"It is, moreover, only in the state of complete abandonment and loneliness that we experience the helpful powers of our own natures." - C.G. Jung
Emma craved stillness, stillness and silence. Her empathy and telepathy were noticeably stronger. Whatever these doctors were doing to her it was changing her, strengthening her powers but loosening her control over them. She could pull the names of the drugs from the thoughts of the doctors that "treated" her but without any medical training she really had no idea what their purpose was for her… or any of them. Everything around her in this place was motion and emotion, a discordant symphony of the myriad thoughts of the captives around her.
It grated on her nerves.
She almost missed the cocky mutant that the guards called Gambit. His relentless chatter was a welcome distraction that made it easier to block out the cacophony that was like a persistent buzzing in her mind.
But she hadn't seen, heard nor felt him since he'd boasted that he planned to escape. None of them were sure how he'd done it. He was just missing from his cell. The rumor was that he had made it. Or maybe they just need to believe that, she thought cynically.
Without his presence, the facility was more somber and oppressive. For all his swaggering talk his mind was refreshingly stoic, a stark contrast to the boy who was imprisoned next to her. She observed him now. His pale, lithe form, clothed in the orange uniform they all wore, was kept mostly immobile by the flexible straps that secured him to his cell. His platinum blond hair looked white in the dimness. When he fidgeted, as he often did, he looked like a flickering light in the darkness.
Pietro, she knew, was this mutant's name. His power was super speed and his thoughts moved as fast as he did, a dizzying whirlwind of streaming consciousness that she could barely understand. She could catch a fraction of his thoughts if she concentrated but the rapid pace of his mind gave her a headache.
She sighed. He was at it again.
He was trashing, bucking against his restraints to try and build the momentum to break free. Even though she wasn't focusing her power on him, even though he hardly said a word, he was the loudest thing around. His emotions projected unconsciously and he was restless… irritatingly so.
Emma stood and began to pace the small space allowed to her. She turned away from Pietro and before she'd taken a step a spike of anger hit her, making her wince. She halted. She could feel him glaring at her, eyes boring into her back as though daring her to turn around. He was upset at being restrained, that she could move and he couldn't.
The sound of the cage rattling signaled that he had redoubled his efforts to break free. Emma continued pacing, she was bitter or maybe the people around her were so bitter that it drowned out what she was really feeling. She wrapped her arms around her waist even as she berated herself for the protective gesture. If her own mind couldn't slow the inflow of thoughts and emotions, her arms most certainly wouldn't do the job.
A strange emotion drifted to her. She tried to guess at what it was. Pride? Hope? She looked around, halting her steps and again glanced at Pietro to see his face sporting a grin. It unnerved her. What had he done? She noticed a thin plastic tube dangling near him, dripping a clear liquid onto the floor. Had he been drugged this whole time? If this was how he acted when sedated she couldn't imagine the tempest he would be at full capacity.
Whatever he'd just dislodged must have been monitored because a machine started a quiet beeping, alerting the doctors no doubt. It wouldn't be long before someone came to investigate. Pietro cursed and struggled again, his panic rising. She could feel it. Emma grew worried as she came to the alarming conclusion that she had no choice but to feel it.
She looked up as the door opened. Two guards entered, armed and angry. Pietro's worry combining with her own, she watched warily as they marched hurriedly passed her cell to stand in front of his.
Pietro narrowed his eyes with recognition. He knew what was coming and it spelled trouble. She watched in mute fear as one guard raised a tranquilizer gun while the other pulled out his keys and began to open the cell. It opened with a menacing creak and Emma noticed that the room had silenced as everyone focused on the current scene.
Pietro smirked, masking the fear she felt coming from him with bravado.
"What's so funny, freak?" the guard said, venom in his voice. A vicious glee came from this one. He wanted to hurt someone and was just waiting for the excuse to do it.
"I was thinking that Gambit might have some company soon." Pietro taunted.
A snarl twisted the guard's features and one of his hands swiftly grabbed Pietro by the hair, his angry glare meeting Pietro's ice blue one exactly. Apparently, these guards didn't like being reminded of the humiliating slight that resulted from having a mutant slip out on their watch.
"Well you might be right, mutie," he ground the words out harshly, "'cause Gambit's dead. After his little stunt, we put him down Old Yeller style behind the utility shed." The words were meant to hurt and they did their job, despair and fury closed in from all around her. She couldn't tell if he was lying. She only hoped so.
Without allowing him a chance for a response, he wrenched Pietro's head to the side, pulled a spare tranquilizer dart from his belt and ferociously jabbed it into the boy's neck.
Emma screamed. Not from the sight but from the tidal wave of pain that erupted through her wide open empathy. She clutched at her own neck, stumbling back against the bars of her cell as Pietro's assault became hers as well.
He was bleeding, hurting badly, but the drug was doing its work. His head lolled towards his chest and she could feel him struggle to stay afloat, stay himself, as the sedative tried to drag him into unconsciousness. Pietro let out a quick breath that might have been a laugh.
"Got nothin' to say?" the guard mocked, removing the dart in one cruel yank and releasing his hold on the young mutant while his partner lowered his gun, taking a cautious glance around.
With great effort Pietro managed to raise his head. He looked the guard square in the face, unflinchingly, and spat on him.
Emma felt a surge of respect for his bravery that was purely her own just to have it interrupted by the building rage of the guard. Things were about to go from bad to worse.
The back of the guard's hand struck Pietro's face with a sharp crack. His head spun with the force of the blow and as his face turned towards her for a moment she gazed into his unfocused eyes and she saw him as though in slow motion. A droplet of blood hung from his lips before dripping down to join the IV fluid on the floor. His tongue darted out to touch the wound. He didn't deserve this. She wanted this to stop, didn't want to feel him hurting. But the guard wasn't done with him yet.
He buried his fist into Pietro's stomach. He doubled over as much as he could while restrained, but Emma crumpled to the dirty cement floor, gasping. What kind of drug did they inject him with? It slowed him down but did nothing to block out these agonizing sensations. It didn't numb.
Why couldn't she shut it off? She clenched her fists, cursing the tear that escaped and rolled down her cheek. Why couldn't she block them out? She felt everything. She was beginning to shake from the fear and anger that crashed against her in waves and threatened to wash her away. The negative emotions were always the strongest, buffeting violently inside her head. It hurt, everything hurt. But to the guards, this wasn't about the pain. They were sending a message, to Pietro and all of the mutants: no one gets out. There is no escape.
"Fuck...you," Pietro muttered rebelliously through labored breaths. The subject of his sentence cut off any further insult as a punch impacted with the mutant's temple, hard enough to make Emma's vision blur.
Emma shut her eyes. She couldn't bear to watch as they continued to beat him. She didn't have to… She suffered each blow and the sick satisfaction that came from the men delivering them.
She craved stillness.