Disclaimer: I don't own Dr. Deborah Risman or Colonel Nick Fury.


Dr. Deborah Risman paced up and down the small room at Shield-Headquarters, taking expectant looks at her reflection in what was in all likely-hood a two-way mirror. Her hair was put up in a messy bun and dark roots were beginning to show in her once glossy blond mane, she didn't have make-up to hide the dark circles under her eyes and the overall dullness of her skin, in short she looks horrible.

A small snort escapes the Doctor as she realises that she is worried about her complexion when she really should have been worried about why she has been brought into yet another interrogation room.

When she first came to Shield after her defection from HYDRA Dr. Risman had half-way expected to continue her work with X23 once she was in Shield custody or at least do some-sort of research as Shield was looking to reinstate their meta-human program since the existence of mutants had become public knowledge, but that hadn't been the case. Instead she was 'questioned' about the HYDRA hierarchy and other possible super-soldier projects the criminal organisation might have been involved in.

But the interrogations had become less and less over the last couple of weeks and so she was surprised when the guards dragged her out of the cell this morning and brought her to this room. Dr. Risman didn't ask them why they did it. She'd given up asking them weeks ago, when one of the guards snarled at her that if it were up to him she would be shot.

The man was a father of four and found the thought of what Dr. Risman had done in the name of science is absolutely vile and never lets a chance go by without telling her so.

But there wasn't a doubt in Dr. Risman's mind that something important must have happened otherwise she would still be in her cell, unable to sleep and dying of boredom. Maybe they had captured X23. Maybe she would finally be allowed to continue her work. Maybe…

"Hello, Dr. Risman." the Director of Shield said as he entered the room.

"Colonel Fury."

"Today X23 attacked a Hydra base in an effort to kill Madame Hydra … She didn't make it back alive."

"What?" Deborah stammered. "No, that's not possible! Her healing factor makes her almost immortal."

"Almost." Colonel Fury emphasised. "Almost immortal. I doubt even she could have survived that explosion."

"Was there a body found?"

"Why do you want to do the autopsy?" Fury scoffed.

"No! But if …"

"She didn't survive the explosion. And if she had Logan's nose would have known." Colonel Fury said firmly.

At that moment all colour faded from Dr. Risman's face and for a moment – that seemed like and eternity – she found herself unable to breath.

X23 was dead.

When HYDRA approached her fifteen years ago she had been a promising young geneticist whom had been frustrated by the limitations international law put on her work and her initial doubts about making the proverbial – or literal? – deal with the devil were quickly washed away once she got a good look at the genetic code HYDRA wanted to use to create their perfect assassin.

The individual possessing that particular genetic code have superhumanly keen senses, be stronger, faster and more durable than any average human could ever hope to be and in addition to these already astonishing trades this person would have a regenerative power dubbed the 'healing factor' that would heal any wound almost instantaneously. It was this last ability that fascinated Dr. Risman to no end. If she could find a way to splice this particular genetic sequence into every other human being on the planet she could literally wipe disease and even death from the face of the planet.

It was an offer to good to pass up.

Deborah convinced herself that she could 'sacrifice' one person for HYDRA if it meant that she could save countless others, however her involvement in the re-creation of weapon X didn't remain purely scientific.

The first couple of clones didn't survive the first month of gestation due to the damage of the Y-chromosome in the original DNA. To avoid that problem, Risman simply doubled the X-chromosome meaning that the resulting 'clone' would be female. But even then most of the clones didn't make it past the first trimester.

It took her months to figure out that even with if she doubled the X-chromosome gaps remained in the genetic due to the damage of the DNA sample as a whole. In order to stabilise the clones these gaps would have to be filled. In the end she used her own DNA that was also the main reason why she was chosen as the surrogate mother for the twenty-third embryo she and her team had created.

Even at this point Deborah had only been driving by her own selfish pursuit of knowledge and the Doctor wasn't really sure when that changed. Was it when she first felt the child inside her kick? Was it when her breast started to hurt and produce milk when the X23 cried?

She truly didn't know, but somehow her views did change.

She caught herself wanting to console X23 when she cried, to play with her instead of letting her run through combat simulations. Deborah finally found a way to become closer to the young clone through her 'education' when she could sit close to the girl her arms around her while she read Pinocchio instead of the Art of War like she was supposed to.

Even gave the girl a name – Laura.

Albeit she had always been careful not to speak the name out loud, she had slipped once but X23 just seemed to be confused by it and her colleagues – thankfully – hadn't noticed.

Now she wishes that she had used that name more often.

"… So Shield will close the book on this one. But since Madame Hydra was only one of HYDRA's heads – so to speak – you will remain in Shield's protective custody. Do you understand? Dr. Risman?"

Deborah inhaled sharply before she turned to Colonel Fury. "Yes."

"Good. The guards will take you back to your room."

Deborah nodded meekly before the guards came in and took her back to her 'room'. Once she was there she collapsed onto her small bed and cried. Not because all her hard work was undone, not because she wouldn't get the chance to wipe out death and disease but for the loss of the daughter she had failed at every turn.

A.N.: So what do you think? Please let me know. Thanks. ;)