? They wanted me to think the same thing when I was… before. And at times I believed them. But crazy is an inadequate definition for an adaptation of our minds; a reworking and variation on the mundane mind so common to mankind. How could you or I ever be expected to alter reality without it altering our mind in the process.”

“So I am crazy, but I should be okay with it because so were you?” Theo sounded like she was hung up on the crazy.

“No Theodosia, you are not crazy. You merely perceive realities that do not exist yet for the others because the coping abilities of their minds are entirely insufficient.”

“But I don’t want to cope. I want to be normal like everyone else. I only want to see things that are real and hear people talk because they are real.”

“You cannot de-evolve your mind, Theodosia-”

Theo held up her hand, “I prefer Theo.”

Wanda raised an eyebrow and for the first time looked around at the markings on the wall. “But I named you Theodosia. It is your name.”

“Niko evolved my name to Theo. I prefer Theo or else I’ll think I’m in trouble.”

“Theo,” Wanda tried it out, not happy with the way the name sounded on her tongue. “How is my brother’s son, Theo? Has he kept you safe? Is he still…with you?”

Theo looked around to double check, clearly confused by the question. “Well, he’s not in the room with me right now if that’s what you mean. Why, do you see him in this room? I think he's running around someplace upstairs. They were all trying to beat up robotos or something.”

“Them?! You’re saying the others have returned as well?” Wanda moved for the doorway, accidentally kicking Theo’s almanac in the process. She bent to pick it up and flipped through the pages with a smile. “You leave your spellbook lying around on the floor, Theodosia? I suggest you place magical wards or unfriendly witches may use it against you.” Wanda handed the book to her daughter and hurried from the room, her red cape trailing behind her.

“There are other witches?! I thought I was the only one!” Theo looked down at her own fingers, caked in dried red paint. On an impulse she scooped up the bucket of paint and ran after her mother.

“There are always those who practice magic, Theodo - Theo. Magic calls to you and you must listen. They must as well. Now where are the Avengers? I wish to see my brother.”

“No, Mom. It’s not your Avengers. It’s my Avengers.”

Wanda spun around and Theo nearly ran into her. “So you have not brought back Pietro? Theodosia, you must bring your Uncle Pietro back. Do it now. Please.”

“I can’t bring him back, Mom. I’m not even sure how I brought you back, though I suspect your powers are to blame as much as mine.”

Wanda grabbed her daughter by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes, they being the exact same height. “This is not the time to doubt your magic, Theodosia. My brother needs you - now!”

Meanwhile, outside in the courtyard, the Murderbots who’d been pressing the advantage against Sam and the others stood down and HELEN’s voice cut across speakers disguised among the trees. "Please forgive this interruption to your Training program, but I've been tracking Theodosia's location and security detected the appearance of an additional humanoid. She registered as a physically present entity via thermal imaging so a Pym drone was dispatched to collect a sample. DNA scans have been confirmed; Wanda Maximoff has returned to the Avenger Compound. Her Alpha level access has been restored."

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