Recovery –Well, Sort Of

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Danger looked at the three people. Cyclops spoke first.

"What's the subject's status?"

Logan look appalled.

"The subject?! She's 'the subject' now! She has a name, Summers. Use it."


"Not that name. The other one."

"Fine! How's Tora?"

"No change. If anything, she's worse."

Emma sighed.

"How bad?"

"She responded well to Speed's visit but believed him to be a therapy measure conjured up by me. In her talk with him, she revealed unsettling avocations of mutant/human separation, stating that we will never be accepted by humanity."

Logan shrugged.

"Not exactly a surprise, is it? We all know she's only regarded the X-Men as a method of holding off the impeding genocide. She's always believed that Chuck's dream was never going to work. At times, she wanted to believe it. But she never could."

Emma nodded.

"Tora has always had a fear of humans, deep down. That much I found when I was helping her from that regrettable psychic crisis. To her, humanity is what tortured and hurt her. She hides it well and I believe most of the time she has fooled even herself, but she is terrified of the humans who she believes will one day kill us all."

Scott nodded.

"Rictor was like that to begin with. Scared stiff of the humans."

Danger shook her head.

"It is not fear. It is mistrust. It is worry. It is anger. But it is not fear."

They looked at the still body.

"How long until she's…if not back to normal, then stable?"

"Unknown. Her whole psyche is breaking. I am trying to fix what does not want to be fixed. She is fighting me every step of the way."

"Why isn't she helping?!"

Logan looked upset.

"Because she doesn't want to heal. She just wants to die."

All four pairs of eyes turned to the body lying in the separate room from the main Brig. Still. Unresponsive. Unable to move. At risk if attacked.

Scott sighed.

"We can't keep her here until we're absolutely certain she's not…er…"


"Bit strong a word… Until we're sure she's Tora again. She's at risk. As soon as she's at a stable level, we'll release her but keep sending her back to stay with Danger for therapy in a virtual environment where she can't hurt anyone."

Danger looked worried.

"Her hacking skills are…as good as they always have been. As we speak, she is unconsciously trying to regain control over her sensory input. When she does, I will have no control over what she does in her virtual prison. Only her physical body will be in my control."

"It won't come to that."

"Scott? Why are you so sure?"

"Because, Emma, I know Tora. She's not going to try and take control. Because she knows that won't get her out of the Brig."

Scott looked at her one more time.

"Danger, when's she's ready…call me."

"How long…?"

"Long enough, Phoenix. Long enough."

The words…humming around her. But not from her virtual world. Not the world she had stayed in for so long. No. Outside. The real world.

"Are you sure?"

"Positive. Her mind is stable, albeit not fully healed. She isn't going to repeat the fiasco when Doom attacked."

"Are you sure?"

"Cyclops, I am not wrong."

"Sorry, Danger. It's just I'm worried. Thank you for helping with her."

"It was my pleasure."

"Dragon? Dragon, are you awake?"

She groaned.


"Don't. Call. Me. That!"

"Sorry, Tora. I'm just…no excuse…sorry…"

She felt the visor lift up and her eyes cringed in the bright light.

"How long was I out?"

"Long enough."

"How. Long."

"Calm down, Tora."


"Almost a month."

Tora leapt up. Or tried to at any rate. She wobbled and collapsed. Scott caught her.

"Calm down. You've been on IVs for the last month. We'll just take you down to the canteen, get some proper food in you and then let you rest."

"I don't need to rest! For pity's sake, Scott, you forced me into a coma! I've had enough sleep for about a year! Twenty-four/seven, Danger was in my head! No respite! No time to breathe! I've been stuck in my memories! Scott, do you know what that's like! Being forced to replay some of your best and worst moments, all in an attempt to 'fix' you! Look at me, Scott! Do I look fixed to you!? Do I?!"

Scott sighed.

"You've been out for a while. The Avengers have smoothed things over for the incident involving the Scarlet Witch and Doom. I'm still not pleased about you going behind my back like that."

Tora raised an eyebrow.

"I think you're a hypocrite over this, Scott. Wanda didn't wipe out a star system, like Jean did."

"That wasn't Jean!"

"Are you sure it wasn't? Are you definite? Jean was capable of a lot of stuff. Rebuilding a new body and fooling everyone? Not too hard. I did it. Gets her off the hook regarding the genocide and allows her to run back to you."

"Tora, this sort of mental manipulation will get you sent right back to the Brig for another month. As it is, I expect you to report back here every night, sleep here in one of the pods and continue your therapy with Danger. Do you understand, Tora?"

Tora sighed.

"I understand. I don't like it. But I understand…"

Scott nodded.

"Now, let's get you downstairs. Your family has been waiting for you the last three hours."

Tora glared at him.

"And you didn't tell me?!"

"Also, Logan is due to leave with me for an arms control conference in Switzerland in about ten minutes."

"Does he know this?"


"Scott, what make you even think he'll go with you?"

"Well, I suppose you could say she was okay…"

"Not really. Just giving the impression of normality."

She was with Scott, Emma, Logan and the Cuckoos in the Command Centre but no one questioned her right to be there, despite her having just come off the Brig. She was one of the only other members of the Alpha team still on Utopia. She stood in the shadows, listening to the arguments. Bristling quietly. Logan and Scott, at each other's throats again. Just like old times. Only not. This time the stakes were higher. She sniffed then spun around. Quire was intent on Logan and Scott. He wasn't prepared for the strike to the stomach from the shadows beside the door. Her other hand tightened around his neck and she dragged him forward.

"What shall we do to him, boys? You're our leader, Scott. And Logan –well, I know he's going to have an opinion. What do we do with the person who just put mutant-human relations back another ten years?"

"Tora, release him. You're choking him."

She glanced down.

"You're right. I am. Give me a reason to loosen my arm. And don't come out with some 'X-Men don't kill' la-di-da excuse. A real, solid reason that I shouldn't just keep holding my arm like this until he suffocates."

"Tora, he's a teenager. A misguided, powerful teenager; but still a child. He doesn't understand what the consequences of his actions will be."

"The consequences! Scott, all you have to do is turn on the TV!"

Emma sighed.

"Tora, as much as I hate to admit it, can you please release him. He's turning blue."

She glanced down.

"Oh. So he is. Fine, I'll let him go. Isn't worth my time anyway."

She released him but Logan grabbed his ridiculously coloured hair and dragged him over to the comm, grumbling about calling Steve and Tora returned to her position in the shadows. When Steve called she stepped forward to cover Logan hiding Quire. Steve grinned when he saw her.

"Up and about already, Tora?"

She smiled wanly.

"Sort of. Still kinda confused. Almost like jet-lag, but jet-lag doesn't shove you back a month, does it?"

He smiled.

"The New Avengers have been asking after you. Daredevil apparently refuses to stick around after missions anymore, although I'm not too sure why. Rogers out."

Logan thrust Quire into Scott's arms and stormed out. Tora stepped forward, glancing over at the screens.

"I want out there."


"Come on, Scott! I've not been a presence for a while. They'll be prepared for speedsters, teleporters, strong guys, maybe even Storm. But they won't be prepared for me! Come on, Scott! You know what I could do out there!"

"No. I want you here."

"Why!? Tell me why, Summers! Tell me why and I'll understand! But I need to know why! You can't just have these little plans running without telling me!"

"Fine, Tora. I need you on Utopia for defence. Like you said, the Sentinels don't know you're active. If they attack, we need the element of surprise. Surprise and brute force."

Tora sighed.

"Why am I always the brute force? You have Piotr for that. I'm a covert operative! Remember my first mission against the Sentinels?"

Scott smiled slightly.

"I do believe you almost died."

"Yes, but I did blow up the entire facility. Hey, I should be out there! You know the Sentinels can't see me! As long as no humans see me, I'm fine!"

"No, Tora… Emma, what was that about the mutant rights museum being opened tonight? Will it be televised?"

Emma shrugged.

"Of course."

Scott smiled.

"Tora, you've just got yourself a job. We're about to announce to the world at large that Dragon is back and ready to defend Utopia."

Tora sighed.

"Please don't send me to a televised opening, Scott. You know how badly I get on with the press…"

"You don't have to say a word. Emma, call Peter, Namor, Erik and…Bobby."

Tora groaned.

"Please don't do this to me, Scott. I really don't want to go to this museum on its opening night."


"Fine. But I am not being a living exhibition. And here we have a survivor of the Weapon X Program. Would you like to tell the reporters how you were tortured as a child?"




She sighed.

"Fine, I swear I will be nice to the press. But I'm not posing for photos."

"She really hated reporters, didn't she?"

"Oh, hated them with a passion most people reserved for traffic wardens. And bankers."