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FIC: The Price of Love 13/?

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  • rimmette@earthlink.net
    For disclaimers, etc., see part one. ***** It was a beautiful Saturday morning. There were no patients, no students, no all-consuming research, and no
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2001
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      For disclaimers, etc., see part one.

      *****

      It was a beautiful Saturday morning. There were no patients, no
      students, no all-consuming research, and no life-or-death situations
      to worry about. Just Scott, me, and our heavenly warm, manufactured
      to perfection, king-sized bed.

      I didn't wake up to an alarm. I slept well into the morning, and
      woke up to Scott, my favorite way to begin the day.

      We were just relaxing in each other's arms after being awake a couple
      of hours, discussing whether we should bother getting up at all when
      Susan started pounding on the door.

      Susan is an eleven year old whose mutation developed at the beginning
      of puberty. She's a gamma-level, but she can't pass as a normal
      human so she had to matriculate into our school. She's a
      camouflager. Not a shape shifter like Mystique, she can't change her
      body, just the color of her skin. If she stood perfectly still
      against a wall and changed her skin colors, you'd probably never know
      she was in the room with you. Of course, here at Xavier's School for
      Gifted Youngsters, we encourage students to wear clothes, so she
      rarely gets to use that special talent.

      Instead, she's developed a mutant-level tattling ability. Whenever
      anyone does anything even close to breaking the rules, she's telling
      the teachers, the students, and anyone else who will listen. We've
      tried to convince her that we don't want to hear about every little
      infraction, but then she just starts walking around nude again. If
      the other kids can break the rules, she argues, why can't she? We've
      learned to just give in and listen when she tells on the other
      students just so she'll go away.

      "Mr. Summers, Dr. Grey, I know you're in there." Her words were
      punctuated by another loud series of knocks. "Jubilee's gonna burn
      down the whole forest, and I thought you might like to know. I guess
      you don't care, though. I'll be sure to tell you when the flames
      reach the mansion."

      "What?" Scott said, leaping out of bed. I just closed my eyes and
      reached out for Jubilee's thoughts. When I made contact, I felt the
      Professor there as well.

      ~Jubilee, what's going on?~ I asked.

      There was a pause before she responded. ~Logan's dying out by the
      lake. We need you here now.~

      I was surprised by her blunt statement, but I could feel her building
      panic, and simply thought, ~Show me.~

      Jubilee allowed me to look through her eyes. Rogue was kneeling over
      a pale, limp Logan. His eyes were open, but they drifted around
      unfocused, and his lips were tinged a light blue. He was naked
      except for a soaking wet pair of black boxers, and it was obvious
      that he'd just been dragged out of the lake. At this time of year,
      the water's between 55 and 60 degrees, not freezing but cold enough
      to kill you if you're exposed to it too long.

      ~Jean, go now.~ The professor thought to me. ~I'll send Scott and
      Ororo to collect a stretcher and follow you.~

      I acknowledged and closed the connection.

      Scott was standing by the window, assuring Susan that we believed her
      even though Jubilee's sparks were no longer shooting into the sky. I
      threw off the bed covers, only taking the time to pull on a robe and
      my sneakers before I was running out the door.

      "Jean?" I heard Scott call after me, but I didn't stop to answer.

      -----

      "Jean! Help him!" Rogue screamed at me as I reached the clearing
      around the lake.

      "What happened?" I asked, already kneeling down by Logan to assess
      his condition.

      "I couldn't find Logan anywhere this morning. Jubes saw him last
      night and led me here."

      "When last night?" I asked.

      "Well, around three maybe," Jubilee answered uncertainly. Damn. He
      could've been in the water for hours.

      Logan's eyes were closed, but when I pressed my fingers gently to his
      throat to feel for a pulse, they snapped open, glazed and confused.

      I said, "Logan, just relax. We're taking you back," in an effort to
      calm and reassure him, but I'm not sure he heard me. His skin was
      cold and clammy under my hands, and his pulse was thready and weak,
      sure signs that he was already in shock.

      What could possibly have compelled him to leave the mansion in the
      middle of the night and wander into the lake? He was still weak from
      touching Rogue, but he'd seemed to be improving. He stayed in his
      room a lot, but I'd seen him at odd times throughout the week and
      even though he'd seemed tired, I didn't notice anything serious.

      Of course, once he'd escaped the Med Lab, he refused to come back for
      a checkup, but at the time I'd just thought it was his general
      reluctance to be around doctors. Now I could see that he'd been
      hiding his condition. I'd made sure the poison had cleared his
      system before releasing him so it couldn't be that, but it was
      obvious something was seriously wrong.

      Scott and Ororo arrived a minute or two after me and we wasted no
      time. I grabbed the medical kit from Scott and instructed Rogue to
      step back while they moved Logan onto the stretcher. She returned to
      his side once they had him settled.

      Scott was pulling out an emergency blanket and I was preparing a dose
      of medication when Logan growled, released his claws, and sat up,
      attacking Rogue. Rogue! I couldn't believe it, but I instinctively
      responded anyway, freezing him with my telekinesis.

      "Rogue?" I asked, not looking away from Logan.

      "I'm fine," she answered shakily. "It's healing."

      Logan was struggling weakly against my hold, but he couldn't escape.
      I dropped the syringe I'd been preparing and readied a sedative
      instead. When I injected the dose into his arm, he responded
      quickly, his eyes rolling back in his head and his body going limp.
      I waited a few moments to be sure he was out and then released my TK
      grasp, allowing his body to collapse back onto the stretcher.

      "What the hell was that?" Scott asked, reflecting my thoughts.

      "Rogue, are you ok?" I asked, needing to know how many patients I was
      dealing with.

      "I'm fine. It's already healed," She held out her arm and although
      the material was bloody, I could see that the underlying skin was
      unbroken. Her voice cracked as she asked, "Jean, why... what..."

      I concentrated on Logan's thoughts then reeled back, dropping the
      connection almost as soon as I'd established it. "He's... His mind
      is confused. Delusional. Hallucinating."

      Rogue crawled back up to Logan placing a comforting hand on his
      brow. "Why?"

      "I don't know. Let's get him back to the lab."

      -----

      I checked and double-checked the blood tests, but the results were
      the same. Given these figures, Logan should be dead already. He
      must have kept more of his healing factor than we'd originally
      suspected. Of course, it obviously wasn't nearly enough.

      Taking a long, world-weary sigh, I summoned up my strength and left
      the Med Lab. Rogue was sitting on the floor in the hallway, and she
      jerkily got to her feet when she saw me emerge.

      "Jean?"

      "Come with me, Rogue," I said, not answering her unspoken question.
      It would be better to tell everyone together.

      Ororo and Scott were waiting for us in the Professor's office. Scott
      immediately got up from his chair and walked over to me, putting a
      comforting arm around my shoulders in gentle support. I needed it.

      "There's no easy way to say this," I began. "Logan is dying and
      there's not much I can do to stop it."

      The room fell into silence, then Rogue's voice raised, rage mixed
      with anguish, "What the hell do you mean, 'Logan's dying?' He... no,
      he can't!"

      "It's the adamantium," I answered. "He has heavy metal poisoning.
      I'm treating him with chelation therapy, but it's not coming close to
      treating the problem. He's massively overexposed, and his system is
      overwhelmed."

      "But, you can just remove the metal and he'll be fine," Rogue said
      hopefully.

      "There's no way he'd survive such an invasive procedure," I said,
      shaking my head.

      "Then what are you going to do?" she demanded.

      "Try to make him comfortable," I answered with a discouraged shrug.

      "No!" Rogue shouted. "You can't just give up on him like that! He
      wouldn't... he... he's had that metal for fifteen years. Why now?"

      "The healing factor was compensating, but he doesn't have enough of
      it anymore."

      "Because of me," she said, collapsing into Scott's vacated
      chair. "He's dying because of me."

      "Rogue, it's not your fault," I soothed, leaving Scott's arms to
      comfort her.

      Just as I reached out a hand to her shaking shoulder, she sprung back
      up, and said, "I... I'll touch him again. I just have to reverse the
      flow."

      I shook my head. "Rogue, we did tests. You know that part of your
      mutation is biologically based. You can't control it. With time,
      you might be able to stop absorbing thoughts, but you absorb other
      mutant's powers on the DNA level."

      "I... I can. I have to. Logan'll die without his powers. I'll just
      touch him again..."

      "And kill him," I finished. You'll take whatever he has left."

      "No, I'll save him," Rogue said, running out of the room. I ran
      after her, blocking her way.

      "Rogue, I can't let you touch him, and if you insist, I'll restrict
      you from the Med Lab."

      -----

      Rogue had backed down then, but hours later, she tried to get into
      the Med Lab and touch him. Logan was awake, although still out of
      touch with reality, and her presence had aggravated him. He'd
      released his claws and started slicing at the padded restraints,
      catching his own flesh more than once. I'd had to sedate him again.
      Thankfully, while I treated Logan, Scott was able to stop Rogue.

      After I'd patched Logan's injuries, Scott, Ororo, the Professor, and
      I met with her again. She was so sure, so insistent and convincing,
      that I even started to doubt my firm beliefs. It was too dangerous
      to try it on Logan, though. The risks were just too great.

      I was explaining this to her, trying to help her understand, when
      Scott said, "Try it on me."

      "What?" I asked, incredulous.

      "Rogue can try to transfer some of Magneto's powers to me. If it
      works, she'll be able to give Logan back his healing factor. If it
      doesn't..."

      "If it doesn't, she'll have to wear ruby glasses for the rest of her
      life."

      "Not necessarily. If she let go at the first sign of the pull, she
      probably won't keep any of my powers permanently. She only has so
      much of Logan's because he's touched her so many times for so long."

      I hated this idea, but the doctor in me couldn't give up if there was
      any chance at saving my patient.

      "Ok, but we do it in the Med Lab. I want to monitor both of you."

      -----

      I decided to chemically paralyze Logan during the test. The only
      safe place to do it was the lab, but he'd reacted poorly to Rogue's
      presence before, barely missing an artery, and I couldn't risk a
      repeat performance. I'd just finished checking his vitals when Scott
      and Rogue entered.

      She was wearing one of Scott's spare glasses, just in case. I asked
      her if she was ready and she said she was, so I motioned them over to
      the two, facing, metal chairs, and I hooked them both up to monitors.

      Rogue pulled off a glove and leaned forward slowly, drawing the
      deadly skin inch by painful inch closer to my fiancee. I stood
      behind Scott, tightening my grip on his shoulders, ready to pull him
      away at the first sign of danger.

      Finally, Rogue's skin brushed Scott's cheek. They both gasped and
      Rogue pulled away as if his skin was red hot.

      "No," she said, then reached forward again, only to barely touch his
      skin again with the same results.

      "I can't stop the pull," she said, her voice rising in pitch in her
      sadness. "I *have* to, but I can't. I... Logan."

      She rose from the chair, kicking it over, and started pacing the room.

      "I... He's going to... No! He can't. I have to..."

      She began running her hands through her hair, agitated and furious.

      "It's not fair!" She screamed, punching the wall with her bare hand.

      She ignored the blood flowing from her split knuckles and in seconds,
      the wounds had healed. Leaning against the wall she'd just attacked,
      she screamed again in pure agony, "Logan!" Three, seven-inch bone
      claws sprung from each clenched fist.

      I know I should have been frightened by the claws, but I wasn't. The
      exposed bones gave me an idea. One that just might work.

      *****

      TBC.
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