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FIC: X-Book 4: Of Politics..., PG-13, Chpt 7

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  • Kathleen
    X-Book 4 -- Of Politics, Tacos and Other Things that Give You Indegestion Chapter Seven: Being Free By: Kath713/Leen713 Rating: PG-13 (violence, language)
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 11, 2004
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      X-Book 4 -- Of Politics, Tacos and Other Things that Give You
      Indegestion

      Chapter Seven: Being Free

      By: Kath713/Leen713
      Rating: PG-13 (violence, language)

      Genre: Crossover (with anything I can squeeze in), SPOILERS FOR X2
      Summary: See prologue to book 4

      Disclaimer: I own nothing in regards to the Marvel characters or
      any character from a previously published source portrayed in this
      story.

      Reviews: Any feedback would be great and is appreciated!

      ***

      Chapter Seven:

      The small bedroom was dimly lit and Paul winced as he stepped down
      on his injured leg to reach a nearby dresser. It had several
      drawers, each containing a few sets of basic clothing. He drew out
      a fresh, clean shirt and touched the soft fabric thoughtfully. He
      took a few limping steps back toward the bed and sat down.

      The Lady Deathstrike had insisted he change his bloody pants
      immediately after she finished treating his wound and she had shown
      him both the dresser and closet where the clothes were in his
      quarters.

      Paul had complied without argument and had not said a word to the
      woman while she was present. He had very little contact with women
      during his life, aside from the few female scientists and soldiers
      who had been assigned to him over the years, and they had always
      been cold and distant, even when he was a child. Her presence had
      made him extremely uncomfortable, though her direct and unemotional
      manner had been very similar to those random women who had worked
      for Systems Operations or for Stryker.

      The boy who called himself Pyro had been much more easygoing. He
      reminded Paul of his own brothers; while the boy was friendly
      enough, his eyes also looked haunted. Pyro was a mutant, too, after
      all, and Paul wondered what kind of traumas free mutants had in
      their lives.

      Nothing close to what we did, Paul thought bitterly. He pulled off
      his old shirt, the last remaining piece of his Systems Operations
      uniform, and drew the new one over his head.

      He picked up the old shirt and examined the red stain near the
      collar. It was from one of the many nosebleeds he had after he used
      his power. He was a Pusher, his gift was mental domination over
      another, `pushing' someone to do what he wanted them to do. Using
      his power had always given him headaches, but as he grew older, the
      other side effects had become more common. Whether it was because
      of the innumerable experiments he had been subject to or simply was
      a drawback of his mutation, he did not know.

      Paul stared at the shirt for a long time, and thought of a woman
      named Charlie McGee. She had been a free mutant, at least for most
      of her life, but she had been subject to the same experiments Paul
      and his brothers had.

      Charlie had been the one the other scientists always whispered
      about, the one mutant who got away, the one who escaped by fire.
      Then, when Paul had been only twelve years old, she had come back.
      The little girl they feared had grown up, and she escaped again.

      Now, a little less than a quarter century later, she apparently had
      two children of her own. Her children had been able to blend into
      the mass of free mutants, whose numbers only continued to grow by
      Stryker's calculations.

      Paul clenched his hand around the bloody shirt tightly, suddenly
      feeling his anger fully for the first time, and he threw it across
      the room. He was breathing heavily, his new emotions fading from
      fury to sorrow as he thought again about his brothers, the two who
      died, the three who may have escaped.

      I'll find them, he thought firmly and stood again from the bed.

      Paul walked to the room's adjoining bathroom and stared at his face
      in the mirror. He thought the image staring back at him looked very
      old, much older than he actually was. He had been twelve when
      Charlie came...add about twenty-four years or so and...

      "I am thirty-six years old," he said aloud, and touched the stubble
      on his unshaven face, "I am thirty-six years old...and this is the
      first day I have ever been free."

      Paul placed his hands on the sink for support as he leaned forward.
      Tears of bitter sorrow, and incredible relief, flowed quickly down
      his cheeks, and he repeated his words again and again.

      "I'm thirty-six...and I'm free...I'm thirty-six...and I'm free..."

      After a few minutes, Paul lifted one shaky hand to his face and took
      a few deep breaths. He turned on the water, and splashed it into
      his eyes. The water was cold at first, but quickly became warmer.
      The cold faded, and he lifted his eyes back to his reflection.



      He did not know how much time had passed when the knock sounded on
      the bedroom door. Paul inhaled sharply in surprise, and waited.
      The rapping was repeated and Paul took a few uneasy steps towards
      the closed door.

      Over his entire life, the simple courtesy of having someone knock
      before entering his private room had been a rarity. Paul moved to
      within inches of the wall and listened. He heard someone mumbling
      on the other side, a female voice, followed by a much deeper male
      vibrato. The sound of knocking came one more time before Paul
      turned the knob and opened the door cautiously.

      Erik Lensherr gave him a pleased smile and nodded in greeting.

      "Good afternoon, Brother," the tall man said calmly. Paul edged out
      into the main living area slowly, regarding Erik and the blue woman
      behind him known as Mystique with suspicion.

      Erik did not blame the weathered mutant for his mistrust, and
      motioned toward the simple sofa and chairs.

      "May we sit?" he asked Paul, who frowned in confusion at Erik's
      polite, though commanding, demeanor.

      Paul nodded, and waited for the other two mutants to sit before he
      painfully eased himself onto one cushioned chair. Erik stared at
      him silently for a moment, a strange mix of pity and understanding
      lining his face.

      "I hope you've found your accommodations comfortable," Erik said.

      Paul nodded again, "Yes...they're fine. Thanks. And," he paused
      nervously, searching for the proper words, "thank you
      for...attending to my...well, for helping me at the base..."

      "Of course," Erik replied, tilting his head forward slightly as if
      he was very honored by Paul's appreciation, "For that is what we
      do. We help...other mutants. Especially those like yourself, who
      have suffered such great injustices at the hands of Homo sapiens."

      Paul nodded one last time and looked away from the other man.

      "You're Magneto," Paul finally said, and met Erik's gaze
      again, "They trained us to capture you, you know. They told
      us...you were our enemy..."

      "They lied," Erik said, his voice echoing slightly through the
      room. Paul averted his eyes again and shifted nervously. Erik
      regarded him closely before speaking again.

      "I suppose," he began, "After watching two of your brothers die at
      Stryker's hand, you are beginning to realize who our true enemy
      is..."

      "But, now Stryker's dead," Paul said quickly.

      "Yes," Erik replied, "But many of his followers are not. There are
      still many people in this world that would prefer to see all mutants
      contained, as you were for so long. To keep us in prisons and study
      us until death or madness comes. To force us to work for their
      goals, abuse our powers for their own gains. However, their
      downfall will be their failure to realize that we are the
      powerful...we are the superior race...and despite whatever
      technologies their obsolete minds can devise, we, mutants, will
      eventually dominate them."

      Paul stared at Erik Lensherr as he spoke, and felt a new bitterness
      listening to this gilded and learned mutant.

      "What do you know about it?" Paul suddenly spat, and Erik frowned
      darkly as he continued, "Huh? What the hell do you know about being
      a prisoner? About being tortured just because of what you are? My
      whole life, I've been a prisoner. The only time I tasted free air,
      it was full of smoke and fire from another free mutant¸like you.
      Yeah, that's what me and my brothers called you people. Free
      mutants. Charlie didn't help us, and she knew what we were...what
      the Lotprogram was doing to us! Don't talk to me about being a
      prisoner..."

      Paul's voice grew quieter as he finished his last sentence, and he
      ground his teeth and stared at the floor. He did not notice Erik's
      motion until he stood within a foot of him. Paul stood quickly and
      stumbled backward, hissing as his injured leg burned in protest of
      the fast movement.

      Erik Lensherr extended one arm toward Paul, but not in a threatening
      gesture. Paul stared at him and followed Erik's gaze to the numbers
      on his forearm. The Pusher frowned, uncertain at what he was
      seeing. History had never been a major part of his education with
      Systems Operations, but it was still obvious that the older man was
      marked with a kind of serial number...a prison number.

      After a moment, Paul glanced up again and met Magneto's intense gaze.

      "I do know, Brother," he said firmly, "Never doubt that. I was a
      prisoner, as you were...I watched my family die, as you have...and I
      will not see it happen to our people again."

      Magneto lowered his arm and then extended it toward the Pusher.

      "Join us," he said, "We shall find the brothers you lost...and
      together, we will all help built a better world for mutants...where
      freedom will not be such a luxury."

      Paul was still staring with quiet disbelief at Magneto when he took
      his hand.

      Behind them, Mystique smiled approvingly. When Magneto turned to
      leave, she joined him, and they left Paul behind with thoughts of
      his future.

      As they walked quickly back to the main chambers, Mystique did not
      miss the pleased expression on Erik's face.

      "He will stay," she said softly, and without question.

      Erik glanced over at her...and smiled.

      ***
      Archived at www.fanfiction.net/~leen713
      *work in progress*
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