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FIC: What They Deserve 3/4 (Scott, Mystique, others)

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  • Katarina Hjärpe
    ”Do you still have my cane?” Scott asked. ”Ah.” Raven sounded a little guilty. ”I do, it’s just that it’s... a little bent.” ”I can take care
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 29, 2000
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      �Do you still have my cane?� Scott asked.
      �Ah.� Raven sounded a little guilty. �I do, it�s just that it�s... a little
      bent.�
      �I can take care of that,� Sabretooth offered sullenly. A short while
      later, he said: �Here you go,� and before Scott could react, the tip of the
      cane had hit him in the head.
      �Victor, sometimes you�re such an idiot,� Raven told her lover.
      He grunted. After a short silence, he said: �I missed you.�
      Scott smiled, bending down his head so the people in the front seat
      wouldn�t notice. If Raven was anything like the women he knew, she�d melt
      from that. To give them some privacy, he pretended like he was completely
      preoccupied with checking the cane. He had been hesitant of getting a metal
      one -- ever since the fight with Magneto �metal� was enough to set his
      warning system on -- but now he was grateful for it. Anything else would
      probably have broken in the fight.
      Even though Raven was still driving too steadily for anything to *really*
      be going on in the front seat, the atmosphere was most definitely getting
      steamy. There was a small pleased sound that was not quite a laugh coming
      from Raven. Seconds later, another sound made Scott frown. It didn�t come
      from the motor, but at first he couldn�t quite identify it, even though it
      seemed familiar. Then he realized that it was Sabretooth purring. Somehow he
      had never thought of something so benign coming from his vocal chords.
      Still, he couldn�t help but wonder what kind of love making that beast could
      provide.
      Before he let *that* thought get any further, he quickly dived into another
      part of his mind. He didn�t like the thought that came up much better.
      �How many died in there?� he asked.
      The others immediately ended their little caressing.
      �I just killed one,� Raven said. �The one that *you*,� adressing her lover,
      �didn�t disarm before you threw him at me. Apart from that, I aimed low, and
      they mostly stayed out of the way. Figured you�d like it that way.�
      �You�re fighting to please him?� Sabretooth growled, jealous.
      �So what? We got out, didn�t we? And I didn�t see you slaying left and
      right!�
      �Ripped one�s throat,� Sabretooth reminded her. �And the one I gutted maybe
      won�t live.� He sounded oddly proud.
      �What about that shield of yours?�
      �Didn�t kill him. They did.�
      �Yeah, because you pulled him in front of you.� Raven�s voice didn�t reveal
      much regard for his brain capacity.
      �They shot me twice. I didn�t like that. Just because I heal, doesn�t mean
      I don�t hurt.�
      �Just four then,� Scott said. He had feared worse. Still, four was four too
      many. Most of them were just police officers doing their job. The big bad
      boys were still out there. All he had done was rescue one homicidal
      criminal.
      He could no longer hear sirens behind them, and soon Raven slowed down,
      although Scott had a feeling she still drove around most of San Francisco.
      He wholeheartedly approved of that. No need in leading them directly to the
      hotel.
      �We�re soon there,� she told them in Dr. Finn�s voice. He hoped that after
      this day, he would no longer have to hear it. �Victor, get down.�
      Sabretooth snarled a bit, but did as he was told. Soon the car stopped
      altogether. It was time for their final act as Betty and Simon. Scott hoped
      they would pull it off this time as well.

      **********

      When he entered the hotel lobby, he immediately felt her presence with a
      strength that shocked him after this time apart. He longed to throw himself
      at her, to feel that lovely hair tangled up around his fingers once again,
      but he managed to pull himself out of it and only send one, very fierce,
      thought: *Call me Simon. Keep calm, and call me Simon.*
      �Simon!� Jean�s voice said from another part of the lobby, where he knew
      there were some armchairs. She walked towards him, quickly, but not too
      quickly.
      Raven�s arm stiffened in the grip of his arm, and he pressed it gently,
      urging her to move forward, play along.
      �Jean?� he said. �I�m glad you came. We�ll join you in just a second. You
      remember Betty, don�t you?�
      �Of course,� Jean said, and he knew she had recognized Mystique. *Scott,
      what�s going on?*
      The thoughts flooded his mind, and he felt her stopping them, telling him
      to calm down, so he just told her the most urgent. *The police are after us.
      We broke Sabretooth out of jail, and we have kidnapped a woman.* They moved
      towards the elevators, and soon the familiar tinkle announced that it had
      entered their floor.
      *WHAT!?* He honestly hoped the shock in her mental voice didn�t show in her
      expression.
      *I had to do it. She was one of the doctors.* He didn�t have to explain
      what doctors. *I couldn�t let them go through with it again. Not even with
      Sabretooth.* He couldn�t explain why, it was too messed up even for him to
      understand, and after the death of those cops he wondered if this had really
      been the right thing to do. It didn�t matter if it wasn�t, he couldn�t have
      done it differently.
      Jean didn�t argue, and he had a felling some of the messed up thoughts in
      his mind had been broadcasted as well. All three of them got out of the
      elevator and into the suite.
      �So, Jean Grey,� Raven said sarcastically, �how did you find us?�
      �The professor used Cerebro.� She turned to Scott. �Did you really think I
      believed what you told me? Even without the link, I know a blatant lie when
      I hear it.�
      �Well, you have to decide,� Raven said. �Are you with us or against us? And
      remember, this time your own lover will be busted.�
      �With you, obviously.� *And I trusted you not to get arrested,* Jean chided
      him. �Is she in there?�
      �Yeah,� Raven said. She was already fixing up their stuff, and didn�t stop
      to ask how Jean knew about Dr. Finn. She was an intelligent woman and had
      probably figured it out.
      Scott followed Jean into the bedroom and stopped behind her. She was
      standing by the door, staring at the doctor. She didn�t say anything, and he
      tried looking into her mind to see what she was thinking. What he got was a
      mental smile followed by an image, and he suddenly realized that it wasn�t
      just Raven being dirtyminded, the entire situation actually looked a bit
      kinky.
      �I�ll take off the gag now,� he said, moving past Jean to the bed. *Turn on
      the TV, see if you can find an action movie.* Jean obeyed him, and
      deliberately turned up the volume enough so that any cries from Dr. Finn
      would be thought to be part of the show. He put the key to the manacles on
      the nightstand, where the first person entering the room was sure to find
      it, and then removed the gag. It was wet from tears. Despite his loathing
      for the woman, he actually felt a little sorry for her. Xavier had always
      said information would change the public opinion of mutants. Kidnapping sure
      as hell wouldn�t, and he knew what she felt like.
      �We�ll be leaving now,� he said, in a kinder tone than he had ever used
      before. It was easier dealing with her now that he never had to meet her
      again. �Someone will find you soon.�
      �Who is she?� Dr. Finn whispered.
      �My girlfriend,� Scott said shortly. He turned to leave, and his fingers
      brushed against Jean�s arm. �You coming?�
      �Sure.� She followed him outside. �That woman... She was so small.�
      Dr. Finn was a rather tall woman, but he knew what she meant. He had
      realized the same thing when he ran off from the doctors in the first place,
      when Rogue stopped to talk to Dr. Sawyer. All those fancy words and screwed
      up ideals aside, Dr. Sawyer had just been a man like anyone else, someone
      who had made a terrible mistake and was trying to make up for it. The only
      difference between the two doctors in that respect was that Dr. Finn had
      never admitted her own imperfection. Never would.
      �I put the sign on the door, the cleaning woman won�t skip us this time,�
      Raven said. �All finished.�
      They left the room and locked it, and they were halfway to the elevator
      when Scott felt Jean�s sudden concern.
      �What�s wrong?�
      �Is there some other way down? There are people heading this way. Looking
      for us.�
      Scott let a curse escape his lips, and Raven provided them with more than
      one.
      �There must be something,� she said, looking around. �Wait a second.�
      She took a few steps away and there was a short pause. Of course, there had
      to be a map showing the exits, in case of fire. �This way.�
      They hurried down the stairs, several stairs, and Scott had a distinct
      feeling Jean was giving him some telekinetic help, because at this speed he
      should already have bumped into something or missed a step. Jean�s tension
      was always in his mind, but not until they had already passed by several
      floors did he actually hear any followers. He stiffened, and Jean pressed
      his hand. *We�re almost down.*
      Raven was ahead of them, and her steps slowed down. They couldn�t come
      rushing out like a bunch of fugitives, even if that was what they were.
      Scott could hear the clatter of metal utensils telling him they were
      approaching the kitchen.
      �Guests aren�t allowed in here,� someone told them as they passed through
      the crowded room.
      �It�s an emergency,� Raven said. �We have to get to the hospital right
      away.�
      �Oh.� The man�s voice immediately changed from irritated to concerned. �Is
      there anything I can do?�
      �No, thank you, we�ll manage.�
      People let them through, thank God, this would actually work out, and the
      pursuers were still far behind. By the time the door to the staircase opened
      again, they were already close to the next one, the one leading outside.
      They started to run again, until a car stopped with screaming brakes and
      Sabretooth roared: �Get inside!�
      There wasn�t enough time to get inside in a sane manner, they just jumped
      in with bags and all, making it rather crowded and uncomfortable. The
      important thing was to get the hell out of there.
      �Another X-man,� Sabretooth complained, and Raven snapped at him:
      �What do you suggest, that we drop her somewhere?�
      He growled at her, but even if he might have found the suggestion tempting,
      he didn�t act on it.
      Scott listened anxiously for followers, but in a town like this, the sounds
      were soon inseparable from the rest of the traffic, and he chose to trust
      Jean�s mind instead, listening to her anxious feelings. It took a long time
      before she relaxed, but finally, she leaned back.
      �They�re gone now.�
      Sabretooth grunted a little. �Get that stupid blonde off your face,� he
      told Raven. Ins pite of the serious situation, Scott had to smile. It seemed
      like Dr. Finn wasn�t quite Sabretooth�s type of woman.
      �What are you going to do now?� Jean asked after a while.
      �I don�t know,� Raven said, sounding rather surprised at the question.
      �Why?�
      �Well, they�re not looking for me, and I could change Scott�s looks a
      little, but I don�t see how Sabretooth could hide.�
      �Always worked before,� the big man pointed out.
      He seemed rather calm, now that they were no longer in immediate danger.
      For Scott and Jean, this was the first real trouble with the police. Even
      though the law had never been on their side, they had tried stay within its
      limits. The Brotherhood, on the other hand, had been criminals for years,
      and visibly mutated for even longer. They were used to staying hidden, and
      knew every way of doing so.
      �Should we drop you off somewhere?� Raven asked. �The airport?�
      �I think... a hairdresser,� Jean said thoughtfully. Scott didn�t like the
      thoughts she broadcasted very much, but he had to admit they made sense.
      �Okay. Victor...�
      �...get down,� Sabretooth filled in. �Like that alien on TV,� he informed
      the others before he stopped the car and allowed Raven to trade places with
      him.
      �Hey, Cyclops,� he called from his position on the floor. (*That must be
      incredibly uncomfortable*, Scott thought.)
      �Yeah?�
      �Thanks. I know I would have healed if they had started cutting me, but I
      wouldn�t have liked it.�
      He certainly hadn�t expected any courtesy from Sabretooth. �You�re
      welcome.�

      **********

      Although he didn�t actually need to hold on to her arm, he did it anyway.
      After everything that had happened, it was her closeness he needed, more
      than her physical support. The mind link comforted him even more than her
      arm, since it told him exactly what he wanted to know -- there was no one
      looking for them here. He had never thought it could be so lovely just to
      *not* be chased by the police. That would have made him a lot happier if his
      head hadn�t been so uncomfortable. Dying his hair had been a sensible
      precaution, and it wasn�t that he objected to it not being a necessary one,
      but... well, he just didn�t like it.
      Jean snickered a little.
      �What?� he asked, following the stream of feet moving towards the boarding
      gate.
      �Nothing.� She silenced for a while, but soon she snickered again.
      �That bad huh?� Scott asked.
      �Well, no... I just never imagined you as a blonde.�
      He sighed a little. Usually, his hair fell down over his forehead, almost
      reaching his eyes. Now that it had been cut, the breeze felt strange around
      his head. As for the dye, it stung his head a little, and smelled rather
      strange, but that would wear off, he guessed.
      �So, how do I look? Like that guy on Buffy?�
      �I�m afraid not. More like that guy on Ally McBeal.�
      He groaned. �Great.�
      Her mind told him to cheer up. *At least I don�t think anyone would
      recognize you.*
      *I hope you�re right.*
      They got closer to the boarding gate, handed over their tickets, and
      finally the plane arrived, the one that would take them back home. When they
      sat down in the plane, Scott felt Jean relax, body and soul both. Not until
      then had he realized how tense she was. What kind of low-life was he,
      dragging her into this? It wasn�t a justified cause by any of the X-men
      standards, letting innocent people die just to get one psycho out of
      trouble. If it had been one of those hypothetical quizzes they handed you in
      school, he would have branded his actions as wrong. But this wasn�t
      hypothetical, this was real, and he couldn�t have done it any other way.
      �Can I take your cane, sir?�
      He jumped a bit when the voice addressed him. �No!� It took a while before
      he remembered to add �thank you�. Why did they even ask that? In spite of
      all that food serving and cute legs thing, stewardesses were there to help
      out in case of an emergency, right? Well, if the plane went down, he wanted
      the cane with him, not stuck away somewhere. He chided himself for being so
      edgy. Public airplanes had never been his favourites, he used to prefer to
      be his own pilot, something he�d never do again. That certainly added to his
      bad mood, but not enough by itself to make him snap at the woman like that.
      It was this entire mission. Now, when it was over, it was getting to him.
      There had been a dream once, something to believe in. Sure, some of him had
      wanted to believe because it was Xavier�s dream and he�d do anything for
      Xavier. But that wasn�t the whole truth. He had honestly believed in the
      dream, he had struggled not only to know what was right but to do it as
      well. He had never been prepared for a situation when there was no such
      thing as the right choice. When there was no room for love between hatred
      and indifference.
      Jean�s hand caressed his cheek, softly, and he knew he had been
      broadcasting.
      *Sorry,* he sent her, enjoying the possibility to talk to her like this.
      Missing her had been hard, and the hardest part was missing the link.
      *It�s okay.* She leaned over to kiss him, lightly bringing up the lesser
      problem to keep him from thinking of the bigger. *Maybe you should get a
      foldable cane instead.*
      He was grateful for this. Deep brooding was one thing when they were alone,
      at home. He didn�t want to get started on it here. *You were the one who
      said one-piece is better for beginners.*
      *But you�re not a beginner anymore,* she reminded him. *I didn�t realize it
      myself until at the hotel. The moment you entered I could feel all your
      stress and mixed up emotions, but it didn�t show. You were so graceful,
      clearing the path to the left as you were taking a right step, and then the
      other way around.*
      He shrugged. That was the natural way.
      *Don�t you remember how clumsy you were at first?*
      She reminded him teasingly, and he had to laugh, but soon the laughter
      died.
      *I was better off then.*
      She put her arms protectively around him, telling him that was not true. He
      let himself be carried by her touch, to forget about the guilt and the
      desillusion that weighed on him as heavily as fear had done before. Nothing
      was ever quite wrong when Jean was with him. She was the only one who could
      take the weight of the world off his shoulders, like Hercules had done for
      Atlas, but unlike Hercules, she was willing to hold on.
      �Are you falling asleep?� She spoke out loud, but very softly.
      �I think so,� he mumbled. He lifted his head from her shoulder. �Do you
      mind?�
      �No, I could use some sleep myself.�
      She let her head rest by his, and soon they were both sleeping,
      uncomfortably seated, but comfortably close.

      **********

      The nap lasted almost all the way to NYC. Scott was the first one to wake
      up, and he mentally nudged Jean. When she only drowsily turned around in his
      lap he shook her gently. Finally, she gave in and seemed to wake up
      completely in a second, just like a cat.
      Before long, the plane landed, and they got their stuff together. Although
      neither of them said anything even mentally, Scott knew Jean felt just as
      excited to come home as he did. It was a good thing they were seated so
      close to the exit and didn�t have to wait to get out.
      They walked quickly through the hallways leading from the airplane to the
      main building. Scott already heard the sounds of an open area by the time he
      felt Jean stiffen. His first instinct was to run, but the crowd behind them
      was pushing them forward.
      �FBI. Can we have a word with you, sir?�
      The words were spoken aimably and low, but Scott had no reason to felt
      reassured by that. There was no way he could run from the feds, and he
      mentally told Jean not to fight them. He didn�t want her involved in this,
      things were bad enough as it was.
      �Of course.�
      A hand took his arm, and he knew there was no use in telling them he
      preferred it the other way around. They may want it to look like they were
      doing it for support, but that wasn�t the truth. Scott tried not to panic,
      but couldn�t help but wonder what would happen with him. Thank God he was no
      longer in California, they would have fried him instantly there -- unless
      they found too much pleasure in keeping a mutant criminal alive. New York
      State was more moderate, but with the things he had done, there were prison
      walls at the end of the road anyway. He was grateful Jean was just coming
      along without causing any trouble. Whatever happened to him, he wanted her
      out of it.
      They did keep up the almost-friendly act though. Compared to the
      over-pitying attitude strangers used to give him it was practically the cold
      shoulder, but it made him feel more at ease during the car ride to wherever
      they were going.
      He was lead into a building and asked Jean through the mind link what it
      was like, but from her description it was as anonymous to her as it was to
      him.
      �You will have to stay outside, ma�am.�
      Even though he was now separated from Jean, Scott felt relieved that she
      was allowed so close to the room where he was seated. He would be able to
      keep at least some mental connection to her. The chair was hard and
      uncomfortable, and it creaked a little when he sat down.
      �You were travelling as Scott Summers,� the one remaining man said. His
      voice was low and calm, like a psychiatrist on TV, and from the height of
      it, he was even taller than Scott. �Is that your real name?�
      What was the point in lying? �Yes.�
      The man sat down opposite him. �Well, Mr. Summers, earlier today a
      dangerous mutant escaped from a prison in San Francisco, California. Three
      policemen died, a fourth is still in critical condition. His accomplices had
      also kidnapped a Dr. Elizabeth Finn, and one of them had somehow managed to
      take her appearance. The other one fits your description. Obviously, we also
      have witnesses that could confirm for certain that you were there.�
      They would have. �I�m entitled to a lawyer, aren�t I?�
      The man sighed. �You�re entitled to one, but we would prefer it if you
      didn�t have one.�
      Scott frowned. He didn�t understand what they were getting at.
      �Mr. Summers, in spite of what you may believe, you are not under arrest.�
      �Then what�s this all about?� He tried to keep calm.
      �We have a proposition for you.� There was a short pause as the man waited
      for an answer. When he didn�t get one, he continued: �Dr. Elizabeth Finn
      was part of a research group that last summer tried to find ways of
      eliminating mutant powers. The project was supported by concerned
      authorities, but recently evidence has come forward that indicates that the
      official records were not entirely truthful.� The man paused, moving about
      on his chair. It seemed like Scott wasn�t the only one who was uncomfortably
      seated.
      �Were you one of the subjects to this project?�
      Scott didn�t answer, and the man took a deep breath, rising from his chair
      and walking up to the wall. There must be a window.
      �We want to know what happened during that project, Mr. Summers. So do the
      people who authorized this. If you do have any information on that project,
      we want you to tell us everything you know. Furthermore, once you have done
      that, we don�t want you to ever bring it up again. If the press, or the law,
      or anyone else asks you about this, you have never heard of such a project.
      Am I making myself clear?�
      �Perfectly.�
      If it got out that high authorities, whichever they could be, had supported
      violent experimentation on mutants, it would ruin their credibility.
      Claiming that they hadn�t known the truth wouldn�t help, that would only
      make them look like easily fooled morons. Scott had no problem understanding
      why they wanted to cover things up.
      �Good. In return for that testimony, we have never heard of you, Scott
      Summers. We never had this conversation. The person we�re looking for was
      never caught -- maybe he was killed in the chase. How does that sound?�
      Scott�s expression turned into stone. It was incredibly tempting. All they
      really wanted to do was cover their tracks. They were dead scared of what
      the public would have to say about them. Maybe they feared that if the truth
      got out, it would swing the public opinion in favour of mutants. The only
      problem was, he couldn�t believe he and Rogue were really that important.
      There had to be more to this. More mutants harmed, probably. Raven had
      picked up a few clues from Dr. Dean, but if they made any sense to her, she
      hadn�t told him about it. All he knew was that something awful had been
      going on, and they wanted him to help them cover it up. He shouldn�t accept
      the offer, but could he afford not to?
      �I don�t really have to tell you what the consequences of your actions
      would be if you dealed with this the legal way, do I?�
      Scott shook his head numbly. New York State wasn�t quite as anti-mutant as
      California, so he might have some chance of getting a fair treatment.
      Trouble was, even a fair treatment wouldn�t prevent him from spending the
      rest of his days in jail. That was what made him suspicious about this deal.
      Things had to be pretty bad if they were willing to put him back on the
      streets.
      �What did they do? You won�t make me believe that you�re going through all
      this trouble for my sake. Who else was hurt?�
      A long silence. The man�s voice was kind as he finally replied: �I�ll tell
      you everything we know, but not until after you have given your testimony.�
      That made sense. The only way they could tell if he was lying was by
      comparing his statements to what they had already found out. Fortunately, he
      had another way, and he gently reached out to Jean, asking her to check if
      they were honest. The answer was swift: they were. His mind screamed at him
      to take the offer, to find out what had happened and then finally rest. But
      that was the coward�s way out. These people, these doctors, were still
      walking the streets. How could he betray their former and future victims
      just to save his own skin?
      �If I tell you what I want to know, what are you going to do with it?�
      The FBI man seemed to ponder that for a few seconds, then he answered: �The
      New York project didn�t last long. There has been plans to start similar
      projects in other states. Those plans will obviously be abandoned now. I can
      also guarantee that none of the doctors who took part in the original
      project will ever practice medicine again.�
      That was a lot less than perfect, but it was probably the best he could
      get. Maybe he could get more by allowing himself to be a martyr, spreading
      the word around to every reporter who wanted to listen, but he doubted it.
      And those doubts spoke to the coward inside him, the one who was much bigger
      than he wanted to admit.
      �You don�t have much of an option, Mr. Summers.�
      �There was a doctor who helped us,� Scott said, lifting his head up,
      testing the man. �Dr. Sawyer. Why don�t you get his testimony?�
      The man cleared his throat. �We have... located Dr. Sawyer, at an
      institution in New Rochelle. However, he had been drugged down for more than
      six months and did not seem to understand our questions.�
      Scott lost his breath. They had turned on their own, just as Raven said. He
      wondered if she had known this.
      �We treat this very seriously.�
      �Well, of course you do,� he whispered, his mouth and voice not quite
      obeying him. �When they do it to humans, it�s just not acceptable anymore,
      even to you. Is it?� He couldn�t stop the sarcasm from entering his voice.
      A cold passionless voice. �Will you cooperate?�
      Scott leaned back. He could have been a hero once, but he certainly wasn�t
      anymore. The dream wouldn�t lead him, he was on his own.
      �Yes.�

      **********

      The tapping of a pencil to the table was the only sound in the room for
      minutes after Scott had finished his story. Tap. Tap-tap. The rhythm was
      almost musical.
      �Good enough for you?� Scott finally asked bitterly.
      �Yeah.� The tapping stopped, then there was another sound. Skin to skin --
      the man was rubbing his forehead. �Godless shit,� he muttered under his
      breath. Scott probably wasn�t supposed hear that, so he pretended he hadn�t.
      �Then will you tell me what else they did?�
      The very deep breath coming from the man told him that whatever was coming
      up wasn�t something he�d appreciate hearing.
      �We don�t have the whole truth, obviously. But from what we have, the
      official records seem to have been less than truthful, to say the least.� He
      started tapping again. �You were considered a success, for one thing. You
      were their first subject -- well, you and the girl.�
      He had suspected that much. The doctors hadn�t seemed very prepared for
      failure.
      �Dr. Finn left right after the experiments were finished on the third
      subject, a young man with an electric field around him. They managed to
      eliminate the field on the second try. First time around he got electric
      shocks from his own body. It�s not quite clear how much damage that did, but
      the inofficial notes do indicate that he recovered.�
      �That�s all you�ve got?� Scott asked. �Notes?�
      �That, and people telling of peculiar kidnappings and disappearances. Also,
      some of the equipment left told us something -- well, those of us who
      understand that sort of things.�
      �No witnesses?�
      �They induced amnesia on all their subjects, and the doctors refuse to
      admit anything.� He gave a snorting laugh. �Guess in a way it�s a good thing
      you released that psycho.�
      Scott didn�t answer. He was still thinking of the previous sentence. If he
      and Rogue hadn�t run away, they would have been drifting around without any
      memories of themselves, just like Logan. Even if the professor had found
      them, they wouldn�t have remembered him. And Jean... he wouldn�t even have
      the memory of her face.
      The man started to speak again. �Fourth subject was a middle-aged woman
      with chilling breath, literaly. She was married, we found her family. They
      had reported her missing. Doubt that they�ll ever find her. She was alive
      when she left the clinic, after a double lung transplant that was successful
      from their point of view. The notes said she was asthmatic afterwards, so I
      don�t know if she�s still alive.�
      Scott closed his eyes instincively to stop the tears. The man�s voice was
      getting rougher.
      �Fifth was the first death. A junkie, apparently. He had poisonous spikes
      that came out at will. They tried to pull them out one by one. The
      unofficial notes say he died before the experiments were completed, but they
      don�t say why. He seems to have been in a bad condition, so it may not have
      been their fault. Still, Dr. Duke left after that.� He tried to make a joke.
      �This is beginning to sound like �And Then There Was None�.�
      Scott didn�t smile. A person had died at that place. If the doctors were
      leaving because they actually had some sort of conscience, great, but that
      didn�t help anyone but themselves.
      The man cleared his throat. �Sixth was a telepath. Her we have actually
      found, at that institution in New Rochelle. They did some sort of lobotomy
      on her. She�s not a vegetable or anything, but she�s most definitely
      half-witted.�
      The closed eyelids didn�t help now, tears came trickling down Scott�s face.
      �How many more?� he whispered, not certain he could listen much longer.
      �Just one more.� There was no coldness in the man�s voice anymore. �A baby
      born with gills. The project was originally intended for adult, dangerous
      mutants, but they decided to expand.�
      Scott knew what was coming before the man even continued, and he prayed
      that he would be wrong, that it was not so.
      �It died.�
      Scott let out a quiet sob.
      �There seems to have been internal strifes already, and after that, the
      project was closed. The leaders haven�t been on speaking terms since. Of
      course, all that was told in the official records was that the expansion
      idea had been abandoned.�
      Anyone could have figured out the truth, Scott knew that. The authorities
      had just decided not to ask. Don�t ask where the mutants came from, don�t
      ask what happened to them afterwards. You don�t want to know.
      �I hope our agreement still stands.�
      No, he thought, no it doesn�t. He wanted the whole world to know about
      this. But what was the point? A handfull of mutants, only two of whom had
      actually died, and a young doctor. What was that to a world that couldn�t
      even be bothered to care for long about Israel or Balkan?
      �It stands.� He wanted to stand up, leave this room, but he didn�t know if
      he was allowed to. Also, he didn�t quite trust his legs. �Can I leave?� he
      asked -- no, pleaded. He hadn�t meant it to come out so pathetic.
      �Absolutely.� The man came up to him and grabbed his arm again, and this
      time he knew it was meaningful to argue.
      �I�d prefer it if I could take your arm.�
      �Sure.� Before they came to the door, the man said: �Mr. Summers.�
      �Yes?�
      �That mutant you released was a killer.�
      �I know.� What was he supposed to say, that he was sorry? He wasn�t. Maybe
      he should be.
      �I�m an Amnesty guy, I�ve been arguing for years that you can�t do any sort
      of things to a person just because they�re bad. So I guess I understand why
      you did it. It�s still stupid, though.�
      It wasn�t much support, but Scott appreciated it never the less. �Thank
      you.�


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