Title: Poison (1 of ?)
Date: May 8, 2007
Author: Wolf CrescentWalker
Email: wolf755 at hotmail dot com
Rating: NC-17 (overall)
Summary: Rogue's life spins out of control after taking the cure, but it affects others in even more dramatic ways, especially Logan. Sex, violence, claws, vulgar language, religious issues, medical stuff.
Characters: Rogue, Logan, Bobby, Storm, Toad, Magneto, Hank, Mystique, Jubilee, Kitty, Piotr; any others in minor roles; three original characters: Mike, Niji and Ciji.
Category: Drama/Angst, with an occasional foray into smut.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, their universe, or the whole mutant concept. I just make my stories for fun, not for profit.
Archive: wrbeta. Others, please ask.
Spoilers/Continuity: X3 to post-X3
Genre: 90 Movieverse
Author's Notes: I usually don't beta, but I did get help with this one in it's early stages. Jaq of Spades gave me criticism that helped a lot. Lovey from the Bronze Alternative posting board (BuffytVS) gave me a smoother chunk of dialogue that I was struggling over. My beloved cousin Nero gave me a killer mangled cliche-of-a-quote that is 'so' Logan. See if you can find it. Virtually beta-less, thus any mistakes found are authentic.
Chapter One: "Storms and Strategies"
Summary: Rogue has a rude awakening, while Magneto hatches a plan.
"I didn't want this." Bobby half-heartedly placed his fingertips inside Rogue's open hand. Her skin felt like everyone else's - warm, smooth, a little damp in the center of the palm.
"But I did." She grasped the cool fingers, sensing a tremor. Was it desire that made him tremble? Nerves? Anger?
"It's just... you know what Storm said about..." Bobby hedged his words, running his other hand through his cropped hair, as if the gesture alone would pull his thoughts into order. Rogue felt his skin starting to chill, as he always did under stress.
"Storm doesn't kill people with a handshake. I understand all the political stances and the 'opinions' people have been tossing around, but everything changes when you want a normal life as badly as I do. I would've thought you, of all people, would understand that." She hesitated two seconds. "You, and Logan."
Rogue saw Bobby's jaw tighten at the mention of Logan's name, then he continued rapidly and in a flat voice, "It's just that Storm says it's a sell-out, supporting the concept that mutants are diseased somehow, when we're not. We both know that, but you..." He faltered.
"I what, Bobby? I made a choice? I fell off the mutant pedestal that Storm built underneath us? Eric is still lecturing inside my head, saying we're somehow superior. Storm says we're normal. Society treats us like freaks. But we're not any of those things. We're more... and less... and different, somehow. I've worked my ass off for months trying to grab control of my mutation with not one moment of success, but now..."
Bobby cut her off with a raised hand. "How could you just do it? How could you trust them not to try eliminating all of us with some kind of toxic injection instead of a real cure? You should have waited. You should have talked to me about it."
"Talked to you? You mean I should have asked your permission to make decisions about my own body? Asked your opinion about trying to give myself a normal life? What should I have talked to you about, Bobby? I wanted to talk to you about lots of things before I left, but you were busy." Rogue realized she had unwittingly withdrawn her hand from his, and stuffed her hands in her pockets.
"Oh, just for instance... the night you killed all the water lilies in the fountain by freezing them. That's one good example."
"That was for Kitty. She was homesick. We wanted to skate.'
Footsteps in the hallway broke the tension momentarily, until Storm appeared in the open door.
"Sorry if I'm interrupting, but I heard you were back, Rogue. Everything all right?" Storm gave them both a soft smile.
"No, it's not all right," Bobby interjected quickly. "She took the cure." He spat the last word as if it were a curse, and Rogue saw Storm's expression fall instantly.
"Oh no..." Storm barely breathed the words. "Oh, Rogue..."
"Shut up, Bobby - you don't know anything!" Rogue screeched at him, her patience gone. Storm stepped into the room and reached a comforting hand toward Rogue who instinctively back-stepped in defense. There hadn't been enough time to change her reflexes when it came to a touch.
"Leave me alone, both of you! You don't live in my body, you don't live my life, and neither one of you were invited in here, so just leave me alone!" She shouted the last words in a rage. Bobby and Storm were hardly back in the hallway before Rogue slammed and locked the door in their faces.
Toad hesitantly regarded the slim vial of vaccine lying at the center of the table, positioned midway between himself, Pyro, and Magneto who lightly, lovingly stroked the fingers of his left hand against the smooth metal surface of the table. Toad felt almost hypnotized by the movement, but with a shake of his head drew his attention back to the vial.
"That's it? That's the almighty mutant cure? Hmph."
"That, my friend, is indeed the 'cure', as they would have us call it. Poison, I call it - a tiny, potent weapon intended to exterminate us all." Eric's fingertips continued to glide in small, intricate spirals, paying little heed to the other mutants beside him as his mind reeled back to the moment when the vaccine injector vials had pierced his clothing, rendering him useless, neutered, powerless.
The term left a bad taste in it's wake. And it had been Beast and Wolverine who had delivered the death knell to his powers through their tactics of distraction, and needles into his chest.
But he still had weapons: his mind, his leadership skills, his devoted Brotherhood so badly diminished now in numbers, yet fiercely bonded. Nothing drew a band of rogues and rebels together more tightly than surviving a war. After the battle over the Brotherhood's attempt to destroy Worthington Lab along with Leech, the soldiers, and the X-Men who stood in their way, stragglers from the Brotherhood had started coming in from hiding. Magneto's army was once again growing. Toad had been laying low since Liberty Island, recuperating and nursing a half-hearted grudge. The three continued staring in silence at the vial, as if it were somehow holy, or a ticking bomb with no counter, about to explode.
Pyro broke the silence. "What do we do with this stuff? It's just one dose." He turned to Magneto. "You're an alpha, right? A Class Three or higher? And it took how many doses to take your mutation down? Three? Four?"
"To the best of my knowledge, the number of doses is medically irrelevant. I believe it was four doses that struck me, and I am a Class Five," Eric commented dryly, clearing his throat before correcting himself. "I was a Class Five."
"Ha! You were never a Class Five. A Three, definitely; likely a Four on your good days." Toad laughed at his former superior's arrogance, then quailed when he saw the cold expression on Magneto's face, and noted the slight movement of the elder man's right hand beneath the table and into a pocket of his jacket.
"Don't argue petty points, Toad. It's unbecoming, and it irritates me to the point of contemplating your sudden death." Toad heard the muffled but audible 'click' of a safety being released beneath the table. "I'm not as 'disabled' as you might think."
Pyro broke the tension between the two men. "So, what are we gonna do with this vial? What good is a single dose? We can only take out one person, tops."
Relaxing again, he studied the faces of his two soldiers. Toad was experienced and useful, if irreverent. Pyro, while still green, was devoted, talented, and willing to learn. He was also respectful, protective, and quite star-struck. Eric smiled benevolently upon his two soldiers and asked, "What do you do in a battle, gentlemen, when you are surrounded by several opponents, and you can neither surrender, nor negotiate?"
After several seconds of silence from the two, and with only the slightest hint of sarcasm, he continued, "Anyone?"
"Create a diversion." Pyro tossed the idea out to break the uncomfortable silence he hated.
Toad grinned. "Attack."
"Exactly." Eric graced Toad with an approving smile. "And who do you attack first?" His eyes went expectantly to Pyro.
"Their leader." Pyro recalled a martial arts flick he and Drake had watched one night, memorizing the strategies embraced by a skilled fighter. He continued, "Take down their leader, or their strongest, if you can. Gives you a better chance against the others by eliminating the greatest threat first, and by doing that, demoralizing the rest."
"Exactly." Eric half-smiled to himself, hoping that some day this boy Pyro would turn into a worthy lieutenant. It would take time to rebuild their strengths, train their newer soldiers, develop the mutant skills in the younger ones, but it would be done. With Toad having returned to the fold, and young John showing such potential and devotion, they would make the Brotherhood once again a fierce machine for mutant superiority.
Pyro sat in deep thought for several moments, then braved a radical question to no one in particular. "Why do we need a tool against other mutants now, though? What's the point? I mean, Xavier's team is pretty decimated. He's gone; Jean, Cyclops, both gone; and the older students are not worthy to wear the uniform, last time I was there. They're no threat to us right now, so who are you planning to target?" Pyro masked his own speculation about Eric's reliability and trustworthiness. John had worn a tough, unfeeling facade when Mystique had been neutralized by the vaccine, not daring to show that he was appalled at Magneto's casual dismissal of his most loyal devotee. That precise moment on the truck convoy had been a time to be a stone-hearted professional. Mystique had been abandoned, so in turn she had been doing as much damage to them as possible. Yet they survived it all and were regrouping, while she was possibly still in police custody. Eric's voice broke John's train of thought.
"Xavier's team of X-Men stood against us. They protected the very laboratory that created this vile formula," his eyes returned to the vaccine lying in the center of the table, "and thus have allowed the formula to continue existing, putting us all in danger, my brothers." He waved his hand in dismissal. "And if my information is correct, they are housing the source of the vaccine: the mutant called Leech. As long as this Leech survives, more of this vile potion can be manufactured, and even if they won't permit that, there are surely more vials just like this one in existence. Thousands were likely manufactured, perhaps more. Eventually, they will synthesize the formula, eliminate the need for Leech, and simply produce the vaccine as easily as aspirin. Then they will neuter every mutant child after the prerequisite blood test to determine that the mutant gene is present in their biochemistry." Eric's voice went soft, almost grieving in it's tone. "It will be wholesale extermination at a genetic level. Charles' X-Men didn't stop the cure from existing. They secured it's continuation." Eric rose to his feet, both hands planted firmly on the table, his voice smoothing to a sly tease. "We must eliminate the cure, gentlemen, and to do that, we must eliminate the X-Men. At this moment, we have the advantage of superior strategy and battlefield experience. And yet, they do outnumber us by body count alone. We are, as we discussed earlier, effectively surrounded by an enemy unwilling to negotiate. Thus, we must attack. And whom do we target?"
"Their strongest." Toad picked up quickly on John's suggestion. Eric nodded his agreement, then turned to John.
"And who is their strongest, you who know them all so well?"
Pyro sat in silence for a few moments, pondering the strengths and weaknesses of the few remaining experienced X-Men. "Storm's mutation is awesome, powerful, and it gives her a fantastic advantage under certain circumstances, but not all circumstances. If you erase her mutant powers, she's pretty much a whipped puppy. She's no physical threat if she gets the cure."
"So true." Eric waited patiently for John to work through his strategy.
"If you eliminate Logan's mutations, he's still a killing machine, a force to be dealt with physically. The heightened senses give him an edge, but it's a small edge. The healing factor makes him fierce in a fight, pretty much unbeatable. But even taking that away, he could kill a lot of people before we could take him down in any theoretical future battle, barring the use of a sniper at a distance." Pyro nodded to himself as if agreeing with his own thought processes. "He's a double-barrel threat, though; so eliminating half of that threat would be a big advantage against him, the most bang for our vaccine buck. A lot of the time I think he's running on adrenalin and self-confidence. Losing his regenerating mutation would make him..."
"... vulnerable on more than one level." Eric finished the thought. "And vulnerable warriors often make mistakes. They become demoralized. They become a vortex of negative potential, weakening those around them." Eric looked at Toad, then at Pyro, both smiling and smug. Toad put the question to words.
"So, who do we give the cure to, boss man?"
"Gentlemen, we take down the Wolverine."