A/N: Thank you for the reviews! Sorry this took so long, had stuff going on. Also, there's some swearing in this. Only one or two? Just so people know, as i'm aware some of you don't like it. Please keep reviewing, i love them ) Standard disclaimer applies.
Joe stared down at the prone and naked figure that lay sprawled at his feet, unconscious and almost blue with cold in the puddle of water that was now receding from around him. Joe sneered. Stupid kid. He prodded the young man with the toe of his foot, looking for some response. Getting none, he trod down on the blonde's wrist, applying pressure until he heard a small whimper escape the figure's lips as the pain forced him into consciousness. He grinned maliciously to himself and applied his full weight, hearing a satisfying crack and another whimpering cry. He threw the clothes in his hand at the man on the floor looking at him with utmost disgust.
"Cover yourself." He spat. He turned on his heel muttering as he left, the young man on the floor quietly weeping. "Filthy little shit."
"Is he still alive?"
Joe looked up as he entered the room. "Just." He muttered. "I'm surprised he didn't drown."
A thoughtful look passed across the other man's face before he spoke. "The freeze box was designed to prevent that… I'm surprised he had the energy to ignite at all. The virus should have ensured that that wasn't possible." He paused. "It's a shame about the flood mechanism." He continued, referring to the device that he had designed for the freezer, created to flood the small room with water should the temperature rise too much. "It would have been interesting to see how long he could sustain his flame whilst infected."
"It's a shame he didn't drown." Joe replied, his voice bitter as usual. "Disgusting little freak."
"Tolerance Joe." Came the reply.
Joe looked as though he was about to respond but seemed to change his mind at the last minute. "How are we going to get the others?" He questioned eventually.
The briefest of scowls passed across the other mans face. "By now the others will have recovered from the virus. We'll have to use what we have to our advantage."
Joe cast a glance towards the door he had just walked through. "Grimm will still be a problem." He nodded his head towards the door. "He'll sort the Richards', but Grimm…" Joe trailed off.
"I'm sure we can find a way to persuade him. He can't hate the 'Torch' that much."
Joe stared at his cousin, unable to decide whether or not he could go as far as the other man, even where the disgusting little deformity that lay in the next room was concerned. "Just tell me when Leonard." He replied quietly, heading towards the door that would lead him outside. "Just tell me when."
Leonard watched as Joe left the room, and sat quietly for a moment, contemplating what to do next. Making a decision he got to his feet and followed through the door his cousin had used, but instead of heading to the exit, he instead went towards the residential area of the empty complex. Leonard had learnt enough in his years working for Victor Von Doom to knowhow to manipulate the system. It hadn't taken long for him to secure the complex as a base of operations. Formerly a testingcentre for some of the company's more… sensitive products, it was now a base of operations for the recovering Dr. Doom. It had been easy to fool people into thinking he had shipped the 'petrified' company head back to his home Latveria, whilst instead he brought him here. Calling in favors from nearly half of Victor's associates, all of whom owed him in some way or another, the effects of the Fantastic Four's attack had been reversed, but at a cost. The man was weak, and barely able to sustain consciousness when first he was freed. He was now recovering but he would never return to his full strength, not naturally anyway. The resulting idea had been a collaboration of both Leonard and Doom himself. If Doom's powers would never fully recuperate, he would have to take somebody else's. A machine had been designed and built, and now all that was needed was the… donators.
"Sir?" He called quietly, slowly pushing the door open.
"Come in Leonard." Doom's voice was husky and deeper than usual.
Leonard walked into the room towards where his employer sat, slumped heavily in his chair. The room was simple, a bed, a television, computer, table and adjoining bathroom, nothing like the luxury Doom was used to. "The uh… The Torch, Sir. He flooded the freeze box. It seems he may be more powerful than we originally expected."
"He's still infected with the virus?" Doom questioned slowly.
Leonard nodded. "It's at its peak."
"And he still managed to flame on?" Leonard nodded once more. "How long had he been in there?"
"Around thirty minutes."
Doom went quiet for a moment, murmuring to himself. "An act of desperation." He said finally. "It's the only explanation." He chuckled to himself. "He must have thought he was going to die. Johnny's careless but not stupid. He must have realized that the cold would kill him much sooner than it would anyone else."
Leonard nodded. "His body readings suggested so. I was going to have him moved for the time being, lest he die before the plan can be completed." There was a pause. "Would you like to see him?"
A malicious smile slowly crept over Doom's face. "Yes I… I think I would."
Johnny rested his head on his knees, his wrist gently cradled between his body and his legs, as he sat against the wall. He'd wasted no time in dressing himself, the tone in the man's voice one that scared him far more than anything elsein his predicament. Dressed now in a simple white t-shirt and an old, worn pair of jeans, he sat quietly waiting, trying to subdue the tears and pain that his broken wrist was causing. He wouldn't let his mind wonder over the possibilities as to why he was here. There were some that sprang to mind, some that he wouldn't let himself think about, formed around stories he'd heard and news reports he'd seen… 'anti-mutant' groups. He shuddered and grit his teeth, trying to hold back a sob. There had been some awful stories about the 'anti-mutant' groups, some he hadn't even been able to listen to all the way through. He shook his head, as if to clear it and tried to think of something else, trying to focus on how he could escape. He sighed as he realised how impossible thatwould be. He was still cold, still wet, and still sick. Dressing himself had been difficult enough, there was no way he'd be able to defend himself. As if on cue the door across from him opened andhe looked up startled, unable to see who the silhouetted figure was, silently begging that it was Reed.
Johnny's face fell as he recognized the voice. "You." Johnny replied, his voice just as weakened as the man opposite him, as he tried to push himself to standing.
"Indeed." Doom slowly entered the room, a metal walking stick gripped in his hand, helping him make his way towards the younger man.
Johnny tried to look menacing. "What do you want?" His voice was raspy.
Doom moved towards him, even in his weakened, almost crippled state; he was still bigger than Johnny. Johnny tried not to look intimidated as Doom bore down on him. "I want you." Doom said quietly, reaching his spare hand up to Johnny's face.
"Don't touch me." Johnny spat, shoving Doom back with his uninjured hand.
Doom growled, grabbing the young man's wrist, steadying himself from falling. "You know Johnny..." Doom began, shoving him against the wall, pinning his wrist against it. His voice held barely contained anger and as Johnny tried to shove him with his other shoulder. Practically snarling,he used his walking stick to trap Johnny's broken wrist, before continuing, "You've always been a bit of a hot head."Doom smirked, twisting the stick so Johnny had to bend unwillinglyto easethe pain that shot through his wrist. "But don't worry." He released the younger man, who stumbled, cradling his wrist to his body. "I'll take care of that." Doom turned on his heel and left, but not before striking his former employee across the face with the walking aid.
Johnny waited until the door was closed and the footsteps had died away, before he let himself cry. His wrist felt as though it was on fire and not in the good way,whilst his head was throbbing from where Doom had struck him. He bit his lip as the pain in his wrist seemed to intensify, and didn't even realize how hard he had until he tasted the blood in his mouth. Spitting it out he tried to calm himself; the others would find him soon. They had to, otherwise… His thoughts trailed off. What had Doom meant when he'd said that he'd wanted him. What did Johnny have that Doom could possibly want? Johnny shuddered. He didn't want to think about it. Whatever it was, Johnny knew Doom would take it, and there'd be nothing Johnny could do to stop him, not alone anyway. A fresh wave of tears and hopelessness overcame him as realization began to dawn, if the othersdidn't find him soon... he'd never get out of here alive.