Part IV: Late October


Chapter 28
Waking Nightmare



Sunshine poked through the heavy curtains, determined to wake up the bed's occupants. Unable to ignore the real world any more, Remy rolled over the edge of the bed, dragging his hands through his hair.

Fact: He'd slept with Rogue.

Item one: She was only seventeen. That was eleven years younger than him. Bad.

Item two: Technically, she was legal. Good.

Item three: That still made her only as old as Adam. Bad.

Item four: She was his partner, was supposed to be a sister type. Bad.

Item five: She approached him and initiated everything. Good.

Item six: He didn't know how it could be possible being that it was their first together but the sex was fantastic. Very Good.

Item seven: He knew how hormonal people were at that age and since he was older; he should have known better. Bad.

Item eight: That last statement sounded like something Scott would say. Very bad.

Deciding this was way too early to mentally whip himself, he pushed the topic from his mind. He turned back towards the bunched up sheets and leaned over to wake Rogue up. Tangles of brown hair and flashes of pale skin played hide-and-seek with the bed linens. Remy caught himself admiring a love bite on her arm.

"Rise and shine, Peaches," Remy whispered, running his fingers through Rogue's hair, fanned out on the pillow. She didn't answer. Sliding the blanket off her shoulders, he tapped her lightly. The minute he touched her, he knew something was wrong. Rogue's skin was clammy and cold to the touch. Her hands were like icicles.

"Stripes?" Remy rolled her over. No response. He shook her gently. "Rogue, sweetheart, wake up. It's morning and you got to sneak out of here before breakfast."

She didn't even snore. Remy shook her again, harder this time. "Peaches? C'mon, sweetheart, don't do this." He grabbed both her shoulders and shook her until her head lolled violently on the pillow. Still no movement-- Jesus, he wasn't even sure she was breathing! As he searched her carotid artery for a pulse, Remy saw a faint bruise just visible under the collar.

The collar.

Oh, shit.

The last time Adam counted out the minutes was when he first woke up in the tanks. That was months ago, maybe even years ago; he never could keep track of time in here. He had a morbid but accurate way of counting now: for every minute that passed, he daubed a bit of blood on the floor and for every hour, he smeared sixty of the daubs together. Five smears decorated the floor; he hadn't tracked the hours immediately after being captured nor the hours when he passed out.

His leg didn't hurt any more but Adam was sure that was because of shock. Hell, he could probably have an entire movie made out of his life when he got out of here. Adam chuckled hysterically to himself. Hopefully they'd pick someone hot to play him.

The door crackled open. Adam shielded his eyes from the brightness. No one cried out; they were all too whipped. Or they were passed out. Or they were dead. Jesus, he was getting really gruesome. Pretty soon he'd be just like the emokids in theatre that his own acting friends made fun of, all angst and no craft.

"CA-III-ASR3," a guard called out.

Adam curled into a ball and hoped no one would see him past the other bodies but luck failed him again. His collar beeped to life, leading two other guards to his corner of the cell. It occurred to him that if the guards could reactivate his collar, then they must have been able to reactivate Gav's and maybe he hadn't gotten off the island after all and he'd sacrificed himself for nothing and his brothers would never find him now and…

Adam took a ragged breath.


Calming. Down.

Gloved hands yanked him up, indifferent to his injuries. He barely stifled a howl, managing a nasal growl instead as the guards dragged him out of the cell. The hallway lights stabbed his eyes after hours (days? weeks?) of the dark but the air didn't stick of soured wounds. If Adam never smelled body odour again, it would be too soon. He could feel another OCD coming on-- hourly showers and deodorant application.

With his head spinning, Adam couldn't track where they took him. His first coherent thought was "Nice rug" as they released him and he crumpled down. His next one was "I hate Mozart" when his brain picked out the annoyingly high-pitched aria from "The Magic Flute." One of his dad's girlfriends loved Mozart and tortured him with countless hours of "The Magic Flute." Adam wondered if this was a new form of torture and, if so, then his injury was a godsend because it made chewing his leg off to escape that much easier.

"ASRIII." Adam knew that voice. That was the freaky British voice from way back when, the one that ordered him into the third floor. "I suppose I should view this as support to my current hypothesis but bureaucracy, as always, dampens my enthusiasm somewhat."

Shiny wing-tipped Oxfords appeared inches from Adam's nose. He didn't try to curl out of foetal position; seeing that freaky mask-like face was going to break him. Again.

"Put him on the table," said British dude. "Gently," he added with a sharp tone as the guards hauled Adam upright.

He averted his face. Couldn't see the freaky face. Nope.

"You've damaged your leg quite badly," the British dude said as the guards strapped him down on an examination table. Latex snapped against flesh. This table had padding and a tissue cover like in a doctor's clinic but that didn't make it any less scary. "I couldn't quite make up my mind whether to let you rot for destroying my lab or bring you in immediately to tend to your injury. In the end, I compromised. Compromise is a sign of social evolution, do you not agree?"

Adam clamped his teeth around his lips for the pain as much as to keep from talking. The guards were taking the shreds of his suit off and they weren't bothering to be gentle. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the source of the freaky British voice come closer. He clenched his eyes shut, too.

Something pricked his skin. Adam should have been used to injections but in the raw area of his wound? He cried out-- he couldn't help but cry out-- and hated the jagged, sobbing gasp that he had to take afterward.

"This is a general painkiller," said the freaky British voice. "I will also administer a heavy anaesthetic to the area before I mend your leg. You have lost a great deal of blood and much of the flesh around the wound has undergone necrosis. It will have to be replaced else you'll suffer a terrible limp."

Cold seeped up to Adam's hips. He should have been glad to get rid of the pain but now he was just scared of not feeling it any more. He was strapped down and at the mercy of someone who was-- if not the boss-- then pretty damn high up there. The guy could cut his leg off and he wouldn't even know it.

"It is a fast-acting anaesthetic," continued Freaky Brit. "There. You don't feel that at all, do you?"

No. No, Adam couldn't and he really wanted to open his eyes just to make sure the guy wasn't holding a chainsaw.

Then again, if he opened his eyes, he'd see how bad his leg was.

On the third hand, life couldn't get worse.

Adam opened his eyes.

To say that Freaky Brit had a lifeless face would be implying that it was expressionless when in fact it pulled itself onto smiles and frowns and grimaces and smirks just like other humans. At that moment, he was smiling but it felt wrong. Adam's theatre experience dictated that this person wasn't comfortable enough in his role and didn't dedicate himself to his persona. Adam's instinct, however, told him that this was no role. The man didn't feel emotions. That was why the smile on his face looked absolutely gross.

"Hello. I am Dr. Essex."

Adam's nostrils flared. That tone was supposed to be comforting, he bet.

"I have set many broken limbs so you have no need for concern," continued Essex. "You're fortunate. Although the wound is open, the actual fracture is incomplete. The bullet must have just nicked the femur and caused enough stress to crack one side. I would be more worried about the muscle loss."

He felt the slightest pressure just above his knee.

"On any other operating table, you would have been given strong painkillers, a skin graft and five years of physiotherapy." Essex's lips curved up again. "Not here. I have perfected a muscle graft. We'll simply grow your leg muscles back. How's that for progress?"

Adam wondered if he'd finally reached the limits of stress. He was actually feeling a little like yawning and his hands lost their deathgrip on the sides of the table.

"Seeding the muscle fibres should only take two hours. After we attach the primary graft onto your damaged muscles, it will be a matter of hormonal shaping. It is actually much more difficult to tell tissue to stop growing than it is to start them off."

Essex's hands came down on Adam's leg. Despite himself, Adam shut his eyes. He couldn't watch this. If he fixed the break, great; if he cut it off, lousy, but he couldn't stand to see that guy's hands on him. Pressure shot up his leg, making him clench his teeth.

"This break," said Essex, "would require nothing more than a cast but since we're in a hurry, I'll inject it with a growth enhancer. It will hurt once the anaesthetic wears off but only in the sense that you'll feel rather sick. A matter of the enhancer stripping your body of a lot of calcium in a short amount of time, I'm afraid. I'll make note to enrich your nutrients with calcium to replenish your stores. By this time tomorrow, you won't even see a frature in an X-ray."

A faint, metallic smell reached Adam's nose. He wrinkled his face and turned away.

"I've rarely seen so quiet a patient," Essex said. The pressure wasn't as bad but now Adam felt something pouring over his leg, kind of cold if doped up nerves were anything to go by. "Tell me, did you damage your vocal cords as well as your legs? You prattle well enough according to my sources." Something made of glass clinked on something made of metal around the region of Adam's hip. "Or perhaps it's the company. I wouldn't blame you for not trusting me. After all, as far as you know, I kidnapped and tortured you for no good reason when that is the farthest from the truth. I have a very good reason for bringing you here, Adam."

Adam couldn't help but open his eyes. Essex knew his name? Just how much of did the security cameras get in the cells?

Then he made the mistake of looking down, away from Essex's face. Translucent white ovals wriggled in the open wound, like animated grains of rice.

"Phaenicia sericata." Essex picked one up with a pair of tweezers. It twisted and curled grotesquely between the stainless steel prongs. "Larvae of the blow fly. Commonly known as maggots. Perfectly evolved eating machines and nothing modern science has come up with can compete with its proficiency in debridement. Some things cannot be improved upon, I suppose but we continue to try."

Carefully, he placed the maggot on a ragged, blackened spine of tissue close to Adam's hip. Maybe the drugs had hallucinogens but Adam swore the last sound he heard before passing out was that maggot chewing on his flesh.

Hank woke up to the pounding and rattling of his door as someone attempted to kick it down. He fumbled for his glasses, instantly awake in a way that bespoke of his many hours as an ER doctor and the many more years of residency before that.

"What is it?" he asked, opening the door.

Remy stood with one leg poised to kick the door again, carrying Rogue in his arms. She was limp, covered only in a sheet and her lips had an alarming white ring. "She was like this when I woke up," he said.

Taking her from the younger man's arms, Hank said, "Follow me. Quickly."

Hank McCoy stood at five foot and ten and was easily three hundred pounds due to his mutation but that was pure muscle. He could run down the stairs with as much speed as any of the students; more if he thought the situation warranted it. He made it to the sublevel elevator down the hall in three seconds and ran from the elevator to the medical lab in under ten. Remy panted at his heels.

Gently, Hank laid her on the examination table then pulled on a pair of gloves. "Tell me exactly what happened."

"I woke up and she wasn't moving. Barely breathing," Remy said. "She's had the collar on all night."

Hank was too busy cataloguing symptoms to really take in the implications of Remy's words at first. Pulse slow. Circulation low. Breathing laboured. He patted her body down gently for any further injuries. "Wore the collar all..." A light switched on. "You had intercourse." Hank said flatly. "How long ago?"

Remy squirmed. "Uh... one or two in the morning? And then again maybe around four."

Hank's brows furrowed. He tapped the suppression collar on Rogue's neck. "You might want to let her hand go. It's going to hurt once I take this off."

Remy released Rogue's hand but he didn't step back. He was preternaturally still, his chest barely moving when he breathed. Hank fitted an oxygen mask over Rogue's mouth and nose then, with that secure, he unlocked the suppression collar.

The med-lab doors slid open to accept Scott, Professor Xavier and Logan who was still dirty from his escape.

"It would ease my mind if you under go a physical," the professor was saying. "There's no telling what SHIELD gave you while--"

He stopped abruptly as Logan froze. Logan took one sniff at Rogue's naked form on the bed then at Remy clad only in ratty sweat-shorts. The rumbling deep in his chest became a full-throated roar by the time he leapt, his claws out and aimed unerringly for Remy's throat.

Remy ducked just in time, scrambling away with the less grace than usual. He grabbed for something-- anything!-- to charge up.

"You fucking bastard!" Logan chased him around the bed. "I told you what would happen if you touched her."

"Logan, not in my clinic," said Hank sharply. "If you damage anything, I won't be able to help Rogue."

"What's wrong?" asked Xavier.

Hank turned to Remy who had one hand behind his back, hiding half a dozen tongue depressors. "Correct me if I'm mistaken but Rogue has had a suppression collar on for at least eight hours." At Remy's curt nod, he continued, "As the Professor and Scott know from my last brief, suppression collars work by sending a small electric pulses through the nervous system which block synaptic knobs from certain neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are usually triggers for our powers."

He turned his head towards Remy, his features growing stern. "The more you use your powers, the more the collars fight against it by sending stronger electric pulses. Eventually, they can disrupt the entire nervous system. If you have been... If Rogue has effectively been triggering her power for eight hours consecutively, the effect is similar to electrocution."

"Oh. Shit." Remy said with feeling.


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