Disclaimer: I do not own the Fantastic Four and any other characters you may or may not recognise from the film, tv show and comic book franchise. SG and Sofia are mine; so don't try telling me otherwise!
Author's note: My apologies to those who were expecting a speedy rewrite. I have just been completely overloaded with coursework but six hours ago I completed it all and wrote this beauty. It's half term and so I think you'll be seeing a lot of me over the next week (or maybe not, I do have a social life to uphold). I hope you enjoy this chapter!
Ben never did like the idea of comas.
They were too unpredictable; he knew that from the television…and Reed. Sometimes the person woke up within days, other times they didn't wake up for months or years. Ben tried hard not to think of the other possibility but it slunk around the back of his mind tauntingly. She might never wake up. Some people died in comas, some people were just stuck in a persistent vegetative state for the rest of their lives. But that won't happen to Alicia, she's strong, she'll pull through. Ben looked down at his girlfriend. The doctors still had no idea what the mystery gas was that had invaded her lungs and put her in such a state.
It had been almost a month since the Von Doom Towers incident or VDTI as Johnny had dubbed it (Ben would never understand his love of naming things) and things had taken a drastic turn for the Fantastic Four - well at least for Ben and Johnny anyway. Sue and Reed couldn't be happier. They were blissfully unaware of everything but each other and their son. Ben understood their need to play 'Happy Families' but it bugged him to see the two of them so happy when everything around them was slowly crumbling. Ben wondered if they noticed he had spent the night at the hospital again, it was the seventh night in a row. He had reassured a mildly worried Sue that he would be home for dinner but then he thought he saw Alicia move and spent the next five hours scrutinizing her for movement. Every time he tried to leave the room something pulled him back.
The door to the room opened and Ben looked up. He looked startled to see his best friend poke his head round the door.
"Hi," Reed said softly. Ben nodded a greeting and looked at Alicia. Reed stepped inside the room.
"How's she doing?" Reed asked.
"No change," Ben muttered. Reed nodded sympathetically and picked up the folder at the end of Alicia's bed. Ben watched as he flipped through it, mumbling to himself absent-mindedly as he scanned the pages.
"Have they tried giving her a dopaminergic agent yet?"
"Started yesterday. Doesn't seem to be working."
"She'll pull through-" Reed began to say but Ben cut him off.
Reed put the chart back and sat down in an empty chair next to Ben.
"You didn't come home yesterday," Reed stated lightly.
"Were you worried?" Ben asked with a slight smirk. Reed smiled slightly.
"A little," he admitted. "Sue and I think you need to rest."
"I wanna be here when she wakes up," Ben feebly protested.
"But what's the use if you've collapsed from exhaustion?"
"I'm not tired. I do actually go to sleep when I'm here."
"You're not eating properly," Reed said in a slightly more serious tone.
"Yeah I am. The lady who runs the canteen is pretty nice, she always brings me a decent meal."
"Ben, listen to me. You can't stay here all the time, at least come home for a few hours," Reed said begged. His concern for his friend was suddenly more apparent.
"I can't-" Ben started.
"Yes you can. A few hours won't kill you."
"What if something happens?"
"The hospital will call," Reed said firmly. Ben stared at Alicia trying to think of another reason to stay.
"Just a few hours," Reed added. Ben tore his eyes away from his girlfriend and looked down at his best friend.
"Okay," he said slowly and quietly. Reed resisted a triumphant smile and slapped his friend on the back encouragingly before slowly leading him out of the room.
The next morning was just like any other morning in the middle of August. Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and warmth knowing there was not long left until autumn would take over; everyone that is but Johnny Storm.
"We're out of milk."
The expectations behind the statement were so blunt and typical Johnny that Sue just had to roll her eyes. She looked at her brother standing beside the open fridge with an empty carton of milk in his hand.
"I brought some yesterday," Johnny protested as he slammed the door shut earning him a glare from Sue and a curious glance from Franklin.
"Ben came home last night, he was hungry," Sue explained as she offered a bottle to her son. Johnny's face contorted between a mix of anger and joy. For a moment he considered bounding off to Ben's room to wake him up when realisation washed over him. He frantically pulled open the nearest cupboard and grabbed a cereal box. He looked inside and was horrified at the sight that greeted him.
"Language!" Sue said sharply and gestured with her eyes towards her son. Johnny ignored her.
"He ate all my cereal!" he continued and threw the box angrily across the room. Sue caught it with a force field and dropped it in the bin. Johnny slumped down in a chair beside his sister at the dining table. He looked at his sister.
"What?" she asked without looking at him.
"We're outta milk and cereal," he said calmly, all traces of his previous outburst gone.
"And what do you want me to do about it?" she asked as if she was completely unaware of what her brother was asking her. Johnny looked at her blankly.
"Go get some," he said bluntly. Sue ignored him and continued to feed her son. When it became apparent to Johnny that she wasn't going to get up and run to the nearest supermarket any time soon he let out a loud sigh.
"Fine, I'll get it then," he huffed and marched out of the room.
"Could you get some coffee?" she called after him.
"No," came the angry reply. Sue chuckled.
She sat, baby in her arms, quietly for a while watching Franklin suckle greedily on the bottle he had attempted to wrap his arms around. They continued like that for a minute before Franklin decided he had had enough and promptly let go the bottle. Sue placed the bottle on the table and began to burp him. It was as she carried out the procedure that she noticed a cream envelope lying on the counter next to the spot where Johnny had exploded only minutes before.
She was not surprised to see it there. She stood up, still gently patting Franklin on the back, and walked over to it. As she had expected her name was written neatly on the front. She picked it up with a force field and carried it with her on her way to the nursery.
By the time she reached the newly decorated room Franklin had already let out a healthy yet disgustingly loud burp. She put the baby in a rocker and grabbed the letter from her force field. She quickly opened it and read the note within.
I think the time has come for us to meet again. Three weeks is a long time to be without the one you love. I know the last time we met you insisted you had a husband (whom I know you do not love) and you had given birth to his child and that meant we could never be together. I believe we can work around all these obstacles; you just have to trust me.
I can help you Susan.
I know you find it hard to believe but I have the answers to all your problems and every problem you will ever face for the rest of your life. You are simply too divine to waste your time wallowing with a so-called-scientist like Reed Richards. He does not care for you the way I do. The little love he has for you he cannot even express. I think my letters to you are proof enough that I can give you more than Richards ever can. You can only fool yourself for so long my dear, he doesn't care enough about you.
Till next time
As usual the letter was not signed, it wasn't the first unsigned letter she had received since the 'incident' either. Letters from SG had become a daily thing; she would be surprised if she did not receive one. Sighing she slipped the letter into her pocket and smiled at Franklin.
"Who's a good boy? Oh you are, yes you are!"
Johnny had never thought the time would come when he would hate being famous. But it had come, and far too quickly for his liking. He stood in the lobby by the lift, watching the crowd with a ghostly look on his face. The Lobby's usual occupants, Jimmy and Barbara, were all watching him curiously. He had been fine talking to reporters and fans up until the week before in which a VDTI survivor claimed they had seen him 'cruelly slaughter' an 'innocent worker' to aggravate her 'loving, hard-working and loyal boyfriend'. The story had received very little media attention and was dismissed as a moneymaking scheme rather than a controversial exposé. Of course Johnny was glad but it highly resembled an all too familiar story he was hoping to forget. Admittedly it was the same story, Johnny would just have worded it differently: 'Human Torch executes woman to save the life of the woman he loves'.
"They're waiting for you," a familiar voice said tauntingly. Johnny froze.
"They wanna know the truth," the voice continued. Johnny's eyes flickered to Jimmy and Barbara; they were still watching him warily, pretending to be occupied with other things. He didn't blame them, the last time he went down to the lobby, he had screamed 'fuck off bitch' and then promptly gone back to the penthouse. If they knew he was talking to her then they would understand. Slowly and reluctantly Johnny turned around.
There she was. Sofia Wallace, in all her glory. She stood behind him; her back was propped up on the wall. She was admiring her nails. On her last visit she told him she was grateful she'd had them done right before VDTI; otherwise she'd have to deal with shit-looking nails till the end of time.
"Not now," he whispered, glancing consciously over his shoulder.
"You busy?" she asked.
"Kinda," he mumbled.
"Oh dear," she said with mock sympathy. "Did it ever occur to you I might have plans?" When Johnny didn't answer she continued. "My mother was supposed to fly in tonight. She'd been waiting for this trip since forever, it's not everyday you get to get an all-expenses paid trip to New York City…she was so excited. I think she's more sad that she doesn't get to finally go on a plane than the fact that I'm dead."
Johnny stared down at his shoes. She'd come to send him on another lengthy guilt trip.
"You wanna know why I'm leaning against the wall?" she asked. Johnny didn't reply, he knew she was going to tell him anyway.
"I can't hold my head up," she whispered. Johnny closed his eyes, now he knew what was coming.
"Look at me," Sofia commanded. When Johnny didn't do as she asked she repeated the order, only louder. Reluctantly Johnny looked up at her. Sofia stepped forward, leaving the support of the wall. Her head lolled to one side in an awkward and inhuman position.
"It's like I have no frickin' bones in my neck," she moaned.
"Shut up," Johnny growled and then reluctantly added, "I broke your neck, there are still bones in there."
Sofia's eyes narrowed.
"You think I'm overreacting? You murdered me."
Her words made Johnny flinch; his automatic reaction was to hit her with a witty, yet offensive comeback.
"Then die already! Why are you still here?" he shouted. "Don't you have somewhere else to be? Pearly gates to visit and all that shit…or did they reject you? Not 'innocent' and 'hard-working' enough for them?" If Johnny was honest it was probably not the best comeback he'd ever come up with but it was better than nothing. Sofia stuttered for a moment.
"You see all these people?" She gestured to the doors. "They're gonna find out the truth."
Johnny raised one eyebrow.
"You'd be surprised at what I can do Storm. You think you're safe? Think again bitch," she hissed. Johnny ignored the fact that he had just been called a bitch by a dead woman and rolled his eyes.
"Go to hell,' he said loudly and marched out of the Baxter Building, through the endless crowds and paparazzi.
As he pushed through the crowds Sofia's threat echoed through his head. He had a feeling she was going to see her threat through. He stopped suddenly as it hit him. The paparazzi were going wild; it was the first glimpse of Johnny Storm in over a week. Fans were screaming desperately but Johnny ignored them as an ominous feeling of dread rose within him.
A/N: Maybe now you can see why I chose to rewrite this…okay so maybe you probably can't because you don't know what I have planned for this story but I promise you it's for a good reason. Johnny was too happy for my liking, I didn't exactly want him to be a tortured soul type thing but I wanted him to be feeling the repercussions of his actions…so now he is haunted by his victim's ghost.
If you enjoyed it, which I know you did (and even if you didn't) then REVIEW! Actually…if you didn't like it then don't review but I would appreciate some CONSTRUCTIVE criticism.