FIC: The Price of Love 12/?
- For disclaimers, etc., see part one.
My whole body is on fire from the inside out. They must've caught me
again, the doctors. It's the only explanation for this bone-deep
agony. I can barely walk, barely breathe, but somehow, I escaped.
My body's so weak that every step is a struggle, and I wish I'd eaten
more while I had the chance and gained some strength. It doesn't
matter that I had trouble keepin' anything but the blandest, smallest
meal down. I should've kept trying; I should've told Jeanie I
didn't because I knew she'd make me return to the Med Lab, and I
hated that place. It brought back too many bad memories. Of course,
now I'm running from the reality that created those memories, and I'm
too sick to fight.
I'm surrounded by trees, the night breeze flowing through the
branches to cool my flushed skin. It's not enough, not nearly cold
enough. I've got to extinguish this inner fire before I burn up
I push my way forward, not knowing my destination, just knowing I
have to find it. I lean on any trees large enough to have exposed
trunks whenever I come to them, sometimes resting for minutes,
waiting until I can force my tortured body to walk again. The narrow
path seems to shift in front of me, growing and shrinking, twisting
and straightening, eventually becoming so distorted that it's easier
to walk with my eyes closed.
Finally, I come to a clearing where a pristine lake glows in the
moonlight. The water beckons to me, promising the icy peace for
which I've been searching. I stumble towards it, wanting nothing
more than to step in and allow its liquid tendrils to sap my heat
When I finally reach the shore, I can only take a few steps into the
chilly elixir before my legs collapse underneath me, and I splash
into the shallow water. I lay there forever, half-in and half-out of
the lake, half-freezin' and half-burnin'.
After an eternity, the water begins to win, pulling the fever from my
limbs and calling me down into its depths. I don't follow, though.
I stay with the stars.
They fly all around me, spinning, dancing, singing, and laughing,
like kids at recess. They saw me lying in the lake and floated down
to play. Hours pass as they talk to me, telling me all the things
they see when the world is asleep. I listen to their high-pitched,
eager chatter until the cold seeps into my heart, drawing me into a
deep, dreamless sleep.
I hear my name, but it isn't the stars or the lake calling to me
now. It's Marie. I don't know how she got here, but she's found
me. I feel her silk-covered hands flitting over my limp shoulders
before they hook under my arms and pull, dragging me out of the
sparkling lake bed.
"Jubilee," Marie shouts to the dark-haired girl behind her, "get
help!" I wonder why she sounds so worried. Now that I've tempered
the heat and my body is numbed, there's no more pain and no need for
I hear pops and sparks similar to the singing last night and wonder
if the stars have returned despite the brightness of the midday sun.
I squint my eyes open and watch as Marie's roommate shoots multi-
colored fireworks into the air, well above the treeline, like
flares. I watch them fly until the light show ends, and the girl
lowers her arms and walks towards me.
"That should get their attention."
"Oh, Jubes," Marie again, her voice trembling slightly. "He's so
The shorter girl nods and then stumbles, mid-stride, barely catching
herself. She puts both hands up to her head and says, "Whoa, I got a
Jean/Professor conference call in my brain."
"Tell Jean to get here, now!" Marie commands and then turns back to
Her covered hands touch me again, gently caressing my face and
smoothing back my hair. I open my eyes further, trying to focus on
her, but she's too close, and her image remains fuzzy.
Soon Marie's friend kneels down on the other side of me. "Is he
looking at you?"
"I think so." Marie's hand ran down my cheek, cupping it
gently. "Logan? Sugah?"
I close my eyes trying to work up enough strength to answer her, but
then her touch pulls away. When I open my eyes again, Jean is
kneeling where Marie was seconds before. What the hell?
"Logan, just relax. We're taking you back," Jean says as she presses
her finger to my throat, feeling my pulse.
Taking me back? Back to the doctors? Back to where the burnin'
started? Why would Jean...
As these questions flow through my head, Jean looks up and speaks to
someone out of my line of sight. The sun reflects off her eyes and
they turn a distinctive yellow. Mystique! She'd pretended to be
Marie to lower my guard and now she's playing at being Jean! She
thinks I'm helpless, lying limp on the ground, but I'll prove to her
that I can still fight back.
I blink and then Ororo's kneeling over me, shifting her arms under my
shoulders in search of a good hold. Mystique should know better than
to take that form with me. Even though I really can't smell her
anymore, she should know that I'm not stupid enough to be fooled by
Before I can act, I'm lifted and settled onto a soft stretcher and
Mystique moves away only to return to my side as Marie again. She
probably thinks I can't hurt her in that form, and I have to admit
that it does give me a second's pause. I can't let her take me back,
though. I have to fight.
I pop my claws on both hands, ignoring the searing pain, and attack.
My movements are jerky and slow and her reflexes, perfect. I only
catch her arm when I'd been aiming at her heart. I pull back to
strike again as she sits on the ground, eyes wide in shock, but then
my body freezes. No matter how hard I strain my muscles, I can't
move an inch. Magneto. He's with her and I'm screwed.
Even as I stay frozen, mid-strike and straining, I know I've been
beaten. The pinprick in my arm less than a minute later only
confirms my conclusion as the sedative works its way into my blood
stream and draws me into darkness.
Despite my weakened senses, I can smell the disinfectant-perfumed lab
the instant I wake. I try to sit up, to get off the bed and escape
again, but I'm tied down by leather straps and covered by a heat-
radiating blanket I pull on the restraints with my arms and even
release my claws to try and slice through them, but I only succeed in
cutting my legs and ripping up my arms.
"Logan, stop!" Jeanie's voice approaches me from across the room.
Despite her concerned voice, I remind myself that it's not Jean.
It's Mystique. She's captured me and taken me back to the lab.
Already, my body sweats from an inner heat, and the cold numbness I'd
searched so hard for is gone. An aching pain consumes my joints and
a metallic taste fills my mouth, telling me that they've been playing
with my skeleton while I've been unconscious. What I don't
understand is why Mystique is involved with them. Have they paid her
for my hide? Does bringing me back grant her immunity?
I lose all thoughts of Mystique when Marie bursts into the room,
screaming my name. I can't see very clearly, but it looks like a man
is holding her back, keeping her from me.
Mystique/Jean is still by my bed, so this is the real Marie. My
heart freezes in panic as I realize that she's here and trapped along
with me. She must have come searching for me, probably planning to
rescue me from the lab and instead finding me at the lake. My
weakness had gotten her captured, too.
Undiscovered strength flows through my body and I pull and slash at
my restraints with new vigor. It doesn't matter if I cut myself.
I'm cutting the table and my leg restraints, too. Pain doesn't
matter when Marie's in danger. I growl in rage straining to help
her, fighting to free myself.
"Please, let me touch him," Marie begs. "I can do it. I know I can."
She's almost free, and then she is, running from the doorway towards
me. She's only a few feet away when the man tackles her from behind
and she drops out of sight below the bed I'm attached to. I growl
and pull, strain and slash, but I can't get free. Then, there's a
needle in my arm and I feel the strength ebb out of me all at once,
my body relaxing into sleep.
The next time I wake, I can't move. I can't open my eyes, can't pull
at the restraints I feel still holding my body down, and can't even
cry out in rage. They've paralyzed me. The last time they did that
was to line my skeleton with adamantium. I could feel every slice,
every scrape on my bones, every burn of searing metal, but I couldn't
move. What are they planning to do to me this time?
I can hear the clicking of heels on metal and then my right eyelid is
pulled open. A bright light shines into it, moves away, revealing a
blurry, redheaded woman, and then moves back to shine in my eye
again. My left eye undergoes the same treatment.
I hear Jean's voice, talking to someone I can't make out, and wonder
why Mystique continues to bother with the Jean charade. I know who
she really is and I haven't bothered to hide that fact. Besides,
she's going to have to give it up anyway when the scientists replace
her and start their work. That is, unless she plans to torture me
beforehand. I wouldn't put it past the bitch. She might even kill
me before they can start their experiments.
The thought of death is welcome for one second, and then I remember
Marie. I have to stay alive. She's here too; I saw her. If they
discover she's got my healing powers, there's no telling what they'll
do to her. It doesn't matter that I'm paralyzed, weak, and probably
dying. I have to hold on. I have to escape for her. If it kills
me, I will get her out of here.
I hear the whoosh of a door opening and then Mystique asks with
Jean's voice, "Are you ready for the test, Rogue?"
"Yes, I'm ready," Marie answers nervously.
Test? They're experimenting on her already? Why is she
cooperating? Fight, Marie!
"You don't have to do this. I'll..." Mystique begins, but Marie
"Yes, I do. I have to for Logan."
That blue bitch! She's using me against Marie, making her do things
against her will. I want to move; I want to yell, "Forget me,
Marie. Fight! Escape!" but I can't move. I can't do anything but