I'm currently revising this whole story so it flows better and everyone is more in character. Sorry for the inconvenience! I've started classes again though so it's going to be a while till I put up new chapters but no worries! I have the rest of the story either written out or planned out, so I'm not at all going to just abandon this fic like a lot of people abandon theirs. My whole goal and purpose when I started this fic was actually to learn the self-discipline to finish an idea and tie everything together.
I hope you enjoy and leave me reviews! ;) Much love~
He floated face up in the dark waters close to shore in the early morning light, drifting in and out of unconsciousness slowly, only partially aware that every inch of his body screamed in agony. The sound of sharp ringing in his ears drowned out the slight sound of the water that lapped at his scorched face. Overhead the caw of seagulls rang out above the waters.
Whatever brought him to this point he couldn't recall, his mind clouded by darkness. Panic should have engulfed him—should have terrified him—but it didn't. He felt himself slipping…slowly. With eyes closed he let himself sink into the emptiness, a sense of relief overwhelming him. If this was death, he would welcome it quickly. His lungs screamed at the small breath he took and he let himself fall into unconsciousness.
Toad flinched in his sleep with eyes moving rapidly under their lids. The flicking of the fluorescent light overhead disturbing his dreams of death and pulling him to consciousness; his vision momentarily blinded by the pulsating light till a head blocked out the view. He groaned slightly with his limbs aching in an awkward, stiff attempt to move. The room around him churned slowly and he saw double of everything, causing nausea to build up in his stomach.
Squeezing his eyes shut and blinking a few times he tried to clear his vision in a futile attempt to identify the figure above him. He shut his eyes and gave up; after all, it was most like Mystique. The last thing he remembered was the battle he'd been electrocuted and tossed into the water by. They must have saved him after all. Were they in the same place they were before?
He reached up and felt the breathing mask covering his mouth and nose, forcing air into his lungs and, for the first time, inhaled a shallow breath that came out in a dry, weak cough. Exhaustion sat heavily on his chest and he focused his strength on his breathing, waiting for Mystique to say something; if she would say anything at all, that is. She was never the talkative type as long as he'd known her—at least, not talkative to him.
He tensed, jaw clenching at the stranger's voice, though it sounded like a young girl. Fifteen maybe, he didn't know. It was just a soft, but slightly childish voice, like someone just out of high school.
"Of course he's awake, he's moving." There. An older woman retorted, her voice stern and steady, like someone in charge. He assumed she was. Assuming of course, that they weren't just new members to the brotherhood. They couldn't have been though, right? He couldn't have been out so long.
"Well, I don't know! I'm not the doctor here." The girlish voice huffed.
When he felt fingers trying to pull his eyelid open he swatted at the hand in a weak attempt to grab it in defense but failed miserably. He squinted at the blurry, doubled figure to his right who now rubbed their hand with dismay.
"Damn it, Dahlia. We don't need another hostile prick here."
"You startled him!" The younger voice protested. "How would you like it if a random person poked you in the eye?"
"I didn't poke his eye!"
His heart pounded in his chest so furiously that pain struck his heart and he inhaled sharply. Trying to push himself up in a panic with hand pressed to his chest the room spun faster. His lungs screamed their protest, sending him into a vicious coughing fit.
Vision clearing just a bit he could just make out the large, innocently looking eyes of the girl, presumably Dahlia, beside him. He was just starting to yank the breathing mask off when she moved quickly and pushed him back down with next to no force at all. He fell back, winded and wheezed.
"Sorry! Sorry! Did I hurt you?"
"Where am I?" He rasped, gasping at the pain that was erupting in his skull, pressing hands to his head.
Dahlia pulled back away from the bed and furrowed her eyebrows in concern. He narrowed his eyes at a pair of surprisingly cat-like ears that pulled back slightly in what appeared to be uncertainty before she scooted closer to the bed again.
"It's okay! You're safe, don't worry!"
He sent her a look that carried so much hatred and distrust that it caused her to flinch back as if he'd physically lashed out at her.
Where the hell was he? Who the hell were they? The walls and floor were bare. His mattress sat on the floor with an oxygen tank beside him. Last he remembered Magneto hadn't been planning on bringing anyone else into the Brotherhood for a good while and this definitely wasn't where they were stationed last.
He pressed the oxygen mask to his face trying to catch his breath. Looking over to his right he saw a woman who didn't seem particularly impressed with anything around her, appearing to be in her late fifties, grey scales covered half her body and one of her eyes. The one in charge, presumably.
The scaled side of her mouth pulled back in annoyance and she wrote something down on a notebook with pages warped and worn by time and humidity.
"Don't try anything stupid." She hissed at him with equally as much distrust he gave her. Dahlia glowered at her.
"Don't be rude." She said in a hushed voice as if he wouldn't be able to hear her right beside him.
He jerked his head away when the older woman tried to shine the light at his eye again.
"Let me look at your eyes!" She snapped. "I need to make sure your pupils dilate right." She had him follow her finger as she shined the light into his eyes. "Can you tell me your name?"
"No," He retorted breathlessly. Dahlia placed a hand on his arm in an attempt to comfort him but he shrugged her off quickly, angrily, and with as much force as his weak body would allow him. "Lay a hand on me again; I'll break y'bloody arm."
"Hey!" The elderly woman barked the words out so harshly his breathe caught in his throat like a child caught redhanded. "She saved your life so if I were you I'd be damned if I didn't show her some respect. Am I clear?"
He glowered at her for what felt like an eternity and she glowered back till he responded, leaving Dahlia to look between the two in uneasy anticipation.
"Right," He said sourly, turning his eyes away from her, he wasn't winning anything in this position. It sounded like he muttered a sarcastic remark too, but his accent covered whatever he'd said.
"Now, do you remember your name? Or do we have another problem on our hands?"
"Toad," He swallowed hard, throat stinging. "Where am I?"
"Real name." The woman glared, clutching the pen in her hand so tightly it threatened to break.
"Mortimer," He said hoarsely, eyelids drooping a bit, all his anger and attempt to seem rough melting away into exhaustion.
"Uh-huh, keep the tough guy act up, you'll only delay your own progress." The elderly woman laughed shortly. "Dahlia, get him some water."
"Yes m'am!" The girl hopped up and he watched a sandy-brown tail curl around her leg before she darted off on the balls of her feet between a couple other dirty mattresses and bundles of blanket spewed out on the floor in no particular order. The woman followed his gaze before she continued.
"You've been out quite a while. Dahlia found you washed up on shore when she went for food one morning." The lady pointed at the girl that came back up to them with a bottle of water.
He looked over towards and she smiled kindly back at him. He squinted at her face. Was she smiling at him? He questioned her sanity briefly for saving him, and now for smiling at him after everything before the elderly woman started to speak again.
"I'm Dr. Betsy. I don't have many resources down here and in the current state I'm in I can't very well get any," She narrowed her eyes at him. "But, as a favor to Dahlia, I'll do my best to see you have a full recovery. Six months is a long time to be out for. Do you have any type of healing abilities that might help speed things along?"
He gaped at her. Six months? Good god…where were Magneto and Mystique? The dull ache of loneliness sunk into the bottom of his stomach as he realized neither Magneto nor Mystique had even bothered to try and pull him from the water. He buried it down in his mind, it was just business, he shouldn't have expected anything more from the two. Brotherhood, they call it. He scoffed mentally at the name. Some family.
He looked back at Dahlia briefly, she still smiled. The bloody hell was she still smilin' at him for? He scowled at her.
Betsy cleared her throat. "Healing, abilities?"
"Yeh, a bit."
"Good, good." She wrote something out quickly.
"What day is it?" He attempted to breathe in deeply to calm the panic that was still looming in his throat; he needed to think rationally.
"November 1st. I know this must be a shock. Do you have any family or friends you would like us to take you to, if we're able?" She really just wanted to see if he had anyone they could dump him off on. "Keep in mind we're not very trusting of anyone we don't know."
He turned his eyes to the grey, cement ceiling; another pang of loneliness spreading through him.
"No." He said, pushing out the thoughts of Magneto and Mystique and the big lug that called himself Sabertooth. Who knew where they were now, dead for all he knew. He shouldn't have cared either.
"Alright then." Betsy smiled at him fake polite and pulled back the sheets at his feet. "Can you wiggle your toes for me?"
He did as she asked and wiggled his webbed toes, insecurity gripped at him seeing Dahlia stare, causing his mouth to pull back uneasily. She looked back at him to find him glaring at her and her cheeks flushed red in embarrassment. Her lips parted slightly as if she might apologize, then she closed them as if on better thought.
"Great…" Betsy pulled out a needle from the rubber of her shoe and pricked him in the leg with it quickly, watching him flinch with a bit of amusement.
"Bloody witch!" He reached for his leg, still not able to move much.
"Pain stimuli responses are good…" She wrote something down in her notebook and pulled a plessor mallet out and tapped his knee with it, probably harder than she needed to.
She watched his reaction with amusement and he glared back with hatred. If he hadn't been so weak he might have tried to take her out right there.
"Patellar reflexes are amazing. Judging from your appearance you're obviously a mutant," She laughed a bit and he sent an icy glare at her, feeling her comment was ill-meant. Even if she were no more attractive than he was, he was still tired of the comments like that.
"We never would have let you down here if we didn't think so. Dahlia here's got a big heart, too big if you ask me. We have enough trouble caring for our own as it is." Betsy stuffed her mallet back into her pocket and pushed herself up off the floor. "I hope you enjoy your stay here and contribute something back to us when you can, Mr. Mortimer."
He glowered at her while she walked away and managed to kick the sheets back over his feet unevenly. Dahlia reached over and straightened them out for him; he eyed her help suspiciously.
"She's just worried... I'm sorry for her rudeness; she's really nice when you actually get to know her." Dahlia said.
She was too friendly, he didn't like that. It made him uncomfortable. She should have just left him to die of in the water but she didn't, and now he was here, somewhere he still didn't know.
Women, always stickin' their bloody noses where they don't belong. He thought. Though, as much as didn't want to admit it, he was thankful she'd saved him.
Dahlia shifted uncomfortably when he didn't say anything.
"Are you hungry?" She asked, "Dr. Betsy said you could have some real food once you woke up."
Of course, Betsy had also said he might throw it back up, but she thought it might be best to not tell him that.
Real food? He cringed at the idea of a feeding tube or however they were doin' it, he didn't really care to know at that moment. The next thing his mind went to was the catheter he would obviously need. He groaned aloud, he must seem so pitiful.
"I'm sorry. Am I annoying you?" Dahlia raised her eyebrows and her ears tilted back again. He stared at her. She was concerned about annoying him?
He felt himself laugh at the stupidity of this whole situation and she looked on in confusion and what appeared to be concern.
"No," He paused to look at the tail that was curled around her knees. "I'm starved. Could eat a horse."
"Alright! I'll be right back; I'll talk to Dr. Betsy soon to see when we can start trying to get you walking again if you can't already."
He watched her hop up and her tail curled around her leg again before she scurried away on the balls of her feet once more. He took the chance to open the water bottle and take a drink to sooth his throat. These people were already starting to treat him better than Magneto but he wasn't letting his guard down, he knew how people were.
He closed his eyes again, taking a deep breath his lungs screamed in protest. At least the pounding in his head was starting to subside.
It felt like forever it took her to come back. He watched her kneel back down beside him with a bowl of cut up fruit and a bottle of tea, not his ideal dinner but it would do. He felt starved and beyond exhausted but managed to perch himself up on his elbow and eat slowly anyway.
"Sorry it took so long, I stopped to talk to Ms. Betsy, she said that it really just depended on your ability to recover when you would be walking again. She said when you feel well rested enough that we can give it a try."
He watched her talk more than listened. Blond, unevenly cut hair fell a few inches below her chin and was tucked behind her ear with bangs parted to the side, a smudge of dirt across her cheek. He wondered how old she was; she looked young, maybe late teens, seventeen or eighteen. He himself was in his late twenties, twenty-seven to be exact.
"I'm sorry it's not much, we're running kind of low on food lately. I was supposed to go look for something of my own today but when Ms. Betsy said that you were showing signs of awareness I wanted to stay around in case you woke up." She wrestled with a bottle of tea, trying to get it open and he wondered why she was bothering with that since he already had water.
"Are you feeling okay?" She asked, scrunching up her face trying to twist the cap off. "Do you need some Advil or anything? I just got some the other day; I'm not sure where it's at though. Things always get moved here. We're all really good people; I think you'll like it here."
He reached out to take it from her and her ears pricked in alarm then seemed to relax in realization. It took him a moment, but he got the cap off despite his weakness. He held it back out to her and she blinked in confusion. Raising an eyebrow he nodded at his water bottle and her eyes lit up briefly, taking it from him and taking a sip.
"Thank you," She said sheepishly, "Advil? If I can find it?"
"No," He replied, not quite ready to be alone in this unfamiliar place yet. She seemed like the type to get lost searching for something anyway. He watched her carefully as she eyed the fruit hungrily, rattling off into some other topic now, swaying side to side slightly as she spoke, bobbing her head here and there; her oversized shirt slowly slipping off her boney shoulder. Cor, she talked a lot.
Toad held the bowl out to her suddenly and she stopped midsentence, staring blankly.
She seemed tempted by it for a moment before she shook her head, hair swaying with the movement.
"No thank you, you should eat to get your strength back. The less time you spend around this room the better, all the sick people stay here and pretty much everyone is sick right now. Betsy thinks it's just some type of virus though, not too bad. Though maybe for the kids and older people," She furrowed her eyebrows and seemed to think really hard about something.
"I think." She finally said.
He took a ragged breath before coughing softly and pulled his breathing mask back over his face for a few moments before he reached to turn the machine off.
"Are you sure you're fine without it?" She asked with a tilt of her head.
"I'll live." He laid back down as exhaustion started to hit him again; he felt like sleeping but the fear of wasting another six months in coma kept him from doing so. Pushing the bowl towards her with his fingertips he started to close his eyes despite his better judgment.
"Eat. You're a twig."
Gawking at the bowl for a moment she hesitantly took it from him and began eating obediently. Sucking the juice off one of her fingers she watched him start to doze off again as hard as he tried to fight it; eyes falling shut, then fluttering open once more. She smiled softly, reached over and pulled the blanket up over his shoulder to keep him warm.
Dahlia walked away towards her room with relief. Callisto had said that if he didn't wake up in another month they were going to toss him in the snow for wasting too many of their good resources.
Pushing back the curtain that had been hung up between sections of five or so seats on either side of her and her roommate's "room" so to speak, Jinx was stretched out on the bed she had made of the chairs. Dahlia didn't know how she managed to sleep in such a small place, she herself had ended up making her bed on the floor out of various blankets and a couple pillows, partially under the seats to try and stay out the walk way.
Dahlia set her bowl on the set of chairs above her bed. A small battery powered digital clock blinked 10:00 PM next to a picture of her and her parents when she was normal back in high school. The picture had been taken during her sophomore year after she'd won first place at the science fair.
Jinx stirred awake as Dahlia reached over to turn off the lantern Jinx had carelessly left on and crawled under her covers for sleep.
"God Dahlia, do you have to be so loud?" Jinx's groggy voice hissed and she turned and planted her face farther into her pillow.
"I'm sorry," Dahlia's tail curled around her leg sleepily. "I'll be quieter."
"Did you even bring back anything to eat today?"
Dahlia stared up at the dusty ceiling overhead, eyes only just able to make out the outlines of the room around her. She fell silent for a few moments not really wanting to explain to Jinx that she didn't go out again today.
"No, he woke up today."
"You're wasting your time on him," Jinx said matter-of-factly, starting to drift off to sleep again. "He's just going to leave in a few months and go back where he came. Then you'll have wasted all of Betsy's time."
Dahlia's ears pulled back and she took a heavy breath, deciding to remain quiet till Jinx's breathing slowed once more.
Her roommate was a tall girl with black hair that reached her waist; she was really quite beautiful with striking blue skin and white eyes. She was vain though, incredibly. And, despite having known Jinx for two years, Dahlia wasn't entirely sure that her mutation stretched beyond her appearance since she kept to herself so much.
She was sarcastic too, and mean most of the time, hurling insults or commands at most any one she considered to be "beneath" her; incredibly prideful. But thankfully, Dahlia was just the type of person to tolerate such people, probably why Callisto had paired the two up in the first place. Dahlia had a "gift"—if you could call it that—of seeing the best in even the worst people.
Curling up into the warmth of her bed, Dahlia started to drift off into sleep thinking back to her first few weeks of her runaway life. Images of narrowly escaped violence and dangerous shadows filled her dreams in stark contrast to the life she'd lived previously. Terrified and grief-stricken, that so called gift of hers had gotten her into more than enough trouble.
Here however, she was as safe as a mutant of her appearance could be and she liked to believe that something good might come out of her life after all. Maybe not in terms of Ivy League colleges or successful careers but in terms of people she could care for.