It has been AGES! So sorry! I told Stormysongbird I would work on another chapter "that week" like two weeks ago and indeed I did but huge writer's block kicked in along with the new school year and the result was just... bad.
But here it is! A new chapter!
Chapter 8: In the Danger Room
Adine fit well in the framework of the school. She was already somewhat experienced in combat and was quickly bumped into the New Mutants training group. She was quiet, solitary, and easy to get along with. She had been given Rhane as a roommate and Rhane said it was often as though she was not even there.
Hank, however, did not, could not, trust her. There had been moments in the following month where she had been in a place, or up at a time, for which no good explanation had been given.
For example, a week after she had arrived, Hank had wandered down into the lab, looking for results on a test for Scott, to find Adine rifling through drawers in his desk.
"Surely, you can explain what you are doing?" he had asked, trying to keep the distrust that flooded through him out of his voice.
"Looking for gauze," she responded, unruffled. As she faced him he could see a good sized cut down her arm.
"And why would that be in my desk?" He had moved slowly toward her, which had pushed her away from the desk in turn.
"I could find none anywhere else," she explained simply.
He let it slide but the drawer she had been opening when he entered was one containing file on each mutant he had worked with. From that point on he locked his filing cabinets and he never found her in there alone again.
Forge had taken to teaching Izabelle the workings of the Danger Room. It was a good idea to have someone who knew the system other than just himself and Izabelle picked it up fairly quickly.
On one of these particular occasions Forge was working on a patch of floor in the Danger Room as Izabelle programmed different settings into it. There was a square foot or so that was "dead," not responding to anything programmed in, and Forge was rewiring it.
After about an hour, Forge sealed the chunk of floor back into place and called up to Izabelle, "Hit me!"
Instantly he regretted his phrasing but it was too late. The floor under him became a knee deep creek and he slipped on the mossy stones underfoot. He could hear her laughter around him as he waded out to the bank. Again, everything morphed and he was standing in a snowy tundra. Just as quickly it was now a tropical rainforest and then a desert.
But this time the landscape stayed. Someone else was in the Danger Room and Forge watched as she emerged from a shimmering heat haze. The white-blonde hair looked ethereal and fairy-like in combination with her white skin and in contrast with the sun-baked land around them.
Adine smiled up at the man in front of her who was dripping wet with snow melting out of his gorgeously dark hair.
"I heard a river, then wind, then birds and I could not resist. Forgive my curiosity."
"Consider it forgiven," Forge grinned back at her. He had completely forgotten about Izabelle, every bit of his attention now focused on Adine. "How do you find yourself settling in?"
"Well enough. Almost everyone is really welcoming."
"I don't get the impression Logan is ever really welcoming."
Forge laughed harder than the situation really called for and Adine beamed at him. It was the first time Izabelle had seen her smile in a natural way and she leaned forward, interested. Unfortunately, her belly was bigger than she remembered it being and she managed to knock a few switches as she leaned.
With a shout of surprise, Forge and Adine began to float through the air, now in a zero gravity room. Izabelle began working on setting it right but stopped when she saw Forge was explaining to Adine the best way to move in zero gravity. Adine seemed interested in figuring it out, and, after a few minutes, the pair was zipping around the room, colliding and laughing at intervals.
Izabelle watched them grinning. This must be what Hank and I were like at first, she thought. It seemed so obvious, even after such a short time, that there was connection and attraction between them. Adine was surprised often by Forge's goofy nature and her dry sarcasm kept him laughing. But they would need down eventually and Izabelle wasn't interesting in stalking them all day.
"Hey Forge!" she called over the intercom. "I just got here. Need any help getting down?"
Forge blushed and looked perplexed for a minute but her angle finally got through to him and he smiled over at the Control Room. "Sure thing! Give me a second!"
Kicking over to Adine, he couldn't help but blush as he slipped an arm around her waist.
"Sorry, but we wouldn't want you to break your pretty neck," he half teased.
She blushed as well and put her own arms around his neck. Forge's arm morphed easily into a grappling hook and he shot it around a beam.
As gently as she could Izabelle eased gravity back to Earth normal, watching them drift down in a straight line from the hook. Slowly, Forge reeled out line until they had their feet on the ground.
"That is a very handy mutation," Adine quipped, fussing with her hair to hide her pink face.
"But you already knew what it was before we even met."
Forge noticed the expression she had turned on him and could feel himself getting hot all over.
"I'm sure there is quite a bit yet to learn about you." She waved to him and exited the room.
Forge stood in the room slightly dazed; it had been a decently long time since he had met a woman that seriously interested him.
Forge glowered up at the Control Room, where Izabelle was less than subtly mocking him. "Oh shove it, you!" He left in a huff but the bad temper could not last more than ten seconds before an irrepressible smile grew across his features.
"I don't want you around Anesthesia."
The command surprised her and Izabelle turned slowly on her husband, pausing in the middle of decorating the baby crib.
"Seriously?" she asked, quirking her eyebrow. "She's no threat to you."
Hank stood looking serious. "Oh, but she is."
The edge in his tone got Izabelle's full attention. "You're serious… Why?"
"I cannot trust her and I…" he searched for the right words, words that were less possessive sounding than the ones running through his head, "cannot rest easy if you are with her."
"But why don't you trust her?"
"She keeps showing up where she shouldn't be when she shouldn't be there. And I cannot forget she was a Morlock, no matter how little proof we have of further contact with them."
Izabelle was cradling her belly without realizing it. She had never had any suspicions of Adine but Hank so rarely asked her not to do something that she could not take this seriously. Especially after what happened before they married…
"Have you told Xavier?"
"I have. Obviously, he can't see into her mind. He's been probing now and then, looking for a chink or a strain he could follow, but so far it appears he can only see whatever she is thinking of in that moment. Izabelle, please promise me you will not be alone with her."
"But Hank… she and Forge are always together."
"Someone should tell him too then."
"Hank! You can't! He really likes her!"
"No!" And Hank was surprised to see her stamp her foot in frustration. "What if you are wrong? You'll ruin everything and for no reason! I'll stay away from her but leave Forge alone!"
The blue mutant looked troubled and wrapped his arms around his wife as he thought. "If we find anything concrete, you must tell him."
"I will," Izabelle murmured, burying her face in his chest. "I'll give her a wide berth until then. I'll be safe. I promise."
"Damn straight," Hank murmured into her hair.
Izabelle looked up with a shocked expression before bursting into laughter.
Izabelle was now seven and a half months pregnant and Adine and Forge had gotten along very well in the past month. Forge's friends had been teasing him about not asking her out yet, but the occasion had never presented itself until now.
She had shown up when he was working on a new system that would allow them to interact directly with projections and the two of them were currently chatting with a projection of the President about mutant policies.
A sly grin spread across her face and Izabelle decided to take her chance. Hank had reported no further incidents with Adine and it seemed as if the whole thing could have been a fluke or maybe just residual behaviors from her times with the Morlocks.
"Surely a lovely woman like yourself does not find herself single?"
Izabelle giggled manically as Forge glared angrily up at her for putting those words into the President's mouth.
"I rather do at the moment," Adine laughed in return.
"Perhaps we can remedy this?"
The President dissolved with a push of some buttons on the master control Forge carried with him.
"Obviously some malfunctions," he mumbled through gritted teeth.
"Oh? Would it bother you if I dated hologram President?" Adine teased back lightly. She really enjoyed Forge. Obviously, this had all begun as a way to bring herself one level closer to Izabelle, but she could not help but like him in a very real way.
Forge jerked a little at her words. It would bother him actually. It was stupid but he was very jealous at the idea of her even joking about dating someone else.
From the Control Room, a grin spread across Izabelle's face. Punching some buttons she sat back, her smile widening.
Forge watched as the Danger Room morphed into a nighttime stretch of Parisian shops and cafes. He shot a quick scowl up at where he knew the Control Room to be. But Adine didn't notice; she was busy admiring the view.
"This is lovely, Forge."
His pulse rocketed as he noticed the sweetness and heaviness of her tone.
"Well, I was wondering…would you have dinner with me? Outside of the mansion somewhere? Anywhere you want really."
"I would love that."
Forge's grin took on a giddy quality and he managed to set up a date and time after fumbling for a bit.
Once Adine had left, Izabelle grabbed the microphone next to her. "You're welcome, Forge."
He jumped about a mile, having forgotten Izabelle was still there. "Izabelle! Don't say anything! You know what they'll do! They'll harass us to death! Izabelle!"
But he was met with silence. Izabelle had left.
Forge poked his head out around his doorframe and slipped out into the quiet hall. He tiptoed down the hall as best as he could. Someone spoke behind him, nearly causing him to jump out of his own skin.
"Where might you be off too?"
Clutching at his heart he spun on Izabelle, wide eyed. "You could kill someone doing that!"
"It keeps you on your toes. You're ignoring the question."
His blush gave her as much answer as she needed.
"Play fair, Izabelle! The way you are now you could probably read every memory I have!"
She nodded absently. "And probably broadcast them a mile around in all directions." Absently, she rubbed her belly and smiled at his horrified expression. "You know I won't, don't look at me like that."
"Then what are you doing, sneaking up on a man like that?"
"Just repaying. You were downright evil when Hank and I got together."
"Oh come on! That was just perfect! Especially with the Danger Room incident!"
Izabelle's eyebrow quirked at him and he bit back a smile.
"I might deserve this."
"At least let us escape first?"
"You've got ten minutes."
He hugged her quickly and grinned. "You're a sainted angel."
"Liar. Get out of here." But she hugged him back, smiling.
Izabelle wandered around the mansion until ten minutes had passed. As soon as the time was up, she quickly tracked down Amara and Tabitha before declaring in a loud voice, "Guess who's on a date?!"
Adine had not laughed so much in ages. Forge was clever, self-effacing, and very funny. He had brought her to one of the last big fairs before the rainy fall season set in and it was an enjoyable jumble of people.
But certain faces had caught her eye over and over again: while on the Ferris wheel, while throwing baseballs at targets, while among the food carts.
"Where might one find 'facilities' here?" she asked after seeing Feral's feline face behind a tent, watching.
"Down and to the right I think. I'll help you find them."
"You needn't bother!" Adine smiled easily but falsely. "I'll be back in no time."
As soon as she was outside of Forge's vision she darted into the dark and shadowy area behind the tents. The figures of Feral and Thornn melted out of the shadows and stood close to her.
"What do you think you are doing?" the older of the sisters hissed at her. "Have you forgotten us so easily? For a piece of the X-Men?"
"You're an idiot!" Adine snapped back. "What better way to convince them I mean no harm?"
"You should have brought us the mother by now!"
"And how long do you think we will have once we have the mother? Do you think we can defend ourselves, or even hide, for three months?" Adine shoved her face into the sharp, furred one. "The X-Men will come for her and we must have only what we need and enough time to escape. We wait until she goes into labor and you had best be ready when she does."
She turned to leave but Thornn caught her by the arm. "And this man? He is nothing to you? For we will kill him if he follows us."
There was a momentary pause but Adine spoke clearly. "No. He's nothing."
Izabelle's pregnancy went very easily, almost amazingly so up until the eight month. It was then that another close call occurred. Izabelle had been working in the Danger Room only hours before. Some of the lighting was coming loose and she had spotted Forge as he worked on tightening up the huge lights.
"You have to promise me that you won't sneak in here and work on your own," she had insisted, much to his annoyance.
"I'm a mutant too, Izabelle," he had huffed. "I'm fine."
She had finally extorted a halfhearted promise from him before joining Hank for dinner. As the school year was in full swing once again, Izabelle had busied herself with grading while Hank read a report and massaged her swollen ankles.
She had fallen asleep easily, which was unusual with their rowdy baby, and so she was not aware of what was happening when the knock on their door woke her.
Hank climbed out of bed and a whispered conversation was held in the hallway. Something about the tone caught her attention and she pushed herself up on an elbow.
"Hank? What's wrong?"
He quickly rejoined her and smoothed her hair out of her face. "Nothing, darling. Just something that must be tended to right away. Don't worry yourself about it. Just go back to sleep."
With a bleary nod, Izabelle had fallen asleep quickly. But when she awoke an hour later with her baby kicking her in the spine, the first thing she noticed was that Hank was nowhere in their apartment. Something was definitely wrong.
Izabelle was out of bed quickly and wrapping herself in a bathrobe. She knew that Hank had to be in the labs and she hurried in that direction.
The first thing she noticed was the noise. Someone was screaming and she was amazed she had not heard it from her room. When she reached the lab she was greeted with a scene that made her stomach roll and clench.
Forge lay on an operating table, his leg soaked in blood. The screaming was coming from him and it was not hard to see why. His leg was mangled, clearly broken in several places, with chunks of skin missing as well. It looked as though his leg had been run over by a tank.
Though Hank was doing what he could to patch up Forge's leg, Forge's mutations were working against him. In an attempt to fix the leg, metal plates were slowly growing out from his knee and ankle. Hank would have to tear these away in order to continue working, earning a fresh wave of screaming and more blood. Scott and Jean were there was well as Adine and Logan, all running about and trying to stabilize the injured mutant. Angel was on a different bed, his arm connected to a blood bag.
"Forge?!" It was the first sound Izabelle had uttered since she had arrived, unnoticed in the chaos, and all eyes were on her instantly. She felt sick and pain was beginning to radiate through her midsection. She grabbed weakly at a counter and almost missed.
Hank paled as he watched her. He could not go to her as he was really the only person for this job. The leg had to be puzzle-pieced back together and set before they could give him Angel's blood and Hank had already been working at this for at least an hour. But she was in real danger if she went into labor too early.
"Someone get her out of here!" Hank roared, not taking his eyes from his wife's face.
The situation became infinitely worse if at all possible. Adine vaulted an operating table and quickly took Izabelle's arm, half dragging her from the room. Adine had been the one to find Forge and raise the alarm and now she was walking away with his wife.
"Logan! Follow them!"
Logan caught in Hank's tone what others would have easily missed: panic. The doctor did not often reveal his deeper fears, but for whatever reason he did not want this woman alone with his wife. Wolverine was out of the room immediately.
And just as quickly, Logan could see what Hank's concerns were based on. Adine was leading Izabelle, who was white and breathing heavily, toward the front door.
"Where are you taking her?"
As Adine looked at him, only for a moment, he could see a glint of anger and frustration flash across her face. But then it was gone.
"I was taking her outside. To get some fresh air."
"Allow me," Logan said gruffly, picking Izabelle up in him arms and carrying her out into the night.
Silently, Adine hoped that none of the Morlocks would be stupid enough to show themselves now that they could see Wolverine with her. She was relieved when after five minutes there was still no sign of the Morlocks.
Izabelle was whitish with worry and the beginnings of the now familiar pains. Both hands clutching at her stomach, her eyes again silently begged Logan for help.
"You can stop her pains, right?" Logan snapped at Adine. Again there was the hint of a glower and then her nod. "Well?"
With a soothing smile at Izabelle, Adine reluctantly put her hands on Izabelle's stomach. Slowly the pains died away though Izabelle could still feel that the muscles were contracted.
"I told him not to do it alone," she breathed, squeezing Logan's hand with her much smaller one. "I told him something could go wrong and he could get hurt."
"You know how it happened?" Logan asked, clearly surprised.
"It was the light rigging. Right?" She turned to Adine now, wide-eyed.
Adine nodded, and even she could not helped but cringe as she recounted what she had seen. "I was worried too, you know. He's careless sometimes and he wanted to wrap it up early. So when I couldn't find him I went looking. The light broke free. He landed on his leg and broke it before the light crashed down on top of it. Your husband was there immediately but…" She trailed off; Izabelle had seen what the problem was.
Izabelle swore under her breath and relaxed her grip on Logan's hand. Her muscles were slowly relaxing and she did not doubt for one moment that Hank would be able to fix Forge, whatever it took. He had helped her, after all.
Minutes passed as the trio breathed in the cool night air, each relaxing for the first time since the accident had swept them up.
"Is there anything we can do?" Izabelle asked, not really thinking there was.
"Other than keep you calm and away from the infirmary?" Logan's eyebrow quirked at her and she made a face at him in return. "Let's get you inside before you catch a cold or something like that."
"I think I'm going to go on a run. You two go ahead," Adine said, looking Izabelle straight in the eyes. She looked utterly miserable and it was then that Izabelle knew without a doubt that Adine had very real feelings for Forge.
"Suit yourself. Don't fall off the cliff," Logan shrugged and ushered Izabelle inside with all the grace and care of a full-grown gorilla.
After they had gone, Adine stood in the night, staring at the stars. Almost without her, her feet began to carry her swiftly through the trees. She needed to run or she would scream. Her white blonde hair whipped back from her face as she tried to push the truth from her mind.
The truth was she had caused Forge's fall. She had not meant to, Morlock or not, but her entrance had startled him as it was so late at night and he had grabbed the light for support. The rigging had been loose and corroded and had come away from the ceiling. Forge had dropped first, but the light soon followed. She remembered the crunch of his leg as it caught his weight and the crash of metal. His scream rang through her ears even as she ran.
Even though he had been badly hurt, when she had gone to him the first words from his lips were that it was not her fault. This was what she liked so very much about him: he always comforted and always looked after her. It was her fault though and she knew it. And when the pregnant mutant had arrived it had been the most terrible moment. She needed Izabelle to go into labor with her there, she needed to take her only when the baby was coming, but it had come at the very moment Forge needed her.
And she had made her choice.
It had been stopped before any action had been carried out, but she had chosen all the same and frustrated, conflicted emotions hit her in thundering waves. And so she ran, ignoring the branches that whipped at her face and the chill of the air.
It was early in the morning before Hank made it back to their room, his claws blood crusted and his eyes red with stress and sleeplessness. He had tried to examine Izabelle once he saw her to make sure the baby was fine, but she had forced him into a bath where he promptly fell asleep. He had woken to her cleaning the last of his claws and trying to quietly re-heat the water in the bathtub.
He had dragged himself to bed, slept until about noon, and woken very embarrassed but reassured that his classes had been covered. After all, Hank had suffered last night as well, in a very different way but the stress had worn him down to a bundle of raw nerves. But Izabelle assured him that Adine had not done anything wrong and that Logan had been as helpful as he knew how to be.
Adine herself had shown up sometime in the afternoon with scratches and cuts all over her face and arms and no explanation other than she had been running. It was Adine who relayed the message to Izabelle that Forge wanted to see her. Hank followed them, wanting to keep a close eye on his wife and on his patient.
When Adine entered the room, it was clear how happy Forge was to see her.
"Why so dour, lovely? I didn't mean to scare you!"
Adine could not help but smile at a greeting like that but she said she would leave Izabelle and Forge to whatever it was they had to talk about.
"Come back though? It's lonely here." Even pale and injured, Forge managed a puppy face that won a promise of return from Adine. But she was anxious to leave; she could feel how closely Hank was watching her.
Izabelle turned a very motherly scowl on the mutant she had worked with the past few months, hands on her wide hips. "And what about me, huh?! You promised, you jerk! And you ran off and got yourself hurt and almost sent me into labor!"
"I thought you wanted to get that thing out of there?" he teased back. But his face did quickly take a serious expression. "I'm really sorry if that's true. I didn't mean to alarm everyone. It hasn't really been a picnic for me if that helps you feel better."
Hank laughed, his back turned to the pair, and Izabelle scowled at him. "Yes, Henry?"
"Only you could get someone to apologize for being seriously injured! You are the limit!"
Forge and Izabelle laughed as well, realizing it was more than a bit odd. But Forge had a reason for calling her down to see him.
"I need you to run the Danger Room, Izabelle. Obviously, I'm out of commission for a while and your dear hubby has enough to do with me on his hands now. Think you're up for it?"
"I'll have to test on Logan first but I think I can," Izabelle said doubtfully.
Forge grinned at her. "Oh, I'm sure he will just love that."
The three of them laughed again at the thought.