A Stolen Season

A Stolen Season - Part Eleven

by Khaki

For Disclaimers, etc. see part one.

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POV: Rogue

Kitty had her baby yesterday. It's a boy. James Benjamin Drake, 8 pounds 1 ounce, 20 inches long.

Bobby's couldn't be prouder. He keeps passing out sticks, telling people to pretend they're cigars since we don't have any in the camp. Well, I take that back. I happen to know Logan has a few hidden away, but Bobby'll only get them over his dead body and Logan's a tough guy to kill.

I still can't believe they're all alive. Over these past two weeks, I've caught myself several times just watching everyone walking around the camp. Talking, joking, laughing, crying. My family. I'd never dreamed I'd see them again.

Logan had been so sure they were dead. They weren't breathing, had no heartbeats, even smelled like death. We mourned them, but we had to move on. We had to keep living.

Now, they're all here. Well, most of them are. Some of the children that were taken with Scott didn't survive.

I remember thinking when we were finally taken that the three months we'd spent alone had been time that Logan and I had stolen from the government, three extra months to be together before we died. Now, I realize that the summer was actually stolen from us. We had to spend three months mourning our family, searching for the survivors, and running from those who hoped to capture Logan. The lucky ones were the people who "died."

One minute, they were in the mansion, and the next minute, they were in a tube full of some sort of preserving solution. Those three months passed as easily as a heartbeat for them, while those who remained suffered through three months of sadness and uncertainty, and in Scott's case, three months of living hell.

At first, no one understood what had happened. When I finally woke up from my fainting spell, everyone who'd died at the mansion was either standing over me, milling around the room, or hanging out in the hallway outside. It almost made me want to faint again.

For a moment, I wondered if it was a dream, if Logan hadn't really touched me and I was still dying on the floor. I even thought that maybe I was already dead. But it didn't feel like a dream, and the strong Logan presence in my mind eliminated all doubts that I might not have survived. This was reality.

Everyone assumed I knew what happened because I wasn't with them, in a tube down in the lower levels of the complex. Unfortunately, the only person that could answer their questions couldn't speak. She could barely breathe.

It took Jean and Hank a half hour to stabilize our human savior, and then they shooed us out of the white room while they performed emergency surgery. Logan'd gotten her good with his claws. He'd punctured her lung and cut a few vital blood vessels. It took time, but they finally put her back together. Still, she wasn't in any condition to answer questions so we had to piece things together on our own.

Once Jean assured me that Logan was going to be ok, I left him on a bed in the white room and did a little exploring. Scott and the other kidnapped mutants hadn't shown up, and I needed to try and find them.

The humans strewn throughout the complex seemed dead at first glance, but they were still alive. If I knelt down beside them, stayed very still, and listened carefully, I could hear the occasional heartbeat. It was real slow, though. So slow it's no wonder Logan didn't notice it with the mutants at the mansion. They're barely there, balanced on a razor's edge between life and death. There was no one else around, and for a second, I was tempted to nudge a few of them off the razor. I pushed that urge aside, though, and kept up my search. I satisfied myself with taking their wallets. You never know when you'll need cash.

Logan's senses can come in really handy when you're trying to track someone down, and after walking every corridor in the complex, I could definitively say that if Scott had ever been in this building, it was too long ago to detect. That meant that he was being kept somewhere else.

Jean didn't react too well when I came back with that bit of news. I'd told her that Scott had been captured when she'd asked me why he wasn't in the tanks with the rest of them. I didn't go into details, but just the thought of Scott in the hands of heartless killers like these humans was frightening her almost beyond reason.

If we had Cerebro, the Professor could've found him in a minute, but we were hours away from the mansion and the computer had been destroyed months ago anyway. The Professor thought maybe the human woman might have some ideas on where he'd been taken, and after getting Hank and Jean's permission, he psychically linked with her.

Her name's Elizabeth, and she answered a lot of questions about what had happened to us, but didn't know anything specific about Scott. As it is, the whole story sounds like a bad science fiction movie. Miniature robots were implanted in our bodies by Big Brother, meant to kill or paralyze us depending on whether our mutation could be harnessed for their uses or not. Because of Elizabeth's inference, the tiny robots instead feigned those symptoms in us and kept the "dead" in suspended animation, their health maintained by a mainframe computer.

In fact, no one had aged except for Kitty. Because of the baby, she'd been flooded by nanos to keep her body alive and the baby developing while, to all outward signs besides the size of her belly, she was dead. When I think about it, it's kinda freaky to be so completely controlled by machines. She's been laughing it off, saying she didn't have to experience the last, most uncomfortable months of her pregnancy, but I know she's upset.

The only reason the bodies weren't autopsied, experimented on, or disposed of was that the government was more interested in perfecting the mechanism of capturing mutants nationwide than spending time on the mutants they'd killed. To prevent the bodies from decaying, however, each one was placed in a separate tube that was filled with chemical preservatives. Because of their hidden programming, however, the nanos used that environment to sustain life not just preserve death.

Even with all these answers, we still didn't know where Scott was being kept. Wherever he was, he should be released now, like the rest of us, but he wouldn't know how to find us.

Kitty was the one who eventually found him. She had accessed the computer network while the rest of us had searched the compound. Mutant weren't named on the database, but Scott's abilities were unique enough that she could figure out who he was by a description of his mutant abilities. There aren't many mutants out there who have eyes that can shoot concussive blasts, but can't control them because of a old brain injury. He was being kept in a facility in Ohio of all places.

She found the other children who'd been taken with him, too, but only two were still listed as viable, one in California and one in Idaho. The rest had been disposed of. When I heard that, I couldn't help but see Logan's memory of them, crying in the back of that van. They had been stolen from us and taken to their deaths.

We had to go after the survivors, and we only had a week to do it. The professor mentally called everyone together and we left the facility, Hank carrying Logan, Jean and Ororo carrying Elizabeth on a stretcher, and Bobby carrying the professor. There weren't any planes so we had to settle for the trucks we'd been brought in.

Riding in the back of one of those trucks again, Logan laying unconscious with his head in my lap, was unsettling to say the least. I don't think it's been a full day since we'd been in this same position, riding towards out deaths. This time, though, I had my family around me, and just their presence helped tremendously. An ache in my heart that I didn't even realize I had, eased and faded now that I knew they were alive.

It took us over a day to reach Ohio, driving straight through, the wallets I'd swiped coming in handy for food and gas. When we reached the base, though, it appeared abandoned, the only remaining occupants were unconscious humans lying where they'd fallen. However, Jean assured us that Scott was still there.

She'd regained contact with him during the night and had been almost hysterical with tears. Logan had woken up to her joyful screaming and panicked. He'd grabbed me around the waist and tried to get us out of the speeding truck. He's much stronger than me so I couldn't stop him physically. Instead, I started talking, telling him to look at and smell who we were travelling with, explaining that they weren't dead after all and we were safe.

Now that we'd reached our destination, Logan and Jean lead us right to Scott. He was trapped. An attack vehicle of some sort had been built around him, confining him to the frame. It only took a minute for Logan to cut him out, but when he got to the mechanism over his face, Scott screamed at him to stop.

Logan had said, "Just close your eyes, Cyke. Jeanie's got a pair of glasses for ya." We'd picked up several pairs of glasses and a few other bare essentials on our way out of New York.

"I can't!" Scott cried.

Jean went to him, wrapping her arms around him where he was still trapped in the wreckage, and then told everyone in no uncertain terms to back off.

We did, waiting in the hallway until she came back and asked for Logan and Hank. Logan to help carefully extract Scott from the rest of the metal frame, and Hank to help her with the surgery.

I found out later why Scott couldn't close his eyes, and it makes me want to go back and kill every last one of those human guards that I'd stepped over but left unharmed. Scott can't control his optic blasts. They used that fact against him, paralyzing him and building a machine around him, turning him into a living weapon. They built an eye covering that they could control, opening it whenever they wanted to shoot at something. In order to prevent Scott from resisting and closing his eyes, they... Uh, I can't even think of this without wanting to punch something... They removed his eyelids.

Jean and Hank took Scott up to one of the operating rooms and performed corrective surgery right then and there. They used the ruby quartz, laser thin, protective contacts to cover his eyeballs, then they used skin grafts to create new eyelids for him. Once they were done, we used the plane we found at this larger base to go and retrieve the two remaining kids before leaving the United States forever.

Scott got the bandages off a few days before Kitty delivered, and it seems to have worked. He's different, though. He won't talk about what happened to him, and I don't really blame him. No one really understands what he went through, except maybe Logan when he got his metal skeleton. Wait, now that I think of it, I have seen Scott and Logan alone outside of camp. They don't seem to be talking, just sitting together in quiet companionship, but maybe that's enough for now.

"Whatcha doin'?"

I turn around and Logan's standing there, looking at me with curiosity. I must've been too lost in my thoughts to hear him approach.

"Just thinking."

"'Bout what?"

"Stuff."

He sits down next to me, obviously waiting for a more specific answer.

"About what's happened to us over the past few months, mostly."

"Hey," he says, putting an arm around me and pulling me close. "We're gonna be ok. We're all together now."

"I know, and we're safe for a little while. At least 'til the Aussies figure out we're here."

"Outback's a big place," he answers, "although why we couldn't have just gone to Canada..." My laughter interrupts him, and he says, "What?"

"The big, bad Wolverine can't take the heat, huh?"

"Hey, it's hot enough to cook stuff out here, and my clothes ain't exactly made for this weather."

"Well then, use those claws and make yourself some cutoffs, or I guess you could go shirtless."

"Nah... don't want my wife to wear herself out."

"What?"

"From beating away all the women when I walk around shirtless."

I just shake my head. "Cute."

"You comin' back to camp?"

"In a little bit... Logan, do you ever think we'll go back to America."

"Maybe, what with all the trouble Magneto's causin' could be sooner than later. Bet they didn't figure on a guy who could control metals when they made those little nano things. Why? Do you wanna go back?"

"I don't know. Maybe. Why can't humans just accept us for who we are?"

"I dunno, baby. Why do you need their acceptance?"

Hm... I'll have to think about that one. For now, though, I think I'll spend my time with people that I know love me for who I am. I stand up from the rock I've been sitting on and pull Logan up with me.

"C'mon. Let's go back," I say, putting an arm around my husband. Back to my camp, back to my home, back to my family.

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Awww, sappy ending again? What's wrong with me? I guess you could call that an un-character death.